Here we are, 4 days into 2015 (and yes, I DID accidentally type 2014 first - argh!) and I think I have finally gathered my list of resolutions for the year. I've been working on this list in my brain for the better part of a month, so I really do think these are goals/challenges I should try to stick to.

1) The Pinterest Challenge. I know I am not alone when I say that I am a Pinterest-aholic. There is just something about creating collections of lists of creative ideas that totally intrigues me. But therein lies the problem. I pin and pin and pin but hardly ever go back to those boards and boards of pins and pins and actually use the ideas. So this year I am challenging myself to do just that. I will attempt to complete 4 ideas that I have pinned each month this year. That will perfectly justify my obsession with the site, right?

2) In case you haven't noticed, I kind of like taking photos. However, I have noticed lately that I have been doing less and less of that for myself. I used to take dozens of photos of my family and friends and pets and surroundings, but somewhere along the line that has fizzled into just occasional iphone photos of the kids and only dragging out my DSLR for paid sessions. I want to shoot more for fun then I have been. So that's goal number two.

3) At the same time, I want to put more time into the back end of my business. The books need special attention and I'm going to start being better organized in that area ASAP. I am also still working on new collateral for my clients, possibly including pre-session information mailed to clients and re-designed everything. The website is up and running as I like it, and now it's time to focus on the rest.

4) It is time. I have fiddled and fattled (pun intended) with trying to get into better shape and lose some weight, but this is the year. I can't stand how I'm looking in clothes and how quickly I get exhausted. I really need to really mean in this time too. I always start these things with good, strong intentions, but end up coming up with some kind of stupid excuse. I will start running again. I will stop eating sweets so constantly and pay more attention to what I eat. I will start a yoga regiment. I will only allow myself one Coke per week. SERIOUSLY! This has to happen.

5) This is something I always strive for, but let's be honest - putting it down in a list is the only way I'm ever going to hold myself accountable. I want to be a better wife and mother. I mean, give them my full attention more often than not, schedule special alone time with each of them on a regular basis, be more patient with (all of) them and try to treat them all as I would treat a co-worker or friend. Who deserves to be respected and shown my courtesy and love more than these three most important people in my life, afterall? I love them. They are my family and as imperfect as things can be sometimes, I will not leave this earth without them knowing just how they are my everything.
Imagine a glass with a few ugly large stones sitting in it. Piled in all the cracks between are hundreds of beautiful, perfect pearls. 2014 was like this... full of not-so-great big things, surrounded by a million lovely little things.

Hubby's worsening back problems and all that goes along with that - unhappiness, inability, depression, disappointment, uncertainty, and many other bad things nearly ripped us apart. In the end, we always turn to one another and stand together, usually one of us leaning on the other, but always together. There are a few other ugly stones in that glass, but they don't deserve recognition or remembering.

The pearls are moments of pure joy, and there are so many, many more of them! Hearing the girls giggling together in the next room, a stolen kiss in the kitchen, warm snuggles at the end of each day with C, moments of pride and surprise in seeing our children succeed in doing what they love,  watching K dance under the lights, C's first moments of realizing she can swim on her own, overcoming a fear, walking in the rain with a couple of good friends, lunches with mom, seeing my brother fall in love, puppy kisses, soft blankets, a million "I love you's"...

In 2014, I turned 34 and hubby 36.
K turned 11 and C turned 8.
We got another puppy.
We got a hot tub.
We got 5 behavioral diagnoses for C.
K began her dream of ballet.
We went to the Outer Banks, NC on a family vacation.
My photo biz continues to grow.
Hubby remains unable to work.
I started running. Then stopped. Then started up again. Then stopped again.
And so much more.

All in all, it wasn't too bad of a year. The pearls at least outnumber the stones ;)

Another year has come and gone, but before I review 2014, I thought I'd do a quick review of December. It's been a bit hectic!

The month started with our very first family trip to a tree farm to cut down a live Christmas tree! I've always wanted to get a live tree, but for one reason or another we've never done it. Our good friends joined us to help take some family pics of us while we picked out our tree and it was a lot of fun. We all froze our butts off, and it was muddy and damp, but we found that perfect tree and then warmed up in the restaurant afterwards. Maybe a new tradition? 

(Photo Credit Tracee Roof)

We got the tree home and decorated that night and we've really enjoyed having the live tree. We did also put up the (now pathetic looking) artificial tree in the other room for old times' sake.
 December also brought a new 'do for me. I've been trying to grow my hair out for a year or so now, and it's finally getting to a length I'm happy with. I decided to celebrate with some red and blonde highlights and I love it! I really like how "my girl" curled it all up too, so I've been trying to do that on my own sometimes - NOT as easy as the professional stylists make it look!
 Please ignore that giant zit on my chin!

December around these parts always bring a bunch of big Christmas gatherings. Hubby and I both have huge families, and Christmas is really the only time of year we all get together. His side was first as usual. I just love how his Grandma sits all the little great-grandchildren around the kitchen table and read them the Christmas story from her tattered Bible every year, ends it with a song and then gives them each a gift to unwrap. She is such a special lady and we all love her!

Since the beginning of November, K's weekends have been completely absorbed by rehearsals for the 4 parts she landed in this year's Nutcracker. She has worked so very hard and loved every single minute of it all, making a bunch of new friends. December 19th & 20th, they performed and I couldn't have been more proud of the whole cast. They all did wonderfully and I didn't actually mind the dozen or so times I watched the performance between full run rehearsals, dress rehearsals and paid performances. I think K has definitely fallen in love with ballet and it will be a part of all of our lives for quite a while now. She has a real knack for dance and has been told so by her instructors. I can't wait to see where this new love takes her!

Christmas morning came around before any of us were really ready for it this year. It was an unseasonably warm Christmas and it was kind of tough to get in the spirit for some reason. Everyone received great gifts and we spent extra time together as a family, so at least that was nice. 

My side's family party is actually the weekend after Christmas, and this year we threw in a "our generation" cousins party as well. It was great seeing everyone!

My brother has been dating a really great girl for a little over 6 months now and we are all so glad they've found each other. She is sweet and laid back and fits right in with our crazy bunch. :)

I caught this great smile shot of my Grandma at the party and I just had to share it. She is one of my favorite people in the whole world!

Now that Christmas and the Nutcracker are in the past, it's time to move on to C's basketball season. She enjoys it so much and I think it's a great thing to help both her social and physical skills too. She's growing up right before our eyes and even with all of her difficulties and struggles, she is an amazing girl!

On top of all that, I've been shooting weekends full of photo sessions and editing like crazy into the wee hours of the mornings. Trying to find time for everything I need to do is truly impossible, but I do my best. K will be turning 12 on Friday. Will someone please tell me how to slow this life down a bit?!
Life just keeps on keepin on in this little family. Work's been busy, the photo biz has been busy, K's been busy rehearsing for her (now FOUR) roles in the Nutcracker, and much more I can't think of at this very moment.

ALP really seems to be taking off lately and I've been spending every free moment either shooting, editing photos, working on marketing, shopping for props, watching videos on editing and sessions, and all that. It's so time consuming, and at times overwhelming, but I really do love it.

Thanksgiving was good. Watched Macy's Parade piled all together in the big bed. Ate too much turkey and too much pie. Got to hang out with mom, my baby bro and his girlfriend. Visited with my Grandma and the gang afterwards.

Saturday after, I went to visit my friend in the hospital and meet her perfect, brand new, cute as a button little girl and shot some sweet 1 day old photos for them while I was there.

I've realized while all of these things were happening that somewhere along these years, while I was busy photographing other people's milestones and moments, I have all but stopped capturing the moments of my own family. I still catch the occasional flurry of pics around the house with my iphone (mostly inspired by my nearly completed project 365), the moments captured have seriously diminished.

I am determined to change this! What kind of photographer would I be if I stopped doing it by inspiration and only did it for money?

This brings me to my New Years Resolution #1:

Get those moments frozen in time. My moments are just as fleeting at the clients' whom I'm trying to convince to let me capture theirs! I have a couple more resolutions brewing in my brain, but this is number one, and possibly the most important of them all.

Are any of us really living the life we want to live? I don't so much mean the house, job, car, even the people in our lives, but more so are any of us the person we wish to be. What are we striving for INSIDE? I know I'm not. A lot of that is due to a lack of TIME, but really, a little organization and motivation can get you a long way. That's why I'm writing it all down. This makes me accountable, you see? ;)

Who I want to be...

I want to be the mother that my kids adore and feel comfortable coming to in good times and in bad. I want them to look up to me and respect me for my morals and how I make other people feel around me.

I want to be the wife that he's excited to see when I walk in the door at the end of the day. I want to be the person that he knows will always be there for him, love him, forgive him, take care of him.

I want to make other people feel good about themselves. Not just the people I love or even like, but the people I pass in the grocery store parking lot. I want to smile at strangers and not be offended when they don't smile back.

I want to see the cup half-full (or more than half!) and have the ability to bring others to feel the same.

I want to make things for people and be that one lady that you know you'll get a card from on your birthday or Christmas or just because I know you like to get mail, even if we haven't talked in years.

I want to read books every night and get lost in the writer's imaginations, and share that love of reading with my girls.

I want to be patient and understanding. I want to show compassion and forgiveness, even to those who don't necessarily deserve it.

I want to be the kind of daughter, friend, sister, mother, cousin, wife that you all need and deserve.

I want to be better in so many ways.

Rather, I am short-tempered and too self-centered. I am sloppy and grudge-holding. I am inconsiderate and flat-out rude sometimes. I worry about everything, and too often the negativity creeps in and takes over. I'm too quick to react and not a patient person in any way.

BUT, please know that I STRIVE to be that person. More days than not, I fail. But I do try. And doesn't that count for something? I hope so.