Category Archives: my life

Ever since I was little I have always had a huge heart for the military.  I really don’t know why…I just do.  I love reading military history (as in soldier’s autobiographies, war stories, military history, etc.), going to Ft. Belvoir with my grandma, and going anywhere where I can watch men in uniform. :) So, I have always wanted to be able to attend a military graduation.  The Jackson family made that dream come true a few weeks ago. :)  Their son, Levi, entered Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.  My family and I went to his going away party and we’ve written him cards and prayed for him through the whole process.  A few weeks before Levi left for Basic his parents invited me to go with them to watch him graduate.  I usually don’t go for 10 day trips with other families, but this is the Jackson family!  We’ve known each other for a little over 2 years but we have so much fun when our families get together.  I’ve had the privilege of taking their family photos 2 years in a row (here and here) and “first year” photos for their second youngest, Boaz, and now I’m doing “first year” photos for their littlest, Nehemiah!  Our families love to get together to play basketball and this Fall Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, their daughter, Kyra, my brother, Caleb, Daddy, and I are running together in an obstacle course race. :)

I was so, so excited when the family I work for let me off of work so I could go!  Mrs. Kendra and I emailed back and forth for days getting excited for the trip.  Finally, Sunday, May 4th arrived and after church I said goodbye to the family and waited for the Jacksons to pick me up.  They were fashionably late *cough*, running on what they call “Wassenberg time”. :)  After some talking about anything and everything, I said goodbye to my family again and got in the car…and we were off to Texas!!!

We first stopped and picked up what was going to be our staple foods for the trip:  granola bars and bean chips. (Organic and yummy of course! :)  Then we made a 5 hour drive to Mrs. Kendra’s cousin’s home in NC.

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Tobias on the drive down.

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We had a delicious burrito bar for dinner and, since it was fairly nice out, we children ate outside. :)

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And then the basketball games began!

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There was a basketball hoop in the court near their home, so, of course, we played a few games. ;)  We even had some neighbor boys come and play so it was like a real game!

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Basketball is so much fun!

After we had our basketball fill, we walked over to a park nearby.  The younger kids played on the playground and the older ones played Horse (there was another b-ball hoop there :).

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Vega C.

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 I love this photo of little Boaz.  :)

As dusk started to fall, we went back to the house, ate ice cream, put the little ones to bed, talked, and then went to sleep ourselves.

The next morning Mrs. Kendra, Kyra, Elijah, and I ran and then Mrs. Petra made us scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast.  Around 10 A.M. we left and drove to GA.  We arrived at another one of Mrs. Kendra’s cousin’s home around dinner time.  Some more sweet family members arrived and we spent the evening with them talking and enjoying delicious Italian food and brownies. :)

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I love all the smiles. :)

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Boaz wasn’t too excited about me taking his picture. :)

The next morning we were up around 5 A.M. and left by 6 A.M. for Baton Rouge, LA.  We arrived early afternoon and got settled in our beautiful Homewood Suites room.  Then Kyra, Mrs. Kendra, and I went and exercised (this was the first vacation I went on where we exercised almost every day…and I loved it!), showered, and then we left the hotel.

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Boaz is such a happy, little guy!

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Boaz and Nehemiah….it’s crazy to think that we met the Jackson’s just before Boaz was born!  :)

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The Jacksons needed a few things at Goodwill, so we all went in and shopped.

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Tobias was my little buddy the entire trip…and he brought those little jeans to me and I was like “Nope, those are just a smidge short for me.  Thanks though, buddy!” ;)

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Yep, we were best buds.  Every time we stopped at a gas station or went anywhere he always wanted to be with “Mousy” (that is the affectionate nickname Mrs. Kendra gave me…if you were wondering ;).

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After the right things were found at Goodwill, we headed over to the restaurant, Boutin’s.  It was an authentic Cajun restaurant and it is where we met up with one of Mrs. Kendra’s friends (and her family) from high school.  The restaurant was next to some beautiful water and while we waited until our reservation time, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

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The light was so pretty in this little spot!!

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Mr. Jackson and his girls. :)

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Those little ducks were pretty friendly, as long as you didn’t try and catch them. :)

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We finally went inside and sat down.  There was a man playing live Cajun music and an open dance floor.  At one point during the dinner the sweetest old couple went and did a little dancing.  I tried to convince Mr. Jackson to take Mrs. Kendra out but I couldn’t. :)

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While I looked over the menu, i was starting to get a little nervous…there were tubs of crawfish with eyes, legs, carapace, everything still on them (they looked like they had just come out of the bayou itself). People were just popping off parts and sucking the, um, goodness out. Finally, I spotted some hamburger and fish options on the menu and I relaxed a bit. :)   Mr. Jackson ordered the sampler appetizer plate and I did try some alligator.  (I did want to try the crawfish tails but I never got to.)   The alligator wasn’t bad…it had an interesting texture but the flavor was fine.

I ordered a a half pound char-grilled hamburger, topped with cheese, sauteed onion and mushroom cajun gravy.that was served with jambalaya, corn maque choux and homemade stuffed potato.

It was really, really good!

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We tried to get Asher to dance with Mrs. Kendra’s friend’s daughter but he got too shy. :)

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Gabrielle and Ciara outside the restaurant.

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Talking outside after dinner.

When we finished we went to Wal-Mart and picked up some food and dessert.  Back at the hotel room, we had Breyers ice cream and fell asleep watching Chopped.

The next morning we went to the delicious hotel breakfast.

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We left after breakfast for our last drive to our destination:  Lackland Air Force Base!

We got on base with no problems and then drove around trying to find our hotel.  Mr. Jackson found the check-in spot, got the key cards for our room, and we drove over, found our rooms and got settled in.  We were on the third (and top) level of what used to be a barracks, but was now converted into a hotel room.

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Two bedrooms shared a bathroom.  The rooms were very nice and Gabrielle and I somehow managed to have the coolest room out of all 4!

Once we were settled in, we drove to the BX to get some food. :)

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Little Nehemiah is such a great traveler! :)

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Which granola bars should we pick?

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In the BX I found these, um, pork patties that would last for 2 years.  Interesting…

We got back to the rooms kind of late that night, the little ones went to bed, we girls went to the gym, and then came home and ate dinner.  As we were walking back to the hotel room from the gym, TAPS was broadcasted throughout the whole base.  Evidently at 9 P.M. TAPS is played to signal everyone to go to bed.  Listening to the crisp, sweet strains of the bugle every night was one of my favorite parts of staying on Lackland.

Thursday morning we had to get up early to go watch Levi run with his flight.

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Waiting for the Airman’s Run to begin!

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This group was the first wave of people in the Airman’s Run. :)

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The guys in the red are Levi’s flight.

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In this photo, Levi is in the last line of men in his flight.

We looked for Levi as his flight passed by but none of us spotted him.  (I didn’t realize that I got a picture of him in his flight until I was going through the photos later. :)

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After all the flights had gone by once, this kind lady started talking to us and invited the young ones to come sit in chairs near where the men ran.  And she let us step under the tape so we could see better.

We were really looking hard for Levi as his flight came back around.

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And then we saw him!!. He waved and smiled at us. :)

After the run, we went inside for a family briefing.

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Levi’s flight is the 320 TRS and Mr. Jackson’s flight was the 321 TRS. :)

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As we watched a movie of the graduates during training, we spotted Levi in line to get his hair cut (he’s the second guy behind the man in front). :)

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After the briefing, we went and found seats for the Airman’s Coin Ceremony.

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These were the honor graduates.  They had a special 15-minute ceremony for acheiving the status of honor grad. :)

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This guy was responsible for keeping the crowd entertained while the flights lined up and prepared for the ceremony.  He had each grandstand do the Wave while saying “Air Force!” and whenever he said “Aim High” the crowd was supposed to reply “Fly, Fight, and Win!”

We were very blessed to be in a grandstand right in front of where the flights lined up. :)  So we could look behind us and see flight after flight, and line after line of men joining up.

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I love the order, crispness, and discipline of the military!!

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Some of the flights marching towards the ceremony site.

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This little tent is where all the dignitaries and special Air Force personnel sat.

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Soon the ceremony began and flight after flight marched in as they were announced.

The main point of this ceremony was to give each Airman their Airman’s Coin and for the men to move from the position of “trainees” to that of “Airmen”.

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A very interesting version of the National Anthem was played as the airmen were given their coins.

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After the ceremony, everyone was allowed out of the stands to go find their Airman.

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We knew where Levi’s flight was, but getting to find one person out of the hundreds on the ground was a challenge.

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We eventually found him…and there was a lot of hugging. :)

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I love this. :)

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Levi’s Airman Coin.

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I think Boaz may have missed his oldest brother. :)

Once we found Levi, we went over to the Blood Drive bus.  I really wanted to give blood but they only wanted O+ (I think…) so, because I didn’t know my blood type, I couldn’t give. :-(

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Mrs. Jackson gave blood, though!

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Once Mrs. Kendra was done giving blood, we went to a museum on base:

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And we found a section about military police on horseback, so we grabbed some photos there. :)  [Left – right:  Ciara J. and I, Gabrielle J. and I]

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Levi only had a base pass on Thursday so we did as much as we could on the base.

After the museum, we went to the Exchange.

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Mrs. Kendra checked out the running shoes (left) and Gabrille tried on some high heels (right). :)

As we were getting ready to leave the Exchange, a lady handed out free raffle tickets.  So we went and watched her jewelry demonstration in hopes of winning something. :)

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Boaz fell asleep on Levi while we watched the presentation.

Ciara actually won the raffle and got to pick out a piece of jewelry!  She chose some pretty pink earrings. :)

We ended the day with Levi by going to the park where we swang, and the kids buried Elijah in the playground rocks:

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Random fact: These massive jackrabbits were all over Lackland.  Bunnies are cute but jackrabbits…not so much. :)

Friday morning was Levi’s actual graduation ceremony.

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Just a quick photo of the view outside of our hotel room. :)

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Nehemiah and Elijah are ready for the graduation!

The ceremony took place on Lackland’s parade ground which was surrounded by different planes.

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We got to the bleachers and then waited for the ceremony to start.  I also snapped photos of the different men walking around in their military uniforms.  I loved seeing military fathers dressed up in their uniforms to watch their child graduate!

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I think these were some of the MTI’s.

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Just some random scenes while we waited for the graduates to arrive. :)

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Soon we could spot a wave of blue marching towards the parade ground.  The flights lined up in this massive field (where they were so far away you could hardly see individuals) before “Passing in Review” on the sidewalk in front of the bleachers.

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This is Levi’s flight.

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Levi’s flight received special recognition for making Honor Flight.

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Because Levi’s flight was the Honor Flight they passed in review first.

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Levi is the middle man in the right photo.

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Taking the Oath of Enlistment.

After the Airmen took the Oath of Enlistment, they were released for the day.  Ciara and I got lost trying to find Levi…thankfully I had a cell phone and could call Mrs. Kendra to find out where they were.  :)

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The proud family. :)

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We then headed over to a Hornet for a family photo.

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Then we went and toured Levi’s dormitory.

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This is the room Levi stayed in!

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Inspecting Levi’s stuff. :)

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On the way out of the dorm we made a pull-up pit-stop.

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Levi did some training on this concrete pad under his dormitory.

Once the dorm tour was over, Levi was allowed to go off base.  So, we headed into San Antonio to tour the Alamo and Riverwalk!

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This horse was the sweetest. :)

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The grounds around the Alamo were beautifully kept and full of life.

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This is part of the Alamo.

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There were many different kinds of cacti in TX! :)

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And there’s the Alamo itself!

I didn’t know much about the Alamo before we went.  The buildings known as the Alamo used to be a mission establishment used by Catholics. The part everyone takes pictures of (like the photo above) was actually the church of the mission.   :)

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Tobias and I in front of the Alamo.

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I loved reading this letter from William Travis that was displayed outside of the Alamo.

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You weren’t allowed to take any photos inside the Alamo, so you’ll have to be satisfied with photos of the outside only. :)

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This tree that was right outside the Alamo was amazing!

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Riding some cannon. :)

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This was a memorial statue outside the Alamo.

After the Alamo tour, we walked down to the Riverwalk.

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The Riverwalk is a river lined with sidewalks, shops, restaurants, and hotels in a beautifully landscaped environment.

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Mr. Jackson had double-duty for part of the Riverwalk! :)  He carried Nehemiah and Boaz!

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Isn’t it beautiful?!!?  The Lord gave us a beautiful day to spend outdoors and surrounded by such beauty!

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We were walking along, enjoying the day, when the skies started getting darker and thunder started rumbling in the distance.  Before we knew it, it started pouring down rain!

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We were on our way to a restaurant when it started raining.  So, we could either wait under a bridge until the rain stopped or run through the rain to the restaurant.  We decided on the latter. :)  We ran from one bridge to the next until we got to the restaurant!  We were soaking wet but it was a very memorable and fun part of the trip! :)

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We ate at Rita’s on the River and it was delicious!

As we finished up eating our lunner (lunch + dinner) the skies cleared and soon you could hardly tell it had rained :)  The skies became clear and blue and the sun came out!

We went out and walked along the Riverwalk some more.  We stopped at a gift shop, as well, and it had lots of things I liked:

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:)

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The boys loved the coonskin hats.

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There’s an edge to Texas that I really, really like. ;)

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The last scenic photo from the riverwalk.

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Touching the water for the last time. :)

On our way back to the car we walked by Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museum.

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They had this robotic dinosaur that moved and made some noises.  It scared Boaz to death. :)

When we got the van, we started piling in and Mr. Jackson said “Hey, someone popped the lock on the van.”  At first I just thought he was joking, but he kept saying it so we all piled around to see what he was talking about.

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Yep, someone popped the lock on the driver’s side of the van.  :)  Everyone scrambled around trying to figure out what had been stolen.  Eventually we found that Kyra’s purse (and her iPad), Mrs. Kendra’s first aid kit and Nehemiah’s diaper bag was gone.  Thankfully, the Lord blinded the thief’s eyes and he didn’t grab the bag with the computer and the other iPads that were spread throughout the van.  :)  We called the police, reported it, and then headed back to base.  (Levi had to be back on base by 8 P.M.)

We had an amusing experience passing through base security that night.  The soldier on guard wanted to come look in the van, so we opened the door.  He came up one step, scanned the entire van, and then asked “You’re all one family?”  We said “Yep!” and then he said “That’s weird,” stared for a moment, and then left.  We all laughed about it after we passed through! :)

Saturday we picked up Levi and then headed back into San Antonio to visit the Zoo and The Tower of the Americas.

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I hadn’t been to a zoo in at least 10 years, so it was fun to observe all the different wildlife!

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This lemur was very impolite…going out a limb to relieve himself in front of us. :)

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The aquarium building was really neat!  I loved thinking about my Na-naw and Paw-paw diving and seeing most of these creatures in the ocean!

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The little boys favorite animals seemed to be the monkeys.

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Elijah checking out a snake.

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Can you spot the lizard in the right photo?

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The hippo was rather disgusting…there is nothing attractive about that animal to me.

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These two animals (the one above left and below) were my favorites.  :)  Okay, so they look sort of like horses…how could I not love them?

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The ostriches were hilarious.  They were in with the zebras, elephant, and other animals and tried to stay as far from the zebras as they could. :)

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I had no idea rhinos were so big!  The rhino is one of my brother, Seth’s, favorite animals and I could see why.  The look so powerful and strong…and huge.  I wouldn’t want to cross a rhino who was having a bad day. :)

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I always love the lions and tigers.  I think they’re some of the most beautiful creatures!

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As we were leaving the zoo, we watched a zookeeper feeding an alligator some fish.

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It was very hot at the zoo, so we didn’t last very long.  :)  Next we went to the Tower of the America’s, a 750 ft. tower in San Antonio!

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We took an elevator to the top and saw some magnificent views of the city!

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Note to those who wear flowy skirts:  don’t wear one to the top of the Tower of the Americas.  There are some very strong winds that are a curse to skirt-wearers who are trying to be modest. (And, yes, I speak from personal experience. :)

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After we went to the top of the Tower of the Americas, we watched a 3-D movie called, The Skies Over Texas.  It was very nice!  Your seats shifted, water spritzed you, and a viper came lunging towards your face.  :)

You had to be a certain height to watch the movie, so Mrs. Kendra took the little boys outside.  The Tower of the Americas had a water play area and the boys enjoyed getting drenched!

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Before we knew it, we needed to return to base.  We stopped at a gas station across from Levi’s dormitory and said goodbye there.

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Sunday morning we drove to Voddie Baucham’s church outside of Houston.  The sermon was wonderful!!  (I love listening to Mr. Baucham!)  Mrs. Kendra’s Aunt Gail and Uncle Skip lived about 10 minutes away from Baucham’s church, so we went there afterwards.

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Uncle Skip had a whole collection of belt buckles!

We visited for a little while, until Mrs. Kendra’s sister and nephew arrived, then we traveled to Aunt Gail and Uncle Skip’s son’s home. :)

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I loved all the big ranches and endless fields in Texas!  I didn’t see as many horses as I wanted to, but I did see a few:

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We enjoyed a great time visiting and fellowshipping with Mrs. Kendra’s family!  They had a pool in the backyard, so the boys hopped in!

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We also played corn hole.

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Fixing up dinner. :)

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Dinner was absolutely amazing!!  Mrs. Kendra’s family was so warm, inviting, and sweet!  It was so nice to meet all of them!

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Eating dinner.

Kyra, Ciara, myself, and Gabrielle. (Thanks to Mrs. Gail for the photo. :)

We traveled to LA late Sunday night, drove to GA on Monday, and then to NC on Tuesday.  We spent the night Tuesday and then went and picked organic strawberries on Wed. on the way home.  The Jacksons dropped me off at home around 3 P.M.

There you have a long, photo-filled recap of my trip to TX with the Jacksons!  It was so much fun and I’m so grateful to their family for letting me come along!!  :)

Kimber :)

In March my sister, Lexi, and I had the chance to go up to Washington D.C. and photograph the cherry blossoms!  My grandparents live a little bit outside D.C., and Daddy was going up to their house to do some work, so I called Grandma to see if she would have time to take us.  She said yes!  She had something going on in the afternoon, so we had to get there in the morning and we’d only be there for a few hours…but that was better than nothing!   The only bad part was that thunderstorms were forecast all night and into the morning.  Even if I could go see the cherry blossoms, there might not be any left on the trees!  I prayed and left it up to God.

As we drove up to D.C. it was raining…and pretty hard sometimes.  But as we got closer to the cherry trees, the rain lessened until it was just a sprinkling!  Eventually, it cleared up completely and the sun came out!  Sadly, this was near the time we had to leave, so I got very few pictures with the sun.  But I still enjoyed seeing the cherry blossoms for the first time and I’m very grateful Grandma moved around her schedule to take Lexi and I up there.  I’m also grateful to Lexi for being my beautiful model and holding one of my lenses while I used another one, or carrying my backpack.  She was great! :)

Enjoy some pictures of the cherry blossoms!

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Yes, this isn’t a cherry tree…I just found this tree on the way to the blossoms and had to have a picture. The structure was just too amazing!

The cherry trees were literally drooping with the weight of the blossoms (and all the rain drops!).

The cherry trees were literally drooping with the weight of the blossoms (and all the rain drops!).

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Lexi in a cherry tree. :)

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I got Lexi to take some updated pictures of me too. :)

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The Jefferson Memorial. This is the closest I’ve ever been to it. Hopefully sometime this year I’ll get back up to D.C. and get to visit all the important sites I’ve never been to. :)

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The umbrella we had brought along made a great background! (Thanks to Lexi for the idea!)

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The rain did knock a good amount of petals off but thankfully there were still many left!

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The sun came out and was so, so pretty!

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There were some beds of tulips nearby, so we stopped to get a picture of them as we headed back to the car.

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The last stop we made that day was the war memorial.  Grandma went to go get the car and left us there to look around (we’d never seen it before).

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:)

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This is the view of the Washington Monument from the War Memorial. They are doing work on it, hence the scaffolding. :)

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Self portrait!

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One more view of the War Memorial. It wasn’t that pretty because the fountains weren’t on, but I still enjoyed looking around it!

Well, there you have a quick recap of my trip to D.C. to photograph the cherry blossoms!  Hopefully I’ll go again next year…we’ll see!

Kimber :)

Everyone who knows me knows I love horses.  I just do.  I can’t really tell you why, and those who don’t have that insatiable horse love look at me in sheer wonder, with eyes glazing over, when I try and describe what a wonderful animal a horse is.  They just don’t get it…and I feel sorry for them.  (Ha! :)  But back to all seriousness, I’ve dreamed since the day I was born to have a horse of my own.  I would love to walk to the horse farm down the road and pet the horses velvety necks and feed them fresh-picked clover.  I asked for horse sheets for around 5 years until I got them.  I loved the one shirt my aunt bought me years ago that just said “I love horses”.  When I was around 8-10 I had my first opportunity to work with horses.  I got to show minis (miniature horses)!!  I showed a mini named Coco in the State Fair in an obstacle course and jumping course.  It was nice but I always loved the bigger horses more.  A horse that’s smaller than you doesn’t hold that same magnificence or emanate power like a big horse does (in my opinion :).  I first learned to ride a “big horse” when I went to horse camp with my sister, Hannah.  I remember Mama showing me the $100 that she and Daddy were sacrificing to let me go to this camp…it meant a lot.  Horse camp was frustrating, though, because the horse I was riding was slower than dirt itself…until he came to one stretch of barrel “racing” (more like “walking” for this guy) and took off at a canter, with me hanging on for dear life.

Then came a lull in my horse life.

I wanted to be around them but God was shutting the doors.  I could either be mad at Him or realize that He must’ve had some plan greater than I could see at that moment and just let the horses go.   So I gave that love back to God, knowing that He loved me and had to have given me this love for a reason.

I went about 2 years doing nothing with horses.  Then the barn down the road needed someone to take care of the race horses there.  Daddy found out, hooked me up with the lady who owned them, and I had a job!  A job with horses!

Through my boss there I started learning how to ride (or not to ride :).  It started with her one year old horse, Sassy.  My boss let me help break this horse.  I was the first person to sit on the horse.  My boss was so kind in giving me free horse lessons whenever she got the chance.  But things were getting crazy.  I was a green (a.k.a. inexperienced) rider and I was on a green horse.  Needless to say, I was getting frustrated and so was Sassy, to the point that she was hinting about bucking me off.  I didn’t feel like dying anytime soon so I stopped riding her.  My boss still wanted me to learn to ride, though, so she paid for me to get a lesson from this girl named April.  April had worked for my boss at her other barn and she gave horse lessons on the side.  I had my first lesson and loved it!

Long story short, I’ve been taking lessons every week now.  April’s been teaching me the beginning stages of dressage and it’s so much fun!  I love it!  It’s amazing how, when you give something you desperately want to cling onto, back to God (and leave it there!) how He’ll bless you beyond your wildest dreams. If you had told me 2 years ago that I would be showing a horse this year I would’ve thought you were crazy!   What a great God we serve!

I had my first dressage show this past Saturday and it was so much fun!  I’m a very nervous person by nature, but I covered the show in prayer and I had very little nervousness the day of.  I was more nervous the day before than when I was actually at the show!

The day before the show I had a lesson, gave Pigpony (that’s the horse I ride :) a bath and braided her tail, cleaned all my tack, boots, and spurs.  I woke up at 5 A.M. Sat. morning and got to April’s by 6 A.M.  I cleaned Piggy’s stall (“piggy” is my affectionate term for Pigpony) and then April’s mom “braided” Pigpony’s mane while I made sure Piggy stood still.  Then we packed stuff in the trailer and were off!

The show was only 15 minutes away and had a very laid-back and friendly atmosphere.  Once we arrived, April tacked up Pigpony so I could don my dressage outfit and get to the warm-up ring before my first ride at 9:18 A.M.

April gave me a mini-lesson in the warm-up ring and then she had to go tack up her horse (she was showing too).  April’s mom let me know when it was about time for me to be “on deck” and, before I knew it, I was doing my first dressage test!  [For those of you who like details, I did Training Level Test B and C.]

  2013-05-14_010Lexi, my sister, grabbed this picture of Pigpony and I in the warm-up ring before my test started.

Grandma and Grandpa, my family, and my Na-naw all came for my show.  It meant a lot to me for them to come watch!

 

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Isn’t Pigpony beautiful?  (Please excuse that little bit of grass on her mouth..she wasn’t supposed to eat but that’s Piggy’s main directive: find food and snarf it down.)

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My little brother, Judah, watching another rider.

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Going down the centerline in the dressage ring.

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Saluting the judge.

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I was pretty happy about my first dressage test.  My biggest worry was that I wouldn’t be able to keep Piggy slow (she loves to go fast) but I kept myself balanced and so did Piggy.  Our circles could’ve been much better, but, overall, I was very happy with it.

I placed second in this test with a 70% score, which April said is really good for a first show.

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Practicing our canter in the warm-up ring before my second test.

My second dressage test was at 10:08 (I think) so Piggy and I just hung out in the warm-up ring until my next test was called.  I talked to my Mama and siblings some and drank some water because I was thirsty!!

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This is one awful picture of me but I love the color and light of the picture…plus you get to see how pretty Piggy is! :)  (For any horse freaks out there, Piggy is a Halflinger.)

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Cantering in my second dressage test.

The second dressage test I did was my favorite.  It wasn’t near as good but I loved getting to canter!  Piggy was upset with me for some reason, so she tossed her head the entire test which is awful in dressage…it shows that the horse isn’t connected with you, isn’t responding to my aids, and so on.  It’s also harder to keep your balance when your horse is throwing its head around.  I was still happy with our performance, though.  :)

I scored a first in this test but only because I was the only one in the class.  My percentage was 60% so I know I wouldn’t have placed first if someone else was in it.  It’s still fun to say I got first though!

One other fun part of the day was that I was given a ribbon that said “Reserve Champion”.  I had no idea what that meant, so I asked April.  She said that it meant I had the second highest score out of the people in my age group.  That was rather exciting!

So, there you have a rather long overview of my love for horses and my first dressage show!  Hopefully you’ll be seeing more about the horses I ride and dressage shows I’m doing, but I’m not really sure where God’s taking me with this.  I’m just along for the ride…enjoying every minute!

Kimber :)

P.S. – Caleb took some videos of me riding but I’m not sure how to get them on here.  If I figure it out, I’ll post one or two.  Sometimes videos do more justice to things than a picture.

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My Wonderful Graduation

I had the wonderful experience of graduating from High School with my sister, Hannah, this past Saturday.  To put it quite simply, it was a wonderful day!
I really thought I was going to end up being nervous but I wasn’t!  I really enjoyed every minute…of course some of those minutes were a bit more awkward or intimidating than others, but all in all I loved my graduation day!  
My major graduation highlights were:
1.  Getting to meet some of the other home school graduates.  Some of them were, quite honestly, awkward but others were funny and kind.  The camaraderie that was formed in just a few minutes of getting to know each other was something I will always remember (after all, when you’re with the same row of people for 5 hours you have to get along :).  My sister and I graduated at the ceremony H.E.A.V. holds for home schoolers.  There were 198 of us graduating this year and 193 of those 198 I had never met before.  I couldn’t help but think, “If every home school graduate in this room was sold out to Christ, so much could get done for the Kingdom!!” 
2.  Getting to graduate in H.E.A.V.‘s graduation ceremony.  A private ceremony could’ve been nice but I really loved getting to graduate with 196 other home school graduates.  It helped me feel like I wasn’t the only home school graduate, that there were others like me.  Plus, I loved getting to look “official” and wear the clothing called a gown that really resembles a white trash bag. :)  I loved wearing the cap too with the gold tassel.  It just felt like my graduation was real…and I was proud (not in the perverse way) to make it through high school. :)  Sure I looked awful funny in my cap and gown but it felt like the real thing, you know what I mean?
Me (2nd from left) and my sister, Hannah (behind me).
4.  I got to wear my dress!  This wasn’t just any dress…this was the dress that Hannah and I searched week after week for.  We finally found the right one that was in our price range, and then Grandma kindly bought it for us!  I ordered a sky blue dress and Hannah a white one.  When they first arrived in the mail they were stuffed into this tiny little box and I only thought one dress would fit into a box that big!  But, to my surprise, both of our dresses were there!  And, of course, you must know we put them on as fast as we could.  :)   They fit wonderfully with the exception that they were a little too long.  (Grandma had them hemmed for us too! :)

I love so many things about my graduation dress.  The color, for one, is one of my favorite colors (pastel blue) and it’s flattering.   I also love the layers of chiffon and the gathered waist with the accent.  All in all it’s my favorite dress.  Ever.

My sister and I decided to not let anyone (other than close family and one other friend) see our dresses until we graduated.   We were originally going to get another photographer to do our Senior pictures but we chose Daddy in the end!  So, believe it or not,  my multi-talented father took our senior pictures!  And he did an awesome job!  I have always wanted to go see the cherry blossom festival in D.C.  What could be better than us in our dresses in front of hundreds of pink, flowering trees?!  Perfect photographic opportunity!!  I just couldn’t pass it up!  So Daddy, Hannah, Alexis (another sister), and I went up to my grandparents house one weekend.  We were originally planning on going into D.C. but decided just to take pictures around my grandparents location (lots less traffic).  One of the reasons we stayed “local” was because the weather forecast was calling for lots of rain.  Nevertheless, we drove 1 1/2 hours to get to some pretty cherry blossoms so we weren’t about to give up at some rain!!  Plus, I remember Katelyn James saying that a rainy day actually has beautiful light…and it’s SO true!  The light was beautiful!!

Anyways, here are some of the pictures! :)

 Loved graduating with my sister!!

See all those cherry blossom petals on the ground?  It was lightly raining during all of these pictures, so some of the petals were falling off.  Thankfully, there were plenty of blossoms left on the tree! :)

I got to take a few pictures of Hannah while Daddy went to go scout out some more photo locations.  :)  I’ve got one gorgeous sister, don’t I?

 My other sister, Alexis, was our pose professional.  She posed Hannah and I (for most of the pictures) and was in charge of making sure everything looked right.  She also took a few pictures of me.

 Love all these cherry blossoms!!

 I found this brick wall and was so glad we stopped here for pictures! :)

Something’s a tad twiggy in my face…

 This tree that we were taking pictures under was actually in a big median strip at the entrance to a neighborhood!! 

 Towards the end of our pictures, it really started raining, so we brought out the umbrellas and kept taking pictures! :)

Okay, so I’m sorry about that long bunny trail…back to what I was talking about!

4.  I loved being exhorted by one of my favorite speakers (Rick Boyer) during the ceremony.  I’ve always loved listening to Mr. Boyer’s seminars at the yearly convention, so I was excited to find out that he was speaking at our graduation!   This post is already getting long enough so hopefully I’ll post about his exhortation to us next week.

5.  Getting to visit with friends and family at our graduation party that night.  I’m so blessed to have a loving family and many kind friends!

6.  Publicly thanking Mama and Daddy for all the work they put into us. :)  Hannah and I wanted to thank Mama and Daddy publicly once we graduated.  They did so much for us as we went through school!  We also wanted to thank them to show those friends and family celebrating with us, that they weren’t forcing us to do or be someone or something….they home schooled us because they had our best interests at heart!  I could never thank them enough!!

7.  Learning that, as my parent’s graduation gift to Hannah and I, we get to go to Colombia to meet our sponsored children!  When I read the note telling us that we were going to see our sponsored child, I started crying!  The sponsored child I write, Luz, said in one of her letters that she really wishes she could see me.  I wrote her back saying I wish I could to and that I’d start praying we could meet one day!  Imagine my delight to find out that I was going to see her after all! :)

So there you have an exhaustive list of what I loved about my graduation!  I’m sure I missed something but I think I got the majority of it!

Have a great weekend everyone!
Kimber :)

Random Info :)

So, I was hoping I could get a nice, long post up this week but time is limited, so a short one will have to do!
After photographing 1 1/2 weddings this year, I didn’t think I would be doing anymore…until Becky called.  Becky and her family used to babysit me!!  Anyways, I’m excited to say that I’m the photographer for her wedding on August 11th!  Monday night I have this couple’s engagement session and I can’t wait to share the pictures with you!
I also *might* be doing another wedding on December 1st!  I had no idea I would be doing more weddings this year, but God has been so good and given me more than I could have asked or even thought for!  I’m so blessed that our friends would entrust me with the pictures on the biggest day of their life!!
Erin showed us a certain video the other night and I wanted to share it with you, so you could be blessed by it as well.  Here it is:
Isn’t that beautiful?
Have a great weekend everyone!  And stay cool…it’s HOT out there!
Kimber :)

Reflections on Growing Up

I don’t really know who reads this blog, so I’m not sure how many of you know that I’m graduating this year.  
I’m only 16 (I’ll be 16 1/2 when I “officially” graduate) but Mama started schooling me at the same time she started my older sister, Hannah, so I get to finish early. :) 
It’s a crazy thing for me…graduating.  I’ve looked forward to this my entire life and, now that it’s so close, I want to pull back and slow down these last weeks of school.  But I also have those days that I get very excited that I’ll be done with school soon!  The thought that after we graduate at the 2012 HEAV Homeschool Convention, I won’t have to do Science, History, Math, WriteShop, etc. 4-5 days a week is mind-boggling.  I spend a lot of time in school and what in the world am I going to do with that free time?
One thing I know for sure, I’m going to try my hardest not to waste time.  And I’m not going to quit learning.  I never want to be a good-for-nothing teenager that is only a draw on her parents and family…no!  My parents have given me so much and I’m not going to leech off of them when they’ve done so much for me already.
 I have many ideas as to what to do and I’m excited about what the Lord has for me after high school.
But I’m also nervous about graduating.
All I’ve known consistently for 16 years of my life has been my family, my Lord, and school.  And, by June, most of my school will be over…forever.  I mean, I might take some more classes just for fun, but the major hunk of schoolwork is over.
When I was younger I thought that people who graduated were no longer a little kid or teenger…now they are mature young adults.  (I know now that graduating, in and of itself, doesn’t make you mature but it does help.)   The whole thought of me no longer being a young, carefree person is so weird.  I’ve always been young (funny how you start out like that ;) and now I’m graduating…and that means I’m not so young anymore.
It’s just the realization that I’m no longer a little kid that hits me the hardest.   I’m not 100% totally dependent on Mama and Daddy anymore.  I’m becoming my own person.  
No, I’m not moving out of the house or going to college.  I’m not moving out of the house because I absolutely love my family, couldn’t stand living apart from them just to “have my own place”, and I want to be a bigger help to them now that I’ll be graduated.  I want to help Mama school the younger ones, help Daddy out more, invest in where we live currently (it’s gonna’ be flower heaven over here!), etc.  And I’m not going to college because, as Daddy says, college is just a place where you pay exorbitant amounts of money to have someone make sure you read your books and pass the tests.  If we had the same books a college had and an insatiable desire to learn, we could learn just as much and more, without the price tag.   (College is such a hot topic with lots of people…they act like you’re an alien from a distant cosmos when you say you’re not going to college.  Just because someone doesn’t want to go to college doesn’t automatically make them dumb, stupid, and useless!!  College does have its purposes and we’re not totally against them…I’m just not going.  All the things I want to do I can learn how to do very easily right here at home.  Besides, what I want to be most of all, a wife and mother, the professors at college cannot give degrees for.  I’ve got the perfect college professor for mothering/homemaking right here….her name is Mama!)
Anyways, I guess the other hard-hitting thing for me is the fact that I only have a few years left with my family.  I have no idea when (and if) the Lord will bring my future husband along, but…it could end up being 15, 20, or even 30 years before I could get married but chances are it’ll be before then.  And there’s no guarantee I’m going to get married but I have a reason why I think I will (but I’m not going to tell you :).  The oddest thought is that I could be married in 2-3 years at the earliest.  Just thinking about that is totally weird to me.  2 or 3 years?  Yikes!!  I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be that soon, but it’s still weird to think about. :) 
My years as a single lady are, most likely, numbered.  Am I doing everything to utilize these years for God’s glory?
Anyways, I just felt like typing up my thoughts…thank you for enduring this post. :)

  I really love where I am right now in life.  I could be a little picky and say some things I’d like changed, but I’m not going to complain.  I’m totally happy with where God has me!  Once I graduate, it’ll be so exciting to see what else He has in store for me!
Kimber :)

My Little Brother

I have this little guy that I really, really love.  He’s mischevious, way too cute, and has the biggest, and best, smile I’ve ever seen! :)
Meet my brother:
Yes, I also have 7 other siblings who are the best in the world…but today, this post is about my youngest sibling, Judah. :)
Really…how can that smile not light up your day?

My oldest sister, Hannah, was reading Judah a book last week and he would close the book, then Hannah would tickle him and get these smiles out of him. :)  I was sitting at the computer doing something and I had to pick up my camera and capture his little chubby cheeks!
I’m not sure why little ones seem to grab you so strongly…maybe it’s just because they’re so tiny…
…or always have a way of getting into things and upsetting you one second and then making you want to whip them up into your arms and give those cheeks a big kiss in the next. :)
 Maybe it’s the wonder they hold in their eyes as they discover something new.
Or it could be that they smile so easily?
Maybe it’s his blond hair…
…or big, blue eyes.
Whatever the reason…
…this little guy…

…is oh, so precious to me!
Kimber :)

2012 Photography Goals

So, now it’s 2012!  I’m really starting to believe that the older I get, the faster time flies.  It’s a good and bad thing.  :)  
Seeing as it’s January now, I want to write up my photography goals for this year.  I’ve never done this before, but I’m excited to this year!  I really think having my goals displayed for anyone to see will keep me accountable! :)  
But before my goals are listed here, I wanted to list some praises from the past year, as well as prayers for the  upcoming one!
The praises:
  • I’ve had more photography sessions this year than ever before!!  I’m so grateful to everyone who entrusted me with their pictures…I don’t think they realize how much of a blessing it was to capture their families, relationships, etc. 
  • I got my own computer!  We found a computer on Craigslist a few months ago and it was just what I was looking for!  I had recently tried a 30-day free trial of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 and I absolutely loved it.  Photoshop Elements faded very quickly as a great editing program when compared to the superb editing features of Lightroom.  I was really excited about Lightroom, the only damper being that it was expensive.  I mean, like $400 (that’s a lot for me right now!).  I was praying about how to get it for cheaper and then someone in our family found a fairly new computer, with lots of storage space, and, hold your breath, Lightroom and Photoshop Elements on it! :)  It sounded perfect.  (It was obvious someone in the photography circle was trying to get out of the business.)  They were selling the computer, printer, and all the programs for only $400.  The Lord answered my prayers beyond what I could ever have thought possible!  After all, Lightroom itself cost $400 and I was getting a computer, printer, Lightroom and Photoshop Elements for just $400 (and the computer was just over a year old)!  It’s amazing how the Lord provides.  At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the money for an entire new computer, but Daddy finally helped make my mind up.  We went and picked up the computer and now it sits in a little corner of our business room, and it’s perfect. Now I can keep all my pictures in one place, and I don’t have to worry about them taking up disk space on our family computer, getting lost, accidentally deleted, etc.  It’s great. :)  This is my little “photo corner” now:
Yikes!  I should’ve cleaned my screen before I took this picture! :)
  •  I got my own phone for Christmas!  That may not seem like a “praise” concerning my photography, but it is.  You see, I couldn’t get a business card until I had my own phone.  :)  So, now I’ve got a phone and I can get business cards! :)

Now, I’m sure I missed many praises from this past year, but that’s what came off the top of my head!  My main prayer for this year’s photography endeavors is as follows:
  • To glorify and magnify God even more through my photography.  I could never bring too much glory to God and, I say, the more the better! :)  I want my clients to know how much I love the Lord and that He is the sole reason for anything good that comes out of me.
     
Well, time for my 2012 photography goals!  I’ve got a quite a list!
  • Get a TON better at my photography!  This may seem like an obvious goal but I really, really want to improve.  I want to look back at this year and be shocked at how much better the pictures were than in 2011. 
  • Post to this blog at least once a week.  I’m excited about this goal!  I already have ideas of what to write up each week I don’t have any pictures to share! :)  It will be a challenge to consistently post to this blog (and my family blog) weekly, but I’m going for it!  I’m going to post personal stuff, photography info that’s helped me, recent/random pictures I’ve taken, etc.  It’s going to be great. :)
  • Get a website and design my logo, colors, fonts, etc.  This will probably be the hardest goal to complete this year.  First off, I wish I could design my own website but I just don’t have the time right now.  So, I’m looking for a designer…but I’m picky.  The designer needs to be a Christian and I want him/her to like what I like because that will make things easier! :)  So, if any of you know of any great, kind, Christian (inexpensive is always nice too :) web/blog designers, please let me know about him/her!
  • Get business cards.  I was going to wait until I got my website and “look” down before I got business cards (that way everything would match) but Daddy’s encouraging me to get them now…because who knows when I’ll actually get the website?  Plus, he wants to be able to pass them out to his customers and such…so, hopefully I’ll be getting business cards really soon!  (I’ll be sure to show them off on this blog when I do!)
  • Get professional C.D. packaging.  This goal goes along with  my website goal…I can’t get more professional packaging until I know what colors, fonts, graphics, etc. match me, my photography, and my website.  Right now I’m using these tacky, colored jewel cases to hold my C.D.’s.  I’ve been adding some scrapbook paper and layers to the front of the C.D. but I still don’t like it.  I want to give my clients (sounds so weird to say that…) something so much better!
  • Discover new poses and find ways to articulate how to “do the pose” to my customers.  I often find myself brain-dead (concerning new poses) in the middle of photo shoots and I hate it.  I want to have ideas, know what I’m doing, and not stand around looking like I’m lost.  It’s terrible, and I’m determined to fix it.  :)  [Watch out, siblings, I’m sensing that I’ll be using you as models soon! ;)]
  •  Make every photo shoot look different.  This means that I’m going to strive to do at least one new pose for every photo shoot.   I have the same 4-6 poses I use and then, once-again, I go brain-dead and my creativity flies far, far away and my clients sit there, uncomfortable, waiting for their slow photographer to suggest something! :)
  • Give my clients a better experience, whether it be during the actual photo shoot, emailing, or giving them their pictures.   (This whole idea comes from one of my favorite photographers, Katelyn James.)  I tend to be on the shy, quiet side when I don’t know someone really well and that is a terrible personality to have when you’re a photographer!  Most people are already nervous about having their picture taken and when their photographer timidly suggests something it doesn’t calm their fears at all (I’ve observed this myself…).  I need to know what I want, ask for it kindly and with authority (in a fun way), and, as they’re figuring out the pose, encourage them!  I don’t want my photography shoots to be an uncomfortable experience for anyone at anytime.  I really want them to enjoy themselves during the time I have with them!  I also want to improve my clients experience by being up-front with everything (prices, locations, advice, etc.), so they don’t have to wonder how this or that works.  From the time they first email me I want everything to go smoothly and with zero confusion.  I also want to bless my clients more and I plan to do this with my C.D. packaging.  I have some fun ideas but I can’t share them with you until I actually do it! :)
All in all, I’m really excited about the upcoming year!  I’ve got a lot I need to work on but I already know it’s going to be a great one!
By the way, it seems so weird to me, to refer to the people I took pictures of this year, as “clients”.  I really don’t like that term.  My “clients” are now my friends and I’d much rather call them as such.  It’s amazing how close you get to people you take pictures for!  For example, a girl at church (whose family I photographed last year), excitedly waves at me whenever she sees me…and then she comes over and gives me a  big hug and asks me how I’m doing.  (She also calls me Miss Kimber…I don’t think I’ll ever get used to someone calling me “Miss”! :) I don’t know if I ever talked to this particular girl before the photo shoot, and now, she treats me like I’m her best friend!  It’s great!
Ever since I was young I’ve never thought that I was a “people person”…you know, the type of person that loves talking to anyone and everyone about anything?  I’ve actually prayed, many times, that God would give me a greater heart for people and I think, through photography, He’s answered that prayer.  I’ve found that I really enjoy getting to know families and their stories…I love hearing how engaged people met and how the proposal went…I love following around little toddlers and capturing their sweet smiles and personalities…I love holding little babies and freezing time, through a picture, of their tiny fingers and feet…I love capturing the love between a newly engaged couple, or between seasoned pros!  I love it all. Every season in a person’s life, from their first breaths to their last few years of life, is beautiful to me.  
What a joy it is to get to capture all these things!
Thank you, Jesus!
Kimber :)