Monday, September 29, 2008

Not Yet

This is a picture of the 50 year old 35W bridge after it collapsed (click on link to see video) on August 1, 2007 during the height of rush hour, killing 13 people and injuring 145 more. Just days before I had been over this bridge several times, going to and from the airport and in and out of town. I'm so glad I didn't have business on this day to go over the bridge for.

Amazing how a bridge falling down can gridlock the phone system. People from out of town tried calling into the state, only to find their calls could not be connected. Imagine what will happen if we have a tragedy on even a bigger scale.

The new bridge opened the morning of Thursday Sept 18.

I was down in the area this morning, but my GPS didn't know it was opened and took me around it, so I have yet to go over the new white beautiful bridge. My parents from Utah went over it before I have! I did drive next to it, and it is beautiful and hopefully very sturdy.
While I was in the cities I had to go into a business that had a very steep and narrow spiral staircase. I had my two little girls with me and we had to climb this thing, thankfully only one story. But that one story up and down made my stomach twist into knots. I then realized that my fear of drowning is outweighed by my fear of falling. I've always had a difficult time when I'm close to a ledge, and I absolutely HATE having my children near them as well. My stomach starts hurting and I get a strange unpleasant feeling inside. When Jake was little we would visit Taylor's falls and walk around on the rocks. He was a clumsy kid, always falling, and it was literally painful for me to watch him walking around on the rocks even within 10 feet of a ledge. My husband doesn't understand that and would roll his eyes at me, "nothing's going to happen". Whatever, it still gives my stomach pains. My next husband will understand ;)

Anyway, I'm glad the bridge is open, but there is a lot of psychological effect on me to this day from that. I've always hated being under bridges and assumed it was my claustrophobia that contributed to that, such as when you have a stop light ahead and cars are stopped clear back under a bridge. But now I hate even driving across most bridges. I don't think I'd be able to drive my old route anymore that I took to work. Most mornings I was stopped on a bridge that would bounce up and down as trucks roared across it. I'm certain I couldn't sit on that bridge in my car ever again.

Julie's drowning has affected me with rivers now. Joel doesn't understand that either. When we were camping, I couldn't bring myself to wander down the path to a dam over a river. My chest fills with panic and fear. It's a really uncomfortable feeling.
So here are my biggest fears in order...

1. Being eaten/or one of my children being eaten by a bear (my husband doesn't get this one either)
2. Falling
3. Drowning
4. Losing my purse (This is probably the only fear my husband understands)

And now you know. And I didn't mean for this to be a "husband doesn't understand me" post, it just turned out that way.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Awesome Video... Check it out

This video ad earned nine YouTube honors within the first 24 hours of its release and has already raised concerns at NPR radio and

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The BEST Movie I've seen in a LONG TIME

Forever Strong

I am not a good writer, so I would never do this movie justice, but I have to say GO SEE IT, and take your 13 and up kids with you! I wish there were more movies like this out there. It is based on a true story and I think it kept real with reality. It's gotten some pretty hard knocks from critics (who I suspect are pro-letting kids drink and ruin their lives), but don't listen to them, SERIOUSLY, they are all *twirls her finger around her ear* wink, wink.
If you see it and love it, give the critics an earful, because with their negative attitudes we'll never get a good flood into the market of clean good movies.

Michelle, you should go see it and write a review, you're good at that!

Friday, September 26, 2008


For the last several days I have had some wonderful guests at my home, and I am so sad to see them go. I told my sister she couldn't have them back, but then she tried to talk them into kidnapping me. Alas, neither of us won. Well, she did kind of win because she's getting our parents back in a couple of days.
This morning my parents departed and headed back for Utah.
But we had a very nice visit and I am so thankful for the sacrifices they've made to come visit my little family again. AND this time they even let me cook for them! Finally, I wore them down.
I was scheduled to photograph a new little one in our ward, this evening, but it has been postponed due to illness. I have yet to see little Ellie, and have been really excited, and NERVOUS to do her session. Excited because she is a special little one, and daughter of a really amazing couple in our ward. Nervous because they have been super excited about the session too, and so I have some great expectations to live up to!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Time for reflection

I've been very busy in the last few days, but have had a lot of time for some personal reflection. Thinking about the past and where I am now. Where do I wish I was. How far I've come, how far I have to get to where I want to be going.
Ramona's funeral was beautiful. Lara spoke and did a beautiful job, telling us about her beautiful daughter and special things about her and her life.
Laura has such great faith. So does her husband. I admire them, and their strength. I admire how their trials have brought them closer.
I don't think my marriage would survive something like that. Hopefully we never have to find out.
Today I was listening to BYU tv, as I do every Sunday morning when I'm getting ready for church. There were a couple of lines that stood out to me from a speaker that was talking.
The first says, "Our character is determined by how we perform in meeting life's challenges."
I'm not sure what that says about my character. When I have difficult things come at me in life, I tend to draw nearer to God but push everyone else away.
Which also brings me to the second quote, "We are poor in character when we substitute getting by as a substitute for doing our best." I do tend to "up my game" when faced with challenges. I dig my heels in, tackle the problem, and turn to God more. I don't try to just survive, I want to beat what ever it is.... to a pulp if needs be. I think a lot of people can't handle that part of my personality. My husband is more the type to just let whatever happen, happen. One moment at a time. Me- I like to tackle it head on and clear it up right away. That makes it hard for us to resolve things together.
Don't get me wrong, I've had my days where it's just all I can do to get up in the morning. Thankfully those days are rare, and only last a day. I've never been one to just lay down and quit. I try not to confuse doing my best with just getting by.
Anyway, I'm just rambling.
My parents are in town for the week, I'm so looking forward to seeing them! I can't wait! My kids are super excited too. Have a great week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It was her time

I talked to Laura last night and she told me that Ramona had passed away in her sleep. They are not sure of the reason, but it was while she was snuggled with her mom sleeping. The funeral is on Saturday. I'm trying to do what I can to help. I made a large 24x30 print and got a frame for it, it's of the bottom picture in the post below. I also made a handout to go in the program with Ramona's picture and Psalms 118:24. "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


This morning one of my friends lost her little girl to death.
I'm not sure exactly at this point what went wrong.
Ramona was born in February 2007. Shortly after her birth she started running high fevers and had other complications. She was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, for short.
In October of 2007 she received a bone marrow transplant and in January 2008 was 100% engrafted.
During the duration of her treatment she also developed a severe brain infection that left her with very little sight and seizures. She also appeared to have other damage, because she didn't use her arms or legs and rarely opened her eyes.
Laura was such an amazing mom. She stayed with her for the months and months while Ramona was in the hospital being diagnosed and treated. A fierce mother lion who learned to be her daughter's advocate and caretaker. Rarely leaving her daughter's side.
One day I asked Laura to meet me at a park for a pic nick and play date. While we were there we talked about her dreams to have a new home, one where Ramona could be on any floor and not feel left out. She expressed the desire to not have Ramona ever feel that she couldn't go anywhere in her home. Wow. I was struck by these comments. I had always assumed that Ramona wasn't aware of things, and now it struck me how lucky she was to have a mother who knew when she was awake, taking things in, paying attention, or when she was sleeping. I'm just amazed that a mother could be that in tune with her baby like that when the baby appeared to the rest of us to always be in a constant state of just laying there with her eyes closed.
Laura is the most amazing mother I've ever met. She's taught me so much about motherhood, never giving up, tenderness, loyalty, strength, courage.
Yesterday they entered the hospital to start a new diet treatment they hoped would stop the seizures that Ramona was still having. Last night Laura wrote in her Caring Bridge Journal how Ramona was not liking it, and had been throwing up. She hoped Ramona wouldn't throw up in the night when she was sleeping, because she might not notice and that really worried her.
This is the last I've heard. I'll update later when I know more.

Please say a prayer for this family.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Something EVERY Parent Should Check Out

And if your kids are not old enough, tell a teenager, or a parent of a teenager that you know about this program. It could save their life.

The leading cause of death for 15-20 year old children is car crashes.

This summer I spent $345 for my oldest son to take drivers education classes from a local private company. These classes are required by my state in order for him to obtain his licence when he turns 16. He completed 30 hours of classroom time (well, he was supposed to but the teacher apparently ran out of things to teach and sent them home early a couple of times.)

Now back in my day we completed the classroom part and then got our permit, the next thing we did was 6 hours of behind the wheel with an instructor who was responsible for teaching us to drive (unless you had my dad, who insisted on teaching you to drive a stick shift before you learned an automatic) and then we spent the next several months practicing what we had learned before taking our driver's licence exam.


After obtaining his driver's permit, my son has to now complete 6 hours of behind the wheel, just like I did, however this is how it goes....

We called the school to schedule his first 2 hour lesson. When the instructor came to my door I asked him what he would be teaching my son that day. For his first lesson they went out and did a little driving, nothing on freeways, and then spent about an hour on parking. OK.
When the instructor dropped my kid off he told him to schedule his next appointment one month, (ladies and gentlemen, ONE MONTH!) before his licence exam for his second lesson, and ONE WEEK before the exam for the third lesson.


You mean to tell me that I paid $135 for behind the wheel lessons, and I'M the one teaching my kid to drive?????

What a joke.

I basically paid them to teach my child how to pass a test. Not how to use those skills in real life driving. And I'M the one teaching my child how to drive (I know a LOT of parents who are not qualified to do that for their kids).

I'm here to tell you that our driver's educational system is not only broken, it's obliterated. Save your money folks. Wait until you turn 18. And SERIOUSLY, SERIOUSLY check into the program that I am about to tell you about.

Three weeks ago I got a phone call message from a friend telling me about a program that was in our area. Both of us have sons who obtained their permits this summer. I am forever grateful to this friend for telling me about

This four hour course, carried out by a team of professional race car drivers, put my child behind the wheel and taught him the experience of what happens when your ABS engage (panic breaking), how to maneuver an evasive lane change at high speeds, and how to keep control of a vehicle when it's lost grip of the road (skid control).
All things that he otherwise would have first learned in a real life situation with no clue of what to do, because THEY DON'T TEACH YOU THAT IN BEHIND THE WHEEL!
Even I didn't know some of this stuff, even after 20 years of real life driving.
Did you know that if you are turning a sharp turn at too high of speed that if you break you are more likely to spin out of control???

With all the video games and hype in the media about accidents, you'd think that it would be very easy to roll your car over, or that it will burst into flames at the slightest fender bender. Not in reality.
This program gave my kid the confidence, skills, knowledge, know how, training, whatever you want to call it, to be able to handle my vehicle when a split second decision could save his life.
There were also a couple of hours spend teaching the kids about driving safety. They tackled the issues of seat belt usage, distractions such as texting, cell phones, cd's, taking your eyes off the road, where to place your hands, how not to hold the steering wheel, how to arrange your rear view mirrors, fluids your car needs, contact pads, tire inflation, blown out tires.... the list goes on and on. They related to the kids so well too.

Our own Minnesota Highway Patrol and local Blaine Police Department took part in this event as well. They showed our kids real life teenagers in Minnesota that had been killed because of not wearing seat belts, being distracted while driving, drinking and driving. The movie was very graphic. They didn't hold any punches. We saw severed limbs, crumpled bodies, mashed up cars, disfigured survivors. It was a very sobering experience and I think it was just the right touch to instill a little fear (if you have no fears, you'll never drive safe) and respect for the responsibility of driving, in the children watching.
I cannot praise this program enough! I cannot tell enough people about it. Please, if it is not in your area soon, sign up at their website for notifications about your area. It was FREE and was MUCH MUCH more valuable than a 2 hour parking lesson.

It could save their life.

These are some images from my son's day with the program.

I found a few posts other people have made about their experience with this program:

Any by the way... be a safe walker too. When you see a line of cones up, and on the other side are cars accelerating at neck breaking speeds and spinning out of control, tires squealing... do not pass beyond the cones, no matter how cool your hat is, it will not save you!

click to enlarge

Now I can only hope that my child's classroom instructor will go watch this program when it's back in town and maybe have a little more to fill up her "extra time" with.


Almost every morning my children have a routine.
Joshua gives me hugs and wants to snuggle noses. We say, "Uga muga Joshua Tiger" (adapted from Mr. Rogers' "uga muga Daniel Tiger").
Jaeden sees that and follows suit with kisses and hugs.
Joyanna dances to her own drummer.... she sings me songs about how cute I am, pretty much every morning. "I love my mommy.... she is so cuuuuute!" Awww.

I love mornings.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Birth- the girls were watching something the other day that sparked a question from Jaeden.
Jaeden: Mom, where do babies come from?
Mom: They grow in your tummy.
Jaeden: Yeah, but how do they get out?
Mom: *knowing Jaeden's had a talk about her privates before explains where the baby comes out*
Jaeden: *strange look on her face*
Mom: Yeah, it hurts, but it doesn't last long.
Jaeden: *big sigh* When I have kids, I hope they are.... (big pause here, because she's thinking of the word...I'm thinking she is going to say something like "small").... adopted.

Awwww! I'm so glad that she has such a positive feeling about adoption.

Motherhood- So today she and Joy were talking and Jaeden said, "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up". And I told her, "Be a mommy". She said, "Besides that." I said, "You don't have to work, if you have kids after college, you should stay home with them and be a mommy. Don't send them to daycare." To which she responded, "Oh, no, my oldest kid can just watch them!"

Now before all of you get in a hissy fit and hit the respond button (which I am removing for this post by the way) It is my right, if I want, to encourage my children to view motherhood in a positive way. Not that they have to give up something to be a mom, but that it is a privilege and a blessing and honor to be able to be a mother. Not every woman can take it. Not every woman can do it, even if they wanted to, because of circumstances. But I want her going into adulthood with a PMA, and I see no sense in building my girls up to be prepared for failure or unexpected things. They can handle those when/if they come just like the rest of us do.
My stomach turns whenever I hear a mom complaining about having to spend time with her kids, or saying she has to work to keep her sanity, or how she doesn't feel fulfilled if she doesn't have a career. I get to listen to my MIL say all the time how she didn't want to be home with her kids. I find that, personally, very sad. And I cringe that she says that right in front of her kids. What kid wants to hear their mom say how she didn't like being with them and it would drive her nuts if she had to, no matter how old they are?

Woo Hoo!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bad mom

Ok, I admit it.... mornings are not the best part of the day for me. And the begining of the week is worse than the end. So when Tuesday came last week and it was my kids first day of school, my mind was still sitting back on the back burner keeping warm and toasty in sleep. I totally forgot to get out the camera for when my 1st grader went off to school, even though I excitedly sat with him at his bus stop (I did get a really great picture of him last year when he started Kindergarten).

Later in the day my brain woke up and said, "HELLO!?" And this year I got a really great picture of his sister going off to Kindergarten, of course she too is an afternoon Kindergartner. (Afternoon=awake.)

Maybe that's where our tradition lies.... really great Kindergarten pictures and that's about it, because my oldest didn't get his picture taken this year when he started the 10th grade either, but I have some really cute pictures of him at his bus stop waiting for the Kindergarten bus.

So I guess it's a new tradition. Traditions are good.

Here's Jaeden's way cute pictures...


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Are you a DRAMA Queen?

You Are As Cool As They Come

Rational and relaxed, no one could accuse you of being dramatic.

You roll with the punches, and nothing ever gets you too worked up.

You are able to maintain perspective and see the big picture.

And even if you're emotional inside, you don't let it show.

You're great at keeping it together, and you're rewarded for that.

People see you as an ideal friend, employee, and partner.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lauren and Ben

Here's one from at the Temple...

More can be seen at my business blog

Monday, September 1, 2008


I got to photograph my first LDS wedding. I was so excited about this wedding because I would really love to only do LDS weddings if it were possible. Be the photographer that caters to those couples being married in the Temple.

This bride was absolutely stunning! I am just now downloading pictures to my computer to work on, and might not get around to them until next week because of a load of reasons, but I just wanted to share a picture or two that I took while waiting for them while they were in the Temple.

Click on image to see larger version.