.

Morphine and Pizza.

That was pretty much my cocktail for today - a couple doses of morphine, and a humondo slice of Anthony's cheese pizza.

I'm feeling better. Not a lot better, but better.

I woke up this morning around 8am.

Took my meds. Nearly threw up, and then laid back down.

Some time after that, my morphine kicked in and I was in and out of consciousness until about 3pm.

I can see why morphine is so addictive and hard to come by (we had to drive to more than one pharmacy to finally find one that carried it in stock). It's really a wonderful drug - takes away any pain, helps you sleep, and then leaves you feeling in a bit of a euphoric state.

To be honest, I'm surprised it's even legal. Lol.

So now here I am, it's about 7pm, and after a piece of pizza, I am ready for bed again.

I can walk much better but I still have a lot of pain and swelling.

The majority of the pain now, I think, is that in my lower back and hips. I've been walking so crazy the past few days because of the swelling and tightness in my legs, that I think I tweaked my lower back.

Sigh.

If it's not one thing, it's another, right!?

But, I'll take that over a pulmonary embolism any day. I'm thankful to be alive today - even if my back and legs do feel like they're on fire.

Thank you, Wegeners.

Well, I managed to land myself in the Emergency Room this afternoon.

That's always awesome.

Yesterday morning, I woke up with some swelling in my left leg and it hurt to walk. I honestly didn't think much of it because the night before, Tom and I had gone out. I wore high heels, and we climbed about 50 flights of stairs. So, I figured I was just sore.

Today?

My leg was twice the size. My pain was twice as bad.

So, I called my doctor at the Cleveland Clinic. 

She had the same suspicions that I did - a blood clot. She advised me to head to the hospital, and we did. 

At first, they were reluctant to say it was a clot at all. They performed a physical exam on my leg, and all of the classic "signs" of clotting - i.e. pain in my ankle upon bending, extreme swelling in my calf - weren't present. But, to be "on the safe side," they did an ultrasound.

The clot was found right in my upper thigh.

I think this is the first time where I really felt scared. When I was diagnosed with Wegeners, it was a different feeling than this. Now, I am afraid that if I over-exert myself, I will dislodge the clot and fall to my death in front of my own child.

Dramatic, I know. But scary.

The doctor has me on two medications for the clot, one of which I have to physically inject into my body myself, twice a day. ::barf:: The other medication will probably be a part of my pill regiment for at least 6 months. 

Oh hell...what's another pill?

So yeah, today was about 90% shitty.

What about the other 10 percent?

I found out that I made it into Group Six for the Pioneer Woman's photo assignment. Seriously, I was thrilled. I told my friend Cari that if I died from a pulmonary embolism tonight, I would at least die a happy girl. 

If you get a chance, check it out. I was seriously honored to even be picked at all. There are always so many awesome photos that are submitted for these things.


And again, thank you to all of you for your thoughts and prayers.


Tebow.

Dear Broncos,

You have been incredibly horrible, all season long.

But today, you pulled out a win.

And today, I was in the stadium watching.

From the 50 yard line.

About 13 rows back.

In the 10th seat.

And I was absolutely thrilled.

Thank you for the victory.

Forever a fan,

Katie

Christmas.

Well, it hasn't exactly been a white Christmas - in fact, today, Tom and I are heading to the Broncos game and we contemplated whether or not we wanted to take jackets (it's supposed to be in the 60s). But you know what? After living in Michigan for 3 years, I'm ok with that.

Christmas, as usual, was wonderful.

All of the build-up about Santa paid off when we saw the look on Thad's face as he opened "Stinky the Garbage Truck."


(It's a good thing Santa has a good memory, because Thad wasn't too specific in the note he left. All he wanted me to put was, "Dear Santa, Bring me toys. Love, Thaddeus.")

I'm not sure why, but this year was a lot like all those years I spent at home as a child - I had a lot of anxiety about Christmas, and had a tough time sleeping at night, in anticipation of the big day. 
I think a lot of it had to do with some of the gifts Tom and I had bought - I was excited to see the reaction. But, I was also greatly looking forward to Tom finding out that he was going to be flying to Virginia to see his mom. I actually gave him that gift on Christmas Eve, so that he might have some time to mentally process the fact that he'd be boarding a plane in two days.

He was thrilled.

And so was his mom.

Which warmed my heart enough to make me cry like a baby when he opened the gift.

When did I become such a sap?

The rest of Christmas was pretty much the same as it always is - we had an early wake up call (except now I'm the last one to roll out of bed, as opposed to the first); we brought all the presents out from under the tree and distributed them to everyone's designated "spot" in the family room; we opened them one at a time, taking turns; and then we spent the rest of the afternoon playing with each of our new toys.

This is what our family room looked like before the wrapping paper/box tornado that ripped through:


There were definitely a lot of surprises this year. Aside from Tom's flight, my parents each got iPads. Then, my dad pulled a fast one and my mom opened a Canon 5d Mark ii (droooooooooool). But, as envious as I was, I have to admit, I think I made out the best of everyone...

...since I will be driving a new car, equipped with a new GPS navigation system, home from Christmas. :)

Oh! One last surprise - at the end of the present un-wrapping, we heard some jingle bells from the back room. Apparently Santa had forgotten one toy, and he slyly dropped it off at Gigi's place for Thad to find...


Santa definitely did well this year...

I hope each of you had a Merry, blessed Christmas! 

Next up? 

Eleven boudoir sessions in downtown Denver, and then my big sister, Susan, is flying to Denver for the New Year. 

I. Can't. Wait.

New projects.

I am always looking for new, fun ways to capture moments with my camera.

I had seen this done before, but had an entirely different way as to how it was supposed to be done in my mind.

When I finally figured out the secret, my mom and I literally spent hours taking photos with different shapes, and letters as well.

There may even be a plan to market some of this stuff in the future...but more on that later.

Like when we actually have a plan.

Anyways, Merry Hearts on the Christmas Tree to you!



P.S. - For those of you who don't even know the difference between a camera and a butter knife, the "excitement" in these photos lies in the fact that those lights aren't actually shaped like hearts.

It's like a modern day magic trick for camera nerds...like myself.

Gramma and Thad.

I am pretty sure this kid loves his grandma much more than his mommy.

Ok, not really.

It's a different kind of love.

This kid absolutely loves and adores his grandma and grandpa.

Isn't it obvious?

(The love is mutual, too. In case you couldn't tell.)

Take two.

I just wrote and then re-wrote an entire blahg entry on sex relationships.

And then I realized that there is a good chance people who read my blahg include the following: my grandparents, some of my students, and maybe even others who might be mortified upon reading my thoughts on the matter.

So, I deleted the first post.

Then, I deleted the second post.

One of these days, I hope to get the courage to use my blahg for the sole purpose for which it was intended - to put my thoughts out on the Internet for every single person in the world to read my every thought (ok, not really).

But, since I haven't gained that courage, I'll leave you with my new favorite photo.

Not sure why it's my favorite. But it's fun. It's vintage. And I like it.


So there.

Why 3-year-olds should never be left alone.

It's seriously inevitable.

You have a child. He doesn't create a lot of mischief. He's fairly well-behaved.

And then it happens.

You let your guard down.

And this is what happens:


I know what you're thinking...

"Did Thaddeus bludgeon those two dogs to death!?"

"Did Thaddeus amputate one of his own legs, and hobble around for awhile, thus creating blood spatterings all over the floor and furniture!?"

No.

What he did was far worse.

He took 4 bottles of nail polish from my mom's retail center (shown here):


(See the missing bottles near the bottom? Did I mention each of them was red?)

...and he painted the town red. Literally.

Needless to say, he was in a ton of trouble.

Tom and I weren't here when it happened, since we were still in Michigan. Thad had been staying with my parents for the week, and this was just a few days into his trip.

And, obviously, it didn't go over well with my parents.

They weren't upset about what he did, but the fact that he did it sneakily. And then he copped an attitude with my mom when she asked him what he was doing.

I think he learned his lesson.

I think I did, too.

That whole "never leave your child alone" thing?

Yeah, I think I'll take that a little more seriously in the future.

Day. Twenty. Five.

Put your iPod on shuffle. First 10 songs.

1. Maroon 5, "She will be loved"

2. Dixie Chicks, "Cowboy take me away"

3. David Cook, "I did it for you"

4. Donna Lewis, "Fools paradise"

5. John Mayer, "In repair"

6. Kenny Chesney, "I remember"

7. The Fray, "Trust me"

8. Barenaked Ladies, "Call and answer"

9. John Mellencamp, "Longest days"

10. David Gray, "Kangaroo"

Day. Twenty. Four.

Something You've Learned.

I have learned that law school isn't nearly as serious as people think.

I have learned that once my mind is trained to think like a lawyer, I can accurately answer 75% of the questions that come my way.

I have learned that knowing 75% of what I should know means my grades can be pretty damn good, without having to do an inordinate amount of studying.

I have learned that I absolutely hate law school.

Lol.

Day. Twenty. Three.

Your Favorite Vacation.

Please refer to day eight for more information on this one. Been there, done that. ;)

Day. Twenty. Two.

What's in your make-up bag?

I absolutely love make up. 

I love trying different colors.

I love making bold statements with my eyes.

Admittedly, it's been awhile since I ventured out and did something different with my make up. But I'm sure that's coming.

My eyeshadow is M.A.C.

Turquoise, various shades of purple, lots of pink, dark black, white, grey.

I use three different eye pencils - two M.A.C. and one is from Sephora.

Black, light purple, and white.

I have three different eyebrow pluckers.

Because, really, you can never have enough tools to pluck your eyebrows.

A pencil sharpener.

And jet black mascara from Prescriptives.


Geesh. I have a lot of freckles.

Lol.

Day. Twenty. One.

A picture of you.

Ugh.

Seriously?

I never would have agreed to this game if I knew I was going to have to post a picture of myself. Lol.

So, I'll cheat.

This photo was take of me two years ago, just one week after getting my diagnosis. I absolutely love this photo. And I miss when my hair looked like that. So long. And curly.


And natural.

Sigh.

Hopefully, by this time next year, I will look like that again.

And I will be much more willing to get in front of the camera. :)

Day. Twenty.

Nicknames.

Well, I suppose this one depends on the part of my life you are referring to. Preschool years? Teenaged years? Now?
Let's stick with now.

My full name is Catherine.

Almost everyone I know calls me Katie, unless I worked with them at Chili's in Waco. Those people call me Catherine.

And yes, Catherine with a 'C,' and Katie with a 'K.' People find that unfathomable. Talk to my mom about it. ;)

Thaddeus calls me mommy.

Tom calls me "babes."

Yes, babes. Plural. As if there is more than one of me.

In the past, I've had the following nicknames bestowed upon me, though it's  been awhile since I've heard most of them:

Cat
Kate
Kit Kat
K D S
Fatty McFatterson (thank you, Erica)
Katydid
Katarina
Cati

And, on occasion, the word 'bitch' gets thrown in there. ;)

Day. Nineteen.

Something you miss.

I miss these mountains. I miss these blue skies. I miss these summer days.


I miss Colorado.


I. Would. Much. Rather. Be. Doing. This.


But, alas, I am studying for finals.

Ugh. Can't this all be over already?
I feel like I'm about to enter my FOURTH year of law school.

Oh wait.

I am.

FML.

Day. Eighteen.

Something You Regret.

This is hard to write about because it's a Catch-22.

I regret ever having consented to surgery in Waco, back in the year 2005. Had I not consented, my body would not have gone through a traumatizing event that triggered the onset of my [at that time] dormitory Wegener's disease.

That doesn't mean Wegener's wouldn't have reared its ugly head at some point in my life, but maybe it would not have reared its ugly head so early on in my life.

Why is this a Catch-22?

Because had this disease not reared its ugly head, my life may have ended up on a very different path.

And that path may not have included Thaddeus.

So, we take the good with the bad.

And while I regret that surgery to this very day (it was definitely an unnecessary one), I am thankful every day for some of the beautiful things it eventually brought to me.

* * * * * * * * * *

Oh!

And I regret ever letting my doctor scare me into getting a tracheostomy.

Totally unnecessary.

Although we didn't know it at the time. But yeah, looking back?

Totally, totally, totally unnecessary.

Day. Seventeen.

Something You're Looking Forward To.

Oh, this is a hard one. I'm going to name more than one thing...hope you don't mind. ;)

In chronological order:

1. Christmas

I am so looking forward to Christmas; more so this year than others.

Thad is super excited for Christmas and Santa. He gets it this year, which is awesome. I can't wait until he finds out that Santa is bringing him exactly what he asked for, and has continued to talk about for the past few months. ;)

In addition to that, this is the first year where I refused to let my student poverty status get in the way of giving the gifts I wanted to give. I have busted my ass this year taking pictures to be able to get nice things for members of my family. I cannot WAIT for Tom to see what I got him. I think it's the best possible gift for him. Ever.

2. Boudoir!

I realized that a lot of my friends who live in Texas are interested in my boudoir work. So I figured I'd travel to Dallas one weekend in April and do a few shoots. Well, the interest in the sessions has been overwhelming - I have about 40 people on the "I'm interested in boudoir in Dallas" email list. So, then it occurred to me that since many of these people might be traveling a good distance, that I could take it to them. So I think I am going to expand my Dallas weekend into a Texas excursion, and hit up Austin and Houston as well.

Some of the hotels I have been looking at online are pretty phenomenal. I can't wait to start booking. :)

3. The year 2011 marks the year when - according to my doctor in Cleveland - I can start coming off of all this medication I have been on since December of 2008.

She is going to begin weaning me in March, and I will be fully medication-free by next year at this time.

THIS is something I am desperately looking forward to.

No more prednisone means no more weight. No more moon face. No more insatiable appetite. No more achy joints.

No more methotrexate means no more mid-afternoon naps. No more potential kidney and liver failure. No more nauseating days. And no more IUD.

Wait, what? What does an IUD have to do with any of this?

Because as soon as I get this crap out of my system, I'm removing my IUD and we are going to start working on Baby #2. ;)

Day. Sixteen.

Dream House.

Gah! I can't believe I haven't stuck with this on a day-to-day basis.

Well, wait. Yes I can.

I've been busier than hell this week. I've literally caught myself thinking, "Did I brush my teeth this morning?"

Yikes.

Anyways, I'm excited to talk about my dream house. I never thought I would care until I became of the age where renting got really old, really fast. I always think, "Ugh, I wish we had this," or, "When we build a home, it will have this..."

So here it is:

Since I will be building my dream house with Tom (well, let's hope, lol), I know that one of the requirements is that there be a garage on the side or the back of the house...not right in the front. He hates that so much. He thinks it takes away from the overall look of the home. And you know what? I agree. So, yes. We need a "hidden" garage.

My dream house will be painted a dark mocha/grey color, with white trim.

It will have my photography studio built into it. The studio will have windows on both the Southern and Eastern or Western walls, that go from the ceiling to the floor. My studio will have space for all of my set-ups, all of my equipment, a closet for all of the clothes and shoes that clients can choose from to wear (if they want), as well as a room full of props. The floors will be dark wood. Heaven.
The kitchen will have a huge island in the middle of it. That's really my only requirement, unless I'm allowed to say that it has to be stocked with personal chefs. ;)

I want dark, hardwood floors throughout most of my house. For the carpet, I want white. And plush. The carpet has to be plush.

The laundry room will be upstairs, with the bedrooms. No more carrying laundry up and down the stairs. I don't care that the washer and dryer make noise...we will put them in a sound-proof room.

If I happen to lose the battle on the laundry room being upstairs, then I will insist on a laundry chute. I've lived in two places with laundry chutes and it was fabulous. I want each bedroom to have a separate chute so that laundry is already separated according to each member of the family. No more toddler socks mixed with daddy socks.

Windows. There need to be lots and lots of windows.

I insist on at least one red bathroom.

A game room. This is a must. Pool table, large television, wet bar...you get the idea.

I always envisioned a place with a ton of stuff on the walls. I want my stairways and hallways lined with photos. For the rest of the house, I want artwork that I am absolutely in love with. I want to love being in every room in my house.

I want at least one room that pays tribute to shabby chic. Maybe a guest room for old ladies? Lol. 

I don't want a large tub with jets. I want an old tub with legs. There is nothing cooler than an old white tub with legs.

More than one deck. I want my master bedroom to have one. I want my kitched/dining area to have one.

I want a place where I can hang a hammock...even if it's indoors. Napping is a large part of my life, thanks to this disease, and I would really love a place to do it comfortably.

My only other requirement? I want this home to be in the mountains of Colorado.


Some. Things. Worth. Mentioning.

1. Yesterday my child made his first attempt at committing a felony.

Faced with the decision of getting either a toy, or a piece of chocolate, he couldn't make up his mind. So, in an effort to problem solve for him, I chose the toy. My mom and I were checking out, paying for our items, and I turned around to make sure Thad wasn't being abducted or opening some toys at the 3-year-old eye level to play with in the store.

It was worse.

He had shoved a king-sized Hersheys bar into his pants.

I was mortified.

And, while I understand that his little toddler brain doesn't quite get the consequence of "stealing," he did know that I told him he could not have a candy bar, and he made the choice to take one anyways.

So, needless to say, he was in pretty big trouble.

I feel like the next 15 years are going to be really, really long.

* * * * * * * * * *

2. Tom and I got up early this morning, and tip-toed around in an effort to get ready for the day and not wake up Thad.

As it got later, I was really surprised that he hadn't come barreling out of his room, ready to have some juice and watch cartoons in mommy and daddy's bed.

Then, suddenly, I heard talking downstairs.

"Mom? Is Thad with you down there?" I asked.

Uh, yeah.

At 4:30am, he had gone downstairs to her room, and given her a kiss to wake her up. Then she let him crawl into bed with her and they cuddled until it was time to wake up around 8:30.

I think someone loves his grandma. ;)

* * * * * * * * * *

3. I'm usually pretty good at overwhelming myself with just enough things to really stress me out around the time of final exams.

But this time?

Yeah, this time I was not only good at it, I was great at it.

I am so stressed, I think I am starting to see purple dots.

Day. Fifteen.

A Bible verse.

Um...can I come back to this one?

I don't have a favorite. To me, the Bible isn't some CD with 13 tracks, and I have some songs that I prefer over others. In my opinion, it's one big book. One entity. One everlasting song.

I readily admit that I don't read the Bible on a regular basis. I once endeavored to read it in one year, and I think I made it to Day 3 before I pooped out.

But, I still cherish my Bible. I still hold the Word of God dear to my heart.

And, when I am having a tough time, I always just open it up. Just open my Bible, and let my eyes fall where they may.

They always, always, always fall upon some verse that lifts my spirits and gives me hope.

It's weird how that happens. I'm not sure if it's God giving me direction as I struggle, or if nearly every verse in the Bible can be used for one situation or another.

Either way, every now and then, I can be found with the pages open.

Day. Fourteen.

A picture you love.

I suppose I've already covered this topic, although I never intended to jump the gun so early. But, this picture right here is, by far, the most favorite photo I have ever taken to date:
 
 
But, to be fair, I'll post another one that I absolutely love.
You see, I aim to be somewhat of a fine art photographer. I know I can't always get too creative because people, at the end of the day, just want a nice photo of their little girl or boy to hang on the walls in their home. But, every now and then, I stumble upon a photo where I feel comfortable lightening up the colors, warming up the tones, and imagining a photo of a little ballerina in sunglasses hanging on my own walls.

One day, I think, I will put this photo on the walls of my studio. I love it. I love the creativity. I love the soft pinks, and the stark contrast of the black in the glasses. I love her beautiful lips. Her perfect toddler smirk. I love the negative space.

What a hard day to blahg about. A photo I love? I just love photos. Photos I've taken, photos others have taken - all of them. :)  It's such a beautiful way to capture a moment.

Day. Thirteen.

Goals.

How often do people just sit down and really think about their goals? I know there have been times where I have told myself, "I want that," or, "I want to do that." But, I never wrote it down in list format so that I had a visual of all the things that I want to accomplish in this lifetime. But I can think of some obvious ones:

I want to live the rest of my life never having to work for another person besides myself. And I don't count teaching in this. I love to teach. But if I had to hole myself up in an office for 8 hours a day, while someone under-qualified - or at least less qualified than me - barked orders about taking too long of a lunch, or using 12-point font instead of 13-point font in the office memo, or not answering the phones on the second ring - I think I'd shoot myself in the face. Twice.

I want to raise my child[ren] to be loving, respectful, caring individuals. 
(Side note: I just caught my son trying to steal a chocolate candy bar from Walgreens. Maybe I need to work harder.)

I want to make a lot of money doing what I love - photography.

I want to make a lot of money doing what I love because one day, I'd like to help to take care of my parents the way that they have taken care of me.

One of my top goals is to some day own my own studio space, preferably in my home.

I suppose I want to graduate law school. But, eh, I could take it or leave it.

I do, however, want to pass this class. Yep, that's right. I am currently in class. The review for the final exam, to be exact.

Blogging.

Maybe I should get back to paying attention if I have any intention of ever meeting that goal.

Day. Twelve.

What you believe.

I believe in the power of prayer.

I believe in God.

I believe that Thaddeus is my one saving grace; my angel.

I believe that this world can be entirely too cruel, but that I can do my best to teach my child how not to be a part of it.

I believe that a good song can heal your soul.

I believe in abortion, but I also believe that I will never make that choice for myself.

I believe in gay marriage.

Despite all of this, I do not believe in the Democrats.

I believe in the importance of being articulate and well-spoken.

I believe you can make a wonderful life for yourself, even without a college education. 

I believe that the best shoes are always too expensive.

I believe in forgiveness.

I believe that family should always be your first priority.

I believe in working for yourself, since working for others can get entirely too frustrating.
I believe that anger is healthy.

I believe that laughter is even healthier.

I believe in doing what is right for you, and not what is right for everyone else.

I believe that someday I will get off of all of this medication, and have another baby.

I believe in Hell, and I believe that those who do harm to children will spend the rest of eternity in a horrific, fiery pit.

I believe in keeping a schedule.

I believe in most people, when they ask me to believe in them.

I believe in disallowing people into your life, when they have proven time and again that they are only capable of harm. I still, however, believe that you should forgive them for the harm that they have caused.

I believe that my husband is one of the greatest husbands on earth.

I believe that my husband is an even more fantastic dad.

I believe in having an outlet for all of your inner thoughts.

I believe in dancing with your children.

I believe in make-believe.

I believe in the power of the written word.

I believe in photography because I believe that photos capture moments in time that you will never get back.

I believe I've written enough for today.

I do believe it's time for bed. Lol.


Very. Few. Understand.

Every now and then, I take and process a picture that I absolutely fall in love with. Like, fall in love as in I look at it 100 times a day.

This happened to me today. About 30 minutes ago, in fact.


I love everything about this picture.

The wisps of hair in her face.

The wind.

The hard stare.

The pouty, dried-up lips. 

The evidence of snowfall (see the two flakes?).

The dull, and yet brilliant, colors.

But most people, I know, will probably look at this picture once, and never look at it again. To most, it's just a picture.

Like my husband. When I told him that I loved it - that it was my new favorite photo - he just kind of looked at it in total silence. Like he wasn't sure what he could say without getting into trouble, lol.

So I just looked up at him and said, "Nevermind. I get it. You have no idea what makes a great photo."

Lol.

Of course, he does have an idea. But from a photographer's perspective, the pictures we usually fall in love with are the ones that very few people would actually hang on their living room wall.

Day. Eleven.

Your favorite television shows.

Oh my. This is tough. But not really.

I'm not much of a tv buff. I mean, I have my select shows that I like, but you won't ever find me parked in front of the television, glued to whatever is going on.
Unless one of the following shows is on...

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Sons of Anarchy
Damages

Rescue Me

Terriers

The Real World

Ahem...Keeping Up With the Kardashians

(Can you see the trend? Clearly, I think FX is the bee's knees. And, every now and then, MTV and E! have something worth watching as well).

I used to be in to all sorts of different shows on the basic channels, but my husband is a bit of a television snob. ;)  So, we rarely watch ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. We just kind of stick with cable.




Day. Ten.

Something you're afraid of.

The easiest answer to this question - at least, according to my husband or my dad - would be, "Everything."

And yes, I suppose it's true. I have a lot of fears, and I always have.

When I was younger, I was never one to try new things, athletically.

I was afraid I'd fall out of a tree. 

I was afraid I'd get caught if I did something wrong.

I was afraid of being kidnapped.

As I got older, my fears turned into things that were probably a bit more substantial.

A fear of elevators.
This is huge for me. I struggle enough with getting to the 5th floor of the school in downtown. But there have been times when I was faced with something much larger - i.e. traveling 60 stories in an outside elevator in Vegas (and, ahem, getting STUCK), or getting to the very top of the John Hancock building in Chicago. Those were tough for me, and I can honestly say my fear originated with the movie Speed.

Thanks, Keanu.

A fear of flying.
And no, marrying a pilot does not help. It almost makes things worse. You can imagine the stories I have heard from Tom, including things like losing engines, doors opening mid-flight, stalls, what causes the tail of an airplane to just fall off, inexperienced pilots...I could go on and on.

In many ways, it has helped, though. I'll admit that. Turbulence usually scares the crap out of me. I've been known to grab strangers, and scream, "I don't want to die!!" But he consistently reminds me that it's nothing more than air pockets - bumps in the road. And that eases the tension a little.

Emphasis on a little.

I suppose my greatest fear now is anything ever happening to Thad.

That child is always in my sight, and I will intentionally avoid playgrounds where I can't see a full view of all that is going on, including a straight view to the entrance and exit.

I have nightmares about the movie Changeling.

I think my entire world would be shattered if I ever lost him for any reason.

My other great fear?

Spiders.

OMG. Spiders.


This particular spider had built her home spanning the entire length of our sliding glass door. We had been gone for a little over a week, and when we came home, she was nice and cozy, outside.

At first, I wanted her gone. But, the more she was there, the more fascinated I became. She was HUGE. This picture is pretty close to size. She stuck around for about a week before I decided it was time for her to go. My reasoning?

One day, I noticed that she was cleaning house. Just getting rid of her web. 


In addition to that, homegirl had become super hostile. Like, if we got anywhere near the door, she would raise up and shake herself over and over as if to warn us.

I'm sorry, is that a threat?

So, I didn't know if (a) she was going to clean up and rebuild in order to lay a whole bunch of baby spiders, or (b) she was going to move to another home. And if she moved, where was she going to be? What if she moved into our house? No thank you.

So, Tom got his marching  orders.

It was actually kind of sad when he killed her. Ahem. Hit her with a baseball bat. I actually heard it. It was disgusting. But, I have to say, I could rest a little easier at night.

There is nothing scarier than a humondo spider taking up residence outside of your home. That's one of the main reasons why I could never live in Texas again.

Santa. Clause

So Thad definitely "gets" Christmas this year. I mean, he sort of got it last year, but this year is totally different.

He thumbs through Sensational Beginnings (a toys magazine) daily, telling us what Santa should bring him. 

He asks every single day if it's Christmas yet.

He loves to help wrap Christmas presents.

He tells everyone that all the gifts under the tree are for him...even though they're not. Lol.

And the best part? He listens and behaves a heck of a lot better now that he knows "Santa Clause is watching."

So, this year I decided to take him to the mall to meet the big guy.

I was kind of hoping to get a hilarious photo of a 3-year-old boy, screaming at the top of his lungs at this horrific old man with a beard, trying to talk to him.

But no. He totally loved him.

He was screaming, "HI SANTA!" from the back of the line. He couldn't wait to get up there.

When he got onto Santa's lap, he told him that he wanted a Stinky the Garbage Truck for Christmas (win! It's already been wrapped!). He also told him that he wants a drum set (fail! Lol.).

Then Santa said, "What else would you like for Christmas, Thaddeus? A haircut?"

Uh, no, Santa. He doesn't want a hair cut. But thanks for asking, ya jack ass.

So yeah, once they had their little conversation, Santa tickled him, and threw him around, and played with his hoodie on his sweatshirt to get him to smile. I dropped $45 on the cheapest package just because I felt bad for bringing my own camera (and because the proceeds were being donated to Habitat for Humanity).

This is what we got for $45:


And then this is what we got for absolutely nothing:



(Somewhere along the way, Thad apparently lost his neck...)


Christmas is in 23 days!! I. Can't. Wait.

Day. Nine.

A picture of your friends.

This is kind of a tough one, because I really do have so many wonderful friends. I have many whom I have never even met in person - women I have connected with online since January 2007, when I first learned that I was pregnant.
I have friends who I still speak with on a consistent basis, who live hundreds - or thousands - of miles away.

I have friends right here in Grand Rapids that I see every now and then, and we enjoy a good laugh.

Obviously, I can't post photos of all of those people.

So, I have chosen photos of the people who, at the very core, are the foundation of who I am. Some of them are people who I don't always speak to on a regular basis. Some of them I speak to almost every day. But at the end of the day, they are incredibly special to me and my husband, and some of our very best friends.

First up, "Snatchley" and "Mach 9." I met Ashley when I was in Grad School at the University of Douche Bags Denver. We sat next to each other and hit it off right away. We usually spent our evenings after class sitting on some patio, drinking some good beer, and laughing and talking. She was one of the few people in attendance at my wedding, and I absolutely love her to death. Her husband, Mark, came in to the picture a little while after we met. She had known him for a long, long time, but Tom and I had the pleasure of meeting him about a year after we had known Ashley. A few years after that, I was a proud member of their wedding party. 

Seriously, I love these two people.


Next on the list, one of my best friends - Tonya.

Tonya and I met our sophomore year at Baylor when we rushed Alpha Chi together, and made it into the same pledge class. My roommate at the time, Kelly, was her "big sister" and we spent a lot of time together. Tonya is unlike anyone you will ever meet - unless you've met me. Because, well, we can be a lot alike at times. Lol. She loves fashion, and I love her taste in clothes. She loves to write, and she sends me pieces that she's written over time to look at and critique. She is funny as hell. She is the most forgiving, loyal person I know. And - she's enthusiastic. You can't really describe the kind of enthusiasm Tonya has for everything. You just have to kind of know her. But I rarely see a negative attitude, or a bad day. 

Did I mention I sang at her wedding? Lol.


Danielle. Or, as we like to say it, in a high-pitched voice, "Nanielle."

God made me in 1982. Then a couple years later, realizing there should be another person exactly like me in the world, He made Danielle. And, he came pretty damn close to an exact match. I think the only thing we don't have in common is the fact that I have a disease and she doesn't. Everything else? Exactly the same.

Very few people truly understand my sense of humor like Danielle does, and vice versa. We met in law school in our very first year. In fact, she asked me to go to lunch with her about 10 times in a row, and each week I would just say, "Um, I brought my own. Thanks." She thought I was a total bitch, lol. But then one day, she guilted me in to saying, "Yes." And it was so much fun. Thus, a friendship began! Now we've been known to take impromptu trips to Chicago, spend too much money on a bad concert ticket, and movie-hop for hours at a time when we are supposed to be in class. Oops. Did I say that last one out loud?

Oh, and she's a phenomenal singer.


Amy is another law school friend of mine. She sat in front of me in our Criminal Law class, and while we weren't friends at that time, I remember thinking that she was incredibly smart.

I somehow convinced her to come to my place for photos when she was pregnant, and we wrapped her sweet little Taylor up in all different kinds of materials, suspended her in the air, set her on a bean bag...you name it, we experimented with it. Since then, I've done several more shoots with her and Taylor. She's always a lot of fun to be around, and we used to be able to do lunch at least once a week. Now that she's about to graduate and become a hot shot lawyer, she'll probably forget about us. ;)

And while our time spent together may be very scarce, Amy once shared something very personal with me that meant a lot to me. I've felt bonded to her ever since.


As I mentioned before, when I was at Baylor, I rushed Alpha Chi Omega. I remember during one of the rush parties, there was this really tall girl walking around that I recognized as "the bitchy girl who worked at Express." I went in there one day to return something, and I remember she was so rude to me, lol!! But, somehow, we became fast friends and she eventually took me in as her Little Sister. Or, as we like to say, her "Lil'."

Susan and I have done so much together. We've traveled to California together. She came all the way to Colorado for my baby shower and wedding. This past Spring, she came up here with her two little ones, just to spend a weekend with me. And, at the end of this month, she will be in Colorado again to celebrate the New Year with Tom and me. I could not be more excited!

Susan is an awesome person. She always has 1,000,001 things going on, and she is always so good at getting it all done. She's creative, and smart, and very business-savvy. She's a great friend, and an amazing mother. Anytime you watch a 3-year-old little boy politely ask for more broccoli, you know there's an amazing mother standing behind him. 

I really do just love my Notorious B.I.G.

(Not my photo, by the way. I stole it off the Internet.)


When I was a junior in college, the roommates and I moved into an awesome 3-bedroom place near campus called 1911. I have no idea how the relationship even came about, but at some point, my roommate started dating Curtis.

Curtis was Kelly's love interest, and my big brother. He used to come over sometimes, and lock my room so no one could get in, while I plucked his eyebrows. (Sorry Curtis, it had to be done. I had to tell the whole world.) While his personality could probably be considered offensive to some, I always just found him incredibly funny. He taught me the meaning behind every ridiculously disgusting sexual term that guys like to use, and he swears that he once came over, wrapped me in my bedspread, tied it shut with a bra, and left...although, to be honest, I can only vaguely remember that.

I will never forget, when I first heard my doctor utter the word, "Wegener's," I texted Curtis. He had been through some medical school and training and might have an idea of what I was facing. For some reason, I felt so comforted when he replied to me, "We'll get through this." It was then that I knew Curtis was more than just a punching bag that I could say mean things to and laugh. He was truly a good friend.

His wife, Cari, is phenomenal. Love her. She's funny. Witty. Intelligent. Straight-forward. Gorgeous. And she strikes me as the kind of person who was instantly accepting of all the people in Curtis's life. It was that way with me, anyways. I think I was talking to her on the phone before I had even met her, simply because I was friends with Curtis. Now, I am probably more likely to call her before I call Curtis. Lol.


Jolene is one of those people that you meet, and you just envy because you realize what all she has going for her. 

She's obviously gorgeous. She has a beautiful family. She's at the top of our class in law school, about to graduate. I am pretty sure she will have a million employers knocking down her door, begging her to come make millions of dollars at their firm.

But aside from being so intellectual and intelligent, the girl is actually really fun. (Come on, admit it - smart people aren't always necessarily really fun to be around. Lol.) Jolene can throw back a beer with the best of them. She enjoys a good gossip story, and yet she has an incredibly huge heart. She's at my house every few months getting new pictures of the kiddos, and half of her family has been referred to my studio. She's rarely one to turn down a good opportunity to get together, grill some hamburgers, and get a lil' tipsy.

She's another one who I used to have lunch with every week. That has since fizzled out, as she is about to be a top dog lawyer as well, but it's nice that we still keep in touch. She's been a good friend these past 3 years. :)


Kelly and Taryn.

I feel like I have to write about these two together because, well, for many years, the 3 of us were inseparable.

Kelly, Taryn and I were all on the same floor in our dorm, freshman year at Baylor. We weren't close that first year, but when they needed a roommate their sophomore year, I was looking for a place to live. So, we moved in together.

I don't think the dynamic was quite there right away, but we eventually all became very close. By mid-sophomore year, I was rushing Alpha Chi with their help (they had joined their freshman year). For the rest of our time at Baylor, we were roommates.

We spent every Spring Break together. We even spent some holidays together. We traveled to Florida. California. Colorado.

I was in both of their weddings, and I love both of them dearly. They are truly like sisters to me.

I don't get a chance to talk to Kelly or Taryn all that often. I think life is busy enough as it is, and it gets tough to pick up the phone as often as you would like to talk to loved ones. Especially when you have a 3-year-old running around...that doesn't always make it possible. :)  But the best part about our friendship is that when I do talk to these girls, it's like we picked up right where we left off. That's the mark of a good friendship.

As we have gotten older, I think our friendship has grown in a different way. We have gone from having conversations about clothes and makeup, to having deeper conversations about marriage, children, sex and all of the other "adult" stuff that tends to come into our lives as we grow up. There is not a day that goes by when both of these girls aren't on my mind. I miss them a ton, all the time.


When I was in the 5th grade, I moved to Colorado. I remember this girl at my school, Erica. She always wore earrings that matched, even though they weren't the same. The one that stands out the most? The pair that had an apple core on one side, and an apple with a bite out of it on the other.

I hated her.

Lol.

I don't think Erica and I actually became friends until well into high school. Yep, that's right. We disliked each other for many, many years. But, somewhere along the way, we realized how much we had in common. And we were instantly like sisters.

I think we spent every single day of our junior and senior years together. When I moved to Baylor, I bawled at the idea of leaving her behind. I still have home videos that we made during those years, of us singing, and just being stupid. Maybe I should put those on YouTube!? (Ha. Just kidding, Erica. Lol.)

I can even remember that one time, Erica and I had to present something for our English class, and we decided that we would do the entire presentation while on the floor, acting like dogs. What!? Yeah, I have no idea. But I remember that we thought it was really funny.

Time has since changed our lives very much, but I am thankful that Erica and I still keep in touch. I get to see her when I go home to Colorado, and our little boys are only two weeks (almost three) apart. How cool is that? So it's like we go through the same milestones together. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Stephanie.
This girl and I became friends at the beginning of this year, when I basically told her I was coming to her house to take newborn photos, and I didn't really give her the option of saying, "No." Hell, for all I know, I might have just shown up on her doorstep.

She's awesome. The girl is crazy smart. Fun. She loves a good glass of wine. Her husband is older than her, so we like to make little jokes about him and Tom together. She's just a good person. And she's honest. I think that's the best part about her. She will always tell you like it is.



And, finally, Dirk. Oh, Dirk, Dirk, Dirk.

What can I say about Dirk? He's a younger version of my dad. He wears a lot of man jewelry. He's super liberal. And he is 100% one of the funniest people I know. No seriously. Funny as hell.

Dirk and I go to school together, and we met in our first year. I actually sat right next to him and Danielle in all of our first year classes. Now, he and his awesome wife, Heiddi, host all of the mid-term, after-term, just-for-the-hell-of-it parties at their house. When everyone got together at the local Mexican restaurant for my birthday one year, he and Heiddi were so absolutely "gone" after a few drinks, that they skipped out on their tab. I like to use that story against him, every chance I get. Cheap-skate!

I also work with Dirk at ITT Tech. He is the registrar there, and he helped to get me a job as an instructor. So that's a perk. I don't have classes with Dirk anymore, but I still get to see and hang out with him once a week. And, when he's not in the office, I enjoy leaving little Post-It notes on his desk that say things like, "Dear Dirk, God hates you. So do most babies." I think that's nice.


I would be so lost without each of these wonderful people. I am so, so thankful to have each of them in my life. They are what get Tom and I through each and every day in this crazy life.

Day. Eight.

A place where you have traveled.

So, does this mean an exotic place? Or like, some podunk place that few people have ever heard of? Because I've been to both.

I traveled to Honduras on a Missions trip when I was 17. I picked bell peppers out of a field to pave the way for a soccer field. I laid bricks for the caretaker's home on what would one day be a camp for children. I smiled as I watched small children beg for "moneys" every morning as we boarded our bus. I formed friendships with people who didn't speak any English, and maintained those friendships via email for a very long time. I helped to re-build a bridge when it was washed out by a storm. 

I grew a lot on that trip. Mentally. Spiritually. Emotionally.

I've also traveled to Germany and the Netherlands. In 2006, my grandma paid for a cruise for me, my parents, herself and Tom to take on the Rhine River for two weeks. We went over Christmas and the New Year. I can tell you there is nothing like spending New Years in Amsterdam. Dear Lord, that was a celebration.

Our trip on the Rhine was something else. It wasn't a large cruise boat. It was a little river boat, full of people over the age of 65. Lol. It was awesome. We drank every night, and docked each day at some brilliant city. We got to travel all over Germany and see so many beautiful places, full of so much incredible history.

Castles.

Bombed out buildings from WWII.

Guttenberg's press.

Amazing.

Oh, and did I mention that's where Thad was, ahem, conceived? Oops! Lol.

While we were in Amsterdam, aside from the celebration on New Years, we got to see Anne Frank's house. 

The VanGogh museum.

The flower market.

The red light district. Lol.

We literally spent every single day walking around for hours and hours, stopping only for the occasional bite to eat.

Tom and I talk all the time about how we want to go back, especially now that my Wegener's is under control. When we went the last time, I hadn't even been diagnosed and I was just living my life, day to day, struggling to breathe. I think it would be a whole different experience the next time around...

...who knows. Maybe we would even conceive another bambino!?

...wink, wink...

Just kidding, Tom! Lol.

(Tom was known for taking off on his own when everyone else was totally wiped out, and just wandering the city by himself. On one of the last days of our first stop in Germany, he found this pub where all of us went to toast the beginning of our trip.)

(This church has a bit of significance, personally. It's a church in Cologne, Germany. So beautiful.)

(I hated the food on our trip. I am so not into brats, or anything that ends in the word 'wurst.' When I came across some french fries, it was like I had died and gone to heaven. I think I was probably so hungry at that point. Lol.)

(This was our last group photo before boarding a little boat that would take us to Amsterdam. My parents and grandma stayed in a beautiful hotel outside of the city - very modern and spacious. Tom and I stayed in Rembrandt Square in a room that was just barely big enough for one-and-a-half people. ;)  ).

(Notice the hat? I'm so European.)

(Tom, in front of a coffee shop...not to be mistaken with a coffee house. Lol.)

(My love and I. This place was right below our hotel, and we went there a few times for food and drinks, and to be shamed by my grandmother who always out-drank us. Lol.)

(Tom is so uncomfortable with my dad's comfort level. Lol!!!)

(A night in Amsterdam. Enough said.)

Ugh!!!! I want to go back so bad. 
Anyone have a money tree?