I'm a winner! I won this book from Cop Mama's blog! I'm pretty excited to read it- it sounds interesting. I'm a firm believer that only the mama knows what's best for her child, and it sounds like this book just reinforces that.

Random change of subject, the Insanity workouts are going good. It's getting hard to get up at 5 and by Friday I'm usually dragging! But I can tell I'm in much better shape than I was 3 weeks ago. I just can't seem to EAT enough. I wear my heart rate monitor while working out and it consistently says between 320-400 calories per 40 minute workout. Yikes- I know why I'm famished!

The third random thing is that we got a puppy. Don't judge me. (This makes 3 dogs in our house). We have an 8 yr old lab mix and a 6 year old golden retriever. A few months ago, good friends of ours, (whom we stay with once a month when I travel for photography to Nebraska) brought a puppy home from a retreat she was on at an Indian Reservation. They spayed & vaccinated her, crate trained her & then realized that their lives were much too busy to be the kind of pet owners they wanted to be or that she deserved. So they tried to find her a home and I think they knew pretty early on that I was kind of in love with her. :) (In fact I had posted about her here) It didn't take too much time to convince my husband (I may or may not have begged like an 8 year old...) and she's been with our family a week. She's so SMART! The last 7 days I have taught her sit (she had a pretty good handle on that from her foster family), lay down, stay, 'pound it', and 'bang' (I shoot her with my finger and she goes belly up.) She also is very good at fetching (including dropping the ball at your feet) and she's getting mostly house broken (we learned quickly that 'crate trained' & 'house broken' aren't the same!)
Sweet Wanbli (it means 'Eagle').... Welcome to our crazy family!




I'm so sore I can barely move. I blame facebook. Here's why...

A friend had inquired on her status about the Insanity workout program. Brett & I did it last summer, so I gave my two cents. She asked if we could use my DVD's and do it together. I agreed. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. A group of 5 of us started on Monday morning at 5:30 a.m.
My muscles hurt so bad that I can hardly move today. There is such a thing as a good sore. This is not it. However it has also made me really conscious of my food choices during the day because I think "I can't eat that! I didn't get up at 5:00 this a.m. to only eat those calories back with this!" So I'm thankful for that. I had been doing really good with my food choices and working out, until later this summer when I started slacking. I'm so glad to have the motivation to get up and get back to it! :)
Otherwise, October is mega-busy for photography business (hello, Christmas card pictures!) and so I'm traveling again this weekend to do more pictures in Nebraska.
We've also been very busy with a 3 year old who started dance this fall. I love, love, LOVE tiny tutu'd toddlers! I love my child in a way I sometimes don't even fully understand.
I'll leave with a picture of her... This one makes my heart so happy!


Photography Blog

I just wanted to let everyone know of my photography blog page- I'll be posting my contest entries (as well as business related give-aways) over on that site from now on. I'll be keeping the information here "personal" and the stuff there "professional". :) Feel free to check it out and comment there! :)


(PS I guess this means that I'll need to post more personal content HERE, huh?)


Touch of Sun

Another contest entry for i heart faces! This week's theme: a touch of sun. This picture was taken a couple weekends ago at a wedding I shot in Canon City Colorado. As the sun was setting the bride & groom had snuck out of their reception to have a quiet moment and watch the sun set over the mountain. I snuck out on the patio to capture this:

Click on over to their website to see all the other awesome entries!



Another fantastic week at i heart faces! The theme this week is "white".

This is a favorite from a session last week- isn't she beautiful?

Click on over to i heart faces to check out the rest of the stunning shots for the week!



This photograph is an entry for Rocktheshotforum.com silhouette contest. It was taken last fall, of my husband and our daughter while we were out for a nature walk. It was edited with an action called "Dim the lights" which really lends itself to silhouettes. Check out all the fabulous entries by clicking on the link!


i heart faces: pets

A friend of mine recently added to her family. I jumped at the chance to photograph the new addition!

Welcome, Wanbli! She is an adorable little mutt with the sweetest eyes. :)

This week at i heart faces, the photo challenge is "pets"! Click on over to see some amazing shots!!


IHF: eyes

This week's contest at i heart faces is EYES!
The first picture that came to mind for me was one I took recently of my 3 year old in a very rare quiet moment.
If you would like to check out more awesome eyes this week, click on over to i heart faces to check them out!


Sweet M

This girl. She rocks my world.
I love her giggles, I love her energy and I love how she closes one eye so she can point at EXACTLY what she wants.

I love how an image that I shot from the hip on our point-and-shoot camera at the local fair can fill my heart with a feeling that can't be described.



IHF: Water

Another entry for i heart faces photo challenge- this week's theme is water.

I love this picture of Madigan pausing to drink from the slip-n-slide; the post-processing really gives it a summery-warm feeling.

Click on over to the IHF website- there are some AMAZING entries already this week!!


Quiet Time

Madigan, in one of her (rare) quiet, contemplative times.



Who's blog is this?

Hi, my name is Sarah, and I'm a guest-poster here.

Just kidding, but it feels like it! Summer time is always busy for me. Besides my full time "real" job being busy (adding a whole second clinic to my schedule... why not!) my photography business is always booming in the summer time. Seniors, families, children- I love it ALL! Since those two "full time" jobs don't keep me busy enough (insert sarcasm) I am also a Zumba instructor at our local Rec. :) Throw a three year old and a husband into that mix and I'm hoping I'm forgiven for being absent HERE a bit...

Oh, and my 29th birthday is on the horizon in a couple weeks... My real 29th birthday- the one I get to celebrate the anniversary of from here on out! I have some friends and family meeting me in KC for Warrior Dash. I'm PUMPED! It's hopefully going to be a great way to send me into the year before thirty. I am considering doing a mini-bucket list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30, and I'd love suggestions!!


Happy Birthday, Girl...

I can't believe that I have a three year old.

In some ways, I can't believe it has been just three years since my water broke while I was working and I delivered a beautiful, healthy girl just six hours later.

In other ways, I cant believe it's only been three years, since I feel like her soul has been a part of mine forever. Maybe it has? But somehow life "before" her seems like a vague, distant memory of a place I have no desire to return to.

If I could preserve the things that make Madigan so unique, these would definitely be on the list:
  • She is a literal child. Black & white; there is no gray area. If you give her directions, they best be specific because if you leave room for her interpretation, you might get more than you bargained for.
  • Madigan speaks like an adult. She has a huge vocabulary and a great memory. She has a "matter of fact" delivery about her thoughts and feelings that leaves most people laughing. For instance, her daycare provider told her to eat her lunch so she could grow big & strong, and Madigan replied, "Don't you worry about me." However you'll never convince her that she mis-pronounces words. To this day, a monster is a "monstard" and "dainty" is "daimpty".
  • She loves camels, dinosaurs (she can name several "kinds"); she loves strawberry shortcake and recently learned all the Disney princesses after a friend of hers quizzed her and she didn't know any. Madigan replied, "But it's hard for me!" and then proceeded to quiz me one night until she knew them all. She loves to be read to and has several books memorized. She can recite almost any nursery rhyme if you start it for her, as long as you leave room for her interpretation.
  • Her favorite foods are blueberries, strawberries, McDonald's pancakes, and mac & cheese. She doesn't like meat or potatoes but will eat almost any fruit and most vegetables.

She can push my buttons faster than any other human being on Earth. She also fills me with a love that I have never felt before either. Luckily it's more of the latter than the former! I am so thankful for her, and it's conversations like this one from tonight that make me realize that being her mommy will be the greatest accomplishment in my life:

Madigan: "When I grow up, I'm gonna be a mommy too."
Me: "I bet you'll be a great mommy."
Madigan: "I will grow BIG and TALL. Then you can grow very little. And I will take care of you."
Me: "I know you will."
Madigan: "Because I love you."
Me: "I love you too, baby."
Madigan: "I'm not a baby, I'm a big girl!!"
Me: "I know, big girl...... I know."


Making Lemonade...

We had Madigan's third birthday party on Saturday, and in preparation I purchased a cake from a home-baker. I put a lot of thought into the cake part of the party: first off, it's my favorite part of ANY party! Secondly, I like pretty cakes, but I'm not exactly skilled in that department.
I work in a town 30 miles away and I found a woman at the hospital who has recently started baking cakes on the side- Perfect! Not only would I not have to dirty my kitchen to create a cake, but it would look much better coming from her. Besides, I'm all about supporting local business, and I totally "get" women who work full time and also run a side business! Win-Win!
So per the birthday girl's request, a giant cupcake was ordered, with pink frosting and sprinkles. The baker had warned me that she'd never made a cupcake this size before, but she'd do her best.
This is the cake I picked up on Friday when I left work:

Beautiful! A ginormous, pink-frosted, sprinkled cupcake, complete with cherry on top. I thanked the "cake lady" profusely and we loaded the cupcake into my vehicle for the trek home.

Now, wether it was the 100+ degree weather, the heaviness of the cake, the vibrations on the highway or any other number of other unimaginable issues, this is what I found when I opened the box upon arriving home:

Gulp. The pink, frosted "top" was intact (although one side had frosting flattened from the side of the box it had impacted), but the bottom was a mess.
Holy COW! Madigan was with me, and she said, "Oh! A giant cupcake.... Sideways!"
I think I made some kind of internal-shriveling noise, and she said "What's the matter momma?"
I looked at her and said, "Your pretty cake.... it fell down! Mommy is sad!"
Madigan, the always literal, black & white kind of child that she is, said "... Oh well. Can I lick it??"
"Um... sure. Let's lick it." So we each got a fork and took a big bite. I texted the picture to the baker, who was also beside herself. She offered to drive over and attempt to fix it, and I declined. It's a three year old's birthday- it wasn't like it was my wedding or anything! So I decided to make some proverbial "lemonade" out of the situation:

I made the smashed cake section into cake-pops!
The next day at the party, as each guest arrived and looked questioningly at the giant, pink dome of the cake-top and the tray of cake-pops, Madigan was delighted to explain "my cake fell down then my mommy was sad. But we made THESE with it!" and would point her finger at the pops.
In the end, they were the best cake pops I had ever had!


i heart faces: whimsy

Another week to participate in the i heart faces photo challenge!

I recently took my daughter's three year pictures. That morning, she had asked if she could have a tea party with her best friend, and we happily obliged. As they finished, they stood up and her friend wrapped her arms around my daughter for a sweet hug.

To my sweet daughter- I have no idea why God entrusted you to me, but I thank Him every day for that responsibility! I can't believe how fast the last three years have gone by, and I will cherish this picture of your sweet childhood forever.
To see more whimsical images, click on over to i heart faces!


Home Owners, the Before & After

So I know I've promised a before & after blog on our new house for a while. We closed on the house in late April and spent our first night in our new house on May 13th. So- here's the story of how we made the house our home!
First off, we knew we wanted a cohesive "flow" through the house as far as colors or themes. We aren't afraid of color, but each room was a different color and none of it really matched with our current furniture or decor preferences. I also knew I have some china that was my grandmother's and I wanted so badly to be able to display it. I also knew that every time I tried to come up with an idea for a design, I became overwhelmed and wanted to cry. So what is your average, midwestern Kansas girl to do? Call in the A-team, of course!
I enlisted the services of an interior designer! I knew I was in over my head and needed help and I was SO thankful to know of an interior designer based in Wichita. I e-mailed her, and explained that I had a pretty tight budget (having just written the biggest check of our lives on the down payment, we didn't exactly have a ton of money for a re-haul!), and asked if she'd be able to help out in any way. She got back to me right away and together we talked about what my inspiration pieces were (the china, mainly!), what I did and didn't like (using google images as references), and then e-mailing her pictures of my house and of the furniture I'd be using in it. She was able to create the design having never seen my house- and I couldn't be happier about the outcome. Room by room she held my hand with everything from paint and curtains to the little details I would have never considered on my own. She even e-mailed me pictures of items I should be on the look out for (chandeliers, rugs, knobs and curtains) so that I could do my own leg work to find exactly what I wanted at a price I was comfortable paying.
It was painless and fast, and we were able to move forward quickly. Here are the before/after pictures of our new house with a bit of description about what we did:

Before (above)
After (below)
The living room & entry way got paint and new curtains.

Before (above)
After (different angle, below)
Better view of the paint and curtains:

Dining room, before (above)
After (below)
New paint, chandelier, rug, and window treatments:

Master bedroom before (above)
after (below)
New paint for both bedroom and bathroom, wall decal:

Madigan's room before (above)
and after (below)
New paint, wall decals, curtains and big girl bedding!

My personal favorite! The kitchen. Before (above)
After (below)
New paint, curtains, and knobs. The second
picture shows my grandmother's china hutch with the
china that was my "inspiration" in it!

We are so happy with the results! I also know I owe most (if not ALL!) of that to Trina, because without her help I would have floundered around miserably trying to make a decision!!
My point is: if you think you can't afford the help of a designer, you're wrong! You almost can't afford NOT to have input from a professional! Even in small-town America, I was able to find someone who understood my budget and worked with me- and I couldn't be more pleased!
Anyway- I wanted to post a link to her business page, deezeyener.com, in case you are interested in having an e-mail consult like I did. Trust me, you'll be glad you contacted her!!

So if you're in my neck of the woods, please stop by! We'd love to show you around our home!


IHF: Bright & Vivid

Another week at i heart faces that I couldn't pass up participating...

I took this picture just this morning, as part of my daughter's three year shoot.
She wanted her friend to come for a tea party, and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to make it part of her session.
I am truly blessed to be this girl's mother.
Check out all the other "Bright & Vivid" entries over at i heart faces!!


i heart faces: from a distance

This week's them at i heart faces is "From a Distance".

I had so much fun photographing this big, blended family last fall! Everyone took direction so well, that when I said, "Why don't you just hold hands and walk off into the sunset!" all eight of them just grabbed hands and took off!
I was pleased with the way the image looked when it was edited:

Click on over to i heart faces yourself to check out the amazing entries this week!


This weekend....

This weekend we went to Kearney and I did detail pictures at a friend's wedding. This weekend she wore the most amazing shoes I've ever photographed or seen a bride wear.

This weekend I photographed a Memorial Day Service at our local Veteran's Cemetary.
This weekend I was reminded of how thankful I am for those who have served so selflessly.
This weekend I found headstones of people who I knew in my youth. This weekend I missed my brother (serving in Kuwait) even more than I did before.
This weekend I watched my dad bagpipe at the ceremony.

This weekend I posted a give-away on my facebook fan-page for Free Range Photography to honor military members.

This weekend I found my Leebot CD and will plan on finishing this giveaway later in the week.

What did you do this weekend?


Spring Fever...

It's spring(ish) in Western Kansas, and the SillyHille family has been pedal-to-the-metal with all our activities!

In random order: we have a new nephew, Wyatt! Road trip to KC to meet his adorable little face and I have this to prove it:

I also spent the past weekend in Nebraska doing 7 photo sessions for clients. WHEW!

We've also managed to squeeze in another (big) item: we are homeowners again! We've been hard at work removing wall paper, painting, taking down and putting up window treatments/ceiling fans/ chandeliers/ etc. We haven't moved in yet, we are putting the finishing touches on our hard work, and I have a whole post in regards to renovations, and my lack of ability to decorate! Before & after post will come when it's complete....
The giveaway is still going on, mainly because I have packed up the CD to be given away and I can't find it at the moment. We DO have Madigan's copy, but you're not going to pry that out of her peanut-buttery little hands! So feel free to leave a comment on the post below if you'd like to put your name in the hat for a chance to win.
On a final note, I had the chance to travel to Wichita recently to meet (in person for the first time!!) a friend of mine that I have known for several years (via the internet). She and her husband were dealing with infertility at the same time Brett & I were doing treatments, and we met in an online forum/support group. After we conceived (and so did they!) our lives got busy with little ones and we lost touch of each other. Thanks to the modern miracle called facebook, we found each other again, just in time for me to follow along with their adoption story. I couldn't resist the opportunity to tell a story with pictures, and we had an adoption session in Wichita. Here are my 2 favorite pictures from the shoot:
"All you need is love.... and a TON of patience!"

Kinley knew right where baby brother was!

Our timing was perfect- the CD of pictures got to their house just days before they got the phone call telling them they could go get their son. As I type, they're in South Korea with their arms full of sweet baby Griffin! If you'd like to see the handsome little guy, check out their family blog and leave them a note of congrats! I'm hoping that they'll be willing to travel back to Wichita this fall for pictures of their family of four! :)
That's about all I have for now... I'm HOPING my next post will be pictures of our completely FINISHED home project....