Oregon, Photography, Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Just Living – Golden Hour on the Farm

“I am tired.”

If you’ve spoken to me at all in the last two months, my bet is that this was said early on in the conversation. Usually I try to stay away from default answers like “I’m tired” or “I’m busy” when I’m catching up with someone, because the reality is we are all busy and tired, and we all measure those differently. Personally, I think we are all capable of being better conversationalists.

But the truth is in this case, when I finally made it home to Oregon for my vacation at home with my family, this was all I could muster up when my Grampy asked how my work meeting in Seattle, (that I had just traveled from) went.

My body was tired, my brain was tired and I’d even say my soul was tired.

Both professionally and personally, this season of life over of the past six months or so has really pushed me. Its tested me and even broke me a couple of times. And that’s all OK. These seasons come and go, and I think it’s important to keep that in mind. I believe that sometimes you just have to put your head down and work, and do what you have to do to get by.

That first evening when I got home I immediately jumped on my laptop to knock out a few things related to the meeting I had just traveled from. But the sun was starting to set and the scene I could see through my parent’s big kitchen window could not be ignored.

So I grabbed my camera and headed out to sit in the yard with our old family dog Jack and just paused for a bit.

It’s amazing how little things like that can refocus things for you.

It’s a beautiful world sometimes I don’t see so clear
Some days you just breath in
Just try to break even
Sometimes your heart’s poundin’ out of your chest
Sometimes it’s just beatin’
Some days you just forget
What all you’ve been given
Some days you just get back
And some days you’re just alive
Some days you’re livin’
Some days you’re livin’

Year in Review

2017 – A Year in Review

Let me annoy you by being cliche and stating that “I can’t believe 2017 went by so quickly.” 🙂

But really, 2017 felt like a WHIRLWIND for me.  Personally, my year was filled with good health (well, for the most part), great adventures and even greater people. I worked through the hard knocks and challenges, and feel content that I was able to grow through most of those experiences. Looking at the world around me, it would be wrong to ignore that 2017 was certainly a hard year, but I choose to believe that this world is full of good people who aim to make 2018 better.

Looking back, I’d probably summarize 2017 as bittersweet. It’s a strange feeling to recognize being both happy and sad, and even more strange to be relatively OK with it. I met someone that became really special to me, and I did not expect that I would end 2017 not knowing if that person would be in my life going into the new year. At first I struggled with writing a year in review at all, or including him in it, but this blog is first and foremost my journal and scrapbook, and cherry picking memories is not my style. And regardless if our time is done,  those memories are still very special to me.

Around mid-December, I was sitting at CVS waiting to get my flu shot and was flipping through a GQ magazine and stopped at an interview with Senator John McCain. Regardless of whether you agree with his politics or not, in my mind its pretty hard to not acknowledge or respect that he has seen a fair amount of adversity in his lifetime. With that in mind, the very last statement really struck me:

No matter what 2017 held or what is yet to come in 2018, I hope that we can all benefit from walking through life with that attitude. I know I am going to try.

Now let’s look back at my busy year…

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In 2017, I traveled to 2 countries and 6 states (and two of them twice!)…

In February, I went on a trip of a lifetime to Bangkok, Thailand, and Manila, Philippines. The first half of my trip was a work trip to accompany three U.S. wheat farmers on a board team experience. The second half of the trip was spent on vacation in Bangkok and Phuket with my grandparents and Great Aunt Diane.  Find all of my posts about the trip HERE.

That trip won the year when it came to travel, but it wasn’t my only one. In April, Sam and I went down to Blacksburg to visit my friend Chelsea for the Virginia Tech spring game. In May, I went to Estes Park, Colorado for my work World Staff Conference. I invited my Mom to join me for the week and we spent a few extra days hiking and enjoying quick visits with friends. In June, I traveled to Manhattan, Kansas for the National Festival of Bread and squeezed in some friend time again. At the beginning of July, I made the short drive over to Annapolis, Maryland (for the first time!) for my work summer board meeting. Sam joined me a day before the meeting and we explored the downtown area. At the end of July, I attended the Agriculture Media Summit in Snowbird, Utah. In August, I went home to Oregon and finally took my best friend Megan with me to show her where I grew up. Next, I traveled to Kansas City, Missouri in November for the AFA Alliance Forum and the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Trade Talk event. In between the two events, I spent a few days down in Wichita, Kansas to visit Megan. Finally, I rounded out the year in December with a trip home to Oregon for Christmas.

In 2017, I continued to work in a job that gives me purpose…

In March, I celebrated two years with U.S. Wheat Associates and was promoted to Assistant Director of Communications in July. My goal has always been to work in a job I love, that challenges me and pushes me to become a better communicator, and to use those skills working for farmers. Thankfully, all of that continues to ring true for me.

In 2017, my family welcomed Sawyer June…

After 23 years, my sister and I finally have an Ego cousin! Sawyer June joined our family on July 13 and its safe to say that she has stole the spotlight. Shortly, after she was born I wrote her this love letter. Oh, and #sorrynosorry that she has taken over my Instagram…

In 2017, my Grammy and Grampy visited me in Washington, D.C…

In October, my grandparents came for four days to visit me and experience Washington, D.C. They were actually the ones who helped move from Kansas to D.C. almost three years ago now (what!?) but we didn’t have the time for any site-seeing. I have a really special relationship with my grandparents so I was so excited to finally share my current home with them.

In 2017, I learned that adult friendships are hard, but so very important…

I think that one of the hardest things about being a 20-something is friendship. Everyone’s lives are so busy and usually full of change, and while I think that is awesome, it tends to take a toll. It is hard to be there for that college friend who now lives across the country instead of down the hallway, and while you might have so many great memories with childhood friends, it can be hard to connect with them when you are no longer in the same stage of life. And then there is the challenge of attempting to make new adult friends, which I swear is equal to the ups and downs of dating 🙂 But I’ve learned this year especially, that friendship requires a whole lot of grace. Some people are in your life for only a season, and that’s OK. And some people are in for the long haul, but sometimes they’ll have more to give and sometimes they’ll need more from you. I am thankful for both types of friends in 2017, who filled my days with fun memories and were supportive, sometimes when I least expected it.

In 2017, I filled my days with celebrations, new experiences, things that I love and both big and small moments worth remembering…

Peace out 2017, here’s to believing the best is yet to come in 2018.

P.S. Because I always include music at the end of my Year in Review posts… and because my love for Ed Sheeran knows no limits 🙂

Year in Review

{2016} My Year in Review

Over lunch earlier this week, I had intended to throw together a different blog post, but discovered that somehow I had written my 2016 year in review post and then completely FORGOT to publish live. So here I am (on a plane to Thailand!!!) tweaking my introduction because posting it a MONTH LATE probably is going to get me some eye rolls.

Some people might say that is reflective of how 2016 went, but I do not necessarily share that sentiment. Believe me — there some parts of 2016 that just flat out sucked, but there is no way I can look through this post and label 2016 negatively.

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Early in 2016, I stumbled across the image and words above while scrolling through Instagram. It struck me as an odd phrase, but I somewhat absentmindedly took a screenshot and saved it to my phone.

“…stay in your magic?”

What does that mean?

It is easy to be caught up in the world around us. The way we spend our time and who spend with it obviously have a huge influence on our decisions and beliefs, and for the most part I think it is a positive thing to constantly be challenged. However, I think what the above phrase is saying, is that “your magic” is our core. It is our quirks that override trying to fit in, beliefs that cannot be swayed by other’s reasoning, thoughts we keep to ourselves, a sense of home and being grounded. My life continues to be filled with rewarding challenges, great adventures and even greater people, but as I navigated through 2016, these words came back to me again and again. They made me slow down and steady myself a bit more than the stubborn, quicker pace that I usually move at. I would like to think that it has made me strive to be a better person and to better appreciate what makes others unique.

It certainly was an interesting year, and I am glad I got to tag along for the ride.

In 2016, I traveled, because, you know sitting around at home really is for suckers.

I know I said this at a dozen times throughout 2016, but really, I AM SO LUCKY, that I have a job that allows me to travel, both for work and for fun. There were only two months out of the year (February and August) that I did not leave DC at all. Many of those were shorter weekend trips but when you lay it out like that it really adds up! Much like the previous year, my summer in DC sped by because over the course of six weeks I only was there for 10 days.

I traveled home to Oregon THREE TIMES! I don’t think I have technically done that EVER since I moved out for college eight years ago. In January (shortly after I had been home for Christmas), work took me to Portland for a few days and I was able to sneak home for the weekend to celebrate my best friend’s baby shower. In July, I was back for over a week to spend some quality time at my family’s cabin and to celebrate my Uncle’s Josh wedding. Then in December, I returned for a long holiday vacation and enjoyed my parent’s new house and farm.

Work took me back to my beloved Kansas in May where I was sidestepping tornadoes, sharing wheat quality with overseas customers and squeezing in as much time with friends as I could. In July work also took me to Fargo, ND (a new state for me!) for a board meeting, and to St. Louis, MO, for the annual Ag Media Summit. The big surprise from work came from the late decision to have me tag along on a conference that my organization was hosted in Guam in October!

My weekend trips included two trips to Blacksburg, VA, in April and September, to visit my friend Chelsea and watch some VTech football (aka relive my college tailgating days), a day trip to Morgantown, WV, in September, to watch K-State football play WVU and a quick trip over to Baltimore in June, when another K-State friend was passing through. Two of my favorite weekends were spent on an epic girls weekend to NYC with my best friend Megan in April, and returning to Kansas City in November, for the AFA Leaders Conference and Alliance Forum, and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of an organization that I love dearly.

In 2016, I grew a lot at work and continued to love the industry and people that I work.

I celebrated my one year anniversary and took on more responsibilities. Everyday I learned more and more about the wheat industry, took on new challenges and even survived a few growing pains. It also became more apparent how lucky I am to have a boss and co-workers that support me both personally and professionally. They are a team who genuinely love the work that they do, and I have found that when challenges arise, I am very grateful for their attitudes and guidance.

In 2016, I celebrated new life and became a new surrogate Auntie to two adorable babies.

A year or two ago I think it would be safe to say that this season of change was a bit overwhelming, but in 2016 I fully embraced it. Two of my best friends became mamas and I was overjoyed to see them start their families and am honored that even though I live far away, they want me in their baby’s lives as much as possible. Richole and Dustin welcomed Wesley Ray on Mar. 4, and Leah and Ryan welcomed Robin Michele on Apr. 4. (Thank goodness that is going to be easy to remember!) My work and personal travel allowed me to visit both of them twice, and I got in all of the baby snuggles that I could.

In 2016, I had more new visitors to DC.

After spending my first year and half with a roommate, I decided I wanted to go back to living on my own. Of course the timing of it had to be difficult with a week-long work trip and a few big project deadlines all right before the start and end of my leases. So my wonderful Mom made a last minute trip to visit and help with the move. I honestly couldn’t have done it without her! We also managed to fit in just a little bit of “fun,” including walking and sitting in the pouring rain because we were determined to see the Memorial Day concert of the U.S. Capitol West Lawn.

One of my biggest highlights of the year was having my best friends and college roommates visit DC. Megan and Kyla, and Kyla’s husband Nathan (a veteran when it comes to dealing with the three of us girls together on his own), have practically been planning for this trip since I first moved to DC. I had a blast sharing my new home with these guys and we definitely made the most of it!

In 2016, I really branched out and made new friends.

It is no secret that I am pretty outgoing, but in spite of that, I have always taken a bit longer to make friends. It is something that used to bother me quite a bit, but overtime I have learned to be better at embracing that it is a part of what makes me, well me. As DC started to really feel like a home, 2016 became all about putting myself out there a bit more and making new friends.

In 2016, a lot of the small moments, stand out as big ones…

I survived #WinterStormJonas, 2 feet of snow and a city completely shutting down.
I gained an aunt (but really a sister) in Sonia.
I celebrated turning 26, and am a-okay will being closer to 30 than 21.
I cheered on my Wildcats on lazy fall Saturday watch parties.
I became a Lifetime Member of the AFA Alliance.
I went on my first East Coast hike, and know that it will not be my last.
I was thankful for technology so I could watch my sister graduate college even though I couldn’t be there in person.

I enjoyed doing things I love by decorating my new apartment, a few crafts and a few live concerts.
I developed plantar fasciitis in my foot and will forever regret buying shoes just because they are cute
I had a great stay-cation over Labor Day weekend with a visit from my friend Nicole to DC.
I took the holiday season by storm with multiple Friendsgivings and holiday parties.
I found a church home and community in NCC.

I took way too many A LOT of pictures out and about exploring DC.

And while I certainly enjoyed getting to know those new friends, I also embraced the old ones that have stuck around and continue to enrich my life.

Oh 2016, you really weren’t all that bad. But I am looking forward to what in store for me in 2017.

Cheers.

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 17

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife. See past posts HERE}

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1. Summer 2016

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Earlier this week I finished blogging about my trip home for my uncle’s wedding at the beginning of July. Below are the links for those posts. WARNING, I had a LOT of pictures to share.

View Part 1 about “Home and Wedding Prep” HERE
View Part 2 about our “Girl’s Day at the Salon” HERE
View Part 3 about the “Wedding Rehearsal” HERE
View Part 4 about the “Wedding Day” HERE

2. Fargo, ND

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Aside from my trip to Oregon, the rest of my July was pretty busy too. A few days after I returned to DC I left again for a board meeting in Fargo, ND. My time there was pretty short and work focused, but I was still excited to scratch another state off of my list. Most of the time I am the one behind the camera so here is a rare photo of me interviewing our new incoming chairman Jason.

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3. Ag Media Summit

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After returning to DC from Fargo, I turned around and left again a few days later to go to St. Louis for the annual Ag Media Summit. I love this event because it allows me to meet and reconnect with people in the ag communications sector, and attend multiple different training workshops. The biggest personal highlight is that it allows me to hang with K-State alum friends and other friends that I have made through things like AFA in college.

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A couple of years worth of K-State ag comm girls.

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Lauren and I met in college through AFA, but I really wouldn’t say we became friends until we reconnected at Ag Media Summit in 2015.

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The list of all the ways we know each other and how our lives keep crossing paths has gotten pretty long, but I am so happy to have Nicole as a friend and to be navigating our careers together.

4. Kayaking

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My first time kayaking! I was so excited that my friend Allyson invited me out for a morning on the Potomac. It is pretty hot here in DC right now so we did not stay out too long.

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5. Escape Room

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I had a blast last weekend with the girls from my church small group. We did not do all that great of a job in the Escape Room, but it was so much fun. Definitely put one of those on your bucket list.

6. Family Chats

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Ridiculous conversations like this are a common occurrence in my family. Someday we really should get our own sitcom.

7. What if Animals Were Round?

You are all so very welcome for this.

8. Plantar Fasciitis

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So over the summer I’ve been having quite a bit of pain in my foot, that has only gotten worse with time. I have a pretty high pain tolerance and grew up playing sports, so it took me a little longer than it should have to accept that something was actually wrong and that I needed to get it checked out.

Unfortunately, my assumptions were right and I have plantar fasciitis. I have always been pretty bad about wearing crappy shoes when I’m walking to work or doing anything that I don’t consider full on exercise. So on top of having a tedious recovery process, the compression sleeve I’m supposed to wear all of the time is neon…. not black or nude, but highlighter neon yellow.

Not quite sure which punishment is worse, the pain or this color.

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9. Best Friends

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My best friend Megan sent me the perfect “just because” card for our friendship last week.

10. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

I have never been more excited for anything book/tv/movie related to happen… EVER.

Gilmore Girls is my all-time favorite show. I own every season, and have watched the whole series through multiple times. As soon as I am done with the show below, I am going to watch GG start-to-finish again before the Thanksgiving premiere of the revival.

11. Grey’s Anatomy

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My friend Brandi FINALLY convinced me that I needed to watch Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning (she’s basically a professional super fan), so I have been working my way through it this summer.

This meme she sent me essentially describes my life right now. How have you people followed this story week by week for 12 YEARS!?!

12. On This Episode of “What Not to Wear”…

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My Dad is on the left and my cousin Britton is on the right.
Apparently they BOTH were headed out to golf…
It’s a good thing my Dad is lovable in so many other ways…
And its probably a good thing I live across the country, because there is a chance he will not be happy about me posting this picture.

14. Keep Farmers Farming

I shared this on Facebook a while back and stole my boss’s comment from his own post for this video….

“You can disagree or agree with his party affiliation, but this is one of the most articulate positions on why we should appreciate farmers…and why we should not stand against one form of agriculture or another.”

15. Sign at the Cabin

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My Grammy and Dad made this post originally with words related to the wedding on it, but then changed it out to feature all of the places where our family is currently from. There are a few on the other side that you can’t see, like my hometown, Hermiston. But I almost cried when I saw that they included Washington DC. I definitely live the furthest away by a long stretch.

16. Fake Friends Are the Worst

17. My Life in Memes

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beauty meme

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This last one above might as well have a picture of my sister and I together included with it.

18. My Favorite Kiddos

And really a post like this is not complete without new pictures of my favorite two babes. They are growing too fast, and are so adorable and happy!

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Wesley Ray
5 months old on August 4

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Robin Michele
4 months old on August 4

So, There’s That.

Cheers!

Family, Oregon, Photography

Oregon in July | Part 4 | Wedding Day

Hey! We are to my final post about my trip home and the wedding.

On the wedding day I did not pull out my nice camera because I was either busy, or just enjoying the day. Josh and Sonia also hired a great professional photographer, and while I manage to take a good picture every now and then, I have no problem getting out of the way of the professionals and letting them do their thing.

View Part 1 about “Home and Wedding Prep” HERE
View Part 2 about our “Girl’s Day at the Salon” HERE
View Part 3 about the “Wedding Rehearsal” HERE

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The day started out early, but gorgeous.

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frog in flower

That is a little frog there hanging out in the daisy. We found him when we first woke up and let him chill out until we finally needed the flowers back.

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I woke up about 5:30 to start getting myself ready because I did hair for Sonia, all three of the bridesmaids and both of the flower girls. Sonia has really long hair, but it is both very fine and thin, so she decided to use extensions. This was my first time working with extensions, but after a little trial and error, I got the hang of it. It was amazing how much of a difference it made and how well her real hair blended with them.

Note to other newbies… fake hair does not curl normally. You have to cool down each piece for it to hold its shape.

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Taylor had fine, wispy bangs, and we wanted both of the girls’ hair to match so I did one of the tiniest (and probably most difficult) little french braids I’ve ever done, which meant that I needed her to hold REALLY still. Taylor’s favorite candy are tootsie rolls, so we told her that if she held really still and never took her eyes off of it, that she could have it.

PEOPLE, SHE NEVER MOVED.
It was hysterical. Even when I scooped her up to better position her for the hot curling iron, she still never took her eyes off it.

I just wish I could apply that level of concentration to anything at 25.

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We let the little girls pack their own flower pails and Taylor was convinced that we couldn’t leave any petals unused.

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Sisters.

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Excited to have a new aunt/sister.

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I posted this picture of Josh and I to Instagram with this overly cheesy caption:

“You may technically be my uncle, but growing up as your sidekick with you as my big brother you influenced everything from my taste in movies to my humor and so much about how I approach life. I am so happy that you found Sonia and that she’s so much cooler than you.”

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Aside for a short rain during dinner, it was such a beautiful day, and such a fun wedding. I am so happy that Sonia is a part of our family now and that I was able to be home for so long to help celebrate.

And before I go I have to share a few of the professional photos that were on Facebook. To my North Dakota friends, definitely check out Erin at Soulshine Photography. She did an amazing job! I can’t wait to see the rest of the pictures!!

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Photo by Soulshine Photography
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Photo by Soulshine Photography
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Photo by Soulshine Photography
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Photo by Soulshine Photography

Cheers!

Family, Oregon, Photography

Oregon in July | Part 3 | Wedding Rehearsal

Friends, I am SO EXCITED to share this post with you.

I was a little disappointed at how shaky my hands must have been that day, because there are a quite a few pictures that could have been much clearer. But as you can see I had a LOT of trouble trying to narrow down what I was going to share.

But I just love weddings, our cabin and so many of these people so much, and it really was such a beautiful evening and so much fun.

I mentioned in my first post about this trip that I got a new phone and so I wasn’t connected to my work email anymore. With the exception of a few Snapchats and quick social media shares, I shut out a lot of the outside world. And I am so glad I did, because I was able to soak in these memories.

View Part 1 about “Home and Wedding Prep” HERE
View Part 2 about “Girl’s Day at the Salon” HERE

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Brandt was Josh’s high school cross country coach and mentor, and now they have become friends and fellow coaches.

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dancing with namemark

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Their idea, not mine 🙂

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Josh's hand with namemark

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Nothing beats my Daddy’s cooking.

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Taylor with namemark

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The cook (Dad) finally got a moment to relax.

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Sonia’s Uncle Johannes came in from Germany to walk her down the isle.

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The guy (Josh’s friend Bryce) who was going to be officiating was not going to arrive until the actual wedding day, so my Grampy stepped in for the rehearsal. He might have had a bit too much fun with it.

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Josh and his groomsmen.

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Josh and Jay with namemark

My uncles Josh and Jay, and two of my favorite guys.

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The bridesmaids and flower girls.

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The Ego Men… can you tell they are related?

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Sonia’s family are so much fun!

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He is so weird. The rest of us are sort of wondering why she said yes 🙂

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Brian is Josh’s best friend from high school and his older sister Amy became friends with Sonia because they work together. And those are Amy’s little girls, Taylor and Elaina.

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After the rehearsal my Mom and Grammy were back to prep. Owning a flower shop comes in handy sometimes…

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My Mama doing her thing.

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Sonia and her Mom.

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Thanks for taking a look! I will be back soon with a final post about the wedding day. And for those of you wondering… yes, I will be posting a Facebook album with pictures from all of my trip posts soon.

Cheers!

Family, Oregon, Photography

Oregon in July | Part 2 | Girl’s Day at the Salon

Ok, so I lied.

Originally I was going to break my trip home and the wedding down into 3 blog posts, but looking ahead I have WAY too many pictures to share from the rehearsal, so I decided to make our girl’s afternoon at the salon its own post.

In reality, I could have just named the post “Taylor and Elaina” because the two little flower girls were where my lens was focused on for most of the afternoon. They are just so cute!

Anyway, the day before the wedding most of the girls in the family and bridal party headed into town (Baker City) to get pedicures and manicures. Sonia’s best friend and maid of honor, Jess, also put together a little bridal shower.

View Part 1 about “Home and Wedding Prep” HERE

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cupcake with namemark

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Sonia the bride.

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My Grammy and Mom.

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If only life was still that simple. These little girls were so much fun.

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Jess and Sonia.

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Strawberries with namemark

I will be back tomorrow with a huge post about the rehearsal.

Cheers!