this that and the other thing

I hope you all enjoy a nice memorial day and remember
the real reason for this relaxing day off.
To those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, 
we show the utmost gratitude and respect to you.
We also continue to remember those
currently serving our country overseas.

To my Mr in Iraq,
I'm so proud of you for serving our country and
protecting my freedoms.
Whether you see it or not, you deserve
thanks and recognition.
I love you noodle!

I spent my weekend enjoying time with great friends from high school!
here's a few pictures from our night together..

hope you have a safe and fun weekend!
I'm guest posting HERE today,
so be sure to check it out and read about my road trip
across the country.

newborn squishiness

I'd like to introduce you all to my little friend.

She popped out of here yesterday

Her name is Kylie
fall in love..

I found the cure for any bad day..
holding a sleeping baby for hours at a time.
Try it
you'll see.

deployment sucks

don't read if you aren't in the mood for deployment woes.

Most days I try to keep positive, especially since this here blog is so public, and who really wants to read some negative nelly blog entry every time you pop on over?  But then I remind myself why I blog and though I love my readers..I blog for me.  And today me hates deployment.

I realized the other day that I'm just over halfway done with this stuff.

Part of me is leaping out of my chair, excited to say I'm over halfway done..but there's still a large part of me that fights against that rational side.  As much as I try not to, I still get down and have my pity parties..I guess I should say that sometimes I even enjoy throwing them for myself because I feel deserving. Is that bad? The closer his R&R gets..the further away it feels. How cliche, brain of mine. Yes, I consider myself lucky we get R&R but I still think how it's such a short time together compared to the 6 or so more months we'll be spending apart.

6 more months of trying desperately to make plans everyday so I don't sit at home by myself
6 more months of staring at a computer screen of dropped calls and a pixelated husband.
6 more months of friends trying to say "they understand" because their boyfriend/husband is away at college, gone camping for a WHOLE weekend or went on a month long trip for job training.  Sorry friends, you don't understand and I really don't want you to try and reassure me that you do. I admit that I prefer hanging out with girls in long-distance relationships over happily nesting newlyweds, but it still gets to me sometimes. Should I feel bad about that? Maybe so. But we're speaking honestly here.
6 more months of being asked the same annoying questions "how's married life? often do you get to talk? he safe?...when does he come home?" and my absolute favorite comment "oh, a year long deployment? that's not so bad!" (yea just a measly year..12 short months...let's send your husband away for a year if it's no biggie to you)
6 more months of worrying about his safety.
6 more months of wishing I didn't have to see another happy couple.
6 more months of living vicariously through Army Wives.
6 more months of stupid stupid deployment.

I wish I could say that everyday was fairy tales and romance being married to a soldier. But it's not.    Some days are better than others, but some days I'd rather just barricade myself indoors and watch hours of Netflix.

Something funny that I've noticed lately is the casual use of the phrase "Hi how are you?"  We throw it around like it's a greeting instead of sincerely asking how that person is. I've started answering honestly when people ask how I am, whether they meant for me to answer truthfully or not. It bothers me that most people could really care less how people are doing. Are we really that self-absorbed? The minute I answer honestly and say that I've been better because of such and such..they freeze up as if they didn't really care to know.  The only purpose of "Hi how are you?" was to greet me and move on. 

This is not to say every person isn't sincere about this common greeting, but the level of awkward I've seen reached because I answer truthfully is almost comical. I first noticed this when we had a German Exchange Student 6 or so years back. She was amazed at how casually people threw around the phrase "Hi how are you." She told me that she'd start to answer and get cut off because the American's just used it as a greeting, instead of genuinely asking as the raw form of the sentence suggests.  Ever since then I've made an effort to ask and answer honestly.  It's funny though, when you're going through tough times and that honest answer comes out, so few people know how to respond. 

Sometimes I go off on tangents...apologies.

Some say it's downhill from here, apparently the second half is the quickest...and I sure hope they're right.
It's time for us to know what being husband and wife is really like. I'm sure that sounds bad to some of you, but think about it..all we know is countdowns and separations during our marriage.  How do we really know what it's like to live as an every day married couple? Our normal is pixelated Skype dates and sending love through care packages. I'm so ready to have an answer for someone when they ask me what married life is like.

Mr.. if you're listening [and I know you are] I love you noodles and I miss you oodles. 


"I find the map and draw a straight line
Over rivers, farms, and state lines
The distance from 'A' to where you'd be
It's only finger-lengths that I see
I touch the place where I'd find your face
My fingers in creases of distant dark places"

one birthday two birthday three birthday four

it was my brother's birthday yesterday, let's all wish him a collective

Happy Birthday!

More importantly..mine is in exactly one week.
I accept presents all year though
so don't you worry..

[because I know you were.] 

touch up tuesday: portrait



process: I played with the levels, softened her skin,
brightened her eyes a tiny bit and increased the contrast



process: played with the contrast and levels, took out a lot of the red warm tone,
softened their skin [maybe a little too much] and removed the color cast. the final edit
seems a bit dull colored when compared to the SOOC, so just look at them separately :)

Touch Up Tuesday's at the Paper Mama

Surviving Deployment: The Whole FamDamily

Hey friends.
This week's Deployment Survivor is Ms. Hillary from The Whole FamDamily.
I'm not sure if y'all are familiar with the term
web celeb but Hillary is one of them.
She's like a celebrity to me, and she's on the web..get it?
Anyway, she and I are bff' we're friends on facebook and stuff
just so you know..
I'm real excited to have her over to share how she's surviving this deployment
It also just so happens to be her birthday today,
so go wish her a very happy day okay?
Especially since the Hubby is not here to share in the specialness of her day!

Tell us a little about yourself:
Hi! I'm Hillary, born and bred Cali girl through and through.  I'm in my early 30's..ok I'm almost 33yrs.  BUT I don't feel as though I'm much older than 23yrs when I got married.  hahaha!  I love love love to LAUGH and have a good time and be social.  I'm a goofball and very sarcastic and I try not to take myself too seriously, since life is serious enough on it's own.  I love photography and dancing and art and music.  Strangely enough, out of 5 kids in my family I'm the only one with blonde hair, the rest have brown hair/brown eyes.  aaaaand I'm the only middle child, so I guess they needed an "angel" smack dab in the middle. ;p I didn't go into marriage knowing my husband would choose to join the military a year later, but I've always supported him 110% and am so proud of him.  Just within this last year I have found the world of milspouses i the blogging world and what a joy and support it has been for me!

What is your relationship status?
I am married to my hotness BFF, "Bewtcut" as I call him to keep him anonymous.  We will be celebrating 10yrs on June 9th!  Well...we'll celebrate as soon as he gets back from Afghanistan. ;) We've had ups and downs but our marriage has truly gotten better with time!!

Do you have kiddos? If so, how has the transition to "single parenting" affected you?
YES, I have 500!
I have 4 girls ages 9yrs, 6yrs, 3yrs and 18mo. and yes, we're done having chitlins.  You know, Bewtcut has been gone off and on since I had my first baby, so I guess I've adjusted to the way of life cuz that's how our whole marriage has been.  It's been difficult as we add more children into the mix, but I do have all my in-law family here and close and try to take trips to California to see mine, and friends and even bloggy friends help during deployment times for sure!

What branch of service is your spouse/significant other?
He is in the Air National Guard, but his job is full-time so he's considered Active Duty Air Force because of his full time orders.  He's a Cryptologist/Flying Linguist working in the Intelligence Squadron.  I know, if I told you anymore I'd have to kill you. *wink* He just passed his test to become Master Sergeant, so whoot whoot to him!!

What is your duty station?
He works at the Utah Air National Guard base in Salt Lake City, Utah.  We will never have to move because his particular job/squadron is only out of SLC so we will always live here, we don't have to move around. 

How long is this current deployment?
My husband's deployments are a bit different than most.  He usually leaves for 30-45 day rotation deployments, and he does this 4x a year.  SO it's a lot of back and forth, hello/goodbyes instead of getting it done in one long deployment.  We do count our blessings because it is for short amounts of time (if and when they don't extend him to 60-70 days which happens a lot ;)) and coming and going isn't always easy, but we do the best we can and make it work.  I finally got Daddy Dolls for my girls and that is a big help for them to be able to "hug" and "kiss" daddy when they want to.

How often are you guys able to communicate?
On his regular deployments he is usually in South American countires and often in a hotel so we are able to iChat, email, daily!! So we're spoiled that way.  BUT this deployment he is on right now to Afghanistan our communication is very limited and sparse, so it makes me grateful for the ability to "see" and hear from him on a more consistent basis during his normal deployments. 

What kind of support have you found during this deployment?
I find other milspouses through the blogging community are a GREAT help.  and even if I don't speak to them personally, just reading their stories and knowing there are others out there who understand and go through the same things and feel the same way is comforting and puts things in perspective for me.  We've never lived on base, so I don't have a plethora of other women going through the same thing and knowing how I feel, ya know?  I'm kind of alone in my neighborhood and community with my hubby being in the military.  My friends and siblings and family do try to keep in touch and check in on me as much as possible through email, phone calls, facebook, chatting.  And as I mentioned before all of my in-law family s here so they support the best they can as well. 

Does your family support your spouse/significant others' choice to serve?
My family totally does 100%.  His own family supports him, but does give him a hard time about finding a "regular" job and stop leaving his family, which I don't appreciate cuz he tried the regular job and he was meant to be in the field he is in, inside the military.  He even wrote to me once apologizing he couldn't have more of a "normal" job so he could be home all the time, but that he was meant for this job and there was a reason he was damn good at it.  How can you argue or make someone feel bad when they know their purpose on this earth? :) That's why I've always supported him 110% because even though I know it pains him to be away, he truly does love his work. 

What have you found helps you cope best with the stress of deployments?
Blogging totally helps! Even if no one reads it, at least I'm getting my thoughts and feelings OUT instead of bottled up.  Sometimes I think I sound like a schizophrenic because I talk about happiness and joy one day, and then I have a hard day and talk about missing him, and being "blue." But that is the reality of deployments, we have our good days and our bad days.  I find taking time to go out with friends and just take a break is ALWAYS helpful, so you can regroup and recharge because it is a lot to deal with on your own everyday.  Also, making sure you don't become a recluse, even if you don't get out with friends, make sure you talk or interact with friends and family members somehow, thru chatting, phone, texting, facebooking, whatever cuz sometimes all you need is a good conversation and it can buoy your spirits up to make it through the next day.  Of course praying and relying on God to give you strength when you don't think you have enough, and trying to remain positive even when you have your dark days, to come back to where it's light and remember the time WILL end.  I feel I've learned so much about myself being a milspouse and that I really am a strong, capable woman.  I may not feel that way sometimes, but we truly ARE!! And of course, Chocolate!! Copious amounts of Chocolate ALWAYS helps!! ;D

Raise your hands if you LOVE Hillary?
She's stinkin amazing,
no I didn't say she stinks. I said she's stinkin amazing!
I love you and your blog girlfraan, I think you gave some awesome tips
in that coping section.  It's SO easy to lock yourself up and
get depressed about everything happening but
we need to remember to get up, go out and most importantly
eat copious amounts of chocolate.
Happy Birthday Hillary!


If you want to be featured here just shoot me an email, also..
I'm thinking it might be fun to see some new questions answered, 
if you have a question to add, let me know!

she is the very best friend I ever did have

Everyone needs to get themselves a Linard in their life,
she's my super rad best friend.
She lets me vent about anything and everyone.. ahem everything.
She and her hubs are always there for me,
Lindard brings me flowers on military spouse appreciation days and always has goodies
to bake when I come over.
She's there to celebrate birthdays and is all around stupendous.
Ross, the hubs is pretty cool too
whether he is notifying me of the eviction notice I'll be receiving as a result for cutting flowers
around my apartment complex [which btw Ross, I have yet to see..]
or watching Gay's Anatomy with us [as he coined the term]
it's nice to have him around.
 I'm a blessed gal to have Linard and Ross in my life.
Congrats to the graduate I'm so proud of her!

I inducted myself into her family yesterday, I think I'll be a nice addition.

Love you best're like a sister to me :)

que "aww" here.


let's address the
elephant in the room.
i can't seem to make up my mind
on a blog design. 
either that,
or i'm addicted to photoshop. 
i'm not claiming one or the other
i'll let you be the judge.
just don't be mean, capiche?
it's like rearranging a room
sometimes it takes a 
few tries to get it right.
you know?

in other news,
i'm taking summer school. and it starts in less than 13 days.
boo for that.
summer will be here come july but
graduation next spring is like music to my ears
so until then i will study
and study
and then study some more.

so i can have a career in photography?
i know, doesn't make sense to me either.
but i study because
i know i should get my degree.
or maybe i just say that 
to convince myself.
who wants to persuade me all this
school stuff is worth it?
i'm all ears.
but not toes and arms.
just ears.
ready set go..

dave matthews band

mr loves DMB

wait..he's obsessed.

and he sings this song to me from time to time

in the car

with vibrato..

or so he thinks.

he'll say, "did you hear that? clearly vibrato"

i'll say, "if vibrato was a lack in pitch change and flat singing, sure that was vibrato"

then he'll say, "nicolai [ni-kol-eye], it was vibrato."

and i'll say, "okay, babe"


though i tease of his vibrato-ness,
the lyrics of this song are just about perfect
and i love when he sings it to me.
mr's vibrato-ness just makes me giggle.

let me love you, normal

                                                               Life is like photography
                                   develop from the negatives.

 Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day, I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taught, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.
  - Mary Jean Iron

my first wedding

So I've been a second shooter at a few weddings 
recently, but never have I done anything of the sort alone.
One of my friend's parents called me up a few days ago and said my friend Kaylie
didn't have a photographer staying for her reception and wondered if I would step in.
Well, I've never done this sort of thing on my own before and didn't know if I had the right
equipment..but I worked up the courage and told myself I could do it.
Here's a little preview of the wedding reception I shot tonight 

all. by. my. self.

 I can't even describe how cool it was to shoot a whole wedding reception by myself.  I was pretty nervous going into the night, but I had the confidence I could do it and I'm so happy with how the pictures turned out.  I think it's awesome when Jesus allows you to magnify the talents He's given you.  I've finally found my passion after so many years of wondering, and it feels good. I'll share the rest later this week on my new photo blog.  Yes, you heard that right..NEW photo blog.  Anyway, I had so much fun tonight and I'm so content knowing I've found what I want to do for the rest of my working life.  Photography makes my heart happy.

cake in a jar

Ever heard of cake in a jar?
You bake a cake, then smoosh it into a jar.

not really.

tricked you!

It's rather complicated actually.
Bake according to instructions on the box, except
bake at 400 instead of 350..375..whatev.
How did I ever find time to do this?
Wife of the year I tell ya!
Let's pretend this birthday care package wasn't 
one month late.

[I really creeped myself out with that last picture but I digress....does that even make sense? I always thought I digress was a collegiate phrase and I'm pretty sure it works there....I digress]

It's really normal to have a photo shoot with cake
just so we're clear.

Festive, right?

I'll leave you with pictures from the party.

I assure you mr wears clothes from time to time
but in his defense..he does work out.

lovey dovey

I had a good talk with Mr tonight.
It didn't start out that way because iChat hated us and so did Skype.
But the pixelated face eventually took form and the robotic voice turned into my lover.
We talked about how much we love each other,
(I know I know..gag).
I'm a romantic what can I say?
How we can't wait to be parents...and maybe sooner than we planned
no I'm not pregnant, he's not here, remember?
I just can't wait to know the love of a parent,
and know that I made that little person with Mr.
It's so refreshing to get in a good talk since I've been so busy lately.
I love that husband o' mine.

work out and faces

I started this work out regimen with my roommie.
She's a pretty fit gal,
I'm not obese, but I'm not a toned 6 packer
like all you runners. 
The workout is called INTENSITY.
Sounds exhausting just from the name,
Well it is.
and I can't move today.

Someone on facebook told me we'll have cute kids.
Big eyes? Yes
Cute? Meh

Helmets are weird

Especially when you grocery shop in them.

she WILL be prepared in the case of an earthquake.

Maternity Session

I've been a tad busy with finals around the corner, photo shoots, and family in town which means I've lacked in brain functioning and cleverness for the bloggity. But here's a short preview of my sister in law's maternity session.  I've also decided I'll be a bit angry if my prego self doesn't look exactly like her because she's ridiculously adorable.  I'll post the full shoot on my photography page later this week, along with a wedding I'll be second shooting later today.  So y'all just watch out for some stellar pictures coming your way ;)

all images © Chestnut Tree Photography

so nice to meet you

 Oh, hey 200 followers.  
Just acknowledging your existence.  
You all look quite nice over there, I'm glad we're friends.  
Shall we further our acquaintance?

Fancy meeting you here.

You didn't know we were models?


We usually just look like this
Don't worry.

I had first date jitters 
revealing our faces to you.
now that's out of the way
and you can
let it settle in.

Oh..and my name's Nicole
you can still call the other guy
Mr though.

introducing: MR!

I need to introduce you all to my special man,
in order to do so I think there are a few
things you should know about Mr before you officially meet.

1. His idea of summarizing is, not so much summarizing,
rather giving you every small detail until he's sure you understand the story just as he did.
From start to finish.

2. He knows every word to Katy Perry's Teenage Dream.

3. He used to be in a scream-o band
and made me take an oath to never again speak of said band,
hand up, repeat after me.. type oath.
He's feisty, I know.

4. He spilled sardine juice on my brand new place mats one time,
it still smells.

5. Most importantly,
he is my best friend and lover
no matter how much you wish he was yours,
(because I know you do)
you can't have him.
He's mine, and I don't share well