Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It was a good year

Wow, the end of a year. Lots of great things happened this year for me, for us. Shane got closer to being done with law school, Monkey Pants grew like a weed and did a million new things, I launched my new website and started this here blog, we sold our old house and bought a new one, I got the natural light studio I dreamed of and watched my little business grow. This was hard to do, but I picked my top 10 favorite shots from the year and here they are..

Lots of kiddos in there. I like kiddos.

I wish I could say that tonight I am putting on my fanciest dress and going to a gala to ring in the new year, but that would be a lie. I just wanted to use the world gala. We are staying home tonight and resting and ordering dinner out (O.K. Shane?) because…

A. I am losing my voice and sound like Marge Simpson.

B. Monkey Pants is on her 4th cold this season.

C. We have fun things to do this weekend that we can’t be sick for!

D. I hate the pressure to have fun New Year’s plans.

I hope you all have great plans. I’ll just live vicariously through you. We do get to have a bunch of old friends over for breakfast tomorrow. Bring on the friends and break out the cinnamon rolls!

Goodbye 2008. I liked you. Thank you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wedding anyone?

Do you know someone that got engaged over the holidays? Don't forget my offer...If you refer someone to me for wedding photography then you get a free photo shoot!

Check out this video that my talented friend Terri put together for me. She can do awesome things with your photos so you should really give her a ring. Watch the video and then tell your friends so you can get yourself a free shoot!

So, I'm back from a little Christmas r&r. Christmas was awesome in every way. Some day when I figure out how to get my videos on here I will post Monkey Pants opening up her Elmo doll. It was awesome. Then We went down to our family cabin and had a few days of just three of us doing nothing. Shane actually sat still for more than 10 minutes. It was amazing.

I always get the post Christmas blues so I am trying my best not to be down in the dumps and enjoy each day. Its just kinda sad when one day your Christmas tree is so great, the next day its like so yesterday. Shane is back at work but still home at night instead of at school and that is a big treat for us. So we'll be enjoying our evenings trying to make ourselves relax, trying not to get colds, and probably catching up on some projects around here.

Hope your holidays were wonderful. Its almost 2009! Yikes!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I can't tell you how wonderful it was to hear the sound of Shane and Marlie laughing in the next room today as I did some baking in the kitchen. Its so nice having him home and I can tell that Marlie agrees.

This year we are on our own for Christmas Eve and its pretty nice. We hung out in our PJs all day and then got all dressed up and went to church together. Now Marlie is in bed and Shane and I are eating dinner, playing scrabble, making milk shakes, setting out presents and stuffing stockings and being giddy like little kids.

Tomorrow morning we will continue our little family's tradition of waffles with strawberries and ice cream for breakfast. Its something Shane and I started on our first Christmas together and this is the first year that Monkey pants will be able to partake. Then we'll read the account of Christmas in one of the gospels. And then...presents.

I'll be taking a few days off from blogland to relax and refuel. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Here is miss Monkey Pants last Christmas. Oh that face!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


On Friday I had a maternity shoot with sweet Molly. We started out in the studio and played with the light a little.

Then we headed outside. It was really cold and Molly was a trooper. Nothin like makin a nine months pregnant woman stand out in the cold and wind.

I know I take a ton of photos in front of this doorway, but I can't help it. I love it. The pink brick. The silver doors. Love it.

Molly was due any second when I took these so for all I know she is a momma already! Is that baby boy still hangin out in there Molly?

So, my Christmas crazy business time is officially over. I kept thinking it was over and then it wasn't. Last week we had several name collage debacles. One broke in shipping and the customer needed it asap. Then on Saturday when I should have been getting ready for my mom's wedding I found out that one box containing two collages completely disappeared. Fedex has no record that it ever existed. Lovely. We scrambled to reorder letter photos and get them made and sent all over again. Then my elf threw out her back!

Sunday morning Beth called crying and said she couldn't move and she was home alone with Mr. Nug. I raced over there and found her laid out on the floor in tears. Nug lying next to her. She had been setting him down on the carpet and her back just seized up and she couldn't move. Awful. We have no idea why her back gave up on her. Too much collage assembling perhaps?! Anywho Beth is getting a little better each day but is still pretty uncomfortable so say a prayer for her if you think of it. My mom came and helped me with Monkey Pants so that I could put together the last of the Christmas collages and get them shipped or dropped off. So, its official. The Christmas crazyness is over! Its an adventure every year. No matter how much I plan things happen.

Today...More gift wrapping. Some hot cocoa. A night at home under a blanket.

Monday, December 22, 2008

my momma's wedding

Ok. I'm back blog people. For some reason when I am insanely busy with work I get my posts in and now that things are slowing down, not so much. Not that this weekend was not busy! Saturday night my mom and Frank got hitched!

I kinda made them come over to the studio for a few photos before the ceremony so that all of their wedding photos weren't in the reception hall with a flash. Ya know what I mean?

My mom looked so beautiful. She tried on approximately 1,000 dresses before we found this one that just seemed perfect.

The ceremony was short and sweet and exactly what it needed to be and what they wanted it to be. Frank has a huge family and seems to know everyone in South St. Louis so this wedding was no small affair. The room was beautifully decorated for the holidays. The food was great. The music was great. It was perfect if you ask me.

Marlie walked down the isle like a champ. She is a pro by now. I think we are going to start advertising her services on Craigslist. She kinda left the ring bearer in her dust, but he just wasn't going for it and she is an independent little lady.

Here are Shane and Monkey Pants getting down on the dance floor.

And Shane tossing Monkey in the air. Notice the icing on her cheeks. She was pretty excited when she realized she could reach all of the cake plates set out on the table.

It was good times people. Good times.

Congratulations Mom and Frank! chocolate and Christmas light with Marlie's cousins and a little gift wrapping perhaps. Tomorrow I will post a sneek peak from Friday's maternity shoot and tell you about some other weekend happenings. Stay tuned. I know you are on the edge of your seat :).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

every day stuff

This is one of my favorite Christmas quotes. For some reason I am having a hard time thinking what to write here so I might let some real writers do the talking for me in the next few days. It’s pretty much just the every day stuff around here these days and that is kind of nice. We got our car back. It is fixed. Mostly anyway. Shane’s last final is in the morning. Hallelujah. I think I’m even more ready for finals to be over than he is. Marlie is especially cuddly and cute these days. She said her name for the first time tonight as we looked at ourselves in the mirror together. Priceless. We both took a long nap today and that was heavenly. I still haven’t done any gift wrapping. I’ll get to it. The last batch of name collages for Christmas was shipped out yesterday and that is a relief. My Mom’s wedding is this weekend so we are all doing last minute things to get ready. I may or may not have bought 4 dresses and am still trying to decide which one to wear. And that’s about it folks. Sorry, not so interesting. I have a maternity shoot scheduled for Friday so I’ll have some work so share soon enough. Hope you are all staying warm. Its stinkin cold here. And icy. Don’t tell, but I fell on my butt yesterday.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Target chunks and bumber cars

Nearly every December I get the flu or some vicious cold that totally knocks me out. One time I even had to go to urgent care on Christmas day. So this time of year I get really nervous every time I go out. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I always feel like there are just cold germs everywhere and I am breathing them and touching them and now I have Marlie to worry about too. So you can imagine my horror when this happened…

On Saturday My mom and Marlie and I ventured out to Target to pick up a few things. We were walking up to the entrance when I noticed some chunky grossness on the sidewalk in front of us and tiptoed around it. Just when I realized that it was probably puke, a target employee who was out taking care of the mess tossed a big bucket of water on the chunks splashing it and sloshing it all right where we were walking. Mom and I jumped up disgusted and looked at each other like, “Did that really just happen?” When we looked over at the Target guy he looked straight at us and said “Merry Christmas!”. Come on, are you serious? Now that is some horrible customer service.

If I get sick I’m blaming on that guy. But I still love Target. I can’t help it.

Today was just about as fantastic as that Target trip. The roads were incredibly icy this morning and Shane and Marlie got in a fender bender on the way to Beth's house. I didn't feel good about it when they left this morning and then freaked when the phone rang and I heard Shane on the other end. They are both completely fine but my heart was at my toes until I realized that.

So our car is banged up and in the shop. And my completely stressed out husband had all that heaped on top of everything else today. Ug. But, the three of us are home. Monkey is sound asleep in bed and Shane is studying in the office and that is what really matters.

Here's to hoping that tomorrow is a better day. Christmas, you couldn't come soon enough! I think some gift wrapping will happen tomorrow. That always cheers me up.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I always thought Shane looked more like a Shante.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

poo prints

Yesterday was a right of passage for me.

In the morning we were busy getting both of us ready to head out to music class. Marlie loves to run around without any clothes on and without her diaper. She just loves it. She runs and giggles and dances around. So, sometimes I let her for a bit before getting her dressed. Yesterday I told her she could run around until I was done blow drying my hair.

While I was in the bathroom I heard "Uh Oh! Uh Oh! Uh Oh!" coming from the loft. Three uh ohs in a row. I knew we were in big trouble. She came in to the bathroom with her eyes like saucers and pointed me in to the other room.

Oh friends. There on the light carpet was two big pieces of poo and tiny poo foot prints all over the room.

Fun stuff. Motherhood keeps you on your toes thats for sure. Needless to say we were late for music class. But thats Ok. We got there. Marlie loved it. And I got to see one of my faithful blog readers and meet her little boy. Hi Lisa!

So when I said I might take a nap in yesterday's post, what I really meant was scrub poop out of the carpet. But whatever.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

checking in

We haven’t checked in with Bean and Nug in a quite a while and I think its time.

To tell you the truth these two haven’t been on many adventures lately. Mostly because Beth and I have been busy with the Christmas rush and if we do have any free time we try and ditch these two for a Bean and Nug free adventure of our own. They did go to Sam’s one day and sit in the front of the cart together. But of course I didn’t have my camera with me to document it.

Mista Nug is sitting up like a champ now so these two can finally sit face to face and play. This is a pretty bad pic of Bean, but this is the face she makes when she gets excited to see Nug. It is accompanied by lots of oooing and high pitched squeeking.

Now that Nug can sit up Bean has even better access to Nug’s face so she can shower him with kisses. Lets face it, these two are going to be swapping colds all winter long.

Here is Marlie showing Weston all of the cheerios he can't have.

And here is Mista Nug's “Please miss Erin, save me from another kiss attack” face.

Today. Uh what do I have to do today? We have a music/play/fun class for Marlie this morning and then after that its a blur. Actually I think that is a good thing because it means I don't have eighteen work things to accomplish today. Maybe I'll take a nap. I say that almost every day. But today it might actually happen.

Two finals down and only one more left before I get my husband back for a few weeks! I love Christmas break.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


We had a good weekend around here of relaxing mixed with some working, a lot of studying by Shane and even a girls night out for me with Beth. Now maybe I should clarify what I mean by girls night out. I don’t mean margaritas and laughing it to the wee hours of the morning. About a month ago I was talking to Beth and she said…

“We have got to get out and go to the mall sometime together because I have the BEST coupon for us to use. Buy one DOUBLE DOOZIE cookie and get the second one free.”

To which I replied “Heck yeah! I’m in.

So this coupon had been burnin a hole in Beth’s pocket for some time. When I asked where she wanted to go on Saturday night she said “I don’t care what we do except we must go to a mall so we can get our double doozies.”

This people, is why she is one of my best friends. Because she is a personal trainer and she writes me work outs but also provides me with double doozie coupons. Everything in moderation right? Now you must know that in order to get my cookie sandwich Beth made me promise to do one workout and one day of cardio this weekend. And I did. This is real and its me. Sometimes I need to think about cookies to make myself work out. So be it.

Our night involved shopping for a dress for me while eating our massive cookies. So it was a good thing I had my Spanx with me. It was just what I needed. Not the cookies or the Spanx, but the night out with a friend. Even if it did involve trying to squeeze me in to dresses in unflattering dressing room lighting while eating cookies. There was a lot of laughing and it was nice.

And it turns out maybe those cookies weren’t the best idea. As we were finishing up our shopping Beth was holding her stomach saying “Uh this was the worst idea ever.” She also said “If there is any mention of the word double doozie in your next blog post you are in big trouble.” So forgive me friend, but it was too good to pass up. I don’t have much material for posts these days.

Hope your weekend was a doozie.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

get 'em while ya can!

Only one more week left to order name collages for Christmas! I can't beleive I am saying that already, but its true. With the time we need to create them and then the time it takes to ship them to you we have to stop taking orders soon. We'll stop taking orders next Thursday folks so if you want one get on over to here and order.

What to say? I'm not feeling especially bloggy today. I'm tired to tell you the truth. Miss Monkey Pants was up most of the night and I have no idea why. I took her to the doc today to see if she had an ear infection. Nope. Bad dreams maybe? Ug it was like a bad dream for us. Shane had a final last night and then crashed into bed exhausted. About 10 minutes later the screaming began. We tried and tried to get that kid back to bed and then finally put her in with us. She thrashed and smacked us all night and tried to jump off head first a few times. Oh my monkey.

So on that note. I am going to tell you a few fun things about her because despite the unpredictable sleepless night every once in a while, she is a pretty great kid.

- Latest nickname: Monkin (a hybrid between monkey and munchkin)

- New favorite word: No (said with her lips sticking out and shaking her head)

- Favorite pass time: Watching The Little Rascals movie. Not the old ones, the newer one. She is an Alfalfa addict I tell you.

- Best new trick: Giving out tons of kisses.

And she's up again. So much for a long afternoon nap. I gotta go. Maybe I'll get a kiss?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Some of you may have been following our friends, the Armstrong's, blog about their journey this year adopting a little boy from Guatemala. Their story is an amazing one of hope and faith and may I say endurance! Emily moved down to Guat last year to be with their little boy Samuel until all of the legal stuff could happen to bring him home. She ended up living there with him for about 7 months. Jimmy came down a few times to visit but other than that they were apart. What a challenge. What a commitment. What amazing parents.

God is faithful and Emily and Samuel were finally able to come home to Kansas City a few weeks ago. Last week they came to St. Louis for Thanksgiving and we got to spend some time with them and our other sweet friends Katie and Nathan. Jimmy, Shane, and Nathan were college roommates and for the first time all of our little kiddos played together.

But before our play date I snagged them for a photo shoot. I couldn’t resist taking photos of the three of them finally home and together for good.

It was obvious that Samuel is very attached to his daddy even with all of the time they had to spend apart.

And I think he is pretty fond of momma too.

He is so adorable. Those cheeks!

Welcome home Samuel and Emily. In a world where you hear about so many negative things and sad things and scary things, it blesses my soul to see you three so happy together.

I’ll leave you with Emily’s own words from her blog because it sums up their story better than anything I could ever say...

I want to echo the words of Hannah in I Samuel 1:26-28 when she gives the Lord credit for her boy saying: "As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." Hannah named her son Samuel which means "God has heard". Thank You, Lord Jesus, for hearing our prayers, for holding us through this adoption journey and for bringing Samuel home!

Monday, December 1, 2008

lets take it outside

The day before Thanksgiving I had two photo shoots. Both of them were really fun. The first one of the day was with a really cute family. There son was home from college so it was a great time to get a photo of the whole family.

I have secretly always wanted to take someone's couch and put it outside their house for family photos. We were doing some inside pics and I had them all snuggled up with each other on a great couch. While I was snapping away I half jokingly said "You know what would be really awesome is if we took this couch outside." They all just kind of stared at me like she can't be serious and I said "Just think about it." Then Andy the dad was like "Hey lets do it!" So out to the porch we went. And this is what we got. LOVE IT.

Such a great family. I love it when people come outside of the box with me.

Love this one of Dad and his girls.

Thanks Benes family. For being flexible and fun and trusting me.

Friday, November 28, 2008

farewell fall

I have so much to be thankful for. Monkey Pants woke up yesterday in the best mood ever like she just knew it was Thanksgiving. I laid in bed for a bit and watched she and Shane down on the floor wrestling and giggling and then reading books and I thought, boy I am ever blessed. So thankful.

Thanksgiving was nice and simple and relaxing this year. Brunch at my mom’s with my family and dinner with Shane’s family. Some times I volunteer to bake pies and yummy dishes which are great but also a lot of work. More and more I am learning my limits. I felt overwhelmed this year so I was smart and brought the same potato casserole to both places. And may I say it was amazing. Not the casserole, I mean it was good but the lack of clean up is what was amazing. One bowl. Two casseroles. And done. Every one and their mother probably already has this recipe, but I’m posting it anyway. This makes one casserole, I just doubled it.

Cornflake Potatoes

One 2 lb bag of hash browns thawed (I like the chunks, not the shavings)
One 16 oz tub of light sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 cups cruched up corn flakes
1 Tbsp. butter melted

Mix the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and dump in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbling. Sprinkle the cornflakes on top. Drizzle the butter on top of that and bake for 10 more minutes. Nice and gooey and easy.

Did anyone venture out shopping today? I went and got some Christmas shopping done. It was kind of nuts, but I did get some good deals. It was fun to buy for Marlie because this is the first year I think she will get pretty excited about her gifts.

We keep it small in the Duggin household. Shane and I just do stockings for each other and in effort to keep Christmas Christ centered instead of “stuff” centered, we made the decision that we would give our children 3 gifts every Christmas. Three gifts because that is how many gifts Jesus was given. So don’t tell her, but this year Marlie is getting a cute little apron (she likes to pretend cook) a pop up tent that looks like an igloo, and an Elmo doll (she calls him Mo). Not a laughing or jumping or dancing one. Those scare the poop out of miss Monkey Pants. Just a cute huggable one. I can’t wait to see her pull him out of a box.

Farewell fall. Thank you for the leaves and the chai tea and the cardamom candles. Its time to get out the green and red. We’ll be decorating this Sunday. Decorating for Christmas is always one of my favorite days of the year.

But before that I have my 10 year high school reunion tomorrow night. I am not at all nervous (lie) and I’m just going to throw on something I already have in my closet (or the outfit that took ten tries to decide on). I helped plan this shindig so lets hope all goes well.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

note to self

I keep thinking that since work is winding down for the season I am going to have a bunch of free time for relaxing, blogging, reading. Not so much. I had a date with my bathtub and my Real Simple magazine tonight and I totally stood them up. I am learning that no matter how much more free time I have I always manage to fill it up. Like today I had a little free time but instead of oh I don’t know, taking a shower, I made cookies for Shane. Sometimes baking is fun and other times its just frustrating and a big mess like it was today. So, note to self…slow the heck down. I’m trying I swear.

On that note I am trying to reflect on my busy season this year and look at what I should do differently next year. This run your own business/be a mom and wife thing is a hard balance and I learn new things every year. So here is what I’ve got so far…

1) Don’t do tons of Sunday photo shoots! If you do any at all make them later in the afternoon. I missed church so much this fall and it was so stupid of me. I don’t know what I was thinking and it makes me sad that I so quickly sacrificed that time. It’s important for me to go to church and I put work before that. Bad idea.

2) Get frozen meals made or prepared to have on hand. We ate horribly this year because I didn’t have time to cook.

3) Look ahead and plan out slots that are available for shoots. When they are full, they are full. I have a problem saying no even though I know I’m in over my head. For some reason it is easier to say “all my slots are booked.” than “No, I can’t do it.”

4) More business and more money is not worth sacrificing my sanity and my family.

That’s what I have so far. I’m still thinking it all through. I’m exhausted. It’s bed time. Tomorrow is going to be a busy one. But I am going to try my best to go slow. I have my last two photo shoots of the season and some errands to run and I get to see some sweet friends. Hope you have a good Wednesday. Only two days until turkey and cranberry sauce!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Congrats Gav and Erin

Whew that was one full weekend. Full of places and people and seeing my brother with his heart full. He is so happy and that makes me happy. Monkey Pants was worn out and I’ll be honest, a very huge handful this weekend. She had her own plans and agenda for the weekend. But she was also hilarious and cute and very professional. Meaning she may have thrown a ballistic fit in the back of the church tossing snacks in the air and all over herself before the ceremony, but when it was time to walk down the isle she just took the hands of the other flower girls and went. I was so proud. I was a bridesmaid so I don’t have any photos of it to show you. I thought it might have been inappropriate for me to leave my post at the altar and run down to snap photos. Even though I kinda wanted to.

In fact, I don’t have a ton of photos to post at all. First because I was busy trying to stay in my dress and walk in my shoes and help keep Marlie happy. Second because the wedding photographer knew I was a photog as well and I did not want to be obnoxious. I know what its like to have someone else trying to do your job and getting their flash all up in your binness. So, I snapped a few photos and enjoyed just being there.

Here is Monkey at the rehearsal. Shane's mom got her this dress and I love it.

I love how you can see the hairspray in this one of Erin getting ready.

Monkey Pants showing us her moves on the dance floor...

She made a little friend and they kept hugging and kissing. It was hilarious. Shane is a little worried though.

This is my favorite one of the two of them. Gavin looks so happy.

Now there is another Erin Elizabeth Brady! She took over my old name. People keep asking me if that bothers me but it really doesn't because I love her and I'm pretty attached to Duggin because I'm pretty attached to Shane.

Today is a slow day of who knows what. I've got some things that need to be done but Marlie has a bit of a stomach bug which is no good. Maybe from all of that kissing? So I'm waiting to see how she does. We may just stay in our jammies all day and watch movies and thats just fine with me.

I will leave you with a note about spray tanning in case you are wondering how it turned out. It looked great except you should really watch your hands if you decide to do it. My body looked like I went to Florida for a week but my right thumb looked like I had gone to Jamaica for a month. Yikes.