weekly photo challenge: threshold

five-year-old-portrait-photosa threshold.  a new beginning.  crossing over into someplace new, different, exciting.

this prompt got me thinking of this photo. an image of a five year old on the threshold of a new beginning: school.  how often as mothers do we get so wrapped up in all the wonderful new beginnings our children are experiencing that we forget to notice, appreciate, and revel in our own.  lately i’ve been noticing the anticipation, excitement, confusion, and electricity of change in the air for myself.  i am at a threshold.  where does it lead? at the moment, i’m feeling it’s the threshold of a time machine. i get the feeling that the time has come, not to reinvent myself, but to re-establish myself.

i have just added our fifth child to the family, we are complete.  the time has come to pick up the pieces of this broken body and move forward, healing, restoring myself.  now is the time to take a look in the mirror and regain my sense of style, of self.  while my children stand ready to cross the many exciting thresholds that life has to offer.  i too am ready to cross this threshold of mine.  i’m ready to re-establish myself.

child abuse prevention month



did you know April was child abuse prevention month?  well, until i came across this post at Beauty through Imperfection, neither did i.  Paula’s post is intensely personal, heartbreaking, and inspiring.  i found this call to action especially touching:

“Parents, please teach your children about abuse. What it looks like, how sneaky abusers can be and what kids should do if they are being abused. Don’t just assume you can protect them. Don’t just warn them of the situations that you think they might face and keep them ignorant of others.  Equip them to protect themselves. Prepare them for it, help them know what to do, who to call and how to stop it. Let them know that they have the power to say who can and cannot touch their bodies, let them know that they can say speak up, even if it’s about a person they trust or some one in authority. Don’t expect them to just know what to do. Don’t assume that you can protect them forever, because you can’t.”

Jason and i often talk about how to talk to children about difficult topics like these, and i have to admit, i am often shying away and thinking, “they’re too young.  i don’t want to stress them out.”  but the truth is, i do want to protect them, and there will be times when i won’t physically be there to do it.  so how do you talk to your kids about difficult things such as child abuse? here are a few things we have done.

1) take the time to lovingly teach appropriate behavior in the home, and remind them that this is the behavior you expect outside the home.  for example: when my kids hit, tease, etc.  i tell them it’s inappropriate and they need to respect each other and themselves.  i repeat the words my mother often said in our home, “i don’t expect you to (hit, grab, tease, bully) and you should never let anyone do that to you.”  i feel like this approach helped me to value and stick up for myself, so i try to pass that along to the next generation.

2) teach the appropriate anatomical names for body parts.  this is advice i’ve seen, heard, read, time and time again.  and yet, i was totally intimidated to implement it in my home.  i was not raised using these words, and it has been uncomfortable.  but a few years ago, i read an article explaining that a predator is likely to be scared off by a child using the anatomical names, and that cinched it for me.  we have taught the kids to shout, “don’t touch my vagina/penis!” to anyone who attempts this. (and i pray they actually do) push through your own discomfort with words like penis and vagina, for the sake of your children.  (yes, it will be humiliating when your two year old calls you a “penis-nipple”, but this just gives you an opportunity to teach that name calling is rude.)

3) teach them that their bodies are special and private.  we believe that our bodies are sacred gifts from God.  we teach this in our home, and at church.  when i have quiet moments with my children,  i like to remind them and discuss with them the sacred nature of their bodies.  my hope is that as they understand the gift their bodies are, they will respect them, and not allow another person to disrespect them.

so far, these are the tactics we have employed in our home to prevent child abuse. i think it’s important to absorb and utilize as much information as possible on the subject in order to do your best to protect your children.  so i will take this month as a reminder to grow in this area, and revitalize our efforts to educate and protect our children.



it’s a frozen birthday party!

my daughters are obsessed!  Frozen has taken our family by storm, pun intended.  so, when Madeline started planning her  birthday party, of course she had her heart set on a frozen party.  and of course, she made this decision after the holidays were over, so i did not get a chance to capitalize on all the holiday sales!

help came from a surprising source.  i was at the San Tan Chick-Fil-A for one of their incredible family nights, and they were setting up for a Frozen party.  the decorations were unbelievable.  i asked the manager if she would sell them to me, and she agreed to LOAN them to me.  i was floored.  Jennifer’s creativity and generosity knows no bounds.  thanks to her, Madeline had the Frozen birthday party of her dreams!

it ended up being a windy days, so our grand entry way was a little tossed and turned, but magical non the less.  so many snowflakes, just like Elsa’s winter wonderland!

frozen party ideas

the kids could not get enough of the “melted snowman water.”


probably the most popular activity was making (and eating) “snowmen”.  the girls stacked powdered donettes and used pretzel sticks for arms, chocolate chips for eyes and buttons, and of course carrot noses.  
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i saw this craft time and time again on Pinterest but it took me forever to find really good instructions.  even then, we had a few tries before we got really good at Epsom Salt painting.  Here are my instructions for Epsom Salt painting:

1) mix equal parts  very warm water and Epsom Salts (i found Epsom Salt in the pharmacy aisle at Target)

2)  when dissolved nearly completely, paint the mixture on dark construction paper

3) you shouldn’t be seeing many salt crystals in your solution, in fact it will look pretty boring for a while like water on paper

4) be patient

the magic is after the paper dries.  we set them aside for the rest of the party and afterward the kids saw their paintings transform into beautiful crystallized snowflakes, snowmen, etc.

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frozen party ideas

our next Frozen birthday party craft was making rubber band bracelets.  i purchased the ice blue, royal, and raspberry pink bands at Michael’s and found these silver snowflake charms on Amazon.

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the food for our Frozen birthday party was fun and festive.  of course there were the snowmen.  but that’s not all.  obviously you have to have blue raspberry lemonade, snow covered pretzels,

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snow-covered ice cubes.

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sandwiches!  as in “we finish each other’s sandwiches”
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and of course frozen cake and ice cream.

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even batman was mesmerized by the pretty Frozen birthday party decor.child portrait photographer-5180 child portrait photographer-5186 child portrait photographer-5189 child portrait photographer-5190 child portrait photographer-5191 child portrait photographer-5207this was one happy birthday girl.

victorian themed wedding inspiration

i love weddings. as a bride i loved planning my wedding, as a wedding planner i was in heaven, and as a wedding photographer, i get to capture all the beauty.  weddings offer endless possibilities for creative details.

victorian bridal inspirationvictorian bridevictorian bridal inspiration

feeling the inspiration of victorian wedding details, and having my favorite model in town, i headed out to shoot a little wedding  inspiration.

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victorian wedding details lace

victorian wedding details

victorian gown details

i love the lace detailing on this dress.  even though it’s from the twentieth century (it was my mom’s wedding dress), it still has the look and feel of a victorian wedding gown.

how to start a blog

start a blog

I have been keeping a family blog for 7 years now, and a blog for my Photography business for 5.  So why start a new blog?  Why now?  What’s this all about?

This year I gave birth to my fifth child, and while she is an absolute joy, a wonderful addition to our family, she has officially given me a run for my money.  During this time of overwhelming change, I realized, “hey, I’ve got more to say then my family/photography blogs allow.”  I have a lot of interests, I enjoy sharing those with others, and I want to do that on my own fun blog just for me.  Thus britainearl.com has begun.

There were a few important questions I asked when starting a blog.

1)      Blogger vs. WordPress, what’s the difference?: soiguessiblog.blogspot.com and britainearlblog.com are both Blogger blogs.  I have had a great time using Blogger.  When I decided to start a blog of my own, I wasn’t sure why I would want to change, but noticed that the majority of the blogs I followed were self-hosted WordPress blogs.  Why?  I did some pretty extensive research, and found out why others preferred WordPress.  Most didn’t really know why.  Others were “techies” and had a preference based on reasons that were totally over my head.   But one web developer I talked to said, if you are interested in blogging as a profession somewhere down the line, WordPress is your best option.  So, I made the switch.  I wanted the flexibility to grow my blog without needing to make a big change in the future.

2)      What in the heck is a self-hosted blog?: As I eluded above, the “tech” stuff if not my forte.  When I made the decision to go with WordPress, imagine my surprise that WordPress has two versions, wordpress.com, and wordpress.org.  What the what?  Let me just boil it down to my decision, I went with WordPress.org, the self-hosted platform.  With this version you have many more options for customization, and monetization.

3)      How to I self-host my blog?: there are only a million or so options for hosting, but this step was surprisingly simple for me.  I already had my domain name through GoDaddy, so when I went to my dashboard and clicked hosting, GoDaddy installed WordPress and basically did all the work for me.

4)      How do I start a blog that is pretty?: obviously, I wanted my blog to be pretty.  There are SO, SO many options out there. I searched and searched for someone who shared my aesthetic and offered a wide range of services to fit my needs.  My search ended when I discovered Lynsey of Shiny Magic.  Her style spoke to me, and she was able to answer all my naïve questions in a way that made me feel heard and helped.  And as you can see, she did a great job.

5)      How do I start a blog that is interesting?: frankly, I don’t really know.  My goal here is just to start.  The process is going to be a bit, stream of consciousness.  I intend to share my ideas and my life and see where it goes from there.

And that my friends, is how you start a blog.  Or rather, how I started this blog.


I’m excited to share.  What are your interests?

Inspirational Quotes for Your Sabbath Day

last night i had the privilege of attending the General Women’s Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  it was a special occasion, because it was the first time all girls 8 years old and up were invited, and i have a new 8 year old.  we were duly inspired and uplifted.  it is nearly impossible to choose the most inspiring quote from the evening.  but this one made an impression.

inspiring lds quotes womens conferenceHappy Sabbath!


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