Be Astonished.

I am pretty sure Mary Oliver has it right.

Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.



I am astonished.  Every day I slow down and take the time to pay attention.  And every day, I am astonished.

And usually my way to tell about it is to share photos I’ve taken.  It may not be in words, but to me it is a poetry of a different kind.  A visual kind of poetry that makes me come alive.

Love, Jess

It’s been so long.

It’s been a minute since I shared a post here.  I miss this space.  You see, an occasional reader may stop by and I do enjoy that, but I feel that if someone takes the time to find this blog and comment, it is so personal.  I have always loved Instagram, but since they’ve changed all, I do not enjoy going to that space as much.

I’ve been so busy homeschooling and just trying to stay on top of things, it’s seemed so much harder to get here.  But I would love to get back to this space for me.  Even if it’s only once a week or two.  I want to get back to sharing our journey homeschooling.  I want to share photos that make me so happy.  I want to have a place of my own to share. Even if nobody but me ever sees it.


Recently I lost a lot of photos.  My computer was old and kept crashing and I couldn’t get everything backed up in time.  I lost a lot of editing actions for photoshop that I had purchased over the years.  I won’t say much about it, because it’s over now, but I was upset.  Fast forward to yesterday.  Immediately after I took this photo, I knew it would be one of my favorites.  I did very simple editing in photoshop and I don’t want to stop looking at it.

It makes me feel peaceful.  Just like this space.

Love, Jess

Project 52. 2018.

One of my favorite photography projects I’ve ever done is Project 52.   For 2015 and 2016, I kept up with it and finished that project and looking back at those makes me so happy.  Last year I started it, but sadly didn’t get very far.  I’m not sure why I didn’t.  I feel like I just couldn’t keep up with everything last year.

This year already feels to be coming along better, so I’ve decided to give it another go.

Project 52:  A portrait of each of my children, every week in 2018.

Week 01:





Week 02:




This simple little project is something that brings me so much joy.

Love, Jess


“The fears we don’t face become our limits.”


I don’t know where that quote came from.  I saw it online one day and liked it.  I thought of it after I took these photos.  I am terrified of spiders.  To me, they are one of the creepiest things ever.  Yet, at the same time I am fascinated by them.  How they work, the art they can make.  All while scaring the hell out of me!

But we face our fears.  Sometimes from a distance (like a zoom lens…so I didn’t have to get too close) and sometimes head on.  When I first started homeschooling I had so much fear to go along with my excitement.  It was hard for me to explain, and probably still is.  I am still afraid some days that I may screw it up.  I may not give them everything they need.  But that fear is just a lie.  I can and will give them what they need and more.  I know these kids better than anyone.  I know what their strengths and weaknesses are.  I know areas they need a lot of work and I know areas they excel in.  I see them growing into kind, compassionate human beings.  I am pretty proud to even have the smallest part in that.  Nevertheless the fear is still there sometimes.  And I power through it.  I don’t let it take over.  I will not be limited in what I can do because of it.

Last year, we made the decision to go ahead and take the kids out of public school and homeschool before I knew a single other person that did it.  Sure, I knew of people online, on Instagram that did it.  But I didn’t know anyone personally.  I came across a woman online, and immediately recognized her husband.  It turns out, he had went to school with my husband.  So, even though I don’t feel comfortable introducing myself and making new friends, I put myself out there and contacted her.  Now, we go to nature walks and field trips with a great group of women and their children.  Because I didn’t let fear overcome me.  I took that first step.  It wasn’t easy for me.  I am a fairly social person and enjoy friendships, but I’m not good at taking that first step.  I am more of an introvert.   But taking that first step led me to where I am today.  With other like-minded mamas to be there to support and help each other on this journey.   Sometimes it can feel like we are almost alone on this different path we’ve chosen, but these women make us know we are not.  We may have chosen the road less taken, but it’s made us stronger and we are learning more because of it.

Whatever you have going on…whether it is homeschooling, a career, sharing your art or passion with others….don’t let fear stop you.  Let it be what pushes you forward.  Your gifts need to be shared  in some way.  Whether you have a business or just like to post your pictures to inspire others.  Whether you  have been homeschooling for a couple years or ten, share with others.  It may help them to overcome a fear or two.

Love, Jess


Take a Walk

We decided to walk around a town near us Sunday and take a few pics.  It was such a great day.  We met the nicest couple that ran this shop called “Lost and Found.”  This was the door outside the shop when it was closed.  The inside was unreal.  They had everything from old video games to locally made jewelry.  If you are ever in Salisbury, NC I highly suggest stopping by.  I wish now I would have gotten one of the leather cuffs, but I’ll be going back!thosekidscolorfulpianos

heavyWhile there, I took a photo of myself that I could get creative with.  I’ve felt a need lately to get off Instagram, which is pretty much the only social media site I use anymore.  Don’t get me wrong…I love Instagram.  I’ve gotten such inspiration from other homeschooling mamas, photographers and artists in general.  It’s a great place to go, until it is hindering your creativity, instead of allowing it to grow.  That’s precisely what I was feeling…that I was getting in my own way.  I feel like inadvertently I was thinking about the photos I would take to post to Instagram sometimes(not all the time, but some) and I ended up stifling a bit of my creativity.  I think it will just be a much needed little break to concentrate just on the way I am seeing things again.  It will help me to get back to myself, how I create.  While I think inspiration is such a great thing, sometimes I think getting too much from outside factors and not yourself can be a bit crippling.  So, I am excited about this little break and I’m only gonna be posting stuff here for me until I decide to get back on.isabelle01makeajoyfulnoise

This was the cutest little hidden away spot.  I actually had to hold my camera up through the fence so I could get a photo of the garden.  It was locked up.  It was behind a financial institution, and I’m wondering if this was just a place for their break time, or if it may be open to the public through the week??!!  I wanted to go in so bad, because it was just so pretty and peaceful.secretgarden

Then, the kids found the air.  Some very cool air was coming up through this vent and seeing as how it was probably in the 90’s, they took advantage of it!


Like I said, it was the best day.  It’s amazing what you can find and who you meet if you are just willing to explore a little.

Love, Jess

Being Still and Success.

This week was our first week back at school.  It has been the best week.  I could let you think that is because everything went perfectly.  We had no arguments, we didn’t waste a whole roast by accident and I didn’t screw up when it came to my son’s math curriculum.   But that wouldn’t be true.

I did waste a roast by accident, we did have arguments and I most certainly did screw up when it came to my son’s math curriculum.  I bought it from a homeschool consignment store.  At the beginning of summer.  I did hear the woman tell me the return policy.  If it needed to be returned it would have to be in seven days.  At the time, I had kids asking me things, distractions all around.  So, I probably didn’t really take in what she was saying to me.  We got home, and I didn’t think about that curriculum again until the first day of school.  I had bought it, we were ready!  Fast forward to the first day of school and we put the first disk in…it would not read at all.  Thankfully the other three disks seem to read fine.  I can order a replacement disk for $15.00 if we need it.  So, it’s an easy fix, but I still got a little upset at myself for not listening to her better.

However, I rolled with the punches and am found a simple solution.  Nothing to get too worked up about.

Now, I’ll spare you all the details of all the other little things that I could have let get to me.  But I’ll tell you why it was the best week.  We slowed down again.  Summer was so crazy hectic and my health at the end of summer paid for it.  Again, my fault.  I didn’t have to do all we did this summer, but I wanted to.  I could blame myself and worry about it, but it’s in the past.  I know the kids got a little exhausted and so did I.  Just in this first week of school, we have gotten more sleep, we have had slow mornings again and we have moved about our days with a rhythm.

If there is one thing I really want to concentrate on more this year, it is slowing down.  I don’t do good with the “rat race.”  I don’t care to keep up with The Jones or The Smiths or anyone else for that matter.  We make our decisions for the kids based on what we think is best for them.  A childhood that is over scheduled and hectic is just not what we think is best for them to grow and learn.  Some people seem to thrive in that kind of environment, but I don’t know how.

We have started talking about Being Still.  Something the kids didn’t get in public school.  I cannot tell you how many days they came home so drained and very irritable.  I want them to know if it gets to be too much through the day, they can take five minutes out to just breathe, be still, meditate, do yoga, or lie down. It will refresh and we won’t find ourselves drained and irritable.  I am really going to incorporate yoga and meditation in our days this year.  For the well-being of the children as well as myself.


One of my main goals is teaching our children you don’t have to take the same path everyone else does.  You don’t have to rush through your days and be hectic and productive every minute of every day.  If you think that is what is going to make you happy or successful, you will be disappointed. If you think that money is going to make you happy, you will be disappointed.  You can take your own path, whatever that may be.  You can live a simpler, slower life and concentrate on what makes you happy.  Whether that be a job, your family….whatever.  It is a very personal thing though and nobody can tell you what will make you successful.  I have a very different outlook on what makes me successful.  I don’t go out to a public job every day, although I did from the time I was fifteen until the time I had my second child.  I don’t make money off of my passion of photography (although some days I think about selling prints.)

I wake up each day.  I concentrate on three human beings that were entrusted to me.  I spend my days now learning and growing with them.  I concentrate on the joy and on the happiness it brings me to know that I am helping to point them in the direction they want to go.  I am merely here to encourage them to find what they love, and to be caring, kind individuals.  To me, this is success.  In five years, my definition may be a little different.  And that’s okay.

The important thing is they will know they can choose the path that brings them happiness and joy.  It does not matter what anyone else says.

I was listening to a podcast with Ariana Huffington.  It was on Super Soul Conversations with Oprah.  In it she talked about her mother being her biggest influence and spiritual guide.  She said her mom would say “Don’t Miss the Moment.”  How true this is.  Don’t miss that moment rushing on to the next one.  Stop.  Smell those flowers at the farmer’s market.  Linger.  Have conversations with the kind folks you meet along the way.  Live a life that you are proud of and that you love.

Just some things that have been going on in my mind this first week of school.

Love, Jess


I spent time this summer thinking about what I wanted for our upcoming school year.  The more I thought about how I wanted our days to go, the more the word “peace” kept coming to me.  I love the days that are a little quieter, more peaceful.  Not to say that the more hectic days don’t have their place too, but overall if there is one thing I strive to have in my life it is peace.


The older I get the less patience I have to deal with anything that disturbs that peace.  I feel as though I guard my peace and the peace of my kids with a fierceness lately.  If I feel it will be disturbed in any way, I go the other way.

So, I guess our word for the year just came about kind of naturally.  “Peace.”

Tomorrow we start back to our school days, and the structure will be welcomed.  The kids always do so much better with structure to their days.  I hope your days with yours will be full of peace and love this year.

Love, Jess

A Place to Land.

I used to have a blog that I would share creative projects on, and I loved that I always had a place to land.  If I wanted to share more than I would on Instagram, I would go there.  I deleted that blog a while back, as our lives have changed gears a little bit, but I wanted to have a new place to share.

This will be a place to share our days.  We are getting ready to start our 2nd year of homeschooling and I would love to share what our days look like.  I plan on making a blurb book at the end of the year to document our days of learning.

Personally, I love when other homeschooling moms are willing to share information such as curriculum choices or the flow of their days.  It can be very helpful to those starting out.  While we are still new, I feel like if one person reads this and gets an idea, or finds some kind of inspiration it will be worthwhile.

Not to mention we will have our own yearbook of sorts to look back on.  I will be sharing much more coming up, so stay tuned.grand-daddy long legs


When I started homeschooling, I discovered Nature Journaling.  I thought what an amazing thing.  For someone that loves Nature as much as myself, I figured this was a definite for us.  The only thing is I am not great at drawing.  Which doesn’t matter.  I’ve still done some Nature Journaling pages that I love.  It doesn’t have to be perfect and it can be done however you like it.

For instance, along with our regular Nature Journals, I am currently working on a journal that will be filled with photography.  So many of the photos I’ve taken while on our Nature Walks.  It will be a cool and different tool for us to use in the future.

Here are some of the bird photos I’ve recently taken that will find their way into the journal.









That bird in the middle was a complete surprise and I feel very lucky I saw it.  It only graced my backyard for a few days and now it’s gone.  I had never seen one in my life and definitely not in my backyard.  It is a rose-breasted grosbeak.  Such a beautiful bird.

I am really going to enjoy this journal.  I feel the kids will enjoy it as a reference also.

Love, Jess


We have lived in our house for seven years, but we are just now painting.  And putting some new flooring in.  I’d like to think we’re on top of it like that!



I thought I was going to go with white in the living room and kitchen, but I changed my mind at the last minute and went with Sea Salt.  Because, everyone loves the colors of the sea.

Or is that just me?

Love, Jess

Ridiculously Happy.

I’m not sure where I came across it, but a long time ago I came across someone on Instagram that was taking photos each day of something that make you ridiculously happy.  Can you imagine?  Every day finding something that makes you ridiculously happy?

Well, I can.

I am not saying I take a photo every day, but I do more than I don’t.  No matter what’s going on, I try to find something that makes me so happy I can’t stand it.  It’s kind of a passion for life thing, kind of a gratitude practice.  I am very aware of how grateful I am to be living this life.

So just a random photo of something that made me ridiculously happy the other day.

colored pencil shavings and the final product.



So, what’s making you happy today?

Love, Jess