Wednesday, September 07, 2011

It's been a little while...

But we're still here. We LOVE our life here at Joe's Place... we really, really do... but sometimes it's nice to have a little break. Having three residents graduate at the same time for the 2nd time in two years was AMAZING... but also a little exhausting. Because of that, we decided we were going to stay here in St. Louis and relax for the summer instead of taking our normal big trip out West. The only problem is that there is no such thing as relaxing when we're here. The constant stream of people in and out of the house, combined with the extreme heat this summer and the fact that a lot of Dan's family had not met Claire yet... caused us to load up the back of our car (we decided to leave our trailer in storage because of gas mileage and speed) and take off the morning after Dan got back from a conference in Orlando. We knew we were going to end up in Seattle... but other than that we didn't know where our stops would be on the trip. We hoped to drive through Nebraska... but flooding there caused us to take the Kansas route. Oh Kansas... if I never see you again I'll be a happy gal. Here are some pictures from Western Kansas:

You would think we have lived in Missouri long enough to recognize signs of a tornado... but I guess not. We drove from beautiful clear skies into the most terrifying hour of my life. Right after Dan snapped these pictures we were blown practically off the highway. I've always experienced these storms from the safety of our basement. I've recognized the power of weather since we moved out here... but I don't think I've ever really understood how powerful until now. We were in the middle of nowhere... no buildings anywhere. It was raining so hard that we could hardly see the cars in front of us. We put on our hazard lights and drove about 10mph until we finally reached a rest stop. Thankfully we never ended up having to get out of the car and the kids were oblivious to the entire thing. We finally pulled out of the rest stop when the rain slowed a bit and drove out of the storm into this...

And this was what we saw when we looked back...

We are so thankful for the Lord's protection. It really was such an amazing reminder of how quickly life can change.

We ended up driving through some more weather in Colorado that night and made it to just outside Wyoming to rest for the night. Next post... our hour spent in the middle of a Wyoming highway...

Friday, June 03, 2011


I have a love/hate relationship with our basement. It was our garage when we first moved in... but was turned into a rec. room (along with a bathroom, office and storage room) about 6 months later. The boys all spend a ton of time down there, we have a little area for Carter's toys, and our guest room is down there. That is all great... but because our house is the lowest spot in the neighborhood... we have had to deal with multiple floods where a lot of stuff was ruined. A neighbor actually told us recently that our street was the pond for a family farm before our neighborhood was built. Makes total sense! The flooding issue has been fixed... but our backyard is a muddy swamp for most months out of the year. Anyway... Dan went downstairs during Carter's rest time on Sunday to grab some meat out of our deep freeze and found Carter sitting on the couch watching a snake (that I'm assuming had snuck in from our backyard under the back door) move around his play area!!! He was so excited that he didn't think to come up and get us! Dan brought it up and we kept it in a vase for a few hours. Carter named in Hungry and was devastated when they had to release it. I was proud of myself that I only really screamed one time. :)

SO glad Dan was home that day to deal with it...

Carter making a drawing of Hungry for his journal...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WE DID IT!!!!!

The amount of pictures in this post will hopefully make up for my lack of blogging the last few months. I have LOTS to catch up on... like a certain little girl turning one, prom and finding a SNAKE in our basement. Anyway... the reason for this post (and a very mobile one year old) is actually why I haven't had much time to blog lately. Three of our boys graduated from high school on Friday. I really don't think I can come close to putting into words how proud we are (I already have tears in my eyes)... so I'll let the pictures tell the story...

Not long after I took this picture it started to pour! So... our outdoor party got moved into our "not ready for an indoor party" house. Oh well... it all worked out. Dan and I still can't figure out how many people were crammed into the main floor for our house. It was pretty awesome!

Our 6 graduates! 2 pictures, 2 years apart. So proud of these guys!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We're not in California anymore...

Well... we actually haven't lived in California for almost 8 1/2 years. Even thought it's been that long... I don't think I'll ever really get used to the storms we have here. I had no idea when we moved to St. Louis that basements were used for more than just another living space.... they are actually necessary for safety. We've had a love/hate relationship with our basement here at Joe's Place... but that's a story for another day. Anyway... it stormed last night. It wasn't as bad as a storm that came through about a month ago... but the sirens did go off a couple times. We spent about an hour outside on the porch watching the storm roll in. I'll never get over how much the sky changes in such a short period of time!

I took this with my phone earlier in the day while we were on a walk... totally didn't realize until later that I got a plane in the shot!

You can see a few blowing leaves in this picture... but just about 10 minutes before I took this it almost looked like it was snowing leaves in front of our house because of the wind!

Ty wanted a few shots with his basketball with the changing sky in the background... even though he's in baseball season now. :)

He told me he wanted lightning strikes behind him in this one. We made sure we were inside before that happened! I did hear on the news this morning that there were some tornados near St. Louis... but thankfully we didn't see any!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Senior Portraits

Earlier this month I took two of our three seniors out for a little photo session (our third senior decided to wait to have his pictures done). It's amazing to me that two years after our first group of three seniors graduated... we will have three more graduating at once. I overheard one of our boys explaining to someone this week that Joe's Place is the only reason he's even in school right now. It's not been an easy year... but he will be putting on his blue cap and gown in just a few months. We are so proud of him and our other two that have worked through so much to get where they are now. There was actually another story done on Joe's Place and the documentary that is set to premiere on Saturday. You can read it here. We really are so thankful for all the people that have bought tickets and donated so much to make this place possible. 6 graduates in 4 1/2 years... now that's something to celebrate!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Joe's Place on NBC

Our local NBC station did a story about the upcoming Joe's Place Documentary last night. Just a reminder that you can get tickets by calling 314.644.4400 or you can donate online here: The film will premiere Saturday night at 7pm in the MRH Theatre. Hope to see you there!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Joe's Place: The Documentary

Next Saturday night, April 2, is an evening that we have been waiting for with much anticipation. Two years ago we were approached with the idea of having a documentary filmed in our home at Joe's Place. Over the span of the 08-09 school year there was a video camera following the life and events of our group of then seniors in their final year of high school. We were excited about the idea... but also a little (ok... a lot) nervous. Life here is not perfect. It's actually far from it. It would mean the imperfections of our life and the boys would be recorded forever. It would also mean that there would be shots of our house in all its unorganized glory on a giant screen for everyone to see. But it would also mean that three boys who have been through more heartbreak in their short lives than most people experience in a lifetime would have their last year of high school documented showing their resolve and resiliency as they overcame an incredible amount of obstacles. So... Saturday night we will be attending The Premiere of Joe's Place: The Documentary at 7pm in the MRH High School Theatre!! The filmmaker, Matt, has spent an incredible amount of time on this project. Not only did he film and go through hours and hours of video... he flew out to Hollywood to meet with David Oyelowo (best known for his role in "The Last King of Scotland") who volunteered his time to narrate the film.

This Premiere will be the main fundraiser for Joe's Place this year!! The cost for the film is $10... or $35 for the film and the wine reception following. You can purchase tickets by calling the MRH Central office at 314.644.4400. If you live out of town and cannot attend... but would still like to contribute... you can visit the Joe's Place website here. It's hard to believe we have lived here for almost 4 1/2 years with 14 different boys. We are so thankful to be a part of this unique community, school district, and program.

And... just in case you haven't had a chance to see it yet... here's the trailer....

Friday, March 25, 2011

A little break from Spring...

Earlier this week we were able to leave the house with shorts and t-shirts... this morning we woke up to more SNOW! I love winter... but I am so seriously ready for Spring! Our Spring Break was last week (it snowed then too) and Fred's Spring Break is this week. We were thankful we were in town and it worked out for him to be home for an extended period of time! Carter is the one who's really been soaking it up! Last night he even talked Fred into watching a little Dinosaur Train with him...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ryan Kirby ~ Postcard From Vermont

Last month we had the honor of photographing and designing the album for a friend and incredible musician! We have known Ryan and his wife since we first moved to St. Louis 8 years ago... so it was really so fun to get the chance to work on this project with them. We're so excited for his CD release party next week! To learn more about the album, performances or to purchase a cd... you can check out Ryan's website and music here:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

11 Months...

I keep telling myself that I'm going to get back to blogging... but it just hasn't happened! In the last 14 weeks... we've had visitors or been out of town for 9 of those weeks. I'll take friends and family any day over sitting at my computer! :) Anyway... we have a few exciting things coming up in the next couple weeks that I'm going to post about soon... but until then... here is our sweet Claire on her 11 month birthday today!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My little birds...

This was taken from "my nest" in our kitchen. I really feel like I spend 75% of my day standing in the same spot feeding Carter and Claire. What can I say... they (well... really Claire) like to eat. That's been a big reason for my absence from the blog... that and 4 teenagers and 2rphoto. The photo business has been such a recharging part of life for me right now. It's been so great to have this tiny avenue amidst the craziness of life to chase my dreams. I'm so thankful for an amazing husband who makes sure I have the time to make these dreams a reality. More updates coming soon!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The scoot...

So... I've been freaking out a tiny bit that Claire is not crawling yet. Not only is she not crawling... she's refusing to be on her belly at all. She seriously can't stand it. We see the pediatrician tomorrow for her 9 month appointment... so I'm kind of anxious to find out if we should be doing anything differently. On the plus side... she has figured out how to move without using her hands and without being on her belly. I've read a couple different places that the fact she is figuring out how to move is what's important... even if it's not crawling. Here she is (along with her crazy brother :))...

Friday, January 21, 2011

A little Reeve photo shoot...

For the longest time I've been trying to come up with a place indoors to do photo shoots during the winter. For the most part... my sessions have been scheduled on days where it worked great to be outside... but there have been those few days where it's just been way too cold. Since I try to only use natural light (although I've decided to buy a flash so I have the possibility of shooting events at night)... I've needed a place that is not only warm... but also has great light. After a year of trying to come up with a place... I've finally found it... and it's only like 10 feet from my desk. I am seriously so SLOW sometimes! Our dining room faces the perfect direction... and the house next door is like a built in reflector! Geez! The light is AMAZING! A couple days ago I decided to use the kids as models... and mess around with some different backdrop options. There are some things I don't love about the pictures that I'll need to do differently next time... but I still couldn't resist sharing these!! Carter wasn't quite as into it as Claire (who can't move :))... so I didn't get as many of him.

This one really makes me laugh... Claire is almost as big as Carter!!

My mom made the quilt in this one...

The black background was my favorite... of course I only got one good shot of them in front of it. I won't be using the white again.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Getting there...

I've posted twice in one week now... we're starting to get back in our flow... hopefully! :)

Today marked a huge milestone in our house... Carter finally moved out of his car seat and into a booster. It was a decision that I thought about for months! I would have left him in his car seat for a lot longer... but Claire grew out of two different car-seats and we needed to figure out something else for her. The poor girl was starting to cry when we would buckle her up. So... she's in his old car seat. I remember when we first put Carter in that seat at 6 months! It goes by so fast! Claire also grew out of her winter hat a lot faster than I thought she would. The girl knows how to eat! I asked a friend (who is an incredible knitter) if she would make Claire a new hat. Carter has had the same knit hat since he was about Claire's age. I wanted her to have something unique that she could wear for a long time as well. This is what my friend dropped off tonight (do you see the owls?). Amazing!!!!

I also had to include this picture... Carter with his sweet friend Manna earlier today. I love that I have pictures of these two next to each other in infant car seats!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Still here...

Wow... the last three weeks have really flown by! We had a great Christmas and New Years! The awesome thing about our two weeks off was that it really felt so much longer than two weeks! Hopefully I'll get around to updating what's been going on around here soon. We have 4 boys in the house now (3 of them are seniors). We're going to focus these next months on soaking up our time with these guys before they graduate. I can't believe we'll have three graduating at the same time again!!!

Wanted to at least get one updated picture posted! Here are Carter and Claire right before our Christmas Eve service at church. So fun to have a little girl to dress up!