Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself." Abraham Lincoln

Recently, I was contacted by a company who wanted to know if they could sponsor this website.

It is not the first time I have been offered cash for my soul.

Ouch. I know.

And it will not be the last time that I decline it.

When I first started blogging three and a half years ago, I did it for me. I saw it as a fun outlet for writing. It became a way to keep in touch with long distance friends and family. It is, at times, my own personal soapbox, a place to laugh at myself, cry with myself, showcase my family, and keep a record of the everyday stuff that I'm afraid I'll forget. I had no idea there existed perfect strangers in the world willing to read what I write here.

And it is not now, nor will it ever be, for sale.

Cluttering up these pretty pages with ads for diapers, jewelry, tampons, and books seems a bit like selling out to me. I wouldn't send my kids off to school with bumper stickers on their cheeks or backpacks, so why do it here? Isn't there enough branding and consumerism in the world without me contributing to it?

I am left now to wonder about those of you who do choose to accept advertising dollars for space on your websites and blogs.

Specifically, I am wondering this:
  1. How much do you make?
  2. Do you feel it leaves your site cluttered and busy?
  3. Does it make you obsess more over your stats, knowing that revenue is dependent on that?
  4. Do you think less of those like me who opt out?
I cast no judgmental rocks from my glass house, but I am curious. I mean, if some of you tell me you are getting a couple thousand a month, I might jump on that train so fast that there'll be no time to stop and get my luggage.

But I can't imagine they pay well enough to support the lifestyle I would like to become accustomed to.

Am I wrong?


Monday, April 26, 2010


Dear Hannah,


Yesterday, my sweet baby girl, you turned eight.

It's a strange thing to have your youngest hit such a milestone age. With the older kids, you expect (and almost cheer with glee) the passing of ages because it means they are maturing and growing out of difficult phases. Those phases are probably only hard because of the phases that the younger kids are in. Phases that seem loud, incessant, and (at times) life-sucking.

But with the youngest, it's bittersweet because it means that it's the last time you get to experience something, good or bad.

The last kid to learn to ride a bike. The last kid to start school. The last kid to be baptized. The last kid to get a driver's license. The the last kid to go to college. The last kid to get married, have children, and grow old.

Then I die. The end.

Well, not really. But it sure feels like it some days.


Right now, you seem to be testing our boundaries. You have discovered your keen ability to carry on an argument and (JUST LIKE YOUR STUBBORN FATHER. HMMM. WONDER WHERE YOU GET IT FROM?) hate to ever find yourself on the losing end of things. Your intelligence and logic astound me at times, and I shake my head and imagine what courtroom you'll someday unleash your fury on, and for what long shot cause.

Heaven help the world that stands in your way, is all I've got to say.


But deep at your core, you are still the sweetest little pea that ever was born. You have a heart that is always open to those around you. You are so tender. More often than not, I glance your way during a movie and see quiet tears spilling over your rosy cheeks. Whether it's poor Wilbur the Pig or the broken heart of the Phantom of the Opera - you are rooting for the underdog every time. You need them to win and come out okay. Your world makes no sense when people exist in it with sorrow.

I love that about you.

And I thank the good Lord for sending you to me that way.


Hannah, your smile lights up my world. Your laughter fills my soul. You are my angel, my ally, and my bright spot of pink in this life full of gym socks and baseball caps. You make me get up and dance when I'd rather watch. And you help me see that life was meant to be laughed at in all its ironic, beautiful, tragic glory.


I love you, cheeky.

Love, Mama

Friday, April 23, 2010

The essence of me

I am a girl who always loses it the week before a haircut and trims her own bangs. I hate that about myself.

I am afraid of dying and, as a result, plan my own funeral about nineteen times per month.

I am a really, really good baker.

I don't like to fail and worry constantly that I will.

I do not believe in doing my own nails and indulge myself in that every other week.

My biggest fear is public humiliation. Which is really ironic considering how frequent I have actually been humiliated in public.

I love my babies with the fiercest intensity my soul has ever known.

I am a cleaner, but loathe cleaning the bathroom. Of everything in my life, it gets cleaned the least.

My favorite thing is to curl up in the warm sunshine with a good book and a cookie.

I am harder on me than anybody else.

There was a piece of me missing until I met the Husband. He is truly my best friend and I don't know what I'd do without him.

I love music and singing so much it hurts, but can't read or sing a note to save my life. I dream of standing on a stage and belting out Broadway in my next life. I think it's one thing I got gypped on, and I plan to ask god about that when I see him next.

My friends are more important to me than I let on. Spending time with them refills my soul.

I don't like to exercise. But I also like to exercise.

I am completely, irrevocably, undeniably insecure.

I am a religious person, but I would not consider myself to be very spiritual.

I love the top half of my body, but loathe and despise the bottom half.

Looking through a camera lens at others has taught me a lot about myself.

I am always hydrated. Getting my water in is the one thing I am perfect at every single day.

I have a shoe problem. There is not room enough in my closet for all the shoes I have, but they're the one thing I am incapable of throwing away.

I really like to sleep and am quite good at it, too.

I am kind, freckled, hopeful, smiling, tall, and happy.

I am me.

And today I decided that is a pretty good thing to be.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Channeling my inner Elaine

Remember that old Seinfeld episode when Elaine has the arduous task of finding the perfect pair of socks for Mr. Pitt?

And how she gets him tight ones, loose ones, skinny ones, fat ones - and none of them are quite right? And in a fit of rage, he throws a torrent of socks around the room while Elaine covers her head in the fetal position?

Well, let's just say that in my life I am Elaine, and the Husband is Mr. Pitt.

Now Lord knows I love me the Husband. Love him more n' my luggage. He completes me, and all those other trite movie cliches, if you know what I mean.

But, man, the guy has got some serious sock issues.

For Easter, I got him some very nice, soft, not-too-tight (or so I thought) Ralph Lauren socks to wear with his suits. Hunted at several stores, and fondled dozens of socks in my quest. I happily found the perfect socks and spent a pretty penny to get them. And the Husband liked them, he really did. Except for the tiny, microscopic part at the top is just a wee bit too tight. The rest of the sock fits like a dream. But he rejects them due to a quarter-inch bit at the top.

Mind you, these socks leave no marks on his calves. No sock tattoo remains after he takes them off at the end of the day. But still, he cannot be comfortable.

And goodness knows, we want the man to be comfortable.

[What with him spending all day earning the money and such for me to spend on my frivolous, bad self.]

This is not the first time my sock hunting skills have failed me. I've tried getting him looser socks, and he hates those because they just fall down. I've tried tighter socks, and he hates those because they're too constricting. He hates them for being too scratchy. Or too silky. Too thin. Too fat. Too long. Too short.


So he's resorted to wearing his old ones, with holes in the toes, and he laughs while telling me that the airport security people ALWAYS comment on his poor holey socks.

Not knowing, of course, that he's got about 19 pairs without holes sitting rejected in his sock drawer at home.

I guess it means that this Elaine will just have to continue her search for the ever-elusive pair of socks for her picky Mr. Pitt.

It's a good thing that he's so darn lovable. Otherwise, I might have to sock him in the jaw...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Peanut Butter Fingers: My 12-step program

Want to learn how to make these?


Follow my 12-step program:













Yeah. You're welcome.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Another house warming party

Have you ever moved to a new house, excited about the possibilities? Dreaming of just how perfectly your furniture will fit in every particular spot? You measure the cupboards, the floor, and the doorways. You know that everything you own is going to look fantastic there. You tell all your friends about the new house.

You even mail out "our new address" cards.

Then the day of the big move happens, and you spend the first night in your new space. You look up and notice that the ceiling has water stains on it. And, to your dismay, you discover that the windows won't open. And when you go to take a shower, you notice that there is no hot water. Further investigation reveals that the water heater is broken.

And you wring your hands in agony that you have done the wrong thing.

Ever done that?

I have.

And not just with houses and apartments. I am afraid I jumped the gun a little bit with my photo blog. Compromised my principles to save a few dollars. And the first night in that new space, I lay awake all night regretting it.

So, I'm coming here today to tell you that I've moved. You can now, and forever more, find my business photo blog at:

Please come see my shiny, new space (which looks eerily similar to the old one). I've even put up some new pictures of a gorgeous girl for you to see. And while you're there, don't forget to update your reader.

Stay tuned here at Stie's Thoughts this week for a fabulous dessert recipe and what happens when a princess turns eight.

There's good things happening all around.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm gonna do the things that I wanna do...

Holy freakin' crap.

I just wrote out the biggest check of my life. Was it to buy a new car? Or a new house? What about plastic surgery to make me look as scary and wax-like as Joan Rivers?

Theoretically, this check might have covered all three, so big it was.

But unfortunately, it was to my federal government for a little thing we like to call the taxes.

It just stinks. And makes me ridiculously angry.

So I am not thinking about it. Not one bit.

Instead, I am looking over at my babies, happily reading with their damp hair, just out of the shower. I am smiling at the memory of Chase tearing open the brown box from Amazon this afternoon that held a new book - just for him. I am basking in the warm, sweet smell of pancakes, fresh off the griddle because, well, it just felt like a pancake kind of night.

I am looking forward to proofing a lovely newborn session tonight after the kids are in bed. I am remembering how fun it was to hold him during the shoot. I am relishing the tired, sore muscles that got destroyed by the trainer this morning because it means that I worked as hard as I could.

And it just feels so good to work this body of mine.

I am turning up the iTunes on my new favorite song, even though I am late to the party in loving it. As Hannah informed me the other day, "Everyone in second grade has been singing that song for-like-ever, Mom."

Well. Maybe I'll even eat some candy.

[But probably not with the pork and beans.]

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Please subscribe and show me that you love me?

Internets, it is time to introduce you to a new home for the little Stie.

After much deliberation, I have decided to stop posting photos from my sessions on this blog, and will now be posting them here.

Why the switch, you say?

Well, for one, I like to think of this blog as my personal space. And I am not necessarily fond of mixing my personal and professional spaces. It feels untidy and crowded.

I will, however, be maintaining both, as well as my actual official business website.

Confused yet?

Here it is in a nutshell:

Stay here for updates on me, my family, and my life. [Which, really, are most riveting.]
Go here to see highlights from my recent photo sessions.
Go here to book a session or contact me professionally.

Any questions? Hope to see you at the new blog soon. I have oodles and oodles of fun pictures to show you.

Monday, April 12, 2010



For Easter, I found these adorable little pots that came with seeds and soil, and got them for the kids. I thought the boys would likely have little interest in growing the plants, and figured the project would then be taken over by the princess.

Oh, how I forget the competitive nature that is our family.

We potted, planted, and watered each one on Easter Sunday and immediately the speculation and betting began. On whose plant would come up first. On whose plant would be the biggest. Or the strongest. On whose plant was going to dominate and destroy all the other plants.

And most of this trash talk came from the Husband.

By Easter night, we noticed that Chase's little red pot was overloaded with water. Apparently, he thought some extra water was the plant equivalent of steroids, and that a few extra doses would give him the advantage over his siblings.

Sadly, the principle doesn't quite work the same for plants as it does for the pro baseball players. It's been over a week now, and Chase's plant has yet to emerge from the soil at all. I think it didn't survive the flood.


McKay's grass seeds were the first to emerge, followed by Hannah's lone zinnia. My sunflower brought up the rear and has been the most entertaining, what with the actual seed pod still clinging to the plant that burst from inside it. Every day the kids check to see if it's fallen off, and every day it holds steady.

Watching it kind of reminds me what it's like to be a mama. You nuture this little bud inside you, are literally torn in half birthing it, and then you devote all your energy to caring for your new seedling. Your previously charming and possibility-filled life now has one singular goal: Hold on tight with clenched fists and gritted teeth for as long as you possibly can. All the while, the indifferent little seed wastes no time in shoving your shrivled self out of the way so it can have its day in the sun.

Don't worry, sister sunflower. We mamas feel your pain.

Our seedlings do the very same thing.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

bursting my bubble


[Gratuitous knobby-kneed Hannah shot for your symbolic title tie in viewing pleasure]

As I not-so-subtly alluded to a few days ago, this week has been a tough one for me. I am not going to go into specifics here, but I will tell you that life threw me a curve ball which my sensitive, vulnerable, weak side was not remotely prepared to deal with. I had been in a pretty comfortable groove for quite a while, and getting knocked out of it onto my rear end was not exactly pleasant.

How did I cope?

Well, first I had a good cry on the Husband's shoulder.

Then I devoured a large portion of the remaining chocolate in the kids' Easter baskets.


Well, then I took some Tums to counteract all that heartburn from the chocolate binge eating.

But after that, I decided my best option was to pick myself up by the bootstraps and keep going. I took a huge blow to my confidence, swallowed that very bitter pill of humility, and pressed forward. As the Husband gently reminded me, it's experiences like this that are precisely what build our character and provide us with growth.

Growth sure stinks though, doesn't it?

But only for a little while. Then we look around and find that we are standing a little taller than we were before. That wounded vulnerability has hardened, and if we look carefully, we can see that it is now thick, like a callous. Ready to shield us the next time something tries to penetrate our armor.

It's quite literally a thicker skin.

And I think it's going to serve me well.

Game on, life. Game on.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


This week has really kicked my rear end.

Physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I find myself with an empty house and it is taking all the strength I have to not crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

Thank heavens there is a mountain of laundry waiting. And bathrooms that are screaming to be cleaned. Productivity is a good thing. Hard work and a little elbow grease will cure will ails me. I will take my frustrations out on the toilet in the kids bathroom. And the disorganized mess that is the basement.

I'll be back with a better attitude soon.

Until then, adios.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Callling all evil geniuses

Let's just say you happened to get together with some friends last night, had a spectacular time, and ended up staying out until the wee hour of two in the a.m.

And let's just say that at the unholy, dark, evil hour of four-thirty in the a.m., an alarm starts ringing somewhere in your room. It is not your regular alarm clock, and you scramble about trying to find it. After much blind rooting, knee bumping, and swear-word-uttering, you find the source of the awful ringing.

In a pillow. Stuffed under your bed.

You scratch your head, puzzled, wondering how or why it got there. But the comfort of your bed pulls you in as you drift back to sleep, even overriding your slight annoyance at the Husband for sleeping blissfully through it all.

Unfortunately, your regular alarm clock goes off at the usual unholy, dark, evil hour of six in the a.m. You painfully pull yourself to an upright position and wonder if you can bribe the hospital to hook you up with some diet coke intravenously. You stumble in a daze to the bathroom, splash some cold water on your face, and discover that all of your bathroom towels are missing.

And, just when you thought it couldn't get any stranger, you hear your cell phone ringing. You get that heart-stopping feeling of, "Holy frick, something's wrong!" grab your glasses, and put them on your wet face as you fly down the stairs. On the way there, you trip over some toys that you could swear were not there last night. You get to your cell phone, buried in the very bottom of your purse, just as the caller hangs up.

Scratching your head, you wonder what cruel joke the universe has decided to play on you until you walk into the kitchen and see your oldest son, falling on the floor in a fit of giggles. His face is red, he can barely sit up straight, and he utters the words, "APRIL FOOLS!"


While I love my firstborn more than my own life, at that moment, I seriously considered sending him back to meet his maker. I wondered briefly if they'd let me take a nap in jail.

But instead, I smiled, and told him that he won't know where, he won't know when, but someday I'd be coming for him.

So what I require here is your help, internets. I need your best tricks. I need your evil genius. I need something that he will never expect. Something that will make him think twice before placing that alarm clock beneath my bed next year or stealing my bath towels.

Please help me in my sweet, sweet revenge, won't you?

This troll must be stopped in his happy little tracks.