Krissy and Peter

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I will admit I was nervous. I’ve known this bride to be for many many years and when she tapped ME for her engagement photos I was a little intimidated. The fact that both her and her fiancé are just total babes made me feel a bit more at ease. The hardest part about this session was the weather! My poor client and I were contending with rain every time we nailed down a date! We finally ended on a date after rescheduling probably 3 times and it looked like golden California sun was gonna show up and be a show stopper.


I was super excited when Krissy and Peter showed up because they were dressed to perfection! I love a light, airy, and dreamy photo and they were dressed the part. Krisztina’s gown was light blue and super flowy and romantic and Peter had a bright sharp looking shirt with some more muted clay colored pants; I couldn’t have dressed them better myself.
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We definitely contended with some of that harsh light first and had to find those “perfectly shaded areas” so faces were lit up just right and I think we got some amazing shots.

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Right from the start you could really feel the chemistry between the two of them! Anytime I asked them to look at each other there was no hesitation and If I sunk into the ground and disappeared they probably could have stared forever.
They were such troopers hiking a steep hill to get to the top where we could get some really great wide open shots and I think it was so well worth it!
What an incredible day and an amazing couple. I am so excited I got the opportunity to work with them!

 

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xoxo,

Kolicia

Balancing the Showverload

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I have a confession. I have had MOANA on repeat for about a week now. Not only am I smitten with this movie after coming back from Hawaii but I am obsessed with the music score and the meaning in the movie. Me and Keira have been binge watching it almost on the daily (I know this doesn’t make me sound like the best parent but stick with me) I can’t believe how fast my sweet little nugget is growing! Her new favorite things to do are wiggling non-stop (seriously this kiddo always has someplace to go and people to see, her “air-walking” is on point.) She is also the most gabby and chatty baby I have encountered, chatting, babbling, cooing for almost 30 minutes at a time. If only I knew what she was saying because it sounds oh so important!
Keira is 4 and a half months now! I just cannot believe she is growing so fast. I actually just tried her on some rice cereal the other night and it was a really entertaining experience because she had no idea what to do with the stuff. We started with the bottle and would slip the spoon in between the bottle feeds and she would just push her tongue out and a cascade of cereal (yes, CASCADE) would come oozing down her face. HAHA it was pretty laughable. I could get really frustrated but she is still really young and  just starting out so my goal was just to let her feel the texture and suck on the spoon so when she does want to eat the cereal she will be familiar with all the tools. It’s been interesting to say the least.

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These Veggies give me all the heart feels.

One thing Keira has really started enjoying more is watching shows. Her favorites are Veggietales, MOANA, and Cinderella. Veggietales seems to be working so great because of the large faces and short show times. MOANA has great music and still has the large faces that she likes. Cinderella is a new one we introduced because it was momma’s favorite movie as a little toddler (Grandma said she watched it everyday as a girl) and I wanted to be able to watch it with my own little girl! It’s also pretty ideal with a shorter run time than many of the newer Disney movies. I love that Veggietales teaches great moral and biblical values like sharing, loving your neighbor, kindness, hard work, and more. Keira has no concept of these things yet but it at least gives me some comfort knowing these episodes are based on Biblical truths.

Now, I know how absolutely horrible It must sound that my kid is watching show after show each day…I would slap my own wrist if I could. The truth is my post partum depression is horrible and I am just trying to get through each day. My long term plans are actually very technology and screen sparse (seriously like no ipad ever and a phone when she’s 16. I would like to attempt to bring up my girl the way I was raised. I didn’t have my own “screen” until I was around 15-16 and life was pretty great. If we were bored at a restaurant we played tic-tac-toe with sugar packets or if we were bored at home we played outside, wrote in a diary, sketched, played music, etc. this is my hearts desire for my baby girl.) ) However given the current circumstances I need help, lots of help. These shows are a form of help that I am hoping won’t do irreparable damage. From what I have read the brain is very elastic and re-trainable so I know when I switch back to 1 show a day or 45-1hr of screen time a day Keiras brain will adjust well. I also am excited to do more outside play, fun inside cooking play, reading books, puzzles, arts and crafts, and more. At this place in time those things are all really difficult because of my PPD but also because Keira is not mobile and still pretty cognitively young. Some of the fun ideas I just can’t wait to do with Keira once she is a little older and I’m in a little better of a place are below (yes I have a little list going because I am just that EXCITED!)
-puzzles, I love puzzles!
walks outside and going to ALL the parks
-sidewalk chalk
-shaving cream painting!
-blocks, blocks, and more blocks
-color sorting
-play dough
-paint in a Ziploc baggie
-coloring books for dayzzzzzz!
-hiking! I need a baby backpack carrier but I cannot wait for this <~~~~~
-introducing solid foods
Even in these more challenging times I am able to really enjoy time sharing these shows and movies with her. Cinderella and Veggietales are shows that I grew up watching and loving and I learned so much from them . It’s really special to be able to share these things with my own daughter. I can’t wait to introduce her to the audio series “Adventures in Odyssey” another favorite that we would listen to in the car or while we went to sleep (I still remember bible verses specifically from episodes of that radio series!)
I am curious to know what are some other mommies go to activities for your young babies? What are your opinions on shows or screen time for any ages? If you do allow shows for your little what are some of your go to’s?

xoxo,

 

Kolicia

The VOID

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When I was thinking of What to name this blog post there was no question in my mind that “the void” was the perfect metaphor and name. Emptiness, a chasm, a wall, lack of, nothingness, blank space…all ways I can think of to perfectly describe Post Partum Depression.  I recently returned from a 6 day vacation with my Husband from Oahu and we decided last minute not to take our 4 month old baby girl Keira at the last minute. We originally planned for her to come with us for many months but when both our families generously offered to watch her for the duration of the trip we decided to take the much needed time to ourselves and have an official honeymoon (which we didn’t get the previous year in 2017 after getting married).
Keira was born on October 31st of last year (yes friends, Halloween day. If you know me and my dislike of all things Halloween you know how ironic this is haha.) I remember when I found out I was pregnant. I was over the moon excited about having a baby and doing ALL THE THINGS. I have wanted to be a mother since further back than I can remember. My whole pregnancy was a song and dance of fantasies about being a mom despite any physical challenges like nausea or migraines. My head was filled with decorating the nursery, snuggling my little nugget, giving her baths, laughing with her, taking her everywhere, teaching her about Jesus, helping her learn everything from ABC’s to sharing and waiting her turn in line. I imagined having such a special bond with her. For some reason I imaged that I would have this warm and tangible connection of sorts whenever I saw her, held her, thought of her, or was even around her. I had so much great sobering wisdom from incredible and experienced women around me so I don’t think I went into being a mom completely disillusioned. I believed it would be hard and probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever had to do but I didn’t know to what extent or what the other side would look like. She was so long awaited and when she finally got here I was sure we would be the best of friends. I had some pretty unpleasant L&D complications. I went in for swelling about 6 weeks prior to my due date at 32 weeks and was admitted with pre eclampsia. I was induced and we met Keira about 24 hrs later. Recovery was pretty slow for me and Keira was in the NICU due to being premature (although we got to take her home after only 3-4 days. Once we got Keira home she was a champion eater and grew wonderfully.
For those of you who don’t know I already have a diagnosis of treatment resistant MDD + anxiety (Major Depressive Disorder) so I knew going into this that I was even more likely to get Post Partum Depression. On top of all of that medications I was previously on had stopped working (very typical of treatment resistant MDD) and we had to switch prescriptions post baby. We are still trying to find some sort of effective medication with very little success. This leads me to the present situation. The VOID. I feel like post partum depression is something that still isn’t widely spoken about publicly. Medical professionals are great at being open and honest about this as they should be. Our neighbors, pastors, public figures, co-workers… it seems so many others are a lot more quiet which makes me feel very alone at times. I remember when Keira first started crying. Like really crying (after the newborn phase at like 2-3 weeks when they aren’t just sleepy most of the time anymore) and instead of wanting to run TO her I wanted to RUN  AWAY. I couldn’t fix it, I didn’t know what was wrong and had checked off all the things; changed, fed, napped, temperature…I wanted out. I remember starting our bedtime routine and her falling asleep in my arms time and time again, my precious sweet angel babe, and feeling nothingness. The weight of that void crushing me like I deep in the ocean surrounded by deadly pressure. I would cry out to God “Where is the bond? Where is the connection that I’m supposed to feel?” I remember so many times looking down at her in the nursery that I would frequent before she was born and reaching deep inside myself for something that wasn’t and still many times isn’t there.
I try desperately not to compare my bond or my motherhood with other moms but its difficult. I see this ‘connection’ other women have out and about, on social media, in conversations with them and I feel crushed and ashamed.
I remember being in Oahu and missing Keira but also feeling a sense of freedom. Not because I was without her or because I had escaped her but because I couldn’t fail her. For those 6 days there wasn’t a huge void, I had escaped the chasm.  I got back from Oahu with Brian around 9:30 and heard that Keira was still awake so I asked my Dad to keep her up so I could do bedtime with her (I really did miss her.) When I got home she was pretty sleepy so getting her ready was pretty easy. We walked into her nursery and started with her lullabies (She loves being sang to, and I love singing to her.) As I stood there swaying, singing, and embracing her something new came over me.
It was different. It was new. It was everything.
I felt compelled to pray for her outloud for the first time since she was born and I went with it. I prayed protection over her, I prayed she would grow to love Jesus, I prayed I would always surrender control of her life to God and she would be His, I prayed she would be a leader and influencer of her generation and would shine brightly for Christ. I prayed she would love others deeply and have her Daddy’s compassion and kindness. As I stood and prayed for her I was overwhelmed with the desire to transfer every fiber of Holy Spirit I had into her tiny body, “Oh how I wish I could protect you!” I thought.
The way I felt wasn’t some warm, soft, fuzzy, tangible connection or ‘bond.’ What came over me was just a strong desire to LOVE on my child, to be a good steward and caretaker, and be close to her. I have not had many moments like this with Keira. I think this is the ONE and only moment of connection I have had with my sweet little nugget in 4 months together. I will cherish this moment forever.  I don’t know when this VOID will give way but I know I have a moment to hold to now. I believe God knew my needs and lovingly gave me that special time with my girl. I know and believe I will have more. As I continue to read my new favorite book “Nothing to Prove” by Jennie Allen I am getting more and more wisdom from the pages. The recent chapter I read spoke a lot about “numbing out” :

“Numb is easier than pain. Numb is easier than striving. The weight of sin or stress or hurt surrounds all of us, the burden and pain of failing to meet our own expectations, of not being the neighbors, managers, daughters, friends, spouses, or parents we wish we were. This is not who we thought we’d be, and were tired of even trying to change our reality. Turning everything off through social media, busyness, six seasons of Friday Night Lights, alcohol, work, or even religious activity numbs us and helps us cope with all the heavy or hard things flooding us everyday.”

I don’t know about any of you but I know the above statement was true for me. I strive, I feel pain, and I do my best to NOT FEEL the ouch of it all. If I were to ask you how you were doing you would probably use one of the human auto responses that we know so well: “okay.” “fine I guess.” “I’m good.”….though it may sound invasive and terrifying to ask the author presses further:

“But how is your soul

Are you truly fulfilled and happy?”

“For most of us, days are blurred into years or life stages, and the unique storylines played out in our God-given lives become wearisome instead of our delight.”

My goal is to be more intentional. I want to remember what God has done for me in both the hills and the valleys. This special moment I had with Keira, times of laughter and joy I have with her and even the times of struggle, sadness, and difficulty. I don’t want to compartmentalize what was designed by God to weave together. I think the mundane sometimes painful ‘everyday things’ can be just as important and useful to God. I don’t want my days blurring into years.
Whether I am struggling with a VOID, a teething toddler, a defiant 2 yr old or later a teenager with an attitude (I know a couple moms working with this right now!) I want to see Jesus in my everyday so I can BE Jesus in my everyday.

xoxo,

Kolicia

Kualoa Ranch Nature Reserve

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I have been so excited to write and post this blog on our memorable Kualoa Ranch Private Nature Preserve tour. We booked the “Movie site tour” through an app my sister recommended called Viator. Kualoa has been the site to many television shows like LOST, Magnum P.I., and Hawaii Five-O as well as Hollywood films such as: Jurassic World, Jurassic Park, Kong: Skull Island, Jumanji, Windtalkers, Pearl Harbor, Godzilla, and more! This ranch is not only a favorite site for Hollywood producers but is also a 4,000 acre private nature reserve and working cattle ranch. Located on the northeastern side of Oahu and the edge of Kaneohe Bay (imagine a tropical jungle kissing the warm sandy beach like we see in the show LOST time and time again!)


We almost didn’t make this tour! (if you read my previous post you know about this) Kualoa Ranch offers a variety of different tours including horseback riding, botanical gardens, and even riding ATV’s. I booked one of the simpler ones which was the movie site tour. When booking I would have sworn I saw that our tour provided pick up and drop off at our hotel along the Waikiki strip. Once arriving in Oahu and getting settled in I decided to double check our tour itinerary. I couldn’t any find information about transport to and from the Ranch (which was an issue because the Ranch was 45 minutes from Waikiki) I called as soon as I noticed but it was 7pm and their office was closed. I figured we would probably miss the tour and have to take a loss (renting a car or even Ubering would have cost us a lot of money per hour with a longer tour and could have cost more than the tour itself!)
We got an unexpected call at 6:10am in morning from the Ranch asking if we needed transportation (I have no idea how they knew!). I practically jumped out of bed shouting “yes please!” we paid a small $30 fee for both of us and that was it! We were on our way and I couldn’t wait to get there!


Of course my trusty camera came with me and I was snapping shots the entire time! I couldn’t put it down. Even on the drive toward the Ranch I was in awe of such a lush and green environment. It was raining a little giving the whole place a sort of mysterious and magical looking haze. Coming from a jungle of concrete my mouth was practically in a constant state of “open-jaw.” Wow. (Sometimes I wonder if this is a small taste of what earth was like before man fell, before things became gray, broken, hard, and cold.)
Once we got to the Ranch I was even more excited to head out for the movie site tour and see where all the films and television shows were made!
Once our tour was called up we hopped on a tall, green, open window bus with our guide and started off down the dirt road. I have to brag on our tour guide. He was so knowledgeable about the land, sustainability, agricultural practices, and movies filmed on site. It was really apparent that not only did he love his job but he deeply cared about the land and the animals he worked with every single day.

Our first stop was an old military bunker that was converted for tourists into a permanent resting spot for many of the props from films made on the Ranch. This bunker also contained some smaller historical exhibits about the bunker which were really interesting. We got to see props and set pieces from Jumanji, Windtalkers, Pearl Harbor, Jurassic World, LOST, Hawaii Five-O, and Kong, Skull Island. It was really neat to see some of the pieces that were actually used in filming! We learned a little bit about the Military history of the land as well. During WWII the US Military operated an Army Auxiliary airstrip at Kualoa with many of the large trees providing natural hangers for the small planes.

Once we finished in the bunker we headed out for the tour of the actual set locations. I was so excited about this and actually recognized quite a few of the spots as our tour guide described the exact scenes in movies like Kong, Skull Island and Jurassic Park.
Friends, as we pulled up to some of these different locations and hoped out of our bus I understood immediately why this location has become famously known as “Hawaii’s Backlot” and has been seen by over half a billion people in films produced over the past 50 years. I felt immediately dwarfed by the lush green mountains and could have stared at them for hours. The valleys are vast and seem to just disappear into the distance… It’s a truly spectacular thing to behold. No matter how many times I look at the pictures I took they really just don’t properly represent the beauty of what I saw.

Brian and I had so much fun on this tour but I would love to do some of the more extensive tours next time so we can really get more deeply into the Valley. The botanical Garden tour and the ATV tours were something we were both a little bummed we didn’t sign up for but really we couldn’t possibly be disappointed with the amazing experience we had!
I admit I now am on a mission to go back and see every movie and show that includes this gorgeous location and have been having a blast! (LOST marathon here I come) Hawaii Five-O has not disappointed and Godzilla was also pretty fun to go back and re-watch!


FUN FACT: We got to see the giant lizard tracks during this tour that Godzilla leaves behind in the movie which they had to modify post production because the cows in the ranch kept falling into; they are now only about 3 feet deep but still really fun to see!
If you are headed to Oahu I highly recommend checking this out, whether you are wanting to do something more low key like the movie site tour (definitely more kid friendly at only 60 minutes and not much walking required) or something more extensive like the ATV, horseback riding, zip lining, or secret beach tour.
Hope these pictures and fun facts gave you a little taste of “aloha”  from wherever you are sitting! I know being back in the bay area I already love being able to look at these pictures and transport myself back into the beautiful green valleys or the warm sandy beaches.

xoxo,

Kolicia

Waikiki Portrait Session

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Before we even stepped off the airplane onto the island of Oahu I was eagerly anticipating a portrait session swap I had planned with a fellow A&J photographer a few weeks prior named Dana Arnold. (A&J: this the educational courses that I am taking and the huge group of incredible photographers that I am so blessed to be a part of!) Dana (See her work here!) and I had connected a few weeks ago when I mentioned in our group that I was vacationing in March with my husband to the island of Oahu. I had a feeling that we would be quick friends and was so right!
We met the third evening of our trip after a long tour of the beautiful Kualoa Ranch. Both Brian and I were a bit tired but that was not going to stop me from swapping sessions and meeting up with another A&J fan. We decided to meet up near our hotel by a gorgeous teal lagoon you can find in many of Dana’s shots. We met up a little earlier than we both anticipated and did some chatting while the sun dropped just a bit. We talked A&J, photography and cameras (duh), her incredible hubby who serves in the US Navy and is currently deployed, and the delicious food we were both looking forward to eating after our session.


Once the sun was where we wanted it Dana started shooting first. Friends, I have to brag on my fellow photographer for a second. I am not the most graceful person in front of a camera especially if It’s just me. I don’t mind if people look at me in a natural setting like conversations, or just hanging out but pull out a camera and aim it at me (just me) and shoot frame after frame and I start to get REAL awkward. Dana was so amazing at making me feel like we were just two gals at the beach hanging out. She gave me direction and made me laugh all while snapping the most natural and candid photos.
Toward the end Brian came over and it wasn’t hard for me to act totally smitten with him while she got some incredible couples shots in. This little trip was a honeymoon of sorts for the two of us since we didn’t get to take one after our wedding in January of 2017 so the fact that Dana did these couples photos for us was actually really special to me.

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Next it was my turn. I was so excited to do my first portrait session and with a model like Dana I knew my pictures would turn out great no matter how new I am to photography. I did my best to implement all the techniques I have been learning in the classes I am taking. Get the best light, compose my shots, and try to give my client the best experience possible because at the end of the day it really is all about them.
I think we both ended up having an incredible time. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself when your backdrop is a sandy beach and serene aqua waters on the coast of Oahu. (whether you are in the photos or taking them)


When we were finished all of us agreed it was time to eat! We had pre-determined that our dinner choice was Outback Steakhouse and I was eager to get my favorite “chicken on the barbie” dish! (I am not a steak person please don’t yell at me.) We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves chatting over dinner and Dana had both Brian and I laughing hysterically at her anecdotes. As we shared a little more about our lives (my poor husband mostly listening as us ladies gabbed) I couldn’t help but be incredibly humbled and inspired by the life this woman lives. I am so in awe of the spouses of Military, Air Force, Navy, and Army personnel. My own husband does shift work and so I am used to going to bed alone for four days a week and maybe only seeing him 5 hours together during those four days. I can’t imagine a life where I don’t see my husband for months at a time and this is the reality for these men and women many of whom have children. I was so humbled by Dana’s zeal for living life and love for her business and serving others through her creativity. I left dinner that night feeling inspired and grateful.
I am so glad I had the opportunity to work on building my skill set while making a great friend! I am so grateful to be a part of such an incredible group of creatives! These are pictures I will treasure for years to come. If you are ever in Oahu look her up and book a session! You will not be disappointed!

xoxo,

Kolicia

Managing Expectations

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Sitting here with a glass of my new favorite wine and watching Moana (yes, a child’s animated film. I love the music score and the tropical Hawaiian location.) I can’t help but be overwhelmed with a sense of thankfulness for all that has happened this past week. If you don’t know, my husband and I just got back from a 6 day trip to Oahu. We sat in the sun, drank in the tropical smells and sites, rode a catamaran, toured Kualoa Ranch (This is where many of the films in Hawaii are made!) ate incredible food, and spent some much needed alone time as a married couple. We left our almost 4 1/2-month-old sweet babe at home with both our families which was quite a challenge for me being such a control freak. My husband and I never got an actual honeymoon so when our families offered to take care of sweet Keira we decided to take advantage of the offer! (more on this later)
Have you ever planned a vacation or a trip and had an idea in your mind of how perfectly everything was going to go? Like spending time dreaming, picturing, and fantasizing about everything it’s going to be? I booked our vacation package through Costco which I will probably do again. It was so reasonable and easy! There were so many awesome choices of hotel, location, length of stay, and more. I wanted to really pull out all the stops because my husband and I had never been away for more than 2 days together. I upgraded to a luxury suite and ocean front view. I booked us on the top floor right below the pent house suites. I knew nothing about the hotel I booked us at (big mistake) but I liked the price and the location didn’t seem too far from things looking at google maps online briefly.
Friends. I must admit I am horrible at expectation management. This is not good when going on vacations because as my sweet and wise sister reminded me “nothing goes perfectly on vacation.” So many things. went. WRONG. The first 2-3 days was me complaining and panicking because nothing was meeting my expectations (I know how horrid this sounds.) I have been to Oahu twice before and they were both pretty fantastic experiences. This was my husband’s first time and I had this unreasonable expectation that I was going to plan the PERFECT trip for him where nothing would go wrong. I think my wrong thinking was that if the vacation didn’t go perfectly than I had somehow failed my husband. I can see looking back now that this thinking is so ridiculous. The things that went wrong were, for the most part, completely out of my control.
-We had ants in our room (how did those little buggers make it to the 25th floor?!)
-Housekeeping issues
-I booked a tour incorrectly and we couldn’t get transport until the very last minute
(I actually got a call at 6:10 am the morning from the tour site asking if we needed transport. We had called too late the day before after the office had closed and couldn’t leave a message and figured we would have to take a loss on the tour. Nobody we know called on our behalf and I believe it was God fulfilling our needs that the site called us and provided transport!)
-The hotel I booked turned out to be a little further from the beach and from the main Waikiki strip than I realized and we did A LOT of walking (actually a blessing as we both got quite a workout in each day)
-I had planned to take Brian hiking at Diamond Head, my favorite hike! We were both so sore (feet throbbing) by our last two days we skipped the hike and did more relaxing and eating instead. Again really a blessing looking back as we both got more down time together.
By the third day of our vacation, I was a mess. I remember having a conversation with my sister who travels really frequently for work and just losing it. I remember sobbing and telling her that I felt like I had really let my husband down and ruined our whole vacation. First off let me just say thank the Lord for wise sisters who can handle our breakdowns. She calmly started reminding me of some of the vacations she had taken and all the things that had gone wrong and bumps she had hit. We talked about the fact that just because things don’t go perfectly doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy, love, and cherish the good moments. We take the good with the challenging. This really helped change my perspective. It didn’t mean I didn’t still get bummed when we continued to hit little road blocks or difficulties (The history museum we planned on visiting was closed the last day because I forgot to check the hours of operation, but we had a blast taking pictures with some of the tanks and cannons outside the facility!) I just decided to try to enjoy myself despite those hiccups.

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Surfing on Waikiki

I have always struggled with managing my expectations whether it was school, work, vacations, being a wife, a mum, whatever it is. I think it because I expect perfection or some ideal of myself that just isn’t real. Especially with my chronic illness, depression, and anxiety. I have the expectation that I should live, act, work, parent like everyone else when my reality is just different and probably will be.
Some of you may know that I recently purchased a book called “Nothing to Prove” by Jennie Allen. If you have not read this book I highly recommend it! This is one of those books you want to highlight every single sentence of and plaster it on your eyeballs so you never forget a single word of it. The amount of truth it is filled with is so refreshing. It has and continues to meet me right where I am in my life. There are so many hurts I am trying to carry in my life and carry alone in my “backpack” (as Jennie calls it). Hurts I don’t like to really talk about or name or say out loud because I want to be ok, look ok, perform, measure up, and appear to be enough. There is so much F.R.E.E.D.O.M. in reading the words on the pages of this book. Learning that I am not enough and that is ok. This vacation is just another way I can tell that I am not. What incredible freedom that statement brings to me. Christ has already been ENOUGH for me for all of eternity. (I will be talking a lot about her book in many blogs to come because I just can’t get enough of how freeing it is)
Here is one of my favorite quotes from the past couple chapters I have read:
“Jesus didn’t come despereately needing something from us, He came to BE WITH US. ”
“We struggle with our backpacks filled with weights we never name. And we are doing it alone. And we are doing it disconnected rather than looking into each other’s eyes and saying “I’m dying here.” If we could just utter the words somebody could speak the truth of grace over us. They could remind us of God and his love for us and pray for us and, for goodness’ sake, fight for us.”
(in her book Jennie Allen talks about the concept of carrying around weights or heavy burdens in a “backpack” like Reese Witherspoon does in the movie WILD. As a visual she continues to mention this weighted “backpack” and how we lug it around with us.)
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This whole trip was a huge blessing to me. I am so thankful I had such incredible people at home taking good care of my baby girl so I could spend quality time with my husband. I am so thankful that I serve a God who shows me grace when I don’t have the right outlook or attitude. I can look back on this trip with such a happy heart and a pocket full of incredible memories and experiences.
I can’t wait to go back again and take my sweet girl! I’m praying that the next time I can manage my expectations just a little better.

xoxo,

Kolicia

 

 

 

Big Problems, Bigger God

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“Oh Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,

Consider all the worlds thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
Then Sings my soul, My savior God, to thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art
Then Sings my soul, My savior God, to thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art”

Tomorrow afternoon I will be laying in the tropical sunshine with my back pressed into a towel digging my feet into the warm Hawaiian sand. Sunglasses on and my cold iced coffee (with just a touch of almond milk) by my side I will lie there with my eyes closed and listen to the shushhhh of the tropical waves while I take in the smells of salty water and excessive amounts of sunscreen. This vacation has been on the books since last year right after I had our sweet Keira baby. I knew then that my husband and I needed some time away especially considering we didn’t get much of a honeymoon. (being in Law Enforcement work means you adjust and make certain sacrifices. We were able to stay in Monterey after our wedding for an additional 2 nights thanks to an amazingly generous Sergeant! But were really wanting that full week of newlywed time ; which we are getting in about 24hrs!)
These past months have been rapid fire difficult. 2018 is already a year of tremendous shock and challenge. Without going into a laundry list of details it seems like life is collapsing. This vacation is going to be a much-needed time of relaxation, rejuvenation, and recalibration. For me personally connecting with nature and the outdoors is the biggest way I can understand God’s power. The vast complexity of God’s creation and all he has designed seem to burst forth singing his praise. I want to hike mountains, swim in crystal clear waters, be surrounded by tropical eco systems, and immerse myself in what I know was so easily breathed into existence by my God.
I am hoping this vacation can be a reminder to me of how big a God I serve. I look before and see mountains too high to climb, medical diagnosis’ to devastating to overcome and too confusing to understand. I look before me and see financial and living situations that seem utterly IMPOSSIBLE to remedy (silicon valley friends I know you hear me on this!) and my heart is downcast. I look before me at my own medical condition and cringe at the thought of more pharmaceutical trial and error. I have been bringing my problems and devastation to God. Telling Him how BIG my pain is, how BIG my diagnosis is, how big CANCER diagnosis, or rent in the bay area are. My prayer and goal is to bring God to my problems… a ‘body guard’ of sorts to say “this is my GOD, look how BIG He is!”
This trip is my attempt at a reset button. I am going to survey the glory of God’s creation and say “problems, look at how Big my Jesus is, look what my God does.” My goal is to begin telling myself GOD CAN ___________.
I also recently saw a PSA by Annamarie Akins on her Instagram about an incredible book by Jennie Allen called “Nothing to Prove.” Hint’ Hint’ I have already downloaded and started reading this little gem. As I have started getting serious about photography I have noticed the amount of pressure I have been putting on myself to “be successful” or “make it big” has been growing by the day. Pressure to be IMPORTANT, be known, get  more likes, produce the best work, be competitive and more successful. Part of this is the amount of ads, commercials, social media content, and marketing that I am inundated with daily telling me to “BE BETTER.” Annamarie left this quote up on her Insta and its what convinced me to buy:

“We do not change the world with might and power and creative strategies. We watch GOD change the world when we PRAY and ABIDE and BELIEVE. The lie is this: If it isn’t BIG it doesn’t matter. Then because we believe it, we make influence the goal rather than loving God and people with all of our gifts and life. If you make influence your goal, your heart will become consumed with what the world thinks (can I get an amen?!) You’ll miss the Holy Spirit’s incredible work right in front of you …”Make it your life’s ambitious to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands.” “May we desire to be helpful rather than important. May we seek to make God’s name great and not our own.”

Whoah…”If it isn’t big, it doesnt matter.” Friends there are so many times a day I believe this lie, and am still guilty of believing it! I know I have shared this quote before but It is still one I am medidating on.
As we gear up and head to the airport tomorrow I can’t help but think how perfect God’s timing is in all this. How much he knew we would need a vacation at this exact time in our lives. For me spiritually, I desperately need a refresher and a reminder of how big my creator is and how capable He is.
We have so many awesome things planned for this trip that I just cannot wait to tell you all about! Here is my short list for you all:

-Catamaran Ride with delicious cocktails (I want an umbrella in mine!)
-Kualoa Ranch Movie Tour (Yes, I get to see where they filmed all the movies/shows including LOST…I will be watching for polar bears.
-Hiking Diamond Head! (camera by my side the whole way!)
-Possible Photography session with my amazing gal Dana Arnold (Check out her work!)
– food truck goodness! (my hubby needs his shrimp!)
-Nothing….for like a day, abso-lute-ley nothing.
-Steak Dinner at Duke’s at Sunset compliments of my awesome family as a belated birthday gift!
-Shopping at the markets!

My incredible and sweet husband has NEVER been to hawaii or tropics before so my job is to document every joyous wonderful moment for him. I am so excited to get on that plane and take some deep breaths and escape for just a little bit.
What about you all? Are there some things you need escaping from or that God is doing in your life right now? I’de love to hear about your giants and how God has tackled them in the past.
Can’t wait to get back and download all the good things. Until then have a great week!

xoxo,
Kolicia

Michael’s Challenge and Collaboration

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I was so excited when Amanda Nicole (check out her incredible work HERE.) reached out to me for a collaboration on a social media challenge that has been going around. The #Michaelschallenge has been picking up speed fast on social media. Michael’s actually does a monthly challenge or project (many times in stores) involving their products and education then follows it up with some posts on social media. This is marketing genius! Not to long ago a photographer decided to skip into a Hobby Lobby and do a portrait session of sorts in the floral aisle. Hobby Lobby wasn’t to happy about this but Michaels Arts & Crafts stores heard about it and jumped at the opportunity to market their stores and get people talking! They have actually been encouraging photographers to take part! Read more HERE.


Once I did a little research and found that Michael’s Stores were encouraging the activity I decided to do a test run and shoot a little bit pre-session at a store right down the street from me. I headed over and the employees seemed to be on board!
Amanda and I were a little apprehensive because I don’t think either of us spend a significant amount of time in front of the camera (I consider myself pretty awkward!) I like being BEHIND the camera and chatting, gabbing about life, laughing, and just relaxing. The whole dynamic changes when you are the one in FRONT of the camera! What a great way to better understand my client experience!


Once we both got over our initial jitters things really started falling into place. Friends, if you need to get some gorgeous flowers for your house and like me have trouble keeping plants alive…Michael’s is your answer! I was shocked at how natural, and lifelike the flowers and greenery ended up looking! Even in a high-resolution image.
The purple flowers were some of my favorites because they were just so vibrant! I also just loved the greenery!


I thoroughly enjoyed myself! Amanda and I really discovered we are kindred spirits! We talked life, jobs, difficulties living in such an expensive area, dating, camera equipment (for way too long) small business, and self-love. We had one of those afternoons that you meet someone you feel you have known for half a lifetime.
It is so special being able to work with other creatives and collaborate! I love being able to see the world from a totally different perspective. My grandmother is a painter and an incredible artist I have always admired and still do. I remember a conversation we had when I was a girl about art. Why it is so special. That art is never wrong or right. That even mistakes are just growth or a way to see things differently. I LOVE that sentiment. I love looking at the tone and mood of the way another photographer edits their work and being able to appreciate the differences between our work because it causes people to feel different things.
I’m so excited to do some more collaborating in the future and grow as an artist and photographer. As intimidating and overwhelming as the industry can be it is also an incredible opportunity be uniquely me.

xoxo,

K

Hunter & River

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I had the amazing opportunity to do a spring session with these two little kiddos this past Sunday. A fellow photographer friend recommended this gorgeous park in downtown Saratoga and it was the perfect place to get some great shots of these little ones. Even with the little amount of rain we have had so far there was plenty of green!

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Hunter was so excited to play at the park and he showed up in serious style friends. Sporting his Captain America sweater and Reebok Crossfit kicks he sped off to show me some of his ninja moves and brave the park draw bridge. Little River (7 months) is not quite as quick as her older brother Hunter (3 Years, almost 4) and I was able to snag a TON of shots of her!


We spent some time at the park before we headed over to a really great wooden stage off to the side. We laid out one of my favorite soft blankets (“the snuggle blanket” as I like to call it around the kiddos) and let River sit center stage in all her cuteness while Hunter ran circles around us. He did awesome and even did some “cheese!” shots for us next to his lil sis! We lost a lot of light behind the tall Saratoga trees but it didn’t faze Hunter or River and didn’t affect their bright spirits one bit!
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Before we packed it in Mom, kiddos, and me headed back to the playground one last time to get in a few last-minute “slides” before the sun went down. Hunter managed to make a few great park pals before taking a last time down the slide and heading out.
I was so anxious to get these precious babes into a gallery that I had my camera importing pictures into my computer that night! I still feel so blessed that I get to capture precious memories like this for families. This is what it’s all about. What a blessed day we all had! Can’t wait for more!

xoxo,

-K

Keira’s Easter Mini and Serving

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It took way longer than I thought to get this post up and going. Not just because life is busy and hectic but also because the first attempt at Keira’s Easter Mini session was a total BUST! About a week ago my sweet husband helped me set everything up, prep the room, stage props, attempt to get proper lighting, get Keira babe ready and…..it all went sooo wrong friends. The sun disappeared behind the clouds and wouldn’t come back, my baby girl was crying non-stop (she was diagnosed with reflux the following day) the shots weren’t framed correctly, and it just wasn’t working. It was so frustrating in the moment!

Looking back on it I see what a great learning opportunity it is. Things just don’t go as planned a lot (I know my fellow mommas can feel me on this one!) I am trying to learn that it is ok to be flexible, to shift a little bit, and to change directions (side note: this is challenging for a control freak like me. I always want to control ALL THE THINGS.)
Once we took care of our sweet girl and got her feeling better I decided to give it another shot. Again, my sweet husband helped me prep the room, held my light reflector (like a total stud), and was on “spit-up duty.” This session was GLORIOUS. The light was warm, glowing, and dreamy. Keira was her happy adorable self and wore her little gold tulle tutu that mommy loves so much! We even had several bunnies show up!
I am so excited to do some more mini sessions! And if any other little babes want to rock the gold tutu I am game!

It has already been a challenge trying not to get bogged down with the “business” side of this industry. Truly. Just being in it for a short while I have already noticed a tremendous amount of pressure to perform, be successful, book all the ‘clients’, be known, be the best, be important. I recently came across a post on Instagram by a photographer I follow Annamarie Akins  and she posted a quote from a book I have on “to buy” list:

“We do not change the world with might and power and creative strategies. We watch God change the world when we pray and abide and believe…The lie is this: if it isn’t big, it doesn’t matter. Then because we believe it, we make influence the goal rather than loving God and people with all of our gifts and life. If you make influence your goal, your heart will become consumed with what the world thinks. You’ll miss the Holy Spirit’s incredible work right in front of you…”Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands.” “May we desire to be helpful rather than important. May we seek to make God’s name great and not our own.”
“Nothing to Prove” -Jennie Allen

I also love the following “The lie is this: If it isn’t big, it doesn’t matter.” Can I just say I need this right now and maybe some other people do to? I feel like we have lost site of how valuable the act of service is in our culture. I want to believe and behave like service is a BIG DEAL. I want to go through this week thinking about how I can be helpful. Instead of checking on my Instagram likes, comments, Facebook messages, how many sessions I’ve booked, whether my ‘name’ is getting out there (<<< notice that is all about ME? yikes!) I’m going to be asking the Lord to help me search for small ways I can work with my hands and be helpful.
I’m excited to see what He does and what I find.

xoxo,
Kolicia

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