"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

Family Fun

We Struck Gold!

Well . . . not really. ūüôā But we did go visit an old gold mine for our anniversary and it was so much fun!¬† BTW our anniversary was months ago. I’m just behind between the holidays and some recent computer technical difficulties. I am glad to be back to photo editing again!

We visited Julian for our first anniversary and decided it was only fitting that we go back for our 5th. If you haven’t been, Julian is this adorable old mining town that is widely famous for their award-winning¬†apple pie. We like the town because it reminds us of where we grew up. They are close to the same size.

Anyway, this time we decided to go visit the old mine. They actually let you go in! A couple of brothers own the property and have been giving tours for years. It was pretty neat.

A tour bus of senior citizens arrived as we got there so we jumped in with their group. They were hilarious and such troopers. The mine was not easy to get around in and it was dusty and really dark.

We got about (what I perceived¬†as) halfway in, when the tour guide told us that there were several floors of tunnels above us, and several floors of tunnels below us and that we were going to be going up to the next floor. I don’t usually get claustrophobic, but I’m not going to lie—I was starting to feel a little anxious in that small space with all those people, and began to wonder what we would do if there was an earthquake.

Old Mining Equipment

Blacksmith's Corner

We climbed up some very narrow and steep steps to the next floor and the tour guide shared with us that back when the mine was being used, they didn’t have electricity in there. The miners used candles and since candles were expensive, they mostly worked in the dark and only lit them when they really needed too. Then he turned out the lights so we could see how dark it got in the mine. It was super cool, but a little freaky at the same time. One of the older gentlemen behind us shouted. “Don’t touch me there!” Funny guy.

Next, the tour guide lit a candle so we could see how much light it put off. Not very much.

After we got out of the mine, we were shown how to pan for gold.

And we got to see the equipment that crushes the rock and learned how the minerals were separated.

If you are in the area and are interested in mining history, we definitely recommend this tour!

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My First Engagement Shoot ~ Rachael and Marco

I usually¬†photograph nature and landscapes¬†but when my cousin asked me to take her engagement photos I couldn’t say no. When I was a little girl, my aunt (Rach’s mom) was one of my favorite people in the whole world.¬†(You still are!) And I remember the exact day that Rachael had grown¬†so big in her belly that I could no longer¬†fit on¬†my aunt’s lap. I¬†wasn’t so sure that¬†I liked this baby who had taken over¬† her body. However, once¬†Rach¬†was born she quickly¬†became like a little sister to me, and¬†I was so honored that she asked me to take her engagement photos!

Here’s a little sneak peek of their photos. They were all taken at Balbo Park.

Aren’t they a beautiful couple? Congrats on your engagement Rach and Marco! ūüôā

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This post was linked to Tip Junkie’s Handmade projects.

And . . . We’re Off!

Five years ago today, in a hot air balloon in Del Mar, James asked me to marry him. And then almost exactly 2 months later, we were married. We planned a beautiful wedding in only 2 months—it can be done! We originally¬†thought we’d have it in summer of ’07¬†but¬†decided we just couldn’t¬†live in two different states for another year. Everything fell into place so we moved it to November.

Fun Fact: When I called my grandma to tell her the date and location we chose, she told me that my Uncle Bob and Aunt Elena (who happens to be one of my favorite people) got married on the same date and in the same church. It was meant to be!

Back to the story of our engagement . . . I’ll admit, I was a little nervous. Not about getting married, but the balloon ride. James had been talking about going up in a balloon for awhile. I was hesitant due to my fear of heights, but he¬†really wanted to do it¬†so I said ok.¬†Once¬†we got there James wouldn’t let me read the disclaimer in the paper work – he told me to just trust him and sign it (I still don’t know what it said). Then a guy came out and told us that taking off was easy, it was the landing that was tricky. He proceeded¬†to tell us that there were two¬†different landing scenarios that could happen.

1. The basket would hit the ground 2-3 times and then stop upright.


2. The basket would hit the ground, fall over on its side and then we would be drug across the ground for who knows how long. We were instructed to hold on tight if this happened.

Next he loaded all of us up into a rickety old¬†RV and we drove down an unpaved bumpy road to the middle of nowhere. Someone mentioned what we were all thinking – that they hoped we got there bfore the RV fell apart. And then someone else¬†says “Hey, did you hear about the balloon that ran into some power lines last week?” I’m pretty sure James didn’t think he was getting me up¬†in that balloon.

We reached our destination and they began to blow it up. It was a really neat process to watch!

Once we got up in the air it was amazing.

We had a view of the sun setting into the ocean over Del Mar and there were several other balloons out that evening. They handed out champaign and sparkling cider. We chatted with some of the other people in the balloon as we took in the views. Many were there celebrating birthdays or anniversaries.

Then, James announced in front of everyone that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, got down on one knee, pulled out the ring and asked me to marry him. Everyone in the balloon started cheering and later we found out that at the same time James was proposing to me, another couple on the other side of the balloon also got engaged!

An incredibly nice couple took photos of James proposing and then mailed them to us:

After the balloon ride was over they put out a spread of chocolate covered strawberries and cheese and crackers. And then¬†James and I went out¬†for a tasty¬†dinner at Red Lobster. It was a perfect, beautiful, and¬†memorable¬†evening. ūüôā I still feel so lucky to be married to such a romantic and thoughtful man. I love you James!

The Surprise in My Shoe

Pepper left me a gift on my most favorite pair of flip-flops this weekend. She’s left presents on James’shoes¬†before too. I’m not sure why she has started doing this. Silly kitty.

Old Traditions, New Traditions

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my whole¬†family from my mom’s side has met in Seattle for a Mariners’ game.¬†It’s one of my favorite family traditions. Besides being a mini-family reunion, there is just something special about the Mariners and going to the ballpark as a kid.¬†I¬†had the privilege¬†of¬†watching Jr., Randy, Edgar, Joey, Buhner, A-Rod, Lou and the rest of Seattle’s baseball greats way back even when they were in the Kingdome. Oh, and Dave Niehaus¬†was there too. In my opinion, the only sound sweeter than the crack of the bat, was Dave yelling “My Oh My!”

If you’ve never been to a game in Seattle, you really should go!¬†Maybe I’m¬†a bit biased¬†since I grew up there . . . I mean, ¬†haven’t been to too many other stadiums, but I can say that the experience doesn’t compare to the ones I have been to. The fans do the wave at every game.¬†And it doesn’t¬†just fizzle out after one time around.¬†It goes around at least 3 times strong, and even longer if they are winning. The crowd is loud and Seattle fans are loyal. You don’t see a lot of people sporting jersey’s from the opposing team.¬†They go to the games even if¬†they have a losing season.¬†And who doesn’t love a big, happy, Moose?¬† In case your still not convinced . . .¬†they have a retractable roof and the Mariners were born the same year that¬†I was. Coincidence? I think not. Oh, and they have¬†Ichiro. Enough said.

I’m not really a fan of rap, but this is nice tribute to Dave and the Mariners. I love the line that says “My city, my city, childhood, my life, watching Griffey right under those lights.”

Now that we live in San Diego, I’m not¬†able to go to the family baseball games anymore, and I was a lot¬†more sad about it than I expected.¬†Plus, the only Seattle games televised here are the ones against the Padres¬†(3 games here and 3¬†games¬†in Seattle)¬†and a few preseason ones since they train in Peoria with the Pads. Since I can’t go home for the game, we’ve started our own tradition¬†of watching the Mariners when they come here.¬†And since we can’t be with our family, we usually go with someone from our small group, our church family.¬† That’s how we are turning old traditions into new ones!

This year, we were blessed to go to two games! I felt like a little kid, I was so excited! At the friday night game, we went with¬†friends and sat on the Mariner side in left field. Several other people we knew were there that night too. I guess everyone loves the Mariners! ūüėČ Mariners win 4-1.

Us with the Becks

This was taken with a cell phone, so it doesn’t do it justice, but this was one of the best fireworks displays I have ever seen!

A friend of mine gets Padre tickets through his work and was so sweet to give us his tickets to Saturday night’s game since he knew I liked the Mariners. The seats were AMAZING. 2nd row, off first base. I could have leaned over the wall and grabbed infield dirt and thrown it at the ump if I wanted to,¬†we were that close. The guys next to us heckled James for marrying a Mariners fan, but that’s ok. I got the last laugh. Mariners won 4-0.

Our view

My love

I’m thankful that the Mariners come here each year and that we are able to go see them play. It makes being away from home a little bit easier!

Sometimes You Just Have to Improvise . . .

When¬†you want to take a nap, but you don’t have a pillow¬† . . .¬† use your back foot!

A life lesson by Pepper. 

Pepper’s Gift

The other night James came home from work and I hear “To-nay! Toooo-nay!” (for some reason, when he is yelling to me from another room my name gets changed from Toni to Tonay.) “WHAT did you do that for?”

Me: “Do what?” I yell back.

James: “Did you do this?”

Me: “Did I do WHAT?” Now I’m trying to remember what I could have possibly done during the day that would make him so perplexed.

So, I get up and go into the bedroom to find this:

Pepper likes to give her toys to me as a gift. If you have an outdoor kitty you have probably found dead birds or mice on your doorstep. Our cats don’t go outdoors so she brings toys, which is perfectly fine with me. Each morning, she puts one on the bedroom floor for me while I’m sleeping, and sometimes during the day she will¬†bring one to my office as a trade so I will get up and make her some lunch. She has never done this before though. James must have done something pretty special for her. These¬†are two of her most favorite toys!

We’re a 12th Man Family

Yesterday was National Dress Up Your Pet Day, today is National Hat Day,
and tomorrow the Seahawks are playing another playoff game.

We are celebrating all three occasions at our house this weekend! 

Good luck Seattle! ūüôā


Christmas Traditions

At small group a couple of weeks ago we talked about our family’s Christmas traditions and I thought that I would share them here too.¬†My two¬†most favorite traditions were started by each of my grandmothers.¬†

As soon as Kevin and I were old enough, Grandma Jones would pick out an age appropriate craft for each of us.  Kev spent Sat afternoons with her and I would spend Sun afternoons with her.  We would make the craft for each member in our family.  It gave us some great quality time with grandma and it allowed us, as children, to give gifts that we made (mostly) on our own.  I remember feeling so grown up when I put the gifts we made under the tree.  Now, I cherish the memories and the time that we spent together making them.

Every year since we were born, Grandma Brown has given each¬†of us¬†grandkids a Christmas ornament.¬† She started that tradition so that when¬†we grew up and moved out on our own we¬†would already have¬†ornaments for our tree.¬† Now every year when I decorate the tree, each ornament has a memory or year tied to it that I remember as we decorate.¬† It’s so special to me and I hope that if James and I have children someday, that our parents will do the same!

Here are the ornaments grandma gave us this year:

James says: "I guess I'm the one with the goatee?" ūüôā


What are some of your Christmas traditions?

Celebrating 4 Amazing Years!

Today I have been married to the love of my life for 4 years! We’ve known each other for 17 years so sometimes it seems like we’ve been together for so much longer. Sometimes I have trouble remembering what my life was like before him. Brad Paisley has a song that is out right now that I absolutely love because it makes me think of James and our journey together every time I hear it.
I Thought I Loved You Then
by Brad Paisley
I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you.
You had me mesmerized.
And 3 weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 min to kiss goodnight,
I hadn’t told you yet, but I thought I loved you then.


(I do actually remember the very moment I saw James for the first time. It was in the gym at a basketball game and when I saw him I stopped so suddenly that the person walking behind me almost knocked me over. All the people and noise in the gym disappeared and all I could see was him . . . until the person behind me told me that he was in junior high. I was in high school so of course I thought nothing could ever happen between us. Later that night I caught him staring at me.)  

Homecoming 1993


Now you’re my whole life, now you’re my whole world.
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl.
Like a river meets the sea,
Stronger than it’s ever been.
We’ve come so far since that day,
And I thought I loved you then.

(We really have come so far since that day we first saw each other. Someday I will write about it on here. It’s been a long journey getting to where we are but it’s made us stronger and more appreciative of each other. And with each passing year I find myself loving James more than the year before, even when I didn’t think it was possible to love him more than I already do.)

10 years later, he still gave me butterflies

I remember taking you back to right where I first met you.
You were so surprised.
There were people around But I didn’t care I got down on one knee right there.
And once again, I thought I loved you then.

(James didn’t propose to me where we grew up, but he did have me meet him there to make his intentions known. I drove 5 hours to eastern WA and he drove 2 days from southern CA. We picked up subway sandwiches and ate them in the back of his Explorer while the sun set into the wheat fields. He told me that he wanted to start dating with the intention of finding out if we were supposed to be married. A year and half later he proposed in a hot air balloon after watching the sun set over the ocean in San Diego where we live now.)

Sept 2, ’06 after I said yes!
The amazing sunset God provided that evening!

*Nov 4, 2006- Our big day!

Now you’re my whole life, now you’re my whole world.
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl.
Like a river meets the sea,
Stronger than it’s ever been.
We’ve come so far since that day,
And I thought I loved you then.

I can just see you with a baby on the way.
I can just see you when your hair is turning gray.
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more . . .
But I’ve said that before.

(“But I’ve said that before.” That line always gets me. Before anyone asks, we don‚Äôt have a baby on the way or are we anywhere close to it yet, but we do talk about the future all the time and what we picture ourselves doing. We especially like to talk about how we will retire and are torn between a senior living center in Coronado where we can walk hand in hand on the beach every day . . . James wearing a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt and me wearing the biggest sun hat available. Or getting a nice house in WA on a piece of land with a giant wraparound porch, 2 rocking chairs and some cold lemonade. Either way, I know with God‚Äôs help, we‚Äôll love each other even more then, than we could ever imagine to now.)

**”I have found the one my heart loves.”

Now you’re my whole life, now you’re my whole world.
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl.
Well look back some day, at this moment that we’re in.
And I’ll look at you and say . . . and I thought I loved you then.
And I thought I loved you then . . .
On our wedding programs we used the verse ‚ÄúI have found the one my heart loves.‚ÄĚ Song of Songs 3:4. I found the one my heart loves that day in the gym and every year it just keeps getting better and better.



Happy Anniversary Babe! I am so blessed to have you as my husband, spiritual leader, and my best friend.


**Showing WA some love. Sorry San Diego.


Photo Credits
*Craig Volpe
**Claire Wolfe