H Family Siblings

“Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply.” – Jane Austen

Jane Austen is more eloquent but it basically means that siblings have the power to be your oldest friend and ally on earth. I know on days that when raising four kids feels impossible, I am reminded of this sentiment. These kids will always have each other!

This is another reason I love the opportunity for a good sibling photo session. This fun session had to be rescheduled due to weather a couple times but we lucked out on a gorgeous late spring afternoon and Bob the family dog even joined us! I enjoyed their easy laughter and family connection. Handsome little brother just turned 10 yesterday, so happy birthday buddy! Enjoy!

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Monday Confessions, Podcast Roundup

If you have talked to me in person at all recently, you’ve probably heard me utter the words, “I heard on a podcast…” and then fill you in on some kind of wisdom from household tips to interesting spiritual input. Podcasts are such a fun, modern way to engage in media. I equate podcasts to radio shows, but you can choose the theme or topic. There are SO MANY different good ones though and I am sure that I will BARELY scratch the surface here, but here’s a handful of podcasts that I check into regularly or have found helpful.

If you aren’t sure how to even listen to a podcast, look for this application on your apple phone and you can get started from there! You can search and listen. If you have bluetooth in your car, you can listen through your phone. I listen to podcasts during my drive time or exercise time mostly.

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Happy Our with Jamie Ivey: I often joke that this show was the gateway drug into other podcasts. Jamie Ivey’s show is by women and for women (with a rare episode including men). It’s a faith based show that weaves in the faith story of each person she interviews. She interviews everyone from very famous and well known women, all the way to women who have just survived something incredible or awful …and how they come through on the other side with their faith in tact. I have listened tothi’s show for year and the stories have stayed with me. It is an hour episode usually. so plan accordingly. She always ends the interview with three things she is loving and what she’s reading. I love that part too and have found some awesome book and goods recommendations from that list! This includes my current manicure, a recommendation from last week’s episode!

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The Dropout from ABC news: It’s based on the Elizabeth Holmes tale involving her scheme to prove to the world she had the newest technology on blood drawing. Season 1 has 6 episodes and it walks us through how this young woman goes from Stanford dropout to running billion dollar company. (If you liked Serial or other true crime, this will be up your alley).

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The Daily: New York Times puts on these short 20 minute episodes of the latest news and popular stories. As a mom, it can be hard to get timely news and information. If I just want to hear the short version of recent hot topics in the news, this is a great way to listen.

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Behind the Scenes with Jeremy & Audrey Roloff: These two were made well know from the Little People, Big World reality tv show, but their podcast is focused on marriage. I have only listened to a few but so far so good! This podcast is also faith based so they bring that element into the marriage conversation, which I appreciate. There can be heavy topics but I also find it encouraging that such a young couple is so pro-marriage!

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Young House Love has a Podcast: This is about all things interiors and sometimes just fun chats. It’s full of casual decorating ideas and DIY advice. Sherry and John Petersik are the married couple that started the Young House Love blog over a decade ago and have influenced so many in recent years on what it means to be at home. The latest episode is “the most high inducing DIY projects among couples” - so who can’t relate?!

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In the Word on the Go with Champ Thornton: This is a short and simple bible focused show around ten minutes per episode, focusing on one verse at a time. It really just breaks down a verse and not only what it means in context but what it has meant to the person being interviewed on the episode. If you’re trying to find more ways to get in scripture on your own, or even with your kids, this is such a great, short podcast for that!

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The Lazy Genius: I am newer to this series but I am finding them super helpful. I actually listened to the laundry episode twice and am contemplating on listening to the morning routine episode again as well. I am trying to bring in some streamlining to processes in my life and that’s exactly what this podcast is about. She talks about processes and home care topics. Her tagline is, “Be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't.” It’s sort of like grown up life hacks :)











Meeting Joe Biden

Last week I had a phone call that changed my week. I was contacted by a family who was holding a small ceremony to honor their father/grandfather for his service to both the country and the world, as his health is failing. He served faithfully in WWII and then came home to serve locally in his hometown in Delaware. Part of his Delaware connections and influences included Joe Biden. This connection with Biden had survived the decades, which is why it was touching to the family that Biden wanted to attend the pinning ceremony for their family member. I want to protect their privacy at a sensitive time but I wanted to share a few images of getting to meet and photograph Biden last week, especially considering him announcing his run for the presidency this morning.

Biden is very warm and personable, which explains his popularity through the decades. He joked with me about photographers being the only ones all over the world to “boss around” world leaders and they have to listen. He also teased that whenever photographers say “just a few more shots,” that we are never telling the truth. It made me laugh and brought levity to the moment when I felt a little under pressure.

He also shared something his mother used to say that stuck with me. She apparently used to say something to the effect of, “courage is the most important virtue because without courage, none of the rest of the virtues will matter.” I can imagine that advice served him well in life, when things got tough or odds seemed impossible. He has survived much loss in his lifetime and yet continues in public service. Although I wouldn’t necessarily politically align myself with a lot of his stances, I certainly was drawn to his person and character. It will give me a lot to ponder heading into the voting booth in November 2020.

I am thinking on all of this today, after visiting the U.S. Constitution center in Philadelphia yesterday. I have to say, it’s a powerful place. It reminded me yet again of the brilliance and beauty of our system of government. It reminded me of the continued fight for equality among U.S. citizens and a striving from those very early days of our nation to create a strong central government, while protecting personal freedoms. The opening lines of the constitution are so powerful and lay out the purpose of our federal government, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” May we all consider these words as we work toward that more perfect union and work together to bring about things such as justice and domestic tranquility.

*images cropped to protect privacy*

Signing copies of his book     Promise Me Dad

Signing copies of his book Promise Me Dad

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K & J Engaged, Odessa, DE

“So sweet love seemed that April morn. When first we kissed beside the thorn, So strangely sweet, it was not strange We thought that love could never change.” ~ Robert Bridges

Here’s to a sweet spring engagement session! Looking forward to their June 8 wedding in Connecticut!

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My visit to Notre Dame Cathedral, September 2018

““And if you wish to receive of the ancient city an impression with which the modern one can no longer furnish you, climb--on the morning of some grand festival, beneath the rising sun of Easter or of Pentecost--climb upon some elevated point, whence you command the entire capital; and be present at the wakening of the chimes. Behold, at a signal given from heaven, for it is the sun which gives it, all those churches quiver simultaneously. First come scattered strokes, running from one church to another, as when musicians give warning that they are about to begin. Then, all at once, behold!--for it seems at times, as though the ear also possessed a sight of its own,--behold, rising from each bell tower, something like a column of sound, a cloud of harmony. First, the vibration of each bell mounts straight upwards, pure and, so to speak, isolated from the others, into the splendid morning sky; then, little by little, as they swell they melt together, mingle, are lost in each other, and amalgamate in a magnificent concert. It is no longer anything but a mass of sonorous vibrations incessantly sent forth from the numerous belfries; floats, undulates, bounds, whirls over the city, and prolongs far beyond the horizon the deafening circle of its oscillations.

Nevertheless, this sea of harmony is not a chaos; great and profound as it is, it has not lost its transparency; you behold the windings of each group of notes which escapes from the belfries. ” 
― 
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Side view of Notre Dame from down on the bank of the Siene

Side view of Notre Dame from down on the bank of the Siene

The view out my window, right over my bed. Every afternoon a violinist would play right there in the shadows of the cathedral.

The view out my window, right over my bed. Every afternoon a violinist would play right there in the shadows of the cathedral.

Early morning light

Early morning light

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View in between towers

View in between towers

Some of the famed gargoyles and statues

Some of the famed gargoyles and statues

The spire that fell in yesterday’s fire

The spire that fell in yesterday’s fire

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A gargoyle’s view of Paris

A gargoyle’s view of Paris

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The bells in the bell tower

The bells in the bell tower

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Of course “Our Lady” is just as stunning at night!

Of course “Our Lady” is just as stunning at night!

Yesterday evening, a spark grew into a flame and forever changed the facade of Notre Dame, “Our Lady,” Cathedral in Paris, France. She has seen a lot of human events in her over 800 years of existence, some of which marred her. My hope is that the fire, although drastically changing her, will not forever damage her. Her history is linked to those like Joan of Arc, Henry VI of England, and Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon is said to have revived much of the cathedral, as well as Paris, after being in disrepair . So much beauty and history exists in this same place. It’s often a spiritual place for people of the Christian faith from all over the world. It stands near “kilometer zero” of the French highways, meaning it is the literal center of things.

I am just thankful that I got to see it this past September in the form that it has stood in for so many hundreds of years. When I studied in Italy one summer in college, a professor told us the saying that the church was central to every life in Europe, considered a part of “birth, life and death.” A church was where you were baptized at birth, you celebrated things like marriage in life and then of course, held a funeral at your death. We can look at Notre Dame and think about the many lives it was a part of. We will have to look at this fire as the beginning of the next chapter for her and see what lies ahead. I know many will join the efforts to restore and support the revitalization. The thing about Notre Dame is that it took over 300 years to complete in the first place, so those who embarked on starting the cathedral never saw the finished product. It took a work of faith to build something that one would not see in his lifetime.

Monday Confessions

I was wrestling for a writing prompt or a deep thought for Monday confessions this morning and after a few failed attempts of writing topics, I think the deepest thought I can possibly share is what I read in my bible this morning.

“ This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

-1 John 4:10

Honestly, that’s what the week leading up to Easter is all about, thinking on Jesus’ willing sacrifice for us. So let this truth, that God loves you, bring you (& me) hope this Monday morning!

Rowan Farm, Middletown, DE

Rowan Farm, Middletown, DE

Monday Confessions, Early Spring Musings on church

“April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” ~ T.S. Eliot

Yesterday morning, after hustling to try to get 6 people out of the house and drive the twenty minutes to church, it started to rain. Matt dropped us curbside and as I struggled to open the umbrella with one hand and hold my coffee and bible with the other…I was suddenly wearing the coffee. I started to laugh so that I didn’t cry. By the time we got inside, I lamented to the kids “how are we still ten minutes late?” I was in all my coffee and dry-shampoo-wearing-glory wondering just why is church such an effort. Is it worth it?

It became clear though on the way home, when two of our big kids that had joined us in the adult service were able to give back to us the three main points of the sermon from Luke 6. When our kids said back to us that a true believer in Christ is “fruitful, truthful and faithful,” I felt much better about the shenanigans we endured to get ourselves there. I remember someone saying once that we might not remember every meal that our mom served us through our childhood, but we know we were nourished. We are supposed to look at church attendance in that light, that we might not remember every sermon or point but we are spiritually fed. So as parents, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up'“ (Galatians 6: 9).

So, even if the early spring rain is falling or the coffee is spilling, we are doing the important work as parents. We are investing in our kids spiritually and that takes the long view. I am so thankful that we have our faith to guide us in this parenting gig.

Here are some spring scenes from around our yard yesterday. We are loving all the animals to watch around our new home!

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Monday Confessions, Recent Reads Fiction

Hello blog friends! I hope this chilly first Monday of March finds you well. I had some requests last week to do an updated book recommendation post on here and you can follow my hashtag on Instagram that is #emilytroutmanreads to get updates when I post shorter comments on books. It honestly helps me keep track of what I read and helps when I get asked for recommendations! This post will strictly be fiction and I will try again soon with non-fiction (I promise there’s lots of great non-fiction out there)

Some of you might remember I had a dream trip to Paris last fall with my parents. Part of my book-loving self could not wait to check out Shakespeare and Company book store, right along the Siene river, across from Notre Dame Cathedral. Shakespeare and Company is a famous book store that hosted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, among other well know writers who lived in Paris. It’s just a neat experience to walk into places like that, which have birthed inspiration for so many. I thought I would share a few shots from my Shakespeare visit along with this book post! I bought and read The Paris Wife in Paris. It’s about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley (more thoughts on this book below)!

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“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own making.” My mom’s feet are at the top, making it even better for me. She’s a librarian now and leaves a legacy of a love of reading!

“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own making.” My mom’s feet are at the top, making it even better for me. She’s a librarian now and leaves a legacy of a love of reading!

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1. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - I adored reading this book in Paris and in general, I enjoy historical fiction. I was seeing some of the places and spaces that she was writing about. I was also understanding the magic and appeal of a life in Paris for the young couple. This is a fictionalized version but I am pretty sure it’s close to truth. It was easy and enjoyable to read until later in the saga, when Ernest starts to stray. It then becomes difficult to root for him as a man…but I would say a good follow up read to this was Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. It’s his own take on some of these early days in Paris with Hadley. Order here if you want your own copy to arrive from Paris :)

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2. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan was a delightful fiction read and also had some Parisian scenes that I appreciated. I took this photo of the book though literally minutes before I got into an accident at my kids school and NO it wasn’t my fault and NO I wasn’t reading at the time…I digress, back to the book review….I loved this read because it shed some light onto Asian culture that is not as main stream as one might think. My husband works at a prestigious boarding school and it gave me a giggle because in some ways it really shed light on what some of the Asian students deal with in their families and with their parents. Some things are based on stereotypes but also most stereotypes are based in some type of truth. I definitely recommend reading this book for the great writing and then rent the movie, which is just as enjoyable!

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3. Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy - If you grew up loving the Anne of Green Gables series, this is a great read for you. It’s like finally getting the back story on Green Gables and what it was like growing up there or why Marilla and Matthew are single siblings living there until adulthood. I admit, I realized I knew scant amounts of Canadian history before reading this and I had to look up some little nuggets of info to help shed light on the story. It wasn’t an overwhelming amount of historical details but I did want to make sense of the times. I really liked this read but some people that are purists to the original series might not like someone adding to it (which is kind of how I feel with the second season of Anne with an E on Netflix. Not my favorite.)

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4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - I also really enjoyed this fictionalized story of the North Carolina marshlands. It weaves together a modern crime being solved while flashing back to the beginning of the story. It was thankfully so well written that the time hoping did not confuse me (sometimes I can’t track with books that jump around in time). It’s the story of Kya, growing up in the marsh land and often alone. It was tender and hard to read at times, but it also just made you cheer for the main character to persevere. It has a fantastic ending in my option and it’s just a great read that takes you to another time and place! I found it recommended on Reese’s Hello Sunshine book club.

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5. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon - This was an interesting coming of age story set in New York City with two main characters from completely different backgrounds. I really enjoyed this young adult read for the most part. It was a quick read and an interesting ending. I think it drives home the idea of some people being in your life for a reason, even if only for a brief time and I am not spoiling anything - there are many examples of this in the book. I have to say though, of all the other books I review here, this one probably goes as my least favorite, as in, read the other books first! (If you liked Park & Eleanor a few years ago, you might like this one :)

Monday Confessions, Recipe Round up

This winter has had me inside cooking a ton. It has led me to some great recipes so I thought I would share a few hits here on the blog today. I have even crowd sourced recipes on Facebook and dinner ideas, so I thought I might share some too. I also am starting a bit of an eating change (let’s not call it a diet) for a bit to see if I can get my body to change and feel better. Many of you that have followed me know that I have wrestled with sleep issues for quite some time, so I’m hoping it might help with that as well. None of these are necessarily diet friendly but they are all family friendly!

Super easy Tortellini Soup: Delicious, easy and budget friendly ingredients, especially at Aldi.

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Shauna Niequist’s Berry Crisp: This is delicious and clean eating if you’re on a plan. Can be a great breakfast with greek yogurt or a nice light dessert.

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Ayesha Curry’s One Hour Bread: Bread intimidates me, yet this one was simple and delicious. It was actually simple enough that my 9-yr old daughter helped me make it!

Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Pot Pie: This is a yummy dinner crowd pleaser and even easier with left over rotisserie chicken and pre-made pie shells. It feels like you worked for hours for this hearty dinner but it’s easy as can be.

Paula Deen’s Shepherd’s Pie: This has been a winter favorite of our family for years. It’s especially easy when you have any left over mashed potatoes from another meal or ground beef you need to cook up.

Pot Roast Hand Pies: These are my 9yr old son’s absolute favorite. They’re meant to use up left over roast beef but I actually made them last week with left over taco meat and made it more like a little cheese burger. Again, if you have pre-made pie shells in the fridge, these are a breeze and kids like to help cut out the dough circles for each hand pie. I serve with a veggie on the side and wa-la!

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Joanna Gaines Chocolate Chip Cookies; Self explanatory deliciousness! No diets here :)

Here’s to having a great week and let me know if you decide to try any of the recipes I shared!



Monday Confessions, 5 things to stop doing in order to produce more Joy!

I don’t know about you friends, but January usually finds me trying to slow down and take stock a bit about what’s important. It’s sometimes a forced change in pace. The winter weather keeps us in, the hustle of the holidays are over and things are just generally slower for me in business. I need this “reset” so badly but I also find myself resisting it. So, instead of resolutions of things I need to start, I’ve actually been thinking about some things that I know I need to stop doing in order to allow for more joy in my days!

Listen friends, I am taking this advice as much as I am giving it. I’ve been wrestling with chronic stress and insomnia (see also “Mommy Burnout” by Dr. Sheryl Ziegler) so these are things I need to stop as much as anyone to gain fresh joy and perspective in my life, as well as my health.

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

1. Stop over scheduling: This seems self explanatory but we all need to take a good look at our schedules, especially as we head into spring and a new season. Don’t try to jam in too many things for yourself or your family. Kids need margin too. They need free play and even, boredom. I know how much it causes me to get frazzled when I am rushing everyone around and nothing puts disappointment on a kids face like telling him he has to rush off somewhere instead of getting to play outside with friends/siblings.

“Busyness is a byproduct of our culture. It is the sacrifice we make for our religion of more, for our perfectionist tendencies, for our temptation to over schedule, over inform, overprovide.” - Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

2. Stop Comparing: We all know the saying that “comparison is the thief of joy” and yet so many of us live constantly trying to see how we measure up. I think this affects each of us differently, but it can be everything from body image, to clothing style to our home or kids…It is any area of life that we find ourselves comparing and lacking. Don’t do this to yourself. If you find yourself comparing, take a step back and ask yourself why?

“There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” -G. K. Chesterton

3. Stop wasting too much time on internet: See above about the comparing issue….so much of this springs from our internet culture. We don’t all need to know what the housewife in Wisconsin is baking or decorating or wearing today. It’s not that all these things are bad things, but it’s just that it takes up time and mental space that you could devote to other things in your days. Set a timer if you need to or remove apps from your phone. A big help is turning off notifications so that you aren’t getting dinged constantly and beckoned to come look at your phone. I promise more days with less internet will bring your heart joy.

“Deep breath. Are we all inhaling intoxicating Pinterest fumes? An oxygenated reality? And if so, can we call it true inspiration? The definition of inspiration is the drawing of breath, an inhalation, a gasp. A filling-up that offers an abundance of energy for your day, for the task, for that project, for this life.”

- Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

4. Stop acting like you don’t have power to change: I heard a podcast the other day talking about maintaining a family’s schedule and the interviewer said, “it feels more like the family schedule controls me than I control it.” I do understand this feeling for sure, but a question arose while I listened. Are we not in control of what we choose to fill our lives with? We truly do have the power to change things if they aren’t working for our lives or families. If nothing else, America is certainly the land of choice. We have options about schools, jobs, foods, etc. We can change things that aren’t working. Does that mean it’s easy? No, it most likely won’t be easy. I can revisit a lot of feelings from early last year when we contemplated moving…it was by FAR not easy and 2018 was the year that tried to kill me, but now sitting on the other side of that journey in our new home, I can see it was worth the huge change. This idea of the power to change can apply to all kinds of habits, from our health to our housework, so don’t be afraid and start small! One small change can lead to big differences over time.

5. Stop with the frantic: I know all these suggestions here are like a spiderweb that all connects at this point, which they do. This frantic part though, it’s not just a pace but the frantic part is a mind set. Frantic has you thinking, “when your mind has to work seven steps ahead instead of just being where you are, because this deadline’s coming, and the laundry has to get done before that trip, because you can’t forget to pack snowpants for school, and you need to beg for more time on this project. Again…Good things like efficiency and multi-tasking go off the rails so far that sometimes I find myself running in my own house, shuttling things from room to room like my life is a timed obstacle course. This is insane.” (excerpt from Shauna Niequist, Stop Hustling and Get Your Life Back).

I find myself getting like this all the time, worrying about everything from big decisions like education all the way down to what is for dinner. It’s not like we can escape a lot of these parts of life, but we can make room for more slow time and quiet. It’s the opposite of what culture teaches us constantly, which is to dominate, to hustle, and to succeed at all costs. Sometimes “success” needs to just being to slow down and play with our preschooler on the floor. Our souls need a lot more of that type of interaction than the constant hustle. As I am exploring my serious need for rest and a change of pace, this is not only a preference issue but an absolute necessity for me. I need to change out of the frantic if I am going to find health again.

I hope you hear my heart on this Monday morning, we are in it tougher. What are some things you need to STOP doing in order to create more joy in your days?



Monday Confessions, MLK Jr.

Life has brought us to mid-January and a day to reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr’s life and words. It’s interesting how his words always seem timely, no matter the situation. When a life is lived with character and dignity like his was, it has a much more last impact than so many of the flash-in-the-pan type people we see rise to notoriety today. I know that I have reflected on this before but years ago I went to the civil rights museum in Memphis, TN (the site of the former Lorraine Motel when MLK Jr was shot). Visiting there was such a powerful experience and will stay with me. It made me examine my own heart and think of all the ways I can tend to think about people just because we are different. I think also as a young white female in America, it made me face some truths I didn’t like.

I confess, I had never read MLK Jr.’s speech on Washington in it’s entirety until this morning (or if I had, I had forgotten, or quite possibly in the naiveté of my youth, I didn’t understand it’s profoundness.) So many of his urges for change are still quite relevant and necessary in 2019. It had me thinking also of the current work of Bryan Stevenson, lawyer, advocate and author of Just Mercy. As I had the privilege of sitting in a room to hear Stevenson speak last year, it was not only powerful but personal. He urged us all in the room to get proximate to these issues, issues that make so many of uncomfortable or issues we tend to just try to ignore. Proximity to real struggles forces us to deal with them. We can no longer claim ignorance to the injustices going on around us. If you haven’t yet read his book, run don’t walk to the library or to Amazon to get it. EVERY American should be reading this book, in my opinion.

So what can you do today in honor of MLK, Jr? Ask yourself, was there a time when I didn’t speak up and should have? Are there ways I have allowed thoughts or feelings based not on truth of us all being God’s children, but allowed thoughts of prejudice? What are ways I can move towards others who are different than me? How can we contribute to the movement towards a more equitable America for all?

“‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Monday Confessions, 2019

Maybe you were like me and were waking up to the first Monday of 2019 with calendars and to-do’s swimming in your head or maybe you too just need the reminder of the sunrise. I was letting the thoughts swirl and then I looked out my window to see this sunrise. It’s a reminder to me that a fresh day is dawning, full of new mercies.

“Anxiety is an expensive habit. Of course, it might be worth the cost if it worked. But it doesn’t. Our frets are futile. Worry has never brightened a day, solved a problem, or cured a disease. God leads us. God will do the right thing at the right time. And what a difference that makes.” ~Max Lucado

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So as we have new beginnings for the year and for the day, just remember the creator of it all is here with us. We can set goals or make changes, but he’s meeting us with grace all along the way.

D Family Fall Session, Odessa, DE

We are 3 days into 2019, which means I can start sharing some more of the family fall sessions I had without ruining any Christmas or New Year’s cards! Lets be honest, with the hustle of December, I also wasn’t exactly allowing myself enough office time to stay on top of the blog. I have learned to accept my limitations, especially in certain seasons. So although I haven’t been (or rarely am) on top of my blog game, I’ve been trying to savor the season a little by reading good books, snuggling up to my kids, not rushing, indulging still in a few too many treats and reminding myself that life is meant to be lived, not merely survived.

As the season would also have it, I find myself contemplating habits and plans for the year that lies ahead. This quote struck me this morning, “We are always falling in love or quarreling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory So here’s the plugging away, even if more favorable conditions don’t come! Happy New Year and enjoy the images of this beautiful family!

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Monday Confessions, a few favorite things

December is in full swing and it got me thinking about a few of my favorite things I’ve been loving lately. I thought this is the perfect spot to share, not necessarily as a gift inspiration but maybe as some ideas of things that might encourage you in this hectic but sweet season.

Here’s what I am loving…

  1. Our new home. It has started taking shape as a place that we not only live our daily lives but we are starting to make memories. It’s been a CRAZY year for us in 2018 with making the decision to move, but finally being in our new home and settling in for the holiday season has been sweet.

  2. Come Let us Adore Him devotional from Paul David Tripp. This book has a reading for each day of the month, allowing us to focus on one aspect of the advent season. It also has a bible tie in and a central idea if you want to chat about it with your kids. I am first to be distracted by all the “to-do’s” of the season and daily life busyness, but this is helping me to remember the big picture of Jesus coming to earth in flesh.

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3. Simple Addiction Leggings are amazing. If you are/were a Lularoe fan but no longer have a local rep, these are an amazing and affordable, very similar option. I love the plain black but I do have a fun holiday pair as well.

4. LIIFT 4 Workouts are also a new favorite. I am beginning week 3 of the plan this week and it has challenged me but is getting me back into a good routine. It’s 4 workouts each week and none of them are more than 40 minutes. It’s a combo of lifting and hiit, which is my favorite combo. (Remind me I said that when I get done this post and have to head to the basement for my workout!)

5. Dunkin Donuts coffee is always a favorite of mine and right now if you have the app, they’re doing a great fundraiser with a large hot coffee that’s only $1.49 for the customer, while Dunkin’ donates 50 cents for every coupon redeemed to regional food banks. SO basically it’s win, win. You’re getting a great and inexpensive cup of delicious hot coffee and helping your neighbors in need. “Help Roast Hunger!”

6. I recently got hooked on the show Nashville, I know that I am WAY late to the party. I had heard Kimberly Williams Paisley talking about it on a podcast (she played a character named Peggy in the show). I decided to check it out and got hooked right in! If you love country music with a side of drama, it’s a good show. And I mean who doesn’t love Connie Britton?! (Tammy Taylor for president!)

7. SO earlier this week I lamented on Facebook that I wasn’t excited about our elf returning this week BUT I have had a change of heart over this little guy. I was wisely reminded that our kids are growing up so fast and in fact the oldest two are on the verge of not believing so I am taking this little guy as my nightly reminder to savor the season with the kids. They excitedly wake up each day to see where he is or what he is up to!

Our elf “Jerome” hanging out in Macy’s stocking today

Our elf “Jerome” hanging out in Macy’s stocking today

8. Have you heard about Iceland's “Yule Book Flood” tradition on Christmas Eve? A holiday where you hop in bed to each chocolate and read books is totally a holiday tradition that I can get behind! What books are on your wish list or your gift list?!

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I hope you have a wonderful week and December is giving you great reasons to be thankful. Share some of your recent favorites with me in the comments!

Family Fall Portraits, Newark, DE

But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.” 
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

We caught the very end of the fall colors and the beginning of the autumnal chill during these portraits last weekend. I can’t express as a photographer how truly sweet it to capture the same families over different seasons and especially if it’s someone who has long been a friend. Not to mention, seriously how cute are these kids and family? Happy Friday internet friends!

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Monday Confessions, It's been a while

Hello dear friends, I know it has been a while. I wasn’t sure if any of you were even missing these weekly installments of things on my mind in between photo posts, but I have been assured that a few of you appreciate these posts! So I have decided it’s better to just hop back in than to keep skipping. The thing is, I can’t even describe the level of tired I am feeling this morning. It’s been months of moving, transition, changes, surviving and then moving again. My whole family is feeling the tired seeping into our bones. When we decided last April that we were going to put our house on the market, that started the wheels in motion to first the prep and eventual selling of our house. That led to having to move everything we owned into storage and living with family while we found and then waited on settlement for the home we are now in. Then of course that meant moving again on the heels of the holiday season.

I think the very hardest thing is that daily life doesn’t stop for you in the midst of huge changes like this. Kids need need 3 meals a day, clean clothes and a place to sleep at night. It’s hard to keep the juggle of daily life while finding the energy to try to do everything else well. It’s not an excuse, but certainly a reason that this blog has been a big neglected. I have been steadily working photography jobs but have been hit or miss with posting. In this constant sifting of priorities, I am sure that I mess it all up sometimes but as I remind my kids, “I am one person and I am doing the best I can.” I am thankful for this little corner of the internet where I can share my life and work! So without further ado…here’s what I confess today…

  1. I confess that I don’t like time change. Even with the autumn “adding” an hour, it basically has just made my 3 year old away at 5:15 every day and we are all over it. I think the time change has added to my general exhaustion.

  2. I have been awful at self care since we put our house on the market earlier this year. I am slowly getting back into better and consistent routines like workouts, reading, and sleep…sleep has been a hard one. I got a migraine on Saturday evening which I had felt coming because of the stress, lack of care for myself and lack of sleep. My body tells me when I need to take a step back from the stress and find ways to take care of myself.

  3. I just hoped in on a reading plan with She Reads Truth on thankfulness that started today and I am looking forward to leading up to Thanksgiving week. Trying to focus my heart and mind on the right things first in the day, can help the rest to get done.

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4. I got some questions about my hair yesterday so I thought that I would post here. First, thank the fall weather for the humidity going away! Lower humidity makes a huge difference in my hair type. The other tools contributing to good hair days are Aussie 3 minute miracle, heat protectant spray and my Hot Tools 1.5” gold curling iron. Use heat spray before the blow dry and using the 3 min miracle every few days is helping the condition of my hair after summer and color processing. Use the curling iron to curl away from face in a few inch sections. My favorite hair tutorial blogger is Kate Bryan at Small Things Blog.

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5. It’s Veterans Day, which should give us all pause to thank a veteran in our lives. I am thankful for those who have protected our freedoms and been committed to preserving the lives we enjoy.

Service is selflessness--the opposite of the lifestyle that we see so much of in America today. The things that entertain us don't often lift us up, or show us as the people we can rise up to become. The people who appear in this book--and others who did things I can't talk about--are my role models. They quietly live out the idea expressed in the Bible (John 15:13): "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 
― Marcus Luttrell, Service: A Navy SEAL at War

Here’s to Monday confessions being back in the rotation! What are some things you’d like to hear from me? HeHave a great week!

Cassandra and Alex Engaged, Wilmington, DE

On a family trip to San Francisco and California wine country, Alex popped the question! Cassandra said yes and they’re excitedly planning a November 2019 wedding! Cass also just happens to be my younger cousin, so I couldn’t have been more honored when they asked me to capture their engagement photos. The drizzle started to fall and the clouds had rolled in before we started our session but thankfully the rain passed through and we made the most of the gorgeous Brandywine Valley views.

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You can see the drizzle falling here but it didn’t dampen their love!

You can see the drizzle falling here but it didn’t dampen their love!

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Monday Confessions, on Paris

This time last week I was somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, contemplating all the previous 5 days had held, while preparing to return to my usual every day duties and family. I was both sad to say goodbye to Paris and at the same time, ready to come hug my family. It’s funny how even the most beautiful places in the world, if they don’t hold the people you love, they can lose their luster. I have to say though, the luster of Paris had not at all dimmed. Actually, I felt like I was just beginning to scratch the surface.

We had every day full to the brim of sights, adventures and tastes, but it still wasn’t enough to even cover all the ground that there is to cover in a city like Paris. If anything, it will give me reason to try to get back. I know in these days and times in the world, people can look down on travel. I think though that travel can expand our horizons, as well as giving us a break from the monotony of the places we go, the roads we drive, the views we see…and even the food we eat. It helps us to get outside of ourselves and try something new.

As a photographer, the views and sights were constant inspiration. From pretty flowered window boxes to perfectly crafted afternoon lattes, I never wanted for visual inspiration. It’s also impossible to be in a place like Paris and not feel all the history. Standing in Shakespeare and Company knowing that Ernest Hemingway (among others) would walk into that very spot to borrow books…it just gets to you. Nothing beats standing in front of the real thing of Van Gogh’s or Monet’s paintings that I had studied about. It was almost overwhelming to me the amount of art I got to take it and I only went to ONE art museum while I was there. I didn’t even get to step foot in the Louvre because lets face it, there’s 8 miles of indoor corridors full of art. I would never get to it all.

And then there’s the nameless art of all the churches and cathedrals. The artists hands were on every details of places like Notre Dame and San Chapelle, yet they remained individually nameless. I was talking with my parents about it, people today would never sign up to contribute to building something they wouldn’t see completed in their lifetime. A chapel that takes over 200 years and countless craftsmen is just as much a magnificent work of art as any famous painting.

I can’t even hardly sum up what it feels like to sit on the bed in the afternoon, with the open window, hearing violin music riding in on the breeze and viewing the side of Notre Dame. I could hear the church bells and the motorcycle rumbles in the street. I could hear the voices carry up to my window with French and sip the hot dark roast coffee each day. It’s kind of hard to compare that to my East coast suburban minivan mom life.

And yet, I know that this is where I am called right now. I am so thankful for the experience, the memories made with my parents and the opportunity to rekindle a little bit of my love for other cultures and places. I am thankful also to come home to a loving husband and children, ready to dive back into the car pools and homework. It’s the memory of Paris that will stick with me, reminding me that there is a big beautiful world out there and some day I might get to see some more of it. Right now, I will be content with my hot starbucks on the way to pick up my kids and just remember what it was like to sip a latte on a Paris street cafe.

“There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it.” ― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Here’s a handful of images I pulled from my literal hundreds to share with you…

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

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Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

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San Chapelle, Saints Chapel

San Chapelle, Saints Chapel

San Chapelle, Saints Chapel

San Chapelle, Saints Chapel

Our Street

Our Street

Notre Dame Cathedral exterior, from down on the Siene river

Notre Dame Cathedral exterior, from down on the Siene river

Siene river view

Siene river view

Eifel Tower view from the Siene

Eifel Tower view from the Siene

Night view including San Michele fountain

Night view including San Michele fountain

Notre Dame Cathedral at night

Notre Dame Cathedral at night

Early morning at Notre Dame

Early morning at Notre Dame

View from top of Notre Dame tower

View from top of Notre Dame tower

View from top of Notre Dame, the cathedral tower in right foreground

View from top of Notre Dame, the cathedral tower in right foreground

Sunset at Eifle Tower

Sunset at Eifle Tower

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A delicious and fancy Laudree cream puff before I consumed it in its entirety!

A delicious and fancy Laudree cream puff before I consumed it in its entirety!

Professional Headshots, Middletown, DE

 So many of us are running businesses either from home or in offices that require us to have a visual presence on the internet. I think this is a great time in our history where we truly can be working from anywhere! It also can be a lot of pressure to feel like you need to upgrade those head shots or have a few professional shots to use in your social media outlets. I can assure you that we can accomplish this goal in 30 minutes with good lighting :) Reach out to me today if you're interested!  emily@emilytroutmanphoto.com 

Kim Simpson, Kim Simpson of Thyme Realestate Co in Middletown DE

Kim Simpson, Kim Simpson of Thyme Realestate Co in Middletown DE

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