Thursday, November 26, 2009


This year, I have so much to be thankful for:

~Our move to Houston and our home here.
~Starting our adoption process.
~Getting to know my nephew Sam and spend time with him.
~Living close to my Mom and sister again.
~The start of Starshine Photography.
~A loving marriage and an awesome husband.
~My Loving God.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grande Soy Chai Latte, Please!

That would be this morning's order from Starbucks!

Nothing tastes so perfectly like autumn and Thanksgiving to me as a soy chai latte. And the grande part? Well, that's just because it's so good, I wanted a little more this mornin'!

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Charitable Christmas Shopping

If any of you will be out with the masses doing your Christmas shopping Thanksgiving Weekend, I thought I'd pass this along:

Anyone making a purchase at ANY Barnes & Noble store on Nov. 28-29 (Saturday and Sunday) can mention promotion code 1007 6420 prior to checking out in the store or café and a portion of the proceeds will go to The Gladney Center for Adoption (our agency!).

Please feel free to forward this code to any interested family, friends and neighbors!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I love argyle!

I took this handsome little man's photos this afternoon. His mom brought another clothing option for him, but he insisted on wearing his argyle sweater the whole time. As far as I'm concerned, he is one snappy dresser with great taste!

Not bad for a six year old (he told me how old he was in this photo):

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tere's Creations

My friend Tere is a gifted seamstress! She makes adorable dresses and bows for little girls, and now she's making matching dresses for American Girl Dolls--so your daughter and her doll can wear matching outfits.

If this sounds like something a little girl in your life would enjoy, check out her blog here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


So, I was feeling like I needed a change. A new look perhaps?

I have always wanted to try this haircut and decided to go for it today. I have to admit I was in a little bit of shock for the first couple of hours after leaving the salon, but I'm getting used to it now, and I like it! Just thought I'd share. :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yahoo Yodel Contest...

Give a quick listen to the winner by clicking here. Totally amazing!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Today at church, something special happened. A young woman told me that God brought an image to her mind that pertained to me. The image was of a baby kangaroo in its mother's pouch. The baby was looking up at it's mom.

It was more encouraging to me than that young woman will ever know. Somewhere out there, a baby is probably growing in another woman's womb, and for some reason unknown to me, that mother won't be able to raise that baby, and I will become that baby's mom.

Walking through the adoption process, there are so many hoops to jump through and then so much waiting that, at times, it doesn't even feel "real". The process can become so long that I sometimes have to remind myself that it really will result in a little human being who will one day call me "Mama". It really will happen!

I'm happy that God sent me an encouraging reminder today that a baby "roo" will one day be looking up at me and we'll be connecting as mother and child....and I will be looking back down with so much love in my heart.

Time will stand still in that precious moment, and I'll look up at my Heavenly Father and say "Thank You", and those words will not come close to adequately expressing the overflowing fountain of gratitude springing forth in my soul. But He knows me inside and out, and He'll know just what I mean.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Murder Mystery Dinner: Last Train to Paris

Last night, Brian and I were invited by the mysterious "Guest Number 9" to a Murder Mystery Dinner aboard a train leaving Paris at 1800 hours. Not only did we determine "who dunnit", but we had a total blast with this group. Do these people ever know how to have FUN! (And in case you're worried that none of us have gotten the memo about the dangers of smoking, those would be chocolate cigarettes we're all puffing on!)

Let's meet the cast of characters....

This is Khover T. Ageante and Princess Idelle Chattre:

Duke Schwazhe B. U. Klare and Belinda Screete:

Our hosts for the evening: Barbra Z. Enhussie and Mal Conntint:

And Capt. Wey Awfcource and Mary Kohn Trairie:

Not only did our lovely hosts open their home to us for this evening, they served a multi-course French meal--all Julia Child recipes! This group goes to our church, and they have been dear friends for many years. Brian and I just adore them, and we love it that they include us in some of their fun gatherings!

Merci beaucoup, y'all!

Friday, November 13, 2009

700th Post!

Wow! When I went to publish this post, I realized it is my 700th!

Today almost got away from me without posting anything...Brian and I just got home from a murder mystery dinner that was AMAZING! All of the dishes the hostess prepared were Julia Child recipes. I felt so spoiled!

We took lots of pictures and I'll post them soon!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mary Poppins, The Musical: A Backstage Tour!

This is my friend Troy. His stage name is Troy Edward Bowles. He's the most amazing dancer I know. We first met each other eleven years ago doing a show in Utah called How the West was Won. It was my first professional show, and Troy became a good friend.

It is always a wonderful thing when a friend goes on to achieve great success, and Troy is one who has gone on to do amazing things! He's been on Broadway, played Radio City Musical Hall, and is currently touring with Broadway Across America's Mary Poppins! He's the dance captain for the show, and he also performs as a swing (covering many different roles in the show).

When I heard his show would be coming through Houston, I was so happy I'd get to see him again! Although he wasn't on stage that night, he did take Brian, me and our friends on a tour of the stage and backstage area!

Here are the chimney sweeps' brooms:

and the back side of one of the chimneys:

The theatre had the most amazing fly systems I've ever seen!

As part of our backstage tour, I got to sit on Mary Poppins' special device that makes her slide up the bannister. It was a little bit awesome:

Our friends and us at Jane and Michael Banks' home!

Jane Banks' doll house is a replica of 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Cool, huh?

The many umbrellas of Mary Poppins:

If you have a chance to see the show, iiiiiiiiiiiiiiit's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! (You could say it backward, which would be dociousexpicaliisticfragicalirepus, but that would be taking it a bit too far, don't you think?)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Starshine Photography: Family Photos in Autumn

I have been friends with this adorable family for at least five years now! Doug used to be a co-worker of mine and his wife Dee and I used to be scrapbook buddies. With the advent of digital photo books, I haven't scrapbooked in ages, but thankfully, Dee and I are still friends, and it has been great getting to renew our friendship now that I've moved back to Texas. (Also? I just have to say that Dee has the prettiest blonde hair and the cutest haircut. Don't you think?!)

They suggested this beautiful park for our photo shoot, and WOW! were the autumn leaves ever beautiful in the evening sun!

I love the above photo because you can see how at ease this couple is with one another. You can't fake love, and these two have always been so in love with each other!

Oh! And did I mention that this family knows how to have fun together? This silly shot was the boys' idea, but Mom and Dad were happy to play along!

Thanks you guys! I loved photographing you--you're quite the photogenic family!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Best Dream!

I just woke up from having the best dream.

I was with both my Mom and Dad, and we were babysitting for my nephew Sam. We had just taken him out of a bath and lay him down in a towel to dry him off, when he said so clearly, "Tracy!...Tracy, Tracy, Tracy!" (And he said it sort of rhythmically, as if he was in a conga line.) We all looked at each other kind of shocked, since he had never said my name before. Then, I burst into tears of joy and even though I was overcome with emotion, I managed to say, "This is the best day of my life!"

Yep, even in my dreams, little Sam is the joy of my life!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sweet Baby Pics!

I so enjoyed photographing this beautiful family at their home on Saturday. When they called and told me they wanted me to take pictures of their baby girl, I was thrilled. I love babies, and photographing these tiny humans during their earliest days and weeks is such a joy.

I had been contemplating buying a black background, and when this family told me that they wanted the pictures to have an artsy/dramatic quality to them, I knew it was time to spring for this fun purchase! I bought a collapsible/expandable 5'x6' backdrop (black on one side and white on the other) that folds into itself and is easy to transport and setup, so taking it with me to this family's house was no problem at all, and I am so pleased with the results!

Their baby was a star performer!

I can't tell you how satisfying it is to be learning and growing in a craft/artform that I have desired to learn for such a long time! My business is taking off, and I'm so happy!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Getting Family Photos for the Christmas Cards!

This family has become friends of ours through our church. They hired me to take pictures of their kids for their family Christmas card. The kids were so loving toward one another, and I loved seeing that!

We shot at a local pond and at the park/playground across the street.

New friends are a real blessing when you move to a new place, and we're thankful to know this family!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

This is how people described me as a child, and how I saw myself:

As a child, I was full of laughter. I always had the giggles.

My best friend's mother was a very serious woman who was forever telling her kids to "run along" so she could get on with her business. When I would go over to their house to play, my giggles would so irritate her mom! (My friend once admitted that to me when I asked her why her mom didn't seem to like me.) I never understood how a child's laughter could be so off-putting to an adult.

Laughter is still something I cherish at 35 years old. When Uncle Albert sang "I Love to Laugh" in Mary Poppins I knew he might have looked like a fool, but deep down? He got it!

Friday, November 06, 2009

I knew that you just might be "the one" when...

We were taking a walk one afternoon or evening and Brian told me that he wanted to spend both Thanksgiving and Christmas together. I so appreciated his openness and forthrightness about it. I knew he was serious about me. It was during those relationship-defining conversations (along with the way he treasured and treated me) that I began to feel more and more secure in the relationship, and believed it was one that would last a lifetime.

Part of Brian's seminary program included a three-week silence and solitude retreat. (He's monk-ish that way!) We were seriously dating, but weren't engaged yet, and I began to grow a little anxious that all that time alone in a cabin would somehow cause him to change his mind about me. Thankfully, he sensed my anxiety, and it was during another late-afternoon walk (actually, it might have been the same one as above) that Brian told me that he thought I was "the one". He just wanted me to know before he left, so I wouldn't be worried. I told him that I thought he was "the one", too.

It was such a sweet and exciting time in life. All those years of waiting for God to bring us a marriage partner, and suddenly we realize that we've met that person, and a new life together is stretching out before us--a life together.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Some things we did on our early dates were...

First Date: Dinner at Chandra and Ice Cream in Pasadena.

Second Date: Brian picked me up at the air port after being in Texas for a visit. He drove me back to Studio City, where I was living at the time, and we had coffee and deep conversation. I remember being surprised at how open I was with him about my life. I was diggin' him!

Third Date: A four course dinner at The Melting Pot fondue restaurant. We were sitting in this romantic little corner booth, and at one point in the evening he turned his whole body toward me (sort of shifting his attention to me completely), and I could tell that he was diggin' me, too!

Fourth Date: We heard one of Brian's seminary professors speak at his church. I met several of Brian's friends that night. Brian later told me that he was soooooo nervous because so many important people in his life were in that room--his friends, fellow seminary students, his mentor, etc. I guess I made a good impression!

Fifth Date: Brian told me that he wanted to spend the whole day together, so he picked me up in the morning, and took me to the Getty Center. We had lunch there at the lovely restaurant. I remember my meal (lamb!) because it was so good, and Brian was giving me flirty eyes across the table. After lunch, we strolled through the beautiful gardens and he reached out and held my hand for the first time. It was fuuuuuuuuuuun! Can you say "butterflies"?! We had dinner that evening at Houston's (grilled artichokes!) and saw a romantic comedy (Failure to Launch). Needless to say, it was a good day!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Starshine Photography: Maternity Pictures

I had so much fun photographing my friend Jennifer and her adorable pregnant belly!

Jennifer is one of my new friends here in Houston. Redheads unite! I'm so thankful for her friendship and sense of fun!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

This is how I remember the first time we met...

Brian and I met on eHarmony, so our initial conversations were over e-mail. Soon, we talked on the phone. Not long after that we had our first date--dinner at a Thai restaurant called "Chandra" in Pasadena, CA. Brian was seated at the table when I arrived and stood up to greet me. My first thought was, "He's tall!", and I liked that. Dinner conversation was easy and light-hearted. I knew he could be my good friend, but didn't know yet if we would become more. Brian asked me out for a second date at the end of the first. I said yes!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Sunday, November 01, 2009

This is how our first date was arranged....

Brian and I had been communicating through eHarmony for a few weeks, and had recently had one or two phone conversations. One morning, before I headed out the door for work, I checked my eHarmony account and found a message from Brian asking me if I'd like to have dinner with him the coming weekend. I happily accepted!

On our first date we...

met for dinner at Chandra in Pasadena. I arrived first, but I didn't want to seem too eager, so I went for a walk around the block. By the time I walked back to the restaurant, Brian had arrived and was waiting for me at our table!

I remember talking over dinner about our Myers-Briggs personality types and thinking that Brian was a pretty delightful guy.

After dinner, we walked through Old Town Pasadena and got ice cream!

[Fun side note]: After ice cream, we walked back to Brian's car, and there was a parking ticket on it. I felt so bad for him! I remember being so impressed, though, with how he handled it. He just put it away and calmly said that he'd deal with it later. Something like that could have really put a damper on our evening, but he didn't let it get in the way of enjoying our time together, and that said something to me about his character that I really liked.

[Really fun side note]: Brian still buys me ice cream on a regular basis, and his wonderful character is still one of the things that makes marriage to him so great!