Family Hayride

Today we thoroughly enjoyed our second annual family hayride at Hayrides, Inc. in Rogers. Last year, we went after dark. This year we were smart and went just as the sun was setting over the scenic farm land.

We had so much fun, especially the kids. At first, just sitting the hay and enjoying the ride was enough to keep the smiles plastered on their faces; but when they discovered they could jump off the back, throw hay at each other and jump out from "hiding places" behind trees to "scare" us, they were in heaven.

After the ride, we ate chili and hot dogs around a fire and watched the last of the sun slip below the horizon. So much fun. I love fall, and I love my family.

You can view more pictures by clicking here.


Fall Activities

I love fall. It is by far my favorite time of year. Here are a few photos from some of our fall activities lately.

Ava has been playing soccer, and we finally made it to one of her games. She was so cute, but I think she wanted to be playing with her cousins on the sidelines even more than she wanted to be playing soccer. :)

Yesterday, JP's mom treated us to a day at the Nathes 101 Market in Otsego. If you've never been there, it's a great place to check out. They have lots of fun fall activities, like a corn pit for $1, giant bouncy balloon (free with food shelf donation), rubber duck races (free), animal train ($2) and a really great petting zoo ($2). There is also a corn maze which we will tackle someday when the kids are a little older. :) Relatively cheap and definitely fun!

Unfortunately, right after holding the baby bunnies, my right eye erupted in a painful allergic reaction. We had to leave early so I could go to the eye doctor. It's doing much better now, but it was really terrible when it happened. I've never reacted to anything like that before.

Tomorrow night we're going on a hayride with my family. I'll try to post photos soon!


Rock the Shot Contest: Kids + Fall

I'm entering a contest to win some photography stuff through a website called www.rocktheshotforum.com. The theme is Kids + Fall, and I just happened to take this picture of little Asher Knoblauch at 1 month old last week. He's so sweet!

I'm actually hoping to win second place, since the second place prize interests me more than the first place prize. It's a gift certificate to Pretty Presets for Lightroom, which (as its name suggests) sells presets to use for editing photos in Adobe Lightroom, which is what I use.

You can check out Rock the Shot by clicking the button below.

Rock the Shot

Wish me luck! :)


The Name

I sat on the couch with my laptop staring at the list I had created, the soft blue light illuminating my face in the dark room. I could feel the contemplative look on my face causing my brows to furrow and had to intentionally tell my facial muscles to relax. "This shouldn't be that hard," I thought. My phone rang.

"Hi honey, I'm finally on my way home." JP had worked a long day.

"Ok," I said without even processing what he had said. My mind was elsewhere. "Do you think that Audra Charlebois Photography is ok? I mean, I know my name is long and hard to pronounce, but it seems to be the most obvious choice."

"No, people are going to butcher it."

"Yeah, you're right. Well, do you like Tentmaker Photography?"

"Uh...it's ok, but I don't love it. I like the concept behind it, but it doesn't sound very artsy."

There was a pause in the conversation, and then JP continued.

"I want you to know that I'm proud of you for all the photography stuff. It's cool that you've found something that you like that can help provide for the family, but still keep us first, like the Proverbs 31 woman."

Another pause, then something went off in my head.

"Hey! What about 31 Photography?"

"Yes. That's it! I love it."

And that's the story about how we decided on the name...

So...what do you think? :)

(Logo design by Zandrah Kurland. THANKS, Z!!!)


Photography Lately

Here are a few things I've been up to in the photography world lately.

Baby Asher:

Beckstrom 50-year Anniversary & Extended Family:

Nicholas Senior Portraits:

Kelly & Marc:

I have three more photo shoots this week and a wedding next month. Good grief, who would have ever thought all this would be happening????!!!

Just Leave Me Alone

I've been having one of those "Can't everyone just leave me alone?" kind of days. Ok, one of those weeks. My patience is thin, thin, thin, and I have to check myself 50 times a day to get my heart back into the right place.

Imagine you are a carpenter, and every day you go to work and build something. It may be grand, it may be small, but every day you do your best. Then, at the end of each day, someone comes in to your workshop with a sledgehammer and completely destroys whatever you just made. You have nothing left except the knowledge that you did build something -- you ARE making something, and you are refining your craft, even if there is not much to show for it. That's how I feel most days.

I'm currently attempting to read a book (you know, with all my spare time) called Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. It's really, really good, but I'm getting more out of it that applies to myself than to my children. The whole book is about addressing the heart motives behind ones behavior instead of just fixing the behavior. Now, every time I'm getting frustrated, losing my temper, and wondering why I can't just lock myself in the bathroom, I'm trying to force myself to look at my heart instead of the circumstances. Am I mad because there's glitter all over the table or because I'm selfish and don't want to be inconvenienced?

The truth is, being a mom is really, really hard. IT'S. SO HARD! It's wonderful and I love it and I'd never want to be doing anything else, but it's hard. The hard part is not getting up early, cooking meals, cleaning, changing dirty diapers, etc. The hard part is putting aside my personal preferences, my "right" to a cup of hot coffee, a clean house, my desire for tranquility, my selfishness, my impatience. The hard part is forgetting about any sort of physical proof that I'm doing my job and just focusing on my family's hearts. And the hardest part is addressing my own heart first.

I love my job. I'm not trying to complain. Usually one night away will be all the refreshment I need to jump right back in with the right attitude. Unfortunately, those breaks are few and far between, and I think maybe I'm due for one. :)

Papa's Burial

Last weekend, we loaded up the car and made a weekend trip to Nisswa, MN (near Brainerd). Our mission was bittersweet -- laying Papa's ashes to rest. You may recall that JP's grandpa passed away last January. The family waited until now to bring Papa to his final resting place on the family plot in Nisswa, the town they called home for so many years.

The day was beautiful, and the ceremony was extremely touching -- Papa would have loved it. As many of us as could be there showed up (I think we were only missing three people). We all took turns sharing thoughts and memories about Papa, simultaneously dabbing our eyes and smiling at the memory of the man he will always be in our hearts.

In addition to the box which held Papa's remains -- fittingly embellished with the image of a fisherman -- we also buried a tackle box which we filled with notes to Papa, pictures, and small items that reminded us of who Papa was.

A pumpkin, because Papa used to paint small pumpkins for the grandkids each fall. A small minnow bucket and a bobber, because he loved fishing. A piece of diamond willow, because Papa used to make fancy walking sticks and other art pieces out of the beautiful, knotty wood. A pack of Certs, because he never left home without them.

The great-grandchildren threw rocks and seashells into the hole, representing the intensely special family memories of their days spent together on Long Lake.

After singing a couple of Papa's favorite hymns and saying the Lord's Prayer, we placed Papa in the ground and said goodbye...for now. We'll see him again.

This is the family Papa gave to us, and the one I'm so proud to be a part of.

After the service, the whole family headed into downtown Nisswa for window shopping and ice cream cones. The fun was just getting started, because from there we all piled into the Comfort Suites in Baxter, MN, complete with a big, indoor water park. I'm not sure who had more fun, the kids or the adults! I didn't get any pictures there because JP thought the humidity in the water park might wreck my camera. :) You can just imagine the crowd in the picture above storming the hotel lobby for a pizza dinner; it was fun.

I'm continually blessed to have married in to such wonderful families on both JP's mom's and dad's sides. You hear so many stories about horrible in-laws and awkward family gatherings, but when we get together, it's like we've all come home, no matter where we are. Thank you, Papa, for the legacy you've left here for us, and for teaching us the importance of a family that loves each other. We miss you, but I know you were with us last weekend having the "best time ever."

Ruby's 3rd Birthday!

I am quite behind on my blogging yet again, so I'm going to try to go on a little spree today and get a bunch done. Starting with -- RUBY'S THIRD BIRTHDAY! Aww, my sweet little cowgirl is three!
We started with a mini-celebration at my parent's house. Mee-Maw (my grandmother, Ruby's namesake) was still in town and got to be a part of the festivities, which was extra special. There was a definite theme that centered around Ruby's love for horses. She received a horse dress, horse pajamas, and LOTS of horse toys. It couldn't have been more fitting, and she hasn't stopped playing with all of those horses since the day she got them.

Brave Mee-Maw even attempted a photo with all of the great-grandkids present (we were missing Anna & Jeremiah).

And here's one of her with my girls.

This one cracks me up!

On the actual day of her birthday, Ruby wore the purple princess dress that my Mee-Maw made for me for my third birthday and which Rae also wore for her third birthday. We had cake at home & planted the trees that Joe & Becky handed out as party favors for their wedding.

The celebrating isn't over, either, because when our friend Etta gets back from a trip she's on, she's going to help Ruby bake a ladybug cake, which she has been requesting for weeks. You may remember that Etta helped Rae make a flower cake for her birthday this year.

Happy birthday, Ruby Ann! You are such a sweet, loving, helpful, happy little girl, and Mama and Daddy couldn't be any prouder of you. We love you!