Wednesday, December 30

{a quick update}

We had a wonderful Christmas season spending time with our families and loved ones! I have especially enjoyed all the snow -from inside looking out of course :) Lance and I have both felt so blessed to have so many wonderful blessings. We missed having Kirstin, Bruce and little Savanah as well as Madsen here this year but we cant wait for next year when there will be two new additions to the family and Madsen (Lance's brother) will be off his mission.

Lance has surprised me once again this year with his amazing ability to choose and give fabulous Christmas gifts! He is so thoughtful and sweet in his gift giving. The one gift I absolutely cant wait to use is a spa package! Oh! He spoils me so. We both received so many wonderful gifts from our families. And we especially enjoyed spending time with those we love throughout the break. With our little one on the way, we both see the world a little differently :)

It has sure been a bumpy road with this pregnancy but I am happy to report that I am starting to feel much better! It's funny to say because I feel like my "much better" is probably "feeling sick" to others. But compared to where I have been, I am more than happy to take nausea and 1-2 throw-ups a day. There were almost 6 weeks straight where I literally could barley make it out of bed in the day. We had a doctors appointment today and I've gained 1.5 pounds since our last visit. Encouraging? You bet!

I felt the baby for the first time this last week- what an experience! Then today, while lying in the bathtub, I could feel the baby again and again. Lance was even able to feel it on the outside of my stomach. I've heard this is pretty early but I think with all the weight I've lost, that baby is right up by the surface and there is no extra room inside. We were both on cloud nine about it :) We find out next month what we are having.

In the meantime, we are off to Cancun this weekend with my family. We cant wait for the warm beaches, snorkeling, and just plain kickin back. I will be sure to update all we've been up to in the last moth when we return. Till then, Bon Voyage!

Monday, December 14


I didn't want to put a damper on my earlier post, but the only thing the stork
has actually brought me so far is sickness. Really really bad morning sickness
that, (surprise!) is not morning sickness at all.

It came all too fast right around 6 weeks and has been my constant companion
for the last 2 months. I lost 15 pounds, weighing in at a disgustingly skeletal-like 90
pounds. We unfortunately spent Thanksgiving in the ER getting fluids pumped into me
(who knew Saline could be so wonderful?).

It's been a bumpy road. My sweet husband has cooked, cleaned, done
laundry, gone shopping, and at times spoon fed and dressed me when I was too weak.
He's tirelessly rubbed my knot of a back, my feet, and played with my hair; anything
to ease the tireless nausea and tummy ache. It's like having a really bad flu for 2 months.
Other close friends and family have also pitched in cleaning, running errands, and bringing
us meals. My good friend Emylee even strung our Christmas tree with lights because
I was so excited about it but was too weak to do it myself.

I am a weeping mess right now as I write this because I am so aware of the many
angels in my life who have come to my aid in my time of need. And I couldn't
be more thankful for them. It is true that the Lord is aware of us, our every need,
and He will provide for us always. The only true peace on this earth can be found
in His loving arms. I know this now more than I ever have.

I am pleased to say that at my 12 week check-up, we heard the strong and very healthy
heart beat of our baby :) And 2 nights later, I slept ALL the way through the
night. Things have gradually been getting better since then. I'm to the point now
where I can walk into the kitchen without throwing up. I can get dressed without losing
my breath. And I've gained back 5 pounds.
We are crossing our fingers it just gets better from here :)

I know I should just be focusing on the fact that I'm feeling better with
this little one, but all I can think about are the 6 other kids Lance wants!
He assures me we can just take them one-by-one. :)

Wednesday, December 9


13 stands for a lot of things. The unlucky floor, how many cats I had growing up, how many weeks before Lance and I said "I love you", and now, 13 stands for how old this sweet little baby is inside of me...

We are SO excited...

...and a little nervous...
To announce our new little one who is on the way and should make its debut on June 17th.

So...the question you are all wondering! Was it planned? And the answer is, yes & no :)
Mostly, the planning consisted of a 5 second conversation one morning:
Me: Let's have a baby!
Lance: Ok...
2 weeks later: positive pregnancy test.
9 months later: baby.

Needless to say, we were a little shocked (we took the pictures above just after we
found out). But we couldn't be happier to anticipate this baby's arrival. While
we both feel like we have a lot to do in preparation to be parents, we both
feel like the timing is perfect and cannot wait to welcome our little one into this world.

{happy one year to my baby!}

Our wedding day was everything I had dreamed of! At the end of the day, I remember
feeling like I just wouldn't change a single thing! The one thing, though, that I failed to do
and was so sad was a wedding video. I know, i know. So silly of me but I figured we would
have our family members tape everything and I would use my new editing skills to
make our own! But it got completely lost in the shuffle. SO, Lance and I went out at
the end of October this year and had our wedding video made.

Sounds funny right? I got in my dress, Lance in his suit, I made a bouquet and we went to
the temple grounds for a few hours of loving each other :) We got the video back soon after and
I am absolutely IN LOVE with it! It was so worth it going back out. Melissa came
along and got some more shots of us in front of the temple and I love them.
I was absolutely freezing on our wedding day so it was nice to get some pictures in
the warm and sunny weather. Thank you again Melissa, I love them :)

Its hard to believe it has been an entire year since I married my sweetheart for time and all
eternity. It has been such a fun and adventurous year! We have been lucky enough to take 5
vacations this year, move into our first home together, spend so much time with our wonderful
friends and family, and be wrapping up our educations at BYU.

We have learned so much together already and I love him so much more than I
ever thought possible. He is my everything.

We have the entire world in front of us and we can hardly wait what it has in store!

Monday, November 16

{Happy birthday to the twins!}

I cannot believe Austin and I are 23 years old now! 22 wasn't much of a shock but I have to say that 23 has been a weird one for me.

It has been fun to evaluate where I thought I would be at this age and where I am. I am so
excited to be almost finished with school, married to my sweetheart, and about to enter the
big-wide world of adulthood! And yes, I'm aware I technically entered that world some years
ago. I am more referring to Lance getting a job and us knowing where we are going to be on a
more permanent basis. I look forward so much to what life has in store for us!

I started off the day sleeping-in and skipping all my classes :) You can't go to class on your birthday!
Next, Courtney took me to lunch to PF Changs which was delicious! Thanks Court.

And to top it all off, I headed home for a hot home-cooked meal made by my momma. We didn't get a group picture but everyone was there! Including Scott, Keaton, and Trisha who
came down from Salt Lake to celebrate with us.

I love this boy! Who better to share your birthday with? We have never been apart for our
birthdays and I hope we never are.

Austin and I got our "birthday baskets" (of course!) and we each requested our own "cake".
For those of you who don't know, we almost never have cake for birthdays at the Merrell home.
My mom is a fantastic pie-maker so we usually request peaches n cream pie. My mom always
makes 2 of them and they are gone in a blink of an eye! This year I requested pumpkin pie. Thanks mom!

Blowin out the candles! Notice that even though I am 5 minutes older than Austin,
he still got more candles than me this year. What a rip-off. :)

My sweet husband knows I have been wanting a pair of True Religions for awhile
so he bought me the cutest pair of skinny jeans for my birthday ! I absolutely love them.
My mom got me a darling shirt and necklace and the Walkers gave me a certificate for a Sushi dinner. Yum! I can't wait for that one.

What a fantastic birthday! Thank you to everyone for the phone calls, texts, and gifts.
You really helped make this birthday a special one :)


We had a fantastic Halloween full of friends, great food, and a ton of laughter. Lance and I
decided to host a dinner party this year and invited his group of good friends from high school.
It was so good to see everyone and we had a blast!

I had a great time designing these invites for the party in photoshop. With all my practice
editing photos, I have gotten to know the program quite well and was able to do these in about 10 minutes. I LOVE photoshop!

Lance and I made an Olive Garden dinner with the signature salad and dressing, zupa tuscana
soup, and the Shrimp Caprese. So yummy! I was surprised at how easy the recipes were and
they proved to be very true to the originals.

There were a great selection of costumes. I was impressed out how creative everyone was! We
had Danny and Sandy from Grease...

Emy & Jason were laundry: whites and darks! Their costumes were so stinkin cute with laundry
baskets around their waste. They had dryer sheets all over so they even smelled fantastic too!

And little boston was a homeless dude. Emy & Jason had sewn patches all over his clothes and
notice the brown-paper-bagged bottle! So clever.

Joe and Camille were medieval people. And joe had a little too much fun with his sword.

Richard found out Lance was being Peter Pan and decided to be Peter Pan's shadow!
He was following Lance around all night! I didn't get a picture of Mandy's costume but she was
Tiger Lily. She made her costume from scratch and it was so detailed and fantastic.

And the best for last! Here are Erin and Bryan as Pac-man and the ghost. We were laughing so
hard when these two arrived to the party. Bryan couldn't fit through the door with his costume on!

After dinner we exchanged white elephant gifts. Among the more coveted gifts of the night were:
Chocolate body sauce, a flip-flop fly-swatter, binoculars, and an Obama poster.
Who knew white elephant gifts could be so much fun? They were definitely the hit of the night.

For any of you who have gotten the grand tour of our new house, you know how stinkin
creepy the basement is. It looks like it's straight out of a horror movie. And Lance, wanting
to take full advantage of that, decided he should take everyone down there for some scary stories.
While a few of us cleaned up upstairs, everyone else headed to the basement. It wasn't long
before we heard a HUGE thud and screaming. Lance had strategically arranged for a huge board to fall right at the scary part of the story. :) Hopefully we didn't scare away
our guests for good?

The actual night of Halloween, Lance and I loaded up the sound system and headed to
Sandy to chaperone for Trisha's Halloween party. She had everything planned out SO well with
decorations, cute cupcakes and snacks, music, and activities. She is so good at throwing
parties! And this was even her very first one.

We had so much fun getting our groove on! And, as we all suspected, I was mistaken for a 14
year old by one of the more flirty boys at the party. Needless to say, he was quite
embarrassed when he realized I was "old".

We love you Trishy! Thanks for the fun night!

Friday, October 30

{birthday wishes}

A very Happy Birthday to my wonderful mother! We celebrated her birthday last night
with dinner (thanks Missa for the soup!) and better-than-sex cake (yum!). We had such
a wonderful time together, as we always do. Birthdays are some of my favorite times
with the family. We could stick around for hours afterward just telling stories, laughing,
and enjoying each other's company. We even got quite the show from Lance who was busy
entertaining Kenna. Lets just say there were some raptor impersonations, a lot of running
around, and tons of laughter from the rest of us :)

I love my mom! She and I have always been the closest of friends. I am so thankful to have
that friendship with her. I don't know how she does it all. She keeps up with work, home,
service, church callings, and even time spent at the school. She has never-ending love to give
and is always willing to help anyone out with anything.

Some of my favorite things about my mom:
  • She is an amazing quilter!
  • She is a very good nurse.
  • She is a fantastic student
  • She loves self-help books
  • She drives with her seat tilted forward
  • She always burns grilled cheese sandwiches
  • She constantly leaves little love notes
  • She makes the best homemade bread around
  • She does all her own canning
  • She hates scary movies
  • She likes Fergie
  • She LOVES having her hair played with
We love you mom! Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, October 28


Check out my photoshoot today with these adorable kids here.

Tuesday, October 20


I have mixed feelings about blogging. I absolutely love to see what is going on in everyone's
lives! It's so nice to know what's going on {and see pictures!} with my extended family who live
all across the US- and even my good friends that live close by. Life gets crazy and its fabulous
to keep up in such a convenient way. I also love seeing a different side of things in writing you
wouldn't see otherwise- maybe a funny story or confession. It's also a nice outlet; a time to
express yourself.

On the same note, I feel as if blogging has become the newest facade; the perfect way to show
the perfect you. Sparkling home, the newest craft project, a way to brag about your perfect
children and husband, vacations, new items, etc. Not to mention the way too personal items
that are occasionally shared.
I know I post about all of these things too, but I'm hesitant every time for this
very reason. I tend to get really excited about new things and I know that
can sometimes come off as bragging- please know that is never my intent.

Does anyone else feel the same way?

Tuesday, October 6


To see some fun shots from yesterday, click here.

Thursday, October 1

{free photoshoot}

To see some of my latest photos with Courtney & her cute family,
AND to read about my free photoshoot giveaway, click here.

Tuesday, September 22


to see a couple sneak peek pictures of my photo shoot with shannon, shelton, & baby stacia, click here.

Friday, September 18

{san diego}

Our good friends Emylee & Jason invited us to go to San Diego with them at the beginning of September. Also in the party were Emylee's parents (coolest parents ever!) and Lexi, Emylee's childhood friend. We gratefully accepted and had an absolute blast! Our resort was right on Mission Beach. We went surfing, boogie boarding, played smash ball on the beach, laid out in the sun, went long boarding and biking on the boardwalk, went to see the temple, and did whole lot of relaxing. Who could ask for more? Thanks Emy and Jason! It was the perfect vacation.

You can't tell but we are on long boards :)

What a darling family!

The boys surfed it up! That is until Jason got stung by a sting ray!

The cutest baby ever

I love this one

Lexi, who is also a photographer.

Best part of the entire trip: for Lexi's birthday, we went to this FANTASTIC Korean Restaurant. The entire meal was like an endless huge lettuce wrap with all different kinds of meats, vegetables, and sauces. Dont let their sign fool you, this place was authentic :)

Thanks so much Jason & Emy!

Thursday, September 17


Even though I have photos to edit and post from our Arizona and San Diego trips, I wanted to post really quickly about mine and Lance's fun adventure the other day.

We have been taking the scooter everywhere lately (love it!) and that includes to and from school. Well the other day we were almost to the scooter to head home when we felt a couple rain drops. We better hurry! We thought. So we hopped on and off we went. We didn't get very far before a TORRENT of rain started coming down. We pulled over at first and got shelter under a tree but decided home was only 10 minutes away so we went for it. Oh my goodness! If any of you were outside or in your car when that happened, you know what I am talking about. But I have never been outside in that kind of rain, not to mention on a scooter. Needless to say, we were hysterically laughing almost the entire way home. Not only because we were COMPLETELY soaked from head to toe and probably looked ridiculous, but because the rain drops hurt! I must have said 10 times. "Babe! These are definitely hail stones now!" They were not hail stones, of course, it just felt like it....until the last turn of our trip home and then, they were definitely hail stones!!

The best part of the story is the rain completely stopped and the sun came out less than 5 minutes after we got home. It's almost like God knew we needed a good laugh :)

Thursday, September 10

{all moved-in & women's expo}

Well, it's official! We are all moved into our new house. Thank you to all our friends and family who came to help us! We had quite the turn-out and felt very loved :) Things seemed to be going without a hitch and we had almost everything packed up in almost an hour. Then we all headed to the new house to unload all the furniture. Then...came time for the couches. Holy Moly those things are big! They are overstuffed leather which is nice to sit in and very pretty to look at but not very practical to get through the smaller-than-normal door frames. SO, long story short, we ended up doing a little damage in wedging the couches in. But the good news is, the couches are in! And I'm pretty sure they are staying there, for good. If the next occupants of our home wont buy them, we'll give them to them. :) Unless, of course, we want to pay someone to take out the front bay window to get them out. I guess we'll probably laugh about it once the door frames and walls are repaired and we dont own the couches anymore :) lol.

After barely getting moved in, we jumped into an airplane with Jason and Emy and little Boston and took a little vacation to San Diego. So much fun!! I cant wait to post pictures. Unfortunately, my camera found its way into a Denali that drove to Arizona. SO, pictures will have to wait. In the meantime, come visit me this Friday and Saturday at the UVU what women want expo. Lance and I went to set up this afternoon and I cant wait for things to get started tomorrow! I'm so thankful for my wonderfully supportive husband and his willingness, no, encouragement, to let me do what I love.

Tuesday, August 18


We are moving! And very excited about it. :) We found this killer deal in our ward. It's the family Lance home teaches. They are moving away and their grandma owns the home. She is trying to get things rezoned for condos but since that is taking forever, and it's a bad time to sell, she just wants the place well taken care of. SSSOOO.... we will be moving in! We'll be paying less than we are now and it is at LEAST 3x the size. 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, and (my favorite) the kitchen is enormous. Our apartment now has been great for us- we have 3 bedrooms but there is almost no storage. I have had to be SO creative to get everything to fit and look nice. And now, I am excited that I will actually have a pantry, a laundry room (instead of a laundry closet), and more storage then I will know what to do with.

We are taking a little roadtrip this week, then home to shoot Nate & Cali's wedding, then moving into our new home on Saturday the 29th. The Monday after that school starts (I'll be taking 20 credits!), then a quick trip to California with our good friends Jason & Emylee, then my booth in the UVU women's expo. Whew! It's going to be a crazy month. Anyways, there is a quick update on us. I will post pictures of the new place as soon as we get all moved in.

Monday, August 17

{senior pictures}

to see the shots from my latest photo shoot with this handsome young man, click here.

Thursday, August 13


for a sneak peak of my latest photo shoot, click here.

Friday, August 7

{avonlea's announcement}

I didn't want to post this until Melissa had sent them out. I didn't want to ruin it! :) But here is the announcement I designed forJake and Melissa (and baby avonlea).

She is just too cute!

{nate & cali}

Check out the new engagements I took this week of Nate & Cali here.

{business cards}

I spent a good portion of my day today designing this:

My new business cards! I was inspired to design my own after seeing the persnickity cards at the last booth we did. The man I talked to with Persnickity was so nice and even told me where the best place to get them printed is! They also have theirs on a 4x6 postcard which I think is such a cute idea!

I also found this design online that I love! So i tried to pattern them after it {of a sort}.

I have ordered and will now wait anxiously for my package to arrive!

Monday, August 3

a day at the pool

Lance's mom owns SwimKids in Sandy; a program that focuses on teaching infants as young as 6 months old survival and swimming skills. Neal & Lance put together a summer-end party for everyone. It was a success and so much fun! I'm so proud of Lance and all the hard work he has put in this summer helping to run his mom's business. They are even looking into buying a facility which is very exciting. There are big things in store for SwimKids.

Liz with two of her students. She has been teaching for nearly 25 years.

What a cutie!

Liz with some of her instructors.
Including Trisha who is training as an instructor.

Lance is an amazing diver

What a hunk! He looks pretty natural with the baby doesn't he?

My favorites

Kenna, Liz's star student! "I wish I could clone her,"
Liz commented after a lesson. :)

Neal! The apron says it all... :)

There was a raffle along with the BBQ and we auctioned off free swimming lessons, flippers, goggles, and a photo shoot and frame from me! I have been really busy with photo shoots and frames ever since our booth in the Freedom Festival and there seemed to be quite a bit of interest after the raffle. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love.