By: Shanna | October 16, 2017

Happy Fall from my family to yours! ♥

When you don't have kids, your pup is your child. 

He's definitely more photogenic than us anyhow ;) 


By: Shanna | June 29, 2017

Do you like being near the water?

The lake, the beach, a pool. It doesn't matter to me - as long as the sun's out. ♥

I grew up in Texas... and when you are in the Texas heat, you are always looking for a way to 'cool off.' What better way to cool off than jumping in the water? I grew up going to our local lake with my parents. We had a boat and would go out with friends as much as we could during the summer. I honestly remember it like it was yesterday [I was like 5 though.] It was literally the best summertime activity! 

Kentucky doesn't have the Texas heat, but it does still have my favorite summertime place - a lake! I still love being outside in the summer heat - near some water. One of my first dates with my husband was actually going to the lake. He honestly loves it as much as I do. We now have a boat & a jet-ski so that we can try to go every chance we get during the summer, although Kentucky summers definitely aren't as long or as hot as Texas summers. [I miss it.] We have a camper too, so we don't actually HAVE to leave the lake all weekend long if we don't have to! We LOVE our lake weekends! 

The beach is also one of my most favorite places. If you know me & my mom - you know that we also LOVE being on the beach. I had already been to the beach [Galveston] before most children even knew what the ocean was. I went to my first Caribbean beach [Cancun] when I was only in middle school. We just simply LOVE being in the sunshine and near the water. We still go to the beach every chance we get. Especially any of the Caribbean beaches with their pretty white sand - they're the best. [I'd move there if I could!] I'm trying to begin planning our annual beach trip for this fall. I can't wait to go! :) 

If there is one thing I don't have that I'd love to have is a pool in my backyard. We had a pool when we lived in Texas, but my mom & I haven't been very successful in convincing our husbands to build a pool at either of our houses. [I really hope this changes soon, haha!]. I guess we'll just enjoy the lake and the beach when we get the chance until they change their minds, lol. 

I'll admit that I'm not into necessarily swimming as much as I use to be, but I still love being near the water. It's just so relaxing to just enjoy the sunshine with your toes in the water. What could be better? 

Oh, did I mention that I LOVE sunsets?

                         I guess what IS better is a beautiful pink sunset over the crystal blue waters of a lake.

Just blissfully beautiful. ♥

By: Shanna | March 21, 2017

Wouldn't you know- my most popular photo was of my sweet D.O.G. ♥

Back in January, I decided to enter the free 'Shoot and Share' contest. It's a completely fair contest where photographers can enter up to 50 photos in 25 different categories. People view four photos and pick their favorite. Every photo is viewed the same amount of times. There is no information with the photo - so nobody knows whose photo belongs to who. If the photo got picked enough times in a round, it would move to the next round - there were 12 rounds. Voting took place over the course of February and they began to announce winners earlier this month. You had no idea how your photos were doing during the voting process unless your photo somehow got "favorited" - where you got an email saying that someone had chosen your photo as one of their favorites. This is not the same as "picking your favorite" or voting for a photo - there was a separate button that you could push to save your favorite photos to your profile and if one of your photos was "favorited," you would actually get an email saying that "someone LOVES your photo!"

At the first of March, I got an email that I was a 'finalist' - this meant that at least one of my photos had made it to the top 3.5% of ALL the photos in the contest. Hint - there were over 332,000 photos entered! This alone was more than I could of ever dreamed of. I'm a beginner. A newbie. An amateur. The photos entered were beautiful. GORGEOUS. There was a lot of inspiration for me to hold on to. So, I was pretty excited when I got this in my email. BUT THEN- there was the 'best of the best' round (the voting was over, but you could still vote for fun on the top 100 photos of each category).... and one of my photos got favorited! So, I KNEW I had one of my photos within the top 100.

After they had announced all of the top 20 of each category - they finally posted the results of the top 100 photos of each category... and wouldn't you know = out of 50 pictures, my most popular photo was this one above... with my sweet baby boy, D.O.G. ♥ I had several other photos go into the last few rounds, but this one went the farthest. I couldn't be happier and I'm SO excited about working on improving my work and entering my favorites of this year into next years contest!

Sweet D.O.G. :

Yes, his name is spelled like 'dog.' No, it's not pronounced that way - you say each of the letters, so it's more like Dee-oh-gee. My husband got this sweet great pyrenees before he had ever even heard of me. He got a little spoiled when he was a puppy, although that wasn't originally Jonathan's intention. Once I met him, (you know me - lover of all dogs...), I just fell in love! He was always full of energy and he just wanted you to pet him constantly. In December of 2014, we noticed that he had kind of been limping and one evening when we got home - he was literally crying in pain. Jonathan took him to the vet's office who informed us that he had bone cancer - apparently a common cancer found in large dogs such as his breed. She said he'd probably only live for 3 more months. I cried like a baby and then I prayed every single night that it wouldn't be his last night. We were able to get him some medicine to hopefully slow the tumor growth for a little while longer and help with the pain and before you knew it - he was back to his old self! He ran and played like nothing was wrong... and luckily, he lived just over another year, I'm so glad we got to spend that time with him. We lost in January 2016 and my heart completely broke. If there was anything, anything at all that I could of done more to prolong his life longer - I would of done it. He had a pretty good life though - he spent every day laying out in the yard like he loved to do.. and the day before he died - he had his biggest adventure: chasing a random pig down the highway. (I, on the other hand, panicked during this. haha) He loved to wander! 

My heart still hurts and I'll never stop missing this sweet boy. I still sometimes look for him around the yard, and I think of him every single time it snows (he LOVED the snow). He was massive, but he wanted so badly to be a lap dog. He would wrap his paws around you to hug you and he would rub that sweet big ol' head against you ever chance he got. His size was scary, but his heart was kind. He was one of the sweetest dogs I've ever loved. He loved with every ounce of his soul, and I loved him just as much. ♥ 

I couldn't be more thrilled that HIS photo was my #1 photo. My heart is full. 

 I miss you so much, D.O.G.! xox.

By: Shanna | October 18, 2016

I am addicted to cruises. I love cruises. It's just the best vacation for the money. 

You literally cannot beat it.

But this year, my sister-in-law asked us to join her family on vacation for a change. They love Anna Maria Island on the Gulf Coast of Florida and wanted to visit there again. It was our first time going to this particular island so we didn't really know what to expect. It was beautiful (as most gulf beaches are...more on that later) and we had a wonderful time with our family, but I'll probably always be a cruise addict. I could go on and on about why that is, but that's another post for another day. Besides photos and details, I'll try to also share a few of my opinions of this little island just in case you ever want to visit. 

Visiting Gia, Toni, and Tiffany in West Palm :)

We had rented a house on Anna Maria Island for Sunday-Saturday, but me and Jonathan wanted a full week vacation so we decided to start our vacation a little earlier. We left on Friday night after we got off work to drive down to West Palm Beach, Florida to visit some good friends. We stopped halfway down and drove the rest of the trip on Saturday. (P.S. We stopped in Forsyth, Georgia for the night and decided to stay at what looked like a new La Quinta hotel. Little did we know until we were checking in... it had only been open for 16 days! Brand. Spanking. New. If you ever need to stay somewhere outside of Atlanta, go there! lol!)  We met up with Toni and Gia for dinner at a super neat restaurant called Guanabanas on Saturday night... and decided to eat breakfast (at a yummy cafe!) and spend the day visiting them all of them on Sunday before we headed over to Anna Maria that night. We really enjoyed getting to visit with them. They're a lot of fun. We had actually met Gia and her daughter Tiffany on a cruise back in 2013 that we went on with my in-laws. We all became fast friends and actually all planned our 2015 cruise together, except with her daughter Toni instead of Tiffany. We love these guys! (P.S.S. Toni's dog, Turks - the black and white dog, is my new boyfriend ;) lol, and the cute little white puppy was a puppy she had found recently that I fell in love with. She was a sweetie!) 

& then there was Anna Maria

Good Morning

We rented a cute little house in the middle of the Island, complete with a heated pool. If you're going to rent a house, DEFINITELY make sure it has a pool. It was in an awesome location... just a short bike ride to anything: the beach on one side of the island, the pier on the other side of the island, good restaurants, and to all kinds of shopping. We actually ended up renting 3 bikes and got an electric golf cart half-price. That's how to do it. I'm dead serious. The golf carts are street legal on the island and we were able to just drive it anywhere we wanted to go... so we never had to get gas! If you're considering visiting Anna Maria, that's the first 2 tips I'll share with you.

  • Rent a house with a heated pool in the middle of the island. You won't be disappointed. 
  • Rent a golf cart, and bikes, to drive anywhere on the island. I recommend 'Beach Bums' just because that's who we used and we got an excellent deal. We rented two bikes and got the golf cart half-price. We really enjoyed it. :) 

The Lone Fisherman

Of course, we did your basic beach routine... laid on the beach, hung out in our pool, went to eat, went shopping, and took beach pictures. Our first day on the island, we basically went and rented our bikes and golf cart and then packed up to go to the beach. This is where a pro/con comes into play: renting a house gives you certain luxuries such as your own private pool and typical house amenities (feels like home), but you have to pack up everything and drag it to the beach every time you want to go. There are no chairs and umbrellas already waiting for you. This can be a hassle so I wanted to throw that out there. :) 

Tuesday, we packed up and went to the beach again for the day and then while they napped in the afternoon... me and Jonathan went to find the mini-golf place so that I could play a little mini-golf. I lost.. but, I LOVE mini golf. I was a little disappointed that there was only one mini-golf place and it was further on down the island, but at least there was one! I will say this:

    ♥     If you like to have a lot of options of things to do and see, then Anna Maria is probably not the place for you unless you're okay with doing a little more driving to get there. Anna Maria is definitely more for those that plan to go to just sit back and relax instead of being on the go.

Breakfast of Champions

Wednesday, us girls got up to go watch the sunrise while the guys went fishing. We did a little exploring, a little shopping, and a little sunbathing by the pool. They ended up catching us a little dinner that Lesa fixed and it was so good! I'm not even a fish eater so that's big coming from me! :) On Thursday, we headed back to the beach for the day and then went to get some sunset pictures in before we went to dinner. Friday, the guys went fishing again and Jonathan got a huge one! Instead of cooking again, we were able to take it to a restaurant where they cooked it FOR US! We had no idea that there were places that did that... and it was so nice not to have a big mess to clean up. :) Us girls just did our own thing. I did some shopping and laid out by the pool. I just wanted to relax in the sun on my last day there. :) 

We ate at some pretty good restaurants while we were there. I'm NOT a seafood person at all, but I can tell you what my family thinks about each one: 

  • Lobstahs - They had amazing mozzarella sticks, but I heard that the seafood wasn't their favorite. My chicken dish was pretty good though :)
  • Sandbar - My dish wasn't the greatest (but again, I'm not a seafood person), but everyone else LOVED this place. The best part was being able to sit out on the patio and watch the sun set. They even ask each table for your guess at what the exact sunset time will be (has to be down to the SECOND!) and if you guess right, you get a free bottle of champagne! I loved it there, and if we ever go back - I'll just choose something different to eat, lol.
  • Waterfront - This was on the other side of the island by the pier. I LOVED the food. I think we all did, in fact! Me & Lesa loved it so much that we decided to go for dessert.. and oh my, I'm so glad we did! It was so good! 
  • Swordfish Grill - This is where the guy's fishing captain referred us to take the fish to get it cooked. He even gave us free drink tickets. I really enjoyed the atmosphere. It was the only place we went to that had live music playing on the patio... I love those places! I enjoyed my last evening there :)

Also, can I mention... if you're craving some ice cream, head over to Two Scoops and grab some Gator Tracks... because it's delicious! ♥ 

Overall, we had an excellent time with the family. I'm not too happy about fall coming to Kentucky,and I'm really not looking forward to winter. On a happier note, we have already started thinking about a cruise for next year with Gia and the girls! It'll be a good one! :) 

By: Shanna | August 17, 2016

It takes a long time to grow an old friend.

- John Leonard

I learned one lesson growing up: quality over quantity. 

Ever heard the saying, 'I'd rather have one close friend than a million acquaintances'? It's the truth. I've had many different groups of friends, but friends tend to come and go. That's why I appreciate the ones that stay. They mean more to me. They matter more to me. 

I've been extremely blessed with two women who were once just strangers that I now consider to be my 'best friends'. I met my best friend, Kourtniee, in 7th grade. I had been out of my original school district for a couple of years and had finally moved back. We had both became friends with a girl named Krystal and she invited the two of us (we didn't have any classes together so we didn't know each other yet) to her house for a halloween slumber party. Kourtniee & I immediately hit it off. It was like we had known each other our entire lives! Over the next year, we became the best of friends. She moved to another school for a year in 8th grade, but we stayed tight. She would come spend weekends at my house, or her mom would pick me up and we'd jam out to the 'Gap Band' on the drive to her new house in Oklahoma. She moved back for high school and we stayed the best of friends all the way up until I moved to Kentucky the summer before our senior year. We went through all your normal teenage drama - boys, friends, parents - and survived. 

But, could we survive my move? It was tough at first. We had a few disagreements, but we worked everything out. She asked me to be her maid of honor when she got married in 2007, and she served as mine when I got married in 2010. We talk just about every day (in fact, I just texted her back about 5 minutes ago, lol). This year at Halloween, we will celebrate 18 years of friendship. That's a rarity in this world and I treasure it with all my heart. 

Then there is my other best friend, Mallory (pictured). When I moved to Kentucky, I didn't know anybody. Starting my senior year at a new high school with no friends is very scary. I had no idea who to sit with at lunch or who to talk to in between classes. I was basically like a zombie, until a couple of girls decided to bring me into their little world by asking me to come hang out with them one weekend. That weekend was EPIC. They invited a couple of other girls over as well and we were all having a big slumber party. Somehow we ran into Mallory while running around town and they asked her to come as well. She did, and that was how the 'Sexy Six' was born. I was SO blessed to find these girls at such a scary time in my life. They came into my life at the exact time that I needed them. I needed at least one person, but I gained 5! The rest of our senior year was full of sleepovers, movie nights, and eating LOTS of cookie dough. 

The next summer, 'Sexy Six' went on to college (several of us went different ways) and the group just slowly dissipated over the next few years. We all tried so hard to stay close, but sadly found that as life moves on, things change and sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together. 

13 years later and Mallory is still here. Unlike me and Kourtniee, me and Mallory are quite different in many, many different ways. But, it works. We've definitely had some hiccups over the years, but we've overcame the obstacles. There was even a time she REALLY didn't like me (she likes telling that story, but I'll tell you this - I was just trying to help her! When she looks back now, she knows I was right....), but I think over the years she found that I was honestly a 'true' friend to her. I may not see her every day, or even talk to her as often as we'd like, but when we get together - it's like nothing has changed! I so deeply treasure our sillyness and all the laughter we've had over the years. There's never a dull moment with the two of us. 

Good friends are hard to find. Good friends that you can truly trust are even harder to find. I'm not saying I don't have other good friends, because I do. I'm just saying that these two ladies are just the perfect example that quality matters more than quantity. They are my longest and truest friends. They've stuck it out by my side for all these years, even when things got hard, and I know that they'll be there for me anytime I need them. Friendship isn't one sided though. You can't expect to 'grow an old friend' by constantly letting them do all the work or you doing all the work. It's a two way street and both friends have to put the effort into it. They say that if a friendship lasts 7 years, it will last a lifetime. I truly believe that. I don't think either of these girls are going anywhere any time soon. At least, I hope not. :)

My best tip for 'growing an old friend'? 

Do not judge. - Matthew 7:1

Always remember that everyone is fighting a different battle and even though you may not understand the battle they are fighting, you can always lend an ear to listen. It may just help you grow your own 'old friend.' :) 

By: Shanna | July 27, 2016

I love spending time with my sweet little sister :)

My family came to visit us last week! 

My dad, my 13 year old little sister, my stepmom, and my 4 month old nephew decided to come up to spend a few days in Kentucky this past week. I only get to see them once or twice a year (it's hard to get off work to get down to Texas as often as I'd like to), so I was MEGA excited that they were coming! I LOVE my family and I LOVE visitors!

They got here Wednesday night and they were worn out from the driving. It had taken them longer to get here since they decided to bring their new camper with them. (The camper = amazing, believe me!) So, we decided to lay low on Thursday. We had a little lunch, grabbed some ice cream at the Dairy Dip, and us girls went and got pedicures. Thursday night we all went to Pioneer Playhouse to watch a play. It was a good show. :)

They had been wanting to go visit the new Ark in Northern Kentucky, so Jonathan took off Friday so we could all go together. It was HUGE. 

The 'Ark'

If you are interested in going, you definitely should. Being a Christian, I've heard the story of Noah and the Ark my entire life. It was awesome to get an idea of just how large it was and how it may have worked. Obviously, we were not there so we will never know the exact details... but seeing it helped bring the story to life. I will say, beware of all the walking and the reading. Over the course of three floors, there are a LOT of signs to read. There are a few movies and interactive displays, but not many. It would be a wonderful experience to share with children, but I wouldn't be surprised if they got bored quickly. There isn't a lot for kids, especially toddlers.. so beware of that fact. Otherwise, it's AWESOME! 

It's not completely finished, but it's coming along great. There is a restaurant and a small zoo outside the ark. You can ride camels or donkeys for an additional fee. The zoo has kangaroos, zebras, yaks, and a few other animals in it. The petting zoo mainly had goats, but there was a miniature pony and a donkey in there as well. We really enjoyed the experience, but there are a few changes that they could make to it that would definitely make it better for everyone.

My family had also really been wanting to go to Gatlinburg, so that's exactly what we did on Saturday! Once we got to Pigeon Forge and got the camper set up, we rode down to the Gatlinburg strip to eat dinner and do a little shopping. Sunday, we all got up and went to Dollywood! It was a steamy day, but the water rides helped cool us off. We watched a couple of awesome shows and rode some fun rides, but I was super sad that it was our last day with my family (Jonathan had to work on Monday so we had to come back home, but my Dad was not leaving Gatlinburg until later in the week - actually, I think they left today lol). If we had thought to drive two cars, I definitely would of stayed. When we got back to the camper, we planned to leave but my dad stalled us a little (I was glad!) and made us eat hot dogs and smores with them. I didn't complain, even though it did make it hard to drive home. :) 

I miss them already and I wish they could just stay longer. I had such a good time spending time with them! 

Category: The True Life 

Tags: family, lifestyle 

By: Shanna | July 04, 2016

July 4th isn't just a day off work or a day to watch fireworks....

Yes, I'm one of those people that got off work today for the holiday. I'm also one of those that love to watch fireworks or go to someone's cookout. I love celebrating holidays... but does everyone remember WHY we celebrate each of the holidays that we have? It's not about presents at Christmas and it's not about cookouts on Labor Day. Today is a good reminder of the history of our country. It's a good reminder that freedom isn't free. We have so many freedoms that us as Americans take advantage of every single day. There are people around the world that would give ANYTHING to come to America. Are we perfect? Absolutely not. In a lot of ways, we're not even excelling at things we once were #1 (in the entire world) at anymore. Other countries have slowly followed in our footsteps and rose to become some of the best places in the world. Still, today is a good reminder that there were many people that fought for this country and even died for this country long before any of us on this Earth today were even thought of... They fought, and some even lost their lives, in order to have the freedoms that we have now. The past is bound to be repeated if not learned from... so as we celebrate with hot dogs and watermelon - we should always REMEMBER the REASON we're celebrating and continue to teach the younger generations the history of this great country so that maybe they will teach their own children one day!  

" Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave..... o'er the land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE! "

By: Shanna | June 23, 2016

Happy Birthday, Silas! 

We've been SO busy that I haven't been able to post this... but on June 2nd, our sweet little nephew turned THREE! He LOVES the Hulk, so what better way to celebrate than a HULK birthday party?! My sister-in-law did an awesome job rounding up some HULK decorations and she had a sweet friend that made his cute shirt. He would NOT stand still very long for me to get a good picture, but I tried! I can't really blame him... with a bouncy house and water balloons - why in the world would a 3 year old WANT to take pictures for his aunt? Yeah, definitely didn't happen. 

Regardless, he had a BLAST at his party.. and that's what truly matters! :)

By: Shanna | May 20, 2016

This is what happens when you're an child-less photographer, but you're itching to take some photos in the wooded area beside your house after the rain has quit and the sun has popped back out.... your sweet pup has to model for you. Thank goodness he's a good sport about it. 

(and thank goodness he DOES knows the word "STAY")

I do have to admit... he's a pretty cute model ;) 

I mean, just look at his posing techniques ;) lol I love my sweet boy! 

Category: The True Life 

Tags: Lifestyle, Dog, Animal 

By: Shanna | May 17, 2016

Happy 30th Birthday to US!  

                                and Happy Mother's Day to my MOM! 

My mom has been wanting to take a little weekend trip with us for, basically EVER now. Since they couldn't celebrate our 30th birthdays with us the weekend on our actual birthdays the weekend before... mom decided she'd like us to go somewhere for the night the next weekend. This way, we celebrated Mother's Day as well. 

My mom and stepdad have been on a Cincinnati kick here lately. My husband and I would of probably chose to go to Nashville or Gatlinburg instead, but she was booking everything so it was her choice! The main thing she wanted to do was to go eat dinner at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse on the river. It was DELICIOUS to say the least. They even had a dessert that was extremely similar to the warm melting cake on a Carnival cruise (which is my FAVORITE!). I'd say we all had a wonderful dinner overlooking the river. 

I would of liked to have went to a Red's game, but the forecast kept calling for rain ALL day long. Do you know, it NEVER RAINED! I was a little disappointed as we could of done that while my parents hit up the casino. I've never been to a game but hopefully we'll make a point of it one day! It was still a great overnight trip with my parents! :) They're the best! 

Category: The True Life 

Tags: Vacation, Lifestyle