Oh. My. February.

It's taken me a while to get back to writing after my last post. I'm sure ya'll understand. But there were plenty of ups for every hard day to share!

Started off the month in the BEST way possible: MY EAGLES FINALLY WON THE SUPERBOWL!!! And man, WHAT A GAME?! Am I right?? Seriously my favorite football game of all time! 

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Victory!

You might be wondering why a girl from Utah is a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles?

2004. The year of the infamous JT & Janet Jackson fiasco (didn't actually see that, I was in the other room playing with the neighbors when we heard everyone shouting to close their eyes lol). I was 12 years old. Our neighbors, the Parry's, came over to watch the game: New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles. I watched McNabb throw a touch-down pass to Pinkston and that's all it took. Pinkston. The COOLEST last name I'd ever seen. And McNabb, Pinkston, & T.O. were INCREDIBLE to watch. The Eagles lost by 3 points that day. But they gained a forever fan. 

So seeing my Eagles not only win their FIRST Super Bowl title, but also seeing them take revenge and kick Pat-butt was the BEST!! (ha-ha suck it Pats ;P) 

Then it was MARDI GRAS!! It killed me being so close to Louisiana and not being able to go to a parade! But my mama came through and sent us some good ol' Moon Pies to celebrate with! Maybe next year we'll actually get to a parade! 

We also discovered CARLOS' FRICKEN BAKERY in DALLAS!! It's the closest one to Utah (unless Santa Monica is closer). But I was FREAKING out!! I LOOOOOOOOVED watching Cake Boss and I dreamed of making cakes like that! And guess what y'all! It's just DOWN THE STREET from us! So stinking close! If ya'll come visit us, we'll definitely take you! (The chocolate moose cake is amazing.)

We also got to watch our FAVORITE pup Moose... again! I swear I love him like he's my own dog! Mary, Brady, if for some crazy reason you ever have to give him up, WE WILL TAKE HIM!! (Even Nick said he would!) 

And even though it was cold all month... and I mean COLD, Nick and I made it on a few walks when it was nice. I really love being out and exploring all that Dallas has to offer with my man. This month especially has been SO hard to be away from our families and it's made me even more grateful to have such a rock by my side! I wouldn't change it for the world! But I would LOVE to have family come visit us more! (*hint* *hint* *cough*mom*cough*) 

I also got to make some new amazing friends at a last minute shoot, take a stroll through the Dallas Zoo with the coolest mama and her adorable twins, find a TAXIDERMY place out in the middle of no where (it's actually by the cutest wedding venue! but in the middle of THE country), and eat a DELICIOUS heart-attack-on-a-stick-and-bun (aka: Carnival Berger). 

I also got some new headshots done thanks to my amazing friends Brittany & Lexie AND I found out how hot my hubs would be if he were a SHE! ;) Isn't he smokin?? 

AND I SIGNED UP FOR ANOTHER HALF MARATHON... I think I'm broken. 

And while you see the highlights and the good times and I put on a pretty positive attitude when I write, the truth is that most days just kinda sucked. I don't share them because there isn't much to share. Just the day to day work, chores, appointments, and emotional processing time. We have been so blessed with love and support by people around us but I've found the HARDEST thing for me to get through is the fact that my life has gone back to "normal". My world keeps spinning although I don't want it to sometimes and it just takes time to process that. And I'm not so sure I'm doing a good job at processing it. So please keep loving me. Please keep talking to me even when I don't have much to say. And if you know someone going through a similar thing, REACH OUT. There's nothing worse than feeling alone and unheard. A simple text is all it takes sometimes! 

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Most of February looked something like this

I'm SOO grateful for the outpouring of love that Nick & I have received since opening up about our loss. It is such a difficult thing to go through and SO many people have been there. But what comforts me most is being able to REALLY talk to someone who knows what I'm feeling. Who gets the weird rollercoaster of being fine and even happy one minute and crying the next second because you saw a cute baby that reminds you that your time isn't yet. 

I see so often about the harm of social media. And it is REAL. Like, my kids will NOT have social media until they're at LEAST 16, maybe 21... But what if we did something to fight that? What if we shared what's REAL and how to be happier, be better, and live more fulfilling lives? 

Focusing on living a more fulfilling life is so compelling, so motivating! But I'm not exactly sure how to do it. So if you have ANY ideas on how to live a more fulfilling life PLEASE tell me! Comment on this post, email me, DM me, whatever. Just LET ME KNOW! 

 

XOXO meli

There's Something Magical About December

Well... that was fast!! I absolutely cannot believe that it's ALREADY time for my monthly update! (as evidenced by the fact that I'm writing this 3 days later than I wanted to... off to a great start in 2018). 

I kicked December off with the first styled shoot I've ever put together! I definitely had a LOT of help from the fabulous Jessica Scott at J.Scott Events! (Seriously, if you need an event planner, she's amazing!) And if you follow me on any social media (bless you and thank you!) you've seen that I made a BIG stink about it and then didn't really post anything about it...... well, as far as excuses go, I think it's pretty legit, but I couldn't post about it because I was trying to get it published in a wedding magazine/blog... I still am! But I'm going the non-exclusive route so that I can FINALLY SHARE THEM!! (Post is coming MÁS RAPIDO) buuuuuuuuut who wants to wait for the next post, I definitely don't! So here's more of a sneak peak than I've showed ANYWHERE else! 

I got to work with SO many INCREDIBLE vendors! So if you just got engaged or are planning your wedding and need some referrals (along with an awesome photographer *wink*) I got you! 

Also in the month of December I started planning SEVERAL other styled shoots along with a MASSIVE GUIDED STYLED SHOOT with my amazing friend Mary of Mary Jessica Photography! I'm seriously SOO excited about all of that and CANNOT wait to share them! (not all of them will have insane build up and then a long-overdue follow up I promise!) And if you're a photographer and want to join me on those shoots (I LOVE PHOTO FRIENDS) send me your email and I'll let you know the second tickets are available! (one of these days I'll get a subscription box on my site (just realized I'm REEEAAALLY lovin parentheses today)) 

Baby JoJo came early and I got to do my first hospital shoot and will be sharing those shortly as well! Lots of blogging to do! I also got to work with an ad agency to help with a shoot for Coca-Cola and Mission Tortillas which was a blast!! Hopefully, I'll be able to work with them again soon. 

The BIG event(s) of the month started on the 16th and didn't end until New Year's Day when we got to fly home for the holidays! It was well anticipated because Nick has been SOO busy and a bit stressed with work that we hadn't spent a ton of time together since he started his new job and so 2 weeks of him not having to work (basically at all) and being together 24/7 was amazing! We got to meet up with a bunch of friends (no pictures because although I am a photographer, I SUCK at remembering to take photos in the moment), do a mini Christmas with MY family (we had Thanksgiving with them so it was a Kerr Christmas this year!), go to a Barker AND a Kerr Christmas party and see our fellow relations and eat amazing food! (And there's literally not a single picture of all of that *facepalm*). 

Susan (my amazing Mother-In-Law) and Maddy (my awesome Sister-in-Law) took me and Nick to Gardner Village! It's an old polygamist compound turned shopping center that's actually quite charming! They even have delicious treats and a salt water taffy pulling machine that I could watch for HOURS. We also visited Temple Square with the whole family which was REALLY fun but very cold and stopped by the Grand America Hotel to see the Christmas windows (seriously so amazing! I want to be the one to do it someday!) and the GIANT gingerbread house that was entirely edible (some people tested it...sick) and smelled SOO good! I smelled it before I could see it! 

Christmas was the best! We slept in until 8am (I don't think I've done that on Christmas... ever) opened presents, and had THE MOST amazing breakfast featuring a FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE that was absolutely to DIE for! (Susan, I'm still waiting for that! ;) ) When she send's that I'll post it at the bottom so you all can try it... It's incredible! Since we had our big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve we went to Macaroni Grill for dinner! It was great because we didn't have to cook OR clean up! We were so stinkin spoilt by all our family and friends! So here's a GIANT WHOPPING THANK YOU to you all!! LOVE YOU!!

The Kerrs are BIG movie goers. It's kind of our thing! And since Nick & I hadn't gone to a movie in almost 6 months (longest movie draught of our lives) we definitely tried to make up for lost time. We started with Thor: Ragnarok which was definitely our favorite superhero movie yet, followed it with Jumanji (SOOO funny!) which we were PLEASANTLY surprised by, then the new Star Wars which was washed down with The Darkest Hour (10/10 would recommend). For all you history buffs out there who want to nerd out with me... watch The Darkest Hour, followed by Dunkirk (the most beautifully filmed movie of ALL time), followed by The Crown (thank you Netflix!). If anyone else has a more complete and/or better movie/show list of WWII/Winston Churchill's life PLEASE share!! The Kerrs also have the tradition of making gingerbread houses! Before I joined the family, Nick turned the tradition into ginger-massacre-houses (which Ben graciously continued this year). Since I joined the family, the houses have become more designer and Maddy now gives them to her cute nursery kids from church.

NYE we got to go up and visit with my family again for a little while which was a blast! We watched the Chargers kick butt (even through their kicker can't) and attempted to play Rook (a 100 yr old Stoker fam. tradition). Unfortunately, we had to leave before we could REALLY play because Nick & I had to get back in time to pack and have Ben's birthday dinner! One of the Kerr traditions is that you can't have your cake & ice cream until AFTER you say something you like/admire/positive about the person whose birthday it is. So we followed tradition and celebrated in style! And this year, the boys decided to do a Madden tournament because Chris got it for Christmas and the boys just HAD to be competitive.... (as always). The seeds were as follows: 4. Wayne 3. Nick 2. Ben 1. Chris. I'll let you decide who won. 

We left for Dallas on New Year's Day which was REALLY hard. We had so much fun with family & friends (and seeing our pup Jack for a second!) and there were SO many people we didn't get to see that we really had wanted to which contributed to the hard factor. Luckily, our original flight was cancelled so we got to leave a few hours later and I got to fly FIRST CLASS!! WHOO BABY! Poor Nick got downgraded from First Class on the original flight to Economy on the one we took and had to sit in the VERY last row... at least it was an isle seat, right babe?? (I honestly don't know how we got First Class to begin with! I know we didn't pay for it!). 

2017 was absolutely amazing! In April we got to graduate together from BYU, hung out at the beach in San Diego while celebrating our amazing country (USA! USA! USA!), moved to Dallas which was only made bearable by my amazing family who helped drive us and our crap out here!, I started doing photography full-time, Nick started work for McKinsey & Co. (definitely more than full-time), we found an amazing support system here in Dallas, and now visiting Utah is FUN!! 

I'm seriously soo grateful to each of you for the love, support, and motivation you give me! This has been a wild ride and I cannot WAIT to see what 2018 has for us! "2.0.1.8. is gonna be GREAT!" -Edie (our Uber driver)

XOXO meli 

 

P.S. Our beloved Prophet passed away last night at the age of 90. He is an incredible example of Christlike love and of leaving the flock to rescue the one. His life is something I wish to mirror of building relationships and growing together to come unto Christ. 

"Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."             -President Thomas S. Monson     1927-2018

P.P.S I know I promised a longer explanation on how I do my goals for the year on Instagram and I haven't forgotten! That will come soon! Promise!

 

SOOO AMAZING!!!! 

 

 

Remember, remember, the month of November... that's how it goes, right??

Hey ya’ll! (I use ya’ll too much! #sorrynotsorry)

Here’s my catch up for November since I know y’all are DYING to know what happened (I CANNOT keep up with allllll the emails overflowing my inbox asking where I’ve been alll month... geeze people, calmaté! #sarcasm). 

The month started off with me discovering my LOVE for running! What’s the catch? Outside. It HAS to be outside. My friend Brooke and I went over to White Rock Lake (seriously the most gorgeous place ever!) and started running the trail. It’s a 10ish mile trail and my goal is to run that twice before my half marathon next year. ANOTHER HALF?? Yes. I figured since last time I didn’t “run” a half (I just DID it) I needed to actually “run” one this time... maaaaybe I’ve caught a little runner’s fever okay??  Anyway, back to running WRL- we ran 3 miles round trip AND discovered MOUNT VERNON is in DALLAS! I’M OBSESSED AND IT’S FOR SALE!! Here’s the link (SOMEONE PLEEEEEAAAAASSSEEE BUY IT FOR ME!!! IT’S A PHENOMENAL INVESTMENT!! ;) )- 
http://mountvernon.alliebeth.com

Mount Vernon... DALLAS ed. 

Mount Vernon... DALLAS ed. 

That discovery was followed by the cutest baby shower for my dear friend Mary that was hosted by the amazing Liz! Mary is having a little girl, Georgia (HOW CUTE?!), and the colors were blush and gold #dead. It was so fun to be with so many friends! And to spoil a very deserving mama and her baby was the best!

Our amazing friends had a Friendsgiving that was INCREDIBLE and hosted by the very famous couple Rucas (or Luchel) (Lucas + Rachel). We had 11 couples + 2 toddlers AND 2 new borns there! Quite the crew AND somehow we were all able to fit COMFORTABLY in Luchel’s little apartment. Quite the miracle and soooo much fun! We ate a bajillion DELICIOUS things, watched football, and played Secret Hitler (if you don’t know what that is, you NEED to know). 

But the MAIN EVENT of the month was definitely The 6th Biennial Stoker Family Reunion: Hogwarts Ed. I kicked off the festivities by surprising the CRAP outta my mama!!! Haha it was sooooo funny (I recorded it-she won’t let me post it buuuuttt if you really wanna see it I can arrange that ;) ) Backstory: The first time I came home from college I scared the crap outta my mama because she didn’t know what time I was going to be there and she happened to be in her closet so I took advantage of the opportunity (who wouldn’t??) and yelled, “SURPRISE!” as she walked past... thank the heavens she has a good ticker cause she’d definitely be gone this time around.

Back to main story- Mama Barks had NO idea I was coming in early! My dad said he was at work (lies- he was picking me up from the airport), my brother and sister said they were running to the store (lies- they were ALSO picking me up from the airport). So when we got to the house, my dad and I hid just outside the garage door while my sister tried for 5 FREAKING MINUTES to get my mom into her closet to “help her find her passport for school documentation”. Okaaaaayy... she got suspicious. BUT she thought my siblings were trying to smuggle in a birthday present for her (it was only 2 days before her birthday). So when she came out of her room, BAM! “HAPPEEEEE BIIIRRRRFFFDAAAY MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA!!!!” Pretty sure her ticker skipped 10 ticks that day! 

Back to the main, main story. So the Tuesday before Thanksgiving we loaded up 2 cars with all the crap they could hold (+ people) and headed down to St. George. Within 1.5 hrs the women folk transformed the vacation home into Hogwarts and within 2.5 hrs people started showing up! Then the real party began! 

It was filled with Football, QUIDDITCH (SOOO much fun and SOOO exhausting!), hiking to see petroglyphs, amazing FOOD, and a massive session of family pictures!! (photographing 44 people and making it look fun, easy, and making THEM look good ain’t easy--- maybe I’ll blog about that!) 

 Nick and I learned one massive thing. We will NOT travel without each other if at all possible. It just kinda sucks being apart when we could be together AND traveling is sooo much better when you’re not alone. 

A week after Thanksgiving we went to the Cowboys game! It was INCREDIBLE!! It was both mine and Nick’s first NFL game and it was soo much fun! We had nosebleed seats but it didn’t matter because you could still see EVERYTHING from the BIGGEST JUMBOTRON IN THE NFL!! That stadium is quite the feat of engineering and soo awe-inspiring. PLUS the Cowboys KILLED the Redskins so it was a great game!

And all through the month I had plugged away at continuing my education! I enrolled in a 19 week course by the INCREDIBLE Katelyn James and it has changed my photo-life! I’ve done several webinars and mini-courses. I started getting Blueprint Certified, AND I started working on documenting my learning and sharing it with all of you (this monthly check in is part of that!). It’s soo important to keep learning, no matter if it’s part of your career, hobbies, or something you’ve just found interest in! Keep going, keep changing! Because as you change you’ll change the world around you, and I don’t know bout you, but I hope my change is positive! 

Well, that’s all for now folks! 

XOXO meli