Portraits: Ethan Weston Homestead

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I never thought this day would be here.  Sharing in the triumphs and struggles of motherhood with my sister  has always been something I hoped for.  Even while my sister was pregnant, I couldn’t believe I might one day be holding my niece or nephew.  I knew that moment was going to special.

Photographing births and newborns would be an incredible job, if it weren’t for that being on call part.  I’ve only done it a few times for friends and family, but it is so thrilling and quite the emotional experience.  Waiting for the phone call makes me so anxious.  Though, getting to capture those wrinkly little human when they are only a few hours old is amazing.  The joy surrounding a birth cuts through most any difficulty experienced before and during labor. I said most, not all.

The human body is incredible.  I was always surprised by how much adrenaline kicked in during birth.  Who would think you could go all of those hours or even days without much to sustain you, nutritionally.  The water cup with the yummy ice was such a lifeline during birth, wasn’t it?  I kept my giant Yuma Regional Medical Center tumbler for a few years after Faith was born because it brought back happy memories of that cool, icy water roll down my throat when I needed it most.  I wanted to capture the little memories that fade, such as beloved ice cups, the discomfort of the IV that also brings replenishment, the dreaded blood pressure cuff that would automatically go off in the middle of a contraction, the “comfortably situated bed” for the Dad, the odd yet beautiful way the monitor shares the baby’s heartbeat,  and your first meal after the biggest workout of your life.

New life. New baby to snuggle.

Ethan Weston Homestead, you are loved.

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Rest & Value


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I feel like I’m right where I need to be.

So many times I asked God for contentment, to find joy in my daily tasks, to remove the heavy burdens of the world from my heart, to give my heart peace about what I’m able to accomplish in each season of life. I can’t homeschool, run a business, blog, make everything from scratch, do photography, and still be good to my family. I think I hid behind a busy life while ignoring significant pain. Also, most importantly, I can’t take care of myself well.

I have learned that I was taught incorrectly to be completely selfless. Even saying that, “I am important” would have been declared a sin to me. There is freedom to be found in the knowledge that Jesus thinks I am important because He loved me enough to create me. HE VALUES ME. Therefore, how can I not value myself? Rest, friends, it’s one of the greatest freedoms I’ve been given in my 31 years. Rest can only come after you have let trauma, sadness, anger, and grief pass through you without stopping them because you feel like you should out of guilt (message me if you need a therapist in San Diego!). This sickness has catalyzed so many gifts of understanding and I’m extremely grateful for it.

Take care of yourself, friends.

Stick around and find us on:
F a c e b o o k // T w i t t e r // P i n t e r e s t // I n s t a g r a m // E m a i l

Travel: Hiking with Kids


Kids love to be outside, that’s no secret.  This summer, make a point to share the outdoors with your kiddos in a fresh way.  Find some trails and go exploring!  Hiking is completely different from trail to trail so try several different ones and the 6 tips in this post to enjoy some special time with your little one.

1. Locate a trail with good reviews for kids.

It’s easy to scope out fun places to hike with great sites like this one or this one.  Your local REI will also have great resources for your local trails.  They have a bulletin board in each store with flyers and maps of your local areas that you can absorb info from.  If you have toddlers or smaller kids, look for trails that are wide and have flat areas. It’s always important to remember that a 1 mile hike for a little one is like walking 10 times as far because of their little legs.  Even if they seem up for anything, which is awesome, you always have to factor in the walk there as well as the walk back to the car.  Kids can go from enthusiastic to meltdown SO fast.  I’m sure you’ve never seen that before, right?


2. Read ahead about possible plants and wildlife. 

Before we hike, I love to hop on the computer and google the particular trail area for info on any fun and colorful birds, interesting plants, or fluttering butterflies that might be sharing the trail with us that day.  You could still have a good hike without this info, but knowing the possibilities makes for an exciting game of seek and find for the little ones. Audubon has several great apps you can download for identification.  I particularly love their bird app.  We use it every day for school and love being able to see pictures, hear bird calls, and read about their habitat and habits.  You could even make your own little checklist for them to cross off, as you hike, if they want to play a little game.

3. Bring plenty of snacks and water

Do your kids snack all day?  It always seems like my kids and their friends are always needing a little snack.  Hiking isn’t any different.  Bring plenty of nutritious snacks to give the kids energy, including fruit, nuts (trail mix!), protein bars (like these), and dried fruit.  We like to set a goal of eating our snacks at the halfway point so the kids can sit down to rest their legs as well.

For longer hikes, I LOVE having a camelbak!!  It’s a little backpack with a water pouch we can fill up for the whole family.  There is a little plastic tube that hangs down over your shoulder with a spout on the end for easy access.  I love being able to give the kids water when they need it without stopping for a full 5 minutes to get water out of a backpack.  Camelbak‘s are the best and worth investing in!


4. Don’t forget your camera!

How many times have you said, “Man, I wish I had my camera!”  Well, write a list of everything you’ll need for a  hike and don’t leave out that camera.  That way, when your little girl or guy comes to you with a rare butterfly they are holding in front of your face, you will be able to have that memory forever.  I try to bring my camera everywhere.   The other benefit to bringing your camera with you on outings like this is your kids are getting used to it being around.  The more your kiddos are used to the presence of your camera, the more naturally they will act, and the better your pictures will be.  It’s a win for everyone!

5. Document your findings at home.

It’s never too early to teach your kids to journal.  It’s such a great way for kids to get in the habit of writing down memories and discoveries.  At home, we use a combination of the pictures I take, the kids sketches, nature guidebooks, encyclopedias, Audubon apps, and local foldable field guides to help us identify and draw everything we’ve found.  My kids love the thrill of putting a name with what they saw and i’m sure yours will too!


6. Plan your next hike!

It’s so easy to go home pumped about your great time hiking, say you want to go again soon, then pretty soon it’s September and you don’t know what happened with your time.  Put your next hike on the calendar while you are still pumped up!  You can always reschedule it, but having it on the calendar ensures you will make it a priority.  You will thanks yourself later!

Kids love exploring and hiking is one of the BEST ways to bring this quality out in your children.  Kids love getting answers to their questions about creation around them.  Spend time with your child this Summer finding out those answers and discovering the beauty that is in your city!

In case you are ever in my city (or if you live here!), my favorite San Diego trails are here:

Torrey Pines State Reserve

Hollenbeck Canyon

Mount Laguna-Pacific Crest Trail

Mission Trails 

Happy Hiking!


Stick around and find us on:
F a c e b o o k // T w i t t e r // P i n t e r e s t // I n s t a g r a m // E m a i l

How to Watch Downton Abbey Season 6 in the US/UK



Welcome excited Downton Abbey fans!

If you’re coming to this page you are probably not sure you can watch this show free and clear, but let me assure you…


Season 6 is almost here!

I know everyone is excited about the new season (hopefully) starting September 20, 2015 at 9pm in the UK (1pm Pacific Standard Time in U.S.)! Who’s excited?!

Thanks so much for sticking with me for season three, four, and five. I have already been receiving SO many emails and messages from you guys anticipating Season 6. For each of these seasons, I have done no more than provide a place where you can find all of the links in one location. The videos are not hosted by my blog and I have no control over them. I am happy to help with whatever I can. I plan to post the links again on my Facebook page here, if they are available, as well as some Downton inspired recipes and cocktails on Instagram here. Be sure to follow!

ANYWAY, you guys really just want to know how to watch, right?

**PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be patient with each option. Not every option will work for every person simply because of your specific computer/setup. Try each option more than once until you find one that works! Please test the Tunnelbear option before Downton premiere Day**

How to watch in the U.S. (3 options!):

Option 1:

This option includes any extra videos and behind the scenes option on ITV!

Here’s what you need to do to get Downton Abbey to play on your PC:

1. Download Tunnel Bear here for free (they have cute branding!). You will need to pay the $6.99/month to get enough data for the season unless you follow their system of tweeting for more free data storage . No biggie in the long run to pay for a few months, just set a reminder on your calendar to cancel! Tunnel Bear is a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which is changing your IP address to reflect that of the UK. Think of it as a giant antenna that reaches across the globe. Technology is amazing, right?

2. Confirm Tunnel Bear by e-mail.

3. Once you are signed in to Tunnel Bear, turn the knob you see to “on”. It will say “connected”.

4. Now, set the country option to “United Kingdom”. Your computer will now be compatible with the region showing Downton Abbey. Yay!

5. Go to https://www.itv.com/itvplayer/

Create an itv account.  You’ll also need a postal code to access the ITV player on the website. I used the code “HP5 2US” Use any of the ones on this list. If one doesn’t work, try another.

6. To watch the shows that have already aired Season 6 episodes, go to the ITV website’s Downton Abbey page:


To watch the show live as it airs in the UK at 1pm Pacific Standard Time, go here to watch the live streaming ITV player:


6. Make sure you turn Tunnel Bear to “off” when not watching Downton as you want your computer to know which country it is really in. :)

7. Hopefully, you’re smiling and watching Downton! If not, “like” and check my facebook page here for loads of questions answered, as well as the comments below this post.

Option 2:

Watch by clicking below in the questionably legal way click here from Watch TV Series.  I’ve posted them below. When you click the links, don’t click the play triangle in the middle of the player screen. Simply close the “x” symbol and click the play button on the BOTTOM of the player, right below the window you view the show in. If it’s asking you to set up an account, close the whole page and start over (you’ve clicked through to an ad…no biggie). In the right hand corner, above and to the right of the video player, there are numbers next to the word video.  You will have to click a number until you find a comparable player.  iPads and mobile phones won’t be as successful at blocking adware from the site.  The ads make money for the site and are designed to get you to click on them, so just pay no attention.  Personally, I just go for option 1 so I don’t have to mess with this.  Below is a view of the top of the page:

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For Macs, download this apple trusted ad blocker I found in their recommended apps.  It blocks all of those nasty ads! I’m not sure if it’s available for PCs, but you could investigate!









Option 3:

Some previous links are/will be available from the iTV website but you obviously have to have the ability to watch the player using options 1 or 2 above or clicking here:

Downton Abbey iTV Player

Get excited!

Support your local PBS station here in the U.S. who provides shows like Downton.

Share your favorite characters and scenes in the comments below!! What’s going to happen?!

Amazon has all three previous seasons on Instant Video so catch up on Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4, and Season 5 here.

Watch the trailer for Season 6 here.

If you decide to wait for the PBS U.S. air date, have fun waiting until:

January 3rd, 2016 !!! Crazy!

Follow my INSTAGRAM for updates and Downton era inspired recipes and cocktails!

Click on the above image to like my FACEBOOK PAGE so you can get the updates for NEW episodes.

Follow my Downton Abbey Pinterest board!!

Stick around and find us on:

F a c e b o o k // T w i t t e r // P i n t e r e s t // I n s t a g r a m // E m a i l

The Face of A Ten Year-Old


This is the face of a girl who thought she had Mom to herself for the weekend, while the boys were adventuring in the mountains. She would eventually wake up to find her brothers back at home again from camping because there was too much rain and cold weather up there. I’ll hold on to this moment, though, as a sweet time of enjoying girl talk. Topics included Disneyland, schnitzel, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, summer projects, cheese, and what it’s like to be “nearly 10”.

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