Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Longest (but fun) Update Ever - Six Months in a Nutshell

My beautiful, not-perfect but perfect for me crew.  How I love them!
Hello There.  It's been forever since I've written.  This launching my own business thing has been really time consuming and really exciting.  There are so many things that I want to write about and remember but time keeps flying by.  Here's a Cliff Notes version of all the things I intend(ed) to write about and haven't done yet.
my girls
my friend Diana snapped this picture of me and Alli.  We all keep telling her to launch a photography business cause she's so talented.  Hopefully she will soon!
Our daughter Alli (fourth grade, almost ten years old) is SO helpful.  Seriously.  It's like having another grown up around when she's in Helper Mode.  Yesterday she kept asking, "How can I help Mom?" and then doing whatever I asked with perfection.  We needed to bring treats to our church  party and on her own - from start to finish - she made Rice Krispie Treats.  She's also really good at doing hair and fashion.  We often draw straws to see who gets to do Paigey's hair.

Paige and Katie being goofy
Speaking of Paige (second grade, almost eight years old), I can't get over how smart and witty she is.   She keeps blowing me away with all the big words she uses correctly in context, the deep and intelligent thoughts she shares, and how stinkin funny she is.  She's super witty and her timing is really impeccable.  She has kept our family LAUGHING a lot lately.  Oh and her hair grows ridiculously fast.  It wasn't even two years ago that she donated almost a foot of her hair to Locks of Love and it's already halfway down her back again.

My Katie Girl
Our Katie Girl (sixth grade, eleven years old) is killing it in middle school.  She has embraced the additional responsibilities of multiple teachers, switching classes, and extra homework (not to mention getting up an hour earlier) with gusto.  She continues to impress me with how organized, efficient and smart she is. Last night she and a friend were doing homework together.  They texted me a math problem asking for help and I seriously had to sit down and think hard to try to figure it out.  They solved for the answer faster than I did.  SIGH...  Katie's weekend agenda is to take an online Babysitting Course this weekend to get certified to babysit.  WHAT?  This can't be happening.  We were just paying babysitters to watch her.

This kid and his personality...
Our One and Only son Grant (seventh grade, twelve years old) has become quite the musician.  I've always loved that when he finds a new interest or passion he embraces it with gusto.  He started drumming last year and has gotten really good at it.  He mowed lawns all spring and summer to save enough money to buy his own drum set.  He continues to market himself to the neighbors (and they continue to hire him because they're cool like that) and uses the money to add on to his drum set.  That he practices 24-7.  We had to set Drumming Hours to give us (and the neighbors) a little peace and quiet every once in a while.  Oh and he cooks bacon.  We collaborated on dinner the other night and Grant knocked it out of the park with his Bacon Cooking Skills.  I think he liked the Chef Perks of sneaking bacon before dinner.
Curt's Fan Club.  Wanna be a member?
Did I mention that my husband ran his first half marathon in (embarrassing pause here....) June?  I've been transferring "Write about Curt's half marathon" on my To Do list for almost six months.  So I'll cross it off now.  We were supposed to run this race together but I broke my foot training for a full marathon.  I switched to Main Cheerleader and rode my bike next to him on his long training runs.  I recruited a small army to come out and cheer for him and/or run with him on race day.  He never ran alone from mile three until the finish and I'm positive he had the largest cheering section at the finish.   So proud of this guy!
My Love
On a side note...  lately I have been blown away by my husband.  His depth of character.  His integrity.  His smokin hot good looks.  His sense of humor.  Kindness.  Compassion.  The way he serves our family.  His dedication to passionately know and serve Jesus.  This man gets up every morning around 5 a.m. to read his Bible and meet with Jesus.  He's like a fine wine that just gets better and better with age.  What a gift to do life with him.

My Mom and I on our birthday lunch outing.
This is Terry - my Mom's husband.  He and I are almost Birthday Twins so we celebrated our joint birthdays together.  There's 106 years of greatness between the two of us. 
My beautiful Mom has been through the ringer these past six months.  Her job was eliminated in April.  She had a total knee replacement a couple of weeks later and it's been one hurdle after another since then. Three separate strains of infection in the knee have led to three additional major surgeries (the next is coming up on December 12th).  Through it all she has been authentic in her pain and struggle, but ALWAYS coming back to her faith and trust in her Savior who loves her, cares for her, and heals.  She is so inspiring.
starting out

non-enhanced photo about 3/4 of the way to the summit

at this point we were one step forward, slide back two steps. Getting closer to the summit.

at the summit.  CRAZY!

where I ate lunch.  That's Broken Top Mountain way below me in the distance.
Curt and I had another epic Bucket List adventure together in August.  We summited the South Sister, the third tallest peak in all of Oregon.  At 10,358 feet of elevation we were on top of the world.  It was surreal to stand literally at the top of a mountain we've admired for years with clouds swirling around our heads and look down to see all the places we've backpacked before or earmarked to visit in the future.  The 12.5 mile hike was listed on our trail map as "STRENUOUS!" including the exclamation mark.  When we finished our summit adventure ten hours later we both felt it should have had multiple exclamation marks.  The thrill of adventure lingered for days.  (I am determined to actually write about this in more detail so it will stay on my To Do list.)

Some of my Sistas that I went to Haiti with.  The friendships that formed from that trip have been life-changing.
Kelly and Jenni
Mr. Handsome
Last week I celebrated my 39th birthday.  I have never had a birthday drag out so long in celebration and it has been SO fun.  My friend Molly and I think everyone should have a Birthday Month.  It's such a great excuse to get together with friends.  I've had one fun date after another with the incredible friends that God has blessed me with.
this was actually Sarai's birthday which is eleven days before mine, but it has the Big's in it.
birthday card box
Our relationships with our Big's (the adult "kids" that we count as our own) continue to grow and bless us.  It's hard to explain but we honestly feel as we have our four biological kids and then an entire handful additional of Bigs.  One of the sweetest birthday treats was getting card after card from the Littles and the Bigs all labeled to "Mama Jodi."  My cup overflows...
our dog Dusty is part dog/part human.  Here she is acting like a dog.  (This is rare).

Cape Lookout State Park

Curt took a day off work for my birthday and our family headed to the beach.  The weather was abnormally beautiful and we hiked five miles out to the end of Cape Lookout and back.  The kids never complained ONCE (that's a first for hiking) and they kept up at our normal hiking pace.  Again... when did they grow up?  We stopped at a little restaurant in the heart of the Coastal Mountains for dinner and ate super yummy, extra hot, and extra greasy homestyle cookin' for dinner. AMAZING!
some good looking "dudes" there... (we're missing a big chunk of our crew in this picture)
One of the birthday celebrations included running the Mustache Dache 5k with a bunch of my crazy neighborhood friends.  Kristen scoped out the race and let us all know to sign up for it.  Krysty came up with a team name (Femmstache Fatales) and Kristina designed a sweet logo.  On race day we had an entire team of Crazies wearing mustaches and fun shirts running the HILLIEST 5k ever.  It took every fiber in my being not to walk up the last and longest hill.  Somehow I ended up finishing in third place for the woman.  That's a first for me and something I doubt will ever be repeated again.  It must have been the fake mustache that made me faster than usual.

This was the setting for one of my photography shoots.  
Finally...  this photography business.  I'm in total awe of how God has flung open the floodgates of heaven and poured blessing after blessing on me.  God took one of the most terrifying and awful days of my life and used it as a catalyst to push me into the adventure of pursing my passion.  The short version of the Awful Day Story is that my camera took a nose dive off the top of a mountain when I was hiking by myself.  I was able to use the insurance money to replace the gear I lost with the specific equipment I needed to shoot portraits.  With that Jodi Stilp Photography was formed.
I took this picture using my Grandpa Wehler's camera lens that I inherited years ago when he graduated to heaven.  I had no idea it would work on my new camera.  What a gift!
People have come out of the woodwork to offer encouragement, their talent, and support to help me launch the business. has been purchased as a domain name and I have super talented friends helping me build a store/blog/gallery for the site.  Stay tuned for a launch in the next month or two.

I've been busy shooting portraits of one beautiful family after another.  I marvel that the images are turning out so beautifully in spite of my lack of experience.  I know the Lord is guiding my hands and creativity.  To Him be the glory!

So that's the last six months in a nutshell.  What's new with you?

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