Jul 12, 2015

that one time i quit all social media...

toward the end of 2014, i started missing real, genuine human interaction. you know, like in the 90’s when you were hanging out with someone and the only real distraction from your conversations was the sound of your favorite boys II men jam coming on the radio or an occasional beeper going off.

i missed the eye contact exchanged when out to eat with a friend you hadn’t seen in forever. when their eyes weren’t constantly wandering over to their phone on the table while you were talking. i missed the creativity i felt before houzz or pinterest, and having to come up with things to photograph or write about or ways to decorate my home on my own. i missed holidays when i would look around the room and not everyone had their eyes glued to their phone, endlessly scrolling to see what others were doing and saying instead of living in the moment. when family members were actually intently watching the children laughing and playing or were sitting around the dining table talking about old times. i missed looking up recipes in physical recipe books and i longed for my old paper day planner calendar with the multicolored ink pens. i missed having to stop and think about who the hell that one actor is that was in that one movie i saw one time with that one actress without quickly pulling up IMDB. and those giant paper maps that you can so easily open up while driving and find where that new italian restaurant is that got 5 stars. okay. i'm lying on those last two.

i missed my own thoughts. the times when i was “bored” and had to sit and daydream or read a paperback or call up a friend or relative i hadn’t spoken to in a while. as i rang in 2015, like many, i got to thinking about things i would like to change in my life. that's when i decided to quit social media. cold turkey.

now, you have to know that i didn’t find social media to be totally evil. in fact, the basis of my entire photography business was started with and thrived through social media and i am forever grateful for the opportunities that came along with that. i was more feeling like i needed a break from our new “culture” and needed to find my own kind of healthy relationship with it. because i had already decided to take a break from my business for a while, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

as i mentioned in my previous blog post, i've realized i’m apparently kind of an EXTREME, (okay, let’s just call me passionate?) person. not only did i get off of social media, i temporarily deactivated my facebook account and removed all social media apps from my phone. i felt like it was the only way to really get off the sauce.

the first week was eye opening. every time i had a second of down time, my first instinct was to pick up my phone and scroll something. i caught myself reaching for my phone dozens of times those first few days. that’s when i really realized the unhealthy relationship i had with my phone. it felt weird to take a photo that i loved or experience something great and not share it. dumb, right? i didn’t know what my friends and family were doing all the time and i had several friends text me telling me they missed me on social media and wanted to get together. it was almost like old times when you had to really interact with humans instead of just “liking” those pics your bff posted from their fabulous vacay on facebook. i mean, what sets your relationship with your best friends apart from what they have with strangers online if you are just seeing the same posted content of their life experiences and rarely actually hanging out or speaking?

instagram was the hardest for me to let go of. i love photography. obviously. but, really i loved capturing moments and having that documentation of mine and my children’s daily lives. i loved seeing the way others captured what could otherwise be mundane moments and being a voyeur of such in other creative’s lives. some of my most treasured possessions are the  “our life in 201x...” albums of all of our instagram photos from each year. i found that because i wasn’t posting on instagram, i pretty much stopped taking photos altogether.

i guess because i enjoy a good challenge, for a while i found myself really proud of myself for being more present in moments and going from scrolling so often to being somewhat content with never doing it at all. but. i missed photographing my life. i missed my creative outlet. it seemed like every time i spoke with someone they were referencing what they posted or saw on some aspect of social media. i missed reading blogs and sharing my writing. i missed seeing photos of my friend’s children. i missed knowing what was going on in the news or pop culture or seeing posts about new good food around austin. all of the things i had previously convinced myself were not important and were distracting me from living life. i missed them.

and then i realized... all of those things are not evil. social media isn’t the reason i love writing or reading blogs. it’s not the reason i love photography or seeing other people’s creations. i’ve been into pop culture for as long as i can remember and have always loved being in-the-know about happenings around my city. social media didn’t change me. in some ways it helped my interests thrive. the world has become social media obsessed and that’s okay. as one of my most disliked expressions goes- “it is what it is". i can't fight it but i can make sure that my phone doesn't interfere with being present in mine and my children's lives and teach them appropriate phone manners.

my 2 month break from facebook and blogs, and my 6 month break from instagram broke my habit of scrolling and helped me find my own healthy balance. first thing i did when reconnecting was turn off all of my notifications from my apps and emails. imagine- only looking at your apps and emails when you feel like it, rather than every few minutes when your phone tells you to. i’m not a slave to you, little red balloon!

for the past few months i’ve really been enjoying reading and posting and creating again. i’m not worrying about what others think of my posts because it is my creative outlet and no one has to follow me. and as for phone etiquette, i realize that i can’t change other’s actions and i can’t control their interest in having a phone-free conversation or holiday and i’m sure that will always aggravate me to a certain extent. however, i can control my own behavior and i feel like my friends and family that take time out of their lives for me deserve my total undivided... what was i saying?... attention.... oh! hey. wait! don’t move! let me take a pic of that real quick...

Jul 7, 2015


well, it has been over a YEAR since i last blogged. a lot of changes have occurred in the time that i haven’t been writing. our baby boy was born, i temporarily(?) retired from the photography biz, i found a love for working out and nutrition and lost 55 pounds of baby weight, my husband started a political campaign, i quit social media for a few months and LOTS more. i’ve been itching to get back into writing but just like with anything else, once i get out of practice it’s hard for me to start back up! so to assist me in dusting off my keyboard and getting the bloggin’ juices flowing again, i’m going to write a few facts about myself...

my photography clients and social-media-only friends know me as ‘holly B.’. my middle name is beth and my grandma always calls me holly B. i had a lot of other nicknames growing up but ‘bubble butt’ photography didn’t have as good of a ring to it... 

my husband and i have been together for over 14 years, married for seven of those years. he’s a police sergeant and politician. when i met him, he was on the SWAT team and i only knew him as “Rios”. we were pretty much opposites in personalities and interests, but somehow have grown to be more of the same throughout the years. 

being a travis county sheriff officer’s wife is a big part of my identity. i also grew up as a daughter of both a travis county sheriff’s employee and officer so it’s all i’ve ever known. it’s a culture in and of itself... a lifestyle, an extended family, a unique bond. something i’m super proud to be a part of.

i’m a stay-at-home mom to two children- a four year old daughter and a one year old son. they already display so many similarities to our personalities- she’s goofy and high maintenance and he’s completely chill and laid back. 

my mom is my bff. we talk a dozen times a day. 

my husband and i are both native austinites and i’m one of those annoying proud-to-be-from-austin enthusiasts. 

i consider myself pretty self aware but somehow only recently realized what an extremist i am. i have two speeds- i’m either obsessively all in or all out... when it comes to organization, fitness, nutrition, relationships, business, and even social media, (and blogging, obviously). i’ve decided to look at it as a positive thing because i never really half-ass anything. ;)

sweets are my enemy. i don’t know how to eat just a bite of something with sugar- i will lick a plate completely clean if it’s in front of me even if it's not a sweet that i really love, all the while aware of the impending sick feeling i will have approximately 5 minutes after consumption. 

i’m a music enthusiast and i love all genres. well, not country music with the exception of some old stuff like george strait and willie nelson. i’ve been obsessed with steven tyler and aerosmith since i went to their concert at age 14 and blacked out in the front row from the august heat. i’ve seen them countless times in concert and i get chills seeing him on stage every. single. time. i love classic rock, 90’s alternative and could surprise some people as to how much hip hop and rap i know (and can dance to- WHAT?!).

i’m the only democrat in my family. 

i'm a pop culture enthusiast and love reading or watching biographies of musicians or celebrities.

i’m super sentimental, especially when it comes to my family and my own childhood.

a big part of my childhood i lived in the country. i frequented rodeos, rode horses and could dance a mean cotton-eyed-joe. i never felt like i quite fit into that culture and have always identified as a city girl. 

i love Jesus but i cuss a little. 

i’m really passionate about diversity. i grew up going to a lot of different schools and have been around people of all colors and all walks of life. differences and acceptance are one of the most important things i want my children to learn. 

sociology classes were always my favorite in college- but for some reason i chose a criminal justice degree and ended up a probation officer for 3 years. i never felt like i was in the right job and craved a more creative career. 

i wanted to be a business owner when i was a little girl i was always filling out forms, dreaming up ideas and making up businesses. i once had a puff paint shirt business with a friend in middle school, complete with a cash register and invoices. 

nothing is more of a turn off to me than a person who acts superior to others.

i have a form of OCD in where i constantly count letters in the words i hear or read... most of the time i don’t even realize i’m doing it. i think this is why i kick ass when watching wheel of fortune.

i have a big fat crush on both andy cohen and jeff lewis. 

speaking of Bravo tv, i’m a real housewives super fan.

sometimes i hang out with my photographer friends and pose in parking garages. ;)

May 14, 2014

home tour continued: baby nursery

a friend of ours made this little bookshelf for us, which looks a lot like the pottery barn shelves i had been eyeing. score!

^^^ the zigzags are covering up his name, which i debated on sharing already since i'm really excited about the letter project i saved so much money on! anthropologie has zinc letters for $18 each, which i didn't want to spend. instead, i got some hollow cardboard letters from hobby lobby on sale for $1 each and sprayed them with titanium metal paint. you would never know they are paper and light as a feather!

one of the first pieces i bought for the room was this pillow, on clearance at target. i loved the color combination and used it as my inspiration for the room. 

those of you who know me, know that i'm a *tad* obsessed with aerosmith... so when i saw this metal art, i knew i HAD to have it for the nursery!

i wanted something untraditional for his mobile, and i thought this fit right in with the room.

i love that fisher price is selling all of these old school toys as new again, with a vintage twist. i found so many rock n roll themed baby books on amazon too... who knew?!

i ordered the free trial diaper kit from the honest company. their diaper designs are super cute and i love that if you sign up, they get delivered to your doorstep monthly. i'm just waiting to see how absorbent they are. if you have used them, let me know your thoughts!

my awesome and SUPER thoughtful friend rachael gave me this framed print after she found out i was doing a rock music themed room. it's the lyrics to john lennon's "beautiful boy" song. and it's possible that i cry every time i hear this song. ;)

one of my all time favorite songs... i loved these music sheet prints i found on easy and special ordered one with these elton john lyrics. 

my favorite little nook in the room. i WISH i could find an actual yellow submarine album cover, but until then i had this printed. i love the colors and cartoon look of it... and of course i love the beatles! also pictured is a little beatles submarine i found on amazon and a few rockabye baby cd's... they are my FAVE! we had the aerosmith one for our daughter and recently added elton john and the beatles to the collection. if you're not familiar, they are music only lullaby versions of artist's hit songs. selfishly i enjoy these much more than kid songs... and i get to subliminally brainwash my kids to recognize the music of my favorite rock artists! bonus!

curtains: target

"dream" metal art: etsy, INSPIREMEtals

chair: ikea

pillow: target

ottoman: target

paper star mobile: etsy, AtelierByElla

lamp: target

floor and shelf baskets: all from target

"your song" print: etsy, TexasGirlDesigns

wood and metal shelf: land of nod

ceiling light: ikea

May 12, 2014

how wonderful life is...

the smell of lemon pledge filled the air while she she walked around the house using an old frayed rag to wipe the furniture. in the shelf near the television was a record player with the clear plastic lid open and the album spinning round and round. i watched the needle making contact with the record while listening to her sing along to bennie and the jets by elton john. 

my mother always kept a clean house and every weekend i watched and often times helped her with the chores. many times neither of us would feel like cleaning, so she would look at me with big, enthusiastic eyes and run to the record player to put on one of his albums. like pavlov’s dog, i always responded to the sound of his music by standing up and getting in the cleaning mood.

elton john has been a part of my life as long as i can remember. in fact, i was probably dancing to crocodile rock in the womb. still to this day when i need energy to get the house clean, i turn on his music and think of my mom. only these days, i listen to my elton playlist on my iPhone on bluetooth speaker. technology may have changed over the years but one thing has remained the same… elton rocks my socks off and every time i hear him, my heart explodes with love for my mom.

this past saturday night was such a special night. i attended the elton john concert with friends, and most importantly, with the woman who introduced the talented piano player to my life. below is a snapshot taken of my mom and i singing along while he sang your song. mom, i know it’s called your song but i’d like to rename it our song.

Apr 22, 2014

the dreadful secret club...

it was like a scene from a movie. one of those where the voices around you start to sound muffled and this sort of haze comes over you. everything seemed like it was going in slow motion. my vision was blurred from the tears that were pouring from my eyes and i felt like the wind was knocked out of me. “i don’t see a heart beat” were the words ringing in my head. suddenly my legs felt like they weighed a ton and were stuck to the paper on the patient bed. i looked at my husband’s face... it was an expression i had never seen before on him. one of sadness, but strength. he squeezed my hand with one of his and put his other arm around my back.  i remember my doctor placing her hand on my knee and softly saying something about statistics and how common miscarriages are and attempting to comfort me. she spoke a bit about how to schedule my D&C but was mostly speaking to my husband, as she could tell i wasn’t going to absorb any information at that time. a few minutes later a counselor came in with some brochures on miscarriage support groups. i was crying uncontrollably at that point... an emotion i had never felt. it was time to walk out to the car and i vaguely remember them escorting us to a side door and stairwell. i don’t know if they were not wanting me to walk through the waiting room full of pregnant women for my sake or for theirs... probably a combination of both. i remember putting my sunglasses on inside to hide my eyes and my husband holding me tightly and guiding me down the stairs and to the car. i felt like i was floating. surely this was all just a bad dream and i would wake up from this nightmare any minute...

we had been trying to get pregnant for over a year. it was a long, frustrating 12 months. when we finally had that first positive test, we were over the moon excited. we went to our first ultrasound at 6 weeks and saw a small blurb on the screen. we went home and told most of our family and friends and i read every pregnancy book i could get my hands on. i remember seeing chapters on miscarriage and loss, and i would always skip over those. they didn’t apply to me. that kind of thing would never happen and was so rare. right? 

after that second ultrasound at 10 weeks, we realized the baby had not grown since the 6 week check up, but my body was not getting rid of it on it’s own. we scheduled a D&C for a few days later. i remember i couldn’t even call my mom when we got home from the doctor that day. like, somehow saying the words would make it too real. my husband made the phone calls and sent texts. i couldn’t talk about it or deal with anyone’s condolences. i went in and out of being totally numb to sobbing like a baby. i remember trying to sleep through those first few nights, but i would just lie in the dark feeling heartbroken. every few hours i would cry and my husband would hold me tight and whisper words of strength to me. the surgery came and went and the finality of that made me feel a little more closure, but at the time it felt like i would never feel “normal” again. as soon as i would feel like i was moving on, i would get news of another person in my life being pregnant or i would get an email from one of the many baby and pregnancy websites i had signed up on, and it would send me into a tailspin of emotions. 

it was amazing to hear how many other people had gone through that kind of loss. it was like some secret club... one that no one wanted to be a part of. the outpouring of love and personal stories that people privately shared with me gave me comfort. it helped with the healing knowing that i wasn’t alone... which is exactly how i had been feeling. totally alone. i had always wanted to be a mom. it never crossed my mind until that moment that maybe it wasn’t in the cards for me. and if it wasn’t... how would i fill that void?

we were very blessed in that six months later, we got pregnant with our daughter. i was nervous the first trimester, but we went on to have a very healthy pregnancy and baby girl. my dreams of becoming a mother came true and having her made me realize all the more what a sweet little miracle babies are. 

unfortunately, that dreaded OB ultrasound visit played out again about a year after my daughter was born. we ended up having two more miscarriages back to back, within only a few months of each other. the heartbreak of the losses felt just as deep as the first, but somehow my heart seemed to toughen a bit with each one. so much so that i was pretty sure i wasn’t going to ever put myself through the possibility of that pain again. i convinced myself that my daughter would be an only child and i was okay with that. if it was in God’s plan for us to not have any more children, how could i be upset with that? our daughter was enough of a blessing.

i’m now sitting here 7 months pregnant with our son, which still feels crazy to say. when i was pregnant with our daughter, i was “present” and excited the entire time. this pregnancy has felt much more surreal, which i assume is because of all that we have been through to get to this point. the first trimester was hell. every time i went into an ultrasound, i had this terrible PTSD feeling just knowing that would be the day we got bad news again. i couldn’t let myself get excited because i just knew i would only be disappointed again soon. now at 33 weeks, i finally leave my doctor’s visits with a sense of “oh my gosh... this is actually happening. we are really having another baby,” as if it can’t quite sink in and my mind and heart are subconsciously not giving in to the extreme levels of joy that i would normally feel. 

in the past few years i have had several friends that have struggled with infertility, in all different ways. from miscarriages, to many rounds of IUI and IVF procedures, i’ve seen their pain and their struggles and have heard that “alone” feeling in their voices. just this week one of my closest friends who has had the toughest and longest fertility battle of anyone i have personally known welcomed twin boys. the joy i see in her now is so overwhelming... and yet another reminder to me of God’s love for us.  

as private as those terrible times in my own life have been, i’ve been feeling a pull to tell my story lately. not for sympathy, but to let anyone out there that is going through something similar know that they are NOT alone. there were times during my lowest days where i would search for positive stories on message boards and groups online. they were not always easy to find in the mix of all of the horror stories, but just that one story with a happy ending did wonders for my outlook. i just needed to hear someone else's experience that possibly ended in a successful pregnancy. something to squash the negative thoughts. to give me hope. that's why i'm sharing this today... in hopes that i can be that one story that lifts the spirits of someone suffering.

while i don’t let our miscarriages and those feelings of loss define me, the experiences are definitely a part of who i am today. i know now that even in the darkest hours, when things feel like they will never get better, they WILL. God has a plan for me and it will be shown to me in His time. a few weeks from now when we welcome our baby boy, i will take in each moment and remind myself that this life and these joyous times should never be taken for granted. i may have been taken on a different journey to get to this point than i would have imagined, but it's just a reminder that things are not always in my control, and it never hurts to dream until your dreams come true

Apr 13, 2014

currently obsessed with... {healing clay}

y'all. i LOVE this face mask combo. facial blemishes have been just one of many of my pregnancy hormonal side effects lately. when a friend told me about this mask, i was anxious to give it a go. i found both ingredients at whole foods. combined it only cost about $12, and you need so little of them that they will go a long way.

i've figured out that i only need about a tablespoon of each to make plenty for one application. my only problem with the mask is that i hate the smell of vinegar... but i'm happy to put up with that for a few minutes for the results i've gotten from using the mask.  i've been using it about three times a week and i see a definite difference in my skin. from what i read about it, the natural green clay draws out impurities from your skin and eliminates toxins. i usually get a lot of "build up"and bumps on my chin and around my mouth and i've seen a significant decrease. it has also left my skin silky smooth which is, well... awesome.

mix equal parts of the clay and vinegar, (about a tablespoon of each to start with). apply it with clean fingers to your cleansed face. the mask will dry super stiff. honestly, the first time i did it i had a little panic attack when i felt how stiff it made my face when it dried, but no worries... it rinsed right off. ;) i've read that you can leave it on for about 20 minutes, but if you have sensitive skin like i do, try starting with 10. i've learned that around 15 minutes is plenty for me. rinse with warm water and then apply your usual moisturizer. i will warn you that your face may be red after, but for me that goes away in about 10 minutes.

enjoy! let me know if you try it and how it worked for you!