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The O’Gradney Family | St. Petersburg Family Photography

This beautiful family came all the way from East Tampa for my holiday mini sessions and we had to scramble for a spot. The first one we chose had a constant line of rogue storms and the second location was blocked by construction vehicles. So we landed at the beach. And really, you can never go wrong at the beach in Florida. jograd5jograd6jogradblog3jogradblog4jogradblog7




The skateboard.

“The world will tell you how to live, if you let it. Don’t let it. Take up your space. Raise your voice. Sing your song. This is your chance to make or remake a life that thrills you.” – Shauna Niequist from Present Over Perfect



Finn saved his birthday money to buy a skateboard. He’d been talking about it for weeks and had his heart set on one. A green one, with dragons and red stripes and a shark- nothing specific.

So one Sunday, we went to Target and let him test all the skateboards they had.

Now, he had never been on a skateboard before. He’d seen something on a movie and couldn’t wait to do flips and go to the skatepark. Kyle and I told him gently, softly that skateboarding might be harder than it looked. But that he could do hard things with practice and with heart. And kneepads, elbow pads, his helmet and a bubble suit.

He test rode all the skateboards. All the skateboards that still had plastic on one wheel, making them infinitely slower. Making this dream of his seem possible under the fluorescent lights. We picked out safety gear, Darth Vader style, and off we went.

He stepped on in our front yard,  timidly and using his dad for support. But the sidewalk was too bumpy. So he went out into the street in front of our house. But after one step, he deemed the street too bumpy too. So we walked to the industrial building in our neighborhood- smooth, black asphalt and even a few slopes to really get some speed. Very skater-y. Nope. This one was too smooth, too fast.

We cheered him on and urged him to keep trying but eventually he came and sat on the curb next to us, sweaty and disappointed. And as he watched his older brother zoom past on his scooter, we saw him give up. I just want to scooter, he said.

But Kyle came to the rescue. My 6’2″ husband of the century laid himself down on that kid sized skateboard and rolled around on his belly, smiling and only looking slightly uncomfortable. Finn stood up from his spot on the curb.

And that’s how the next hour was spent. Rolling around on his belly, his safety gloves protecting his hands from the hot, August asphalt. He peppered in a few more tries standing up and when he came back inside, he was grinning. And already asking when he could do it again.


These kids, you guys. They are wise little souls. And so brave. How often do we quit something because it’s not perfect? Or the road is too bumpy or it’s not what we thought? Or something else goes zooming past us and we think, that looks easier. It has handlebars, I’ll just do that instead. Or we don’t even start something because the time isn’t perfect or it looks too hard from a distance, from our spot sitting on the curb.

Maybe it’s not about looking perfect doing something or looking like the picture on the box. Maybe it’ll take a few tries and some scrapes and scratches before we’re standing up. Maybe standing up isn’t even the funnest way to do it. Maybe we need to just lie down on our bellies and glide.


My favorite things for at home self care.

_SKH2758I cancelled my pedicure appointment.

And then I scheduled it and cancelled it four more times. Because I just didn’t want to go. I do this sometimes- let my introvert nature deform to recluse-hood.

But I just wanted to be home. So I cancelled.

Now, I know myself well enough to know that when I do things like this, I need some lovin’. I need to pause and pay attention and take better care of myself. So I keep a few favorites on hand at home. Here they are just in case you could use some lovin’ too.

A- Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed. Short & sweet and profound enough to knock you over when you need to be shaken up.

B- Herb & Irma Coconut Cilantro candle. Summery and not overpowering. More coconutty than cilantro. Plus, it’s at Target and I can usually talk myself into a trip to Target.

C- Renee Rouleau Anti Cyst Treatment. Often when I’m needing loving, so is my skin. This baby keeps the big blemishes at bay.

D- White Ayurvedic Chai tea by Teavana. Cinnamony and a little sweet. Best to drink from a cute mug while curled up under a blanket.

E- Beautycounter Lengthening Mascara. Safe and simply good mascara that makes me feel put together even if I’m in my pjs or racing out the door with a baseball hat on because we’re late to school again.

F- Sydney’s Australian Oil of Eucalyptus. A few squirts rubbed into my back or neck or feet or legs eases tension and soothes pain or soreness. Just avoid the eyes, people.

G- Aura Cacia Lavender Shower Tablets. Sometimes I don’t have time for a bath so I toss a half one of these into the shower and feel a little lighter and more relaxed. They’re a bit strong for me, so I just use a half a tablet.

By the way, I think the term ‘self care’ is becoming cliche. What do you call doing things for yourself so you don’t lose you ever loving mind?


Rest and motion.


I recently read this story by author/ teacher/psychologist Tara Brach…

“Mohini was a regal white tiger who lived for many years at the Washington D.C. National Zoo. For most of those years her home was in the old lion house—a typical twelve-by-twelve-foot cage with iron bars and a cement floor. Mohini spent her days pacing restlessly back and forth in her cramped quarters. Eventually, biologists and staff worked together to create a natural habitat for her. Covering several acres, it had hills, trees, a pond and a variety of vegetation. With excitement and anticipation they released Mohini into her new and expansive environment. But it was too late. The tiger immediately sought refuge in a corner of the compound, where she lived for the remainder of her life. Mohini paced and paced in that corner until an area twelve by twelve feet was worn bare of grass. ”

How often do we create our own prisons? How often do we tell ourselves a story- that we’re not beautiful, smart, funny, kind, generous, skinny, gracious, ambitious enough? And then we believe it. And we keep on believing it even when it’s disproven. Even when we’re loved by someone else and have the house and have the job and have the ‘life’?Even when all the things happen that we thought would set us free.

We continue to pace the 12×12 invisible cage waiting for freedom. We continue to be locked inside our own stories, wearing ourselves down. We ache for space and light and acres of rolling hills, and they’re right in front of us the whole time.

So how do we step outside? We just do. It’s often as simple and complex as that. We stretch, we stand up, we set ourselves in motion.

Me? I talk to myself. Now, a note of caution- I consider myself to be borderline woo-woo. Meaning, do I believe that what we think/say/do/ask for/wish for/dream has power and energy?

Yes, yes.

Do I think that staring at myself in the mirror while staring at my slightly puffy stomach and saying ‘You are thin and lithe and lean’ 500 times over will magic my puffiness away? No, I do not. But I do say something like this…

You are puffy. Yes, yes you are. And that’s okay. Puffy is okay when you’ve had the sort of week/month/year/life you’ve had. Puffy is good and true and honest. Being puffy doesn’t mean that much. It means you’re puffy. Big deal. So someone calls you puffy or even the dreaded ‘F’ word. Big deal-we probably don’t like them anyway. But puffy doesn’t feel good. So let’s move a little more today than we did yesterday. Let’s stretch our toes and drink our water and turn off the TV. Let’s put on mascara and choose something to wear that feels good, in spite of (not despite) our puffiness. Let’s get outside and feel warm and let’s laugh a lot.

Saying things like that to myself feels like a step outside the 12×12 invisible cage. It’s the sort of thing I’d say to a dear friend if they stood in front of me scared and sad and hopeless. I wouldn’t lie or say they never looked better or told them they were crazy. I wouldn’t coddle them either. I’d be gentle and acknowledge the story that was true for them. And then I’d help them start to step outside.

Growth is hard and that’s really what this is all about. Growing. I’m convinced it takes periods of rest and motion.

Rest and motion.


Then, motion.

You’re not destined to pace a 12×12 invisible cage. You’re meant for acres and hills and expansion.

Keep moving.



P.S. If you’re also borderline woo-woo or especially all the way woo, you’ll love Tara Brach’s podcast found here.



Internet Mixed Tape | Week of 4/18


image via Domino from @joyfulfour

This mixed tape of internet goodness are some of my favorite things I’ve read/seen/heard lately. Enjoy 🙂

They’re gracing design blogs everywhere & are easily snagged at Home Depot, this article about caring for the ever popular & super picky Fiddle Leaf Fig: see it here

This video from one dad about being a slave to his toddler: see it here

For the green thumbs or really ambitious parents, how to create a Bean Pole Teepee in your yard: see it here

Parent Hacks, enough said. I especially love the toilet paper marker & the cup magnets. And I can tell you from experience that the splinter remover & lego bag are amazing: see them all here

This post on Not Carpe Diem-ing is one I’ve read, oh about, three hundred times. If you’ve ever had someone tell you to “Enjoy every moment” of raising your children while the children are simultaneously wreaking havoc, this one’s for you: see it here