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Chicago, IL

One Chicago Momma, photographing little people, home educating in the Classical Christian theory and editing images into the wee hours of the morning . . . powered by Starbucks & Dr Pepper.


Tiaras & Tantrums focuses on family, travel, photography, education and food. I offer photography sessions product reviews, travel reviews, education reviews and anything else I feel like writing about.

{Editor’s Note: I am VERY interested in doing more travel blogging. If you are putting together a blogger group for a client – I would love to discuss details.}

If you would like more information about Tiaras & Tantrums or are looking to have your product reviewed, please contact me at

Hatching Quail Eggs


My children are pros at hatching eggs by now. We are in our fifth year of home educating and have hatching chicken eggs every spring. However, this school year, I wanted to do something a bit differently. I wanted to educate my children on the process of hatching game birds, so we decided to hatch quail eggs.

We are using the Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 1 book this year in Science and lessons 2-5 are all about birds. Birds are creatures that were created on day 5 and we are studying most of them through fun activities. One of the amazing activities is hatching quails.

Quails belong to the Phasianidae family of short-tailed game birds. There are about 95 species of quail birds. The Phasianidae family is divided into two sub families: Phasianinae and Perdicinae. These birds build their nests in tall grasses in plains and farmlands. They are heard more often than seen due to their really good camouflage. These birds are often hunted as game birds and today are very commonly raised for eggs and meat.

But we are just hatching the quails for fun and will return the little quails to the local farmer who was so wonderful to donate the eggs for our Science class.

I hatched our quail eggs in an air incubator that has a fan for for circulating air and heat. I also have an automatic egg turner on my incubator. I just purchased this egg turner this year and what a time saver! I really didn't want to handle the tiny quail eggs and possibly damage them in any way. So an egg turner is  a wonderful investment.

Quail Eggs

I received 24 fertile quail eggs from a wonderful local man. who donated them for our school. But you can search for local farmers in your own area.  A fertile quail egg will have a strong shell. Place the eggs in the incubator very gently and carefully. You need to adjust the light, heat, and humidity inside the incubator according to the instructions on the machine. I did this one day prior to placing the eggs in the incubator to ensure all was well.

The humidity level should be about 55% to 60% during incubation and 75% to 85% after hatching. The temperature should be close to 100ºF throughout the entire incubation period. Place the egg with the small, pointed end facing downwards. If you do not have an auto turner, turn the eggs yourself at least three times a day, although I really recommend an egg turner!

The humidity levels needs to be carefully monitored. Many quail eggs fail to hatch if the humidity is too high. The humidity levels should be about 60% and the water trough needs to be filled(or checked) every day. Usually, after about 17 to 19 days, depending upon the species, the eggs will hatch.

Baby Quails Hatching
Hatching Baby Quails
Hatching Baby Quails

The automatic egg turner needs to be turned off at day 14 - three days before the predicted hatch date. Once the eggs hatched, my children were so excited to remove the new hatchlings at once. It is really hard not to keep peeking inside the incubator. But it is best to let them fluff out and not remove them. All the other eggs still need time to crack open and if you keep opening and closing the incubator, the humidity levels are decreased and possibly not enabling the other eggs to continue to hatch.  After about six to seven hours transfer them to a your bin you have set up already.

Hached Baby Quail
Newly Hatched Baby Quails
Baby Quails

We use a red 100-watt bulb and lower the temperature by 3 degrees every week. If you find the babies huddling together, it means you need to increase the temperature.
This morning I took half the quails to school and they will travel until the end of the semester to families for one week so all the children can enjoy them. We kept six quails and will take these back to the farmer next week.

Newly hatched Quail

We have 12 healthy quails and they are so beautiful! Beautiful eggs produces beautiful quails! My children are so smitten and don't want to give them up.

Baby Quail
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Homemade DQ Buster Bar Dessert Cake {Recipe}


Summer is over and we are right in the beginning of fall. It is true. I'm yearning for the hot days of summer and fabulous summer desserts. My children asked me for one of their favorites over the weekend and I was delighted to make it.  This dessert cake is similar to the Dairy Queen Buster Bar dessert, but without the peanuts.  I am not a fan of peanuts IN my food. In my humble opinion, mine is sooo much better! It is so super simple to make, great on a hot summer day OR a cool fall day and pleases everyone in the family! 

Homemade Buster Bar Dessert Cake Recipe

Homemade DQ Buster Bar Dessert Cake

2 pkgs Oreo cookies crushed in a baggie (let your kiddos smash away)

1 stick of butter, melted

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream slightly softened (any flavor will work, but we love vanilla)

1 - 2 bottles Hot Fudge Sauce, softened slightly in microwave.

1 large container Cool Whip, thawed slightly (or MORE if you need more)

Remove some of the crushed cookies to spread over the top of the cake when completed,  cookies. about Blend cookies and melted butter in a large bowl and combine well. Press into 9×13 pan to create crust. You may either scoop out your slightly melted ice cream and spread OR simply cut your ice cream into ¾″ to 1″ slices and lay on top of crust. Place in the freezer until the ice cream is firm again. (approximately ½ an hour) Next, drizzle the hot fudge topping over the ice cream, you may use as little or as much as you want. My children tend to be a bit heavy handed in this step (YUM!)  Put it back into the freezer and allow the chocolate sauce to freeze and harden. (approximately 20-30 min.) Once the chocolate sauce is frozen, cover it with the Cool Whip and the remaining crushed cookies and re-freeze until this topping is hard. (approximately 1 hour) Once all the ingredients are frozen, the dessert is ready to slice and enjoy!

Homemade Buster Bar Dessert Recipe

There is nothing better than this Homemade DQ Buster Bar Dessert Cake to bring back wonderful memories of a summer day!

Homemade Buster Bar Dessert Recipe

If you love dessert or chocolate or Oreos or whipping cream or chocolate . . . you will LOVE this dessert . . . It really is hard to just have ONE slice!

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Universal's Studios & Islands of Adventure AND #FamilyForward


So much to do! So much to see! So much to show! So many adventures! So many pictures! We spent an amazing long weekend in Florida over Labor Day and had a blast with the #FamilyForward team.


An amazing view of  the Incredible Hulk Coaster, Doctor Doom's Fear Fall and The Amazing Adventure of Spider-Man in Universal's Islands of Adventure in Marvel Super Hero Island.

If you have young paleontologists in our home, like I do, the Jurassic Park Discovery Center is a must-see. Jurassic Park Discovery Center is an indoor educational exhibit and discovery area. It is located in Jurassic Park at Islands of Adventure. There are life-sized dinos to explore and the most amazing is the visit to the nursery to watch a Velociraptor hatch in a lab . . . which if you are lucky enough to be selected . . . you get to name!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter -Diagon Alley

You must simply take a ride on the Hogwarts Express at the Hogsmeade Station . . . and take the Hogwarts Express ride back at the King's Cross Station and don't forget to look for the 9¾ platform. Yes, Hogwarts Express can carry you from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley . . .  or from Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure.

One simply MUST catch the fire-breathing dragon by day and by night!

You also must walk around The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Just wander about . . . gaze upon the stores, go into the stores, watch Celestina Warbeck perform, see the Hogwarts students and the croaking frogs, catch the Triwizard Spirit Rally, have lunch at the Leaky Cauldron and then have dinner at Three Broomsticks (or vice versa) . . . be sure to have plenty of Butter Beers and never share!!, stock up on all the wizarding supplies from Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods and Ollivanders . . . and Fizzing Whizzbees and Chocolate Frogs from HoneyDukes is something that can not be passed by. Oh, do not pass by one single attraction! They are all A-MAZ-ING! Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (our family favorite), Flight of the Hipposgriff, Dragon Challenge - BOTH sides, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and end your night at The Knight Bus! Chat with the Knight Bus Conductor and the shrunken head and be left rolling in laughter as you exit Universal.

Character Sightings

An Universal Adventure would not be complete without visiting some characters sprinkled throughout the park. Whether you adore super heroes, Dr. Seuss, comic books,  Hollywood or movie favorites such as Shrek or the Transformers . . . you can fit in a snap shot of your favorite. The joy on your children's faces will keep you happy for years!


#FamilyForward Workshops

We traveled to Orlando to spend time together. As my children are growing, the time we are all able to spend together is dwindling. I actually have to schedule family time now and this makes me a bit sad. However, there was nothing but joy filling up our souls at the #FamilyForward Retreat.

We stayed at the gorgeous Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort and I will happily tell anyone I encounter to stay there. Beautiful hotel, fabulous accommodations, delicious restaurants, fun pools and really just super convenient.

The morning kicked off with Doh Vinci. My girls were so excited to sample these new products. They saw the new commercials on television and when I told them one of our family workshops would include creating a masterpiece with #DohVinci . . . well, I had to plug my ears from their excitement! They had loads of fun!

The morning continued on with a chat with a couple of SouthWest Air "Super Heroes" pilots. The children had a wonderful time interacting with these pilots.

We had a fun and interactive lunch workshop on the agenda next. Barilla spoke with us about creating meaningful memories over dinner. This is something I already do at home, so I was pleased that we are on the right path at dinner time. The issue we have now is our busy schedules and getting in enough family meals during the week. I'm a bit of a control freak and don't like messes, so I need to remember to let my children help out in the dinner-making-process! I intend to continue to make meals meaningful and #ShareTheTable with Barilla.

When I was growing up, the rule in my home was, you had to eat dinner together . . . there was never an acceptable excuse. I was almost suspended from cheerleading because my father wouldn't let me leave until I ate dinner with him instead of rushing off to cheer at a football game. I still remember that moment quite clearly and how passionate he was that we must eat together every single day. I do that in my house as well, but I don't think I am as strict as my father was.

The afternoon workshop was presented by Animal Jam and I think the kids favorite. There was a LIVE crocodile. Dr Brady Barr spoke with the children and his enthusiasm for animals was infectious! The entire room was buzzing with excitement! Especially after a "sleeping" croc flipped off the table and was lose on the floor!

We ended the afternoon with a pool party at the newly opened Cabana Bay Beach Resort. This is Universal's fourth hotel at Orlando. This resort is a fun beach resort themed from the 50's and 60's and is loaded with amazing amenities.

The evening ended with  . . . . BLUE MAN GROUP!!!!!!!!! My husband and I have sen a performance before and were excited for the children to see these Blue Dudes! We knew they would love it and these Blue Men did not disappoint.

I must give some attention to the Universal CityWalk as well as there are some delicious restaurants to visit. Antojitos Authentic Mexican or VIVO! Italian Kitchen are a couple of the newest restaurants to open. Delicious menus!

End your evenings by taking in Universal's Cinematic Spectacular - 100 Years of Movie Memories. A beautiful tribute to 100 years of film making amidst the fountains and couple with fireworks.  You can walk to the water taxi  and enjoy a quick ride back to your resort.

We all had an amazing time at the #FamilyForward Retreat and created some beautiful family memories. We are back in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives here in Chicago and trying to  savor all our memories until next year!

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M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats


I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HeroesEatMMs

M&M's® Captain America Captain Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats

Everyone loves a marshmallow treat bar, but have you ever tried one with a different cereal? Marshmallow treat bars are super easy to make since there is no baking involved. I wanted to create a superheroes marshamallow treat bar for my kids for the movie release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. What better cereal to use than Cap'n Crunch! Toss in some bright M&M's and I have the perfect Captain Crunch Bars with M&Ms.
M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats

These treat bars are basically a krispie treat ramped up. Using a sugary cereal like Cap'n Crunch makes these marshmallow treats quite tasty and colorful.  Since I wanted to celebrate the DVD release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I thought the Cap'n Crunch Berry Flavor was the perfect choice, they are fun and bright and delicious.

M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats

My son has been waiting (and waiting) for Captain America: The Winter Soldier to be released forever. He has been counting down to the day. We have been going to the movies all summer long and every time we exit the theater he simply states, "It wasn't as good as The Winter Solider". It is his favorite movie. Hands down.

M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats

What is the perfect way to celebrate than to make a M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Cake. The Cap'n Crunch Oops! All Berries just jumped right into my shopping cart. Thankfully, my local Walmart carries Birthday Cake M&M's so I could easily create the shield on my krispie cake. Plus, they are all on sale at a great price which is the best part. Simply purchase any two (2) M&M's® Brand Chocolate Candies and Captain America: The Winter Soldier DVD at Walmart AND get $5.00 OFF!


Let’s check out the ingredients.

Captain Crunch Cereal, butter, marshmallows, and…. M&M's.

M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats

Here’s how to make it. Dump 2 boxes of Cap'n Crunch Oops! All Berries into a large bowl and separate the blue and red cereal from the rest of the cereal. This is a fabulous task for your little ones.  Add the cereal in a large bowl, and set aside.

M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats

Melt the butter in the microwave. Next, add the marshmallows to a medium size glass bowl that can go in the microwave.

M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats

Add the melted butter in the bowl with the marshmallows and fully coat the marshmallows.

M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats
M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats

Heat the marshmallows and butter in the microwave for about 3 minutes or just enough so that the marshmallows start to melt. Then stir the marshmallows and butter together until smooth and creamy. Add the marshmallow mixture to the bowl of cereal and gently stir all ingredients together until the cereal is coated.

M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats
M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats
M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats
M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats

Coat two 8 inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and then add the marshmallow and cereal mixture to it. Use a buttered spatula, wax paper, or add water to your hands to gently press the mixture evenly into the pan. Let cool. Once cool, take the krispie cakes out of the pans and stack on top of each other. Use wax paper or your hands to gently mold in place. Next, create your captain America shield using RED & BLUE M&M's on the top of the Cap'n Crunch cake.

M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats

We enjoyed our  M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats and Captain American: The Winter Soldier. I will agree with my son, it was a fantastic movie. I can't wait for the next one!

I took the fun quiz at HeroesEatM&Ms(DOT)com to find out what super hero I am and happily I am just like Captain America! Go find out what super hero you are most like!

Like Captain America, patriotism, idealism, and class are pillars of your life. You are brave, and above all else, you do what you believe is right. You stand up for the underdog and protect the people that you care about. You are not loud or overstated and your friends and family look to you to set an example.

M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats


10 Tbsp of butter
50 regular marshmallows
8-10 cups Captain Crunch Oops! All Berries Flavor



Melt butter over low heat or in the microwave. Add marshmallows and stir until all are fully coated. Microwave for 1 min. Stir until they are all melted and smooth.

When the marshmallows are all melted, stir in the cereal. With greased hands, press the mixture into a greased 8 inch round cake pan. Let cool for several hours, then decorate with M&M's and cut.


M&M's® Captain America Cap'n Crunch Marshmallow Treats

Who is your favorite super hero? What super hero do you think you are most like?

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New Family Traditions #StreamTeam


As the summer months closed on my family, I was left little free time to enjoy my little kiddos as freely as we did over the summer months. We are back in school full time and in the full swing of our school and activity schedules.

My son said to me last night . . . "I only saw the girls for 10 minutes today." I know how he felt! My husband and I are passing the hallways now, tag teaming our kids, to shuffle them from one activity to the next. It is a finely tuned schedule this year I have to say.

Sadly, it also leaves me with little time to savor my kids the way I could over the summer months. I can no longer just sit for hours crafting, reading, playing games or plan a leisure day to do absolutely nothing. We are busy!

I have decided I am creating a new family tradition this school year to ensure that we are spending time together. We literally have one free week day evening where there is not an activity for my children. That night is now going to be Family Movie Night and it is a mandatory attendance from everyone. No cell phones allowed, no tablets allowed, no iPods allowed, no laptops allowed . . . basically no distractions allowed. Each week, we will rotate who selects a movie and we will all gather together to enjoy each other with a family-friendly title from NetFlix.


My little one is first and she has already specified she wants a fort in the family room for everyone to gather. I can't wait for my turn!

What does your family do to ensure you are spending time together?

Netflix Titles for Family Movie Night

For your little kids:


1. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2
2. The Pirate Fairy
3. Hoodwinked
4. Angelina Ballerina
5. Bob the Builder
6. The Muppet Movie

For your big kids:


1. Strange Hill High
2. The Avengers
3. The Smurfs 2
4. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
5. Free Birds
6. Mako Mermaids: An H2O Adventure

For teens (and you!):


1. Clueless
2. The Breakfast Club
3. Friday Night Lights
4. The Vampire Diaries
5. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
6. 13 Going on 30

Disclosure: This post is part of my involvement as a Netflix #StreamTeam Member. All opinions are my own. #NetflixKids

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September, Already?


I feel as if, just a few short weeks ago, I was writing the same words for last month?! Seriously, how is time just passing my by so quickly. The month of August was a complete blur if I can be honest here. A COMPLETE BLUR. We (I) were so busy gearing up for back to school, then back in school at home, teaching school at home, then back-to-school-sleep-away-camp-orientation (for which I was a camp counselor for grades 3 and 4 girls . . . who stayed up until 1 AM with a serious case of the giggles!!), getting my oldest back in the groove of attending school every single day mode, and then yanking everyone off their new schedules to jet on a plane to Florida to enjoy the intense heat for some wonderful family focused bonding time. And, now, it is September, and I have no clue how that happened. Oh, and in between all of this, I still had to do laundry, clean my house, cook, take care of pets (that are not even mine), and keep my blossoming photography business . . . well, blossoming. I am in the process of editing so many photos for clients . . . I seriously don't even have the time . . . but I need to squeeze in this for my soul  . . . for my sanity . . . for myself . . .

Here is a sneak peek at a some images from a couple of weeks ago . . .

Glencoe Beach Engagement Photography
Glencoe Beach Engagement Photography
Glencoe Beach Engagement Photography
Glencoe Beach Engagement Photography
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Seeing the Good in Everyone #StreamTeam


Treat everyone with love and kindness, even those who are rude to you  . . . this is our family mantra . . . sometimes my kids don't really understand the meaning of this, but I remind them to always be kind to everyone, even if they are not the same to you . . . we do this not because they are nice, but because we are. My kids get that part of it. They don't always remember when dealing with each other after long days, but I can be head saying "love and kindness" in a sing-songy voice at various points in our days.

I want to teach my children, even though they are still very young,  that in our lifetime we will meet numerous people. All of these people are significant. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Everyone deserves our attention and care. Even if the only thing you ever do is smile at that person, they deserve your kindness.

Here is something we could all do one day a month to get in a good habit: Practice speaking in a kind way. FOR ONE DAY: keep every negative thought, frustration or complaint to yourself and only share your positive comments with others. And every time you do have a negative thought, counter it out loud with a positive one. The more you practice this, the better you will feel. After a couple of months, move up to once a week and then one entire week. People will LOVE to be around you!

A little kindness never gets old.

Taking a cue from Derek – star of the Netflix original series. Derek's mantra of acceptance, no matter age or ability, inspired this month's Netflix titles which are a great resource for our children to see the good in everyone.

12 Netflix Titles to Promote Kindness and Acceptance

For your big kids:


1. Rudy
2. Mulan
3. A Mile in His Shoes
4. Radio
5. Good Luck Charlie: Down a Tree
6. Glee

Want even more titles about kindness and acceptance? Our friends at Common Sense Media have shared a list of TV and movie titles that teach empathy - check out the list here.

And your little ones:



1. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Vol. 1 Ep. 6: Friends Help Each Other
2. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Season 3, Ep. 4: One Bad Apple
3. Arthur, Season 15, Ep. 8: Muffy's Classic Classy Club / Best Enemies
4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
5. Super Why, Season 1, Ep. 61: The Ugly Duckling: Becoming a Swan
6. The Fox and the Hound

Disclosure: This post is part of my involvement as a Netflix #StreamTeam Member. All opinions are my own. #NetflixKids

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August, Already??


It’s August already?  Seriously?  What happened to June and July?  Did everyone else speed through those months, too, or is it just me? This year has really flown by.  Where has this summer gone?  I know that I probably say that every year but  . . . . really . . .  it just doesn’t seem possible to be in the eighth month  . . . already. But the fact of the matter is, it is August and September is just three and half weeks away! I didn't get enough summery activities in. Did you? Pretty soon, the leaves will begin to change beautiful colors, the air will turn brisk and Starbucks will have my favorite coffee (the most important detail you know). But, today I am showing some of my images I took last week of the girls. Always the girls as my son refuses to get in front of the camera now. Happy last few weeks of summer!

August, Already??
Tartini Professional Violin
Tartini Professional Violin
Tartini Professional Violin
Tartini Professional Violin
Tartini Professional Violin
Tartini Professional Violin
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Enjoying the Journey #FamilyForward


“Laughter is the key to happiness…”  


Laughing is good for you and your children. Did you know children laugh about 200 times a day and we {adults} only laugh about 20 times a day. Laughing can help you and your children communicate, get along better and foster important bonds.

Parents it is important to have a good sense of humor for your children. I personally tend to forget to have fun during the day at times. Being a home educating mom of three, my plate is very full and I need to follow my own advise here.

That is why I am so excited our family is soon off an a FUN adventure in Orlando. We will be joining Mom It Forward at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and many other Family Forward Families on the Orlando Adventure in Orlando, FL.

Laughing relieves stress

Laughing soothes tension and relaxes muscles

Laughing gets blood to your heart and lungs, boosting energy and making you feel better instantly.

Laughing triggers your brain to feel pleasure and you want to have that same feeling again.

Parents must model humor. Make jokes, tell stories, laugh out loud.

Parents should encourage children to be silly and funny.

Parents should fill your home with FUN.


Laughing is key to parenting and helps your family have fun, grow closer and make happy memories. Best of all - - it's free! I can't wait for my family to have meaningful experiences, brainstorm brilliant ideas, and develop new skills to embrace bonding AND LAUGHING in this digital age through workshops on our Orlando Adventure centered on various topics like charity, communication, creativity, team building, and trust. Laughing together will be a MUST-DO!

“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”

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Achieving Happiness


I have so much to get done before school begins and I am not quite sure I will be capable of getting it all done. I have made a significant dent in my to-do list but it seems to just keep growing anyway. School curriculum in place, school books ordered (and most delivered), school supplies purchased, uniforms purchased, hair cuts, etc etc etc . . . the list just keeps growing. The list consists of  just "things" I have to do. This doesn't even include all the little projects and "things" that I want to do. I get a bit overwhelmed when I think of all the good ideas I have that I have to put aside for all the "things" that I have to do. I think that's the only part of being overwhelmed that really bothers me - having to put aside great inspiration in favor of checking thinks off the to-do lists that are scattered about my home.

Tiaras & Tantrums Photography
Tiaras & Tantrums Photography
Tiaras & Tantrums Photography
Tiaras & Tantrums Photography

But sometimes, I just toss the to-do lists aside and follow my burst of inspiration right down the path of happiness.  I find solace behind my camera. I've learned to not be afraid to go out and do what makes me uniquely and truly happy! 

Little Things Thursday Give Me your Best Shot 1440 Friday Photo Journal Friday Finds   Weekly Top Shot 

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