You’ll never know, dear.

As a live in nanny for my beautiful girls, it is not unknown for me to put them to bed at night.

When I am there for bedtime, I make sure they take baths, comb hair, get jammies on, and read a bedtime story.

Most of the time they are playing a game called “stall bedtime for as long as possible”–by asking for drinks of water, or saying they need to potty again.

Sometimes, I just don’t have the patience for it at all.

I’m ready for them to be asleep.

I have other things to do and finish before I go to bed as well.

But lately, they’ve been asking me another question. They want to know if I will sing them a lullaby.

(I like to think that it’s because they have a genuine love for the sound of my voice, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.)

When they ask me to sing for them, my heart melts. I calm down and look into their big, round eyes, glowing from the light that peeks in from under the door.

I can’t say no.

I’m not versed in many lullabies–but I do know one:

You are my sunshine

My only sunshine

You make me happy 

When skies are gray

You’ll never know, dear

How much I love you

Please don’t take my sunshine away

They will never know how much I love them.

That my love for them is more than just a habitual phrase, or a cliche, that I say to them every day.

It is a physical and overwhelming ache in my heart that I feel, now, as I write this.

It’s a tear rolling down my cheek at the thought of not seeing them every single day.

It’s a smile on my face knowing that they will grow up to be intelligent, creative, and talented young women–each in their own way.

Four years ago, I showed up at this house expecting not much more than a job and a paycheck.

What I received was so much more than that.

It was a profound and amazing privilege, that has made me a better person.

I can’t stress this enough:

I AM A BETTER PERSON for having had them in my life.

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Today, I leave, blessed by the lives of 3 beautiful young ladies, each holding my heart in their own unique way:

Ruthie,

Your empathy for others inspires me to humble myself and to always be kind to everyone who comes into my life–to show them true charity.

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Vivian,

Your stubborn fearlessness reminds me to have the courage to stand my ground and fight for what I believe in, despite what the world tells me.

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Frances,

Your smile lights up the world, it’s contagious.

It reminds ME to keep smiling no matter how difficult life can get.

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I love each of you,

more than you will ever know.

And I will keep you in my heart.

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xoxo,

Monica

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A Wedding 2,438 Days in the Making:

That’s right, I did the math.

To tell you our wedding day was perfect, would be a lie.

A 4.5 month engagement does not a perfect wedding day make.

I thought, well I have it easy, because there’s Pinterest nowadays! We’ll just throw some of my pins together!

It’s easy to plan a Pinterest wedding because to “pin” something is much easier than to “do” something, or to “pay” for something.

I had it all figured out on my virtual wedding pinboard:

Bunches of lights.

Mason jars for everyone and their dog.

As much rustic barn wood as we could find, used in every possible rustic barn wood necessary situation.

Then reality hit:

“What is a circuit breaker and why does it not appreciate all the lights I want to plug in?”

“Mason jars cost HOW MUCH!?”

“You’d think there would be more barn wood available to us city folk.”

Ok, those were weird and somewhat fictional examples for how my vision of a perfect Pinterest wedding blew up in my face sometime immediately after getting engaged.

I had to majorly tone down my idea of a “perfect” wedding.

I started hitting up estate sales every week to gather random items that I thought I could use in the wedding–I must say I am very proud of some of the things I was able to find! Beautiful old books, vintage cameras, and elaborate glass bottles.

Other things, I bought with the intention of using, but never did.

I now have more doilies than you can shake a stick at.

Somewhere during the 135 days between getting engaged and getting married, I realized that it doesn’t really matter.

Yes, I’d like things to look nice, and yes I’d like people to “ooh” and “ahh” at all the hard work we put into it.

But in the end, all that really mattered is that we were going to be married.

We were finally going to start our lives together.

So whether or not we knocked our guests’ socks off with hundreds of dollars worth of burlap and chalkboard paint didn’t measure up to the fact that, when it’s all said and done, you’re left standing next to the one person who’s only request was that you spend the rest of your lives together.

And that’s a good thing.

So,

while the day didn’t exactly go off with out a hitch–

–there was an emergency bow cutting off situation since the bows on my shoes looked like huge bunny ears like you see on slippers.

(Lesson learned ladies: try your shoes on with your dress more than a few hours before the wedding)

But we were wed!

And the reception was gorgeous!

But, you know what?

I didn’t even notice the centerpieces.

I did however notice, and will never forget, the look in my husband’s eyes as he said

“I will Love you and honor you, all the days of my life.”

That part was actually pretty perfect.

Here are some of my favorite images from the day, all courtesy of my amazingly talented photographer/all around cool gal, Karen Obrist.

Check more of her work out here!


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Here’s to the start of a new adventure.

xoxo,

Monica

Dusting off the blog:

Soooooooo,

…time passes really quickly when you’re planning a wedding, get married, and then go to Hawaii for nearly a month!

It’s been 4 whole months since my last post! I can’t believe that–almost half a year!

That was definitely not intentional. Mostly, it was STRESS of wedding planning, and then travel + editing client photos.

So, obviously a lot has been going on–the biggest of which was that I got MARRIED!

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Photo credit: Karen Obrist Photography

Words can’t describe how it feels to FINALLY be married to the man of my dreams!

I really meant to blog the whole excitement and prep for the wedding, i.e. showers, bachelorette party, etc…buuuuut that didn’t happen.

So here is a quick overview of everything that went down before I walked down the aisle:

Bridal Showers

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Stock The Bar Party

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Bachelorette Party!

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Bachelor Party

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Rehearsal Dinner

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The “Honeymoon”

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So there you have it — the whole shebang.

Minus the wedding, of course, but that’s another blog for another day.

I am now in my last few weeks of nannying for my beautiful girls and I’m trying to soak in as much of their sweetness as I can.

The last 4 years of my life has been spent watching them take their first steps and speak their first words, having dance parties with them in the kitchen, and  pushing them on the swing. It’s difficult for me to imagine a life where I wake up in my bed and hear silence, rather than the sound of their little feet running around in circles upstairs.

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On the other hand, the last 7 years of my life have been spent away from the man that I Love more than anyone in the entire world. Since the very beginning we’ve been away from each other, always ending each phone conversation with “I miss you.” Twice, we were separated by oceans through military deployments–forcing me to spend my days, and especially my nights, with an inconsolable ache in my heart. A feeling of being incomplete until I was in his arms again.

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[circa 2009]

Despite the tears running down my face, I know it’s time.

It’s time for us.

Time for us to have dance parties in the kitchen. Time for us to snuggle up on the couch and watch movies. Time for us to wake up every morning and not only hear each other’s voices, but actually getting to see each other as well.

I know it will be different, and it will be difficult, to say goodbye.

But, little by little, I will learn to let go.

I will watch the girls grow up, from far away.

And I will  keep them in my heart,

as I grow up too.

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Photo credit: Karen Obrist Photography

xoxo,

Monica

Sunshine

Sunshine.

For those living in a place like Nebraska, where there are 4 seasons (sometimes seemingly predominated by Winter). Sunshine can  become a rare commodity.

This is something that people tend to use as a reason NOT to live in Nebraska, or other such places.

However, I am a firm believer that it is a blessing.

A BLESSING, you say!?

Yes, a blessing.

Because without the cold, gray, long winter–how else would we TRULY appreciate when the sun does come out again?

It’s kind of a metaphor for life.

In life, without suffering, one cannot fully appreciate their blessings.

For example: A cold.

It’s easy to take breathing through your nose for granted–right until the moment you are completely stuffed up and absolutely miserable. It’s only then that you realize how good you had it. It seems like such a distant memory that you were able to sleep with your mouth closed without fear of asphyxiation. The good old days.

That being said,

it’s easy to see why Nebraskans are like horses out of the gate when the sun decides to come back into our lives.

Colors seem brighter.

Songs seem more catchy.

Those pesky allergies seem practically tolerable.

And the grass is finally green again.

Just perfect for a few photos:

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“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”

Make the best of today and every day!

Have a lovely Wednesday!

xoxo,

Monica

Virginia is for Lovers

“Tourists don’t know

where they’ve been…

Travelers don’t know

where they’re going.”

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I like to try and live my life as a traveler.

Most of the time, I don’t really have a choice.

At best, I have very loose scheduling skills.

My road trip to Richmond, Virginia was no different.

I had a starting point and a destination, but the middle was up to wherever the road took me.

In 2 days, I drove through Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia.

It is a beautiful country.

It was a beautiful ride.

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The world’s largest catsup bottle–everything I’d dreamed it would be.

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I had to stop in Indiana for a photograph the beautiful, starry sky.IMG_5148 copy

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I stopped for a cheeseburger at this tiny diner in Frankfort, KY.

They presented it to me saying, “And for the photographer, the most boring order we’ve ever received.”IMG_5190copy IMG_5168 copy IMG_5170copy IMG_5173copy IMG_5180copy IMG_5182copy IMG_5185 copy IMG_5189copy IMG_5204copy

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I fell in love with West Virginia and it’s countless old iron bridges.IMG_5212copy IMG_5214copy IMG_5219copy IMG_5221copy

Naked trees
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These are my great self-timer photos by the awesome river front properties.
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I made a last minute decision to take the highway for part of the trip to see more sights. I came across the most amazing waterfalls, old buildings, and gorgeous river views. Also, I inadvertently ended up on top of a mountain, which FYI, was not something that shows up on google maps.

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A couple HDR photos of the New River Gorge Bridge.

It is so big that it made a 40 minute trip around the gorge become a 60 second trip across the gorge.HDRBridge

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Micah in beautiful Richmond, Virginia. We were able to explore after our retreat got finished on Sunday.IMG_5347copy

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Looking towards Benedictine Prepatory school where we had our retreat–we were right in the beautiful museum district!IMG_5314copy IMG_5322copy IMG_5324copy IMG_5328copy

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“Stunned squirrel”
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The reason this post has taken me so long to put up is because I had no idea how to explain it.

The things I saw and the experience that I had were too big for words.

To say it was beautiful would be the best that I could do–and that really isn’t doing anything justice.

I’d like to thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes for a safe drive and an inspirational Engaged Encounter weekend.

Micah and I had an enlightening experience as we prepared for our life as a married couple.

I couldn’t have dreamed of a better outcome.

xoxo,

Monica

All Who Wander…

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Today is the day I leave for my first solo road trip!

I will be driving Micah’s car to Virginia so that we can attend the Engaged Encounter (Marriage Prep) weekend!

With 18 hours of driving ahead of me, I am feeling both excited and anxious!

Excited, to find some adventures on my journey: to be inspired, to create, to daydream.

Anxious, to undertake such a long trip on my own.

I know that by the end of the drive I will have a horrible cabin fever and a serious case of “numb butt.”

But, my goal is to make the best out of the situation–I have always wanted to take a road trip on my own, and here’s my chance!

You never know where life will take you, or if it will give you another chance to do something that you’ve always wanted to do.

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My hippie college professor once said that in order to be happy in life, you have to live it doing something that  feeds your soul.

I’m not sure how true that is–but, these sorts of last minute, unplanned trips–in the very least, give my soul a good snack.

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Here’s my route!

I’ve marked some stops I’d love to take if I have the time, and hope that I find more along the way.

Obviously, the Canon will be coming with me.

I’d greatly appreciate any and all prayers for a safe trip and a blessed and inspiring Engaged Encounter weekend.

Thanks!

Carpe Diem,

Monica

Spring!

Today was beautiful!

Perfect weather to play outside and break in a few of my new estate sale backdrops.

Here are a few photos that I’ve appropriately named “laughter”…the girls have an easier time laughing than they do making normal looking smiles sometimes. As we all do.

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Love those goofballs!

xoxo,

Monica

Green River, Pink Drinks

Saint Patrick’s Day.

A very special day.

A day in which it is socially acceptable, if not encouraged, to drink heavily before 5pm–this is especially true in the beautiful, albeit windy city of Chicago.

Some friends and I decided it would be lots of fun to go out there this year and spend Saint Patrick’s day in style.

Style for me, however, went out the window when we arrived in the city and it was a BRISK 30 degrees outside.

The only coat I brought matched the green beret that I eagerly bought off of a street vendor in search of something to make me just a little bit warmer. And by “matched”, I mean it made the colors of the flag of Ireland, since I was informed that my coat is actually orange–not red, like I had thought when I bought it 2 years ago.

Fortunately, Saint Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday, so I went with it.

It was a great adventure and so wonderful to enjoy it with old friends.

And,

I was just dumb enough to carry around my expensive camera this  city full of drunken crazies for 3 days.

Here are some of the results!

Hotel Felixxxx! "It's a boutique hotel."

Hotel Felixxxx! “It’s a boutique hotel.”

Brunch!

Brunch!

Steph and Marcel looking lovely.

Steph and Marcel looking lovely.

Laura's teapot

Laura’s teapot

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Green.

Green.

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Friends by the river!

Friends by the river!

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Foggy and cold.

Foggy and cold.

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Matty!

Matty!

I tried to get a nice picture of everyone--would have gone smoother before the Jameson.

I tried to get a nice picture of everyone–would have gone smoother before the Jameson.

The obvious course of action to take when someone moons you.

The obvious course of action to take when someone moons you.

The best picture we could get out of the drunk lady. Notice I'm ready to jump at any moment if she drops the camera.

This is what happens when you let a drunk woman take photo of your group.

Oh, Joe.

Oh, Joe.

Documenting the chaos.

Documenting the chaos.

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My favorite bride and groom!

My favorite bride and groom!

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It's love.

It’s love.

I like taking pictures of people taking pictures.

I like taking pictures of people taking pictures.

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Precious!

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Friends!

Friends!

Laura and the river!

Laura and the river!

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I'm too fancy for green beer.

I’m too fancy for green beer.

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Obsessed

Obsessed

Charcuterie!

Charcuterie!

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Absolutely gorgeous Cathedral

Absolutely gorgeous Cathedral

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Going out in our boldest colors!

A bunch of photos from Matt's improv show!

A bunch of photos from Matt’s improv show!

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Such skill.

Such skill.

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So awesome!

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Cute, Larz!

Cute, Larz!

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Engagement Buddies!

We almost forgot to get this photo we wanted–Engagement Buddies!

I believe that success in life is measured by happiness–

–and there are few things in this world that make me happier than creating new memories with old friends.

xoxo,

Monica

1st Blog-aversary!

Happy 1st Blog-aversary to The Nanny Diaries!

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It’s hard to believe it was a whole year ago that I decided to take the plunge and start this blog.

It all began in an attempt to get away from the stress and deadlines of real life. I was in school and had a lot going on with my photography business, all of which were good things–but I felt like I wanted an outlet that I could express myself creatively, with absolutely no guidelines or rules to follow. As a person who feels a need to create, it has been an amazing experience, as well as a source of inspiration in many other parts of my life!

I had absolutely no expectations for people to see, or care, what I have to talk about – but after a year of doing this, I’ve grown quite a base of followers and have reached people all over the world!

Screen shot 2013-03-23 at 9.39.37 AMIf you look closely, you’ll see that people in FIFTY countries have read my blog!

It is absolutely amazing (and terrifying!) to realize just how many people I can reach with this little thing.

Besides feeling like people all over the world can hear my tiny voice, it has also been amazing to see my progression of the quality of my writing, as well as my photography.

It’s fun to look back and laugh (or cringe) at how I used to write, photograph or edit, just a year ago — and to see that I am indeed making progress and becoming better and better every day.

The photography industry is very visual, and there is a lot of pressure to compare yourself to others photographers. By having this blog, it has made it easier for me to ONLY compare myself to ME and to try and to become a better photographer than I was yesterday.

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Case in point.

And, to take a moment of vanity–it has been nice to BE in some photos! As a photographer, I find that although I’m not exactly as comfortable in front of the camera, it’s always nice to have proof that you’ve actually been to places, or were part of an activity.

As much as I LOVE being “the photographer” of a group, I am often sad that I don’t get to be a part of the fun, candid photos that I take. This blog has pushed me to be more vocal in asking someone to take a photo of me, rather than shying away and keeping my mouth shut, only to be disappointed later that I don’t have any photos of myself doing something I enjoyed. If you have a photographer in your life–be courteous and ask if they’d like to be in a photo every once in awhile! You’ll probably find that they really, really do!

And finally, it has been so amazing to see the girls grow!

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FrancePantsI have always known my time with these girls is limited, so to be able to have this diary documenting the years of my life that I have been blessed enough to share with them has been something that is priceless unto itself.

I’d like to thank everyone who has expressed their kind words and thoughts about the work I have put into this blog–it really does keep me going some days!

Here’s to the journey!

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Thanks for being a part of mine!

xoxo,

Monica