August in Review | Home Sweet Home

Sweet, sweet August in Minnesota. I don't know if there's anything better!

Crisp morning air and sun filled days... I've loved every minute of it and so has George!

It was a busy month, I'm sure each and every one of us could say that!

Walks to the park, a trip up north and spending time with family. We did the State Fair and a birthday party at the Mall of America. We celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary and my 31st birthday. We had baby appointments and pediatric appointments and sure enjoyed the downtime in between.

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The most exciting part of August though, was purchasing our first ever HOME.
We did it! We found one and they accepted our offer!

We got our keys at the very end of the month and it's been an incredible whirlwind of days since.

You guys, it feels like we've waited so very long for this moment and it's here. I cried twice on moving day. My greatest dream is to create place for my children to grow and flourish.. a place they can always come back to.. a safe, warm home with good food and so much love.

I see it here, I see it all here! 

  My beautiful niece on a trip up north -- she's just the coolest little girl!

My beautiful niece on a trip up north -- she's just the coolest little girl!

  28 weeks ~ in the third trimester!

28 weeks ~ in the third trimester!

  Self portrait on my 31st birthday.

Self portrait on my 31st birthday.

I've been dabbling in my dreams a bit and we've been almost too busy to fully grasp what it is I am doing here but I know there is magic to be made ahead.
Women. Photography. Art. Light. Words.
I have faith it will all come together at the perfect time!

  243/365 August 31st -- the first day in our new home!

243/365 August 31st -- the first day in our new home!

I appreciate all the shared enthusiasm this month - family and friends, near and far, personal and social - you're all the best! Thanks for following as I document the biggest life transitions for my family. What a trip.

There are a few of us still going strong for our 365 Project Blog Circle. I'm so grateful for these talented women who keep me motivated to shoot every day. If you click through to Alyssa Kellert's post, you'll see a beautiful new website with a summer recap. These are the Days

Onward to September!

 

Baby J -- GIRL or BOY?

When we first found out we were pregnant, we decided that we didn't want to know if we were having a girl or a boy until labor and delivery.

Ok, well, yes, that didn't last. Anyone who knows me knows I surely don't have the patience for that. As soon as we could find out, I wanted to know. 

For our first, Thomas George, we did a big reveal party. It was so much fun, but I knew I didn't want to do that again.

So at our anatomy scan we had them write the gender down for us and put it in an envelope. We got home that night and decided we'd open it that weekend. Just 48 hours later we were holding a photo in our hand. I reached down and touched my belly but this time I knew....

My second little SON!

We're having another boy and I have to tell you, we're pretty darn excited.

  There it is! Another little    BOY    bump!

There it is! Another little BOY bump!

Now, to be honest, when I found out I was pregnant with Thomas George I really, really wanted to have a girl. I grew up with two sisters and just couldn't imagine having a son.

This go around though, after knowing my little dude and the heart bursting love I have for him, I felt SUPER cool either way!

A boy. Bros. Boy mom.

Dad cried, I cried.... all the grandma and grandpas cried.

What will he be like? What color will his hair be? Will he look like mom or dad? Tall like his brother, er, I mean whole family?

I just don't know and that's the most exciting part of it all.

In just 11 short weeks we'll be meeting our second son and I am pretty sure we already have his name picked out! A family of FOUR!

 

Second Trimester -- Baby J

  18 Weeks Pregnant

18 Weeks Pregnant

- Ahh, the sweet, sweet second trimester! Around week 15 my energy came back full force and it was so welcomed. Like last time, I just got to the point where I wondered if it'd ever come back... phew. Back to functioning like a human!

- I decided this is by far my favorite trimester and I put it on cruise control. We've been very busy with moving and buying a house and just summer in general -- I haven't has near as much time this pregnancy to watch my app each week. The whole thing is going by so incredibly fast!

- By the evening and night I feel pretty tired but always sleep decent and wake up with a lot of energy... and I'm currently sleeping on an air mattress! Luckily I'll be in a nice big bed next week for the rest of my pregnancy!

- Thomas George is not quite sure about mama's growing belly. If I'd let him, he'd bounce on it with incredible toddler energy many times a day. Sometimes I ask him where baby is and he points to my belly... other times he goes and gets his book to show me the baby in the book. Little does he know I'm growing his best friend for life!

- I'm finally all set up with my prenatal care. I'll be working with the midwives in Woodbury at their Birth Center. It feels a bit like Castle where I had George and I already feel at home there. It feels good to finally be established and ready for the big day!

- GENDER!!!! We got the gender and I'll be back to update this as soon as we announce it! :D 

  26 Weeks Pregnant

26 Weeks Pregnant

- Movement! This baby is a mover and a groover, just like George. I started feeling my first flutters in week 14 and they just continued to get stronger and more noticeable as the weeks went on. By the end of the second trimester we can feel and see baby's many movements!

- I haven't really experienced any cravings this trimester and the cravings of all things hot and spicy sort of subsided. I am pretty sure that I am eating more overall and not as well as I did with George. I'm blaming the move and busy season of our life....

- At the start of second trimester we found out there was a calcium deposit on baby's heart. Everything else seemed to be fine and they said it's pretty common. We were asked if we wanted to do any kind of genetic testing and we decided not to. I don't feel worried about it at all and no matter what happens, I'll be lovin' this baby until the end of time!

- I made it sleeping on my belly to about week 27 which is sort of crazy because I'm pretty sure I should have been done around week 22 this time. It's seriously so hard for me to sleep on my side! I wake up on my back a lot which is bad news, and heave myself to my side. Seriously. The thing I miss MOST is sleeping on my stomach (and wearing normal clothes).

- At my last appointment in the second trimester I had gained 12 lbs so far. She said that at my next appointment is when my weight will probably make a leap since that really isn't a lot... which is weird because I FEEL SO DIFFERENT AND SO BIG.

- I am pretty sure we have this baby's name narrowed down between two. We might just have to meet before we decide!! Naming a baby is crazy hard!

- Our family and friends are so so excited to meet this new baby... we are too! It's my in laws 2nd grand baby and my parent's 6th grand baby! I just keep thinking about what he will look like and how he will be. Mama is hoping he looks more like her this time but I'd be happy with another little George (daddy clone) too!

Baby is the size of a: PEACH
Length & weight: 8 3/4 in. & 1.5 lbs.
Mama's cravings: Not so much a specific thing but more like cold stuff. I have been eating a lot of dairy free ice cream! I also just like to feel FULL. No way can I be hungry at all. 
Weight update: Gained 12 lbs. since appointment number one!
We're feeling: Excited... but yet, a part of it doesn't feel real! I can't believe our family will be growing like this so soon! I am ready but not ready at all!
Highlight of the second trimester: Finding out baby's gender and telling everyone!
Energy levels: Rockstar energy in the morning and real tired in the evening and night.
Habits: Honestly, we've been so busy! But I take my prenatals and DHA everyday, get to all my appointments and of course do my legs up the wall 4-5x a week!

H O M E | July in Review

Goodbye, Arizona!

After being in the desert for three months, we packed up and hit the road. Homeward bound!

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It took us four days to get from AZ to MN.

Traveling at 22 weeks pregnant with a 1.5 year old that doesn't like his carseat and a small chihuahua that shakes and whimpers when he gets nervous... I really wouldn't recommend it to anyone! Those four days tested every ounce of our patience... but can you imagine the relief we shared as we drove across the Minnesota state line??

Excitement, relief and a huge exhale.

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After arriving in the twin cities we moved into a temporary townhouse. Did I mention we had a huge change of plans at the start of the month?  My hubby had a job opportunity that he just couldn't pass up and it landed us in the suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

So now we're here, half unpacked and we're house hunting in a crazy way. I think we've seen close to 10 homes so far! The market in this area (I guess all over!) is just bonkers. We're close to finding "the one" though and I hope to have a super positive update next month!

Between the madness we've spent a lot of time with our family that lives here, it's truly been the biggest blessing. Oh, and the park. Clockin' hours in at the park!

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My last bump picture of the month catches me at 24 weeks pregnant. Unreal how fast this pregnancy has gone... but I guess I'm not too surprised! We're all set up at the birth center in Woodbury for our first appointment and excited to be working with a midwife again!

We got the gender in an envelope this month and within a couple days opened it. I can't WAIT to share... we just have one more set of grandparents to tell first so definitely next month!

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Thank you guys for reading. These photos are a part of a 365 project I'm participating in and we're already past day 200! What a year... so many celebrations and challenges, for all of us! The July round up is Kris and I. I love her perspective -- you can check it out HERE.

I feel a shift coming, yet again when it comes to this online space... but I'm not sure what it is quite yet. I think when things slow down enough, it will all fall into place. Photo journal, motherhood... excited to get writing again.

Wishing you all many blessings, always,

Elyse'

 

June in Review | Al... most... there!

I thought maybe I'd be starting this month's review with news of a home purchase or a move to Minnesota, but we're just not quite there yet. I am certain though, that July will be our month to shake things up. This could truly be the calm before the most hardcore storm yet!

Things in Arizona have been hot but good. We've truly adjusted to the mainland well and I'm so grateful for that... that doesn't mean we haven't been antsy. I know I am going to look back at this time and wish maybe I would have just relaxed and enjoyed our down time a bit more. We're just so incredibly ready to unpack our boxes in a house and start getting settled. So ready. Patience, Elyse'.

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My last bump photo of the month was at 18 weeks. I've reached the point in my pregnancy where although my bump is growing rapidly I feel pretty normal. I have energy again and that has been the best gift. Almost halfway to baby! Gender appointment is coming up... the question is, do we wait or find out!

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Our little George has been keeping us on our toes this month. Besides being incredibly curious and absolutely adorable.. his temper is emerging and do I dare say a glimpse of the terrible twos? Melt downs for no reason, hollering at the top of his lungs when he wants something that just isn't possible.. stuff like that. My patience is being tested in so many ways this month! Add pregnancy hormones and I'm telling you, I have moments that I am just getting by!

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We've never been closer to being home... or having a home. I know that the next life stage is right around the corner. We're opening and closing chapters (MN, AZ, HI, family growth etc.), exploring all opportunities (job changes, location changes etc.) and having some tough conversations along the way (maybe when things didn't play out as we first expected).
It's not always easy but it's growth and no matter what I know we'll make it through.

Thank you guys for reading. I'm so grateful for the gift of photography and this 365 group that I'm a part. It forces me to pause along the way during a whirlwind of a time.
As you know, I'm part of a blog series of talented photographers all over the US -- please click through to see their work and what they've been up to this summer. Up next is KRIS!

First Trimester -- Baby J

 8 Weeks Pregnant! Kailua, Hawaii

8 Weeks Pregnant! Kailua, Hawaii

It just feels crazy to be writing this -- didn't I just write a first trimester post? I did! This time, however, it was an entirely different experience.

We found out really early we were pregnant with baby number two. According to the app on my phone I was only 3, almost 4 weeks pregnant!

The day I took the test, other than my boobs hurting, I felt pretty darn normal. I decided to enjoy it because I knew what was coming.

I found out with George at about 5 almost 6 weeks. Not long after I found out, I got so sick. I only ran to the toilet a couple times but I had full day nausea for 9 straight weeks. 

With baby number two, I prepared myself for the worst..... but it just never came! (Praise the Lord, dance, shout and sing hallelujah!) 

 12 Weeks Pregnant! Mesa, AZ

12 Weeks Pregnant! Mesa, AZ

Other than feeling like a total slug in the evenings and having some foods just not "look good", I felt pretty ok! I was shocked.. so VERY different. Opposite first trimesters, that's for sure!

- The best best part of the first trimester, again, is telling people! Everyone cries! We had fun calling our family and friends to spread the news. I also blogged about our positive test because I can't NOT tell people. It's hard for me to keep it to myself once I know. We shared sooner this time around.

- I didn't have any real cravings with Thomas George... but that was not the case with this pregnancy! I've had quite a bit of cravings. I like HOT & SPICY! (I hope this isn't a sign of what this baby is going to be like, lol)
Seriously though, I am taking hot sauce down like it's going out of style. I've been eating more bagely type foods which I'm not stoked on but I'm just so happy I can EAT during my first trimester at all! I'm hoping to move to more fresh kind of foods soon!

- We're sort of in between home right now so when it comes to maternity care I'm doing my best. I did my first appointment at Castle Medical Center with the midwife that delivered Thomas George. We got to see the little bean and hear it's heartbeat. My first question was: Is there only one in there? Phew, ok.
Now we're in AZ and I might have to do one appointment here. I am hoping to establish care with Robin, a family friend and midwife back home in Hibbing, MN!

- Hormones have been pretty up and down. I cry for some of the weirdest reasons. One day I asked Tom if he thinks TG will want to go to Hawaii when he gets big because he was born there. Then I thought, what if he wants to move to Hawaii and I cried. I cried and cried thinking of him leaving. He's 1.5 years old.
Things like... seeing a beautiful dress online in an instagram ad and crying because I would never fit into it right now as my body gets bigger and bigger. Just weird things like that. Just cry. LOL

- Bring on the maternity clothes. I started wearing maternity clothes right at the end of the first trimester. No shame. Comfort number one!

 7 Week Appointment!

7 Week Appointment!

Baby is the size of a: LIME
Length & weight: 2.13 in. & .49 oz.
Mama's cravings: HOT SAUCE and spicy foods! Cold apples. 
Weight update: < 5 lbs. ~ I didn't actually weigh myself until later in the second trimester in which I had gained 5 lbs. so I had to have gained less in the first trimester!
We're feeling: Excited, ready to settle into a home, happy for TG to have a sibling and we are dying to know if you're a girl or a boy!
Highlight of the first trimester: Once again, telling our family!!
Energy levels: TOTAL SLUG!! 
Habits: Long morning walks, legs up the wall every few days, prenatal vitamins!

What It Takes | Story of an Ironman

It starts with a decision. You make a commitment to yourself backed with discipline, determination and grit.

For the past two years, my husband Tom has trained at an Ironman level. Not only have I seen him at the finish line wrapped in glory, lights and a cheering crowd but I've also seen him in the trenches. The grueling hours, weekly sacrifice and that early morning wake up 6 days a week.

I'm excited to share a sliver of his story with you. This is what it takes.

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When I got the final assignment for my Visual Storytelling class at the Define School, Tom came to mind right away. He does this day after day and I wanted to help him see it from an outside perspective.

I'm so proud of him and he truly inspires me to do what it takes to make my dreams come true.

Anything is possible if you're willing to put in the work.

Lots of love and Aloha,

Elyse'

Living in Limbo // May Recap

It's been a nice first month back on the mainland! I thought for sure I'd be having Hawaii withdrawals by now but I'm doing pretty good!

On May 1st I found myself making the drive up to northern Minnesota. We were only home for 6 days and our main focus was house hunting! It was so hectic and went by quickly! This past week we were signing a purchase agreement so as long as all goes well we just may have found a home!

 TG loving life on the trampoline with is cousin Coco Mae! The air was crisp, the sun was shining and being surrounded by family felt  so right!

TG loving life on the trampoline with is cousin Coco Mae! The air was crisp, the sun was shining and being surrounded by family felt so right!

Our little chia seed is now the size of a pear and this pregnancy is flying by! At the end of this month I'll be 15 weeks pregnant.
When I was pregnant with Thomas George it felt like it took forever to get to this point... but right now I feel like I just found out.
Yesterday I asked the hubby to dig out my maternity clothes. Does it get more real than that?

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 A little piece of Mesa, Arizona

A little piece of Mesa, Arizona

I'm so grateful we had the opportunity to slowly transition to the mainland. This time in AZ was relaxing and allowed me to gather myself before making our (hopefully) final move.
But I'm ready.
I'm so ready to unpack and get settled.
The road life is starting to get to me, starting to get to all of us!

When you hear from me next month, I hope there is a photo of us standing on the stoop of the new Jokinen house -- ready to be made a home.

Fingers crossed.

The photos in this post are part of a 365 project that started January 1st. I've taken a photo a day, every single day. I could never have stayed motivated doing it on my own and have relied heavily on the support of the brilliant group I'm a part of. You can click here to see some work of the other talented photographers in the group starting with Alyssa!

That Positive Test | Round 2

It was March 8th, 2018.

I was laying on the couch in all my grumpiness when my boobs started to hurt again

I was dozing in and out, thoughts whirling through my head when my eyes shot open. 
It was like a scene out of a movie.

Ten minutes earlier I was raging at my husband about seriously who knows what when grabbed my pillow and blanket and stomped into the living room. 

Just that morning I posted a question to my mom group on FB asking why on earth my boobs were feeling achey when I quit nursing the month before without any pain?

Then it hit me.

I was pregnant.

I was freakin' pregnant. Now it all made sense.

I tip toed back to the room, slid under the covers and did my best to stay calm. Butterflies were dancing in my chest but I didn't breathe a word to Tom. I knew, deep down I knew, but I needed confirmation.


After Thomas woke up from his nap the next day we took a casual stroll to Target. Laundry detergent, birthday card, avocados and a box of pregnancy tests.

I got home about 2:30pm and although it was 6 days before my missed period and it wasn't my first pee of the morning I took a test anyway. It was a pack of three, what did I have to lose?

Peed on the stick, placed it on the counter and glanced at it back and forth as I saw the test start to read. The first line showed up right away.. my heart was seriously pounding.

And then there it was. The second line, although faint, was very much there.

"Oh dear. Oh dear goodness. Oh my. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear goodness. Oh. Oh my. Oh my gosh." I said aloud over and over for what felt like 10 minutes.

We were pregnant. Three weeks pregnant according to the Bump app on my phone.

I couldn't wait to tell Tom.

I have to admit. I've been hesitant to grow our family. Between Finn and Thomas I feel like there isn't any more of me to go around!
But Tom? Tom's ready. Tom's been ready since Thomas George was 3 months old!

He got home from work and I ushered him to the couch. I had my phone hiding strategically on the TV stand, recording it all.

I sat him down and gave him a long sappy love note that I wrote early that day.

I apologized for raging the night before, reminding him that I'd love him forever, through anything.

When he flipped to the back my heart started to race.

I could see his eyes scanning the words: "Today I took a pregnancy test, sweet thang... and it was POSITIVE."

He instantly lost it. He cried. I cried.

Just blubbery, slobbery messes.

This family is growing.

A blessing. This little chia seed is already such a blessing.

And now I say, with much excitement, here we go again!

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I started a pregnancy diaries series with little George. I pretty much documented it all but missed the third trimester. I'm going to try to do a full series with baby number two! You can read George's series here.

Interview:: Louise Albertine Sarabosing // Single Mother, OR Nurse, Air Force Captain & Traveler

Just before leaving Hawaii I was able to do a portrait session with Weezie. I worked with her at Pali Momi Medical Center for just about two years and I have to tell you -- I learned more about her in the couple hours we spent together during our session than I did during our time working together. I love photography.
Anyways, as I reread this interview in preparation to share it, I'm in awe once again. Weezie has a kind of drive and resilience that you just don't see very often. As a single mom, OR Nurse and Air Force Captain -- I think she has enough inspiration for all of us.

Tell us about yourself. Who you are, where you're from and what you do:

Yikes…this is always a tough question because I never know where to start or what to say or if I’m going on and on and on. Hahaha!
Daughter of Marlon and Sandra Sarabosing. I was born and raised in San Jose, CA.
I joined the United States Air Force right after HS. Bootcamp/basic training was in San
Antonio, TX. I attended technical school air traffic control in Biloxi, MS.
My first active duty station was Kadena AB in Okinawa, JP. I spent a couple year in Okinawa and then received orders to move to the UK. I was assigned to RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, UK for a little over 2 years when I found out I was pregnant with my son Niko.
Life took some turns and long story short I was honorable discharged of active duty military and
became a single parent. About 10 months later I enlisted back into the Air Force Reserves and retrained as a AF medic to which I had to be separated from my son for about 8 months. After medic tech school in Wichita falls, TX. I went back to San Jose, enrolled in junior college studied premed/prenursing and played intercollegiate basketball and track and field which eventually opened a window for me to move to Oahu.
I was accepted into Hawaii Pacific University’s nursing school. Present day, I work as a Registered Nurse in the operating room at Pali Momi Medical Center, finishing up on RNFA training. I hit 19 total years in the military back in January and now at a rank of Captain.

What are you most proud of in your life?

There was a time in my life when I was at my lowest of lows. I was going through a catastrophic events in my life and it was one terrible thing after another.
Of course it starts with broken trust, sadness, and eventually heartbreak. I was in deep depression and was suicidal and angry at everything. I remember a specific moment, I was alone in a dark place outside and I looked up at the sky and thought, “How am I going to live through this pain?...I just want it to end.”
Suddenly, with God’s grace (because that’s the only thing that could explain it) I cried out “I do not deserve this! My son does not deserve this!"
I vowed that I would dig myself out of this deep hole that I felt I was in, constantly feeling like I was sinking. There was no one else that could have helped me come to that absolute promise to myself that night. I now know that I was the only one who could help me. I was the only one who could make that choice of “I’m going to survive this and thrive and if not only for myself but for the child that I’m raising alone.”
That…my proudest moment…so far.

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Who is someone you admire the most? Why?

I admire my son, Niko. I may be bias but he is a prime example of someone who loves unconditionally.
He is my Light and God’s gift as a sign of his awesome grace. I admire Niko for the way he has grown up to be independent in order to help more in our quality of life.
He knows I work several jobs to keep us financial stable.
He has lived on the streets with me, suffered through loss of electricity, no food, sleeping in different places to include our car and not once did he complain during our times of difficulties. The amount of strength and love he has shown me brings me to tears of joy every time.

When you're faced with challenges, what is it that keeps you moving forward?

What keeps me moving forward through adversity is knowing that I am never in it alone. I have a son that depends on me for one as well as family that will be there for me at a drop of a dime. Although, I have a difficult time asking for help but it is something I work on every day.

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

Slow down and count your blessings. Spent time with people who truly care for you. Ignore the people who think you can’t and don’t let anyone decide what kind of person you should be through labels and expectations. And don’t be so damn hard on yourself. You’ve been raised well…you’ll definitely make mistakes but know that you will find yourself to always do what is right.

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Tell us about the future for Weezie -- what's your vision? GO BIG, we want to root you on!

Future?!?! Such a loaded question for me because I want to do everything! Hahaha! First, I can’t wait to see my son graduate HS and enter the ups and downs of life itself. I will always be his biggest fan and strongest supporter. As far as my career goes, I definitely want to seek higher education (masters degree/PHD,etc) I have a few choices that I’ve been thinking about. (Nurse Anesthesia, Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner) Going back to school will open more opportunities in my civilian career as well as my military career. As far as my military career, I see myself staying in until at least my 30th year. I’m hoping to retrain to Flight Nursing as soon as Niko graduates. That way I can combine ground and flight experience under my belt to open myself to rank promotions. Wishful thinking, but if we talk about going big…I would mind making
it to General someday. And just for fun, I would love to go back and explore acting/performing. I double majored at HPU. Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Arts Theater Performance.

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Rapid Fire:

Podcast you can't get enough of: I have not gotten into podcasts. If you have any recommendations, I would love to check it out.

Album or playlist you have on repeat: When words fail, Music Speaks – Shakespeare // I love all styles and genres of music. My favorites are old school, RnB, mo-town.

Social platform you spend the most time on: Instagram

Favorite travel destination of all time? Prague, Austria, & Switzerland are at the top of my list right now but any travel destination amazes me.

How do you fuel for the day? Exercise, prayer, daily affirmations, laughs, music

Any final words of wisdom? Floor is yours:

Every single person and experience in my life had a purpose. Some people tested my patience (some still do), some did not hesitate to use me, and some that brought out the best in me, in both good and bad situations. These positive and negative relationships I have encountered in life so far have taught me valuable lessons. The road to self discovery requires help from others whether I liked it or not. No relationship was a waste of time, even the most heart breaking ones. The wrong ones taught me lessons that I believe are preparing me for the right ones later on in life. I appreciate everyone that has entered my life because they have contributed to my growth and happiness one way or another.

Thank you Weezie for opening up and sharing your story with me. I had so much fun photographing you! 
I wish you and Niko abundant health and happiness on your journey of life! Mahalo nui loa.