Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Spring Break.  Sigh.

All school year, I've been planning for all of the progress I'm going to make over this one beloved spring break.  

I made a list MONTHS ago of things I wanted to accomplish over this week.  And to be honest, I've met some of my goals.  Of course, my lists are always extremely long and drawn out and more detailed than anyone would ever need.  Not to mention the fact that they're completely unrealistic.

Anybody else have this problem?  You have much higher hopes for yourself than would ever possibly happen?  Yeah, me too.  And it's okay.  

Small progress is better than no progress.

The weirdest thing about this break so far is that I cannot sleep at night and when I finally do fall asleep, you would expect me to be able to sleep in.  Nope...4:00, 5:00, 6:00 a.m. and I'm wide awake and ready to start the day.

And here I am right now, when I should be utterly exhausted because I didn't sleep last night and have been going strong all day, wide-awake and thinking and planning for the weeks to come.

Pinterest definitely doesn't help my sleeping problem. 

Yes, there are wonderful ideas on Pinterest and I've even used some of them.  Probably less than 1% of what I've pinned, if we're being honest.  But it's fun to pin and dream and pin some more.

And so tonight, as everyone else in my family is snoozing away, I'm sitting here dreaming.  

Dreaming of actually keeping up with my blog eventually and not simply posting every few months. Dreaming of this blog being a journal of family progress, memories, and things I want to remember.

I'm dreaming of what life will be like when I no longer run a photography studio.  I can't even imagine it, to be honest.  To just be a fulltime teacher.  A wife.  A mom.  A mom to three little girls.

I'm dreaming of a house that is decluttered and clean and organized.  Dreaming of a time in my life when I don't feel the need to keep every single little thing people have given me.  When my house includes ONLY items that we love and use regularly.

I'm dreaming of meals on my table every night that I've planned and purchased I used to.  Family devotions around that table.  Good conversation about school and church and life.

I'm dreaming of summer nights with two little girls running around the yard chasing fireflies, while baby sister sits with me on the patio.  Dreaming of family storytime by the fireplace in the fall.  Dreaming of dressing up my three lovelies in matching Christmas dresses next December.  

Dreaming.  Dreaming.  Dreaming.

And you know what?  I feel like this spring break has been the start of something.  

The start of me being able to put some of those dreams and goals and plans into place.  

The start of me being able to let go of some things, in order to make room for things that really, truly matter.  

The start of me being able to feel contentment and peace and excitement for what's coming to our little family.  A bigger focus on my classroom planning and instruction.  More free time with my family.  And of course, Baby M in June.

This spring break has brought me a glimpse of a wonderful future in our little, cozy home.  A glimpse of three precious girls and many, many memories.  

And based on these glimpses into our future, I think it's safe to say that dreams really do come true. <3

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Flying time.

That whole "time flies" thing seems to become more and more true as I get older.

There are moments in my life that seem like yesterday.  Sometimes when I'm driving to school and I have two little girls sleeping quietly in the back seat, I reminisce about certain special moments in my life.  I mean, I think we all do this, right?

Sometimes, it's Matthew's and my "dating" years.  It's been fourteen years now and sometimes it just feels like yesterday.  I can remember riding on the middle console (completely illegally, I'm thinking now!) of that old yellow pick-up truck with Matthew and whichever one of his friends had ridden with us to Rudy's to get some food before the football bus left.  I can remember catching flack for dating a freshman, lol!  I never took any of it seriously, and thankfully most of the comments were all in good fun.  Boy, when that "freshman" became a sophomore and started making pretty big football plays as a defensive end, it became pretty cool that we were together.

I can remember those Homecoming weeks with my classmates...especially the slumber parties, the constant laughs, and the yummy food at the float site that all the moms provided for us!  I can remember proms and high school organizations and graduation.  Just feels like yesterday.

Time flew then, time flew through college, time flew through the year up to our wedding.  We were married for a few years, living in our first house, when we found out we were expecting Harlee.  That feels like yesterday, too.  And now she's seven.

We found out she would be a big sister and wouldn't you know time flew and we had Claire Bear very soon after that!  Now she's almost five and lo and behold, Baby #3 is on the way.  Five more months, but I'm not counting down the time.  I'm trying to really enjoy this time with the two older kiddos and enjoy being pregnant for what I'm 99.9% sure will be the last time.  Cherishing those flutters and kicks that I really hardly remember from my pregnancies with the girls.

When we found out we were expecting this baby, I started to really reconsider the things I was giving my time to.  I posted about my decision to close the doors at Newkirk Photography here.  Of course, I didn't want to just quit "cold turkey", so I continued to take some appointments in December and January.

I've now kind of established my calendar for the rest of 2014 and wanted to share.

With some technical difficulties, involving my computer, I got a few weeks off of my schedule (okay, more like a MONTH off of my schedule) and am just now getting edits done from the final November and December sessions that I hadn't gotten done yet.

So that's my plan for the rest of January...catch up in my free time.

In February, I'm available to take four more half-hour or two more one-hour sessions (probably indoors, unless we have an amazing day!) on February 22nd.  So if you'd like one of those, just please send me a Facebook message or an email at

In March, I have one available session on March 15th.


So senior parents, if you need invitations or albums, please get with me before then!  :)

And I'll be done with regular sessions from mid-March on.  I plan to have some mini-sessions here and there after Baby comes and am looking forward to some weddings that I have on the calendar already during 2014 and 2015.

I am excited to be able to focus on my family of five and my full-time teaching career.  I am looking forward to the photography that I end up sprinkling here and there in my future.  I know it will be a treat to be able to do some photography, after I have taken a break from something I have done so regularly over the last several years!

I'm also excited to be able to share some of our journey on the blog, as I've been planning to do for quite some time.

I love to talk to others about our financial journey, our spiritual journey, and the home-making, house-keeping journey that I'm TRYING to figure out.

So that's the plan.  Time keeps flying, and I realize that if I don't get organized soon, I'm going to miss it.


Thursday, January 2, 2014


This year will be a year of changes for the Newkirk family and with some of those changes will come a blog transformation, as well!

The blog's title came from my life as a third grade teacher, a photographer, and a wife & mom. Well, at the end of 2014, I'm planning to hang up the photographer hat and focus solely on my family and my classroom. You can read more about that decision on this blog post from November 1st.

Now, photography will still be an important part of who I am, as a teacher, wife, and mom, so I'm not planning to change the name of the blog. I still feel like it captures the important parts of who I am.

What I am planning on changing is how often I share and the types of things I share.

I really want to begin blogging as more of a journal for myself. A way to track all the huge changes taking place this year for our family.

And I want this blog to provide a glimpse into the lives of the Newkirk family, as we transform our lifestyle into one with more of a minimalistic focus. 

I am looking forward to the decluttering process of learning to live with less stuff. I'd love to share the ups and downs of our journey towards living with less.

We are still working on our debt snowball, and want to buckle down even more this year to really pay off some serious debt. Our debt reduction plan needs to be revamped, with new baby in mind, and we're looking to build on in the next few years, as well. We want to do this in the most cost-effective way possible and do a lot of the work ourselves. 

To be quite honest, I would be 100% content with this house being our "forever house". I realize it's all in the mindset and although I would love to have a little more land to spread out on some days, we are so very blessed with the home we have to raise our little family in.

I'll be documenting some of our progress towards the "building on" decision and hopefully the beginning stages of that process in the next year. 

We'll be welcoming Baby #3 this year, and of course, with THAT will come many changes. I'll be documenting as we prepare to welcome the little one and of course, after he or she joins us.

This will be a year of many changes and I'm excited to share them with you.

"Capture your journey" has been the tagline of Newkirk Photography for several years and I can't wait to continue capturing my own family's journey through words here on the blog.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013



This is the year. This HAS to be the year.

We will have more changes on the upcoming year than we've had in any year of our marriage (and that's just including the things we KNOW are coming!).

- We'll both turn 30.
- We'll celebrate our 10-year anniversary.
- We'll welcome Baby #3 into the family.
- We'll send the Claire Bear off to kindergarten.
- We'll continue our journey to becoming debt-free.
- We'll continue our journey to becoming more minimalistic in our possessions and home.
- I'll mostly close down the photography business by the end of 2014.

Wow. It's gonna be a big year.

To get myself motivated, I'm listening to some podcasts by Joshua Becker as I declutter the kitchen.

Joshua Becker is the writer over at  He is absolutely inspirational.

He's talking about how our STUFF takes so much time from the people we love and the things that bring us JOY.

We Newkirk's hardly ever have a carefree Saturday. Instead, we spend time working...moving our clutter from one room to the next. We spend time dusting around all our clutter, putting our clutter in piles to go to other rooms, mowing around our outside clutter, trying to organize our clutter...clutter, clutter, CLUTTER!

Maybe the answer is LESS CLUTTER! Get rid of stuff!

This will be the year. This HAS to be the year.

Less space. Less stuff. More life.

Happy New Year, friends. Happy New Year.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our Big News.

Well, here it goes.

I've written and rewritten this post over the last year or so in my head. I've gone through the things I would say, the moments I would share. I've even written notes here and there so I don't forget anything I want to say.

And if you know me, you know that I ALWAYS have something to say.

So let's get this party blog post started.

We're having another baby.

That's right. The Newkirk family will now have three children. 

Three children. 


Sorry, I just have to remind myself that we've actually taken that plunge.

You see, we went back and forth, back and forth.

We have a mid-sized crossover right now that comfortably seats two car seats in the back.

We have a house with three bedrooms.

We have a four and six year old.  Our kids have been out of diapers for quite some time.

We sold or gave away all of our baby stuff.

I had my bladder fixed.  I'll spare you the details, but let's just say when I went in for my pre-op appointment before that surgery, my doctor said, "Now if you're thinking of having a third baby, you'll really want to do that before you have this procedure done."

Well, back then, I wasn't thinking of having a third baby!

And as time has gone on, we just realized that maybe we weren't done.

I know what you might be thinking. "Gotta try for that boy..."  

That's not really it at all.  We just didn't feel complete. 

We'd love to give our nephew Greyson a little boy cousin and I would love for the girls to have a baby brother, but our prayer is really for a healthy baby.

A healthy baby boy or girl.

Let's talk about perfect timing.

I am a planner. I like to work out schedules in my head. I like to know when we're leaving, when we're going to be home. I put things on the calendar months in advance.

I am a planner.

And so when we decided to try for baby #3, I knew exactly when we should start. My plan was to have a baby in March, April, or May.

We didn't get pregnant right away, which isn't the norm for us.

And by the time September rolled around, we had decided we were done trying. 

Funny sense of humor God has though.

We decided to be content with our two darling daughters and stop trying. I had accepted the fact and was moving on with plans of how to redo the house to make it fit our family of four's longterm needs.

Of course, then came October. I started to feel very tired and blamed it on teaching preparation for the end of first quarter. I got a little nauseous every once in a while, but decided my sugars must be a little off.

I was still losing weight (15 pounds since the beginning of the school year), and was able to do my Couch to 5K workout with no problem whatsoever. So of course I wasn't pregnant.

Or maybe I was.

As time went on, the signs began to point towards that and I finally took a test and it revealed that indeed, baby #3 is on the way.

I added it all up and found that I should be due in mid-June. Works pretty perfectly for a teacher. That fit into my nice little "plan". 

Thanks, God.

We should probably start preparing.

Of course, going from two to three kids would be enough of a change by itself.

Add in the fact that we have no baby equipment, no baby room, and haven't had a newborn in the house for 4 1/2 years and there's going to be some preparation that takes place.

And so, I purchased a handy-dandy notebook.

I labeled it with month names, from November to June and started making a to do list for each month.

Did I mention I'm a planner?

So I have categories for each, house, studio, school, girls, and "other" (you know, for all of those things that don't fit nicely into any of the other categories). :)

I'll share my progress on our "to do" list throughout the next nine months, as we have decided to try to get rid of at least 1/3 of our possessions over the next year or so.

We're building on.  Eventually, that is.

My original idea was to do that immediately.  

Build on a basement, a few bedrooms, and a family room and call it good.  Each kid would have her (or his, maybe!) own bedroom and we'd be set for life.

Of course, when we began looking into the "building on" situation, we decided that maybe taking a loan out for $40- or $50,000 wouldn't be the smartest financial decision.

So we decided to put it off for a little while and "make it work".

The girls already share a bedroom.  The other bedroom is now the "playroom".  

Our current plan is to redo the playroom for the girls' Christmas gift and make room for a crib and baby clothes in there too.

It's funny the differences in my "must have" list with this baby and with Harlee.  I am thinking the BARE MINIMUM with this one and with Harlee, I thought we needed every gizmo and gadget under the sun!  

So we're planning to make the playroom/nursery situation work for a year and a half and save our extra debt snowball money towards a down payment on a construction loan sometime in 2015.

Baby will be a year old and we'll be in a better position to fund the project.

Newkirk Photography. 

Here comes the hard part.

I've gone over this conversation a million times in my head and I just can't decide how to say it.

So I guess I'll just say it.

Newkirk Photography is going to be making a huge transformation in 2014.  I am planning to finish out the sessions and weddings I already have booked for next fall, but beyond that, I'm planning to shut my doors except for an occasional mini-session.

I have slowed down a large amount over this past year and the time with Matthew and my girls has been INCREDIBLE.  

The wonderful part is that we started this business to help families gain affordable high-quality photos and I have accomplished that goal for a number of years.  We also have been able to pay down a large amount of debt since the time I opened my doors, which has been a huge blessing for our family.

And now, it just feels like the "right" time to slow down.

For the time being, I am planning to keep the studio, so I will have a location to do inside portraits if I need to.  

I am planning to still offer some mini-sessions here and there.

But my main job is going to be wife, mom, and third grade teacher.

I am extremely excited about my new journey of "mom to three" and am looking forward to this new chapter in our lives.

We are so grateful for your love and support since we opened Newkirk Photography over five years ago.  We have been extremely blessed in this community.  

There are so many wonderful photographers in Bates County and I know they will be able to capture more of your journey as I step out of the photographer role.

Blessings & Love,

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Well, I'm doing it.  Moving more.

A month ago, I had come to the realization that I basically did NOTHING to be active over the summer.  I got up and walked in town early in the morning while the girls and Matthew slept a total of THREE times, I believe. Pathetic.

But that's not all.

I ate WHATEVER I wanted. And HOWEVER MUCH I wanted.

Seriously.  I'm not kidding.

Thinking about it now is actually pretty disgusting to me.

So I hit the heaviest weight I've been in a LONG time near the beginning of August.  I finally said, "Enough is enough."

Here's the deal. It's not the first time this has happened.

Back in August of 2009, I started the Weight Watchers program in Lee's Summit with my mom, mother-in-law, and sister-in-laws.  We rocked it. In fact, I lost almost 20 pounds from then to February.

I even made it through the HOLIDAY season and still stay committed to my health goals.

Near the middle of February, however, my grandpa got sick.  We were close. Like really, REALLY close. And even harder than that, my girls thought he was the world.  He was their Papa Stephens and they were his sweethearts.

Thankfully, Grandpa didn't suffer long. He had a few years there where he needed some oxygen support as he moved through his daily activities (driving through town delivering cantaloupe to random people in their yards, gossiping at the coffee shop, and of course...spending time with my babies). 

Then in February, he ended up in the hospital. He needed ventilator support for a little while, woke up to say goodbye, and went to be with Jesus on the very peaceful evening of March 1, 2010.

It was peaceful. It was difficult. It was beautiful. It was heart-breaking. It was a life-changing moment...the first and only grandparent I've ever lost. Am I blessed or what?

The food started coming to Grandma's house. The kitchen table filled with homemade goodness, surrounded by family and dear friends sharing memories of Grandpa. So I ate.

I started eating at the funeral dinner and I just never stopped.

Until a few weeks ago.

I've always been an emotional eater. Food for me was something to share with friends and family in sorrow, in celebration, in good conversation...with laughter, with tears...spring, summer, autumn, and, food, food...

Slowly (or maybe not so slowly), the pounds started creeping back up. My normal 145 became 150. My normal 150 became 155. 

And as of August 20, 2013...165 was my normal.  And that's what I weighed in at my first Weight Watchers meeting.

Hello, my name is Hannah, and I sure do love me some food.

But I think I love reward stickers at Weight Watchers meetings more. And watching my clothes feel bigger. And being able to breathe as I jog on the treadmill. And hearing people say, "Have you lost weight?"

Actually, yes...I have. 

"How did you do it?" they ask.

Well, it started deep inside with a realization that I CAN do this again. That 165 doesn't HAVE to be my normal. That I have grown up a lot since losing Grandpa, and this time I can lose it and keep it off.

Four weeks later, I'm down over ten pounds! I'm at 154 and headed down!

I'm doing the Couch to 5K app, tracking my food and drink intake, filling myself with healthy choices like protein and fiber, and I am telling myself every day that THIS is me. 

I don't have to be self-conscience about jogging on a treadmill just because I've never really been a "runner". 

I don't have to listen to the negative self-talk that sometimes creeps into my thinking.


And so can you.

Picture yourself the way you want to be...regarding health, debt management, home organization.  Picture yourself, set a goal, and take action.

All you have to do is move.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

More Changes.

Well, it's been quite a year.

Quite a year at home.
Quite a year at school.
And quite a year at Newkirk Photography.

Of course, change is inevitable, regardless of which setting we're talking about.

Change is good, when it includes personal growth, relationship improvement, and other successes.

That's the kind of change I'd like to address as I share with the world some "changes" happening for our family and for Newkirk Photography.

Last year, I posted a big ol' long post about minimizing my work load and changing the way I did business.  The plan was to take 10 session appointments from August-December, and 10 more from January-May.  This worked out pretty well.

I must admit that I didn't ALWAYS say no to sessions that were above and beyond my original planned schedule, but all of the "above and beyond" sessions were sessions that I chose to accept, due to specific circumstances, and in order to be a blessing to some families.

Terminal illnesses, military deployment, adoption celebrations.

And what a blessing those sessions are to me, as well.

This change of pace really has worked out nicely for my family.  We saw each other more and it finally felt like we were living under the same roof again (something that we had missed the previous summer!).

After much prayer and contemplation, I have decided to even back off a little bit more this school year, in order to be the best wife, mom, third grade teacher, and photographer I can be.

And so, I have scheduled available sessions around the girls' activities, church happenings, and school events.  These sessions can be found on my "Session Availability" tab on my website.  Look for "Available Session" on the calendar.

I am now scheduling from September 2013 through February 2014.

Now, although there are not too many general sessions available, I will still be having my Fall and Valentine's Mini-Session, as I do each year.  I will also be adding an indoor Christmas Card Mini-Session this year!  See dates and information for each of these mini-sessions below and mark your calendars today so you don't miss them!

To schedule, simply send me a Facebook message, email me at, or give me a call!  Fair warning...people are already requesting spots for the Fall Mini's on October 19th!  So if you're planning to get an appointment, you might want to do it quickly!  :)


The Annual Fall Mini-Session (this will be the fourth year!) is a 30-minute outdoor session (usually families).  This year, I'm doing a $30 sitting fee that includes a disc of 15 edited images.  Keeping it simple.

I've decided to try out a Christmas Card Mini-Session this year.  This will be an indoor session at the studio.  Fifteen minute session to get a few good Christmas card images, a break for me to load them on the computer, and a 10-minute View & Choose session for you to pick your favorite Christmas card design, image or images, and wording.

And finally, the 4th Annual Valentine's Photo Booth.  This will be at the studio, as usual.  No sitting fee.  No appointment.  15-Minute Walk-In Appointments and an online photo gallery for you to order from.

Thanks so much for all of your support over the last several years.

                                                                            I am blessed.
                                                                                          ~ Hannah