Saturday, December 31, 2011

For a 35th Birthday...

It was two bunches of lovely flowers, tulips and lilies, a great spin class in the morning followed by brunch cooked by the hubby, a surprise play-date for my kids by my awesome visiting teacher, a relaxing pedicure, dinner at one of my favorite places, dessert, and a great movie date. 
The hubby gave me one of these, for all my running and training. So awesome! It was a wonderful day. 
I got lots of texts and calls and felt very loved. This next year is going to be another great year full of opportunities, I can feel it!

I hope you and yours have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Wrap Up

The annual Christmas Eve "Feastival" was delicious again this year. We really enjoy Andy and Teresa's tradition of choosing the menu on Christmas Eve based on family favorites. This year's menu included: pigs in a blanket (Kalina's choice) hot wings, (Andy's), crazy jello salad and cookie salad (Teresa's choice), marinated flank steak (Ellie's), mashed potatoes, (Sophia's), caramel brownies (Chris) and pizzetti, a Neapolitan tradition around Christmas time (which are fried mini pizzas) with home made dough, sauce and fresh mozzerella as my pick. Andy and Teresa invited another family over for dinner and they brought perogie's and cheese pizza. Round everything out with a veggie tray and lots of crackers and cheese and we were heartily stuffed. I didn't take any photos of the food again this year. I think we are all too distracted eating and talking for me to pick up my camera.

After the meal we enjoyed some Christmas carol singing, talents by the cousins, and Andy talking to the kids about the first Christmas. Kids unwrapped their new pajamas and it was time to head home for bed. Great night!

Christmas Day was lovely- I really enjoy having Christmas fall on Sunday, we got up, opened stockings, ate a yummy breakfast and got ready for church. The sacrament service was lovely and inspiring, and then after one hour, we were back in the car headed home to finish presents. Gradon slept all morning so he didn't experience Christmas until after church. He wasn't too concerned with all of it anyway. The girls helped him open his presents. He got a new scoot bike from Santa which he hopped on for a few minutes. Ellie's favorites of the morning were her new roller-blades and her new sleeping beauty doll. Sophia's favorite gift was her complete Jessie the Cowgirl dress-up set, complete with hat and sparkly red boots. She did ask me why Santa didn't bring her the 'donkey' and a rope too, I said that Santa thought the 'donkey' and rope weren't good choices this year for gifts. (Lol) As always Santa was very generous with Mrs. Claus this year. I am a lucky girl. I love my new camera bag.

Wednesday night we made it to the temple to see the lights. The kids loved it, and were so excited to see all the colors and the nativities from around the world and the decorated trees. I enjoyed taking pictures of bokeh lights-lots and lots of bokeh. =) I will spare you all of the pictures I took, but here are a few of my favorites.

The kids have been asking for snow everyday this month. Sophia asked me today if it was going to snow this year, I told her probably not. Well, it is December 29th and outside my window there are little tiny flakes falling. She is so excited. It's been a great holiday. I am gearing up for a big birthday tomorrow and a relaxed New Year. I am excited about what the year will bring.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Hello Friends! Thanks for hanging in with me over the last couple of weeks, I am finally out of my dark cave and happy to report Christmas is back on schedule. =) I am feeling good again and we are so excited for Christmas day and the week ahead. ( Pssst I have a big birthday coming up...ack!)  

2011 has been an incredible year for us Cochrans, and I wish we would have sent a Christmas letter to share everything with our friends and family. Here is our top 'ten' for the year, 2 highlights per family member:

Chris: Crushing Step 1 and Starting year 3 Woohoo!
Maggie: Seeing U2 in concert and running her first 1/2 marathon!!!
Ellie: Going to Disneyland and dancing again on the competition team!
Sophia: Going to Disneyland/Grandma's house and 'I love preschool'!
Gradon: Learning to walk and being cute and being obsessed with cell phones.

These are a few things that highlight our year. I am so grateful for the progress that we have made in our lives, for the goals we have set and accomplished. This time next year we will know where/what we will be doing for residency. I can't believe that we are getting near the end of medical school! I am amazed at how much I love living here in Maryland, at how many wonderful friends we have, how grateful we are for our ward family, our dance family, our extended family, and I am grateful to be teaching some wonderful kids. I love serving still as the primary president in our ward. We are blessed everyday by the kindness and goodness of our Heavenly Father. 2012 is sure to be more good stuff. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Blues

(Warning, this is a full scale pity party, so you might just want to come back in a few days for a happier post. )

I am sick. I have been sick for 10 days now, last week it was a sinus infection, and today the good word is strep throat. I am totally overwhelmed. There are so many things left to do before Christmas and I just don't know how they are all getting done. My expectations for this holiday have completely gone to pot. Today some friends of mine had planned to take me to NYC for a surprise birthday trip. Isn't that amazing??! Do you know how hard it is to have a birthday 5 days after Christmas, and one day before the biggest party day of the year? It stinks. My amazing friends put this fantastic trip together. So nice of them, and such a fun idea...and today I couldn't go into the city because I am flat on my back sick. I feel terrible. I am so bummed out.

One of the worst parts of today is that didn't get to hold and spend time with my children. I was home listening to life go on without me downstairs. My poor little baby cried most of the day, he just wanted to be with me in my room, in my sick bed. 

I had this fantastic Christmas cookie party planned for tomorrow for all my friends, Chris even woke up this morning and baked some of my favorite holiday treats for me. No cookie party. Cancelled.
                                                                  So sad. 

I haven't finished my Christmas shopping yet. I haven't sewn G's Christmas stocking or worked on a very special gift for my Sophia. I just don't know if it is going to get done. 

I am just resigned to the fact that Christmas is coming with or without my plans. My kids will be fine, they will be happy and excited and I will just have to be satisfied with what is, and with what is not. My cup is full of gratitude for my dear hubby, he has been home this week and without him I think I might have just sunk to the bottom of the ocean. He has taken great care of me and is keeping up with the crazy. I feel bad that his much needed break is being spent running my errands, cleaaning the house, taking care of children and baking my cookies. I haven't been able to take any more photos, and we haven't been to see the lights at the temple. There have been no gingerbread houses decorated with my girls or Christmas movies watched. No singing of carols either. Bah humbug. 

I know none of these things really matter, I know that the spirit of the season is with us with or without my plans...but today I am just sad and disappointed.

 I can happily report that two weekends ago the girls and I were able to see a small version of the nutcracker here in town. A girl that we know from the studio where my girls dance was dancing the part of the sugar plum fairy. We went with dear friends and the girls loved it. 

I know there is still time to make holiday memories, and I am sure that we will.  I just need to get over these last 10 days and move ahead. Hopefully I will be well soon and I can pull it all together.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Night Shooting

Twelve Days of Christmas photos,day two. I have a nasty cold. Boo. But my cold allowed me to run to the store last night by myself and grab some medicine. I took my camera with me, I was hoping to find some fun lights on the way to shoot a couple of photos for today's post. I have decided that posting one photo per day may not be enough. =) The photo above is from the parking lot at the grocery store, the color Christmas lights are from my neighbor's yard, and that fun golden ball is from our tree. Our neighbor has a lovely light display and I couldn't resist sneaking up to their house and taking a few shots. I realized that the best way to get bokeh is to turn off the AF setting on my camera and go totally manual with the focus. I already shoot in manual mode about 98% of the time, but turning off the manual focus was new. I loved it! So fun. I want to go out night shooting again. Hopefully this time with a tripod and work with some crazy long shutter speeds. I think since I am home sick today I will also try making a filter for the bokeh and experiment with different shapes. =)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Twelve Days

Of Christmas in photos! I am going to give myself a goal to shoot something Christmas-y everyday until Christmas. Here is today's photo, took it the day we put the tree up. I am obsessed with bokeh right now. This photo is one of my first attempts. I love these little red bird ornaments. My camera is not super great in low light, a frustrating thing for me, but this one is pretty considering the light and settings. I didn't have the best lens on the camera for bokeh, this was taken with my 28-135mm, ISO 800, f/4.5  at 1/25. I took some of Sophia that are better, and the orbs are pretty. I will get those up tomorrow.

Also, we are counting down the 12 days of Christmas with the kids.  We are going to talk about the life of Christ, and his miracles, and the gifts of the gospel. I got the idea from here. We will read from the scriptures and talk about how each gift is important to us. I think it will be a great way to help the kids remember the real meaning of the season.

Christmas is coming, what are you doing with your family? Are you taking any pretty pictures? Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hello, Blog

Okay, I have LOTS on my mind and things to share. I can't believe that it is December 12th and this is my first post of the Christmas season. I have November to catch up on, and fun things to post about the holidays.

Firstly- I need to talk about some stuff and get it off my chest, then I will fill you in on the good stuff.

Do you ever feel like you are fighting some kind of battle? Like some mornings you wake up knowing what lays ahead and before your feet hit the ground you are already making your escape plan for the day? (Laugh) It feels like sometimes I am fighting a losing battle with my 'to do' list. My 'to do' list just gets longer and longer and really it makes me frustrated.

Secondly, this is the time of year where I really evaluate my life, I think with my birthday coming up in a few weeks I get the New Year's bug and my 'I need to accomplish' panic sets in and thus, more to add to the list. I have a new theme for 2012, and I will share it once 2012 rolls around. I am excited for new goals, but maybe with a new spin this year. =)

Lastly, are you having a nice holiday season? I am trying to not put so much pressure on myself this year to plan every minute, and like President Uchdorf talked about making things 'too perfect' and in turn make more misery than joy. I am trying to focus on the real meaning of Christmas in my heart and with my children and still give them some wonderful magic moments and things to look forward to.

It is a beautiful day here today. It is COLD, but the sun in shining. My kids are doing well, the hubby is doing so well at school we are really blessed. This year has been a great one, with great memories. This time next year we will know what Chris will be selecting for residency (!!!) (Insert panic and insanity). How is it possible we are so close to the end of 4 years of med school?? We are talking about specialties and locations and boy oh boy what to do. I guess we will just have to wait and see what the Lord has in store.

We had a wonderful time tree hunting at a local tree farm. The kids got to see Santa, which was awesome. Isn't that a great sleigh? Chris and the kids dutifully followed me around all morning while I hunted for 'just the right tree'. They really are a patient group. We had fun, getting the tree up is a fabulous part of the holiday season. Hope you are enjoying your holidays too.

Do you see that big smile on my baby's face? He LOVED Santa. It was so cute.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Ellie turned 7 last week. I honestly don't know how that has happened, it was just yesterday we brought her home from the hospital on Thanksgiving. I was so excited to be her mother, I was nervous and worried that I wouldn't know what to do with a little baby, but somehow it came easily, and now I love thinking about these past 7 years of her growth.

I must say I am beaming with pride with her accomplishments, she is an excellent student, voracious reader,quick at math, beautiful dancer, kind and loving sister, and an attentive friend. She loves reading the scriptures and pours over the friend magazines. She is learning so much about the gospel and soon she will be baptized...again I can't believe how old she is! She is my little Ellie, my light. I am so happy she is mine.

For her birthday this year I wanted to make sure it was special since it fell on Thanksgiving. I knew it was going to be a busy day full of cooking and not much time for celebrating a birthday. Late the night before Chris helped me string a bunch of butterflies to hang from the ceiling in her room while she slept. She was so surprised when she woke up! It was magic. Both the girls were captivated by the butterflies. It made my heart so happy. Gradon loved them too.

Sophia took this :)

In the afternoon we spent our Thanksgiving dinner feast at Andy and Teresa's house and we had a great day together. The Sunday following Thanksgiving we had cake and ice cream and presents. It was fun to stretch out her birthday, and I don't think she minded one bit! Happy Birthday Ellie! We love you so much.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Race Day!

Saturday morning November 19, my eyes fly open at 4:30, 10 minutes prior to both alarms that I had set. I stumble to the bathroom to change clothes, use the potty, brush my teeth and gear up. I double checked my change of clothes bag and hurried downstairs to get some breakfast.
4:45, my alerts went off on my phone reminding me to grab my race bib and pins for the race. I shoved them in my workout bag and remembered my camera was FULL of about 800 of RAW images. I needed to empty the camera, and also plug in the good camera battery for Chris.
5:00 I am pacing restlessly waiting for my ride. Josh Stayley, a man in our ward was also scheduled to run the race is my ride. I am getting nervous and decide to use the bathroom. Again.
5:15 I double check my bag, iphone, earbuds, water bottle for the start of the race, gloves, earwrap, all ready.
I grab a banana for afterwards. I set out coats and hats for the kids, my warm coat and comfy shoes for after on the floor so Chris will grab them.
5:20 I am getting really nervous, Josh was supposed to come and get me at 5am. Did I miss him when I was upstairs downloading pictures? Ugh. Do I call his house?
5:25 I see headlights, Josh has arrived and I bolt out the door.

The drive to the stadium is fun. Josh tells me all about the races he has done in his life, and gives me some great tips and some GU for the run. (these save my life later) He gave me the good advice to just enjoy the race and have fun.

6:00 We arrive at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium parking lot. I am beginning to wonder what the heck I am doing up at this time in the morning on a Saturday and why in the world I want to run in the dark in the cold for 13 miles.

6:15 After checking our stuff one more time and getting our ipods ready, we venture out to use the bathrooms and stash our stuff in the bag check. I take this photo with my iphone:

6:30 Josh and I begin to get the pre race nerves. We chatter and talk and decide we need to use the bathroom again. We run over to the bathrooms and are grateful to have been smart enough to avoid some of the longer lines.

6:45 We get in the big heap of people to race. He heads to the front of the race pack since he is going to run a crazy time and I head to the back since I am a newbie and will probably be pretty slow this race.

I am amazed at how cold I am and all of a sudden I get a huge rush of excitement. I am totally ready! I am totally pumped.

7:00 Supposedly we are waiting for the national anthem. It doesn't play. We wait. My iphone decides to shut off and not play music. Ugh. I was a bit panicked at this point and was worried I wouldn't have time to get it working again. I do and I pray it has no more issues during the race.

7:15 I am hearing chatter all around me from the other racers, we are all anxious and excited. I thought I would be lonely all by myself waiting to start the race, but I was just content to enjoy the moment alone.

Finally, the pack begins to move forward, it's time! I start to walk slowly until about 200 feet before the start and I begin a slow jog. Our herd of runners is shouting and talking, excited about this race. I pop one earbud in and get into a groove.

7:45 Mile 3, race pack is still think I am clocking a 10 minute mile time, which is good. I am enjoying the scenery so much! It is a beautiful morning. I am beginning to wonder again why the heck I am doing this, but am hoping now that I am past the warm up miles that I will really feel my groove and relax.

8:30 I am almost halfway, and have really been enjoying old Annapolis and the bridge that goes over the water. It is a bit of a climb, but I hunker down and reach the top. The pack I am with passes the first wave of machines charging over the bridge as we ascend for the first time, several men and finally a tiny little girl runs down for the final two miles. I am beginning to wonder where we are going for our loop, and at what point we get to endure this bridge again and I am thinking I still have half the race to finish....I gulp down a GU and thank Heavenly Father for Josh who gave me two for the race.

*Quick explanation of GU-It's a soft, jelly like mixture of carbs and energy to get you through your race. They don't taste very good and the flavor is highly concentrated, kind of like eating a very gooey Jolly Rancher candy, and you get it down as quick as you can. You take one every 45 minutes to give your muscles and body what it needs function. I had meant to get a couple for myself during my week of race prep but simply forgot, thankfully Josh offered a few to me and honestly they helped me so much! *

The worst part of the race for me was miles 7-10. First we were running on the highway which was a little unnerving and later they funneled us onto a trail. I did NOT like the trail we were running on, it was a narrow paved path and you had to share the space with both runners going forward on the trail and heading back in, so we were basically shoulder to shoulder for that three mile loop. NOT fun. The whole race I was pretty packed with runners, we were on each others heels the whole way, but this part was nuts. Also, the water and Gatorade stations were terribly placed, the frequency was bad and I was so grateful I had my own water bottle for the first part of the race. I worried I would need more, but I gulped down two cups each station so I was okay.

Mile 11- (Notice I don't know what time it is anymore, I am getting close to the finish and I am just watching my race time on my watch) My hip is bothering me, I have really tight hip flexors and I am wondering at this point if I have enough juice to make it back in two miles.Then I think, 'that is silly of course I do, I have already run 11 miles, 2 is nothing'!! But then I think about walking for a few feet, but my body is not interested in that, so I keep going.

Mile 12- I am getting really excited and I can feel my last burst of energy kicking in, I am trying to pass a bunch of walkers on the course, and I want to achieve my 2:30 race goal. The course is lined with spectators cheering us on and my body can feel the finish, I am so happy! I can't believe I have made it and I ran the whole more mile to go.

Mile 13.1- I cross the finish line at 2:32, just two minutes over my goal time. I feel amazing! I feel like I could still run actually, my body is in a rhythm and wants to keep going, but I am grateful for the end. My girls, Gradon and Chris are there to cheer for me, and hug me. I get my medal and a few other goodies. I think, I loved this, I want to do it again. Such a great feeling. We take pictures and head back to the car. I am so humbled and grateful. After this experience I truly believe that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to, if we work, commit and persevere. A huge mental block has been removed from my mind, I know I can do anything I put my mind to, I just have to believe in myself enough to try.

Friday, November 18, 2011


is race day! 

I am headed out the door early tomorrow to Annapolis.
I am really excited this morning....and nervous! This is my first half marathon. I have been dutifully training for 12 weeks now and I honestly say I am proud of myself for sticking to the training. I know I am not going to be the fastest girl out there, but I sure am not going to come in last. Yesterday I was feeling so anxious about it, and today I feel totally pumped and ready. 

It has been a busy few weeks. I have lots to share with you, but I will have to get back to blogging after tomorrow.  Last week while my mother was still here we took her to Williamsburg Virginia. It was fantastic! I want to go back! That trip deserves it's own post, but here are just a couple of recent photos I took of the kids, I love fall here in Maryland!

Also, lots of fun photography things to share keep in touch! =)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Afteroon Walks

It's been fun to have my parents here. Most afternoons my mom takes the girls to the park near our house. Early in their visit mom and I took Sophia on a walk while the baby slept. Fall is so beautiful where we live. It is really magical. The light in the afternoon is so bright, and the air is crisp and lovely. We loved walking through the crunchy brown leaves that had fallen to the ground. Sophia loved collecting leaves to show to Grandpa when we got home.

I am so grateful for my parents. They do so much for me and have so much fun with the kids. It is really wonderful to be able to spend some time with them during this beautiful time of the year.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Autumnal Update

We are in the Seattle Washington area this weekend for Chris' brother's wedding. It is the last Cochran brother to be wed, there are SEVEN boys in the family. I have been thinking a lot this weekend about my life since I met my husband, ten years of marriage, ten years of family get togethers...and it has lead me to some interesting conclusions about myself and about families in general. I am very thankful for my husband and his family. I am grateful that we were able to fly out for this last brother's wedding, I missed the last one because I was 41 weeks pregnant with Sophia in 2007. I am grateful that each time I get together with this huge amazing family I get closer to one more person and I don't feel so overwhelmed by all their personalities.

I am grateful my parents flew out to Maryland to watch the girls, we just couldn't afford to take them with us, which made me sad as I watched the Cochran cousins play together. They are having a great time with Grandma and Grandpa, however. =)

I am grateful for November, a fantastic month in my opinion, where I try each day to think of something new to be thankful for. November is a special month, it is the month my mother was born, and on the same day 61 years later my little Ellie was born, the week of Thanksgiving.

November is when I start gearing up for a new year to come, and evaluating the year past. So far, it's been highly productive I am feeling really good. Yesterday I ran 9 miles with my super-amazing-athletic-queen sister in law Heather. I ran my fastest time yet. My half marathon is in two weeks....yikes. I am thankful for being able to overcome fears. I am seriously amazed at my progress in dealing with some big issues in my life. 2011, you have been outstanding! November and December, you still have so many good things on the horizon. I am looking forward to the weeks ahead.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


This year was my year to accomplish a lot of things that are on 'my list'. I know a lot of people have a list like this, and I am chipping away at my goals slowly. I am PROUD to say I am almost ready for my first half marathon in November. Yesterday I ran a 7 miler outside. I wish I had my camera for how beautiful it was outside, it was a runner's, sunny and totally autumn. I have to say, I haven't done much running outside in a while, and it totally kicked my you know what. I usually run inside on a treadmill, partly due to the fact that I usually have two kids in tow and need the childcare for my runs. I had a pretty good time overall, I was pretty darn pleased with myself, but man was I tired when I came home. Today I am not too sore, which is a relief, my quads are a bit tight, but honestly I feel fantastic.

I have some other things in the works that I am also proud of, I use proud in the most humble have to understand I feel so grateful about being able to press forward with a few things that are really important to me, with some goals that I honestly never thought I could accomplish. I am doing those things, it's a pretty amazing feeling.

Oh yeah, and can I say I feel satisfied and happy? Really. Truly happy. I have had a few breakthroughs lately and I think they are the key to unlocking some of my fears and insecurities. I have been learning a lot about myself lately, how I cope with fear, loss and rejection. I feel so blessed today. I feel so open to the future. That is an amazing feeling.

Can I say how much I love fall here? October especially. It is BEAUTIFUL out there. Get out my Maryland friends, it is truly a lovely time of year.

Two weekends ago we went to the pumpkin patch. I love this place.

Happy Fall my friends!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Baby H

I had the wonderful opportunity of taking pictures of a friend's baby on Saturday. It was a great experience. I learned a lot and had so much fun. This newborn session was so relaxed- even though my little subject was a little fussy and particular about posing for me, we were able to steal a few beauties-and don't you just love big brother? His little cars had to be included. He is so proud of his little baby brother and pleased to be a part of our time together. enjoy!



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Rennfest

I love Maryland! The longer I live here the more I love it. We are into our third year here, (how is that possible?) I am finding more and more interesting things to do here. I know we have barely scratched the surface of what we need to experience and visit while we are living here, but here is something you must do if you visit Maryland in September and October.
The renaissance festival! This incredible place is tucked in the rolling green agriculture lands of Crownsville outside Annapolis.

Here is a description from
"The Maryland Renaissance Festival is a recreation of a 16th century English village. Our village is named Revel Grove, and is set on a beautiful 25-acre wooded site with 85 acres of free parking. The village consists of craft and food booths, five pubs, ten major stages, a Jousting Arena and lots of games.
The Maryland Renaissance Festival has become the region's premier outdoor event and the second largest Renaissance Festival in the country. Since the Festival's first season as a ramshackle village in 1977, the event has matured into a large theme show with more than 1,300 participants and 280,000 guests per season. "
I am so glad we got to go this year. Last year I had just had Gradon and well, taking a new baby to the renfest just didn't sound appealing. This year we took the whole family, and we all had a fantastic time.
We were lucky to go with our friends the Mahaffeys' some of our favorite people here in Maryland. They were experts on where to go and what to see.

It was fun to walk through the village, I loved the ribbons strung from the buildings.

As we walked to our first spot, we saw a friendly spar with swords:

We all wanted to see the joust, so we started there first-

Next, we rode the elephant!

We made our way around to the games and stopped for a snack. On our way we were stopped for bad behavior and put in the stocks-

But finally made it out and had turkey legs and fries.

And then the pony rides.

We then had fun on the super slide, and took a break at the pirate ship play area.

After this we wound our way back to the village square for some grub. Something we wanted to do but didn't have time was watch a glass blowing demo. We hope to see that next year. Thoughout the afternoon I kept my eyes peeled for King Henry, and did spot him on our way around the faire with his lovely queen Katherine Parr. ( I didn't get the chance to get a photo of him, however.)

The girls picked a pretty flower crown to remember their time at the faire.

On our way out of the faire we met with some of the ladies of the court, and they oblidged to stop for a photo. A great day at the rennfest. Can't wait to go back for more next year.