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{Stick with me on this.  I need your help.}

There’s this guy I see walking around town.  He’s a bigger guy.  Long unbrushed hair.  Scruffy beard. His layers and layers of clothes look unwashed.  He carries a big black bag and leads his healthy looking black dog around with him.  I seem to see him a lot.  Or maybe the brief encounters I have every so often are just more memorable than most people I see around town.

Every time I pass him, I wonder (sometimes out loud to my kids)

“what is his story?”

“where does he go at night?”

“how did he end up on the streets?”

“why does he stay around here (where resources are limited)?”

“where is his family?  Do they know where he is?  Is he in contact with them?”

“what is his name?”

Every time the questions flood in.  And I wonder.  But I never stop besides to once-in-a-while hand him a few dollars out the window as I continue on my way to finish all the things I “have” to do.

But today was different.  Today I left the grocery store in my nice warm winter coat (let’s ignore the fact that I had flip-flops on because flip flops are life and I will wear them all year) and said out loud “Holy flip it’s freezing” as I ran through the parking lot to my car.

{It’s cold in Utah right now.  So so so so cold.  And it will only get colder.  And somehow, every year, I forget how cold it gets.  And I forget how long it lasts.}

Anyway.  I digress.  I walked out of the store, in the freezing weather, loaded my car full of groceries I’m privileged to have money to buy and as I drove out of the parking lot, there he was.  I rolled down the window, said hello, handed him a few dollars, looked him in the eye (because THIS will never leave my mind), and continued on my way.

As I drove away, thinking about him, and all the questions that come with his presence, I had a thought.  It was a reminder actually of something I’ve been meaning to do, but managed to keep putting off because that’s how we let life push us around sometimes.

Here’s where we get to the REAL reason for this post.  There are these blankets at Costco.  They’re down blankets.  They pack into a little carrying case that is small and super easy to carry.  And truth be told, the blankets are MAGIC.  They are SO warm.  They’re deceiving in size and weight, but they hold in the heat like you wouldn’t believe.

A while back I thought “I should buy a bunch of these for the homeless shelter and homeless community (who don’t use the shelter)”.  They’re perfect for people on the move who are subject to the extreme cold.  They pack easily in to a small case, they weigh next to nothing, and they’re easy to wipe off and clean.

Seeing this man reminded me to quit thinking about it and “DO IT”.

I know there are so many worthy causes, especially this time of year.  The beauty of this–the blankets are only $20.  Twenty bucks and it can literally change someone’s day-t0-day life.  I hate being cold.  Hate it.  It affects everything.  My mood, my spirit, my attitude, my ability to think and function or accomplish anything, my ability to be nice.  Being cold is part of the devil’s plan.  And I’d love to help people NOT be cold.

Back to the story for a minute.  Instead of going home, I went to Costco, bought a blanket, drove back to the man and parked my car.

I’m embarrassed to admit, I felt stupid.  I felt nervous.  My heart started beating fast and the doubts assaulted their way in to my head.

I’m pretty introvert and walking up to a stranger like that is on my list of “man I really hate this” things to do.

But, whatever.  The guy was out in the cold.  He’s outside a lot of the day (I know, because I see him).  And my best guess is he’s staying out most of the nights too.  He’s one of MANY who are in similar circumstances.

I got out of my car, wondering what in the world I was doing, and walked over to him.  I asked his name, asked about his dog (who you could tell he loved with his whole heart) and asked him if something like this blanket would be helpful (I didn’t want to push something on him he didn’t actually need/want).

We didn’t talk long, and he wasn’t very chatty.  I had no expectations.  I didn’t expect him to say much to me (also a stranger and probably equally as awkward for him).  I certainly didn’t expect any praise or huge amounts of gratitude because truth be told, I wouldn’t be terribly grateful in that moment if I were him.  I also didn’t feel comfortable asking more questions than that.  I don’t know him and didn’t feel I had a right of access to his story without putting in the effort of knowing him.

But he was kind.  And gracious.  And I could tell maybe a little self-conscious (I feel ya buddy).

But that blanket–it will keep him warm.  I know it will because I have one and I’m pretty sure it saved my life one night at a football game ;).

Okay.  Back to the point.

I want to buy a bunch of these blankets.  For the homeless community around me and in the surrounding cities.  I’ve been in contact with my local Homeless Shelter, the Road Home, and have suggestions and advice from them.

I’m inviting all of YOU to help me.  I’d love to raise as much money as I can so I can buy as many blankets as possible and give them to those who just need a little warmth, both in body and in soul.

Twenty bucks.  Twenty dollars buys a blanket and it could make all the difference in someone’s life.  Not being dramatic on that one.

You can donate a dollar.  You can donate $10.  If you donate $20 it buys a blanket.  If you’re willing to donate more, we’ll buy more.

Small things with great love truly do add up.  And they matter.  They make a difference.  WE make a difference.  And those people we’re trying to help, THEY make a difference too.

To participate, you can:

Venmo the money to me, @lindsayross17 (my profile photo is me on a little motorcycle) OR

Paypal to lindsayrossphotography@yahoo.com (be sure to mark that you’re sending it to friends and family or they’ll charge a fee).

Or if you’re close to me (and know me), feel free to just drop some cash by or I’ll come pick it up.

I know it’s hard to just send money to someone, but I hope you trust I will use every cent toward the homeless community.  I’m not keeping a dime.  I’ll document the entire process, report how many blankets we buy, and document the delivery of the blankets.

I will be accepting donations until DECEMBER 12th.  

I’ll then add up the money, buy the blankets and take them to the people who need them sometime next week (documenting it all of course to share with all of you).

As always, THANK YOU to those of you who continue to show up each year as I do my best to do something small for the homeless community.  They have and will continue to have my heart.  I just can’t wrap my brain or heart around someone not having a place to call home.

I just finished a book called “Welcome Homeless” by Alan Graham.  It was eye opening to say the least and I LOVE love love the work Alan Graham is doing.  He built a community for the homeless in Austin, Texas and a “food truck” for the homeless called Mobile Loaves and Fishes–nothing short of inspired.

I’ll leave you with something he said:

“Our dream of connecting human to human and heart to heart has become a reality.  This was never going to be a transactional housing model for the homeless.  People are not just objects to satisfy–Here’s your green soup; now go sleep on a cot.  We are meant to hold the promise of life to others.  Start treating people with dignity and respect.  Start doing that, and the world–cannot–will not–stay the same, because people respond to being loved.”

People respond to being loved.  Amen, my friend.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask away.  ltross17@yahoo.com

Venmo, Paypal, or cash.  $20 buys a blanket.  Collecting until December 12th.  Those cardboards signs–the ones that say “Anything helps”–those signs are true.  Every donation, big or small, makes a difference.


Side note–for those of you who are close to me, I will also be happy to take any gently used clothing, blankets, or sheets you are willing to donate to the homeless shelter and will take that down with me when we take the new blankets.  You can look on the Road Home website for a current list of immediate/urgent needs if you’d like to donate something more that I can with me.

Drop them off on my porch by December 11th.  THANK YOU!

Newborns are my favorite.  Newborn twins?  Twice the fun.  Twice the challenge.  And these particular twins just happen to be my nephews.  I’ve never photographed newborn twins before and though I’m not doing much with photography sessions anymore, I wanted to share these photos.

My brother and his wife had to fight pretty hard to get them here and endured quite the battle all the way until the minute they were born.  Love these little guys.


{It’s that time of year again!!  I’ve been offering these headshots for a several years now and keep getting more and more requests.  Here we go again!}

As awesome as school pictures are (and by awesome I mean great blackmail for the future), once my own kids started school I decided to do my own head shots and offer it to others as well.

If you’d like an alternative/replacement for the traditional school pictures that no one ever displays, this is for you.  They’re also nice to have for those times you need a picture of your kid (for a school project, grandparent, special occasion, etc) and realize you don’t have any where they aren’t being a complete booger.

The cost is $10 per kid OR $40 per family (so if you have 3 kids, it’s $30, if you have 4 or more kids it’s $40).  This will include a vertical and horizontal headshot of each kid with a white background.

If you want a GROUP photo of all of your kids together, you can add that on for $25.  

Pictures will be edited in color AND black and white and you will receive a high-resolution digital copy (via Dropbox) so you can print whatever you want.  Cheaper (and cooler) than school pictures.  Non-school age children are welcome as well.

Our school allows us to just buy the class photo, so my kids still get their school picture taken and we just purchase the class photo (in elementary).  Then we use these alternative photos as our yearly photos.

I will be taking “school picture” head shots in LEHI (I will e-mail you the address after you sign up) on Tuesday, September 12th, Thursday, September 14th, and Monday September 18th. 

Click THIS LINK for Tuesday, September 12th to sign up for a time slot. (one spot left)

Click THIS LINK for Thursday, September 14th to sign up for a time slot. (5 spots left)

Click THIS LINK for Monday, September 18th to sign up for a time slot. (one spot left)

Click THIS LINK for Monday, September 25th to sign up for a time slot (NEW DATE ADDED).


Sign-up times are first-come-first-served so if a specific time works better for you, signing up ASAP is a good idea (I’ve run out of time-slots each year).  Once you sign-up, please be sure to make your appointed time.  If you need to change your time for any reason, please do it as soon as possible so someone else can take your time-slot.

You only need ONE TIME SLOT PER FAMILY!  (Each kid only takes 1-2 minutes plus a group shot if you want to add that on so just 10 minutes per family is enough time).

If these dates/times don’t work for you, I will probably be doing a make-up date for those who can’t make it.  E-mail me to let me know you are interested and we’ll try to work something out.

If all time slots fill up quickly, I may open another date (in Lehi).

The head shots only take about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the moods of the kids (because you know, kids).

Please mention in the comments (on the sign up sheet) how many kids you’ll be bringing and if you want a group shot or not.


To see more samples of what the headshots will look like, click on the arrows to scroll through the photos!

If you have any questions feel free to contact me at ltross17@yahoo.com

***If you have any friends/family you think would be interested, I would love for you to pass this information along!***

When I was in 9th grade, a partial solar eclipse happened in my town.  I’m sure we were warned a dozen times not to look at it, but I did because I was 15 and stupid.  And just as promised, it damaged my eyeball.  I had a bright spot in my eye for around 6 months after and had to wear glasses for a while.  It wasn’t one of my prouder moments.

Thankfully it healed itself (because the human body is amazing) and I got to ditch the glasses.  Sweet mercy.

So when I first heard about an eclipse coming again, I was pretty “Meh” about it.  Burned my eyeball once.  Not super interested in doing it again.  I didn’t pay much attention to the whole thing and wasn’t making special efforts to see it.

The Saturday before the eclipse rolled around, mom guilt got the better of me.  So I tracked down some eclipse viewing glasses (not an easy feat when you procrastinate) for my kids to watch it.  Basically a drug deal in a parking lot, money quickly exchanged, glasses slipped under my shirt, quick exit from the scene with eyes on my rearview mirror.

Saturday night a friend shared a TED talk on Facebook.  The title:  “You owe it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse”  Pretty bold statement if you ask me.  I was skeptical, but I watched it because that’s what you do at 10:30 on a Saturday night.

As the speaker started to describe what happens during a total eclipse (NOT to be mistaken as a partial eclipse) he mentioned the darkening sky, the distinct glow of the corona of the sun, and the stars you can see in the middle of the day.

Wait.  It gets dark?  And you can see stars??  Why hadn’t anyone mentioned this before?  Or maybe they had and I certainly wasn’t listening.

Maybe this was a bigger deal than I originally thought.  Maybe this was something I shouldn’t miss.  I debated.  Went back and forth.  Read everything I could.  Watched videos from previous total eclipses around the world (isn’t the Internet rad).  And decided I was too close not to try (the total eclipse was happening in a town 3 1/2 hours away from me).

So I packed up my kids, put one outfit for each of them in a bag, threw a cooler full of food and a case of water in the back (because awful traffic coming home and a possible apocalypse was anticipated) and off we went.

Even up until the moment before the total eclipse happened, I was doubtful.  Would it be as amazing as people made it sound?  Would it really go dark?  Would we really see stars in the sky in the middle of the day?  How could it possible live up to what I thought it might be–What I thought it should be for the hype going on?

(Taking selfies with eclipse glasses on is wicked hard)

We went to a spot by a big open field, no trees or tall buildings around so we could see well.  I was concerned with how we would know when we could take our glasses off and look at it (once it’s the total eclipse, it’s safe to look at it without the special glasses–or so people said).  I just didn’t know what to expect.

The moon slowly moved. And the sun slowly disappeared, sliver by sliver by sliver.  We craned our necks up to the sky.  Held our glasses to our face (those three-blind-mice glasses don’t stay on so well).  And then it went dark.  The sun disappeared.

(Took a poor photo of the sun through solar eclipse glasses with my cell phone)

Off the glasses went.  We knew.  It was time.

I’m not terribly dramatic nor would I say I’m easily excited or overly impressed by much.

But I’m not exaggerating when I say looking at a total solar eclipse was the.most.amazing.thing I have ever seen in my entire life. Words can’t describe.  Pictures don’t do it justice.  It’s not just something you SEE.  It’s something you FEEL.

There was the perfect dark circle of the moon blocking the sun.  Around the black circle was a defined bright light, not too bright to look at but the most beautiful light I’d ever seen.  A light beyond description.  The sky darkened.  The stars came out.  There was an orangish-red sunset on the horizon 360 degrees all around us.  The street lights came on.  The temperature cooled.

People yelled and cheered.  Some people cried.  My kids jumped up and down.  I stood there in awe.

It wasn’t just what we saw.  It was how it made us feel.  We saw a part of the universe and cosmos we had never seen before.  I felt a part of something bigger–something more important than our human selves can even comprehend.

In the realm of all that was happening, I was nothing.  And yet, I was everything.

It was as if, for a moment, God peeked his head out and said “yep, I’m really here.”


David Baron was right.  “You OWE it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse.”  Notice he didn’t say “see”.  It’s an experience you’ll never forget and one I dare say will actually change you.

If in your lifetime there is ever a total solar eclipse that is even remotely realistic for you to get to, do whatever you have to to get there.  You won’t regret it.

I was born and spent the first 6 1/2 years of my life in a very small town in Idaho.  It was safe.  It was quaint.  In the summer, my parents sent us out the door in the morning and my dad whistled for us on the front porch when it was time to come home for dinner.  We roamed.  We road bikes.  We played in “the dirt hills” nearby.  No cell phones.  No parents texting back and forth where the kids were off to next.  No parents meddling in what we were doing every second of every day.  In my mind, my parents had no idea where I was much of the time or what I was even really doing.  I don’t say that in a neglectful parenting kind of way.  It’s just the way things were where I grew up.  As a 5 year old in a small town, I had, what felt like, a lot of freedom.

I compare that childhood reality to the ones my kids live in and I’d say my husband and I have hit somewhere in the middle.  We live in safe neighborhood.  Our kids walk or ride their bikes to friends houses a few streets away.  They play outside in fields nearby, or ride bikes around the neighborhood.  I don’t always know exactly where they are at every given moment, but for the most part I do.  None of my kids have a cell phone yet (my oldest is almost 13).

I know there are some parents who know exactly where their kids are at every moment.  GPS tracking their every move.  Literally.

They say we live in a different world today.  In some ways I think that’s true.  In some ways, I think we make it scarier in our minds than it actually is.

That’s not my point for today, though.

Here’s what’s on my mind.

Just this week, we’ve had a few, incidences you could say.  One where one of my kids had something done to him.  One where a few of my kids were a part of something hurtful to another kid.

And the question keeps popping up in my mind (and one I really struggle with)–when as parents do we intervene?  When do we step in to the kid quarrels and disagreements and fights and leaving each other out?  And when do we step back and let them handle it themselves?

The first incidence this week, my kid was actually being physically attacked and I was there.  I saw it. I obviously intervened because he wasn’t defending himself.  We’ve talked a lot about it since.  I did not tell the boys mom for various reasons.  I did talk to my boy about how to handle it in the future (namely–you won’t get in trouble for defending yourself along with a few other things to think about).

The second incidence, I was contacted by a parent about some friends being left out.  I talked to my kids about it.  Seems to be a recurring conversation I have with my kids and kids in general.  It’s tricky, this whole leaving people out thing.

But I’m left with this frustration I guess you could call it.  My parenting style is definitely more on the “let the kids figure it out” end.  I don’t remember my parents ever ever ever intervening in an issue between me and my friends.  My mom never called another mom to work out my problems for me.  My dad never called another dad to inform them how his kids were being treated.  When another kid teased me or picked on me or one of my siblings, parents didn’t immediately start tossing around the word “bully” (as many seem to do these days).

As a result, I think I became a pretty good problem solver.  Because I had to.  It was up to me to work it out.  I’m not saying my parents didn’t help me figure things out or solve problems.  But I can’t, in a million years, imagine my mom calling another parent and saying “your kid left my kid out”.  She just wouldn’t.  And I definitely tend to lean more toward that style of parenting.

Were your parents the same?  Do you parent that way?  I’m curious.

My kids have a few rules I repeat over and over (and over).  A few of them:  One.  Be kind.  Always.  Two.  Be more aware of how you talk to people.  Three.  Don’t ever intentionally leave someone out and be inclusive whenever you can.  Four.  If you have a problem, yo, YOU solve it.  Then if you can’t, come to me or another adult and see if I/they can help.

Are my kids perfect abiders of these rules?  Not even close.  Are we as adults perfect with these things?  Not even close.

When my kids come running to me with an issue, my first question is “Did you try to resolve this on your own, or did you just immediately run to get someone in trouble?”  Have a conversation.  Try to work it out.  If you can’t resolve it, then come ask me and I’ll see if I can give you the tools or words to try and fix it.  But very rarely do I want to step in and resolve it for them (unless it’s physically violent–then I’ll lay some smack down).  Sometimes I find myself plugging my ears saying “la la la la la–I don’t want to hear it” when my kids want me to intervene in every sibling dispute.

I just don’t think stepping in all the time is doing them any favors.

But as my kids get older and their friend circle grows, I’m quickly realizing not everyone thinks the way I do (not sure why–sheesh).  And many parents are more than happy to step in and try to “fix” things.

My youngest child has a tendency to hit (or scratch or bite) when things don’t go his way.  Yesterday I asked “What should you do if someone isn’t doing what you want?  Should you hit them or throw things at them or freak out on them?” His response:  “You should have a conversation–but he didn’t WANT to have a conversation”.  Took a lot of restraint to not laugh out loud.  Kidding.  I didn’t restrain at all.  I laughed out loud.

My question for you and for discussion in general–where’s the line?  Where do we step in and where do we stand back?  When you do step in, what’s your approach?  When you don’t step in, do you talk to your kids after the fact?  When another parent contacts you, how do you handle that?  What do you say?  Does it irritate you, or are you glad they let you know?  Is there an age where you intervene or don’t intervene?

Are you quick to defend your own kid?  Are you quick to attack another’s kid?

I’d love to hear some respectful responses.  I’m a big fan of open dialogue and discussions, even if we don’t agree.  What’s your opinion on this issue and how, as a parent or someone who is around kids, do you handle this?

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  • Sarah

    Honestly, my first reaction to a parent calling me would be irritation. After being bugged though, I know I would try to understand where they are coming from, because really, I want kids to feel included. And it also depends on the level of friendship. If it’s a kid that my kid has been really good friends with, I understand the parent calling a lot more. And I can only see myself calling a parent if I was pretty close to the parent. It would take a lot for me to call someone. I also think it’s so interesting how different people can parent. I am guilty of assuming that people would agree with what I see is logical, but they are coming from a very different viewpoint. Honestly, if I look to past examples, when my kids have felt left out they find new friends.

    I have a friend who is really quick to own up to her kids being part of the problem, almost too quickly. I have to laugh because she basically blames her kids first. I remind her that it likely isn’t just her kid causing the problem. But its refreshing talking to her and makes me realize I need to be sure to have my kids accept responsibility.ReplyCancel

  • Brandy Barnett

    I have 6 kids ages 22 to 7. I have much the same parenting philosophy that you do. I have one child you is quite the extrovert and can be kind of obnoxious. He is one of the younger in the neighborhood and when the boys were leaving him out or being kind of mean, I probably know why. Yes they could have been nicer and more inclusive. I took the approach of him correcting himself and playing the long game at getting integrated into the group. It worked. You can’t make people include you. Maybe they’re not your people. My guess is that the kids is rude, obnoxious, immature, whatever….the type to have the mom call. haha…I just don’t think it helps.

    I did call a parent one time recently, though. There is a kid 2 years older in the neighborhood that REALLY doesn’t get along with my son. My son (8yo) was having trouble climbing up into his bed and we asked him about it and he said the kid kneed him int he butt really hard the day before and it still hurt. This was about the second incident and we told him to stay away from him and defend hinself if needed. I planned to say something to the kid, maybe, not the mom if I saw him. Not mean, just a warning. But I didn’t see him and a month later myson came home with a busted mouth. The other neighbr who had complained about this other kid to me before came over to check on my son and said how mean the other kid was and he should have helped my son , but my son won 3 fights that day with him but when he let the kid up he kicked him in the mouth. Seeing as how the other kid had started all of these fights by stepping on my son’s back…I thought his mom should probably know before he caused some expensive and serious damage. It seems he had lied about it and I knew he probably would, which is why we still almost didn’t call….but we figured if over a couple years she got more than one call….she might start to wonder if the version she was getting was accurate…and maybe not.

    I have also been raked over the coals by me neighbor for not intervening in stupid stuff. Because she intervenes in EVERYTHING. Calls her daughter’s bosses, etc. No, when my girls are teens they are expected to manage their own friends and their own jobs, etc. With my coaching….but I am not going to have a talk with their friends who come over uninvited like my neighbor wanted me to (had nothing to do with this lady or her child anyway.) If my daughter doesn’t want her friends just showing up, she will have to handle it.ReplyCancel