Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Year and a Half Later

I can not believe that it has been a year and a half since I last posted here. A part of me wanted to, but it was too much for me at the time. I didn't want to blog about one big event and make it define us. We are more than just a family that is defined by events.

Ok, while that holds true, certain events did help shape us some.

The last time I posted, I announced our decision to homeschool. Shortly after, I pulled my son out of our public school system. Things went well and my daughter was ready to be pulled weeks after that.
A week later, the evening of April 14th, our lives were put on hold. The timing of my decision to homeschool became evident. My 11 year old son had a stroke.

One week in the ICU (with the accompaniment of many tears, prayers, loving friends and much strength) brought a community and a family closer than ever. During Andrew's recovery, we were supported and loved on more than we could ever imagine. As much support as we did have, it was as if there was a bubble around our family of four that became smaller....the bubble embraced us and made us even closer as a family.

Fast forward a year and a half later and the reason for this post.

I woke up tonight with Jordan's arm around me. A little 10 year old, freckle faced girl was rubbing my back in her sleep. Next to her was our 70-something pound boxer and 12 year old Andrew. We have had a crazy week of daddy traveling and "not back to school" activities. We were all sun tired and decided to pile into my bed for one last sleep before my husband comes home. I sat there watching them sleep and something washed over me. An overwhelming sense of happiness.

Believe me when I say that we have not so awesome days, but the good far outweigh the negative. Sure there are disagreements, not so grand situations and copperhead snake bites ( happened to me, I am fine now). Then there are those amazing times together that make this icky times minor. Times that make me smile, even giggle at times.

Last night was one of those nights. We laughed until we cried over something so wrong. Somehow we got on the subject of poop. Yes, poop. The kids were talking about how they can't see how celebrities poop. The conversation went downhill for a while as they died laughing at the thought of Taylor Swift's poop face. Then the conversation turned into more meaningful stuff. A beautiful and really cool conversation just flowed between the 3 of us. Relationships, friendships, the sibling bond, family, school and even what they wanted in a future mate. It pretty much rocked.

We have been homeschooling for a year and 5 months now, and it is going so well. We have made some amazing friends and are keeping in touch with other friends. They are excited to learn together and have gained a sense of confidence that I prayed for. They are thriving. They have friends of all kinds and love them all. Andrew and Jordan even mentioned that homeschooled kids are so nice (although they have such sweet friendships with amazing and kind kids who are not homeschooled, we are so fortunate).

That is all I wanted for them, what I asked God for. I hope to see them grow into loving adults who have confidence and a passion to learn and grow. Simple as that.

More updates to come.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Following Our Heart

Let me begin this blog post saying that we are GOOD. Life, health, faith and our relationships are fabulous and getting better every day.

Ok, got that out of the way. ;-)

A couple of months ago, something was put on my heart. I prayed about it before I actually let the words come out of my mouth. Then I went to my husband and said those words(with a little bit of fear that he would not like my idea).

"I think I want to homeschool"

He said that he was surprised that it has taken me this long and he was completely on board.

You see, I am not upset with out schools. I know for a fact that we have fabulous teachers who have our children's best interest in mind. There have been very inspiring teachers who have made a difference in the kids' lives. Some have even become friends of mine. I am also aware that there are other moms who simply do not have the opportunity to do this and that there are parents who simply would not want to spend that much time with their kids. :)  I get it, some kids just do not jive together.

For my family, it makes sense. We are not a fast forward family. We enjoy time in the kitchen creating healthy meals...all before (or after) ball practice. We play outside on pretty days and play games on gloomy days. We love learning together. My kids truly get along and (most of the time) teach and encourage each other. We love being together. We love being able to slow down when we need to.

We have lost my mom, my husband's dad and grandparents. We now have two family members with cancer in addition to my mother-in-law who is a survivor. We have also lost our sweet Lola.We each have one grandparent with us and we want to enjoy them. Life is too short, and I refuse to let a fast forward life make me regret not spending enough time with loved ones.

Speaking of my mother-in-law, I was nervous to tell her of my choice. Although, she was one who inspired me. She recently retired and has shown me that the "living life" attitude and enjoying the good stuff is good for the soul. So one day I told her, with maybe a little over explaining I am certain, and she was quiet for a moment. Then she said that she is so happy with our choice. She is fully confident that the kids will thrive and grow. She is also excited to be able to take vacations during the school year with them and to have lunch together on a weekday.

I also called the principal of the children's school and she was so kind and truly supportive. She actually said that if anyone could do it, I could. What a compliment!! I sent a letter to current and previous teachers and that was so well received. They know our family...and support our decision. The same reaction has come from friends and family, they just see us successfully doing this.

Andrew's last day was this past Friday. We will begin our journey on Monday and get into our groove. In a couple of weeks Jordan will join us. The kids could not be any more excited. They are looking forward to thinking outside the box, volunteering, finding new passions and learning together.

There will be more on this as we get used to this life and get over some hurdles. Until then, we look forward to reading all kinds of books together, volunteering at the library, learning to play the drums, begin dance lessons, audition for plays, focus on faith, love on our new puppy and  enjoy the good stuff.

We got this.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things:2012

It's that time of year again....
You can see past lists here and here!

  • My Juicer...swoon.
  • Lunch at Cupboard Natural Foods..nice people, tasty and natural food
  • The Mean Stinks campaign. Girls ganging up for good...
  • P90X
  • Kris Carr. Although I am not vegan; her recipes are lovely. Her spirit, attitude, outlook, and knowledge are amazing.
  • Coconut milk and almond milk....never thought I would love either.
  • Advocare, it changed me.
  • Rosemary Popcorn
  • Good Karma Kitchen. First food truck at the Texas State Fair. They totally hooked me up while on my 10 Day Cleanse when my family went to the fair.  They have the best deconstructed vegetarian tamale!
  • Red Shed Antiques in Grapevine-Lovely French antiques and lovely women
  • RAKs
  • Dr. Sheri Phillips-Amazing speaker and inspiring woman for the Susan G Komen 3Day
  • Tumeric-yummy in so many things and it has a plethera of benefits.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Life takes us on amazing journeys. We can either view these journeys as bumpy rides or we can view them as beautiful adventures that cause transformations in our soul, life and family. This coming year, I will coming to a halt in one of my adventures and beginning a new one that will lead me to an unknown destination that I am not at all scared of. My heart is peaceful, my soul is happy, my crew is standing beside me. I AM GOOD.

The past few months, a transformation has happened in myself and my family. I quit my gym and began working out at home. I was inspired by transformations that I saw in the mind and body of people I knew that were doing P90X. My husband started working out, and I started a small little neighborhood workout group. At 6am one morning,  I met with a neighbor was already a friend, and 3 other neighbors that I had never met. Over the months there have been friendships formed. I am inspired by each woman in different ways. When I invited the women in my neighborhood to workout, it was more for accountability. Little did I know that each woman would be a big part of my transformation....

  • My lovely dear friend/neighbor across the street: A working mom with a girl in middle school, a girl in elementary, and a 1 year old would get up and work out before her crazy day began. She not only shows up (of course when she can, life happens) but she would kick butt and take names. She keeps me laughing. I dearly love her and her family. She also attends the same church as the next lady I will talk about.
  • My sweet new friend, mom of 3 boys. She encouraged and inspired our group to kick it up a notch. She is a very cool, chill, and encouraging woman. One day she invited me to her church. I said I would try it one day. We did, and we loved it. The kids felt at home there and my husband even went by himself last week with my son because my daughter and I were sick. Good stuff.
  • My inspiring new friend, also a mom of 3. She has helped our group so much. She teaches group ex classes and more. I love sharing clean eating recipes with her and natural living type of stuff. She also started a Power of a Praying Wife Facebook page that I joined last month. I began praying for my husband and I have seen God at work in not only him, but in me. This beautiful woman helped my marriage in a big way.
  • My amazing new friend, a mom of 7 equally amazing kids. There were several days that it was just the two of us who were able to meet up, and we truly got to know each other. She has inspired me in more ways than she probably knows. Her gentle soul, sense of humor, and views on relationships and parenting are pretty awesome. She is the mom I want to be.
So, all of that being said, you see how my evolution has begun.

During all of this, about 2 months ago, I called a very sweet and gentle soul of a friend. Even with working out, I still did not feel my best. She is an Advocare rep and I know she did not take it for weight loss (she is naturally thin), but for her HEALTH. Which was my inspiration, since I was already beginning to lose a little bit of weight. Since I was leery and did not want to dedicate myself to the full 24 Day Advocare Challenge, I started the 10 Day Cleanse. The first few days were not fun. But by day 6, I was feeling way better. More energy, cravings were going away, and I was seeing the difference in my body between the cleanse, my diet, and my exercise. By day 8 or so, I called my friend/rep....and asked for more information on the 24 Day challenge. I started that and loved it. Really loved it. Although we ate well to begin with for the most part, I really stepped it up and the family supported it with no resistance. Making menus was fun and challenging. It made me get creative and really think about what I was putting into our bodies. During this time I stopped craving things that I NEVER thought I could give up (which I have not given up completely, but they are now occasional treats instead of a daily staple). My love for milk, twizzlers, bread, and cheese kind of went away. I have never in my life wanted to sell things like Scentsy, Avon, etc. Never wanted to have parties or anything. I just never wanted to spend that much money on such things. Advocare truly made me want to tell the world about it. It changed me that much.

During ALL of this, I ran across a website that a friend posted. This crazy sexy cancer survivor (she still has the cancer 10 years later and has never been healthier or looked better) inspired me even more to do all I can to make sure my family is given the best possible chance at a healthy life (hehe,as I type this two of us are recovering from the flu and I have a newly sick son on the couch with what I guess is the flu, things happen no matter how healthy you eat, huh?). I began juicing on most mornings, my family loves getting that cup of juice in the mornings, even though it is loaded with kale, spinach, and all kinds of random stuff and it is the color of baby poop. We eat a lot of vegetables to begin with, but this gave that extra kick that we needed. Juice is like my coffee. It starts my day.

Ok, so with alllllll of this came in just 2-3 months:
  • 20-25 lb weight loss in me (depends on the day), about 15ish for husband.
  • For the 1st time since before kids, I have a waistline.
  • Although I have weighed less that I do now since kids, this is a healthy weight loss and my body looks leaner and feels stronger. I don't feel almost 40
  • Energy, much more. Even with getting up and working out so early.
  • A stronger relationship with my husband, physically and mentally.
  • Other than the recent sickies, my kids are healthier than ever. My son's normal allergies and asthmatic tendencies are reduced by at least 50% so far.
  • What we believe to be our home church.
  • A husband that has really nice arms and a leaner body ;-)
  • More confidence and an inner peace
  • A lighter and more forgiving heart.
  • A gorgeous and colorful fridge and island loaded with lovely fruits and veggies.
During this time though, many other things were on my plate. I volunteer every Wednesday at the school, I am a room parent, I am a "stay at home mom" that has a home to care for and dinner to provide, I have very dear friends and family that need me at times, kids that are involved in many activities (that I miss out on sometimes), I spend a ton of time in the kitchen creating mainly made from scratch food (because I LOVE to) and mainly....I run a business ALL BY MYSELF (ok, other than the help I get from my family during my time away and editing...LOL).

This is the next part of my journey.

The hours upon hours spend on my butt:
  • Editing (which takes way longer than most realize)
  • Marketing (creating my own logo to keep costs down, creating ads, etc)
  • Running my website
  • Emailing back dozens of clients a day
  • Answering calls from clients
  • Sending Invoices
  • Blogging
  • Sending Sneaks
  • Sending Previews
  • Creating Mini Sessions
  • Uploading
  • Prepping Taxes
  • etc.
I do it all, by myself. One man show. My dear clients are just that, dear. Many have many questions (especially boudoir) and I love answering them and having time to ease their mind, getting to know them, offering advice, etc. It takes a lot of time, and 95% of my clients have been rockstars when it came to working around my crazy schedule. The thing is, I have soooo many clients that I can't work them all around my schedule. It is impossible. I would never sleep, I would edit all the time. I have done this in the past and when I do that; my health goes down, my house falls apart, laundry piles up, my kids miss me, my relationship with my husband suffers, my butt gets bigger, I tend to forget God, and my best friends and dear family feel slighted.

That being said: God, my family, my marriage, my home, my health, my childrens' education, and my dearest relationships come first.

I have a few weddings booked for next year that I can not wait to do. I have a couple lovely clients who have paid for sessions next year that I will ask to go ahead and book a month in advance. Those clients will get more of me, my talent, and will keep me inspired. The wedding clients will get non hurried Kandi....they will get happy, chill Kandi. For those, I can not wait.

Then when those are done, I am going to capture my own life, my food, my family, my fundraising, my newest passions. Kandice Ray Photography will be no more. I may get a wild hair from time to time and want to photograph for various reasons, and I will share that with you when I do. I have loved my years of photography, yet I want to bow out before it becomes a "job".

8 years ago, when my husband and I sat down and decided for me to become a stay at home mom, we did so without wanting me to need a job. My business grew out of love and passion and many very faithful clients. Creativity and inspiration is vital in the, acting, art, music, etc. When it is treated as just a job, that spark goes away. Right now I see my spark fluttering off in a new direction.

That spark is aiming towards my relationship with God, my husband, my family, our health,  my closest friends and my childrens' education and personal growth. I want to inspire people in new ways. I want to see those around me want to be the best them they can be. I want to have time to treasure this life. I want to live to see my great grand kids grow up.

Sitting and editing and running a small business for hours upon hours every day for 7 years while still trying to be that "stay at home mom" I promised my kids and husband I would be, I realized something: life was passing me by, my kids were growing up, my laundry wasn't doing itself, my husband was sleeping in an empty bed, I was too tired to take care of me, and I was itching to evolve.

And evolve I shall.


Monday, November 12, 2012

My Weekend of Pink, Boobies, Tents & Tears

A week ago yesterday, I walked my final mile out of 60 miles into Fair Park with 1600 other walkers. My niece on one side, my friend on the other. Behind me and in front of me were the Youth Corps, survivors, crew, and fellow walkers. On stage was one inspiring and beautiful lady.

Let me back up to 8 weeks ago.

 "Aunt Kandi, I want to do the 3-Day this year. Do you want to do it with me?"

My gorgeous niece, Allison, just became of age to do the 3-Day, and I could not say no. She had come to support me in the past when I walked, she was just a little girl then. Time flies.

Ok, we had 7 weeks to raise the MINIMUM of $2300. Within a week, Allison had over $500. She had local people supporting her, teachers, friends, family, etc. Holy cow was I proud. It was also time to step up my game. Hehe!

Time to start some fundraisers. One was an online auction, where so many friends offered services and gifts....I am still blown away at the generosity of the people in my life. The other was a fun ice-cream fundraiser at a Denton favorite...Beth Marie's.   

 A couple weeks before the 3 Day, we still had a long ways to go. So did my friend, Ryan, who had asked if he could walk with us this year. That rockstar was on his 5th 3-Day and raised his money in two weeks. He also donated to my walk to get me to my goal. Love that man.

A few days before the 3-Day, Allison and I had not only hit our goal, but surpassed it thanks to the giving nature of friends and family.

In 7 weeks, my almost 16 year old niece and myself raised OVER $5510 for The Cure.

At 5am on November 2nd, we loaded our stuff in my car, gathered the kids in their jammies, and my husband drove Allison and I to Opening Ceremonies. There we were greeted with the crew's smiling faces (who had to be there an hour earlier than the walkers!). I kissed my family bye and we got our bags loaded. I went to hug my friends who are crew members (more on them later) and met my brother who was there to support his baby sister (me) and his gorgeous daughter (Allison). We found Ryan (it wasn't hard finding a 6'2" tall man with pink hair and a tutu!) and prepared for the emotional opening ceremony that gets us every time.
Allison and I...with our last minute mustache shirts! 
 My BFF/Awesome Crew
 The 3 Amigos
 So many cameras!!
 Ready to get this party started!
 My BFF's oldest daughter bought this for me, he went everywhere I went!
After an amazing opening ceremony and some stretching, it was time to begin our first 20 miles. Seriously, within 10 minutes of walking I see a familiar face.....the BEST way to begin a journey. She made my day!
The fire department was out cheering on the walkers!
 Another familiar face all decked out in pink! I walked with her mom in the past!

 My sweet friend who was my tent mate 2 years ago. I LOVE this woman. She is amazing. I didn't want to leave her!

Day one was complete....we were cheered on by friends and family. We had the crew there cheering us on at the final mile. I was also surprised with my tent already up with our bags inside. My little angel BFF hooked us up. Swoon. She even left me a sussy (cute hat that you will see in day 2 and 3 pics). It was time to eat, cheer on the last walker of the day, get our tent decorated, and take a shower (showers are in semi trucks).

The final walker of the day raising the flag. We all stand around and cheer them on. The 20 mile journey is a tough one, and everyone there has their own battle...I love how the fighter who is the last walker is applauded for their inner fight. XO 
Our little tent
That night Ryan went home, but he did have his partner bring me a bottle of wine. Hehe! So before lights out on Friday night, Evea and I enjoyed a small cup of wine before bed. We loved our late night tent talks. Allison learned to love Evea as everyone else does.
After a rough night's sleep, we were up early and fed by 7am and were in line waiting for the 2nd day's path to open up!
You see that Ryan has less hair today than he did on day one. LOVE it.

 In 4 years I have never carried a flag....and look who got one! Go Allison!
 These sweet supporters found a spot at the cheering station near my brother. This sweet family supports my walk in so many ways. :D
 They had beer....they became my friend. ;-)
 Allison's fave cheerleaders. They were AWESOME!!
Ok, here is a little story about Day too. It was a rough one. Allison's knee began hurting pretty badly. So we sent Ryan on his way going at the pace that worked for him. Allison and I slowed down quite a bit. My husband carried us on to the next pit stop so she could have her knee looked at...but they really didn't know what to do. During this time I was getting texts from my friends who were on crew. They have to be one of my favorite couples ever, and completely had our back that weekend. I told Allison that she would not be failing if she could not walk the last couple of miles (this was a 23 mile day). So I text Boone, our angel in a cowboy hat and boots. He dropped what he was doing and came and found us. We piled in his truck along with his buddy and beautiful daughter and took us to camp. Boone, his wife Rebecca, and several other supporters were cheering on the walkers as they walked into camp. I got a text from Boone that said "I kid you not, a  ladybug just landed on me". He knows that my mom loved ladybugs and she comes back to visit in the form of a ladybug. My mom was telling him thank you for taking care of her daughter and granddaughter. I know it. Good Stuff!
Boone dancing with their friend...always a party!
 And my fave couple....
We went on to eat, take Allison to the medical tent to be looked at by a chiropractor, and begin packing up for our final night. We did enjoy some entertainment by the Youth Corps. They had me rolling!

Trying to organize in a 7X7 tent is fun.
 Crazy Youth Corps!
 What most spent at least an hour doing a day. I was there at 3am on Sunday trying to get mine and Allison's phones charged!
We were up on Sunday at 4:30am. We packed our bags, I took them to the trucks (Allison could barely walk at this point, she was in pain), and we took down our tent. She waited to see her chiropractor that morning to see if she was still able to walk, Ryan showed up with no hair, and we waited in line to get on a bus to be taken to our route opening (since it would have been wayyyy more than 20 miles from camp to Fair Park). There we would meet my brother and sister-in-law who would closely monitor and make sure she did not over do it.
 Allison's tanlines!
 Some very pretty views
 Every year I do the 3Day, we count lion statues. Something that John and I started on our first year! Something silly. But this year, Ryan kicked it up a notch. Made the final 20 miles pretty dang fun!

 Allison was a rockstar!

 Kids with "Aunt" Evea one mile from closing ceremonies

 Love these people

 My big bro!
 Pink Tequila Shots!
More on our final day tomorrow. XOXO

Click here to help in our fundraising for the 2013 3-Day!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Susan G Komen 3Day- 4th Time Walker and Why

I started walking the Susan G Komen 3Day in 2007. I had no idea what to expect. I knew I would walk 60 miles in a course of 3 days. I knew I had a minimum amount to raise in order to even be able to walk. I knew I would sleep in a little pink tent for 3 nights. I knew I walked for my mom's Aunt Desi who lost the battle to breast cancer and for my mother-in-law who kicked the crap out of the disease.

My 2007 Team! John had just walked a full 60 miles! I was so proud!

What I did not know was that I would form amazing friendships, that I would be moved to tears daily over someone's story, that I would fracture my foot and only finish 42 miles, that I would want to walk again over the next several years, and that each year would become more special and less about me and more about the cause.

This year will be my 4th time to walk....and up until 2 months ago, I was not going to due to a crazy busy schedule. Then I got a phone call from my gorgeous niece. See, she is now 16. In the past she has supported me and cheered me on, this time she is old enough to walk. She asked if we could walk together. Heck yeah we can! So I signed up, selected her as my tent mate...and panicked. TWO months to raise $2300. In between running a business, taking pictures (busy time of year!), editing, volunteering at school, sports, keeping up with my workouts and weight loss, a traveling husband, and other family obligations, how would I find time to fundraise?!?!


So I started posting on Facebook (so much that I am sure some people have me blocked) asking for help. I had friends donate items for an auction, I began planning a couple of fundraisers, and I am now less than two weeks away and I still have about $1000 out of $2300 to raise. I got this, right?

Now, back to why I walk.... my kids and I were talking on the way home from a cold ball game about my walk. They love when I do the 3Day. They make signs, cheer me on, and beam with pride. They yell "SAVE THE BOOBIES!!!" and "Rock it walkers!!".  We talked about the "rockstars" of the walk...the survivors who raise money, walk and kicked cancer's butt. We talked about their MiMi and how happy that we still have her here with us. My son then said "Mom, let's make a video...let's let other's know why you walk and why we want to walk one day, maybe they will share their story too". So we did just that. We didn't get dolled up, we were tired and cold and I was very teary and red nosed. But it was real (and a little funny). I told him that I would share it with you even though I MUCH prefer to be behind the camera. :)
Thank you for your time...and enjoy this little video. Please feel free to share your story here if you would like.
And if you would like to donate, please go to


Friday, September 7, 2012

I am....

  • awake after being woken up by my daughter. Her hand on my cheek, a kiss on the nose, that Jordan morning breath, and a whisper, "Mommy, I just need your snuggles". I did so happily.... until she took over the bed. All legs.
  • excited and a little (lot) stressed after committing to the Susan G Komen walk again. Less that 60 days to raise so much, during a very busy time for my business. $70 down, $2230 to go! Oy.
  • giddy to walk the 3 Day with my beautiful 15 year old niece! It will be a fab 60 miles.
  • organizing room parent stuff.
  • sad that my children won't have a grandparent at Grandparent's day today, but so happy and thankful that my Aunt Terri will be there for them, even if for a short while.
  • getting the itch to just GO. Somewhere. See something new, become inspired, breathe in some fresh air. Hike, camp, something. Please. The gypsy in me is screaming.
  • happy to have lost 5 pounds this week. I have hit a plateau this summer, and I feel like I kicked that finally. Hoping the next 10 pounds melt right off. I know I could stand to melt a little more off....but I like my food. ;-)
  • need to go shoot! I missed the Girl and a Gun launch. My gun misses me. I miss it.
  • so very happy to have my cousin so close. Although she is 6 years younger than I am, she has always been an old soul. She gets me. I get her. No filters necessary.
  • missing my other "sisters".
  • worried about my mother in law. She broke her ankle last night. The husband caring for her as I type this. Hopefully he is sleeping and she is pain free.
  • pumped about a boudoir shoot tomorrow!
  • hoping to see my girls tonight, if even for a short while.
  • ending my random thoughts. Time for tea, editing, yoga, and a little peace before this crazy day begins.