Category Archives: All Things Collins

Tristan Cull {Friendswood, Tx Fresh 48}

Meet the newest employee of Maddie Dean Photography. He joined our group on Thursday, May 7 at 4:09 PM. He tipped the scales at a whopping 9 lbs 2 oz and was 20 1/2 inches long. His family absolutely adores him – can’t imagine why! Just look at that sweet face!!

(interested in your own Fresh 48 session? Contact me! I’d love to capture this special time for your family!!)




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My beautiful Prima Ballerina

Before you say anything, let me just say, it’s been too long. Way too long. I’ve missed you, photography, and I am embarrassed by my absence!

What have I been doing while I was away? A little bit of being a wife, a dash of motherhood, and a whole heaping lot of nursing school. But as of one month ago, I am done! I have graduated with my BSN; in fact, I’m just mere hours away from taking my state boards to finally become an RN. It was over 4 years ago that I made a post on here announcing an expected absence while I attended LVN school! I had so much fun, I kept going! I did take a few pictures here and there over the past two years, and I look forward to getting caught up on my blog! But first, I’m leaving next week to spend two weeks in Haiti working for Mamababy Haiti, a midwife clinic in Cap Haitien. I am incredibly excited about my upcoming trip, and even more excited to begin working as a L & D RN when I return. In between all of that excitement, I’ll get things caught up around here – and do some laundry, and figure out how to cook again. I feel like I need lessons on how to integrate back into society after nursing school. It’s been 4 weeks and I’m still feeling a little lost!

I couldn’t stand waiting any longer to begin sharing pictures again! This is my sweet Madeline, she has been dancing this year and will have her first recital on Saturday. Though she’s very close to 5, she is not immune from meltdowns from time to time. Its just happened that her latest was on the same day as dance company pictures. We missed them completely, so I had to take her out and do my own. While I would have loved to have be able to get a class picture, I think my individuals may be a little bit better :) I realize I may be a bit biased, but I think she is the most beautiful girl in the world. I love when she dances – she puts her heart into it – and when she dances around, she is in her own world, the most perfect prima ballerina.







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Helloo?? Anyone There?

Soo, I am incredibly behind on my blog. Wow, that may just be the understatement of the year!

I have to be honest, I couldn’t even log-in without requesting my new password. Pretty sad huh?

I’ve been busy. Busy with pictures. Busy with School. Busy with family. Busy with work (Nurse-y work).

But, I’m slowly digging myself out – and I have about a bazillion posts lined up. Okay, that’s probably exaggerating, a bit. But I am trying to catch up since I have some beautiful faces that haven’t seen blog love!

So, I promise to be better.

Starting. Right. Now.


Ok, I feel like I should explain that first picture. It’s often said that you can tell a lot about parents by looking at their kids. Well, I told my monkeys to kiss, because sweet sibling-pictures-in-bluebonnets are a requirement in this part of Texas…. What you see is what I got. Without saying a word, this image must say that these kiddos have two parents that adore each other :)

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Freedom Celebration

I spent the 4th of July weekend in Canadian, Texas with friends and family, and throughly enjoyed every minute I was there!! I don’t know when the last time I spent this holiday there, but I know it’s been double-digit years ago!! I even managed to squeeze in a few mini sesssions while I was there!! Hurricane Alex made the celebrations a bit wet and chilly, but we made the best of it! Just thought I’d share a bit of my personal life :) Hope you enjoy!!













Proud to be a GLEEK!

If you’re like me, you and 8 million other people have fallen in love with this hit TV series from FOX. I admit, I didn’t watch from the begining. My friend David posted a link to their “Somebody to Love” video on Facebook. I bet I watched it 2 dozen times – each time in awe. It wasn’t long before I sat at my computer and watched every episode I had missed – I was hooked. Maybe it’s because I was a choir geek (and band nerd) in High School? I love a good musical. I think it’s witty (I must admit, I think Coach Sylvester is one of my favorites!) I just love this show! A loyal fan here!!

Back in February I entered my name into a contest, to win a GLEE viewing party pack from FOX. Well, I never win anything so imagine my surpise when I received and email that I had WON!! I was getting a party pack that would arrive just in time for the infamous MADONNA episode! I was super excited (albiet stressed – I was still in school!) My amazing, wonderful, fantastic husband (yes, I’m hoping he reads this) really jumped in and helped make it happen. Our house was a wreck – well, it looked like a nursing student lived here! We were told last minute that our local FOX affiliate would be showing up to party with us – and to film!! We really had to kick it into high gear. My dear friend Lynzey made the cupcakes – aren’t they the coolest? We had a great time, though FOX ended up standing us up for another winner – I suspect it was on the basis of distance from the studios. Oh well, it was still fun! Just wanted to share a few pictures!! Want to know a secret, I’m wearing my GLEE shirt as I type this.

Hope you enjoy the party pics (only 2 months later….)









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I ♥ Faces – Yellow

I was so excited to see this weeks theme for I Heart Faces pop up on Facebook tonight! I knew the perfect picture. Last month I was running typical Mommy errands and found a beautiful field of yellow wild flowers. That weekend, after nap time, I snatched up my daughter and headed to the field. She was less-than-thrilled,  but I snapped anyways. Turns out, it was a good thing that I did as just 3 days later the city mowed the fields down. I literally had tears in my eyes. I was angry that they could do that. You see, this dress that my daughter has on will never fit again. It’s not just any yellow dress. It belonged to her GiGi (my Mom) and it was made my my Mom’s Aunt Sarah, my namesake. So, the dress is roughly 57 years old. (My mother keeps EVERYTHING!) The doll that is hidden is also special. It is made from a pillow case that my Dad’s grandmother hand tatted – so it’s easily 80 – 90 years old. I was just sick that this is the only shot I got. At the same time, I love it. It is truly priceless to me. I really need to get on the ball and have it printed and hung, just need to figure out where! So, here’s my entry for week #21!


Be sure to check out other great photos by clicking on the camera below!!

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Hands & Feet Mission Trip to Lima, Peru

During my Christmas break, I had the honor and privilege of travelling to Lima, Peru to serve on a medical mission trip with a team from UTMB’s Baptist Student Ministry. Even though it is cliche, I truly cannot describe what I saw, felt, and heard during our 7 day trip. The experience has left a forever imprint on my heart and I already long for the return trip next year.

I want to begin this by thanking my family and friends who supported me during this trip. The love and prayers were felt and the financial contributions made it all possible. I am proud to say that I raised well over what I needed for my personal part of the trip and all extra funds were used towards medication and supplies for the clinic. Our group had asked the host church what they needed the most, and they simply said chairs. As a thank-you gift for them, we purchased over ??  new chairs for their sanctuary. Those who supported my mission monetarily helped that church in many ways.
Our trip began in the wee hours of December 27th. After a whirl-wind Christmas, I was dead tired, but the excitement overcame my exhaustion. We met at the airport at 0230, checked bags and had an uneventful trip through security. The flight to El Salvador was un-eventful; however, the sunrise and landscaping were amazing sites to see. God is so creative!

Landing in Peru was an immediate shock. Mostly because I don’t speak Spanish at all. Well, does knowing how to say dolor count?? As we gathered our luggage, we were led in prayer, specifically for safe and easy passage through customs with our seven bags of drugs! The leadership team had done all they could to have things ready, but already knew this was a potential hiccup. And it was. As soon as they passed through, the light turned red and almost every, single drug suitcase had to be individually inspected. The rest of us just took a seat to wait. And wait. And wait…. You get the point. When the bags finally came through, it was very exciting! Kinda felt like Christmas again :)

The drive to our hotel felt long, and it was definitely stinky. It took my senses some time to get used to the noxious fumes that filled our bus. There is no A/C in the vehicles, so all windows were open, choking us out! It was fun to play I-spy and see how many “American things” we could see. Found a few :)
Where we stayed was beautiful. It was a simple hotel in Lima’s Mira Flores district. It’s right on the coast and is a pretty “touristy” district. I roomed with two other girls from my nursing class. We were simply acquaintances when we arrived, but by the time we left, we were great girl-friends! I just love how God puts people into your life in the strangest ways!

After exploring our hotel and getting beds sorted, we had our first meeting. For the most part, we were all strangers. It was the awkward-silence kinda night. Ick! The leadership spent some time explaining to us how the clinic would be set up and run, we received our day #1 assignments, then we counted and sorted thousands of vitamins into 30-day packets! We were vitamin-counting MACHINES!


Each morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast prepared by the hotel staff, complete with fresh-squeezed juices! I could have drank my body weight in that OJ – not sure why it tasted to yummy, but it beat anything available in the U.S. We would load the bus and travel from Mira Flores to Santa Rosa. It didn’t seem terribly far away, but it was a drastic change from one place to another. As we traveled, the conditions would gradually become worse. The grass would go from green to brown to dirt. The closer we got to the clinic the more graffiti on homes and buildings. I never once saw a stray dog running around in Mira Flores, but they were horribly thick near our clinic. In Mira Flores, and surrounding districts, the parks were lush and beautiful; full of thick, green grass and colorful flowers. In Santa Rosa, there were no parks. There were strips of dirt covered in trash. The city dumps were right in the middle of the road. Remember I mentioned earlier that the bus windows were always open? Even if your eyes were closed, it was obvious when we got close to the church as the stench just assaulted your senses. We definitely were no longer at home, and we were pretty far from our comfort zones.
I was somewhat surprised at the homes in the area. I had expected to feel like I was back in the shanty areas of Juarez, Mexico. But these homes had walls made of stone and some had roofs, though most were just boards. Electricity and running water were hit-and-miss, but it was available. The streets were paved, but I use that term lightly. Despite all the poverty, as we drove in each morning, we passed person after person outside sweeping their “porch” – Peruvians take pride in clean cars and clean porches! They also like colorful homes!

The host church was a 3-story building that was fancy compared to it’s surroundings. Every morning, we would pull up in the bus to lines full of people waiting to be seen. It was overwhelming and humbling to watch them smile and hug us as we made our way into the church. I never walked in without tears in my eyes (want to know a secret? I’ve had tears steadily streaming down my face and I’ve written this entire post. I told you that there was truly no way for me to express how I felt). The leadership for Hands and Feet had the hole clinic squared away and it was run incredibly smooth! The first floor had registration, physical therapy, and eye glasses. Patients would come and pick up a medical “record”. Volunteers from the church would take names, birth dates and addresses. If they needed a vision check, they would stay on the first floor.  Eye glasses was a rewarding station. Last year, the group had both near and far sighted lenses, however, this time, we only provided reading glasses. I broke into tears when one lady kept hugging me and saying “God bless you , thank you” after I helped her pick out +5.0 glasses. She hadn’t been able to read her bible for over two years. Her husband would read to her every morning and every night, but after he passed away, all she had was what was in her memory. With the help of my translator, we were able to pray for each other, though I am absolutely positive that she touched my heart way more than I could have hers. The vision center wasn’t particularly difficult work, but it was the place where you saw the most instant gratification from your efforts!

Physical therapy began slowly, but by the end of day 4, the two of them were crazy-busy! During the first day, I was in vision and was able to watch them work their magic. One of the sweetest things I saw was a lady who had two different leg lengths and wasn’t able to walk upright or even straight due to the defect. I watched our PTs give her a donated pair of (new) shoes and create make-shift raised insoles. They taught her some leg-strengthening exercises and instructed her on back care. I then watched that lady stand up, and wholly walk out of their section! Again, I cried. If you get the feeling that I cried a lot, you’re absolutely right!

From there, it was up to triage on the second floor. I think triage and eyes were  my two favorite stations. In triage, we took their vital signs and chief complaints. It felt empowering to listen to their signs and symptoms and already have enough nursing knowledge to make an initial diagnosis. Even though I liked vision because of the instant gratification aspect, triage was probably my favorite. And I don’t say that just because there’s where I got placed for most of the trip. Though my ears were sore from taking my scope in and out so much, my heart was full of love for the people that I talked to.


The patients were sent from Triage to the clinic, which was in classrooms on the 3rd floor. We had three clinics set up and they were staffed by a Medical or PA student, student nurse and a translator. We had between 2 and 3 doctors who oversaw all of us. The students and translator would see the patient first, do a quick assessment and take a health history and COLDSPA (or OLDCARTS for you weird medical students!!).  At this time, we would give our “diagnosis” and go track down a physician to confirm our findings and tell us what Rx to write! It was kinda cool to be able to write out a prescription – felt kinda powerful and important :).  I thoroughly enjoyed my two rotations in the clinic. I tried to make it my greatest learning experience. We saw a lot of chronic diseases come through: hypertension, asthma, arthritis, and heart failure. I learned that in third-world countries, teeth grinding is a sign of parasites. I can rattle off every singe prescribing dose of Abendazole!! We saw a few unusual cases – two patients with spinal TB, an ovarian tumor, a baby who was scary lethargic, a man with unstable angina, and various others. The Peruvian doctors and translators helped to make the entire process painless, easy, and incredibly rewarding.




From the clinic, the patients were sent to either the lab or the pharmacy, depending on their needs. We had a fancy lab for where we were! Thanks to Rice University’s Lab-in-a-backpack, we were able to check a patient’s hemoglobin levels, as well as complete an UA (urinalysis) and blood glucose check.




Our pharmacy was well stocked, and good thing since we ran out of medications. In Peru, you don’t need a physician’s order to pick up medication from the pharmacy, so our leadership was able to travel to nearby pharmacies and purchase the medications that we needed. Mostly just simple things such as pregnancy tests and ibuprofen, something people in the U.S. take for granted. We weren’t prescribing big, powerful drugs for these people. It was just basic stuff that we can walk into the nearest Walgreens and purchase Motrin, Tylenol, Zantac, Clear Eyes, etc. We also used a lot of Albendazole. A lot. I’m pretty good on the dosages to treat worms and other parasites.



The night before our last clinic day was New Year’s Eve. It was a strange experience over there. We were all starving after clinic, but had the hardest time finding somewhere to eat – everything was closed and it was only 7pm. We quickly learned that Peruvians like to P-A-R-T-Y during new years and they do that with FEASTS! Restruarants were closed until 10:30 PM, those people eat late!! We finally settled on a Chinese place – Chinese food in Peru – Mine was great, but the table next to us had whole duck, and it didn’t look too awesome!! We counted down to 2012 with the locals in a spot that over looked the bay. It was a breath taking view!! To say that their fireworks laws and regulations are lax is probably an understatement. The larger fireworks (that are reserved for professionals over here!) were going off all OVER!  I turned around at one point and in the middle of the park, two unsupervised, YOUNG kids were shooting off bottle rockets and roman candles. It was kinda unnerving! The show was spectacular and went on our HOURS! No exaggeration. At least 3 hours, if not four or five. Non. Stop. Fireworks. The most amazing part was the 180 degree view. Almost everywhere you looked were fireworks. It was one of the Top 10 most awesome things I’ve ever seen!!





On our final day we spent some time being tourists.  Our first stop was at the World’s tallest Christ statue, the “Christ of the Pacific”. It was funded in part by the Peruvian President and is over 123 feet tall! It was neat to see it up close after looking at it across the bay every night. From there, we drove across the (very) narrow road to Morrow Solar Hill. I wasn’t expecting to find that the beautifully lit cross I had seen every night was part of an antenna! It was built to welcome the Pope to Lima in 1988.

We left Morro Solar and traveled next to the coast to downtown Lima to Plaza de Armas to catch part of the Changing of the Palace Guard ceremony (much like is done in England!) We walked around and shopped some, then met up to take a walk through San Francisco Monastery and Catacombs. The Monastery was pretty, but not being a Catholic took away some of the excitement. I didn’t understand much of what I was seeing. I kept thinking of how much my dad’s parents would have love hearing about the site!  We eventually made our way down under to the catacombs where it’s estimated that over 75,000 bodies were buried. Eerie is a pretty accurate description of what it felt like. They were strict on no photos, but you can’t tell a photographer not to take pictures! I had to sneak a few!! (I know, shame on me!! But I just couldn’t help it! I cranked my ISO and turned off the flash!!) We originally had plans to visit Parque de la Reserva, what’s supposed to be an incredible water show, rivaling those from Vegas! Darn holiday- it was closed!! I’d even spent some time googling to find the best way to photograph the show!! We were able to spend one final evening together as a group and had a nice meal at the hotel. It wasn’t all of us though, unfortunately, some had caught a bug. Dr. White was so kind as to give each of us our own doses of Albendazole as a parting gift, how sweet of him!




Leaving was a little bitter sweet. I missed Mike and the kiddos terribly, but my heart fell in love with the country, the people and our mission. I cannot wait to return next year and have already begun to work on some plans. I have a list of “needs” for going back – supplies that would help our trip. If you are interested in learning how you can help, please ask! My largest goal is to bring 1000 pairs of sunglasses with me next year. As I worked in the vision clinic, I was often getting patients who complained of severe headaches, but their vision test was negative. Upon further assessment, we were finding that they only had the headaches when outside. I started questioning my translator about this and she explained to me that most people don’t own sunglasses. So, I want to bring enough with me to pass out to every patient who walks in our door; men, women, and children. So I ask that you prayerfully consider how you can help me reach that goal.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my pictures and stories. I have left out so much, but as I said earlier, there just aren’t the right words to explain the trip. God was amazing and it’s absolute truth that the Peruvian people blessed me far more than I did them.

Again, to my loved ones who supported me, thank you. You helped make this happen. You sent me over there, and you also helped to provide medications and supplies. You all were as much of a part of this as I was, and I’m very grateful.



Scenes from Clinic Days



Around Lima, Peru



Peruvian Food, YUMMO!





Video montage put together by part of the leadership team.

The hope is to recruit even more students to attend next year!
(Especially nursing students!!)





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I ♥ Sunsets

May there be just enough clouds in your life to create a glorious sunset

~ Author Unknown ~



2009 Ballunar Liftoff Festival

I have been wanting to go to this festival since Mike and I got married and I moved to the area 5 years ago! But something has come up each time….illness, labor, hurricane… it’s always been something! Not this year!! Not only were we able to go, but I was able to just relax and enjoy some quality family time because I didn’t have my usual Monday morning pharmacology test! It was a much needed break for all of us. I’m not sure why I have had such an obsession about going… I think it stems from memories I have of my Granny Gert and Joseph. The neighbors behind them were balloonist and invited us to go up one summer. It was absolutely amazing. I still remember all of it very clearly. Amarillo isn’t much too look at from the air, but the feeling of being in a hot air balloon is like no other. Not only do I remember going up and chasing the balloon from land while my brother took his turn, I also remember that my mom taped over the home video accidentally. (It’s okay Mom, I still love you!) My dream would be to someday go to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. But until then, the NASA RE/MAX Ballunar Festival is pretty darn cool!! Here are some of my favorite shots of the day….








A House Divided: 212 or RPND??

I began my life as a Wildcat and when I was just 11 years old, my parents threw a wrench into my life! We were MOVING! In my limited mind, it was the end of the world. The worst thing ever. I soon came to grips with the move, made friends, made memories and even graduated from High School as a Perryton Ranger. Now, 16 years later, my parents have sold our home and moved back to Canadian! Yah, it’s another wrench! I still considered Perryton to be my home, even though I moved to Houston almost 5 years ago. I guess it kinda grew on me! When we first moved to Perryton, there was always one Friday night in September when we didn’t know where we belonged? Were we Wildcats or were we Rangers? After time, we became tried and true Rangers. I was a cheerleader and I had a brother that played with Big Red deep into the playoffs! I bled RED! Actually, my parents graduated 3 Rangers! And now… we’re back to the “not belonging” You see, tonight both my homes meet up to battle it out on the big green field. I’m actually glad I’m not able to be home this weekend! For one, I wouldn’t know where to sit and secondly, I think I’d be too emotional when it came time to leave. I haven’t been back since my parents sold their home, and I know it would have been difficult to have to drive 45 minutes home, instead of just around the wheat fields!! So, tonight I will have my radio on and I will Cheer for both teams! After all, no matter who wins or who looses, Wildcats will always boil at 212 degrees and Ranger Pride Will Never Die….

house divided

house divided

And the final outcome?? The Wildcats just didn’t boil tonight. The Rangers managed a huge upset and sent the cats home with their tails between their legs… 51-35