Arizona Wedding-Boudoir-High School Senior-Photographer » I'm Stacy Kokes, and I photograph love...

Okay friends. I’m about to show you our sanctuary, our little piece of paradise, our backyard!

Being from Wisconsin, I am used to homes being on big lots. I grew up on more than an acre and Joe grew up on FIVE acres! We got used to the small lots in AZ when it was just the two of us, but my heart broke thinking about our kiddos growing up without a REAL yard. A yard that they could have room to run. A yard with mature trees. A yard that makes you feel small.

It was always a dream of ours to have a big yard here in Arizona, but we put it on the “probably not gonna happen” shelf. But oh, how God provided! Our new house is just shy of a third of an acre. Granted that is not BIG compared to what we grew up on, it is HUGE for AZ standards. And that’s not all…it has mature trees! Citrus trees and desert trees and my favorite of all, the olive tree.

This yard is a dream come true for us. It was hand picked for us by God, we’re sure! It checks all of our boxes and more. When I see Bella running down our little grass hill giggling with delight and getting lost in adventure while searching for olives and oranges, my heart overflows. Thanks be to God for providing more than we could ask for!

Welcome to our yard!

Section 1: The Main Space

This is the area that we spend most of our time. It has plenty of room of run and it houses the swing set and our outdoor dining area.

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Section 2: The Pool Area

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Section 3: Our work in progress

Let me tell you a bit about what we’ve been doing on this section. It’s kind of a long story, but I like stories, don’t you?

So, the night before we moved in we were at the house painting and unpacking some small stuff when there was a HUGE thunderstorm. After the rain let up and we were getting ready to leave, we looked out in the backyard and saw that TWO of our big trees were knocked over. Seriously?? We hadn’t even moved in yet. Sad face :(.

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But it wasn’t the end of the world. We had our great lawn crew remove the trees and we thought we were done.

WRONG!

We soon realized that the gravel/rocks were an invitation for our dogs to dig and roll around in the dirt. Not cool dogs, not cool!

So we came up with a new plan. Grass (and pavers)! Hooray!

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It took a LOT longer than we thought, but it turned out great in the end. Below is a before and after.

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And another B + A.

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Last on the to-do list for this side is the playhouse. Oh, the plans I have for this!! But in the meantime, Bella sure loves it as is :)

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And that, my friends, is our new yard. Thanks for stopping by!

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We’ve been in our house for a little over two months and boy have we been busy! Making this house into a home has kept my creative cravings well fed and the place really feels like home.

I promised that I would give you a house tour, but I have been hesitant since it’s “not done yet”.  As I look around the house, I see it all the things that I have yet to do: the furniture that I want to change. The cabinets that I want to paint. The walls that have yet to be filled. Add in the fact that there is always a floor that needs to be vacuumed, dust somewhere and toys in places they shouldn’t be and I have plenty of reasons why I don’t feel ready to show the house yet.

Then I realized….I’ve always kept it real, so why should I stop now? Truth be told, my house doesn’t look like it came out of a magazine. I have an active almost-3-year old who creates a toy tornado on the regular.  I often have dirty dishes in the sink. My dogs shed at an incredible rate. My days are filled to the brim with running a business, taking care of my little and attempting to have dinner ready each night. I don’t have it all together. And I’m guessing neither do you. So rather than wait until everything is “done” and “just right” (which would only add to the cycle of us feeling like everyone else has it together so we should too), I’m going to give you a peek at the house as it is right now; with projects that have yet to be done and walls that have yet to be filled.

Welcome…
housetour-2housetour-5The Living room. Yes, that is a Moby Dog on the couch. See? Real life!housetour-6housetour-7Our thankful jar. We fill it with things we’re thankful for throughout the week and read them together over dinner. housetour-15housetour-8housetour-16Our “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree :)housetour-9housetour-12housetour-17The Kitchenhousetour-20Hooray for granite countertops!
housetour-19housetour-18housetour-21Oh the little things that make my heart soar. Wine glass holder!
housetour-22housetour-23housetour-24housetour-27housetour-26The room that we don’t quite know what to do with yet. Hi, Hope Dog!housetour-28housetour-29housetour-31housetour-32

Stay tuned for pics of: my office, the bedrooms and the backyard (my favorite!)

  • December 5, 2014 - 8:18 am

    Elizabeth - Stacy it’s beautiful, I can’t get over that awesome fireplace! Can’t wait to see what you guys do with that room!

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Kyle and Jessica’s engagement session was nothing short of an ADVENTURE! We all made the trip up to Sedona from Phoenix for some epic E-sesh shots; the two of them with a car-full of three dogs and Jess’s trusty maid of honor/dog sitter for the day and me with a car-full of my two dogs, hubby, daughter and mother in law. We drove along winding roads (which about did me in with my motion sickness!), chased the sun, hiked down paths that we weren’t entirely sure were safe and “borrowed” someone’s property for the sake of some gorgeous shots.

In the end….TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Here is a peek at Kyle + Jess’s “Adventure in Sedona” Engagement Session:

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  • December 4, 2014 - 10:52 pm

    Patty Borella Kelly - love, love, love…such a beautiful couple, such a beautiful keepsake… xoxo

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Amy + Shane met and fell in love while working together. Talk about making work more fun! They have been together almost 7 years and in just a couple months they will be committing their lives to one another as husband and wife!

We met at the Scottsdale Civic Center for some low key engagement photos. Little did we know that we would be met by the Scottsdale Art Festival and TONS of people taking up the whole grounds! Add to that a bunch of family sessions, 3 quinceaneras, and one wedding all going on there and we had to get pretty creative to make it look like they were the only two there :)!

These two are absolutely adorable. I could not get enough of their playful interaction, infectious smiles and joyful presence.

Here is a peek into their love…

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About the time I graduated from college, I reached a crossroads. I had just spent four years growing accostumed to life away from my family that was back in Wisconsin. I missed them dearly, but I had made great friendships in Arizona that eased the pain of being away from family. However, now that college was over, all of us were going our separate ways. I always thought that someday, after I finished college, that I would move back “home” to Wisconsin. Then I met Joe…

I was in my senior year of college when we met. Joe had just moved here from Oregon after getting his masters degree. He had a “real” job, had just bought a house and was setting down roots in Arizona. I, on the other hand, was longing to go back to Wisconsin and start my life there. I soon realized that being with Joe was going to mean staying in Arizona. My heart was so torn. On the one hand I was so smitten and so sure that Joe was the one I wanted to spend my life with, yet my heart longed for the community of my family. I knew that God was calling me to be with Joe and start our life together as husband and wife, so I committed to started a life in Arizona.

It wasn’t always easy. In fact, there were days when my heart missed my family so much I would just cry and cry. I longed for genuine community and prayed that God would bring deep friendships into my life.

Throughout our marriage, God brought some amazing people into our lives through our church. Three years ago, Joe and I began leading a small group and it changed our lives. The community I longed for all those years was being fulfilled through these amazing people. These people have seen us through some of our darkest days, have sat with us in the midst of great pain, celebrated with us during times of joy and given us a glimpse of Jesus. These friends challenge me, grow me, encourage me, correct me, and push me to be more like Christ. They are my family; my brothers and sisters in Jesus and I am beyond grateful to God for answering my prayer for genuine community.

Last weekend we did our first annual FriendsGiving in our new backyard with our small group and it was a dream come true. When we decided to buy our new house, we prayed that it would be a place where memories would be made and fellowship would be experienced. We hoped that the walls and outdoors would be filled with laughter, good conversation, food and drink. We prayed our new home would be a place where we could welcome others in, like Jesus welcomed us. Seeing our yard filled with our dearest friends enjoying food, drink and friendship filled my heart and soul.

Thank God for your friends today. They are a gift!

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  • November 17, 2014 - 7:05 pm

    Charity Oxley Maurer - Love it! :)

  • November 18, 2014 - 7:47 am

    April Maura - Incredible event and a sweet story to go along with it. Thank you for sharing. Denny and I are so thankful to have found this small group!

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