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

We met when we were just 8 years old and it was friendship at first sight. On that day some twenty plus years ago, I knew I had met my best friend for life.

Stephanie and I have shared so much life with each other. As kids we had wild imaginations and spent our days creating our own little world full of skits, dance and playing pretend. As we grew up, our friendship was strengthened by our shared passion for dance and our deep love for the Lord. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend to grow up with.

After high school, our friendship survived moves across and even out of the country. We saw each other through blossoming and broken relationships and the awkward phase of trying to figure out what the heck we want to do with our lives.

Steph and I both have always dreamed big, but especially Steph. I have never doubted her ability to achieve whatever she puts her mind to. She just has that “it” factor that sets her apart from a crowd.

One of the things we have talked about since we were kids is wanting to open a dance studio one day. While I still have a love for dance, my life took a different path. Steph, however, has continued to pursue dance and it has blessed her tremendously.

While working for a professional dance company in Mexico, she met a fellow dancer that swept her off her feet (literally and figuratively!). Her and Tavo fell in love and eventually had their precious daughter and got married. And that dream she had of opening a dance studio someday? Her husband had the same dream!

So two years ago, the three of them took a leap of faith and moved back to the states to work towards that goal. This past weekend, their dream came true!

My best friend and her husband just opened their new dance studio Everything About Dance and I had the pleasure of taking their promo photos!!! I couldn’t be more proud of the two of them. Their hard work and diligence is to be admired.

Wisconsin friends, if you are looking for some lessons please check them out. Please check out their website HERE to get more info.

Way to go, Bestie! You made your dream come true :)

 

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Happy Monday, friends! We just got back from an AH-MAZING week in Maine and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Grab your coffee and let’s chat!

Okay, first of all, Maine is as beautiful as everybody says it is. Seriously one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

What brought us out to Maine, you ask? Good question!

Joe’s aunt and uncle have a vacation home in a tiny fishing town off the coast and every year they invite Joe’s mom’s side of the family there for a little rest, relaxation and reunion. This was the first time we were able to make it out there and goodness, I wish we would have started going years ago!

Can we first talk about this house?? It was built in 1850. Yes, that is 1850 as in more than 150 years old! Those of you who know me, know I am such a sucker for homes with charm, character and history to them. You walk in them and can feel the stories and memories the walls hold. I was in love the moment we pulled up. Wouldn’t you be??

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Oh, and there was a BARN on the property!

maine2014-15If the age of the home wasn’t enough, the front porch sent my heart leaping. I have ALWAYS dreamt of owning a house with a front porch someday, so it was nice to pretend for a week :).

Oh, and you can’t tell from this picture but we had a view of the water right from the front porch. Be still my heart! We spent much of our days front-porch sitting, enjoying the perfect weather and playing outside in the glorious green that surrounded us.

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The home was filled with plenty of old charm that made my heart beat faster; like the vintage books, original door knobs and an old school pencil sharpener. Love it!

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This was one of my very favorite rooms of the house.

The combination of the wood beams, dreamy light and shelves of books made this room feel magical. I loved watching Bella play in here.

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Don’t worry, we didn’t just spend all day in the house. We enjoyed plenty of outdoor fun.

Bella loved playing with her cousin Caroline’s dog Nutmeg (who got an unfortunate nickname thanks for Bella’s mispronunciation!) and enjoyed being both a ballerina and baseball player :).

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Maine wouldn’t be complete without some hammock and patio chair goodness. I spent many a time reading on this bad boy (the hammock, that is!).

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I’m a Wisconsin girl, so I had no idea what “tide pools” were. Joe kept talking about them before we left for the trip and I just nodded my head and smiled.

I can now officially say that I not only know what a tide pool is but I have been to several. And even touched some snails in them!

Joe and Bella were much more adventurous that me in the “tide pool creature holding”. They found and held snails, crabs, hermit crabs and even a little lobster. Bella takes after her Daddy in being fearless like that!

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And of course, our adventures wouldn’t have been complete without the people we shared them with.

We are so grateful for the time we got to spend with Joe’s family.

The week was such a blessing to our family and we will hold it dear to our hearts for life.

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The group: cousin Laura, Aunt Kerry, Bella, Uncle Joe, Aunt Connie, Kristi (Joe’s mom), Becca (Joe’s sis), Joe and Me

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Did any of you do any cool traveling this summer? I’d love to hear your adventures!

  • September 30, 2014 - 5:46 am

    Audra Garbinski - Please take me with you next time. What a gorgeous vacation.

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Two and a half years ago, we set out on the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover (TMM) journey. At that time, I had mountains of student loan and “keeping up with the Jones” type debt staring us in the face. The idea of that debt being gone seemed like a dream. I couldn’t fathom getting rid of 65k+ of debt in the two year time frame that Joe had set for us. Talk about a lofty goal, I thought! But after reading the TMM book, I started to realize that we COULD do it. It was just going to take some sacrifice. I’ll admit, I liked the idea of being debt free…I just wasn’t sure about the whole “sacrificing” to make that happen.  I feared that all my “fun” would be taken away, but I quickly learned that living on a budget and telling my money where to go was actually really freeing (and even a little bit fun!).

One of the biggest sacrifices “we” made was when we decided to sell Joe’s BMW M5 to pay down some debt. Now I say “we”, but really this was a HUGE sacrifice for Joe. He went from driving his dream car that he loved (nearly) as much as me to driving my old 1997 Toyota Corolla, “Mary”.

Let’s chat about Mary for a bit, shall we? Mary has been in the family for a long time. Mary first came to us when my sister got her. I think I was maybe 14 or 15 at the time and I thought Mary was awesome. When it was time for me to take my drivers test, Mary was what I used. Then a couple years later, I got to call Mary my own. This was the car I drove cross-country out to Arizona. It was the car I drove my college friends around in freshman year. And, for the past 2 years, it has been the car that Joe drives to and from work everyday. Mary has been with us a LONG time, and while she has been super reliable…she’s old as heck and not exactly fun to drive anymore (sorry Mary!).

When we said Bye Bye to the Beamer in August 2012, we decided that we wouldn’t buy another car until A. we had completed the TMM Baby Step #2 (being debt free other than the mortgage) and B. we would be able to pay cash for it.

We had a few things that took priority over being “gazelle intense” about paying off our debt, namely our 4 adoption attempts, but by God’s grace we still completed our goal in roughly the timeframe we originally set out on. We have officially completed Baby Step #2 and are debt free other than our mortgage! We did it!!! And this week, Joe got to reap some of the benefits of our hard work when he brought home his “new”, paid-in-full BMW 325!

I love seeing this eye candy in the driveway and love what it symbolizes; patience, wisdom, commitment and accomplishment. I’m so proud of my hubby who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. You earned this, love! Onto Baby Step #3, 4, 5 and 6 <3.

Oh, and in case your’e wondering about Mary…we’re still keeping her! I’m pretty sure she’ll be with us until she dies. Which at this rate will be when I’m in my 50s LOL!

P.S. For those of you who are where we were 3 years ago, let me just say, YOU CAN BE DEBT FREE TOO! I know it can be really intimidating when you have thousands of dollars of debt staring down at you, but you can do it. I HIGHLY recommend reading the Total Money Makeover. It’s an easy read and it may be just the thing you need to get started on your journey towards a debt free life. Take it from me, who was a total skeptic, it is totally worth it. And if you are willing to do the work and commit to the journey, it WILL work for you!

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  • July 30, 2014 - 7:25 pm

    Leezett Birch - Cant believe its been 2 years since reading your blog.. Time flies when having fun. I was impressed then as I am now,, I am going to read that book,, Thank you :)

  • July 30, 2014 - 9:56 pm

    Jen Fritz - Yay! We’re working through step 2, too. It’s going to feel soooo good to get there! Way to go, you guys! Now he’s driving completely free and it’s *actually his*!!!

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It is always so special when I get to photograph people I love. While in WI this past week, I got to meet my newest niece, Harper Grace and take their first family photos.

After 14 years of marriage, my brother and his wife welcomed their first child into their lives. God’s timing is so different than ours, but oh so perfect.

Harper more than they could have ever hoped for, and you can see their joy written all over their smitten faces.

I am SO excited to share a piece of my heart; my family, the Fritzs.

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I just love seeing my brother as a dad. He has been such an incredible big brother to me and I know he is going to such a wonderful dad to this little girl <3.

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Sweet Harper, your mama has been praying for you for so long. You are so loved by so many!

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