Elise Taylor

Elise is graduating! Sunday, we made our way through different areas of Chattanooga looking for the best locations to shoot her senior pictures. I think we found a few :) I don't know about Elise, but I had a total blast! Here are a few of my favorites.


Previously, most of my shooting has been done with Evan. This time I went solo, and even though it was my cousins wife, I was still nervous for some reason. Anyhow... here are a few from my very first pregnancy shoot. Laura is a photographer herself, so we had a lot of fun coming up with ideas.


Casual after dinner conversation...

Evan: I'm going to have some ice cream to settle my stomach
Joni: Your stomach is unsettled?
Evan: Lack of ice cream is very unsettling...


Krystal was wondering why I skipped writing about the wedding... I don't know. Guess I'm just tired of weddings. (Just went to number four in the last few months) Love this pic though.... We were waiting for our music to start so we could walk down the aisle.
One week for church, the speaker talked about wilderness experiences. The time in your life when, like Moses, you are in your “wilderness”; the place that is unfamiliar to you and is a challenge for you to endure. I’d have to say, living in the South has been my wilderness experience. The sad part is, I don’t see it ending any time soon. In previous posts, I’ve described some of the ways the culture is so incredibly different. But the longer I’m here, the more differences I find. For example, just this morning, someone told me that southerners, as a main part of their holiday (Christmas or Thanksgiving) meal, they serve macaroni and cheese. Can you believe it? How weird....

I had to laugh yesterday because I noticed an article in the newspaper... it stuck out to me because it had Canada in the title. So of course I had to read it. It was an article on how some Canadian baseball teams have been coming to the US in search of tournaments because there seems to be a lack of baseball teams in Canada. It started off by saying one of the team members “first taste of grits will likely be her last.” I laughed because my own first experience was quite the same. I thought I had bought cream of wheat. Couldn’t figure out where I had gone so horribly wrong.... did I not cook it long enough?? Needless to say, grits are still not a favorite of mine. They are however, a staple food here in the South. Along with black eyed peas, fried chicken and collard greens, smothered in butter or who knows what kind of grease.

One of my biggest pet peeves is the flour though... you can’t find flour in bags bigger than 5 lbs... ANYWHERE! and on top of that, its always bleached white, and contains less gluten. So if you want your bread or whatever your baking to stay together, you have to use more flour than what’s called for. Whatever happened to good ol’ Robin Hood? I was very excited about finding Birds Custard powder last week though. I was able to make Nanaimo bars for the first time! Such a wonderful taste of home.
Its not all bad though. Southern hospitality is second to none. Like that country song... “Everybody knows everybody, everybody calls you friend; You don’t need an invitation, take off your shoes and come on in.”

So for now, I’ll continue to marvel at the differences and strange ways of life, and try to learn to love them( apart from the grease filled food). But what I wouldn’t give for a mug of Timmy’s and some -35 C weather...


I had something happen to me yesterday that causes me to question life and why things like this always seem to happen to me. I was at work, and in the process of serving lunch to the anxious elderly, I received a second degree burn... from a kidney bean. Yes, you heard me right... a bean.
I was serving a bowl of minestrone soup and somehow this over zealous bean managed to flip out onto my hand and sizzle its way through the layers of epidermis between my thumb and pointer finger as my face contorted in pain. It just so happened I was holding the bowl in the same hand so I couldn't throw it.... I now have a large red spot and blister on my hand. Who would have ever thought a bean could be a dangerous thing?


Home for the holidays...

It seemed as though we were destined to be in San Jose for Christmas. No way that was going to happen! Alaskan airlines notified us about four hours before our flight was to leave, that it had been canceled. "Okay, well...lets go to the airport anyways and see what we can do." We got there, and the lines of people were stretching far down the hallway of the ticket counter area. At one point, there was even a camera crew from a news channel recording the mayhem and angry customers being told that they wouldn't be able to get on a plane until two or three days later due to ice storms in Portland and Seattle. The story was the same for us. "No, I'm sorry, there is nothing until the 23rd." We took our tickets and went to the back of the line so we could think of some other options while waiting to get to the front again. I think we must have gone through that line-up about 5 times... each with no luck ( a big thank you to Cindy Buell who stayed on the phone with us the whole time trying to work it all out). I sat with our luggage taking advantage of the free WI-FI, while Evan waged war at the ticket counter. After a while, I looked up to see a young back packer and as he got close enough I heard him saying to the man next to him, "Its time for me to give somebody a tongue lashing.." I chuckled at him a bit, just knowing that no matter how much he blew off... he wasn't getting anywhere. A short while later Evan comes to me, with this same backpacker dude and tells me thy are going to the car rental area to check out the pricing and availability. *Deep breath*.... "okay." The thought of driving 13 hours in a car with a strange man put my stomach in knots, but hey, my man would protect me. :o)

By about seven they had a car and we were on our way to pick up Jordan and Krystal from San Fransisco where their flight had also been canceled.

The weather report was saying that chains were required on Grants Pass and all the other mountains in Northern California. We stopped at every place we could think of that might carry chains... but either they were closed, they didn't know what they were or they didn't have them. By midnight we said forget it, and headed over the pass. I kept looking ahead to see where the bad weather was that required chains... I don't think we ever found it. There was a skiff of snow on the very top, but nothing that needed chains. I laughed a bit at the trucks as they stopped to put them on at the check points and then again as I watched the sparks flying off the wheels when they started down the highway. Crazy Californians...

We arrived in Salem the next morning, dropped off the rental car and the backpacker and went to the Buells house for a few hours to rest, hot tub and roll a bit in the snow. Then we were off again!

When we stopped for gas in Kamloops my hand nearly froze to the gas pump. I asked the attendant what the temperature was. "-30 C." Welcome to Canada!

We arrived home Tuesday morning around 9:30 am... The same day we had tickets to fly to Portland! No way were the airlines going to get the best of us! Home for Christmas, just as it should be. And I'd have to say, its been the best Christmas of my life!

After being in the South for so long, going home was such a relief. Almost like, I could breath again... and relax. We spent much of our time there playing music, eating, playing in the snow... eating... playing inside, playing in the snow. I was thankful that the morning we got there, it warmed up from -30 to -20 C. We could be outside for more than 10 minutes at a time!

Evan was excited to experience, for the first time, real ice hockey. We also were able to borrow a ski-doo for the two weeks we were there, and had a ton of fun playing with that.

(picture taken from the spot he proposed)

Then, December 28, Evan and I decided to take a trip out to the back 40 and go snowboarding. Apparently it had been planned all along. Little did I know. I took Annies board all the way down there, and realized it was the step in kind, and I didn't have the right boots on. So Evan and I took turns on the one he'd brought, even though the bindings were all backwards and the powder was so deep you couldn't go more than ten feet without getting stuck. It was good excercise, but after one run down and the hike back up I was exhausted (I say run, but it was really more of a fight... getting stuck with a board strapped to your feet makes you feel like a turtle as you try to right yourself and start going again). Evan suggested we take a break and motioned for me to sit next to him. Then he pulls from his coat an envelope that contained all the post cards he'd given me since June. As he laid them out in the snow, I looked over each one remembering all the things we'd done together, all the laughs and tears we had shared. By then I knew what was happening and I watched as he spelled out with the letters in the corners of the cards the words "will you marry me". On the 28th card, the very last one, the one I hadn't seen yet, there was a big question mark in the center. My mind felt fogged as I heard him say "Joni Lynn Spangler, will you marry me?" I was in a bit of shock that this long anticipated moment was actually here... I must have sat there longer than I realized but finally managed a very delighted and happy "ya!"

The rest of our time at home flew by in planning and decision making. Since the wedding will be in McBride, we wanted to get as much done as possible before we had to leave.

A year ago I thought it was the best Christmas of my life when he asked me to be his girlfriend. I couldn't imagine at the time the joy and excitment that would fill me when he asked me to be his wife. And now I get to look forward to spending the rest of my life with my best friend. It doesn't get any better than that.

The rest are just some random pictures of my family over the holidays. Cheers!