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please don't stop blogging karen. you are real snd we love you for that!

Kim Johns

Karen, yours is the first blog I look at when I switch my computer on, I love your posts, your photos and your realness of life and I also signed up to do the couch to 5k this year because of you, thniking of you and all your REAL family xxxxxx

debbie susee

I love your blog and read it every day and it's one of my favorites because you are so real about your life. You don't sugar coat it. You make me feel ok about my life and its ups and downs. I would be so sad if you stopped but understand that you have to do what's right for you and your little family. Please know that you are all right just as you are--faults and all. Each of us have different talents and abilities and we are only asked to use those to the best of our abilities. We should celebrate the talents we have and not pine for those we wish we had. (I'm talking to myself here too.)

debbie susee

By the way, I think you make great memories for your kids all the time. I love to read and see pics of the amazing traditions you have with your kids.
I also think that your kids will not remember last night the way you do. They may remember how you asked for forgiveness and that the evening ended with kisses and giggling though. :) You are all right!

Michelle Arthur

If there is a mom/wife out there that says she wouldn't like to run away at times, she is lying. And your blog is a bright spot in my day, because you are real and your family is real and it helps me believe that I am close to normal. There is a stamp set (I do not crochet, but I do make cards) that has the sentiment "Everything will be okay in the end. If it isn't okay, it isn't the end.", so hang in there and keep your faith. God knows what he is doing. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us.


your blog is amazing. your kids are the cutest. no one would follow your blog if it made them feel like crap, and look at all of your followers! those perfect moms don't really exist! they only takes pics and post on their best days and never show you reality! don't get discouraged, you are awesome!


I get caught up in all that blog hopping myself. I'm a jack of all trades, master at none person. I can knit, crochet, sew, paper craft, etc. But when I see blogs that make me feel crappy, I either STOP reading them or I use them to motivate me to do better.

Remember, you can do ANYTHING you want, but you can't do EVERYTHING. Even the "perfect" bloggers are missing some facet of their lives. One that you probably have down without blinking an eye. They're just not brave enough to put it out for the rest of the world to see.

I want to do SO many things, but then I have to remember to BE MYSELF. I *want* to be a blogger, but I don't think I want to carve out the required time in my day to do it.

I also want to be a runner. A year ago, I'd have said you were crazy if you wanted to run. Now I'm actually doing it. I'll be a year ahead by 2013, by golly!



Thank you for blogging all that you do. I love to look at your pictures, and one day my priorities will be to have a greater skill in photography, but until that day, I'll just keep you bookmarked for REAL inspiration.


Karen, I don't know where those other bloggers live because it is for sure not my house! haha....I tell my family's life day to day and it's pretty boring. Some weekends I never even leave my house, but that's because I'm the happiest in my home. My blog is our family journal and my grown kids love it so that's what keeps me going. It's our story. your blog is your families story too and one day your kids will be so happy you wrote it! I don't know you but HUGS have a great husband, great kids and a good life....and above all else, a normal life!!


Karen, I don't think I've ever commented before.. but I've been reading your blog for a couple years now. You're blog is real, that's what I love about it. You have ups and down, yes. But so does everyone. I have ups and downs every day. One minute I'm telling my boyfriend he's the best thing that ever happened to me, the next I feel like I'm about to explode because of some little thing he did that just drives me crazy. That's just life, please don't let it get you down.

No one is perfect, even the women who have blogs that make them look that way. Isn't that the beauty of the internet? You only put out there what you want others to see. You're a braver, truer woman for putting ALL of you out there.. not just the perfect cookies, the crochet coffee cozies, and the lanterns hanging from trees.

You have to take comfort in the fact that you have raised some amazing kiddos. They are happy and healthy and interesting little people who you should be so proud of. I don't have kids of my own yet, my family consists of my boyfriend and my cat, but someday when I do I hope my family has the qualities that yours does. A husband who LOVES me, and who I love just as much, crazy-awesome kids who are clearly caring, interesting people already, and some great extended family to hold me up when I need it.

I know sometimes it's hard to see through our own perceptions, and we usually see the bad more than the good in our lives. But Karen, you are a great mom and a wonderful wife and you're blog is so wonderful to read because of it. The important thing is not that you have ups and downs, it's how you are willing to share them, own up to them, and move past them.

On top of all that, I thought I would share that I live in Ashland and sometimes when you write about places you take the kids to, I get really excited because I actually know where you're talking about. And then sometimes I think I see you around and I try to decide if I would introduce myself or not, but it's not actually you and then I feel like I'm going crazy.

LaVonne Bateman

Please don't stop blogging. Yours is the ONLY Blog that I read where I honestly feel like you are a *real* person!! All the rest of the stuff out there seems too good to be true, "fluffy", un-balanced, and trivial. You have a gift for writing, as well as your amazing gift for photography! You know how to write about the hard stuff and the funny stuff and the regular-everyday-stuff that we all experience....but, somehow, it all has a better perspective when it comes from you. I do appreciate your honesty and "real-ness" in this world full of "plastics".
And: I have to believe that you are on your way to an un-imaginable, life-altering, amazing JOY-FILLED adventure! Just wait and watch what God unfolds for you.
I'm praying for you.


Karen - you rock on a daily basis. Because you connect with your faithful readers because we can all see a bit of ourselves in your own life. Because none of us is perfect - no matter what the sun kissed photographs may indicate. Because you share with us your talent through your classes and blog. Because being a mom is hard - harder yet if your life partner is thousands of miles away in a strange and dangerous land. Because we know a genuine person when we see one.


Just wanted to comment that I LOVE your blog and hope you continue. It brings smiles, tears and in between those too-warm fuzzy feelings because its a REAL blog! Thank-you for sharing it with us!


If you must quit blogging, I totally understand. But know this...I have read many blogs over the years and yours is the ONLY one I STILL read. "Karen Russell" is a common household name around my house. I'm continually saying to my sister, "Did you read Karen Russell today?" You have a way of always making me smile (or laugh out loud). I love your blog, your perspective, your way of saying things... Your blog is a bright spot in my day and I would miss it immensely!! Just thought you should know. :)

Heather S. in VT

The comment before this one by Nichole is awesome! Ditto! Wish I was capable of putting feelings into words so well! I love your blog Karen. It never makes me feel bad! I won't read it if it did! I make myself feel bad enough already I don't need a blog to help me! So thank you Karen for your awesome, REAL and heartfelt blog! You make me smile and laugh and I'm always so excited to see a new post from you in reader! If you need to quit for your own personal reasons, I would understand but I would miss you.....ALOT! So thanks and I apologize for not commenting more frequently to let you know how awesome your blog is!!


Karen, your blog is so wonderful and there are so many reasons why I love it. You are REAL, your kids are so freaking adorable, you are not afraid to talk about GOD and your faith and the challenges that life throws at you, your relationship with Josh is incredibly special! Reading your blog has become part of my morning routine :) I am always so excited when there is a new post and I never feel bad or depressed, in fact it has done the opposite, it has inspired me to follow my dream of becoming an amazing photographer and I thank you for that! Everyone has struggles and battles we all have to fight, if we can lean on God, friends (even the cyberspace/blogging ones)and family we can get through anything. Hope your day gets better and personally, I think a day in PJ's having McDonald's while giggling with the kids sounds fantastic!


Please don't end the blog. I love reading your blog because what you say is real. The pictures you take document real life. I always feel bad about myself as a mother when I read those blogs as well... and then I read a quote by Steve Furtick that changed the way I view those mothers, and myself.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
All you are seeing are the highlights, they don't post what goes on behind-the-scenes, or their gag reels. You have a beautiful family, you take amazing pictures and your sense of humor lightens my day. Please don't stop blogging.


I was blessed with a new computer for Christmas and your blog was one of the few(about 5) that I kept in my favorites bar. You keep it real and honest and I thank you for that. That being said, even though I would miss reading your blog daily, it still is your blog and yours to do with as you wish. Best Wishes!


Hang in there - more than half of "them" are probably lying.

Betty McArthur

Those "perfect" blogs aren't perfect blogs and those "perfect" people aren't perfect people... it's staged. They are allowing you to see what they want you to see. They are letting you see what they want their lives to be 24/7... but is it? Probably not. Those blogs are pretty and they are nice to look at, but you can't take them personally. You can't compare your life to theirs. Are they happy? What is it in their lives that they are trying to fill by creating a perfect life for everyone to see? Sure, we all want that picture perfect life, but we all know the craziness that takes place between the snaps of a picture. Life can be ugly. Life can be dirty. Life isn't always perfect hair and sunshine through the trees... BUT for short moments, sometimes it is. Now, I'm not saying that we are all depending on you to keep this blog going, but I sure do looking forward to hearing from you. You are refreshing. Keep being yourself. Be happy!!!! Be real.

teresa b

Reading your blog has been the highlight of my day for I can't even remember how long.. I'd be super sad if you went away.. I've never left your blog feeling less then or feeling bad.. I've left feeling it's not just I sit here in my PJ's typing my comment. Thanks Karen for keeping it real.. thanks for sharing your family..thank you for sharing your ideas..thank you for showing you.. unfiltered, real world, laugh out loud, cry on your shoulder, having one of those days, real you!!


Your blog is my favorite. It is the first thing I check each morning. I follow 3: You, Elsie, and Ali. All beautiful and creative women with lovely lives. I would miss you greatly if you stopped.
Thank you for being You!

Cara Lieggi

Please don't stop blogging! I LOVE reading your blog!!!! You keep it real and that is the best thing anyone can ask for! Hang in there!


Oh please keep blogging. I look forward to reading yours every morning. I originally found your blog about 2 years ago when looking for photography tips. And now 2 years later, although we've never met, I feel like I know you, care about you and can relate to you. You are real and one of the very few blogs I've found that keeps it real and helps me keep my life in perspective and not feel that I'm not doing things good enough. When I read that you and Josh had visited our little town of Ferndale, had dinner & road bikes here, I so wished I had been outside and run into you somewhere. You are such an amazing person! Hope today is a good day for you :)

Michelle Voelker

a: as a non-stick-thin Dietitian and (just because I think it's ucky), I hate McDonalds. Not sayin' I don't feed it to my kids in a hurry.
b: we do takeout more often than I care to admit.
c: I am so glad I am not the only mom who swears around her kids. I try not to... but it just comes out.
d: I've stopped reading most blogs except yours. And thank goodness I am caught up too, cause I spent a few days awhile back - before I took your class - reading and tearing up at the good parts, and laughing. No bad feelings here.
e: I'm kinda thinkin' you probably needed those hours to not really 'think', know what I mean? You have so much going on, wasting a few hours followed by giggles & kid kisses probably did you some good in the end. Years from now the kids will remember that night as a good thing you know.


Nobody has that perfect of a life, it's just the image they choose to portray - don't believe it. Thanks for not being perfectly staged! You often blog about kids fighting or other non-perfect but totally real things. Thanks for that. But on the other hand please don't start whining and complaining in every post now that we know you aren't perfect ;) LOL!

Aimee B. in Oregon

It all comes down to this: do what is right for you and your family. (period) If you are too labored by the blog and are feeling uneasy about it -- don't do it. "We" the people who read your blog are not people that are integral, real-life people in your life. If you want to document your life, do it. Do it in a way that feels right for you. Make your blog private. Go to Shutterfly and make a digital book. The people that you need to spend your time with and documenting for are all the people that you have pictured in your blog. Those people are the people that matter but you already knew that.

Your life is meant to lived the way you want it to be. LIVE IT.

Nurture yourself, Karen, during this difficult time. Its okay to mad, sad and anything else that moves through you.

Aimee in Or.


I tend to read and not comment... It's strange to read your blog and feel like I know you and commenting seems to assume a connection... But! Here goes: I find myself returning again and again to your story. Because it is real and has ups and downs. Because you are inspiring. Photography, triathlon, spirituality, relationships... and all of the related struggles everyone experiences and rarely put out there for others to see. Reading this post got me thinking about a book I started reading that profoundly helped me and seems to have eased my own perfectionist, sometimes depressive, way-too-hard-on-myself mind. And your post got me thinking about transparency and risk and connection. So. At risk of seeming presumptuous & stepping somewhere I shouldn't... I think you may really get something fantastic out of "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown. She also did an amazing talk on the Ted Talks about the power of vulnerability. It all seems to relate to what you are going through. A friend connected me with her talk & thus her book and so I'd like to pass on the favor. Best wishes to you.


Your blog is the one I keep coming back to again and again. because it always makes me feel like i am normal. thank you for not having the ability to crochet. i don't have it either. i often feel the same way you do after reading blogs or facebook. my husband says to just stop reading that crap. and i do. and i feel better. but your blog is not crap, so please keep on keeping on. :)


This found me this morning after I read your blog about your perfectly imperfect life. My heart goes out to our military and their families. Being apart is difficult as it is and then to add this kind of worry into the mix. You are handling things on your end. I don't have to know Josh to know he's proud of the job you're doing. You can do anything you have to do. My 90 year old mother always said the only thing she couldn't do was knit. So far, no one has asked her to. You don't have to crochet. I just know you from your blog and our class, but just so you know, your blog is not a time killer.


Love your blog. Thanks for being so refreshingly honest.

Jamie Z.

I love your blog, love your honesty. Thank you for writing.


Pleeeaaaase don't give up on your blog, just think, many years from now when you have a lot of time on your hands you'll be able to go back and read all about your life again and your family times. You are documenting your life and as we scrapbookers, isn't that what we do?

Karen, no one is perfect...we all have our issues, lord knows I have mine. You are a real person with real life issues just like the rest of us and that's what I think I love most about your blog. You are a real perons. Yes, it takes time reading blogs but I love reading your blog and yours is the only one I'll committ to reading. I read others here and there but I make sure I get on your blog to read everything! If you don't post something I go back the next day and keep trying. And the bonus is when I don't get on for a couple of days and you've posted a few posts. :)


I love your blog. You make me laugh and cry and sometimes at the same time. I enjoy reading about real people because like you I feel just like your blog post today. However, I can not decorate to save my life.

Linda Gibney

If you are alive there is already more right with you than wrong.
Jon Kabot-Zinn (Mindfulness Meditation)


I get dingy feeling when I read "perfect" mom blogs too - but then I realize it's their escape and we never REALLY know what's going on behind their eyes either.

You are an inspiration, and I hope you never ever quit blogging because checking in on you and your family is the best part of my week!


i blog *because* my life is not rosy. it's better now, but in the last five years i've definitely whined and griped about how un-picture-perfect my life is. on the other hand, i have my health, my kids have their health, my husband has his health. he's gainfully employed, and while that job has a crazy amount of travel involved, it DOES afford me the ability to stay home and pursue my passion. my kids are amazing ... except when they are little shits. i don't have fabulous hair or a tiny waist, but i also don't have huntington's disease, like the woman in my church, or stage-four breast cancer, like my beautiful friend who has four girls of her own. i feed my kids pop-tarts way more than i would like to admit, but last night they asked for and chowed down on brussels sprouts, so i must not be a total failure.

the way i see it, some people lead perfect, charmed lives. and for some of those people, life will always be perfect and charmed. and that may or may not make them lovely, grateful people. some people live through the unimaginable and yet only project their gratitude for the good things. some cope with problems by focusing on the good. some don't want you to know the bad, so they try their darnedest to make it look like it doesn't exist. we have no idea what really goes on behind those blogs. if they make you feel inferior, though, walk away. or be inspired to be your best and try your hardest. totally up to you.

the thing i like about your blog (i can't say you, because we've never met, even though i think we could have lots of fun together) is that you ARE honest. things aren't TOO perfect. but then again, i'm much more drawn to that because i can relate. rosy-colored anthro lives are so foreign to me, and while they might be nice to look at, they leave me unsatisfied. i say eat the cookie that fell on the floor instead of the prop cupcake that is lovely but inedible.

Carrie H.

Part of the reason I read your blog is because your life is imperfect (like the rest of ours) and that makes me feel good!!! Makes me know I'm not alone in this crazy journey!!! I love your photography & constant everyday inspiration, from everyday type photos. I love your family, I love your journey, and love to be an on looker of your life. You are an amazing beautiful women, with a wonderful love for her family!!! Your life is perfect because it is yours!!! So thank you for sharing it!!!


I love your blog! I read it religiously. Please don't give up on it. Don't worry about other blogs out there. Just because someone on another blog looks perfect doesn't mean they are. Anyone can seem perfect on the exterior but behind the scenes it's always a different story. I don't say that to sound mean eventhough it might sound that way. I say it because I know that nobody is perfect. I repeat that to myself when I peruse blogs and see how perfect their lives are compared to mine and feel jealously rearing it's ugly head. I love your blog.

If you decide that you don't want to continue your blog I will understand but I hope that you won't. :) Jen

Jennifer Fike

This is why I love reading your blog.. Life is not perfect and your the first to admit it. I love your honesty!! My husband is on the road a lot and is only home from Friday afternoon till Saturday night most of the time. It's really tough taking care of three kids by yourself sometimes. So when I read your blog there are so many things I can relate to. Like last night when I was trying to get supper ready and the kids were fighting one of those naughty little swear words came out of my mouth to. I love how real you are and how you put it all out there! I don't feel like crap when I read your blog... I feel like crap when I read all those perfect little blogs. The ones that have the perfect children that never fight, house that is perfectly organized and always tidy...BLAH!!! I can relate to you...and that is why I have followed your blog for years.
ps does Josh still send you flowers every Friday even tho he is in deployed?


Karen - I live my life transparant, telling the truth (not to hurt tho!) and doing the best I can with being a mom. But tonight after a particularly hard day I too took a run to McDonalds with my kids, and thought of you! You would not know me from a bar of soap, but I come to read your blog because of your honesty, your real, not fake like many other crafty bloggers. I wrote on my blog a long time ago about their perfect kids, perfect houses, perfect crafting, with everything their hearts desire falls so easily into their hands, and how I feel so inadequate, so I try and make my blog as upbeat as theirs are! In reality my kids are beautiful but bold, they made our Christmas a living hell, and I am so glad to have them packed off to school again as my two little ones are not biologically linked, 2 have special needs and drug damage from their parents drug use and they do not get along at all!!! So I am a bad mom who does not post of FB that they miss their kids after they go back to school after holidays, I am the one doing a happy dance in the kitchen for some free time (even tho I work!). So seems you are I are more real than the thin, fake and dense ones that try too hard!


For what it's worth....

I completely agree!! I am constantly comparing myself to seemingly perfect life of the 30 something bloggers I follow. And every few weeks I fall into a depression of how my life must be an epic fail because I don't measure up to the standard's these bloggers set.

I go back time and time again, because those blogs contain awesome creativity. Something I lack.

But your blog... I read your blog because it feels real. You blog of your triumphs, defeats, confusion and all things family. All of which I love. All those times you asked us forgiveness for the rant or when you felt you were complaining, you made me feel better. Many of us encounter very similar circumstances, and you help us remember that we can work our way through them.

Thank you for blogging. I would miss your life as you tell it, and the things I learn from your experiences, but your decision has to be your own. Do what is good for you, right! I have had a couple bloggers close shop, and I missed them for a week or so and then got over it. That's not to say I won't curse you to myself for a while, but in the end what makes your blog so great to read is your honesty. If you begin carrying on this blog just for us and it doesn't make you happy, then your bloggers won't be happy either.

Here's hoping you can decide to do what's in your heart...even if I have to suffer on without your beautiful photos and stories.

Lila Knight

I love your blog! Your right where God wants you to be, he has a plan we just never know what that plan is.

Karen Fobert

Totally ditto Charlene! You are so real and it is so motivating to see you approach the world with such courage and grace!


Keep blogging Karen -- you are an excellent writer and so honest and real -- and I am sure an inspiration to so many.

Lisa M.

Please, please, please don't quit blogging...I have been following it for years and I just love your words of wisdom!!

Terry D.

Please don't stop blogging. I love reading about your family, a family that loves to be together, that enjoys each other and even though I wish I had a family like yours, I never feel like crap. Nobody is perfect and if you were, you would be really boring and no one would want to read your blog. Perfect was on TV in the 50's & 60's and I know absolutely no one who crochets cosies or wants too.

Just remember that killing a few hours reading blogs is OK!


can't imagine YOU ever feeling down on yourself since the most perfect mother and career woman I know in my life (real life) is so impressed with YOU and loves your blog! Life is not about being perfect, it's about living it and doing the best we can and hopefully having some fun along the way. AND..while I'm very crafty... I can't crochet either! :) Please don't stop blogging...I'd go nuts without seeing what you and the kids and Josh Downs is up to.

tara pollard pakosta

Your blog has NEVER made me feel bad about myself, it has only made me feel like I can relate to you and at times has made me
want to be a better mom/wife etc. when you post the good stuff, I take something from that and apply it,
when you post the real stuff of life, learning, mistakes etc. I take that and learn from it!
You are real , you are YOU and I LOVE THAT!
please don't stop blogging!


Reading your blog always makes me laugh, or cry (but in a very very good way), and I love your closer walk with God and your not perfect relationship with Josh Downs (my hubby came into my life and blended with my little family and we share twins - and he's awesome and we fight too). while your photography makes me jealous it isn't in a bad way it's in an inspiring way and i really want to take your photography class but can't afford it - life sometimes stinks. but man, sometimes it rocks!

Shari Kimmey


I visit your blog - and nowadays, ONLY your blog - because, visiting your blog FILLS my cup. I leave feeling happy, moved, touched. I cry, I feel what you're feeling, I'm inspired, I hurt for you, I relate to you, I learn from goes on. You are an amazing photographer, which is the first reason I began following your blog. But, you are an even better writer, and most of all, an incredibly genuine, honest, and fun PERSON. And, that is why I keep coming back.

I don't blog much, because of the whole "feel like crap" thing (and for some other reasons...). It hurts my business, I'm sure of it. But, I'm happy in this place I'm in right now. And I don't want to compromise that for anything. So, what I'm saying much as I would miss your blog, and sincerely hope you decide it's worth the time you put into it, I completely understand and will applaud you if you decide it doesn't work into your life right now. Do what makes you happy, and your long list of supporters will always be cheering in your corner!


I think we all can put up masks and behind the "perfect" blogs are very real people hiding from being real with everyone. I love reading their blogs, finding inspiration in their creativeness but I also feel sad that this is what they choose to present as reality. Sure, a lot of us have those moments in our lives when things are "just right" (playing with our bambinos, when meal-time is happy, on special occasions etc) but the reality is that we also have pretty ugly moments in there as well.

I love your transparency and your realness. Thanks for sharing your world with us — you encourage me to press into God more, to seek His face and to know that we are imperfect yet we have a God who still loves us more than ever.

Julia Spencer

To be honest... These are my favorite posts of yours. The ones I can relate to. The ones that make me feel like I have a "normal" life. The ones that make me realize that IAMLESSTHANPERFECTANDIAMGOINGTOBEOK. You should totally keep blogging, even if it's just once in a while to tell the tale of your perfectly normal life, even if you feel like running away to the circus or you've fed your kids pizza for 5 days in a row. (yea, I've done that!)

Heather Bowser

I can't crochet either. (and I had to copy your spelling because I had no idea!) I cried on the way home from getting my haircut because my husband told me that he will be out of town for 3 weeks (again) leaving on Sunday. and I have horrible morning sickness with this pregnancy (our 12th baby) So I am not perfect either. and I have never once in all the years I have been reading your blog, felt like crap. Never. I feel like you give me perspective and a laugh. and you are crazy (in a good way) but no you are not perfect. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That's a fact. But not only do you take good pictures, you share your knowledge that even this crazy harried mom of soon to be 12 children can understand and that my friend is a gift. Hugs!

Keri Jarvis

Everyone else has pretty much said what I wanted to say. SO, I will just say, Thank you for blogging.


I am sending as much positivity as I have your way. I miss interacting with you in class, and I am so happy that I can still "know" you through your blog, but if you must take a break, it would be understood. Just please develop and teach an advanced class so I can take it. Thank you for being so real- the only way to really resonate with people as far as blogging is to take the personal risk of being honest. And I think crocheting is impossible, but I love knitting- it makes WAY more sense to me. I think some are wired to only be able to do one or the other. :)


A. Your blog never makes me feel bad, because you keep it real.
B. It's typical for couples to fight before a deployment. It's easier on the guys to go away mad than to just leave. Honest, I was told that in a predeployment brief. I bet he called you from his first stop and you both apologized like heck. Yeah, they told us that would happen too.
C. Please don't give up the blog. I read it in between the time I get home from work and my hubby gets home from work. It sucks that time shorter. And if you quit, what would I do? Clean house?
Just keep it real.


Can I get an amen sister?! :) I understand the time that you pour into this blog but I can just plea with you a little... keep writing... I felt the same and I KID YOU NOT, your blog and 2 others are the only ones out of the 250 I have bookmarked, that I read/check everyday. You are real and you don't make me feel like crap (unless you count the times I don't win your giveaways, but that is just me being a whiner- ha!). Do what you have to do to make your heart and your gut feel right but please know, you inspire and encourage me.. and many others, I am sure! :)


I would never continued to read your blog if I knew you couldn't crotchet!

Liz Hartrich

Please, oh please, don't stop, Karen. I love the realness of what you write. You make me laugh and tear up on a regular basis. You said something to me when I submitted a photo for Week 1 of your last photo class that really resonated with me. "And I think the hair in her face makes this shot look imperfect in a GOOD way - sometimes 'perfect' shots just look too contrived to me." I feel like there are some people out there who only want to share their "perfect" moments, and you helped me to embrace the imperfections in my photos. I don't want to look back at the records of my life (scrapbook, blog, photos) and think that it was all staged.

Also, I have shared snippets of your blog with my family. I read your post about the triathlon out loud to my husband while he was working in the kitchen one day. He liked the inspirational "Time is inevitably going to pass..." quote so much, he asked me to retype it and print it out and put it on our fridge so we can remember it on a daily basis. I admire you, not because you're perfect, but because you're real. Like me.

Jamie Hall

I'm with ya regarding the "blogs"...I tend to stay with the design teams where there are no "life moments", because I just can't handle it some days! But I have never felt that with your posts. Thanks for being REAL.

Robyn :)

I hope you continue to blog. Yours is very interesting and does not make me feel bad!

Anita G.

I really really really hope you continue to blog...your blog always makes me laugh and smile...and sometimes it makes me cry...but it also always makes me want to be a better person. You are so inspiring because you are REAL and I LOVE that! I'm sooo thankful that I got to meet you in Greece last year! Love you Karen!

laura j

don't stop posting on your blog! i look forward to your stories....they make me smile, laugh, and cry!....and who cares if you're not perfect?

Heather Moll

Karen, I absolutely love your blog. Never once have I ever felt bad after reading it except that I could colour correct and process my photos like you do. Your skin tones and colours are always so gorgeous.

At the beginning of this year, I went through my google reader and deleted all the blogs that weren't family or friends because I was wasting way too much time reading them for all the wrong reasons, except for yours. I kept yours because I love how real and open and honest you are and I couldn't quit reading it, no matter what.


You're the first blog I read every day, Nellie. I hate it when you take a hiatus, even! :) Maybe we should start paying to read


Karen -
As someone else who has been fairly recent to a close relationship with God I'll share with you a comment that my church's pastor made during a recent life group... Just as you accept Jesus as your savior, so often that is the moment that you are most attacked. Makes sense when you think about it. Satan hates that you have chosen to follow Jesus and wants it known:)

I am not normally someone who is really transparent with my life or faith either, so I think I get where you are coming from. Sometimes it is easier for us to feel good about ourselves and our lives when other people think we have it all together, but sometimes that is just all really exhausting. I think that you have chosen to just be REAL is awesome. I hope you keep at this blog thing, for selfish reasons:) But either way you are awesome and God loves you, warts and all!

I have found a lot of comfort in the statement that being a Christian doesn't mean that bad things never happen, or that life is perfect, it just means that God is right there with you when life happens, good and bad.


Can I get an "AMEN!" for truth and transparency in REAL, everyday, not always awesome and sometimes really crappy, life! So glad it's not all puffy hearts in your world, either! Keep writing!

laura plunk davis

Karen and NICOLE CZAJKOWSKI (how ever did you learn to spell that name??)
I can't read this blog without tears of some kind... be them joy or sorrow....
writing this finds me unemployed AGAIN after years of holding down good jobs, this time I got laid off due to this poor economy...
BUT along with you to hold me up by my boot straps (yes you Karen do that) I know not to give up and that even on the heals of 54 years old, there is a job out there for me...
I am learning to be PATIENT......
and so we will all hop on the Circus Train and ride it together....
Thank you Karen Russell for letting us in to share your bumpy ride.
PS NICOLE CZAJKOWSKI do you have a blog? I would follow you for sure....

Bernice J

Crocheted stuff is really gross looking...just sayin'


Your blog my friend is the first one I read or check everyday :) You keep it real and that's exactly what keeps me coming back. I don't let the other blogs bring me down...if they seem too perfect...I stop reading. Life is about the little things, the imperfections, the family time, the faith we's not about keeping up. I think we would need to have the first ever blog memorial service if you ever stopped blogging.
PS I don't crochet either :) xoxo

tammy t

I hope you don't give up. Your blog is the only one that I would read if I had to choose just one. You never make me feel bad, you always make me think, and you always strenthen my faith.

I hope yours is strenthened by your readers!

tammy t

Hilary H

Karen - I'm taking your class right now and among the million things I love about it are the quotes you infuse. I can tell you've taken time and considered them a lot. I also know you're not on Pinterest, so I'm not sure if you've seen this great quote that has been floating around. It appears to be from a young pastor from Charlotte, NC by the name of Steven Furtick.

"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel."

It hit home for me. I do the same exact thing when I get sucked in by various blogs or Facebook or Pinterest. They are great inspiration. They make me feel connected to other adults as I sit in my house with kids all day. But - boy - can they do a number on the spirit. And I can crochet! ;)

Laura C.

You had me hooked, line & sinker when you listed your two reasons for not visiting/reading a lot of blogs.

I hear ya, though.

I will say your blog is one of THEY VERY ONLY blogs that does NOT make me feel like crap

It's delightful. It's like biting into a of crispy, juicy, tart apple and letting the juice run down your chin. Not trying to butter you up, it's just the truth! Thank you for not having a perfect life, thank you for being a blended family, thank you for occasionally swearing, thank you for going to McDonald's. Thank you for a new perspective.

And finally, I definitely do think as bloggers {even brand new ones like myself} have to check themselves with God & themselves. What is our motivation when we blog? What is our goal? Does God want us to blog? What kind of material does he want us to blog, etc? You've inspired me to pray about my own motivations tonight. But even more than praying for our own blog..we need to pray about which blogs we are reading. Which are helpful in our rel. with God or contain useful cooking hints or green-living help OR which bring us down, which ones we are reading out of just plain nosiness? Which ones are we reading when we don't even like the blogger? I realized tonight I could list 5 or 6 blogs that I have no business reading at all {I don't craft-or have the desire too- so I have no reason to read any craft blogs}. I think I will definitely only continue to read the ones that bring me closer to God, make me laugh, or help to teach & inspire me {without making me feel like a loser} Thank you for being that confirmation tonight.

God bless you & the fam. I'll keep your family in prayer!


Oh thank goodness you are not perfect....because i would not read that kind of blog. I originally looked thru your blog for the pictures...and then I started to understand your family dynamic and then I started to get to know you. It's been fun, you've given me a lot to think about creatively and emotionally.

I root for you and your family. I want the best for you and yours....and I don't 'know' you. I think that's so cool!

We're all living in our own circus aren't we? and Lucky us, MOST days it's exact big top we want to be under!


amy jupin

listen up, miss karen.
you may not give up this little ol' blog.
nuh huh.
no way.
not allowed.
i have been reading about you and your piece of the planet for a few years now and i find it to be as beautiful and full of truth, as lovely and real, as encouraging and full of heart as any of the other "rock star" bloggers blogs that i have ever read.
in fact, if truth be told, you are one of those rock stars, even if you don't think you are or if you don't want to be.
i love the fact that you are closer to God than ever (i feel that way too).
and honestly, who needs to crochet when there's etsy?


I love your blog because its real. As for other perfect blogs...WTH about PINTEREST way to make me feel massively overwhelmed and sucky in twitter like bite sized chunks..

hugs to you all the way from tiny Rhode Island


well, I must say that I don't comment here (or any time sucking blog) often, but you and I are soul sisters and for every person who hates you there is at least .6 people who feel you are a life-line at the darkest hour.

Nicole B

Life isn't perfect. Our thoughts and actions will never be perfect but your blog is perfectly imperfect and that's what's so amazing about it! I never post on blogs I'm usually just a silent stalker but if it makes you feel any better your blog is always the last one I let myself read each day and it's because I like yours the best. It's always nice to read a blog written by someone who has a real, imperfect life like most normal people do! Don't get down on yourself for not being like those perfect moms I think the fact that you're a normal mom is so much sweeter. Your kids will thank you for that once they finally realize how spectacular you are. For the time being just remember that all of your students still look at you thru eyes filled with wonder and amazement.

Jona Panesa

you are loved!!!! The first time I saw your blog, I kept coming back, reading how you love Josh and looking at your kids. its not a perfect world. I'm a blogger too, I do feel crap sometimes but more inspired. we all lead different lives, each one not so perfect, I do swear too. so its ok!!!
and don't worry life is not fair. We, Moms know that and I love how your mom and stepmom connects. Its so amazing.


So laughing at your expense.... so sorry about that, but your blog always makes me feel better when I read posts like that and have days like yesterday the single- non perfect mum thing where I refuse to cook dinner because I am tired and it is too hot, and my kids have wraps for dinner, or those many days we have maccas or the like...and sometimes I read those fake blogs and look at those perfect houses and wonder if my house will ever look like that, and the only time I ever feel bad is when I look at all your beautiful photos and wonder why mine don't all look like that, of course I realise that we only see the good photos and I am probably over critical of my own photos but hey....
And just to make you feel good ... when my life gets chaotic and busy (it is pretty calm now cause I am on holidays) there are only 2 blogs I read..... yours and Ali Edwards (the project one of her though not the personal.) ... so please don't stop writing


I stumbled across your blog probably a year or so ago now, and I have been checking in ever since. Yours isnt the only blog I read, and I admit at times it does seem like a time-killer to read them all (I follow 8 or 9!), but I love it.
I have never commented on your blog before, but I felt the need today. I am not religious, I am not a mother, I am not a professional photographer, but I am a real person. A nearly 28 year old from New Zealand, living in Australia.
I read your blog not only for your gorgeous photos and your wonderful looking family life, but because you are real. You don't seem to hold back, and you tell it like it is. So refreshing and inspiring. The bond you have with your family is something that I want for myself, and I hope you continue to let us share in that.


I love your blog. I love your family. I live in the midwest in the bible belt and I pathetically feel like we are friends. That story you blogged about with Annie and throwing away her baby doll and you had to do it because you had to follow through is one of my all time favorite's ever. I think after you blogged it I sent it to every momma I knew and I read it to a mama I had just met at the park because it was funny, it was true and it hit me through and through. I've made a goal for myself this year to stop reading photographer blogs. They make me feel like my photography sucks and that I am not the most up and coming thing and I won't make it. I am 4 years in, my business is great I am going to make it.

Your ability to document your family like you do inspires me. I can NOT wait til I can take a class that you offer. You have such a gift of writing that connects people... don't forget that. I think from your blog I stumbled across a TON of other amazing inspiring women across the country.

I too, try not to focus on blogs but some of them like yours are just damn good.

Ps Josh Downs has inspired me to collect as many travel like items I can find and ship them to my friends husband in Afghanistan, using my couponing skills I am rocking out toothpastes, deodorant, toothbrushes and shampoo for them to toss in their pockets while on missions. Thank you for reminding me that their are so many men (husbands and daddies, sons and brothers) that are over there and its the least I can do.


I hope you don't stop blogging. Yours is one of my all time favorites. Mostly because of the transparency. You make me feel like maybe I am doing OK at this mothering thing. I love your honesty!

Shauna M

I must tell you- your blog makes me feel somewhat normal.. And yes, having a blended family is very hard.. I think you always appear to do it with grace and I think 'wow I wish I was that classy about things'.. which I am not.. probably not classy about anything in reality.. don't stop writing the blog.. I would miss you..

Jan Murray

You are exactly who you should be.. God only makes originals :)

You wouldn't do well in the circus.. their oral hygiene is terrible!



OK I confess I use an hour of my life everyday catching up with the "good" blogs, those who "keep it real" real none of that fake stuff. After a while all that nicey nice stuff can get to you and really pull you into the mud.
So that's why I love your blog, YOU are an AWESOME woman Karen Russell and thank you for sharing the real stuff and making me smile, applaude your efforts and accomplisments and pray for the safety of your soldier. Thank you for sharing. This gal in WI sends hugs and hopes you'll continue to "waste" your time in this great fashion.


I come from a single mother, never met my father, don't know his name and if I am to be totally transparent my mum wasn't married or old enough to drive. I found this blog as a fluke. I think I was in the 5th or 6th grade. If I could dream up a family, my ideal family, it would be this one that you share here. Instead of making me feel bad you make me happy, you give me hope that one day I will be on a plane and find a crazy beautiful blond who will want to spend the rest of her life with me.


Your blog inspires me and never makes me feel like crap. Hope tomorrow brings a more upbeat day for you - everyday can't be gumdrops and lollipops, right? :)


By the way, pjs in the drive thru hands down the way to go!

You rock!


Let me just say I rarely write comments anywhere, but I just had to say please know that so many of us love what you write honesty on a page and it shows. You make me feel normal, we are the norm! And even tho my girls are grown and on there own Annie just always makes me smile and sometimes laugh out loud!! Keep on typing it matters.


PS Thank you for your sacrifice as your husband fights for us (His too!)


thank you Karen for being transparent..that's why I read your blog..I know the blogs you are talking about and sometimes I get angry & cry a little because I'm not like that, and then I look in the mirror and decide I'm not SO bad people do like me :)
BTW-I met you once in a little scrapbook store in St Helens, after you won Hall of Fame, and I liked you right away :) xoxo


don't ever stop blogging! it's your imperfect life that makes my totally messed up life seem a bit more normal. that i am not alone and never will be! besides you crack me up and make me cry all at the same time - and that is so good at the moment!
and if you are reading this Josh Downs you sure are a lucky guy to have someone like this.

Jill Sprott

You're kind of awesome, you know that? Crocheting is overrated. It looks kind of perverted, spelled that way, actually, so now I feel even better than I can't crochet either.

Jill Sprott

THAT, rather. That. Oh, dear.

gina f.

one thing i have always done in life is to use myself as my own measuring stick. Everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another.i read or see things and take what is useful for me and leave the rest behind and even then i might need to tweak it to work for me.
reading blogs is a definite time sucker so i have a few favorites that i read daily and some i check weekly. as a mom of 6 there just isn't a lot of time to be in front of a computer. But reading a few blogs helps me keep my sanity and is a good escape. I love to see what other people are making or beautiful photos people take. I hope you don't stop writing your blog; it is one of the first blogs i started reading because i loved the scrap supplies you designed for Creative Imaginations. I have quit reading some blogs over the years since i pick and choose but your blog is not something i would ever stop reading. You crack me up. You take beautiful pictures. You have traditions (like the pumpkin patch and Santa in Jacksonville) but most of the time one never knows what you will blog about, and i mean that in a good way. You make every day life a good thing and that is what i try to do every day too.Keep on keepin on Karen!! The best way to get to where you are going is to keep taking that next step. I know you can do it.


Yours is a blog worth reading, because you are worth listening to!
You are real. You are funny and your photos rock the everyday stuff! Hang in there, deployments suck. Winter sucks. And sometimes life just does. Those pretty blogs are pretty and tempting from time to time to look at, but we don't know what happens behind closed doors. And their kiddos are probably eating McDonalds all.the.time. or at least behind the Moms back when dad is around! LOL Hang in there girl, praying for you and your family during this time! Hang on to God, and a quote from Beth Moore..."God shows himself to those that need him the most!" He will show himself!


You can't not blog, I love that you share the good and the bad, and I bet "they" have pajama days cos really, who doesn't??

Kelly S

This is one of the few blogs I still read probably bc you don't make me feel bad.
Thank you for being so honest. and if it makes you feel better I can't crochet either!
Take Care.


Please don't stop! I check your blog religiously because it so very genuine in everything you say and inspiring!!! Please keep it going...

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