Monday, December 21, 2015

you got this

You guys, sometimes I wonder if I’m doing it right. The mom thing. There are so many amazing moms in my life. And on pinterest. And blogs. And in the news. And basically everywhere. I mean we’re surrounded by moms. Good moms. And it’s so easy to see all of those moms at their best (and let’s be real, we are almost always seeing them at their best), making their own baby food, maintaining the most organized homes,  throwing adorable themed parties, using cloth diapers, buying organic snacks, and all this while looking flawless and perfectly coiffed. And I think “WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING? I AM THE WORST! I DON’T HAVE A CHORE CHART FOR MY 2 YEAR OLD! I ACCIDENTALLY PUT SUNSCREEN ON MY 5 MONTH OLD! AND MY DISPOSABLE DIAPERS ARE FILLING UP ALL THE LANDFILLS!!!”

And then the other day, I was giving my 2 year old a bath. We were laughing while I got her all soapy, and I stopped for a second, and I thought to myself “Your daughter is going to get out of this tub, cheery, clean, and warm, and then you are going to put clean, warm, appropriately fitted pajamas on her, and then you will tuck her into a bed with clean sheets with her 2 special blankets and she will be happy. You’re doing a good job.”

And another time, I was agonizing over  something else that I can’t remember right now but then I stopped and looked at my kids. My 5 month old was drinking a bottle (by himself! My heart!) and my 2 year old was eating her lunch, which consisted of a fruit, a vegetable, a grain, protein (PB for the win!) and dairy. I all of a sudden felt like a super capable adult. I thought to myself “You’re doing it right.”

And then one time I walked in on my two year old playing with her precious dinosaurs. One was falling off the couch and she had her “mommy” one saying “Oh no, sweetie. It’s going to be ok. Don’t worry sweetheart.” And I thought to myself, “She learned to talk like that from you. You’re doing so well.”

Look, none of us have it completely together. That other mom you saw at the children’s museum the other day, who had a full face of makeup and perfect hair and perfect snacks for her kids and who is being abnormally patient with her kids, I promise you: she is having a good day. You have them too. She also has bad days. You have them too.

There are some children out there who aren’t blessed with loving parents, but yours are. You’re doing something right. You’re trying. That means everything. If you’re doing all you can, if your kids know you love them, you’re doing it right.

A favorite quote of mine: "To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle—and all will—I say, “Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You are doing better than you think you are.”

You really are. Keep on keepin’ on, mom. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mama & Little Giveaway

We are so excited to be working with Arlene from Mama&Little this week. She sent us a couple of necklaces to test, review and GIVEAWAY! That's right! She is giving us 50$ in store credit to give away to one of you!!! That's a combination of necklaces and/or bracelets!! The details for the giveaway are at the bottom of this post.

So, if you've never used teething jewelry, you're probably like "what?", so let me give you the basics. Mama And Little makes super cute necklaces and bracelets (to fit every mama's style) that are totally safe for your teething baby to chew on. They are food-grade (plus no BPA, PVC, phthalate, cadmium, latex, lead, or heavy metals) silicon and are totally dishwasher safe. The beads won't break or fall off. They provide a convenient, stylish & safe teething option.

Brittany is wearing the Zooey in Mint
This is the Deila in Marsala
As you can see, both of our babes loved grabbing onto these necklaces. We each flew with our babies this week and they were like a secret weapon for helping our girls fall asleep on the plane. They are definitely a new Mama and Baby fave around here. (In fact, I just may be ordering this and/or this for myself for Christmas!)

Okay, now for the giveaway! Use the Rafflecopter to enter, we'll draw a winner on Friday (Dec 18th) and announce that afternoon. Good luck, and may the giveaway odds be EVER in your favor! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

bloom where you're planted

written by Caity

A theme we decided to have in this blog has been "bloom where you're planted", and I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately..

I remember when we first moved to Philadelphia we had high hopes and a lot of optimism. We lived in a funky neighborhood, Brad had a cool job, we were kind of "on our own" in a new place for the first time. We were excited.

Then we got sued by a cyclist for scratching him when he ran a light and grazed our car, got our car mirror smashed in by some hellions, realized the overall filthiness of the city, were smothered by the humidity and no central air, were harassed by our landlord, and were unable to find parking on our tiny one way street. Ever. 

We lost steam really quickly. We thought living in Philly would be a type of "New York lite" experience for us. City life, but less expensive, and more car friendly. But all it did was seem to be against us all the time, and always fall short of expectations we'd had from living close to New York. We started to really dislike Philadelphia. 

The seasons changed and we were able to find a new apartment near the park to rent, with parking. We made some dear friends who raised our spirits even in the hardest times. Without the constant stress of being prisoner to parking spaces and a naggy landlord, we were suddenly able to deal with the stress of having a husband that works at a start-up. We took full advantage of living near the park and spent every spare second we could soaking it up. I regained my sanity walking through the woods in that back every single day. We gazed out our windows at the beautiful spring flowers that bloomed outside. Our attitudes and hearts changed. 

Our short time in Philadelphia was hard, but I remember rocking Bea to sleep at night, looking out the window at our beautiful trees, thinking, "Life is so good. Our life here is precious."

Philadelphia didn't change. It's still dirty, people are still prickly, it's still hard to get around. But I have only the fondest memories of living there. The first months were hard but as our attitudes changed, and we decided to bloom where we were planted, our time there was wonderful and such a sweet season of our lives. Leaving after only a year was hard. But it was a lesson to me to start sooner. To enjoy my life wherever I end up and not to wait too long to do it. Time is precious. Too precious to waste on negative feelings and wishing for the past, and the comfortable. I learned that I need to exit my comfort zone to find a new, even sweeter comfort zone, and to enjoy it while I can because it could be gone all too soon. Living in Philadelphia was not easy, but I learned such valuable lessons; it was one of the most important years of my life. I hope I can always remember to hit the ground and bloom where I'm planted as quickly as I can. Life’s too short not to.

some snapshots from one of the most enlightening springs of my life:

around the corner from our house

from my walks in the woods

all of this, RIGHT outside my kitchen window!

our beautiful philly front yard

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Putting Christ back in Christmas

Apparently Caity and I are on the same wave length lately, because this post may have some common threads from her post on Friday.

Like Caity, I've never really been a Black Friday shopper. I don't love the chaos of shopping crowds on a normal day. So Black Friday has rarely tempted me. Zack probably thought he really lucked out by marrying someone who doesn't want to wake up at the crack of dawn to drag him around the mall and spend all the money. But you guys, there is something far more dangerous than plain old Black Friday. Its called Cyber (Psycho) Monday. Online shopping is a habit forming experience. You stay in your pajamas, in the comfort of your own home. It's just too easy. Then you add in the convenience of the Amazon or Zulily app and its just a recipe for disaster. So when Cyber Monday comes around it's all about dem dealz.

Normally I have to pull myself away from my social media apps. But on Cyber Monday, its' all the shopping apps that I can't get enough of. I'm not going to lie to you. I may have switched tabs a few times while writing this post, just to double check deals. I've become consumed with my gift list, and searching for hours and through pages of funky socks and kitchen gadgets to find the perfect gifts. 

I'm really excited about Christmas. LIKE REALLY excited. Christmas is by far my favorite time of year, and I may have started listening to Christmas music on November 1st. I love the music, and the cookies, and the decorations. I love the nativities, and the opportunity to talk about Christ more. I love that its one time of year when we get to be with all of our family. I love to get gifts, obviously. But even more, I love giving gifts. I love everything about Christmas time (yes, even the snow.) 

But for some reason this year, it's been harder to let Christ sit at the forefront of my Christmas celebration. I'm so stressed out about what I'm going to buy for everyone for Christmas, that I haven't even taken 5 minutes to watch the new video about Christ. The shopping has totally distracted me from the real reason we even give gifts. I haven't really pondered Christ, or thought about what I'm going to give Him this year. So, I've pulled myself away from all the dealz, to make a list of 25 ways to put Christ back into Christmas. 

I like to think about what Christ would be doing if he were here. I think He'd be serving, He'd be spreading joy, He'd be feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. He'd be doing things to lift people up and make their lives a little easier. So that's exactly how I'll serve him this Christmas. One of our modern day apostles, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "As we emulate His perfect example, our hands become his hands, our eyes his eyes, and our hearts His heart."  I want to take more time this season to worship Christ, to share my testimony of Christ with others, and to be His hands. 

I want to get my Christmas season back on track. So each day, I'll complete at least one thing on the list until Christmas. Most of them won't require much money, or much work. But they will each be an outward act of my love for Christ. Each experience will step outside my normal routine to focus my heart on Christ.  
Christ said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." As we become His hands on the Earth we will come to know Him more deeply, we will see people through His eyes, and our hearts will become more like His. I hope you'll join me in making this Christmas season more about Christ. Make your own list, or steal mine. Let's focus on giving the gifts that Christ would give.

1. Read this book as a family
2. Take dinner to a friend
3. Watch this video with my family
4. Donate a Toy
5. Donate a Coat
6. Pay for someone's groceries
7. Scrape someone's windshield
8. Shovel someone's driveway
9. Babysit someone's kids
10. Bear my testimony of Christ
11. Pay for someone's order at the drive-thru
12. Read Luke 2
13. Doorbell ditch cookies
14. Visit an assisted living home
15. Call an older family member
16. Leave quarters at the quarter machines
17. Donate to No Kid Hungry
18. Buy a gift card and hide it in the store
19. Post a message about Christ on Facebook
20. Post about Christ on Instagram
21. Pay 10 people genuine compliments in one day
22. Pick up garbage
23. Write thank you cards and mail them out
24. Make a Nativity craft
25. Visit a live Nativity


Friday, November 27, 2015

holly jolly

You guys. It’s official. The day after Thanksgiving. I CAN FINALLY LISTEN TO CHRISTMAS MUSIC! I can finally get a Christmas tree! I can finally decorate for Christmas! I can finally drink eggnog! (I hate eggnog, but I COULD if I wanted to!!)

I have never been a Black Friday shopper. Growing up, my family didn’t really go crazy with Christmas gifts. We had some but it never looked like a toy store under the tree. We usually got a few nice gifts from mom and dad, and one BIG gift to share from “Santa.” So I have never really associated the Christmas season with shopping, presents, or sales. And I am SOOOO grateful to my parents for that. I want to keep that sensibility for all my Christmases with my kids.

Christmas hasn’t always been my favorite holiday, probably because I always thought Santa Claus was a bit silly, and I really don’t like winter, BUT the older I get, the more I love Christmas time. I’ve grown to really associate Christmas with Christ and it makes the season so enjoyable for me. We get an entire month to focus on the Savior! It’s so wonderful and such a blessing! We get to listen to and sin songs about him all day long all month long, we get to share his story to our families, we get to focus on trying to be a little kinder, a little more Christlike, and a bit more generous. We get to spend time with our families. We get to share traditions. We get to eat and share yummy food. We get to smell the wonderful smell of Christmas trees everywhere. All the while, being grateful for a Savior that has made this beautiful life all possible. It’s just so pleasant, I’m surprised I didn’t hop on the train sooner.

I love this video that my church made last Christmas about the birth of Jesus Christ. I am so glad we have a month to celebrate Him and his gift to us. Here’s to a wonderful Christmas season!

If you liked this, you're in luck, a brand new one is being released this Sunday! You can find it  <here>.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Grateful Kids are Happy Kids

Written By: Sally

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what makes happy kids. Is it giving them everything they want? Or making them earn everything? Maybe it's refusing to spoil them? Are happy kids the kids that have everything they want? Sometimes it seems like the happiest kids are the ones who have little or nothing. Is it the not having that makes them happy?

I think what it comes down to, is that the happiest kids are the kids who appreciate what they have, regardless of how much that is. This quote comes to mind

This makes me think how important it is that we celebrate Thanksgiving before Christmas. Maybe as we celebrate Thanksgiving and think about how grateful we are for what we have, it prepares us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. 

Back to raising happy kids. So, do you think its true then?  If we're more grateful, we're happier? I've seen gratitude (and lack thereof) affect the happiness in my marriage, in motherhood, in pregnancy, in church callings and in friendship. I've seen it transform how I feel about our financial situation, and where we live.

So the question is... If we want to raise happy kids, how do we teach our children to be grateful? This is a real question. I don't know the answer. I've been searching for that answer for a while now.

I mean I know how to teach Gunner to say thank you. That's just part of the normal toddler curriculum. But there is so much more to gratitude than just saying thank you. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving this week, will you share your tricks/advice with us? We want to know what works for you, what doesn't work for you. Do you feel like gratitude makes you a happier person? 

Leave a comment on this post, or on our Facebook or Instagram. I'd like to compile a list of everyone's ideas and advice! 

Now people! It's basically Thanksgiving. So I'm going to pull a Nacho Libre and put on my stretchy pants ('es for fun) and I don't plan to take them off for at least 36 hours. I hope you'll do the same!


Monday, November 23, 2015

I "struck gold"

Tonight as I rubbed a gold tinted lotion over my skin
Something deeper than lotion started to sink in...
I looked at my toes and thought to myself, "those toes are hideous, you'll never wear peep-toe pumps again.."
Then I thought about what those toes and feet had endured,
Running long distances, then marching in formation. Now they act as a platform as my children "fly" on their bellies, through the air. 

As my hands rubbed the goop all over my legs, I thought how skinny and frail they looked, how knobby my knees were and look at that gap!! 
Then I thought about what these legs had done and still do, winning races, and climbing mountains. They act as a jungle gym for my two children. Bearing the weight of my big ol' belly for two full-term pregnancies. 

Speaking of belly, there my hands were, running over that belly button,
Bleh, what an eye sore! 
What once was cute and small and had a little piercing with a cute little jewel, was now all stretched out, floppy and loose. 
Then I thought about what this belly has been before, twice, it has stretched to fit my little babies. I felt them move, hiccup and kick inside my womb. 

I rubbed the lotion around my breasts, 
These breasts are so saggy now, depleted, you might say, for someone at 25, they surely have aged. 
They aren't perky and fun like they used to be, then I thought about what they have done, who they feed. Twice, now a baby was born and popped right onto my boob. First Georgia, now Lucy drinks the life-giving milk that my body produces.

As I glided the lotion over my arms, my thin, bony, skeleton arms, I thought how much different they used to be. 
In a time that seems long ago, they carried weapons and did push-ups. They were more toned, more muscular and much more strong. But then I thought about what they do now.  They've held newborns who have turned into babies and one into a toddler. They rock kiddos to sleep and hold them high so they can reach. Sometimes carrying a car seat and a toddler propped on my hip, my strength has not escaped me. 

I rubbed some lotion over my back, oh that back, that aching back. After a long day, it is so sore and worn, but what that back does all day... It does it all. 

I ran a little over my face, to complete the glow, and as I did, I couldn't help but see, the tired, worn, woman looking back at me. She has aged and she is tired, her eyes are kinda sad. Dark circles under her eyes show signs of sleep that needs to be had.  But what those eyes have seen, what they have watched?! My eyes have watched love and kindness, they have witnessed a spirit leave this mortal life and have watched new life come into the world. I've looked into the eyes of my soul mate, as we committed our love to the eternities and so much more that I can't begin to divulge.

I look down at what, to me, in my mortal eyes, looks likes a waste of a body. A sickly excuse of what a mother should be. No curves, all edges. 
Then I think of this body through eyes of divinity, what purpose this body has. The stress it's under, and it still continues to function. 
In the world, my body is criticized and slighted. 
It is too skinny to some, and to others I am "hated" because they feel their bodies aren't in the shape they feel is fair. 
They say "eat a cupcake", "you look like a 12 year old boy."  
How do I escape this, what can I change?
It's changing my outlook, in order to win. 
When God sees me, He sees His daughter. He sees a daughter to earthly parents and a wife to a chosen son. God sees a Mother to two of His princesses. 
I have been given so much, God has blessed me in so many ways. 
This time will pass and I'll be whole again. My children will grow and my body will, too. I might always have a thigh gap, but it's out of genetics, that I do.
I have to remember, that I am imperfect.  
But as imperfect as this body is, it serves one helluva purpose! 

So often I take this body for granted, forgetting all that it has done and all that it does. I am so blessed to have this body. God knows what he's doing. I have to lose the thought of what everyone thinks in order to see my body in a way that is positive. Also, next time I want a golden glow, I'm getting a spray tan!


Friday, November 20, 2015

Stepping Into the Frame

Written by: Shanda

Well hello there! I thought I would take a second to introduce myself. I am a momma to 3 beautiful kiddos ages 4, 2, and 6 months, photographer of over 9 years, and aspiring minimalist. I also am a kid at heart, a great starter, but horrible finisher, unorganized (hence the desire for minimalism), indecisive, and fly by the seat of my pants. My husband is one of the most organized people I know and yet still loves me and drops anything to go on one of my crazy, last minute adventures. That is true love right there!


My brain functions on picture mode. I see everything as a tender moment that needs to be captured. I see light hitting the floor and think, “I need to put my baby there”. We constantly want to document our children. We want to have these special memories of them to cherish. We want to be able to look back on these images when we are old and relive those special little people in our lives. A photograph can draw you back into a time, moment, or feeling. It brings back memories of things that may have been forgotten. Our children are our most treasured memories, so we document them. We blow up social media with pictures of our kids, stories of things they did or said, and how proud we are of them or love them. BUT how many times do we take the time to create cherished memories of ourselves for our children?

I felt an overwhelming push to start a page on Facebook, Yes I Do Have a Face, encouraging mommas to be in pictures with their kiddos. I must admit that I mainly started it just to get my butt in gear! I was shocked with the response. I got countless emails from moms saying how they haven’t had a picture of themselves in years because they just didn’t feel pretty enough to be in pictures. That hit me hard. How many times as women have we avoided having our picture taken because we didn’t feel pretty enough? Here are some questions to ask yourself:  

1. Do you have a recent image of just you?
2. Do you have any pictures of you interacting with your kids?
3. Do you hide from pictures because you don’t feel like you look good enough for a picture?
4. Do you let yourself worth affect whether or not you get into a picture?
5. Do you never have pictures of yourself on a family outing?
6. Are you embarrassed or feel like you are putting people out by asking them to take a picture of you with your kids or by yourself?

If you can say that one or all of these questions applies to you, then you are probably in the same boat as most moms. I know that there are many times where I would feel like a pain asking a friend or family member to snap a quick picture of me with my kids. I felt like I was being a burden or was embarrassed to ask. There were and still are times where I don’t want to take a picture with my kids because I haven’t gotten ready for the day. We have to realize that our children see us both ways. Probably more not ready then ready! So why would they not want pictures of us looking both ways?

Here are some tips that I have found that have helped me to not be afraid of not being ready or “picture perfect” in order to get in the frame with some examples.

Have your child take a picture for you - I found that asking my oldest to take a picture of me takes the burden or embarrassment away. I felt more comfortable in front of the camera with my sweet little one holding it. Another plus to this is it produces real smiles watching them direct the picture.


Use your timer - This one takes a bit of effort, but turns out to be pretty nice, especially if you are wanting a picture of you with all of your kids.


Hide your face - I wouldn’t recommend doing this ALL the time, but in some cases it works. If there is a day where you really are feeling a moment, but aren’t ready for the day, jump in the frame, but pose so that your face isn’t showing.


Ask -  This one is kind of hard for me because I get embarrassed for some reason, but if you are with a friend ASK them to take a quick picture for you!


Let go of perfection - Our society makes us feel like we must be photoshopped, or everyone looking and perfect in order for a picture to be worth it. I say GET OVER YOURSELF to this! Some of my favorite pictures I do for my clients or myself are the ones that show the real life moments. A screaming kid, or a mess in the background don’t matter, but help to tell your story. Embrace the imperfect.


Get professional pictures done EVERY year - This is one thing that I feel SO strongly about. I wouldn’t ever have any good pictures of my family all together without hiring someone to take them for me. While you are having them done, you are already done up, so ask for one individual. It’s ok to get a single picture done. You never know when you may need it for a profile or business thing.


Those are just a few of the things that I do to help me feel more comfortable in front of the camera. I also like to do pictures with my family. It helps me to feel like the focus isn’t directly on me. I encourage you to make sure that you have pictures of you and your spouse. Our children are going to cherish those images one day. Seeing mom and dad together at special outings and events that they remember will be priceless to them. We don’t have to be perfect, but we do need to make sure that we are remembered. Always keep in the back of your mind that our children love us for who we are, not just when we are ready, skinny, dressed up or whatever else our reason for not being in the picture may be. They love us regardless, so show them love back by leaving something for them to cherish, a pathway to the past, a memory forever, a picture.


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