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.


Follow Shanda:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Good Wife

This little lady has been missing her significant other, and it has got me thinking lots about marriage and love and all things mushy gushy, lovey dovey! So I figured I’d write about it!! The other day, an article was floating around Facebook about what used to be expected of women in like the 50’s or something like that.  It was pretty interesting, but it was also a little eye opening.

When Cade married me, he knew I wasn’t a good cook, he knew I was a little (lotta) bit crazy, and he knew I liked to sleep in till like one in the afternoon.  There wasn’t much that changed when we moved in together.  I tried a little more to keep a tidy home.  I worked a little harder at having dinner ready or at least started when he was home.  Cade didn’t expect any of these things from me though.  He never said anything about it to me or made any comments when dinner wasn’t ready or started, or any thing like that!  Looking at that article and thinking about my relationship, I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to try some of those SUPER traditional things every once and a while.. Here were a few of my favorites and my thoughts on how I’d like to incorporate them into our life once we are together again!

“Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives.  Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking.  He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.” This one is kinda easy for me, since I love getting dressed most mornings! I just think it is a nice idea to take a little minute to, maybe not rest, but touch up my make-up, change my shirt if it is covered in snot, straighten up my hair.. not anything crazy.  I think this little step alone would make Cade feel special.

“Clear away the clutter.  Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.”  BAH! This one will probably be a little tougher for me! I usually just wait till the kids are in bed to clean the house up, but maybe if I could have a basket that I throw everything in until the kids go to bed or something like that, it would just be nice to have the common area cleaned up when Cade got home.  I know I like coming home to a cleaned up home, and I’m sure Cade would too.  This would just be nice to be able to have a little less clutter visible.

“Be happy to see him.”  I know how easy it is, even over the phone, to let out ALLLL the things that bothered me that day, but sometimes I think it would be nice to try and be happy when Cade got home/when he called.  I know that this won’t happen every day… because you know.. some days are just crazier than others.  When I think about it, I’d like to make this a priority.

“Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.”  This one is a little more old fashioned, but I thought this would be nice to apply to the whole family.  In my religion, having the home a place of peace and love and a safe haven is very much a common goal.  I would love it if when anyone enters into our home, they feel peace and love, especially my family. 

Here are a couple of the expectations that I found pretty amusing...

This was the end to one about making a fire for him when it is colder.."After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction" haha I couldn't help but giggle at this one, I definitely feel that doing things for my husband makes me happy, but I am not there to serve him.  We are partners in our relationship.

"Listen to him.  You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time.  Let him talk first-- remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours."  It actually hurt me to write this one out! Oh my goodness, NO, we are both equally important!

"A good wife always knows her place."  I for reals LOLed!! WOW! This really shows how times have changed! It is crazy the difference of views from then to now! I am so grateful it I am not looked at like this anymore, and that I am an equal partner.  Cade and I both "wear the pants".

Keep in mind, this article was really old, and would probably cause a bit of controversy.  It is not always realistic, that is for sure.  I am very glad that list isn’t something that is honestly expected of me right now.  I love my leggings and topknots way too much! ;) Being away from my husband has made me appreciate him more and all that he is doing to support me and our family.  I am very blessed to be able to stay home with our girls, and I think showing Cade how much I appreciate it would be very beneficial for our marriage!  What little things do you do to show your significant other that you love them?  Do you think these are good ideas? Would you choose one of these to try? I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts!! XOXO britt

HAHA This is totally me right now! Also, who else loves these ecards?!
 The article from 1955...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Someday: thoughts on patience and gratitude

Written by Caity

On my way to my mom's house today, I saw a panhandler out in the snow with a sign that said that he needed size 2 diapers, among other things. Luckily I had a big old wad of em in my car so I handed him all I could spare and went on my way.

I was suddenly very aware of the nice car I was driving, with the toasty heater on and the lovely warmth on my bum that only seat warmers can bring. I am grateful for my car.

I was thinking back to a time in my life when I was driving the crappy little lemon Brad brought to our marriage. It broke down all the time, got stuck in the snow, shook when it idled, had an interior that was falling apart, a dent in the door, and a lopsided headlight. It was a sight to behold. I remember rumbling around town in it, I used to think about how junky it was (it was kind of unavoidable. Everything was wrong with that car) and then smile, and think "I'll drive a nice car someday."

I realized that's been a habit of mine through the years.

Like in one of our first apartments, it was a 1 bedroom and 1 bath, with the washer and dryer in the teeny kitchen. Sometimes, when laundry littered our front room and I fumbled with all of our detergent that always fell down from the flimsy cabinet over the teeny stackable washer and dryer, I would smile and think, "I'll have a laundry room someday."

Or when we had all that awkward, lumpy, mismatched furniture in our first apartment, when you literally fell into the crevice between the back and the seat of the couch whenever you sat down. Sometimes I'd sit (read: fall) into the couch and laugh and think, "I'll have nice furniture someday."

Or when we had one tiny bathroom in our apartment in Philly and I had to wash the tub every single time we gave Bea a bath, sometimes I'd scrub it and smile and think, "We'll have another bathroom someday."

Or the times when I laid in bed at night wondering how I would make it through another day living so far from my family, I'd take a deep breath and think, "I'll live closer to them someday."

Or in all those small apartments with no closet, counter, or cabinet space, I'd pile the food anywhere I could and think "I'll have a pantry someday."

Or when Bea had potty accidents every hour of every day, I'd breathe deep and think, "She'll get the hang of it someday."

And you know what?

I have a nice car now.
I have a laundry room now. (with our very own washer and dryer that we own!)
I have some nice furniture now (can't have all nice furniture with tiny kiddos that throw up everywhere!)
We have 2 bathrooms now.
I live close to my family now.
I have a pantry now.
Bea has almost no accidents anymore.

And I'm that much more grateful for them now.

A lot of people will tell you that wishing for the future keeps you from living happily in the "now" but I don't think that's always true.
I feel like my little "someday" sentiments were moments to be grateful for what I had, and encouraging reminders to be patient, that someday there would be something even better.
I didn't always bemoan those moments where life's little frustrations got me down. Sometimes, I was able to cheerfully smile, and power through them, reminding myself to be grateful that at least I had a car, a washer and dryer, functional furniture, an apartment, smartphones to call my family with and that I only had to buy diapers for one kid. And that one day things will be even better.

By no means have I "arrived" in life yet. (does anyone really?) Things aren't perfect. I think I'll always have those "somedays" to keep me grounded and grateful.

Right now, I'm grateful for a cozy house to rent. Someday I'll own my own house to (finally) decorate how I want.
Right now, I'm grateful for my awesome swagger wagon. Someday, I'll fix that scratch I put in the passenger door :(
Right now, I'm grateful for two small kiddos to love. Someday, they'll stop throwing up all the time and be easier to take care of and take out and about.
Right now, I'm grateful that I healthily carried a baby to term in my belly. Someday, I'll lose all the baby weight.

And when those right nows are used to be's, I hope I'll chuckle and look back on the smiles I had thinking, "Someday..."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Peanut Butter with a Purpose

Written By: Hayley

My eyes widened with shock as I looked out the window of the airplane descending into Port-au-Prince Haiti. The tin shacks, dirty crowded streets and poverty were all I saw. If I hadn’t spent a year and a half in, what I thought to be, the poorest of the poor countries, Honduras, I might not have gotten off that plane. Honduras was looking like a resort right then compared to what I was seeing…and smelling. 

Luckily I love adventure, and I was eager to get to know my husband's homeland. Adventure soon found me as a major hurricane hit my husband’s hometown of Gonaives that day! After weeks of the roads being too damaged to drive on, we boarded a bus and went to help dig people’s houses out of the mud. It was then that I fell in love with the people in Haiti and knew that THIS is what I wanted to do with my life. Not dig mud…that was hard, but help the people in Haiti who desperately needed it! Since my first adventure in Haiti I have gone back many many times. Haiti is where my heart is (and some of my children, but that’s a story for another day)

Thankfully my husband is just as passionate about helping people in Haiti. He realized what a privilege it was for him to be able to go to college and learn, that the first thing he did when he got the chance was to teach anyone who would listen the things he learned about entrepreneurship and business. A LOT of people wanted to listen. He taught over 100 people and inspired some to start their own businesses. 

Everyone was pumped to start their businesses, but most were not able to because of lack of funds. Most people did not even have jobs! There just weren’t any jobs available. We knew we needed to find a way to give people a form of employment, so we came up with a great idea. We started a peanut butter factory and named it Manba Tropical. 

Manba Tropical has been an answer to many people’s prayers. It proudly employs many Haitians who can now support themselves and their families, but there are still many jobless hard workers out there who we want to employ. So we are expanding Manba Tropical and bringing our unique peanut butter to the U.S.

We are currently raising funds though Kickstarter. We need $6,000 to aid in the expansion and are currently 20% funded with only 6 days to go. The thing with Kickstarter is that it’s all or nothing! If you want to do something truly life changing for people who are in need THIS is your opportunity! 

Please donate here:

Every little bit helps. Every share helps. And not to mention you get some delicious spicy Haitian peanut butter to try! You’re going to LOVE it! No joke!

The thing I love most about this business it that it not only provides employment for people who need it, but it also gives us a way to provide aid to orphans. We decided that for every jar sold $1 would go towards providing food, clothes, toys, hygiene kits, and more to a special group of orphans in Gonaives that stole our hearts. As much as people need those jobs, these orphans desperately need our help. I LOVE them so much and am going to do all I can to help them…even if it means going WAY out of my comfort zone and literally asking for money. 

Helping people in Haiti has brought me SO much joy! I am so happy I stepped off that plane and into a hot, humid, humbling, wonderful adventure. I have the strongest desire to just do good things and make a real difference in the world and I invite you to join me!

-Hayley <3 <3 <3

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mini Pecan Pies

Written By: Sally

If there is one thing I’ve learned in my life, its that people love a good pie. And people REALLY love mini pies. Mini pies are a crowd pleaser. The crust to filling ratio is just perfect, and everyone loves to have their own individual pie. Plus, they are just so darn cute. Last year I shared my recipe for mixed berry mini pies over on my family blog here.

This week I tried something new, and a bit out of my comfort zone. It was my friend Jackie’s birthday this weekend so I offered to make her any dessert she could dream of. She told me she had been dreaming of pie lately and I was all over that. But then, she told me her favorite was Pecan Pie. Ew! I totally cringed. But you guys, it turns out Pecan Pie ROCKS! Seriously. It's got this crunchy top and ooey gooey filling. It's salty and sweet. It's so much better than I ever imagined. Plus, its so much easier than it looks.

I’m actually a little bit upset that I now have another dessert I can’t resist. Any time pecan pie was on the table, it was easy to turn down. That is no longer the case my friends, no longer the case. 

I got my mini pans as a wedding gift. They are from Williams Sonoma (buy them here) and I absolutely cannot live without them. These bad boys are a kitchen staple for me. I melt a little butter and use a pastry brush to make sure all the bumps and creases get buttered. In my mind, the more butter the better (always!) Plus you’ll want to make sure your pies slide out with ease.

For me, the crust is the most stressful part of baking a pie. It can be so finicky depending on humidity, butter temp, screaming children, ect. So, when I’m in a hurry, or feeling overwhelmed, I go with store bought pie crust. I know what you’re thinking, what a cop out. But it is so easy, and honestly really delicious! It’s a win-win in my mind. You’ll want the kind thats rolled up, NOT the kind thats already in a tin. 

If you’re using the store bought, make sure its not frozen when you’re ready to use it. Unroll it onto a piece of parchment paper or floured counter. Find something round in your kitchen that is about and inch to two inches bigger than your mini tins. Use that as a guide to cut out your mini crusts. You should be able to get six crusts out of one roll. I usually can get four, then combine the left overs and re-roll it to get two more.

When fitting the crust into the tin, you’ll want the crust to come up over the side of tins, even just a little bit. This will prevent the filling from dripping between the crust and the tin. That’s always a sticky situation and can make it really hard to get your pies out in one piece. 

The filling is so easy, you don’t even need a mixer. I love something I can mix with a wooden spoon. Start by chopping up the pecans and filling the crust a thin layer. In a small bowl, combine the eggs (beaten), sugars, corn syrup, salt, vanilla, and butter.  Stir just until its all combined, and smooth. It will still be a little grainy from the sugars. Pour this mixture over the pecans. You’ll want to fill them to the edge of the pan, not all the way to the top of the crust. The pecans will naturally rise to the top, and all the ooey goodness will sink to the bottom. Yum. Top with a couple of pecan halves for decoration. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 min. Watch that your crusts don’t get too dark. Your pies are done when the crust is just golden and the center is no longer jiggly. It will be soft, but shouldn't jiggle like jell-o. Allow to cool, but not for long. Top that baby with ice cream and enjoy! Share, only if completely necessary.

They were a hit at Jackie’s birthday dinner, and we didn’t even have a single crumb left.  I don’t think I was the only one to lick my bowl clean. Hah! 

Here's the recipe written out for easy following. 

Make sure to pin this recipe, and post/send us a picture when you make it! I'd LOVE to see how yours' turn out and hear what you think of the recipe.