Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Thoughts and Links

This week, this butterfly showed up.  We haven't seen any butterflies this summer, and the boys were ecstatic when they saw this one in our flower garden.  They came running to tell me, and I headed out the door with my camera.  It stayed forever...even landing on my arm for some time.  It was in our little garden the entire morning we were outside.  I cannot help but think it was one of God's beautiful signs.

I'm second-shooting a wedding tomorrow as part of a photography mentorship.  Michael Graham took Sophie's newborn photos, and he offers mentorships in different areas.  I'm photographing my sweet friend Tiffany's wedding this fall, and I need all the help I can get.  Plus, I cannot decide if I should do a little photography on the side.  Decisions decisions.  Any of you photographers out there have any thoughts? Does it consume you?  Would you recommend looking further into it?

I ordered this lipstick (in Cava) at the urging of my cousin, and I couldn't be happier.  It's a nude (which is mainly all I wear), but it has a teeny bit of a purple-gray tint to it - sounds weird, yes. But it's really pretty.

I won a clutch from GiGi New York at The Hundred event.  I plan to do a little post with it in the future, but as I was recently perusing their site, I came across this.  Isn't it a beautiful bag?!  It's my "window shopping" bag for the week - ha!

Peter has recently decided that camo (or as he calls it "army") clothing is all he really wants to wear.  I have probably mentioned it before, but it couldn't have come at a better time (as much as I never thought my kids would wear camo).  He seems to be in fashion according to Mini Boden and J. Crew.

A reader emailed me a few days ago and suggested what she thought my blog focus/niche was.  She said, "Do whatever you feel you're supposed to. Maybe it's to convey love, to show beauty, to give hope, to enlighten. Those are the things I see in your blog, at least.   From my far-off vantage, I think you shine most when you're posting gorgeous photos and honest words about your family, your landscape, your reflections, hopes, and sometimes fears. I think when you do those things, you're able to spark something in others. And thereby do some real good that you can be proud to count at times when you wonder whether you're spending the right amount of time on your various responsibilities.  
Thank you for this.  I do often wonder what makes people read the blog and what they get from it.  Are there particular topics or posts that you most enjoy?  While I feel that most of it is just a journal of my daily life, I'm wondering what keeps you reading this little ol' blog and how I do a bit better job of connecting. Should I go so far as to ask what you don't like???

I'm looking for new personalized stationary.  Comment with your favorite shop.  So far, I love these, these and even these for notes to the husband.

Have the best weekend - I look forward to your responses!

-linking up with Jen-

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Whole Parenting Goods

A few weeks ago, at The Hundred Event, I met Nell.  She blogs at Whole Parenting Family. She could not be nicer!  Knowing no one before I went, she was the first person I met, and immediately I felt so at ease.  She's one of those people who makes the person she is talking to feel like the most interesting, important person in the world at the time.   She's lovely, witty, intelligent, kind and sweet as can be.  On top of that, she has a precious Etsy shop filled with handmade items!

To go a little off-track for a bit, all of my babies have been spitters.  They spit up so much that it at times looks like it could be vomit.  Gross mental image, I know.  However, it doesn't stop.  After multiple outfit changes a day, you just get used to the smell of sour milk.  Because of this, my favorite burp cloths have always been these.  They provide enough coverage that you can usually escape a change of clothes as well. Usually.  

Well, imagine my excitement when I saw that Nell made something very similar.  I ordered one immediately.

 While perusing her online shop, I couldn't help but think Sophie needed this, too!  So, I ordered it as well.

She also had these great hot/cold packs that looked like the perfect ingredient for instant stress relief.
They are!

See what I mean?  Cute things, useful things - all handmade!!

This is what came of it all...

If you don't follow her blog or haven't supported her shop, check both out.  She's as good as they come.  I promise!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When Life Gets Messy

I'm a doer.  Well, most days.  I know I've said it a million times, but I am fueled by being busy if I'm home.  But, being busy means a lot of different things.  If I should be paying bills, I might be baking instead - still busy.  If I set out to start the laundry, on the way to the laundry room I might notice that the grass outside looks a little dry and head out the door to turn the sprinkler on.  While there I'll notice a misplaced toy or two, pick it up to take inside and hear, "I need juice, Mommy!"  Getting the juice, I'll check my phone for a text and then realize I need to add a few things to the grocery list.  Blah blah blah, you get the picture.  And, once I get in go-mode, I'm not always good at being interrupted.

I don't like this about myself.  Yes, I get a lot done some days, but most days, it's silly stuff.  I even, at times, have a difficult time sitting down to read a book with the boys because in that ten minutes I think of three things (rather than one) I could accomplish if I wasn't reading.  STOP!  I keep telling my mind to stop.  To be at peace.  To take a break.  But, I often cannot.

If I'm at others' homes, I can relax.  If I'm on vacation I can relax.  If a friend or relative is visiting, I usually can relax.  Plus, having just had a new baby (well, two months ago), this sense of anxiety, of the need to do something, is heightened.  And, it remains so for awhile.  

It makes life messy in the inside from time to time.  But typically it gets to a point when it hits me hard that something isn't quite right...that my focus is unfocused and that my daily life needs a little fine-tuning.  Some days that point of realization looks like this...

Just because Carter isn't pictured doesn't mean he wasn't involved.  He created the mud!  

Anyway, it was messy.  And, in typical fashion, I had just vacuumed the carpet, and all I could think was that they were about to un-do what I'd spent a few minutes doing.  As I opened my mouth to reprimand them, I stopped.  I, too, loved to play in mud as a kid.  I still remember that.  Sure, it made a mess, but it wasn't anything a little water hose couldn't fix.  And, my mom let me do it.  Their joy in the moment was more important than my self-described productivity.  Plus, they weren't doing anything wrong...just "inconvenient."

That mess they made -- it was on the outside.  It sure beats one on your inside.  They're helping me see that every day.  As one to-do is marked off, another will take its place.  But these little know the story.  They don't keep.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Food: Creamed Corn

You know those recipes that just remind you of home?  Creamed corn is one of them for me.  It reminds me of Me-Me's (my grandmother) house.  We could almost always count on it being a side, along with mac n' cheese and a green salad.

Every August, sweet corn from the field is picked and many gather to shuck, clean, cook and freeze it. Sadly, I'm not typically there for that part (sorry ladies!) but I do get to enjoy the corn, and depending on how much I'm given, I get to make a small batch of creamed corn myself.

That's what I did this year.

I received 36 ears of corn...perfect for one batch of creamed corn.
We've found that using an angel food cake pan comes in extremely handy in order to keep the mess at bay while cutting the corn off the cob.  So, I sliced it all...

Then, I put it in a large roaster...
and add a pound of butter.

To that I add a pint of half & half.
Then I cook it at 325 degrees for an hour, stirring every fifteen minutes.

Once it's completely cooled, I bag it in gallon bags.
And, it's then frozen for Winter (or whenever else we want a little corn)!

Creamed Corn
36 ears of corn
1 lb. butter
1 pt. half & half

Shuck, clean, and cut off kernals of corn.  Place cut corn in large roasting pan.  Add butter and half & half. Place in 325 degree oven for one hour.  Stir every 15 minutes.  Let completely cool.  Bag it and freeze it for future use. (add salt and pepper to your liking before eating)

Monday, August 25, 2014


Our summer friend starts college today.  We miss her.  

Back up six months.  I had asked this sweet young lady to babysit for me and my cousin's kids (a total of six at the time) for an evening.  Not only did we come home to happy children, but the house was just as we left it (or cleaner)!  When I asked her what her summer plans were, she said she was looking for a job.  Without even thinking much about it, I told her that if she didn't find something five days a week that we'd love to hire her for one day a week.  I didn't give much thought to our means to do so, nor did I think she'd take me up on the offer.

Then May came, and I got a text saying she'd love to come over on Tuesdays this summer if the offer was still available.  I was having Sophie the next week, and knowing that I'd need help in recovering and trying to be available for the boys, too, I said, "Yes!"  However, I'd be lying if I didn't say I was a bit nervous.  I thought I'd feel guilty being in my own home doing things while someone else was watching/playing with my kids.  I thought I'd have a hard time letting go of that control or the need to be a good mom (what I found synonymous with handling my own children all hours of the day, every day of the week).  I didn't know what would happen in the moments of silence when the boys were napping - would I have things to talk to her about or would it be awkward?
That first Tuesday came, and all fears quickly subsided.  She took the boys outside for the majority of the morning while I figured out things with Sophie.  That afternoon while everyone napped, she helped me plan some summer activities for moments of downtime with the boys.  We talked about her hopes for college, her plans for the summer and the "good ol' days" when I used to be her babysitter.
What I quickly realized was that she, and her services, were a Godsend.  He knew just what I needed this summer, and He provided.  Kimberly (Kim-a-nee according to John Paul) quickly became a much-anticipated blessing every Tuesday.  The boys adored her.  In fact, last week when I asked Peter to get in the car to run errands with me, he said he'd rather stay home with Kimberly (too bad she wasn't available that day).  While they loved playing with her, I loved the company.  I knew my boys (and Sophie when she got a chance to spend time with her) were in wonderful hands.  She treated each of them as I would, and I think I even learned a thing or two from her about handling various situations.  She expected great things from them, and they lived up to it (most days).  She was everything I hoped for and more.

More than that she was a friend for me, too.  Although much younger, she is wise beyond her years.  We chatted about life, about various trials, and about hopes.  She shared things with me and I with her like we'd been friends for years.  Her Tuesdays inspired me to be a better mom, and I'll be forever grateful for her help, her love for my kids and her friendship.

Kimberly, we know you'll do great things where you are now, too!  And, we'll be sending you a few goodies from time to time to make sure you don't forget us.  Thanks for everything!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sophie: 2 Months

It's happened.  Another month has passed.  Another few pounds gained!  

This little girl is a sweet one.  She's just beginning to smile lots (well, when her Daddy and I talk to her), and it lights up a room.  We go in for her shots on Wednesday (yuck), and we'll see how she's measuring.  My guess is fairly big...following in her brothers' footsteps.

In terms of stats for the memory book, she's eating about 4 oz of milk/feeding.  She'll have 6-7 feedings a day and is sleeping almost 9 hour stretches at night.  She's started chewing on her fists and loves to watch her brothers. She's wearing 0-3 month clothing and growing like a weed -- we're smitten with her.

It's been a fast but full two months!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Hundred - My Take

Last weekend, I was able to attend an amazing blogging conference in Dallas.  The Hundred Event. Hosted by some of the greatest (Grace, Megan, Bridget and Lauren), it was even better than expected (and they were too)!  Joules (don't waste a minute checking out their clothing and fabulous rain boots!) sponsored the event, along with a host of others, and it really was perfection.

There were style workshops by the fabulous Kendi, lessons in photography from Jenni, and ideas on how to increase your following via the infamous Stacy (a fellow Aggie, I might add).  Curt Steinhorst spoke to us about prioritizing our time and being careful as to whom and what we gave our attention.  There were delicious meals around Dallas, a perfect party at the Peacock Alley showroom and a farewell brunch that could not have been a better way to send us off!

There were no details left undone, no hang-ups in the flow, and nothing I would have asked for that hadn't already been thought of.  Honestly, it was a perfectly laid out event.  Even with the list of influential speakers, the top-of-the-line accommodations and the thoughtful gifts to make our time spent there even more special, I would have to say none of those things were what I would say was the best of it all.  If not that, then what?

It was the people.  Those whom I had followed and finally got to meet.  If you don't already follow Blythe, Nell, Olivia, Kate, Joanna and Katrina, I would highly suggest it.  It was the new people I connected with - Taylor, Indiana, Kelly, and Mary ( to name a few!).  If anything like me, we were all excited to be there but apprehensive about what really to expect.  

It's just like writing this post afterwards.  Will I say the right things?  In trying to be authentic, will I go too far and accidentally be less than that?  Am I even in a position to be here, because by no means am I a "big blogger"?  I cannot say that I didn't feel those things at some points in the weekend.  I cannot even honestly say that I don't feel some of them still.  

However, it drove home a point for me.  In order to do anything well, you must give it all you're willing to give it.  Give it your all?  Yes, if you want it to be your all.  Give it less than that?  Yes, if you're willing for it to be just that.  By this I mean that I learned a lot this weekend.  I learned what it takes to build a bigger following.  I learned a way in which to approach sponsors.  I learned that there is more to "making it big" than I ever imagined.  And, I learned, that I'm not so sure I'm up for that.

I love writing.  I love photography.  Both are a release for me.  More than that, though, I love my family.  I have been given a blessing that not everyone has, and that is staying home with that family and raising these kiddos.  If I truly take into consideration Curt's presentation, my little ones must be the greatest source of my attention-getting.  If not, then what am I really doing?  

Blogging, for me, started as a way to document our life.  I cannot get myself to scrapbook, so I told myself this would take its place.  One post after another, I loved it more, and as more people read it, I felt better about what I was doing.  This little blog gives others a glimpse into a life that isn't quite the norm for most.  I mean, really, how many of you actually worry about a cow rubbing some paint off of your car parked outside or follow the weather as if your livelihood truly depended on it?  Not most would be my guess.

But, it doesn't serve much more of a purpose than that.  Of course, it has connected me to some of the most beautiful women I know (or hope to actually meet some day).  It has provided me with a way in which to unwind and, in my opinion, be a better mom.  It has given the kids' grandparents and even great-grandparents a way to instantly get reports on our lives.  But, it's not our life.  In fact, it's just a little space on the world wide web.  

Our life is actually what you see in those pictures and the moments I wasn't quick enough to capture.  Our life is about the times we're there for each other however simple those moments may be, and much to my selfish dismay, those moments are not measured by a new "like" on Instagram or another follow on the ol' blog.  

The Hundred taught me that with a little more effort, my blog can grow.  But, it taught me more about appreciating the people behind it...and the people behind the blogs I follow.  If I can be the mom I want to be while still writing this blog and seeing it grow a bit, I'm all over that.  If not, I know which I'd rather see succeed.  

*All of these photos by the lovely Paige of Awake Photography

Monday, August 11, 2014

Link-Up: Back to School Activities

Well, it's the fourth link-up in a series of link-ups hosted by:

Becky @ BYBMG
Elizabeth @ All Kinds of Things
Britt @ The Fisk Files
Katie @ The Lane Above

This time around, we have...
Displaying backtoschoollinkup.jpg

Since we don't have any little ones heading "back to school" quite yet, I took a different spin with this month's topic.  I thought I would focus on a fun back-to-school project for some of our young adult friends (babysitters who might be heading off to college, cousins in college, etc).  So, the boys and I want to share with you a care package idea. 

In college, for me, there was nothing better than getting a package.  The best really were from home and often had some tasty treat in them.  I quickly learned not to open them in front of many people in my dorm or my goodies would vanish ;)  I always loved the handwritten notes, fun trinkets and really just knowing that someone was thinking of me.

So, the boys and I practiced today :)  It's the first time John Paul has helped with our kitchen projects, and we made boxed brownies (personally, I like them more than homemade)...

Along with a homemade goody, I would add a few of the following things to the package:

1.  A note along with a few pictures of the kids.
2.  Artwork from the kids.
3.  A Starbucks card
4.  Quarters for laundry.
5.  A restaurant giftcard.
6.  Desk supplies (pens/pencils).
7.  A good devotional

The sky is the limit.  Make someone's back-to-school a little better by sending them a care package this fall!  And, know that moments like these teach kids about caring for others.  They might not get it now, but it's a fun way to do something together and to also share the treats they are so proud of with others.  

So, what are your favorite things to do as the school year rolls around?  Please share!