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Happy Halloween 2015

Our little pumpkin is going to be a big sister next April!

Pregnancy-Announcement-Pumpkin-Patch

More to come on this upcoming adventure! Happy Halloween!

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Monday Motivation: Words to Live By #5

Motherhood Inspirational Quote

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog lately about motherhood topics and sharing updates on Olivia. Our sweet girl is amazing- she is laughing, running, and talking up a storm. I have to pinch myself sometimes that we are at the point of having real conversations where she shares her ideas and opinions! For every wonderful moment, there’s also an opposite. Olivia is passionately independent, which means that temper tantrums occur frequently and everyday tasks often escalate into power struggles. Did I mention that nap time is almost nonexistent these days? Honestly, I’ve found myself more frustrated and disheartened with the realities of parenting than ever before. Some days are just plain hard

As this new week starts, I am so grateful that I can choose to hit the reset button… a thousand times a day, if needed. I can choose to focus on the moments of joy and embrace our present reality, which is one of GROWTH- she is testing new limits and exploring her world … I am a work in progress, stretching to meet her needs and become the Mother I know I want to be.

For all the Mamas with little ones: This is for the Tough Days.

Welcome to Monday Motivation! I hope you enjoy this inspiring quote. For more words to live by, check out the archives.

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Lately… September & October 2014

This Fall has been a BLUR. Lately, I’ve been:

…creating works of art with a very talented toddler. Crayons are a big hit these days.

Lately-October-2014-Artwork

…traveling to Salt Lake City for an essential oil convention.

… listening to this YouTube by Kid President. They actually aired it at convention during part of a breakout session presentation. This line is a game-changer: “You’re made from love, to be love, and spread love. Love is always louder.” (minute: 2:15)

…reading these articles on Motherhood:

  • 25 Ways to Annoy a Toddler: Oh, my! This one had me laughing! … and I could relate to so many things on the list, especially #19! How about you?
  • 5 Mistakes Moms Make: it all goes back to balance. I just love that first quote graphic from Lena Horne: “It is not the load that breaks you. It’s the way you carry it.” Motherhood is all about finding the right adjustments as you navigate different phases. Love Desiree’s reminder to stop playing the comparison game.
  • Home as a Haven: such a beautiful post and a gentle reminder to cultivate comfort within the walls of your home.

… generally feeling like THIS. Did I mention that this Fall was a blur?!

…taking more photos for The Dating Divas product team. In October, we launched our new exclusive Welcome Home Kit. It contains everything you need for a fun and memorable celebration!… and just wait until you see what we have in store for the Holiday season!

Welcome-Home-Pack-2

Welcome-Home-Pack

…celebrating our 5-year anniversary.

Lately-October-2014-Anniversary

…savoring gorgeous sunsets at the lake.

Lately-October-2014-Sunset

…listening to Olivia’s constant stream of chatter these days.

…wishing James, my Mom, my Aunt, and my Grandma very happy birthdays.

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22 Months and Growing

To my precious, independent, strong-willed, and beautiful daughter:

Olivia-22-Months-3

I love you. Always and forever. You are teaching me so much about the world. You make me laugh and want to pull my hair out… every single day. We are both learning new depths of patience and how to navigate the world together. I love your tenacity and know it will serve you well as you grow older.

Olivia-22-Months-4

These days, you love to listen to music. I can’t help but smile as you immediately start dancing to whatever rhythm is playing. You are also a big fan of bouncing on the trampoline at gym class and soaring through the air on your new red swing. I’ll say, “READY, SET,” and you enthusiastically fill in the “GO!” You started saying the word “Mama” a few weeks ago in a very intentional way… and I’m pretty sure my heart explodes into a million pieces every time I hear it. You regularly say “bye-bye” and blow kisses. So many other phrases are just on the brink of your grasp. Your Daddy and I have no doubt, however, that you understand absolutely everything.

Olivia-22-Months

My darling girl- you have such a soft spot in your heart for animals. It is so amazing to watch you with the puppies. You love to give them hugs and are a regular helper with their care- finding their leashes to take them outside and feeding them dinner each night. Over the past several months, you’ve also become an expert on animal sounds (monkeys, cows, puppies, cats, lions, and even chickens!).

Olivia-22-Months-2

Olivia-22-Months-1

You are quite attached to your blankets these days. We don’t dare leave home without one! You also adore jewelry and fashion accessories. Necklaces, bracelets, hats, headbands- you name it!

Olivia-22-Months-5

It’s hard to believe that there’s only 2 months until your second birthday- what a journey we’ve had!

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XOXO, Mom

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Around Here: July and August 2014

July flew by and August is almost a distant memory.  Lately, I’ve been:

…coordinating evaluations and therapy sessions for Olivia.  I’ll write more about this personal adventure in the future.  I’m still digesting all the lessons I’ve learned about advocating for your child and some of the new insights we’ve gained into fostering speech development for toddlers.  Olivia has a huge gap right now between her receptive and expressive language abilities.  Naturally, this reality fuels daily frustrations for her and escalates tantrums quickly.  I am amazed at Olivia’s intelligence, curiosity, and independence- she experiences life so fully!  I am so grateful that we have some services in place now to help facilitate her journey.

Olivia-19-Months

… reflecting on some awesome blog posts focused on motherhood, life, and finding your own voice:

  • Baseball, Mom, and Staying the Course: This article was written by my friend, Tammy, who is also on the Design Team for the Snap Click Supply Company.  I just love her beautiful perspective on motherhood… some days are so tough and everything seems to go wrong at once.  Simply continuing to meet each challenge with an open heart and love is enough.
  • Redefining What I Want: Love this list about crafting a life you love.  How do you want your life to feel?
  • Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt: Awesome post challenging our constant need to upgrade and “fix” our life.  Love her focus on gratitude and staying in the present moment.  I hope Olivia remembers our kitchen as the site of many impromptu dance parties.
  • A Code for Living: This thoughtful quote from Tara Mohr is a true gem: “Do not give anyone an experience that you are not eager to receive, tenfold, at the end of your journey.”

… working on projects for The Dating Divas.  I posted this photo to Instagram in July with the caption: “Real life… What our kitchen table has looked like for the past week and half.  A growing and increasingly random assortment of materials for taking staged photos of upcoming blogging projects.  Yes, those would be balloons, Skittles, ping pong balls, and sprinkles on the table! #wannabephotographer”

Photo-table-July-2014

I am so excited about the products our team is creating and feel so blessed to be in charge of leading the process.  Our graphic designer, Courtney of All Things Bright and Beautiful, is AMAZING!  She consistently transforms our design requests into a gorgeous, visual reality.  To top it off, her designs are  modern and fun!  If you are hosting a group date night, you will want to check out our Couples Win It in a Minute Party Pack.  It has EVERYTHING you need for a successful and FUN night with your favorite people.

Couples Game Night

We also recently launched our DIY Birthday Card Pack for Him.  These gorgeous cards are print ready and perfect for telling your hubby how much he is adored.  Wait until you see the embellishments on these cards- Hallmark has nothing on these!  This pack is a STEAL!  10 birthday cards and coordinating embellishments for less than 1 typical store-bought card!

Birthday Card Pack

… finishing this book: Dying to Be Me.  Additional thoughts and review COMING SOON!

… participating in Big Picture Classes Phone Photography Project 2 on Instagram.  Click to see all my summer photos related to this challenge!

Summer-Light

…writing a little bit about essential oils.  I’ve been using them for the past year and loving our experiences.  They are definitely part of our daily routine and a first line of defense for anything that life throws our way.  For instance, on our last trip down to the lake, James was working in my parent’s yard and got into what we think was Stinging Nettle.  Almost immediately, he felt intense stinging and little white bumps appeared on his finger.  I immediately applied Lavender, Melaleuca, and Purify.  Within about 10 minutes, his pain subsided and the bumps were gone!  If you are curious about essential oils and what they can do for your family, check out The Essential Oils Archives.

PINCHING myself because I was featured on Kara’s Party Ideas!  I’m beyond thrilled that Kara decided to feature my dear friend Ashley’s Coco Chanel Inspired Baby Shower.  HERE’S THE FEATURE!  I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone in terms of submitting this party to a major blog… and checked off one more item on my 30 During My 30th Year!

…noticing that the seasons are beginning to shift.  This hydrangea’s beautiful white flowers always turn a gorgeous shade of blush announcing Fall’s arrival.

Hydrangea-August-2014

… dumping a cold bucket of water/ice on my head.  Yes, my good friend Kim nominated me to take the ALS ice bucket challenge.  It was COLD!  Brrr…. Read how this challenge started HERE.  It truly just takes a few people with open hearts, an idea, and a desire to make a difference.

Ice-Bucket-Challenge-August

… and, just this past week, catching some unexpected inspiration from the radio.  I was driving over to my mom’s house and happened to tune into Oprah’s channel on Sirius where she was interviewing Pastor Rick.  This quote really resonated with me:

“You can waste your life. You can spend your life. Or you can invest your life. The best use of your life is to invest it in that which will outlast it. Invest it in serving others. And that’s what it means to live a purpose-driven life.”- Pastor Rick

Looking forward to all that September will bring!

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Thoughts on Motherhood and Traveling: Part 2

To read Part 1, click HERE!

Aerial View

During a recent flight, I had the chance to sit next to the window and gaze out at some incredible cloud formations.  Perhaps I was just focused on missing Olivia, but the clouds (and really the whole process of flying) made me think about motherhood.

Some similarities that I was struck by:

… on both types of journeys, you alternate between periods of clarity and complete overwhelm.  As a new mother, you might feel like you are permanently stuck in a never-ending haze of confusion, panic, and stress… Similarly, to get to your cruising altitude, a plane must ascend through a dense and often murky layer of clouds.  I think I involuntary hold my breath for these moments- you can’t see anything and it feels like you’re traveling through a giant marshmallow!  Both scenarios require patience and trust that you are slowly getting closer to your destination.

Navigating Motherhood

… and then you emerge on the other side and it’s just grand.  This higher perspective fuels both gratitude and reflection.  These moments make the journey worthwhile and truly inspiring!

Clouds from the Plane

I’m still trying to navigate and find my footing on this precious journey of motherhood.  The highs and lows just seem so darn extreme!  Moods cycle so easily between clarity and overwhelm.  These days we are focusing on the good.

… precious baby smiles and laughter… watching new learning take place before our eyes….sweet baby snuggles and embraces… her joy in discovering something new… her delight in new independence and skills….

Flying

… all the steps and stages of learning to fly.

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Around Here: June 2014

Busy, busy, busy….  This month has been spent:

…enjoying this gorgeous view while in Florida.  The Breakers Hotel review coming soon.

TheBreakers

…taking our baby girl to the pool.

Olivia Swimming June 2014

…looking through a camera lens.  I took on several large photography projects for The Dating Divas blog.  They are launching several amazing products over the next few months- here’s a peak at my work:

Anniversary Printable Pack

Dating Divas Anniversary

Couples Group Date Night

Dating Divas Group Date Night

Printable Summer Activities Pack

Dating Divas Summer Pack

Babysitting Co-op Printable Pack

Dating Divas Babysitting Co-op

…reading these articles on motherhood:

…taking stock.  By Kara Anne sent out an email with the subject, “Is June the fresh start you need?”  This one-liner got me thinking about my OLW for the year, as well as my 30 During 30 Goals.  #12 on the list was to make and send 30 cards.  I wrote down a quick list of projects that came to mind and realized that not only had I met this goal but exceeded it by quite a bit!  2014 has demanded an outpouring of creative products.  My goal for the reminder of the year is to figure out how to lighten my load, focus on what’s important, and let the rest take care of itself.  Easier said than done!

…visiting my Grandma after her fall.  I hope Olivia inherits her grit and determination!

…writing many blog posts.  Curious what goes into a post?  Read THIS and THIS for a thoughtful breakdown.  When I got into blogging, I had no clue that you needed to be an amazing photographer, eloquent writer, expert WordPress user, marketing genius, and part-time HTML coder to be successful.  I am far from where I’d love to be in this industry BUT I’ve made great strides with my photography skills over the past year.

…learning why I hate cilantro!  And, I picked up a new phrase: single-nucleotide polymorphism.

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Thoughts on Traveling and Motherhood: Part 1

Over the past two months, I’ve spent two weekends away from my sweet baby girl.  I’m happy to report that she did great!  I, on the other hand, was largely a hot mess.  Part of me was so excited to escape my current reality for just a few precious days.  The other part was overwhelmed with anxiety- about a million questions raced through my mind… is James feeding her something other than puffs?  Is she sleeping at my parent’s house?  Does she miss me?  Does she know we are coming back?  Does she feel like I abandoned her?  Are her teeth hurting her?  Am I missing any milestones?

Totally stereotypically.  Totally normal.  And, yet, I’ve never experienced this push-pull range of emotions so completely.  Traveling solo during my first weekend away also brought up another set of questions that I wasn’t necessarily prepared to answer.  All those pesky “what if” scenarios… What if something were to happen?  What if there was an accident?  I was quickly reminded how fragile life can be.  I also immediately thought of a post I had seen on Instagram by Holly from Decor8.  In one of her captions about her beautiful little boy on April 25th, she wrote “I’ve never valued my own life more than I do now…”

Decor8 inspirational words

Ah… I can completely relate.  Don’t you just love Holly’s inspirational words?  Being Olivia’s mama has definitely challenged me in a completely new way to be the best version of myself.  Taking exquisite care of my health, both physically and emotionally, is also a gift to my daughter.  Not only do I just want to be around for the next several decades, I want to make the most of it!  So many things to teach to her and so much love to give!

Motherhood Memories

Photo Credit: Karen Hendrix Photography

And, as if the universe heard my concerns and longing to be a great mama/teacher/friend, I happened to run across a little treasure along the aisles of our local Hallmark store: a recordable version of my most favorite book: Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You.  I’ve mentioned this beautiful story before HERE– I just adore it.  And, now, my sweet baby girl has a version to listen to in my voice.  Knowing Olivia could her me reading and feel all the love from this book’s message made leaving just a little more bearable.

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Around Here: April 2014

I didn’t think that life could actually get fuller.  And then it did.  April has flown by and I’m trying to catch my breath and replace moments of overwhelm with confident faith that everything that needs to get done will.  This month I have been:

… finishing projects.

… planning surprises.

Glittered Champagne

… reading this article: I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical and reflecting.  A friend sent this and it struck a nerve, especially since I place so much effort and emphasis on crafting beautiful events for the people I care about in my own life.  I both agree and disagree with this eloquent writer.  Childhood is truly a magical time.  I can almost see light bulbs illuminating for Olivia on a daily basis as she learns new skills or simply delights in activities like watching the puppies or walking around the neighborhood.  However, I also firmly believe that parents can create meaningful moments of engagement… there is a place for crafts, party planning, and beautiful decorations within the sphere of fostering beautiful memories.  It all goes back to intention- are you going through the motions simply for the sake of appearances?  Or, are you building a memory?

… visiting a precious newborn!

Baby-Barrett

… celebrating Easter with our little bunny!

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Photo Credit: TH Photography & Design

Easter2014

Photo Credit: TH Photography & Design

… crying after finding this article: Time & Inspiration. LOVE, love, love Kami’s encouragement to embrace “moments of wholeness and tender growth.”  All the overwhelm/stress/anxiety melts away when you read something like this– suddenly your perspective widens and you are able to appreciate the here and now.

… running my silhouette nonstop in preparation for a special bachelorette weekend.

… listening to the magic of these four voices: (and checking off at least one item on my 30 During 30 list!)

Il-Divo

… managing temper tantrums.  My, oh my, yes… we have entered a new phase where running away in a fit of anger and then dropping to the floor in disgust (complete with tears and flailing arms/legs) is a common reaction to a simple redirection.

Walking-with-Dad

… starting a new project.  Based on this inspiration, James is building me an “L” shaped desk in our living room.

Living Room Desk

… searching for delicious protein packed meals that are easy to make.  Cooking motivation is still eluding me!

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Reaching…

Motherhood-Reaching

It’s the end of September and this lovely clematis plant is still blooming.  It survived a grueling pruning in July and rewinding of its delicate stems.  Currently, one of its purple blossom gracefully swoops out underneath the mailbox and waits patiently for its daily dose of afternoon sun.  As I was pulling into the driveway a couple of days ago, the thought hit me that the vine is literally reaching for what it needs.

I keep noticing this little plant and thinking about the concept of reaching.  This past year has been full of so many “reaches” for me.

Reaching for patience.  Reaching for normalcy.  Reaching for grace.  Reaching for inspiration.  Reaching out for help from pediatric specialists.  Reaching for information.  Reaching for answers.  Reaching for certainty.  Reaching for strength.  Reaching for joy.

At the beginning of December of last year, I had full plans of following along with Ali Edwards’ project One Little Word for 2013.  And, then Olivia came early.  Our hearts overflowed with love for our precious new baby while our brains raced to manage the myriad of challenges that are associated with prematurity.  Scrapbooking plans in the early months obviously flew out the window.  But, I knew what word I would have chosen for 2013 immediately and without hesitation: GROW.  James and I were expected to grow up, grow stronger, grow faster than we ever thought possible.

Today, we are still reaching.  But, with a little more grace, humor, and wisdom along the way.

When I see that gorgeous clematis bloom, I smile.  Yes, it’s reaching.  But, from another vantage point, its graceful stretch serves to welcome me home, a beautiful reminder that I’m returning to my incredible family.

There’s beauty in the reach.

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