Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Motherhood... Aint she a beauty.

Motherhood is hard.  It's messy and thankless and often requires a decent amount of wine.  BUT motherhood is beautiful.  It's so incredibly beautiful.  There isn't a more pure and unconditional love than the love between a mother and her child.  Motherhood is simply the very best thing I have ever done.  Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for giving me Sloan and Phayre and for entrusting me to guide and raise these two sweet girls.  And for giving me such an incredible partner to do it with (I love you E).

I've always known that I wanted to be a mother.  When I was little and my mom would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said "a mommy!"  I'm shocked I didn't scare Eric away when we were teenagers because I always talked about babies and how much I couldn't wait to be a mother.  As soon as we were married I begged him to start trying for a baby.  He talked me into waiting a bit so that we could soak in some time just the two of us (which I'm so thankful for now).  When we finally agreed to start trying, I was over the moon!  My dreams have come true because of my girls.  I truly love and enjoy being a wife and mother.  I try really hard to stay mindful of how incredibly lucky we are to have these two beautiful and healthy girls.

It's fun to joke about how messy and exhausting motherhood is (and how much coffee and wine it requires), but motherhood is so much more than that.  Motherhood is this blanket that wraps around you and your child and holds you together forever.  It teaches you how to be more selfless, patient, and silly.  Some days are long, like really really really long.  Between cooking, cleaning, errands, kissing boo boos, and constant toddler negotiations... it can just feel like a lot.  But then there are these moments that just take your breath away and remind you that you have the absolute BEST job in the world.  When I see Sloan master something for the first time and I get to partake in her excitement and joy or when Phayre waddles over to me and plants a giant open mouthed kiss right on my face, I actually feel like my heart might explode.  They love me SO much.  But only someday when they are mothers will they learn just how much I love them.

When the girls and I had our accident about a month ago, it really put life into perspective for me.  I hoped and wished and prayed (and begged) God for these girls.  The thought of not having them is terrifying.  Since our accident, I don't take the little things for granted as much.  I squeeze the girls just a moment longer when they hug me and I rock them or rub their backs to sleep just a bit longer these days.  I feel less frustrated when P only wants to be held while I'm making dinner or when Sloan is having a hard time listening.  I guess I'm just so very aware of how lucky I am.  I think perspective is important and my perspective is pretty darn clear these days.

So cheers to all the mama's!  The mama's who are nursing their babies, chasing toddlers, waiting in the carpool line, or who still demand hugs and kisses from their adult children (I WILL be that mom).  Or to the want-to-be or soon-to-be mama's!  You got this girl.  To the women who are hoping and and wishing and praying (and begging) to meet their baby.  Keep having faith.  And to the women who are hurting or experiencing pain or loss.  While I know I don't have the right words to say, I hope that you find strength and hope.  My heart goes out to all of you.

Now, please share in the comments below and tell me what being a mother means to you.  Don't be shy, I want to hear from you!!  It can be just a sentence, just share!



These photos were taken by my very talented friend Lindsey of  Lindsey Wiatt Photography and I will treasure them forever.  If you're in the Portland, OR area definitely look her up!

Gorgeous tulle maxi skirt c/o  Shabby Apple.  "Fallen Snow Skirt" can be found  here (and it's on sale!).  You can find my baby wrap here.  

Girls outfits:

Monday, September 26, 2016

Capturing and Documenting Your Children // Photography

Its no secret that I love photos.  I love capturing my girls and trying to document them in each of their quickly changing phases.  If you follow us on Instagram, you know that I am quite the mamarazzi.  I love standing back and capturing the girls just being the girls.  I want to remember all of the silly things they did and how sweet they are together.  People ask me almost daily on Instagram for photography advice.  This always surprises me because I am NOT a photographer, but I'll do my best to give you guys some of my tips and tricks!  I'll also put it out there that I use my iPhone more than my camera!  I think that with a little editing, you can make iPhone photos look really great!

I take photos using my iPhone (I have the iPhone 7 and I think the camera is the best iPhone camera yet) or my DSLR camera.  Eric bought me a Nikon D3200 when Sloan was about six months old.  It's a very basic "beginner" DSLR camera in my opinion.  I was so excited to finally have a nice camera, but I had absolutely no idea how to use it.  I shot in auto mode for about eight months and was so disappointed that I wasn't getting good photos.  I honestly assumed by having a nice camera, I would automatically get great photos.  

My friend Sara also had a DSLR and I noticed she took amazing photos.  I asked her if she could teach me how to use my camera in manual mode.  We met at the park and she taught me how to use my camera while we chased our toddlers around (her son is exactly three weeks younger than Sloan). At first my photos were blurry, overexposed, underexposed, you name it-they were pretty bad.  I started taking my camera out with us and practicing all the time.  Over time I started to better understand my camera and my photos kept getting better and better.

Like I said, I am not a trained photographer.  I would actually be really embarrassed if a trained photographer read this because they would probably roll their eyes!  I really am an amateur, but I love practicing.  If you want to learn how to use a DSLR, I suggest signing up for a class or begging a friend to meet you at the park and teach you!  If you don't want to learn how to use a DSLR (they can be complex and pricey-no shame in saying no thanks!), I recommend getting a good quality point and shoot digital camera.  I don't have one myself (although I would love one because they're so convenient!), but I've heard that the Sony Alpha a6000 mirrorless camera is a great option.  From what I've heard, this camera takes awesome photos and you don't need a lot of technical knowledge.  

If you're using your camera for personal use, you really don't need to spend a fortune on a camera.  These are some simple tricks that I use to get better photos and they're so simple-anyone can do them (even with your phone)!

Five Simple Tips/Tricks

1. Look around you, not just at your subject.
A lot of times, I'm quickly trying to snap photos of the girls doing cute things.  I can't always get exactly what I want in the background, but I try to position the girls so that there is a simple background behind them.  I also try to snap a photo when there aren't other people in the background or walking by (I can't stand random strangers in my photos!).  Obviously this isn't always possible, like at Disneyland or somewhere busy.  This goes for "stuff" in the background too.  I try to position myself at an angle where I don't catch any clutter in my shot.  I also love me some rule of thirds (read more about that here-you need to know this!).

Some examples of using the rule of thirds:

Some examples of trying to simplify the background so that my subject stands out:

2.  Camera angle.
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when taking photos of their kids is taking the photo at a weird angle.  I see people all the time standing above their kids (because obviously adults are taller) and angling their camera or phone down.  If you're taking a photo looking directly at your child, bend down and take the photo at their level.  

When thinking about your camera angle, think about what you want to be the focus of your shot.  For example, when I took Sloan's first day of preschool photos I wanted to to focus on the chalkboard she was holding.  I was looking directly at her so I bent down to her level and made sure I was directly in front of her and focused on the chalkboard.  

When Phayre was teeny tiny and couldn't even sit up, I would lay her down and take the photo from directly above her.  I also do this if I'm taking a photo of the girls sleeping.

Here are a few examples of when I bent down to be at the girls' level:

Here I wanted to focus on the girls' feet, so I actually laid on the floor so that I was at the same level as their feet:

Photo taken from directly above:

3. Lighting.
I didn't know this before I started really loving photography and practicing, but photography completely revolves around light.  You need a decent amount of natural to get a good photo (this is why your iPhone takes better pictures when you're outside).  If I'm inside, I usually try to photograph the girls near a window.

I have a love/hate relationship with shadows, so I don't usually shoot in direct sunlight.  I usually try to find a shady spot because I don't like shadows on their faces.  BUT every once in awhile, I love the drama a shadow can add.  Play around with that one and see what you like.

4. Make sure your photo is STRAIGHT!
This one is the EASIEST tip that you must follow.  If there are lines in your photo (a curb, a fence, a building, etc).  Make sure you straighten your photo!!  This is super easy to do in the Instagram app.  All you have to do is select the photo, click "next", click "edit", and then "adjust". So easy and your picture will look so much better.



First I straightened the photo so that the lines on the garage door were straight and then I cropped in so that the photo showed a better rule of thirds.

5. Be creative!
It's fun to get ideas and inspiration from other photos, but make sure you put your own spin on the photo.  Figure out how you want your photos to look and practice, practice, practice!  And I promise you, your favorite photos of your kiddos will be the ones where you captured them just being themselves!

Editing Photos

I believe photographers call this post production, but I could also be totally wrong on that one.  We'll just stick with editing photos.  When I take photos with my DSLR, I edit them in iPhoto on my macbook.  This is probably the most basic editing program.  I have dreams of learning how to use photoshop, but haven't found the time yet!

People ask me alllll the time which special editing apps I use on my phone and here's my secret... I don't use any.  I love the editing tools in the Instagram app.  I always go into the editing tools and straighten my photo first in "adjust".  Then I brighten it and usually bump up the contrast a little too.  Sometimes I play with the other editing tools, but those are the three I usually stick with.

Here is an example (of an iPhone pic):



I straightened and cropped the photo and then upped the brightness, the contrast a teeny tiny bit, and the structure (all in the Instagram app).

Sleeping P Pics

Guess what??  Phayre does not sleep in a bright room!!  What do you guys think I am, some kind of monster?  I don't make her sleep in a bright room just so that I can get good photos of her sleeping.  Actually that's totally something I'd do, but I've found a way around it ;).  I get asked most about her sleeping photos, so I thought I'd share!

Ok so when I rock P to sleep, the blinds are closed and her room is pretty dark.  Once she is totally asleep and I lay her down, I crack her blinds just a teeny tiny bit so that there is enough light coming in.  With just enough light, I can get a half decent picture (with my iPhone).  I stand next to her crib and take the photo directly above her.  I tap right on her body so that my phone focuses as much as possible on her.

In the Instagram app, I straighten the photo and brighten it A LOT.  I also turn the "fade" up a bit to soften the photo if it looks grainy.



I hope that you found something helpful here!  I still have so much to learn and hope that I continue getting better at photography!  Just remember to have fun and try to capture your kids just being themselves.  It's better to stand back and capture their joy and the way they are right now than to try to pose them or replicate a photo you've seen.  I have a phone full of blurry snaps of my girls and I treasure all of those photos too!  I can't always get all of the conditions right so I don't always get the "perfect" photo, but every once in awhile I look at my phone or the back of my camera and think, "OH MY GOSH I love this photo!!"

Please comment below if you have any other questions or if there's something that really helps when you're taking photos of your children!



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Basic Bitch

So it's been awhile since I've written a random and rambling blog post and since I know all of you have been dying to know all of my inner thoughts, I thought I better sit down and get to it!  I just made myself a fresh iced coffee, Sloan is at preschool, and P is down for her morning nap.  So GAME ON, it's bloggin time.  And buckle up, this one is sure to be pretty epic (which means you can basically stop reading now-it will probably be anything by epic).

But if you've decided to keep reading...

I haven't had time to sit down and write in awhile because Eric has been out of town in Atlanta.  He went for a work trip, but let's be honest-he was totally on vacation.  Meetings and presentations during the day and "networking" at night.  I want to know when networking started including drinks and karaoke though?  I am SO happy he's home, I could never ever cut it as a single mom.  Like ever.  I only made dinner one time while he was gone!!  It just seemed so much easier to take my little besties out to dinner... or we'd just skip dinner all together and eat ice cream.  Super mom over here.  I also accomplished nothing while he was gone, but had a nice list of honey-do's for him when he returned home!  He's such a lucky guy ;).

So, today is the first day of fall!  Hello pumpkin spice everything, sweaters and boots, and allllll the holiday decorations.  Yeah, I'm not a basic bitch at all.  Actually, when it comes to fall I totally am.  And I'm ok with that.  I can't wait to fill my Trader Joe's cart with every pumpkin item they offer.  And after about eleven months of begging to go to the pumpkin patch, we can finally take Sloan and she'll have one less thing to whine about!  I also can't wait for all of my fave shows to come back on (because sitting on my ass is definitely something I should do more of #not).  I just watched This is Us last night and it definitely took a little bit of the sting away now that Parenthood is gone.  I cried and I can't wait for next week's episode.

I love fall, but I have to admit I'm really sad to see summer go.  I'm going to miss swimming and playing outside all day.  I'll also admit that I don't think the girls got enough use out of their summer wardrobes... so rain rain go away, I need a few more days for rompers, crop tops, and swimsuits.  K thanks.

I'm obsessed with these  swimsuits by Cabana Life.  They're perfect for the beach, but also perfect for swim lessons this fall and winter.

BUT with fall comes allllll the holidays and decorations!  I am such a huge big time lover of holidays and decorations (well basically all things themed!).  Eric is not a fan of decorating way before the actual holiday, so I've been slowly adding little Halloween touches to the house.  He's also not the most observant person so he hasn't noticed anything yet, including the pumpkins I bought and covered our front porch with.  #men

Did you guys know Halloween is less than six weeks away?!  Time to start working on the girl's Halloween costumes!!  I have some super cute ideas and I'm sure to go over the top (because hello, I'm me).  Aren't holidays so much more fun once you have kids?  This will also be the first year we take Sloan trick-or-treating which we're both super excited for!!  If you need some inspiration, check out these darling diy costume ideas!

So lets talk teething.  And please excuse me for what I'm about to say, teething and I are not on good terms right now.  Teething is such a massive bitch.  And molars?  Well those little a-holes can suck it.  Seriously you guys, my sweet little Phayre Bear has been a different child.  Two molars on the top just broke through and she's working on two more on the bottom.  Her whole mouth is swollen and they've actually been bleeding.  She follows me around the house screaming and crying with snot and drool dripping off of her face and stuck up to her ears and hanging down to her knees.  She's also not eating much of anything and basically not sleeping (at night or for naps-unless she's sleeping on me).  I feel so terrible for her.  She cries, Sloan cries for her, and then I cry with them both.  It's been a rough week to say the least.  I'm just hoping they pop all the way through ASAP because I need my happy P back (and I'd like to start sleeping through the night again ;)).

Sloan on the other hand is having a bit of a honeymoon week (THANK GOODNESS).  She has been so patient while I tend to P and brings P a teether every time she cries.  She's such a sweet big sister and has been my little helper lately.  She's acting so grown up, I just can't believe how quickly she's growing up!   And P follows her around trying to do everything her big sister does.  Slow down girls!!!  Or mama is going to need a tiny baby ;).

Sloan did however manage to embarrass me this week.  I had to take the girls into the post office and of course it was packed.  Line out the door of cranky and rushed people.  Sloan was looking at all of packaging materials on the wall and bopping around in her own little world.  I saw her really studying this poster of a man on the wall and then all of a sudden she yelled, "MOM, IS THAT MY DAD??"  I kind of half laughed and said, "No, honey that's not daddy."  She made this sad face and yelled back, "OH, I DON'T KNOW MY DAD.  I WISH I HAD MY DAD"  I felt everyones eyes shift to me so I started nervously talking without taking a breath.  I'm pretty sure I was saying things like, "Oh she knows her dad!  I am married!  To her dad!  Really, she has a dad.  And she knows him.  They both know their dad.  Well he's the same guy.  Dad.  Dad.  Dad.  Yep, we know their dad."  A few people cracked smiles, but most people just looked at me like I was a hot ass mess.  Thaaaaaanks Sloany.

So that's about it!  Are you still reading?  If so, go get yourself a cookie (or a glass of wine), you deserve it!




Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Happy Mail Day! // Mom n' Tot Box

So you know that time of day when your kiddos are sleeping and you're tidying up the house and trying to catch your breath after a busy morning?  And you keep peeking out the front window so that you know exactly when the mailman comes?  No??  Ok maybe that's just me :).  I'm not going to lie, I love a happy mail day!  It's usually something for the girls and almost never something for me, but I still get so excited when a package of goodies comes!

I recently discovered a subscription box for moms and their babes called Mom n' Tot Box.  I knew right away that I would love the box.  It comes once a month and it's full of goodies for mom and babe and all of the products are made by small businesses (you know we love to shop small!).  And another major bonus: all of the products are made in the United States!  Mom n' Tot Box sends you items based on your child's age and gender (and they even offer a siblings box)!  You can learn more about how the monthly subscriptions work here.

The girls had so much fun opening our September box!  Sloan quickly decided which items belonged to who, "Phayre you can have these blocks because they're baby blocks.  Mama, you can have the soap.  Oh look P, there's two donuts.  I'm gonna keep the pink one."  The box included two tee shirts (one in each of the girls sizes), wooden blocks, two wooden donuts, a chalkboard (used for number practice),  some travel size shampoo and lotions, and an essential oil roller.  Phayre really loves the blocks and donuts and Sloan has used the little chalkboard so many times already!  There is also a list of all of your items which tells you where each item is from.

If you're like me and you love a happy mail day, you definitely need to check out Mom n' Tot Box!!  It's such a great way to try new products, especially if you love shopping small!



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Our Seattle Getaway

With all of the chaos from our accident, I forgot to share photos from our recent Seattle trip!  And that's way happier, so let's dive right in!  Seattle holds such a special place in our hearts.  We spent Sloan's first year of life in Seattle and there's just something so special about the first year of your first childs life.  We experienced so many firsts in Seattle so I'm always dying to return.

We moved to Seattle when Sloan was a newborn.  Eric excepted a position that would allow me to stay home with Sloan so we dropped everything and moved there.  I fell hopelessly in love with Seattle.  It so quickly became our home and we loved watching Sloan grow and change in the city.  We lived downtown in a tiny little apartment in a high-rise.  Sloan was the perfect city baby and life felt really really good.  Going back is always so nostalgic.  We visit friends, eat at all of our favorite restaurants, and play tourists in our old city.

I met one of my best friends, Lauren (who is also P's Godmother) in Seattle.  Our first daughters are only three weeks apart and have been besties since they were teeny tiny!  We left on Thursday night and headed to Lauren's house for one night.  Lauren and I stayed up all night catching up and drinking wine.  Aren't those nights with your BFF the best?  We lounged around Friday morning, sipping our Starbucks (thank you Eric, I love you!) and watching the girls play.

We headed downtown in the early afternoon and went straight the the neighborhood where we used to live.  We lived in a high-rise right next to Century Link field in the pioneer square neighborhood of Seattle.  The doorman (who was actually a woman) was nice enough to let us go up to the rooftop deck.  It was SO nostalgic going up there, I could see wobbly baby Sloan taking some of her first steps up there.  It's such a beautiful view of the city, I cannot believe we actually got to live there!

When we finished walking down memory lane, we headed to a neighborhood just north of downtown called Ballard.  We ate lunch at Hi-Life, one of our favorite restaurants.  They have a great outdoor seating area if it's a nice day, and downtown Ballard is always fun to walk around.  As soon as we finished eating lunch we headed to our absolute favorite beach, Golden Gardens.  Golden Gardens is the first beach that Sloan ever played on.  It's such a beautiful beach and I absolutely loved watching the girls play and search for seashells.

We finally checked into our hotel on Friday evening, which consisted of dropping our bags off, brushing sand off of the girls, and throwing some clean clothes on.  We were dying to get out and walk around our old city.  We walked around downtown for a bit and talked about what had changed and what was exactly the same.  Then we landed at Von's 1000 spirits for dinner.  We love Von's, they have this really cool spinning wheel that they spin every hour.  There are different drinks all over the board and whatever drink the spinner lands on is offered at a happy hour rate.  The foods not bad either ;).  Von's is also right next to the Public Market and lots of other tourist attractions.  After dinner, we drug our exhausted children back to our hotel and we all passed out for the night.

On Saturday morning we ventured back into the city to do a little sightseeing and SHOPPING.  Oh how I miss downtown shopping.  After I spent way too much money (which Eric was thrilled about ;)), we headed to University Village (great outdoor mall with lots of shops and dining) to meet my good friend Sara.  We ate lunch at Eureka! (the food was so good, try the chicken tacos).  My friend Sara has two boys who are almost exactly the same age as my girls.  It's so fun watching them together and seeing how different boys and girls are.  U Village also has a great play area, fountains, and the cutest little cupcake shop.

After lunch and playing, we headed back to the hotel and took a family nap.  I seriously love family naps and they only happen when we're in a hotel room and stuck together.  Eric fell asleep in the recliner with P on his chest and Sloan fell asleep cuddled up to me in the bed.  Sloan woke up before P and woke me up so we snuck out of the room so that P could sleep a bit longer.  We headed downstairs to the hotel Starbucks and she chatted me up over a chocolate milk and a cake pop.  I love spending one on one time with my girls, it feels so special and I seriously soak in every minute of it.

Once P was up, we all changed our clothes and headed to dinner at Ballard Pizza Company (we went to the Frelard location) with my friend Sara and her family.  The pizza was AMAZING (try the Parma) and the wine was equally as good.  On a nice night, they roll up the large doors so it's an open air restaurant.  They have a really cool fire pit and a kids play area!

We woke up early on Sunday and walked around downtown again.  If you're in the city for breakfast, you have to go to Biscuit Bitch, hands down our favorite breakfast spot of all time.  We walked through the Public Market, visited the gum wall (a must if you're visiting) and then went on the Great Wheel for the first time.  Playing tourists is so fun!

We drove home with full bellies (I'm positive I gained at least five pounds over the weekend) and happy hearts.  And bonus, the girls slept most of the way home :).

Our trip was so fun and I'm already dying to go back.  Until next time Seattle, thank you for being so good to us!



P.S. we always stay at the Grand Hyatt-it's walking distance to everything downtown and you can't beat the price for a downtown hotel.  Plus the bathrooms are dreamy.  If you're going to any games, make sure you catch The Lodge's happy hour-it's the best around!

And now, a picture dump.

Super sisters!

Swimsuits c/o  Minnow Swim.

We taught our girls about hotel bed jumps and pillow fights like any good parents would do.

I seriously don't leave home without these hooded towels by  Just Born for Baby, they are SO soft!

Poor just woke up Phayre was like where the hell am I?!

Her first (and only) time chewing gum!!

This is just a normal dad thing right?

Until next time Seattle!

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