Monday, November 28, 2016

Holiday Traditions And Cards

Hello again! Where do I even start? It sure has been a while since I've posted anything on this dusty old blog. While things have been quiet here, they definitely haven't been quiet in real time - life keeps roaring by at breakneck speed, bringing new changes around every bend.

The biggest change in our family, that you've probably spotted in the above pictures, is a new family member. I'm excited to introduce Syreca - she is a family friend who needed a safe, stable place to stay for a while. Syreca is such a joy, and we all adore her. She's brought a lot of fun and laughter into our lives - things are never boring around here (not that they ever were!)

I love the holiday traditions our family has created over the years. Pumpkin picking before Thanksgiving, baking special once-a-year treats, Advent devotions with the kids, picking out a live Christmas tree and decorating while listening to Bing Crosby and the Mannheim Steamrollers, candlelight Christmas Eve services at church... I love it all and just wish it didn't go by so fast! This year will be extra fun as we enjoy these traditions for the first time with Syreca.

One of the things I look forward to the most every holiday season is putting together Christmas cards to send out to all our friends and family. Tiny Prints offer some of the most beautiful holiday card designs with endless customization options, and their customer service is always top notch! 

I really love the design we picked out this year (we've been learning that it really is amazing how far just a moment of peace can get you when life is noisy, busy and chaotic!) This particular template allowed for several pictures, utilizing space on the front and back which I really appreciated. I love the surprise of the bokeh glitter envelope liners when you open the envelopes!

If you're doing some Cyber Monday shopping today, you can get up to 50% off EVERYTHING on the Tiny Prints website today using the code: HAPPYMONDAY - check it out!

This post was in partnership with Tiny Prints; all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Golden Hour

What started as a bone-chilling, damp, foggy morning turned into a pleasant afternoon, and then an absolutely gorgeous evening. It felt really good getting out of the house for a little walk and some playground time.

Matt brought his mini-drone to play with. It always draws a crowd of interested kids.

I recently exchanged my old Nikon D80 for a Sony RX100 Mark IV. It feels really weird holding such a tiny camera after lugging a big DSLR around for so many years. I feel very attached to my old Nikon - its original purpose was to distract me from the heart ache and bitterness of losing our first baby after a miscarriage, and has seen me through the births and milestones of three healthy babies, and so many other huge life moments. That being said, this little Sony is winning my heart. It's truly amazing to be able to take RAW images and 4K video on a camera that's tiny enough to fit in my pocket! It captures the light beautifully.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Sick Day

Every winter, it's inevitable - everyone gets sick at the same time, and in that awful mix of sickness, snow storms and cabin fever I find myself feeling horribly claustrophobic and ready to run away.

We're running out of ways to entertain ourselves after almost a week of consecutive snow days and sick days. So we made a movie! About being sick! (Be forewarned, there's a lot of runny nose action - not recommended viewing for the squeamish or germophobic.)

It was a fun project for this week. I know nothing about putting together video, but as I fumbled slowly through the editing process I found I loved how different it was from taking and editing photos. I needed a good challenge! 

I think we're finally pulling through this awful virus, and the sun is back out today after a very snowy start to our week. March may come in like a lion, but - it's MARCH! Spring is practically here. I'm so excited.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Hello, It's Me...

...I was wondering if after all these months you'd like to see...

...Two really mediocre pictures from Christmas Eve. (Womp womp.)

I had to pull out my SD card for another project this morning, and found it really funny and sad at the same time that there were only 10 pictures on the card, all from Christmas Eve, which means:

1. I didn't take any pictures of Christmas Day, or Matt's birthday, or Oona's second birthday.

2. I haven't picked up my camera in a really long time.

3. I haven't touched this blog in a really long time.

Life got really busy after Christmas. The biggest change is that I just got a part time job! I'm not quite ready to talk about it on here, but it's an exciting turn of events for me. My life is not at all like I imagined it would be as a kid, and that's something I sometimes get anxious about. However, I have to say I'm kind of enjoying being surprised by each unexpected twist of the road.

I think things will be quiet here for the rest of winter. Matt and I have an exciting trip planned for April which I'm excited to document here, and with the return of spring and summer always comes a renewed interest in taking photos so I don't think this is the end of blogging for me, just a short hiatus as I get adjusted to some big changes in life.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

On the Edge of a Decade

9 years ago was our wedding day. We were both so nervous, and so young! (I was 20, he was 25!) We were broke, and there was no Pinterest when we got married, so our wedding was very simple (Wal-Mart wedding cake! No joke...) and not very photo-worthy (in fact, the few pictures we have are really horrible, which still makes me incredibly sad every time I think about it.)

When I listen to friends and family's wedding plans, and see their beautiful photos and how well they plan everything out, I realize how weird in today's culture Matt and I were as we stepped into married life - we were two very poor, shy virgins with zero pizazz and a lot of awkwardness who decided to step forward in faith that God would honor the blessings he promises to two people who honor Him in their relationship. It was so important to Matt to honor God with our relationship from the very beginning. I can not even start to express how thankful I am for that about him. It has meant everything, and has been a rock I have leaned on over and over when times have been tough.

I tease him every so often for how "unromantic" he was in our dating relationship (his proposal consisted of handing me my ring in his old F-150,) and how horribly awkward it was to have our first kiss be in front of all our family and friends at our wedding (I'm cringing thinking about it!) But what he did give me, was the very real assurance that fancy words and stylish weddings meant nothing to him in comparison to how much honoring Jesus in our lives together meant. That's why I chose him. That's why I still choose him! It's why I have every hope and confidence that we'll be together till death separates us. And I can attest, with all sincerity that YES - God does keep his promises. His blessings are real and so much more valuable than any physical or material thing in the world.

(Though I always will be a little sore about my (lack of) wedding pictures...) ;-)

(And if you do decide to wait until your wedding to kiss, and it's HORRIBLE, don't panic too much about it - a little practice and you're golden.) ;-)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

We're Going On A Tree Hunt

Another weekend over, another week closer to Christmas, a cast free baby and a new year!

These are some pictures from two weekends ago, when we went to a local tree farm to cut a tree, (something we have not done since we moved to Michigan almost 3 years ago!)

The pictures made me laugh out loud as I edited them, because they are SO deceiving. You would never believe while looking through them that Oona threw a major, loud, ugly tantrum for about 90% of the time. Or that Olive and Silas wouldn't stop fighting over who got to sit in front of the sled, who got to pull the sled, who's tree was "better..." As we got ready to get the hell out of there leave the farm after tying the tree up to the top of the van, Matt and I each shut a sliding passenger door, and as the eardrum-popping noise of three children wailing angrily died away a guy in the car next to ours yelled "WHOOO-EEEEE, I SURE AM GLAD I'M PAST THOSE DAYS!" I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I laughed.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Last Mile's The Hardest

This girl's tenacity and determination never fail to awe me. She's a champion.

"How's it going with Oona?" I get asked this a lot. The answer is: "it's complicated."

I look back on the last 10 weeks with a mixture of pride and shock - "yeah, we did this!" And, "Oh my gosh, how are still we doing this?"

To be honest, we're having an especially hard week as I write this, which may be the reason I feel like I need to write, which conflicts me because I don't want to just write when things are bad. I don't want to give the impression that it's ALL been bad. There's been a lot of grace. There's been a lot of incredibly powerful, wonderful lessons learned. There's been some empowerment, and a lot of being broken and humbled.

But there is some bad. Lately, Oona's been suffering a lot, and it's hard to join her in that while not being able to do anything to really help. She can't sleep. We're woken up several times a night to screams of mighty frustration as an itch or cramp tortures her. Sometimes a little soothing gets her back to sleep. Other times it's so bad her body is rigid and tense, and she won't relax for hours. There's a constant wondering of "could we be doing something different to make it better?" To give her ibuprofen with her tylenol or not? Are we doing her pillows the best way? Should we give her the bottle she's demanding that she really doesn't need? Do we let her cry for an hour, or get her up so everyone else in the house can sleep? Matt and I are extremely exhausted, and it brings out the worst in us.

When I'm REALLY tired, I start getting irrational. I feel it creeping up on me, the way you start to feel icky when a cold or flu is coming on. I get jealous of people I love. I get bitter about how unfair things seem. I get snappy and impatient when I should be gentle and understanding. I get extremely anxious that everything important around me is going to fall apart, and it will all be my fault. I start irrationally feeling like everyone is counting on me to meet their needs, and I don't have enough of myself left to give to anyone, and all is hopeless.

We've got 18 days left with the cast. We're in the last stretch, yet these next two and a half weeks feel insurmountable to me in this moment. So I'm trying to be really intentional about inviting Jesus into this weakness, even as my sinfulness and anxiety rapidly try to erect walls of self-dependence in an attempt to keep Him out. Funny after all these years, and all that my brain knows about needing Jesus when we're weak - it's when I'm weak that I seem to continually shut Him out. "It's my problem. I can fix it myself if I do a,b and c..." My heart has a hard time trusting and believing that He'll walk beside me, that He is who He says He is.

18 days left, and I'm trying to embrace them with hope and faith in the promises of God, instead of wishing them away.