Wednesday, May 30, 2012

One thing I try to live by

"Don't live to _____, _____ because you lived."

You could probably fill in the blanks with lots of different things, but there are two things I fill them in with personally.

"Don't live to take pictures, take pictures because you lived."
"Don't live to blog, blog because you lived."

I never, ever, ever want my life to be fake in any way. I want to live, truly live, each moment to the fullest, and I take photos and blog/journal to remember the realness of it all, not the other way around. There is a big difference. (There is absolutely no condemnation here for people who love to do both, I'm just talking about what our motivation is, and how I never want to try to portray life as anything other than what it actually is...)

There are lots of times when I just have to put the camera down, try not to stress about capturing it, and just join in, seeing it all through my eyes and not a lens. Sometimes it's when I'm having the most fun that I forget to take any pictures at all. And that's ok. Sometimes the sweetest of moments just can't be explained, so it's never written down. And that's alright. Obviously, I love to take pictures, and I love to journal. But at the end of the day, I'd rather have lived it all to the fullest than have a perfect photo album.

There's more I could say, but Drew is handing me a truck and wanting me to drive it with him, so I'm gonna go live a little. ;)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Olivia Grace

I took these newborn photos of this sweet little girly almost two weeks ago, but with our crazily busy lives the past week and a half (all four of us in a wedding two days ago) I am just finally getting the time to post them. 

Zac and Carly welcomed Olivia Grace into the world after an incredibly long labor that ended in a c-section for Carly. But they couldn't be more proud of their little sweetheart. They are a blonde and blue eyed couple and I don't think it would be possible for their babies to not be adorable. Olivia is already a little beauty :) When Zac and Carly got married at the beach they had their picture taken in front of a ship named Olivia Grace. I love the inspiration and wish I could share that wedding photo with you too, it is so precious :) Here are a few of my favorites from the morning we spent together. 

Peonies and Carly's wedding pearls in the background. 

Holding Carly's mom's ring.

In honor of their love for the beach we dressed Olivia in her little pink ruffly bathing suit and took some photos of her on a beach towel... good practice for her, as I'm sure she'll grow up to love the beach too! :) 

It was so beautiful watching Carly with her baby girl. Being in their quiet, peaceful house with their firstborn sleeping baby took me back to my first few weeks with Drew. Every baby is special and wonderful, but there truly is something so unique about the birth of your first, the learning together, being able to just rock and snuggle your little one all day long without any interruptions, every sigh and movement of their tiny fists something so completely new. I know Zac and Carly will be amazing parents, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to meet and photograph their baby girl. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Matron of Honor Speech

Last night my speech went something like this:

I have known Brittany since she was in middle school. We went from me being the girl who stole her big brother, to friends, to sisters, and I love her so much. We have had many, many sleepovers, and after lots of talks about boys, and what she was looking for in a future husband, I am here today to say that Tre, you truly are the man of her dreams. You are everything she ever wanted, and we all love you and are so happy to have you be part of our family.
Watching Brittany grow up and go through lots of seasons and changes and become a beautiful, godly woman, there have always been three things that stayed the same about her no matter what else was going on. Number one, her love for Jesus. Number two, her love for singing. And Number three, her joy. Any of you who have spent much time with Brittany know that it can be the simplest of things, but on any kind of occasion/outing/get together Brittany is known to look around with a big smile on her face and say "isn't this so much fun?!" So today, Brittany, on your big day, your wedding day, I have just one question for you: "Isn't this so much fun?!"
Will you all please join me in a toast, May God richly bless and pour out His favor on your marriage, to Tre and Brittany.

I got pretty emotional. I love this couple so much, and I am so happy for them.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bachelorette Party and a How To

Weddings!!!! Ah I just love them! I am so, so honored to be the matron of honor for Shaun's sister Brittany's wedding that is TOMORROW!!! It has been so fun being a part of all the pre-wedding prep and fun, but the couple of days leading up to a wedding are always my favorite. The anticipation, the fun, the dressing up, the events...

So last night was the bachelorette party. Three Phases of Girly Bliss :)

Phase 1: Manis/Pedis

Me and the bride's toesies :) 

Phase Two: Dinner in the City. Courtyard, brick, waterfalls... perfect atmosphere. Add in some quality Q&A time with a tasteful (even Biblical!) spin and it was a super meaningful and bonding time! :) 

Bridesmaids with Brittany, missing Tre's two sisters who weren't in town yet.

Our whole group. The night wouldn't have been the same without a single one of these amazing girls! I had so much fun with you all! 

My sissy :) 

The bride with her.... burger! 

pretty food... 

More group photos

The gorgeous bride to be in the bird cage veil we made her wear part of the night :) 

Phase Three: we went back to Brittany's parents house and had a "married girl attire" shower. Then pride and prejudice. I told you, girly bliss. For sure. :)

Now the "How To" part... 

Besides just giving Brittany "married girl attire" I also made her a keepsake. It's a good and fairly inexpensive way to make a personalized and meaningful gift for someone. You could give this to someone for a wedding gift, or even wait and give it as a first married Christmas or birthday gift after the wedding. 

What you need: 

Picture frame or shadow box of desired size. Mine was a black 11x17 frame. Invitations/mementos from wedding events. (I included two shower invitations, engagement announcement from the newspaper, save the date card and wedding invitation. If you waited til after the wedding you could include their program too) Fabric/scrapbooking paper for the background. (I used leftover lace and pink fabric that I had from decorating at her shower, so even the background is from something wedding related, which I thought was cool.) 

Finished Product:

I couldn't have asked for the bachelorette party to go any better. Thank you to all you girls who helped make it so special for Brittany!! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ethan James Patrick

My cousin David and his wife Shirley recently welcomed their second baby boy into this world. He is a little sweet heart and I had the privilege of taking his newborn photos. I just love their little family. Their marriage is a living example of true love, overcoming difficulties, what it means to make a real life and real love committment to marriage, to family, to each other, to their boys. They are an amazing team, and I love them so much!! So, without further ado, I present sweet baby Ethan. :)

David and Shirley are both athletic, and I imagine their boys will be someday too. So here's to little athletes in training :)  

Perfect little lips!! 

Brother shots: 

And I have to share this one too, just because I think this photo is hilarious and a true representation of how little brotherhood can be sometimes.... 

Congratulations little family of four!! Your boys are so precious, and I hope these photos will bring back lots of fond memories someday :) 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

on being a big sister

Is anyone else out there the oldest in your family? Or maybe not the oldest, but do you have younger siblings?

I love mine. So much.

My baby sister is 4 years younger than me. It took us awhile growing up to come into the "friends" stage of sisterhood. We fought over toys, bedroom space, and other typical kid stuff. I used to make her pay me to play barbies with her. But once we became friends, and not just sisters, I had the sweetest life in the world. Because, sharing a room, it was like having sleepovers with your bestie every night growing up. We had room rearranging parties, and pride and prejudice snuggling parties, and laying out by the pool parties, and girly salad making parties, and lets-just-sit-and-talk-about-every-meaningful-thing-in-life parties.... and lets not forget shopping parties. :) I love her so much. She made me love being a big sister, she has given purpose to my life as I try to live out a good example for her, she has made my heart so full when she comes to me for advice, and I've learned to always ask God for His wisdom before I try to speak into her situation. She just graduated from Liberty University in 3 years, and we were able to be there for her graduation last week. I'm so thankful. She is amazing. She's turned into this gorgeous girl with an awesome sense of humor, and makes everything in life into an adventure. She went from my little sister to this heel wearing, grocery shopping, professional job applying woman who drops by my house and runs errands with me. And I'm so thankful for her.

And then there's my baby brother. Goodness gracious, I can't even type about him without getting this sentimental, squeezing in my heart cause it's bursting with love for him feeling... He is the best. I was seven when he was born, and I guess it's typical of oldest daughters... you kind of become like a second mommy by nature. I used to tuck him into bed, and answer his questions (not always with the best answers... he knows what i'm talking about...) :) we had special snacks i would make when i babysat. He went from my baby brother, to towering over me almost over night. He's so big and athletic and handsome. I wish so badly I could've gone to more of his football games last fall (newborn baby makes it tough to be out late in the cold...) But besides being so all boy, he's got this awesome sensitive side to him and I LOVE talking to him. Plus he's been a better cook since he was five than I am now. (And if he's reading this he's probably laughing and shaking his head and being all embarrassed that I am praising him so much) He's conscious of people's feelings, and he's an awesome gift-giver, and he has the most contagious laughter in the world. And everything about him just makes me smile and feel so proud to be his big sister. He's graduating highschool so soon. I can't believe it. And I love him to death.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hearing the voice of the Lord

On our beach trip with our friends Nat and Salena one of the things we talked about was hearing the voice of the Lord. We were saying that if we can teach our kids one thing, it would be that. Because if they can hear the voice of the Lord for themselves, they are set for life.

I think sometimes we think that prayer is a one sided conversation with God. And honestly, that's probably why a lot of people think it is boring or pointless to pray. Have you ever had a one sided conversation with a person? You know what I mean, where you are pouring your heart out and they are just nodding along, their eyes looking just past you, offering nothing back, no council or advice, no hug, just waiting for the conversation to be over so they can move on to the next thing... It hurts having conversations like that. As a matter of fact, my tendency is to shut down, and not talk to that particular person about anything deep or anything that truly matters to me for quite a while. God is SO the opposite of that. He cares MORE than we do. His heart is moved by what moves us, he holds us in the palm of His hand, he is our defender, our counselor, our shelter... He wants to be our all in all. There are not one sided conversations with God. He talks back.

So, if we don't always hear an audible voice coming out of the sky, how do we hear Him?

I spent 6 or more months in a small group with awesome mentors, Doug and Becky Hershey, when I was a senior in highschool. Every Saturday night we met and learned what it means to hear God's voice. And we practiced it. We practiced listening. Listening is a skill we are often not naturally good at. It takes patience and self-discipline and quietness to truly hear another person. It's the same with God. If His holy spirit is in us, there is a quiet voice of wisdom that speaks inside of us. We just need to get all the other voices that shout over Him to stop talking and listen up.

In our small group we would put on worship music, close our eyes, and just sit and listen. It is amazing how clearly I heard God speak to me during that season. I am actually in another season of hearing Him very clearly right now too... and I love it so much. I can't move, can't function, can't make decisions if I can't hear His voice.

In my recent Bible study on Jonah one little sentence stood out to me from the whole thing, and it was not meant to be a major part of the study, but it was for me. It said that prophets are chosen based on their sensitivity to the voice of the Lord. This means we all have the ability to hear Him, but some make themselves more sensitive to it. I want to be constantly in tune to Him, I want to hear every single whisper of His heart that I possibly can.

Have you ever had lyrics to a song stuck in your head that seemed perfect for the situation you were in? Have you ever noticed a certain sign or advertisement over and over again? Have you ever felt like a sermon was written just for you? Have you ever felt a peace you just can't explain in the midst of hard times? Have you ever heard something resonate within you that you know you didn't think up on your own? Or maybe you felt a premonition about something you were about to do, and knew you shouldn't do it... There it is. The voice of the Lord.

I pray my boys will be able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to them. He is the best counselor there is. When I don't know the answers, he does. Lord make me into a listener. And help me teach my boys how to hear you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

this morning

Sitting on the back porch in the breeze, Drew and I just finished lunch at the picnic table, Isaiah is sleeping and now Drew is spying through our fence on the neighbors.... Zion is my little shadow at my feet. Just wanted to take a few minutes to remember this morning.... 

Isaiah woke up early early, not quite sure what time because when I don't have my contacts in I can't see the clock, but it was just barely starting to be light out. I went to get him from his crib and he was all wet from a leaking diaper (probably what woke him up) so I changed him and since it was so warm I just put him in a diaper and nothing else and brought him to bed with me to nurse him back to sleep.

What I want to remember is his sleepy smile, his half closed baby blue eyes as he laid in my arms and looked at me. Just the two of us awake, his rolly little arms and baby soft skin. The way he fits my side like a little puzzle piece, his one arm draped across me holding onto me. I usually fall back asleep at night while I feed him, but because of the early morning light and the fact that I could see him I just laid there awake looking at him, smiling back at him, loving the feel of my baby next to me.

He's growing up though. I'm not sure when it happened exactly, but he sits in a highchair and feeds himself, and takes baths in the big tub with drew, and says mama all the time, and has filled out fluffy blonde hair and a sense of humor.... I am savoring the baby moments I have left with him. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

little kids seating, a milking stool make over :)

I'm kind of in love with little kid sized furniture. We got Drew his faux leather arm chair for his first birthday, and he has a little antique red rocking chair my parents gave him for his second birthday, plus a little table and two chairs from pottery barn that were a Christmas gift to him from my parents. There is just something so cute about seeing him sitting in a tiny little chair just his size coloring, rocking, watching movies.... I love it. :) Enter my most recent little project. Shaun's parents own a dairy farm and his grandparents still live in the original farm house. One day when I was there last November I brought a few things from an old shed home with me. An old wooden window pane, several wooden crates, and an old, rusty milking stool... I used the wooden crates on my back porch this spring [you can see them here] And I have plans to clean up the window frame and turn it into a mirror. This past weekend I finally re-did the milking stool. 

Here it is before: 

And after: 

I used two big sheets of sand paper, and it took a little bit to get it sanded down smooth, maybe a half hour. Next I hosed and wiped it off to remove dirt and dust, then I used rustoleum spray paint in this beautiful blue color and gave it two coats of paint. Drew loved it before, when it was rusty, and he kept trying to bring it in to the house from the garage, but he really loves it now :) 

It's the right size to pull up to his little table if we need another seat, but I'm planning on keeping it in the bathroom so he can reach the sink to brush his teeth and wash his hands. But I could also use it as a plant stand or a step stool for him to get into bed. I keep thinking of more uses for it.... Besides the fact that it was free (other than the spray paint) and it now gets to be used again, I love that is has some meaning too since it is from Shaun's family dairy farm. :) 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

my favorite poem ever

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

E.E. Cummings 

[Hint: if it seems like nonsense, read it again knowing that anyone and noone are two 
specific people who fall in love. most beautiful love story ever.]

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

little quirks

can i just start off by saying i LOVE quirkiness??!!

I especially love it in my babies. I just have to jot down a few of the cute things Drew says so I don't forget...

When he wants a piece of candy or teddy graham or gold fishy and I give him one, the next thing he says is "Mommy, I need one too!" (even though there is already one in his hand...) I think what he is trying to say is "Mommy, I need one, two" like he wants another one and is counting how many he wants.

If he is remembering something we did or saw and trying to tell me when it happened he always says it was "nas ight" (last night) even if it was a few days or weeks ago.

The past few weeks we have had exciting things to look forward to on fridays. Now whenever Drew wants something he looks at me with a smile and raised eyebrows and says we're going to get it on Friday. Including when he asks for a baby sister. When I tell him not yet, he says "We gon get her on Fwiday!" with a big grin. (I would be more than happy to have a baby sister for him someday, I'm just not ready yet!!!)

Two other little phrases that are very much a part of Drew's speech are "nuh one" (another one) and "wiss way" (this way)

I also love that he refers to himself in the third person all the time. And his little hand motions/mannerisms? Oh they are too precious! If he is trying to describe how big something is he puts both hands straight up in the air and touches his little finger tips together a few times while he says "it's big one!" in a growling voice. For some reason the more dramatic he wants to make something the more growl he puts into his voice. :) It's adorable.

He never says the word little without putting the word tiny after it. Nothing is just a "little" thing, it is always a "ittle, tiny" thing.

I love that when he speaks to Isaiah or Zion his already high pitched voice goes up a few more notches still.

I love that he practices words before he uses them in sentences, and I will hear him in the other room repeating something over and over trying to get it right.

He is becoming such a little character, such a boy, with his own ideas and habits and quirks. I adore his vocabulary and having a little buddy to talk to all day :)

**added later**

grill=girl, crill=curl, and he says earbubs instead of earlobes....

also since i wrote this i have noticed that when i speak to drew i always say little & tiny together. guess i figured out where that quirk comes from....

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

the beach in april

We pretty spontaneously headed down to the beach this past weekend with our friends Nat and Salena and their two kids. Nat planned the weekend getaway as an early surprise birthday gift for Salena. She didn't know we were coming along until we met them at a Wendy's on the way down. I was happy she was happy! haha. We had a BLAST! These days relaxation is hard to come by, and our weekend away was wonderful.

Drew's little feet in the sand :) 

It was overcast and chilly our first day, but the rain held off and there were some AMAZING kites being flown out on the beach. Our babies looked pretty stinkin' cute digging in the sand in their little hoodies... 

And speaking of cute babies.... It was Isaiah's first time ever on the beach, and I hope is was the beginning of a long and lasting love between the two of them. Hehe. I am a MAJOR beach lover, and Drew and Shaun have  joined me in my love.... I think Isaiah is well on his way :) 

This photo is the evidence :) And look at those gorgeous blue eyes!! AHH! I love him :) 

First touch of sand. 

Our second day was PERFECT. Sunny, seventies, warm and breezy. We walked the boardwalk all morning and stopped for a few photos at the end. 

Nat, Salena, Alexia, Kaden, and baby boy :) 

Our little family at the boardwalk. 

Us girls! So glad we took this! 

You would think that with two double strollers full of cute babies people would make a fuss. However, all of the fuss was made over this little guy. So much so that I got a bit over whelmed and almost don't want to take him back out in public... I jokingly told Salena that next time were gonna have to bring a pad of ink so we can stamp his paw and he can sign autographs... 

Drew, demonstrating what NOT to do with a cannon... 

Love their darling little faces :) 

There is so much more that I didn't capture, like the kids jumping on the beds like crazy and giggling their little selves breathless the first night, sitting on the beach snuggled in sweatshirts and enjoying good company (with a sleeping baby on my chest), and breakfast at the kitchen bar talking about all kinds of God stuff, seafood buffet dinner, four napping babies and an awesome game of settlers of caton in the afternoon plus take out lunch and funnel cake (yum!! and definitely the most relaxing part of our trip), delicious appetizers and coconut muffins at harpoon hanna's.... the list goes on. Needless to say it was a fun time and we are so thankful we got to do it!