Sunday, December 29, 2013

Miller Family

This was a one of my mini sessions from this fall that we kept secret until after the Miller family had sent out their Christmas cards and given gifts using these photos. It worked out perfectly, I was excited to have a session to save for later and post now while I'm still taking my little photography break... I loved how these photos of Scott, Jamie, Cameron and Cole came out and I was so excited to get a Christmas card from them with some of these photos on it :) So fun to see how my clients end up using their photos and the creative things they do with them. :)

Thank you guys so much for trusting me with your family photos. :) I loved how they came out. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas House 2013

Christmas 2013. Jaden's first. This year has been so much fun with Drew and Isaiah getting a little older and being SO excited for every little piece of Christmas tradition. Drew seriously was ecstatic to set up our Christmas tree, both of them had a blast running around the tree farm we went to with my parents, and they both have been singing frosty and Rudolph the red nose reindeer and jingle bells and happy birthday Jesus together morning to night every day it seems... We've gotten two snows already and it's snowing again now and that just makes it all even more magical :)
 So here's our Christmas House...
Two things I decided this year as far as d├ęcor goes... To try to keep it simple and natural, and if I don't love it, I'm not using it. (You know, like that table runner you have, but don't really have a good spot for, since you have something else already on the table... don't force it to be used somewhere else... or that garland that you hate, but hey, it's a Christmas decoration, and you already own it, so you have to find somewhere to drape it.... right??? wrong! At least that was my mental dialogue this year.)

I love hanging these gold ornaments out in the tree in our front yard each year. Last year we had a spotlight shining up into the tree at night. But the bulb burnt out. And we didn't buy a new one. (Keeping it simple...)

I used lots of different evergreen branches from Shaun's parents' house in my decorating, and we used real garland on our porch too... Love it so much for than the fake!

So, so cozy at night... the pictures never do it justice.

We usually hang strands of white lights along the roofline of our house, but it just didn't happen this year... random last minute thought I decided to frame our living room window with them inside :)

Living room in the day light. Decorated with real greens, white candles, and some fur accents... 

Favorite "mantle" ever... And so simple. I made the sign just before Thanksgiving, and Drew even helped me paint the canvas black and rub the chalk on. I made it using the same process as I did here. Inspired by a pillow sold by Pottery Barn. But if you read my last post, then you know it's a lot more than just a pretty sign to me. 

My nativity is up on top of our tv cabinet, partly because it's a nice surface space for it and partly because it is safe from little hands there... ;) 

See that beautiful, gigantic basket tucked between the cabinet and the chair?? I am in love with it for the fact that it holds all our throw  blankets and isn't overflowing even if I don't fold them... I had been wanting one like this for a while. Finally found it for 19.99. (And it was at Home Goods!) 

And that beautiful wreath that's peeking into every picture and making them all look more festive cost me $2 to make. I got a green wire wreath form from AC Moore, some fun ribbon, free ever green branches and pom pom yarn I already had and this was the result. Love, love, love. (Also, it's hot glued to the ceiling.... yeah.)

If my computer was not being ridiculous right now and not letting me upload any more images I would show you the two end tables in the living room as well. All I have uploaded is this one close up shot of one of them though. I used real furs that I've had since I was in second grade I think, layered them on the table, filled a wooden bowl with nuts and got the lovely textures and natural colors I was going for super easily. There's also a $3 grocery store white poinsettia on the table as well. 
(I moved the little glass jars with more ever green branches in them to my window sill over the sink in the kitchen)

Dining room buffet. I would have loved to have a little live Christmas tree here again this year.... But I have a new baby, and three kids now... so... keeping it simple and letting things go... ended up using leftover branches from the wreath project and put them in a fun big glass jar I found in Shaun's great aunt's garage last year, and tied some of the ribbon from the wreath project around it in a bow. 

Our basement family room is where we set up our tree and hang our stockings. I took pictures of those as well but can't get them to upload right now either... :( But, since I'm letting things go, I'll post this anyway. Maybe I'll add those photos later if I can. 

Merry Christmas!! 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Speak Life

This is not an ordinary "look how my mantle is decorated" post. (Although it's probably my favorite one I've ever done, just because I love the simplicity of it.)

This is about the sign on the mantle. And about the power of words in our life. I painted the "All is calm, all is bright" sign about a week before Thanksgiving and was so happy with how it came out. I didn't paint it because all is actually calm in our home these days. (Believe it or not it's FAR from it sometimes!) I painted it because I want to remain calm inside despite whatever is going on around me. Call it my personal motto for this season in life. I'm tired of letting external factors and the emotions of those around me dictate the state of my spirit.

I love my three baby boys with my whole heart, but I'd be lying if I said that having three little boys four and under was easy. It can be stressful and exhausting if you let it be. But that steals the joy right out of it to be in that mentality. There is so much JOY to be found in having three little boys all home with me right now too, and I don't want to miss it. So when all three are crying at once, or somebody hit somebody, or I just put the baby down so I could make the other hungry boys lunch and the baby gets woken back up and is screaming and I can't make lunch very fast with just one hand while rocking back and forth to soothe the baby and I can't hear myself think because those other boys are breaking the sound barrier with the level of noise that has just errupted in our house (and yes, I know that you don't break the sound barrier with noise, you break it with speed...) And I feel like I could scream myself, this is what I start to think:

"They are all safe. They are healthy. They are clothed. They are about to be fed. There is nothing to be seriously upset or worried about. Don't let yourself get all bent out of shape right now." And then I drown out the noise in my own head with whatever worship song comes to mind first. Or I pray. Sometimes silently, sometimes out loud. Sometimes with a sense of humor, sometimes with my emotions barely hanging on by a thread. And those words of worship, or prayer, or praise have the power to change my heart, change my emotions, and change the atmosphere in our home. And that sign is a reminder on my wall to choose to be calm. To choose to make our home "bright".

The amazing thing is, since hanging it up, and since making it a point to be the calm anchor in our home rather than being drug around by the changing emotions of toddlers, our house has become much more calm!

I heard this song on the radio the other day and just loved it. Here are the lyrics:

Some days, life feels perfect.
Other days it just ain't workin.
The good, the bad, the right, the wrong
And everything in between.

Though it's crazy, amazing
We can turn a heart with the words we say.
Mountains crumble with every syllable.
Hope can live or die

So speak Life, speak Life.
To the deadest darkest night.
Speak life, speak Life.
When the sun won't shine and you don't know why.
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted;
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,
You speak love, you speak...
You speak Life, (oh oh oh oh oh oh) You speak Life. (oh oh oh oh oh oh)

Some days the tongue gets twisted;
Other days my thoughts just fall apart.
I do, I don't, I will, I won't,
It's like I'm drowning in the deep.

Well it's crazy to imagine,
Words from our lips as the arms of compassion,
Mountains crumble with every syllable.
Hope can live or die.

So speak Life, speak Life.
To the deadest darkest night.
Speak life, speak Life.
When the sun won't shine and you don't know why.
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted;
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,
You speak love, you speak...
You speak Life, (oh oh oh oh oh oh) You speak Life. (oh oh oh oh oh oh)

Lift your head a little higher,
Spread the love like fire,
Hope will fall like rain,
When you speak life with the words you say.

Raise your thoughts a little higher,
Use your words to inspire,
Joy will fall like rain,
When you speak life with the things you say.

Lift your head a little higher,
Spread the love like fire,
Hope will fall like rain,
When you speak life with the words you say.

So speak Life, speak Life.
To the deadest darkest night.
Speak life, speak Life.
When the sun won't shine and you don't know why.
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted;
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,
You speak love, you speak...
You speak Life, (oh oh oh oh oh oh) You speak Life. (oh oh oh oh oh oh)

You speak Life, (oh oh oh oh oh oh) You speak Life. (oh oh oh oh oh oh)

Some days life feels perfect.
Please listen to it, it will make you so happy :)
Speaking of listening to music, the other night Shaun and I were driving to home group and all three boys were crying in their car seats and Shaun looked at me and reached for my hand, smiled through the noise, and turned up the volume on the radio. He is one awesome husband :)
One more thing to add: I have learned that reading parenting books and getting advice of "what to do in certain situations" from others just doesn't seem to work all that well for me. It leaves me frustrated and upset when it doesn't work like it's "supposed" to. The BEST piece of advice I have ever heard is to take your kids to the Word in every situation, no matter how old they are. Speak scripture. Pray. And I understand why now. It's because the Word has power, it changes things, whether they understand what's happening or not. On Sunday morning I was getting all three boys ready for church and into the car by myself because Shaun was on the worship team and had to go early. As usual, crying broke out as I tried to wrestle them into their car seats in their big coats. "Mommy it's too tight!!" "Mommy my pants are falling down!!" "Mommy, I, tan't, see, my, back!!" and "I, tan't, see, my, chin!!" are some of the sentences that were being yelled through the wailing. My reaction was totally not me, it was the Lord. I just started praying out loud. "God, thank you for these tight car seat straps that will hold them in and keep them safe if we get in an accident. And thank you for car seats, they are expensive and we're blessed to have three of them. And thank you for big coats to keep us warm when it's freezing cold outside. Thank you for this beautiful van to ride in. Thank you for a church family we love, and a place to go to worship you this morning....." As I finished praying everyone had stopped crying, even Jaden. We rode to church in a beautiful, peaceful silence save for the worship music playing on the radio.
Ok, one more thing... In this whole quest for joy and peace to take over me and translate into our home, I have started praying over Drew each morning before we even go downstairs to breakfast. He really can set the tone of our day with his attitude and whether or not he shares or is happy because Isaiah tends to follow whatever he is doing. I have really seen joy begin to take root in him, and his beautiful smile when it lights his eyes is one of my very favorite things to see.
I don't want you to think from this post that my kids cry all the time. They are fun, energetic, happy boys, but they are also 4, 2 and 6 weeks old, and controlling their emotions just isn't even in their field of view at these ages. Whatever they're feeling, they let it out. And for whatever reason they all tend to be feeling the same way at the same time a lot. I mean, what the heck, at twenty six years old I am not all that good at controlling my emotions! Jesus is just doing something in me where I am learning that I just want Him to consume me. Less of me, more of Him. It's so, so, SO much better that way!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lord, I need you

Lord I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the one that guides my heart

 Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

 Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Yes where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

 So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus You're my hope and stay
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus You're my hope and stay
We sang this in worship this morning at church and I just spread my arms wide and closed my eyes and felt the tears under my eyelids as I soaked in this awesome, wonderful truth. I need Him. Oh how I need Him. Every hour I need him.
Lately I've been struggling with comparing myself to others, feeling like I don't measure up, or that I'm not as good, or that I'm falling behind and then falling asleep thinking of all the things I could have done differently that day, all the ways I could have been a more loving mother, or had a cleaner home, or how could I be a better photographer, or a better friend, or wife, or daughter, or sister, or for goodness sake at least tried to look half presentable and like I hadn't just crawled out of bed all day.... Basically coming to the close of the day and feeling like I had failed.
The problem with my thinking mainly lay in the fact that I was trying to figure out how I could do better the next day. How could I think differently, or reign in my emotions more, or pretend like I wasn't exhausted and ready to scream when I was barely hanging on by a thread... As if I, in my own  human weakness, could solve it. All on my own. And the truth is I CAN'T.
I can't do anything to make myself do or be or think better without HIM. My one defense, my righteousness. And when I cannot stand, I'll fall on Him. Holiness is Christ in me. All those beautiful lines. Reminding me that the failure I see is me-apart from Him. And any chance at righteousness or holiness or grace is solely because of Him. I cannot make me better. But if every hour, every minute, every second I need Him, I rely on Him, fall on Him, rest in Him, that's the only way. Somehow realizing that I am a sinful failure apart from Him was incredibly freeing, because of the fact that I have chosen NOT to spend my life apart from Him, and therefore I know that he can heal me, transform me, rescue me, and redeem me even on my very worst, most exhausted failures of days.
I am saved by grace.
 He loved me first.
Christ in me is my hope of glory.
It is nothing I do on my own.
Thank you Jesus.
You are my hope and stay. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hello, Again

I've been super absent here...

Our lap top is waiting for a new battery which, Drew just ran down to inform me, arrived in the mail just now. Shaun is fixing it himself, which is our way with things around here... Fix it ourselves if we can figure out how to. And it seems that living with several little boys in one house, things get broken a lot. A WHOLE lot. But all that to say, it's not too convenient to be running down to the basement and sitting at our desk top to write a blog post these days. I just happen to have a few minutes to myself while the littlest two are asleep and Shaun is watching football in the living room and playing with Drew.

I have so much to say and so little time... I'll start with Jaden. He's 1 month old already... So, so hard to believe. Right about at 4 weeks he started sleeping his first few hours of the night in his bassinette. He's a bit particular though... he likes to be double swaddled, and laying on his side on his boppy pillow. Prior to figuring out this formula he slept in my arms in our bed all night. I'm not complaining though, at least he was sleeping between feedings. He is super expressive with the faces he makes and does the cross eyed baby look all the time. He wants to nurse all the time too.... I'm figuring out how to multi-task like never before when it comes to that... He still has his baby smell, speaking of which, I'm pretty sure heaven is going to smell like newborn babies... Just my personal guess. ;) He is adored by his two big brothers and often has peanut butter smeared on the top of his head where Isaiah has given him kisses during lunch... (Drew's kisses don't leave any residue, but he gets plenty of those too)

Isaiah is getting back to himself more and more now. When we first brought Jaden home he would act out randomly for attention. He's talking LIKE CRAZY and saying long sentences and singing songs and making us laugh more than ever. His new thing is that he puts his hands on his cheeks or under his chin when I ask him to show me how cute he is. Then he tells me to put my hands on my face and tells me I'm so cute too. He loves to make lego creations on the floor and put stickers in his sticker book and read books and watch Peter Pan. He pretends he is captain hook. He'll find something to use as a sword and get in this wide legged stance and scrunch up his face and say he's captain hook while swinging his "sword" back and forth. He loves tementimes (clementines) just like Drew did at this age. He says "t's" instead of "c's" and "d's" instead of "g's" and doesn't say his l's yet. He's awake now and just came downstairs to tell me "I ever don't find my sippy!" Meaning he can't find his sippy cup right now. He's got the best chubby cheeks and the fluffiest blonde hair and I just want to squeeze him every time I pick him up. He feels HUGE now compared to Jaden.

And my Drew boy.... He is the gentlest, most tender big brother to Jaden. He is such a leader, and is always coming up with adventures for him and Isaiah. Sometimes innocent fun, like taking flashlights down in the basement to go on pretend bear hunts together, sometimes conspiring with Isaiah to open the freezer with him if I'm upstairs and get out tons of spoons and finish off the remains of FOUR half gallons of ice cream... then when I'm coming down the stairs I hear him saying "Saiah, RUN!" Yeah. Sometimes things like that. He doesn't like for me to leave him ever, and never wants a babysitter no matter who it is. He's always fine 5 minutes after I go, but it's hard to walk out the door when he's crying for me. He loves to sit on the back of the sofa in our front window and watch people pull out of the driveway whenever we have visitors leaving. He loves wrestling, hide and seek and being tickled... And he still likes to snuggle.

There's so much more I could write to remember about each of them, but I don't have limitless time and I'm trying to just jot down the first few things that come to mind.

So, this first month of having three boys has in some ways our easiest transition, in some ways pure craziness. Say for example all three boys are crying at once. The good news is they have really GREAT lung capacities...but you can't even hear yourself think. But I feel like a good summary of the past month has been lots of days spent at home, lots of them spent in pajamas from morning to night, baby snuggles, learning to set reasonable goals for myself and not expecting to get a ton done in one day, lamp light and early dark, loving bed time routine and story reading time, trying to teach Drew and Isaiah to get along better and not fight over the same toy, praying for patience and the ability to remain calm no matter what is going on around me, and reminiscing about the newborn stage of each of my boys. I feel like these couple of photos sum up our first few weeks in my mind:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

DIY Chalk inspired art

There was a big empty spot on our bedroom wall that I wanted to make a piece of art for. And I thought it would be fun to have a craft day with my sister. Put that together and this is what resulted: 

I love, love, love how it came out, better than I had envisioned it. The words " draw near" were inspired by a song that was on my labor playlist from Bethel's Loft Sessions cd. My favorite part of the song goes "draw near to me for I have drawn near to you. Pull on the strings of my heart for I long to respond to you. And all my love is for you all my love is yours." 
It's such a beautiful song, if you want to listen to it (highly recommend it!) click here
I thought it was an appropriate reminder for our master bedroom... draw near to the Lord, and draw near to each other. 

So here's how I made it in case you want to make something similar. 
You'll need a canvas, paintbrush, chalkboard paint, chalk, a sharpie paint pen and a drawing sealer (or hairspray) 

First: paint your canvas with chalk board paint and let dry over night. Then use a piece of chalk and rub it all over your canvas to give it a true chalkboard feel. Then use either a paper towel or soft cloth to smudge and rub in the chalk. 

Next use chalk to sketch your design onto your canvas. This is great because if you mess up just smudge out your design nd start over. 

Once you've got it looking how you want use your sharpie paint pen to trace over it and shade it in or give your letters a "calligraphy" look. I used to thicknesses of white paint pens and one silver paint pen.  Once you've got your art finished in paint pen let it dry and the using your paper towel again go back over and erase any remaining chalk lines for a nice clean finish. Then use your drawing sealer (or hairspray) to spray the whole canvas and seal it all in place. (this is mainly to keep the chalk dust you seasoned the canvas with in place.) 

I used this same technique to make two smaller monogrammed canvases for gifts for a wedding and bridal shower I had this past weekend. I just signed the backs of these canvases and used them in place of cards with my gifts. I attached twine to the back with hot glue so they could be hung up. 

My inspiration to try this came from a pillow cover I saw in a pottery barn magazine that looked "chalk board-ish." I have not looked on pinterest to see if this has been done before because that will only make me feel un-original if it has... lol. Anyway, it was a fun and fast way to make personalized and unique art for our home, and I hope you have fun with it if you decide to try it. I'd love to see pictures of what you do so leave a comment with a link to your photo if you do make one :) 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jaden's Name

I thought maybe by our third boy we'd be running low on boy's names we loved... Not the case. I love everything about Jaden's name, from the meaning to the way we chose it.

Jaden Saylor 

Drew actually chose the name Jaden. We were on facebook and he loves to look at pictures of other kids. There was a picture of a little girl named Jade and Drew asked who she was. I told him her name and he said he liked it. I randomly said that a boy version of that name would be Jaden, and Drew immediately said "Oh! let's name the baby Jaden!" (At the time he had very passionately turned down any of our name suggestions and his only other contribution had been the name Horton, after watching Horton Hears a Who.) As soon as he said Jaden I loved it and I called to Shaun in the other room to tell him Drew's suggestion. He immediately loved it too (and he never jumps to opinions on names so quickly). I looked up its meaning. Hebrew origin; Jehovah has heard. Sold. 

As for Saylor, I had originally wanted to use it as his first name but thought it sounded too similar to Saiah and Zion and that I'd constantly be saying the wrong name. So we decided to use it as the middle name. it has a lot of significance because of the prophetic words we got over Jaden during my pregnancy. Almost all of them had to do with water. I kept getting a picture oof Jesus calming the storm or walking on the water, and just really felt like Jaden will bring calmness, peace and clarity to chaotic situations and stormy circumstances. My dad felt like the Lord said he will be Healing Rain. And my friend Bethany said she felt like he was going to be a quiet light and would lead people to Jesus without even having to say anything. I kept picturing a lighthouse the whole time she was talking. Shaun chose the spelling for Saylor. 

I really feel like our new little guy is going to have an insightfulness and wisdom beyond his years that will come from the Lord. I just pray destiny and vision over his life that he will walk in his calling and be used mightily by the Lord to lead people out of dark storms and into peaceful light. 

Baby boy, I pray your lips will always speak truth in love, that your feet will walk in paths of righteousness, and that your ears will hear the voice of the Lord from a young age and follow God's calling on your life. 

I am so in love with you, Jaden Saylor, my sweet little peanut.