Monday Confessions, on a Tuesday

Hey there internet friends! I am working hard on getting back into my Monday Confessions series. It’s a great place for me to keep up with all of you in between photography posts. I hope all of you find your summer off to a great start. We have hit the ground running with an out-of state wedding the first weekend the kids done school and then traveled to the shore for part of last week in between photo jobs.

I have to say that I am daily wrestling between the need to try to enjoy my kids and to get work done in this busy season. My kids keep saying their really annoying SpongeBob quote, “the inner machinations of my mind are an enigma.” I laugh because these confessions are basically sharing the “inner machinations of my mind!” SO there you go, Patrick and SpongeBob can be deep right?! (Insert kid humor because that’s where I am living these days!)

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  1. I am hooked on Annie F Downs Podcast That Sounds Fun, because it is the summer of the Enneagram. Have you heard of this personality typing yet? What number are you? I would love to hear from those of you also learning about the enneagram. I definitely recommend these episodes, which will take a “number” or personality type for each episode and break it down. It’s not only so helpful with learning your own heart, but also in relating to those around you. It can really help explain motivations and fears. Start here with Suzanne Stabile and her explanations in this episode!

  2. I confess that in seasons when we are all too busy, we are grumpy. Does this happen to you too? May was truly an insane schedule for our family with little time off for anything and both the kids and grown ups were feeling down. How do you build in some rest or put guards on your schedule? I think it’s especially hard when you work for yourself (insert my personality type that thrives on trying to get things done.)

  3. I confess that the older I get, the more I despise how other people drive. Is that weird? Can anyone relate? I have been watching so many aggressive driving behaviors lately on the roads and I am like “hello, can you not see me trying to safely drive my 4 children here?!”

  4. We have been big on BLT sandwiches for dinners lately. It’s perfect for summer with the fresh tomatoes and an easy dinner that doesn’t heat up your whole kitchen (unless you fill your entire house with smoke like i did last time…burnt bacon smell, delicious!! Haha) Anyhow, I would like to share the game changer when I made the herb mayo from the Magnolia Cookbook . Here’s the recipe below from Magnolia Blog, enjoy!

    Creamy Herb Dressing

    ingredients
    1 cup mayonnaise (or 1 cup plain greek yogurt)
    1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
    1 cup chopped fresh chives or green onion
    1 tbsp fresh flat-leafed parsley
    1 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon
    1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
    2 cloves chopped garlic
    1 tsp ground black pepper

    1 tsp salt
    1 cup sour cream

    instructions
    In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients (except the sour cream) until smooth. Add sour cream and process until blended. If not using immediately, refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days. (This dressing can be made the day before. Just cover and chill.) Yields: 2 cups

  5. I met Robin Roberts briefly at the Phillies Game last Wednesday! How fun is it to meet someone in person who shows up every morning on your tv screen? I have admired how she has handled a lot of things, including sickness, publicly.

Meeting Joe Biden

Last week I had a phone call that changed my week. I was contacted by a family who was holding a small ceremony to honor their father/grandfather for his service to both the country and the world, as his health is failing. He served faithfully in WWII and then came home to serve locally in his hometown in Delaware. Part of his Delaware connections and influences included Joe Biden. This connection with Biden had survived the decades, which is why it was touching to the family that Biden wanted to attend the pinning ceremony for their family member. I want to protect their privacy at a sensitive time but I wanted to share a few images of getting to meet and photograph Biden last week, especially considering him announcing his run for the presidency this morning.

Biden is very warm and personable, which explains his popularity through the decades. He joked with me about photographers being the only ones all over the world to “boss around” world leaders and they have to listen. He also teased that whenever photographers say “just a few more shots,” that we are never telling the truth. It made me laugh and brought levity to the moment when I felt a little under pressure.

He also shared something his mother used to say that stuck with me. She apparently used to say something to the effect of, “courage is the most important virtue because without courage, none of the rest of the virtues will matter.” I can imagine that advice served him well in life, when things got tough or odds seemed impossible. He has survived much loss in his lifetime and yet continues in public service. Although I wouldn’t necessarily politically align myself with a lot of his stances, I certainly was drawn to his person and character. It will give me a lot to ponder heading into the voting booth in November 2020.

I am thinking on all of this today, after visiting the U.S. Constitution center in Philadelphia yesterday. I have to say, it’s a powerful place. It reminded me yet again of the brilliance and beauty of our system of government. It reminded me of the continued fight for equality among U.S. citizens and a striving from those very early days of our nation to create a strong central government, while protecting personal freedoms. The opening lines of the constitution are so powerful and lay out the purpose of our federal government, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” May we all consider these words as we work toward that more perfect union and work together to bring about things such as justice and domestic tranquility.

*images cropped to protect privacy*

Signing copies of his book     Promise Me Dad

Signing copies of his book Promise Me Dad

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My visit to Notre Dame Cathedral, September 2018

““And if you wish to receive of the ancient city an impression with which the modern one can no longer furnish you, climb--on the morning of some grand festival, beneath the rising sun of Easter or of Pentecost--climb upon some elevated point, whence you command the entire capital; and be present at the wakening of the chimes. Behold, at a signal given from heaven, for it is the sun which gives it, all those churches quiver simultaneously. First come scattered strokes, running from one church to another, as when musicians give warning that they are about to begin. Then, all at once, behold!--for it seems at times, as though the ear also possessed a sight of its own,--behold, rising from each bell tower, something like a column of sound, a cloud of harmony. First, the vibration of each bell mounts straight upwards, pure and, so to speak, isolated from the others, into the splendid morning sky; then, little by little, as they swell they melt together, mingle, are lost in each other, and amalgamate in a magnificent concert. It is no longer anything but a mass of sonorous vibrations incessantly sent forth from the numerous belfries; floats, undulates, bounds, whirls over the city, and prolongs far beyond the horizon the deafening circle of its oscillations.

Nevertheless, this sea of harmony is not a chaos; great and profound as it is, it has not lost its transparency; you behold the windings of each group of notes which escapes from the belfries. ” 
― 
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Side view of Notre Dame from down on the bank of the Siene

Side view of Notre Dame from down on the bank of the Siene

The view out my window, right over my bed. Every afternoon a violinist would play right there in the shadows of the cathedral.

The view out my window, right over my bed. Every afternoon a violinist would play right there in the shadows of the cathedral.

Early morning light

Early morning light

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View in between towers

View in between towers

Some of the famed gargoyles and statues

Some of the famed gargoyles and statues

The spire that fell in yesterday’s fire

The spire that fell in yesterday’s fire

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A gargoyle’s view of Paris

A gargoyle’s view of Paris

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The bells in the bell tower

The bells in the bell tower

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Of course “Our Lady” is just as stunning at night!

Of course “Our Lady” is just as stunning at night!

Yesterday evening, a spark grew into a flame and forever changed the facade of Notre Dame, “Our Lady,” Cathedral in Paris, France. She has seen a lot of human events in her over 800 years of existence, some of which marred her. My hope is that the fire, although drastically changing her, will not forever damage her. Her history is linked to those like Joan of Arc, Henry VI of England, and Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon is said to have revived much of the cathedral, as well as Paris, after being in disrepair . So much beauty and history exists in this same place. It’s often a spiritual place for people of the Christian faith from all over the world. It stands near “kilometer zero” of the French highways, meaning it is the literal center of things.

I am just thankful that I got to see it this past September in the form that it has stood in for so many hundreds of years. When I studied in Italy one summer in college, a professor told us the saying that the church was central to every life in Europe, considered a part of “birth, life and death.” A church was where you were baptized at birth, you celebrated things like marriage in life and then of course, held a funeral at your death. We can look at Notre Dame and think about the many lives it was a part of. We will have to look at this fire as the beginning of the next chapter for her and see what lies ahead. I know many will join the efforts to restore and support the revitalization. The thing about Notre Dame is that it took over 300 years to complete in the first place, so those who embarked on starting the cathedral never saw the finished product. It took a work of faith to build something that one would not see in his lifetime.

Monday Confessions, 5 things to stop doing in order to produce more Joy!

I don’t know about you friends, but January usually finds me trying to slow down and take stock a bit about what’s important. It’s sometimes a forced change in pace. The winter weather keeps us in, the hustle of the holidays are over and things are just generally slower for me in business. I need this “reset” so badly but I also find myself resisting it. So, instead of resolutions of things I need to start, I’ve actually been thinking about some things that I know I need to stop doing in order to allow for more joy in my days!

Listen friends, I am taking this advice as much as I am giving it. I’ve been wrestling with chronic stress and insomnia (see also “Mommy Burnout” by Dr. Sheryl Ziegler) so these are things I need to stop as much as anyone to gain fresh joy and perspective in my life, as well as my health.

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

1. Stop over scheduling: This seems self explanatory but we all need to take a good look at our schedules, especially as we head into spring and a new season. Don’t try to jam in too many things for yourself or your family. Kids need margin too. They need free play and even, boredom. I know how much it causes me to get frazzled when I am rushing everyone around and nothing puts disappointment on a kids face like telling him he has to rush off somewhere instead of getting to play outside with friends/siblings.

“Busyness is a byproduct of our culture. It is the sacrifice we make for our religion of more, for our perfectionist tendencies, for our temptation to over schedule, over inform, overprovide.” - Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

2. Stop Comparing: We all know the saying that “comparison is the thief of joy” and yet so many of us live constantly trying to see how we measure up. I think this affects each of us differently, but it can be everything from body image, to clothing style to our home or kids…It is any area of life that we find ourselves comparing and lacking. Don’t do this to yourself. If you find yourself comparing, take a step back and ask yourself why?

“There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” -G. K. Chesterton

3. Stop wasting too much time on internet: See above about the comparing issue….so much of this springs from our internet culture. We don’t all need to know what the housewife in Wisconsin is baking or decorating or wearing today. It’s not that all these things are bad things, but it’s just that it takes up time and mental space that you could devote to other things in your days. Set a timer if you need to or remove apps from your phone. A big help is turning off notifications so that you aren’t getting dinged constantly and beckoned to come look at your phone. I promise more days with less internet will bring your heart joy.

“Deep breath. Are we all inhaling intoxicating Pinterest fumes? An oxygenated reality? And if so, can we call it true inspiration? The definition of inspiration is the drawing of breath, an inhalation, a gasp. A filling-up that offers an abundance of energy for your day, for the task, for that project, for this life.”

- Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

4. Stop acting like you don’t have power to change: I heard a podcast the other day talking about maintaining a family’s schedule and the interviewer said, “it feels more like the family schedule controls me than I control it.” I do understand this feeling for sure, but a question arose while I listened. Are we not in control of what we choose to fill our lives with? We truly do have the power to change things if they aren’t working for our lives or families. If nothing else, America is certainly the land of choice. We have options about schools, jobs, foods, etc. We can change things that aren’t working. Does that mean it’s easy? No, it most likely won’t be easy. I can revisit a lot of feelings from early last year when we contemplated moving…it was by FAR not easy and 2018 was the year that tried to kill me, but now sitting on the other side of that journey in our new home, I can see it was worth the huge change. This idea of the power to change can apply to all kinds of habits, from our health to our housework, so don’t be afraid and start small! One small change can lead to big differences over time.

5. Stop with the frantic: I know all these suggestions here are like a spiderweb that all connects at this point, which they do. This frantic part though, it’s not just a pace but the frantic part is a mind set. Frantic has you thinking, “when your mind has to work seven steps ahead instead of just being where you are, because this deadline’s coming, and the laundry has to get done before that trip, because you can’t forget to pack snowpants for school, and you need to beg for more time on this project. Again…Good things like efficiency and multi-tasking go off the rails so far that sometimes I find myself running in my own house, shuttling things from room to room like my life is a timed obstacle course. This is insane.” (excerpt from Shauna Niequist, Stop Hustling and Get Your Life Back).

I find myself getting like this all the time, worrying about everything from big decisions like education all the way down to what is for dinner. It’s not like we can escape a lot of these parts of life, but we can make room for more slow time and quiet. It’s the opposite of what culture teaches us constantly, which is to dominate, to hustle, and to succeed at all costs. Sometimes “success” needs to just being to slow down and play with our preschooler on the floor. Our souls need a lot more of that type of interaction than the constant hustle. As I am exploring my serious need for rest and a change of pace, this is not only a preference issue but an absolute necessity for me. I need to change out of the frantic if I am going to find health again.

I hope you hear my heart on this Monday morning, we are in it tougher. What are some things you need to STOP doing in order to create more joy in your days?



Monday Confessions, MLK Jr.

Life has brought us to mid-January and a day to reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr’s life and words. It’s interesting how his words always seem timely, no matter the situation. When a life is lived with character and dignity like his was, it has a much more last impact than so many of the flash-in-the-pan type people we see rise to notoriety today. I know that I have reflected on this before but years ago I went to the civil rights museum in Memphis, TN (the site of the former Lorraine Motel when MLK Jr was shot). Visiting there was such a powerful experience and will stay with me. It made me examine my own heart and think of all the ways I can tend to think about people just because we are different. I think also as a young white female in America, it made me face some truths I didn’t like.

I confess, I had never read MLK Jr.’s speech on Washington in it’s entirety until this morning (or if I had, I had forgotten, or quite possibly in the naiveté of my youth, I didn’t understand it’s profoundness.) So many of his urges for change are still quite relevant and necessary in 2019. It had me thinking also of the current work of Bryan Stevenson, lawyer, advocate and author of Just Mercy. As I had the privilege of sitting in a room to hear Stevenson speak last year, it was not only powerful but personal. He urged us all in the room to get proximate to these issues, issues that make so many of uncomfortable or issues we tend to just try to ignore. Proximity to real struggles forces us to deal with them. We can no longer claim ignorance to the injustices going on around us. If you haven’t yet read his book, run don’t walk to the library or to Amazon to get it. EVERY American should be reading this book, in my opinion.

So what can you do today in honor of MLK, Jr? Ask yourself, was there a time when I didn’t speak up and should have? Are there ways I have allowed thoughts or feelings based not on truth of us all being God’s children, but allowed thoughts of prejudice? What are ways I can move towards others who are different than me? How can we contribute to the movement towards a more equitable America for all?

“‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Monday Confessions, 2019

Maybe you were like me and were waking up to the first Monday of 2019 with calendars and to-do’s swimming in your head or maybe you too just need the reminder of the sunrise. I was letting the thoughts swirl and then I looked out my window to see this sunrise. It’s a reminder to me that a fresh day is dawning, full of new mercies.

“Anxiety is an expensive habit. Of course, it might be worth the cost if it worked. But it doesn’t. Our frets are futile. Worry has never brightened a day, solved a problem, or cured a disease. God leads us. God will do the right thing at the right time. And what a difference that makes.” ~Max Lucado

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So as we have new beginnings for the year and for the day, just remember the creator of it all is here with us. We can set goals or make changes, but he’s meeting us with grace all along the way.

Monday Confessions, a few favorite things

December is in full swing and it got me thinking about a few of my favorite things I’ve been loving lately. I thought this is the perfect spot to share, not necessarily as a gift inspiration but maybe as some ideas of things that might encourage you in this hectic but sweet season.

Here’s what I am loving…

  1. Our new home. It has started taking shape as a place that we not only live our daily lives but we are starting to make memories. It’s been a CRAZY year for us in 2018 with making the decision to move, but finally being in our new home and settling in for the holiday season has been sweet.

  2. Come Let us Adore Him devotional from Paul David Tripp. This book has a reading for each day of the month, allowing us to focus on one aspect of the advent season. It also has a bible tie in and a central idea if you want to chat about it with your kids. I am first to be distracted by all the “to-do’s” of the season and daily life busyness, but this is helping me to remember the big picture of Jesus coming to earth in flesh.

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3. Simple Addiction Leggings are amazing. If you are/were a Lularoe fan but no longer have a local rep, these are an amazing and affordable, very similar option. I love the plain black but I do have a fun holiday pair as well.

4. LIIFT 4 Workouts are also a new favorite. I am beginning week 3 of the plan this week and it has challenged me but is getting me back into a good routine. It’s 4 workouts each week and none of them are more than 40 minutes. It’s a combo of lifting and hiit, which is my favorite combo. (Remind me I said that when I get done this post and have to head to the basement for my workout!)

5. Dunkin Donuts coffee is always a favorite of mine and right now if you have the app, they’re doing a great fundraiser with a large hot coffee that’s only $1.49 for the customer, while Dunkin’ donates 50 cents for every coupon redeemed to regional food banks. SO basically it’s win, win. You’re getting a great and inexpensive cup of delicious hot coffee and helping your neighbors in need. “Help Roast Hunger!”

6. I recently got hooked on the show Nashville, I know that I am WAY late to the party. I had heard Kimberly Williams Paisley talking about it on a podcast (she played a character named Peggy in the show). I decided to check it out and got hooked right in! If you love country music with a side of drama, it’s a good show. And I mean who doesn’t love Connie Britton?! (Tammy Taylor for president!)

7. SO earlier this week I lamented on Facebook that I wasn’t excited about our elf returning this week BUT I have had a change of heart over this little guy. I was wisely reminded that our kids are growing up so fast and in fact the oldest two are on the verge of not believing so I am taking this little guy as my nightly reminder to savor the season with the kids. They excitedly wake up each day to see where he is or what he is up to!

Our elf “Jerome” hanging out in Macy’s stocking today

Our elf “Jerome” hanging out in Macy’s stocking today

8. Have you heard about Iceland's “Yule Book Flood” tradition on Christmas Eve? A holiday where you hop in bed to each chocolate and read books is totally a holiday tradition that I can get behind! What books are on your wish list or your gift list?!

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I hope you have a wonderful week and December is giving you great reasons to be thankful. Share some of your recent favorites with me in the comments!

Monday Confessions, It's been a while

Hello dear friends, I know it has been a while. I wasn’t sure if any of you were even missing these weekly installments of things on my mind in between photo posts, but I have been assured that a few of you appreciate these posts! So I have decided it’s better to just hop back in than to keep skipping. The thing is, I can’t even describe the level of tired I am feeling this morning. It’s been months of moving, transition, changes, surviving and then moving again. My whole family is feeling the tired seeping into our bones. When we decided last April that we were going to put our house on the market, that started the wheels in motion to first the prep and eventual selling of our house. That led to having to move everything we owned into storage and living with family while we found and then waited on settlement for the home we are now in. Then of course that meant moving again on the heels of the holiday season.

I think the very hardest thing is that daily life doesn’t stop for you in the midst of huge changes like this. Kids need need 3 meals a day, clean clothes and a place to sleep at night. It’s hard to keep the juggle of daily life while finding the energy to try to do everything else well. It’s not an excuse, but certainly a reason that this blog has been a big neglected. I have been steadily working photography jobs but have been hit or miss with posting. In this constant sifting of priorities, I am sure that I mess it all up sometimes but as I remind my kids, “I am one person and I am doing the best I can.” I am thankful for this little corner of the internet where I can share my life and work! So without further ado…here’s what I confess today…

  1. I confess that I don’t like time change. Even with the autumn “adding” an hour, it basically has just made my 3 year old away at 5:15 every day and we are all over it. I think the time change has added to my general exhaustion.

  2. I have been awful at self care since we put our house on the market earlier this year. I am slowly getting back into better and consistent routines like workouts, reading, and sleep…sleep has been a hard one. I got a migraine on Saturday evening which I had felt coming because of the stress, lack of care for myself and lack of sleep. My body tells me when I need to take a step back from the stress and find ways to take care of myself.

  3. I just hoped in on a reading plan with She Reads Truth on thankfulness that started today and I am looking forward to leading up to Thanksgiving week. Trying to focus my heart and mind on the right things first in the day, can help the rest to get done.

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4. I got some questions about my hair yesterday so I thought that I would post here. First, thank the fall weather for the humidity going away! Lower humidity makes a huge difference in my hair type. The other tools contributing to good hair days are Aussie 3 minute miracle, heat protectant spray and my Hot Tools 1.5” gold curling iron. Use heat spray before the blow dry and using the 3 min miracle every few days is helping the condition of my hair after summer and color processing. Use the curling iron to curl away from face in a few inch sections. My favorite hair tutorial blogger is Kate Bryan at Small Things Blog.

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5. It’s Veterans Day, which should give us all pause to thank a veteran in our lives. I am thankful for those who have protected our freedoms and been committed to preserving the lives we enjoy.

Service is selflessness--the opposite of the lifestyle that we see so much of in America today. The things that entertain us don't often lift us up, or show us as the people we can rise up to become. The people who appear in this book--and others who did things I can't talk about--are my role models. They quietly live out the idea expressed in the Bible (John 15:13): "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 
― Marcus Luttrell, Service: A Navy SEAL at War

Here’s to Monday confessions being back in the rotation! What are some things you’d like to hear from me? HeHave a great week!

Monday Confessions, Summer of Moving

    Good morning internet friends, how's the heat wave treating you on this second day of July? As I sit and write, we are temporarily moved in with family as we await moving into our new home later this summer.  I can truly say I understand why people put moving right up there with grieving. It's exhausting both mentally and physically. We have everything in storage and will have to move again once it's time to settle on the new house. I am currently mentally preparing to have to do it all again! BUT I cannot say enough that I am so thankful that we sold our previous home very quickly and everything went smoothly. I am also extremely thankful that we have family willing to let us stay for the summer!  

   June was a blur but we were very lucky to escape to North Carolina for the first week of the month before we had to do the big move so I thought I would share a few of those images with you this morning. It's a sweet time for me to try to slow down time and reflect over all that is changing and growing this summer. For those that have followed me for a longer time, my twins turned 9 on Friday! It's amazing how the time passes and yet I am trying to live in the moment even in all the transition. Have a great week and stay cool! 

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Monday Confessions, with Sadness

    It's with a heavy heart I share the news that Gianna passed from earth to heaven on Saturday night, surrounded by her family. I did not feel like this was coincidence as we all sat in church together yesterday morning crying and praying for her family. We were gathered as a church within hours of her passing. It's hard to explain, especially to all the kids who have been praying for her. She got her miracle and healing, but it just wasn't this side of heaven.

Oh what an ache her family will walk through in the days and weeks and years to come, noticing that empty seat at the table. So many would ask why would God allow this sweet little soul, a Chinese orphan with a literal broken heart, to come to know a forever family, only to be taken from them in such short years? I admit, I have wondered this myself. Her family has shown so much faith, even as they wrestled. They are now in mourning, yet it is not without hope. 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34: 18

Gia's mom, Johanna, shared again today the long but beautiful story of Gia becoming a part of their family on her blog if you would like to read it. So it is with a heavenly perspective I will try to live out this week and be reminded that Gods ways are not our ways.

If you have been following the story and felt led to give to help with the extensive medical expenses, go here to do so.

Photo Cred: Gia's family 

Photo Cred: Gia's family 

Monday Confessions

   Hello friends, I know it has been a while and forgive me for that! I have found myself in the buys swirl of life with four young children and a business. How is spring treating you so far? I say spring, but it's basically felt like an eternal winter here in the Northeast but I digress. I thought it a good time to confess a few things about what's been going on with me lately! I'm starting today with a heart of gratitude, remembering that I have so many things that I once had only prayed for. 

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1. If you've been following on Facebook, you've seen me share some posts on a sweet young girl from our church named Gia, who is still currently in the fight for her life in Boston Children's Hospital. If you are a person who prays, please lift her up if you can today. Lots of decisions being made in regards to next steps and her exhausted parents need our prayers! (This is on 3 weeks of being on life support and so many complications). 

Photo credit: Stephanie Leight 

Photo credit: Stephanie Leight 

2.  I confess that I have been trying to find a better routine/rhythm for workouts that just "whatever I can fit into the week." In all honesty though, I have basically just been trying to fit in at least 3 or 4 workouts a week but I know I need to do more to see results. I have been doing a mix of my old favorite T25, classes at the Y and running outside. What's been your favorite workout to keep you motivated lately?

3. I am SO late to the party but I have been watching episodes of Friday Night Lights and The Good Wife on Amazon prime. It's a good mix of high school football theme drama and an intriguing legal show..both serve as great shows to fold laundry to :) And now I totally get the "Tammy Taylor for President" vibe now! What are you watching these days?

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4. I am starting the potty training process with my youngest and I feel like we are both half hearted about it but it's time to try. What worked best for you with potty training? 

5. I am trying to drink more water and am enjoying LaCroix. Are you a water drinker? How do you jazz it up so that you don't get sick of just plain H20? 

I hope you have a great week ahead! 

Monday Confessions, it's March

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     Oh March, you "came in like a wrecking ball" for sure and we have the roof damage to prove it. Was anyone else affected by Friday's crazy storm here in the northeast? It's already later in to the day and I've been working on editing as well as life/house stuff so I'll keep it short but I've been missing my Monday Confessions posts lately! The big excitement around here is that we got a new niece yesterday and I can't wait to meet her, Makenzie Elizabeth! Our kiddos are excited to have another cousin and I am looking forward to some baby snuggles :) 

So here's what's on my mind today...

1. I went to a killer boot camp workout this morning which actually put in to question whether or not I am "in shape" at all! I realize that levels of fitness are different for everyone but whew, she tried to kill us through burpees, squats and weights. I hope that I can get up off my desk chair after writing this! 

2. My most favorite recent book I've read is Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng. It's beautiful writing and characters with a bit of 90's nostalgia and I found myself lost in the story. Definitely put it on hold at your local library or get it on your kindle if you are looking for a good spring break read!

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3. Speaking of Spring Break....my kids break starts this Thursday! They are excited and yet I see snow in the forecast so it's just not the "spring" feeling I was wishing for but we will have to find some fun adventures anyway to make it a good time off. 

4. My favorite Spotify channel lately has been the "afternoon acoustic" or Johnnyswim on repeat. What music or vibe are you loving these days?

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5. I got these TOMS for my birthday and I adore them. Wedges look put together but are still good for a mama chasing a toddler. What are some fashion favorites you're looking at this spring?

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I hope you have a beautiful week full of sunshine and coffee, two of my other favorite things!!

Xo,

Emily 

Monday Confessions, New Year 2018

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     As I sit here on the first morning of a new year, my coffee has gone cold and it's only a whopping 8 degrees out. I confess that I did not necessarily do everything I set out to do in 2017. If I am really honest, I feel like 2017 raced right over me. It truly has been the fastest year of my life. I remember clearly sitting in a coffee shop the week before the end of the year last year filling out these pages of hopes, dreams and goals for 2017...but what I really felt like happened was I just held on tight for the crazy ride!

I think the best way for me to start this year is to look at what the 2017 intentions were and see how I did! These were 5 intentions I set last January and here's my res

1. Self-Care needs to be a better priority - I think this needs to stay a goal for me. Getting back on track with water, exercise, sleep, vitamins and showers :) I am only half kidding here about the showers... being a mom hasn't gotten any easier this year, just different as the kids age. The only way we will all survive is if I survive! I want to get back into a morning workout routine and set weekly goals. 

2. Spiritual focus- I do feel like I made some progress in this area and read through several different series with She Reads Truth.  I know that this element of my life has to stay a priority to keep everything else in balance. 

3. I want to be committed to the creative process this year.... fail, fail, failed on this one. I struggled to just be creative when not forced.  I did get to be a part of a great photography workshop in April that was encouraging and helped me create for the fun of it. It would be good for me to find another workshop to attend in person or online this year. The in person aspect of the April workshop allowed me to make some new friendships that I have valued this year! 

4. Renewal in relationships... I'm not really sure how to "measure" this one but I know it needs to remain a focus for me, especially with my immediate family. Allowing my family to act as a mirror to my own heart is important. I need to grow in how I relate with them and not grow complacent. 

5. Keep reading... I haven't kept a count but I was pretty consistent in reading this year. I read through a lot of non-fiction, which I want to balance out with some fresh fiction this year as well. I  learn so much from reading and if I am honest, many days come and go without adult interaction other than talking to Matt. That can be really hard on my naturally outgoing personality. Reading is a way to feed my brain and soul even if I sometimes find myself isolated in my little family world. 

   I just finished reading Wonder and saw the movie with the kids! If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it and then see the movie too, totally worth it :) Great book to start the year on!

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First Day of School 2017/18 Year

        As I write, I just sent my 3 big kids off to school for the first day of the year! They all went to bed excited for today. My little first grader had magical confetti under his pillow from his new teacher and it just overjoyed him! My one third grader who will remain nameless did not sleep in ONE day this summer, yet I had to wake him for school today. Go figure right?! It is still hard for this mama heart to believe that my little 5 & 6 pound twins are third graders, but I'm also enjoying their growth and development. We are absolutely blessed with the best teachers at their school, so I know they're in good hands all day! Here's to a new school year and I will leave you with Dr. Seuss for inspiration, 

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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First Grade

First Grade

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Monday Confessions, Thoughts on Charlottesville

    I was absolutely horrified standing in my local coffee shop early Sunday morning to see the images coming over the newscast from Charlottesville, VA. My heart hurt and those I was standing with all vocalized the horror of such actions by hated-filled individuals. I got my coffee and I had a but of a drive ahead of me, which allowed me to think for a few moments on the events. It led me to thinking of some  my travels as a college girl. There have been two places in the world I have stood, where my feet were rooted to the ground and my heart was pierced, knowing to my core that racism in any form was wrong. One of those places was abroad and one here on U.S. soil.

    The first spot I speak of was in Germany, where on a freezing German winter morning as a young college student, I toured Dachau concentration camp with my travel mates. Everything about that place is somber and makes you contemplative. You can almost hear the screams and you certainly can feel the heaviness of such a place. I remember walking around bundled up in my sweater, coat and warm boots thinking, "how could anyone survive this weather in a thin cotton dress or shirt," as many who were taken there did. As we toured through different areas just taking in the place and knowing what kind of atrocities happened there, I felt it in my soul that racism was wrong. All those who suffered there at the hands of the Nazis had no crime other than simply being different. 

    The second place a couple years later that my heart felt the same murmurings was at the Civil Rights museum in Memphis, TN, which was previously the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. The feelings and stories emerging from that place felt even closer to home. This was how American brothers treated one another. I found myself hurting for our history and wondering how we would continue as a country to move forward with better race relationships, but more than that I was asking myself, "would humans ever learn to treat each other better?" 

    Unfortunately as far back at history is recorded, there are stories of one people group being against another or viewing another group as superior. We cannot though, treat this type of behavior as acceptable. I read an article yesterday that better sums up this idea than I ever could so I will quote Dr. Mohler here. "But Christians must see much more than the lessons of history, though we dare not miss them. We must see claims of racial superiority–and mainly that means claims of white superiority–as heresy. That is not a word we use casually. Heresy leads to a denial of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the eclipse of the living God as revealed in the Bible. A claim of white superiority is not merely wrong, and not merely deadly. It is a denial of the glory of God in creating humanity—every single human being–in his own image. It is a rejection of God’s glory in creating a humanity of different skin pigmentation. It is a misconstrual of God’s judgment and glory in creating different ethnicities."

      God created us ALL in HIS IMAGE and we do well not to forget that. I know this problem often feels so much bigger than any of us, so what can we do? We can literally love our neighbor. I am thankful to live in a very ethnically diverse neighborhood and have many relationships here. I can also continually teach my children that to treat someone differently based on them being different (race, gender, ability etc) is NOT ok. We can raise our children to be a different generation and we can all pray to root out any kind of deep-seeded misconceptions or prejudices in our own hearts. As these prejudices surface in your mind, confess them and ask God to take them from you. We have to all be committed to doing the work to make it better. May you find a little spot of joy this Monday in loving or serving someone different than you!

Monday Confessions, Early Summer Favorites

  I know it's not officially summer until Wednesday this week but with the kids out of school, it has already felt like summer for a week and a half! I have been in full swing mom and business mode while trying to balance it all out. Unfortunately I still think balance is a bit of a myth, but I've learned to pick a focus for the day and try to get to at least that particular priority. If I am honest, there's always things at the end of the day that will just have to wait for tomorrow! For today's confessions I am going to share five favorite things I've been enjoying so far this summer!

Reading Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: If you haven't read this classic since childhood, I recommend it. (And then watch Anne with an E on Netflix!) I confess that I watched the beautifully done Netflix series and then revisited the book. The opening credits alone to the Netflix series is a gorgeous montage of paintings. Give it a look and check out the book :) 

The sequence is based on eight custom-made paintings by artist  Brad Kunkle , and created by Imaginary Forces, the design-based production studio.

The sequence is based on eight custom-made paintings by artist Brad Kunkle, and created by Imaginary Forces, the design-based production studio.

"Chore" Charts: which are really more like a plan to control the chaos and motivate the kids to keep to a simple routine. I am loving this version that a friend shared with me that covers basic morning tasks to allow kids to earn privileges like screen time. Any type of complicated chore charts, I know we will ditch before the week is out! 

From Erin @ Erin Farell Photography

From Erin @ Erin Farell Photography

Pedicures: Plain and simple a little relaxing and quiet while walking away with pretty toes is always a favorite! Plus, who can say no to the massage chair?!

Doing Something for others: Some advice I heard recently was to "put something on your calendar each week that's not about you and serves another person." I've been putting this into practice the last few weeks, simply trying to think about it on Monday morning. I ask myself, "who is someone that I can serve with a practical need this week?" This is not a brag on me AT ALL and in fact, this practice has been doing wonders on giving me an attitude adjustment when I need it most. It reminds me of others who need the help because maybe they are walking through a rough time. A simple meal or delivery of needed items can be a huge encouragement to someone who needs their spirits lifted among the practical help! 

She Reads Truth summer reading plan I have said for many years that as soon as I neglect my spiritual side, it's not just my faith that suffers. Engaging with the bible and prayer on a regular basis not only feed my soul, but helps my entire being to stay in balance. Having solid and regular doses of truth intake can help me keep perspective in even the toughest situations. All this being said, it also regularly reminds me of my own sin and need for repentance. I know this is a healthy process, especially as I seek to mother 4 children way this summer with everyone home each day. Even the simplest seeming things can instantly get overwhelming while dealing with two 8 year-olds, a 6 year-old and a 2 year-old. Three meals a day anyone?! :) 

Monday Confessions, It's May!

        It's May this morning and I hear the birds singing! It looks like a warm day ahead here in DE and I'm hoping the fog burns off to see the sun. Are your Monday mornings full of a  to-do list that sometimes feels daunting? Mine usually are. So here I sit, with my warm cup of coffee and just taking it one thing at a time. Here's whats on my mind to confess...

1. If you've known me for some time, you know that I swear big earrings can make an outfit (or distract you from a boring outfit or a tired face :) I am currently loving the leather earrings from Nickel and Suede  and I just wore these champagne shimmer earrings over the weekend. You know I also love supporting small, family run businesses which this particular business is!

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2. I am currently listening to XM Radio's channel 61 called Y2K country. Don't laugh, it's amazing! It's all the songs I used to listen to in college and there's nothing like driving with the windows down singing Wave on Wave  by Pat Green. You should try it!

3. I confess that I am not always a huge fan of our fast paced technology driven world but I have been cracking up this week as my 21 month old climbs up on the couch and says "Lexa.." to try to give our echo dot Alexa some directions. 

4. I confess that chasing my 4th toddler in 8 years has been challenging lately. He is oh-so-cute but oh-so-feisty! It's a tricky time of him trying to insert his independence and explore his surroundings all while having no real sense of danger. It's been nice to get outside to play but chasing this kiddo is wearing me out!

5. I confess we are really missing having a dog in our family but I am trying to be realistic about the amount of living things I can take care of under my roof. I keep torturing myself looking at puppies available or dogs for adoption. I am just hoping that the right thing will eventually come along but we are just not in a position to rush into getting a pet. The kids definitely know how to get to us, like our kindergartener telling us, "We were talking about the pets we have at school and I don't have one any anymore." Knife to the heart right?! Ha.....

Well my lovely friends, I hope the week that lies ahead is a good one for you! Hope you see some sunshine today! 

Monday Confessions

Hello friends, welcome to a new week. Is it possible that we are already into the last full week of April 2017?! Our house has definitely been dragging this morning a bit. Benjamin decided to just lay on the kitchen floor as soon as he came down stairs. I sort of feel the same way after a full weekend! I've already had a full morning as well with a photo session and wrangling my beloved toddler (thank goodness for friends who help you with your kiddos so you can work)! 

Inspiration image from the most recent  Magnolia Journal

Inspiration image from the most recent Magnolia Journal

You ready for my confessions? Here we go...

1. Saturday was rainy and plans were canceled so we spent and entire day cleaning out our basement! I know this is probably horrifying to some of you because how could people need to clean a basement for an entire day, right? Well for the last 5 and half years, the basement has been a collect all. I apologize in advance to our garbage collector and the earth but I feel SO much better with a lot of things gone. We took a truck load to goodwill as well! Whew!

2. I heard a quote recently from Winston Churchill that resonated with me, "America always does the right thing, after exhausting every other option." That is a lot of us right?! Trying to do the right thing but checking out all of our options first. (Anyone else watch the Crown on Netflix?!)

3. What good books are you reading friends? I just finished Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons. It was a good read! Book review blog post hopefully coming soon...

4. I confess that I'm digging these light gray jeans with the open hem bottom for spring. What do you think?

5. Speaking of clothing, I am SLOWLY but surely getting back into smaller sizes so I am in a big need of a closet organization and spring is the perfect time. I'm going to check out the latest Magnolia Journal with Joanna's tips on closet organizing (Can't I just trade my closet for hers?! :)  Nothing would fit me but her jewelry but I would love to try ;)

Here's to a great week ahead friends!

Monday Confessions, Apple of Your Eye

    I was trying to get in some morning reading yesterday before the morning chaos but it just wasn't happening. I got the kids settled and my first cup of coffee made, only to come across this quote from exactly a year ago on my phone. I don't know who to give it credit for but it was absolutly the most timely words I needed to hear. 

"If you’re running yourself crazy trying to be more and acquire more, to the point where your children are a distraction rather than the apple of your eye, is it worth it?

Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6) "

     I've been thinking this over for the past 2 hours and it's hitting me hard. It's a longer story than a blog post, but wrestling with motherhood, calling and priorities has been a constant in my life over the last 8 years. Even getting away overnight last week to the Seasidebride Workshop, I was wrestling with these questions. The above bible verse seems to be giving me some clarity, in that it is better to have a little less (insert material things, success, etc) than it is to have more of those types of things and be constantly stressing. The whole idea that I could be treating my kids as a distraction instead of the main subject is pretty convicting. It is my prayer this week that I can start to see ways in which I allow this mentality to creep in and pray that I would be shifting more to a heart posture of keeping my family the main focus. I think it's even more meaningful that this is Holy Week, the week of the year where we remember Jesus' last week in human form on earth.

     Obviously all the other things I am responsible for are really important as well, like teaching and this very photography business, but I need to make choices to keep my time well spent and my sanity in tact. Busy mom friends, how have you found ways to keep the correct focus? (I won't even dare say "balance" because I don't think that exists!)  

       Here's a cute iPhone shot from yesterday's egg hunt and Easter bunny visit! (I had all 4 kids there by myself so there was no chance of me having my big camera and chasing!) Hope you have a beautiful week! 

Eater Bunny visit 2017

Eater Bunny visit 2017

Monday Confessions, Thoughts on slowing down & a few blogs I'm loving!

     It's surprisingly Monday again and honestly, the last few weeks have been a blur of days. I or someone in my home has been sick for three full weeks. I have personally gone through the flu, bronchitis which then morphed into a sinus infection and horrible ear infection. I will spare you the other details of what I have been dealing with but can I just say that I am ready to be well?! The calendar turned to spring this past week so I am hoping the weather cooperates and we can all get healthy. This winter has truly been the most sicknesses I have ever had as an adult in one season. What is all this illness revealing to me? It has been showing me the need for rest.

    I think we all mistake a full, busy life with a life of meaning, which is far from the truth. We "push through" even when ill and think that there's some imaginary award for being tough. I've been forced to try to rest and recover, but it's been a stuggle. I'm really slow to learn on this one. I've read lots of recent books on this topic, yet I haven't put it into practice. So in this season of basically being forced to rest, I am hoping I am learning more of what matters day in and day out.

"If we want to live a Wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play, and we must learn to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth." - Brene Brown , The Gifts of Imperfection

  On a totally separate note, here are a few blogs I'm loving lately! 

The Small Things Blog - I've followed Kate Bryan for years. I love her personal style as well as her home and other things she shares. I've even made this delicious coffee cake recipe she shared not too long ago! 

Image from Small Things Blog 

Image from Small Things Blog 

 

Joanna Gaines (of course! Who doesn't love her?!)

Image from Magnolia Home

Image from Magnolia Home

Young House Love's recent post on lighting fixtures has me itching to do some updates! 

Images from Young House Love blog

Images from Young House Love blog

One Little Momma - accessible style for moms (although I don't think I would try the overalls thing! It's cute on her but I am just not built for it!) 

Image from One Little Momma blog

Image from One Little Momma blog

Emily Ley's recent post on book suggestions!  

Image from EmilyLey.com

Image from EmilyLey.com