Ribbons & Bows: Being a Girl-Mom

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If you would have told me five years ago that I would suddenly love all things floral, bows & pink, I would have said you were crazy! I enjoy my fair share of "girly" things, but it wasn't until I found out that our newest baby was going to be a girl, did I start to dream about sparkles, unicorns & different shades of pink.

There was this moment a few years ago, God placed it on my heart that I would one day have a little girl. I knew I always wanted a daughter, and was afraid that because I wanted it so badly that, like a lot of things in my life, God would make me wait. I'm on this constant struggle with the Big Guy as He is always working on my patience. I was starting to get scared thinking that this voice that I heard, telling me I would one day have a daughter, was just my own brain trying to convince myself it would happen. 

I kept praying/pleading with God, telling Him, "If you just give me a daughter, I'll stop begging you for more babies." We were so excited when we found out it was a girl, but it never really hit me until it came time to give birth. In my heart, I prayed for a blonde hair, blue-eyed little beauty, just like her brother, I had this vision of what she would look like, what she would act like. It all felt like a dream, and like I was being greedy for making demands.

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Then as she was crowning, and the doctor said she had blonde hair, I lost it. No way was this dream becoming a reality. Tears of joy streamed down my cheeks, God is so good for giving me those specific dreams of what my daughter was going to look like. I truly believe those visions were from Him. Late at night, I would plead with him to give us another baby, and he would respond with visions of a little girl, in sun dresses and a sun hat, with long medium blonde hair and tan skin. Visions of her beautiful smile, her big beautiful eyes and I could hear her sweet giggle. God deals in specifics. 

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Do you ever wonder, Chicken or the egg? What came first? Did I pray for those specifics because God made me want those? Or did I pray for those specifics and God answered my prayers? I know that He knows us even before He perfectly knits us together in the womb, and these two precious little blessings are more amazing than anything I could have dreamed up! 

I'm the luckiest mama in the whole world! I've been blessed with two beautiful children, and I couldn't love them more! Being a boy mom is AMAZING, and just as equally amazing to be a girl mom! 

My Favorite PENS: Tombow Dual Brush Pens

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I remember when I ordered my first Tombow markers, over two years ago now. I was hearing a lot of great things about these dual brush pens, and I just had to get my hands on a few. So I ordered my three favorite colors, (Aqua, Green & Grey) and of course a basic black. When the package arrived, I ripped open the box, grabbed the pen and started writing. Realizing that my handlettering skills were really not that great, I immediately felt intimidated by these wonderful pens! At the time, brush lettering was not my forte and I knew I needed A LOT of practice. So I wrote that I was exhausted, and then promised myself that I would get better at using these beautiful pens. 

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I don't claim to be the best at using them, and I feel like I'm learning new things every day, but I sure do love experimenting with them, their blending abilities, and just all around their versatility! 

I really enjoy creating with them and I would encourage everyone who is interested in getting into brush lettering to give them a shot! If you've never used brush pens, they definitely take some getting used to, but I LOVE THEM!  

You can get yours HERE! 

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The Classic Black & White: Tombow Mono Drawing Pens

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I have spent many years searching for the perfect drawing pen. Back in college, I had an obsession with illustration and would spend countless hours drawing and trying to create perfect images to scan and digitize, but the pens I would use would always bleed, feather & fray. I could never find a tip small enough that I could get the perfect amount of detail. Now, here I am, almost 10 years later, still in love with illustrating and I finally found the perfect set of pens! 

What is it Like to be Normal?

Sometimes I wonder what it is like to be a NORMAL person. By normal, I mean someone who doesn't try to do it all and knows that realistically there are people who specialize in certain fields for a reason and they are more equipped to complete a task better than they are. I know that I'm not educated in the medical field, so I don't try to pretend that I'm a doctor, nurse, dentist, chiropractor, etc, so I will seek the help of medical professionals when it comes to my health & well being. But I do have a Bachelors of Art & Graphic Design, so in terms of all things Artsy & CREATIVE, I say, "Oh I could do that." And then forget or procrastinate when it comes to doing that thing. Are you wondering what I'm talking about? Let me explain. 

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I'm a professional photographer & graphic designer, so for example, when I have a baby, I find the need to take my own newborn photos and never edit them, forget to schedule a session for family pictures so I can have photos of us all together, say I will design & order birth announcements but really just take forever, and then kick myself months later for not just hiring or outsourcing someone to do all of this for me. 

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I have to still sort through the photos from Verona's birth, Verona's newborn session, her one month & two month sessions, and order & send out birth announcements. In the meantime, I see on social media NORMAL people who have had babies after me have already done all these things. It's hard to have a brain that constantly is telling me that it would be completely normal to add one more thing to my plate. As if Mom, wife, photographer, designer, handletterer, illustrator & now blogger are not enough. 

Being an entrepreneur can be exciting, but some days, the thought of having a normal 9-5 or being a barista at Starbucks sounds like a dream. By no means am I trying to say that those jobs are easy, just probably less tiring than my 24/7 job of being a creative entrepreneur. I promise you, my brain never turns off. Maybe it all stems from my inability to relinquish control over things I know I can do myself. In which case, I don't have enough time to talk about those issues, and they might be best suited for a professional with a comfy couch, rather than me trying to figure out how to cure my control freak mentality. 

Maybe one day I'll order birth announcements, edit my personal photos and possibly design & order albums for myself! But for right now, I'm just going to keep trying to keep my head above water with all this motherhood stuff, and hope I take enough pictures to last me a lifetime! 

Teach-It Tuesday [Fall Decor]

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Fall Decor is popping up everywhere right now, and it has me in the mood to make some projects with my two hands! I bought these wood blocks from Michaels and the come in all different sizes! I had no idea what I wanted to do with them, I just knew that I liked them. So decided to paint it and make some hand lettered fall art! Now, if you've been following along on my instagram, you have noticed that I've been doing video tutorials on how to get started in handlettering! Pencil is the best place to start, followed by using some great fine tip pens! 

This project will put all those skills to work.

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Supplies: (all available at Michaels)
Wood Block
Sharpie Metallic (Silver & Gold)
Black (or white) Acrylic Paint
Paint Brush
Pencil

1. Paint wood block
2. With the pencil, lightly layout the design for your block.
3. Ink in the design with Sharpies
4. Erase pencil lines
5. Style in your home

Here Goes Nothing...

A few years back, I had this crazy urge to start a lifestyle blog. I thought, we are kind of interesting, right? But at that time, we were photographing 20+ weddings a year, I was trying to do it all with wedding invitations, teaching myself calligraphy, photography and trying to break into the world of illustrating kids books. I was overloaded and could barely find the time to breathe, let alone start ANOTHER venture with a lifestyle blog! 

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After a few car ride conversations with Ryan this summer, I (we) have decided that we should give it a go! I've never been afraid to share my life and my story with anyone who is willing to listen. Take my LiveJournal for example, this might be foreign to some of you, but back when I was in high school, it was hip for kids to share their deep dark tortured thoughts on their LiveJournal, listen to Taking Back Sunday, and lean ironically up against brick walls just because. I was THAT kid, the moody tortured artist. I wore berets, turtlenecks, followed indie bands and listened to music that most kids weren't listening to. When I look back on the pages of that LiveJournal, I can't help but laugh, and thank God (and my english teacher) that I finally learned the difference between Your & you're and how to use proper punctuation. 

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And now, 13 years later, I'm back at it, with this same desire to share my thoughts on the internet and hope that someone, anyone might find it interesting, helpful or therapeutic. Heck, I doubt my own mother will actually read this, but if one post makes one person feel a little less alone in this perfectly curated world of Pinterest moms and flawless families, then I'd chalk it up as a success. 

We believe in laughing loudly, loving fiercely, Sunday couch cuddles, bold & bright colors, silly face selfies and everything in between.
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Life is funny, I would say, anytime I have a preconceived notion on a way something should go (Birthdays, holidays, special occasions, motherhood), it usually goes the complete opposite. I wanted to make this mom thing look easy, effortless. I wanted to "do it all"... grocery shopping, keep the house clean, laundry done, kids alive and also run a successful business. Turns out all that is good in theory, and probably possible for someone else, someone more organized but not for me. Which is why last year we made the decision to close our wedding photography business and only take on a few photo sessions each year, being sure not to overload our schedules. And also why I decided to start selling Young Living products, because it's a wonderful business I can do from my home with my babies in tow. I knew I wanted a few small side projects to keep me slightly busy, because as if being a mom to two little kids isn't busy enough! 

Our family is far from perfect, and we have come to realize that our views are slightly less common, but we try hard to be a modern day Pollyanna and choose to find the good in all of life's twists and turns. We would much rather enjoy home-scooped ice cream cones with our kids, as we take a late night stroll around our quiet neighborhood than do anything else. Which is why we wanted to start this blog. We wanted to share our quiet, simple life with anyone that would read to give them permission to also live a simplified life & enjoy the small world around them! So, will you follow along? We'd love to have you! 

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Tombow TWINtone Pens

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Easily my favorite pen company, Tombow recently launched these amazing new dual-tip markers, and I'm OBSESSED! They are perfect for my little illustration projects, doing some faux-calligraphy and also just doodling on a rainy day! 

I'm starting to think I have developed quite a pen hoarding problem over the past few years, but it's been so fun to try out new pens! It's nice getting to try new techniques and products to see which ones I like best! But of course I always come back to my Tombows.

I get asked all the time, "How did you get into handlettering? And how can I?" My answer: I was passionately curious, so I picked up a pen, and just started experimenting! You can't be afraid to mess up, and throw away some paper! <3 

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Here's to 30 Years!

Dear 20 year old me,

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It's me, your 30 year old self. Well, let me start by saying, you will make it past 21, even though you thought you wouldn't. I would like to warn you, Things are about to get tough. Car accident, brain damage, depression, divorce, struggles that your average 20 something shouldn't have to go through, but you will. Just trust your gut and don't let the people around you tell you what to do. God has given you a great ability to discern His voice in guiding you, and even though in the beginning you will ignore His voice and do what is easier, trust Him, He won't steer you wrong.

You are going to have some dark days, days where you feel incredibly alone, abandoned and forgotten. But God sees you, He is with you & is working big things for your life! I know right now you think things are good, but that little voice you hear, telling you that there are better things ahead is right. But you're not going to listen, you're going to go against your gut and you will fall flat on your face. Divorce is really hard, disappointing your family is really hard, but you will get through this.

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God has created a man specifically for you. He will love you, support you in your wild dreams, raise children with you, mourn with you, and encourage you all along the way. He will love you unconditionally and do everything he can to make you happy. Just be patient.

Also, don't sweat the small things. Don't obsess about the opinions or approval of outsiders. They don't matter. Their opinion means nothing, trust your gut and seek the approval of the Lord. The things of this world are trivial and fleeting, but the Kingdom of God is forever! 

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Also, don't stress about having kids. I know later on, you will cry at night thinking that you will never have children after months of trying to conceive, but I promise you, babies will come. And they will take your breath away with how beautiful and perfect they are. Motherhood is even better than you will ever imagine. It's hard as heck, but you will figure it all out. God will definitely step in and help you navigate the rough seas, you'll second guess yourself, cry and be convinced that you are failing miserably, but I promise, you'll be amazing! Don't give up. 

 

Most importantly, relax. Don't take yourself too seriously. Laundry will get folded, plans will fall through or change, you will be disappointed, you will struggle, but you will also experience so much joy. Your faith will increase ten fold, and God will slowly reveal His plans for your life day by day and all will be good. You will experience a new level of trust and faith that you never knew was imaginable! God is so Good and will bring so many wonderful people into your life, and just as easily, He will fade out people that are no longer necessary for your journey. Don't be fearful of change, embrace it with open arms. It's scary and frustrating but oh so necessary!

Now, Just put down the phone, go out and LIVE! 

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An Answered Prayer

My last blog post was my plea with the Lord, asking Him to MOVE. Having Him help me to understand His timing, and to be patient in the journey. After what feels like a lifetime of trying, but really only 19 months, we have received an answer to our prayers. For the past month, we've known about this little miracle growing and taking shape, and we've been BURSTING at the seams with joy and excitement to let the world know!!

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As I type this, I am currently 9.5 weeks, with baby due in July 2017. We've had our first ultrasound and heard our sweet little ones heart beating. I know we are not technically in the "safe zone" and others may find it odd that we are sharing so soon, but after much thought and prayer, we've decided that we will honor this little life early on. We know that many of you have followed our story and our struggle and have been praying for us through this difficult time, so we would just ask that you continue to pray for us and this precious babey. Pray that the Lord is knitting him or her together perfectly in His image and that through our story, others will be able to see the goodness of our Savior and how He provides for us in His time. 

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As Catholic's we believe that life starts at conception, and even if the Lord decides He needs to take this child from us too earl, we still want to recognize his or her existence, and Give God the Glory! He is a Lord of Rescue and Redemption, He makes all things NEW in His Time. 

We want to sincerely thank all of you who have sent emails or messages of love and encouragement, words of advice, or prayers. Your love and support has meant so much to us and we are so excited about this next chapter! Thank you!  

Be Strong & Courageous

It's been a full year since I wrote THIS post about our struggle with losing our sweet little baby last year, and how I felt for some reason that October 14th was meant to be the day that he was supposed to be born. I'm good at making myself busy and pretending that the hurt isn't there, but the Lord has ways of getting you to remember. I don't think He means for it to be a bad memory, but just a memory nonetheless. A memory of His grace & goodness, a memory that even in the darkest of shadows, He will be there. It's a point to look back on and see His fingerprints on the plans, His loving hands carrying us through. 

This morning a dear friend of mine felt called to read a passage in our group chat from the book of Joshua about being Strong and Courageous. And then I heard it.

“Have I not commanded you? Be Strong & Courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
— Joshua 1:9

 "Have I NOT COMMANDED YOU?" Oh Lord. I hear you. Yes, you have commanded me, you have made promises, you're instructing me to REST, be Still, and to trust in your Name. I hear you. But as we hit the 19th month mark of trying for more children, and I start to question the promises. Oh Lord, you feel silent to me, and I need to feel you moving, because Lord, I am moving. I am going to all the doctors and trying to figure this out on my own and I'm starting to feel stupid. I'm questioning your goodness, I'm asking where you are, and I'm getting angry that I CAN'T FIX THIS on my own. I feel like You've forgotten these promises, and I get frustrated that you are giving the thing my heart desires to what feels like every one else. You're giving this blessing to people who don't even realize how much of a gift it is, and would rather dispose of your Gift. Lord, I would cherish that child as long as I have breath in my lungs, and they throw it away like yesterday's trash. Please, help me to understand your ways, because I just really need Your grace. 

And then, you show up. On a day, when I NEEDED you to show up, you SHOW UP. On a day, where last year I wrote about how my heart will never be whole again, and You tell me to be Strong and Courageous. You ask me to keep going, be BRAVE, be STRONG, NEVER LOSE HOPE. 

You open my eyes to behold the beautiful little boy you have already given me. You've instructed me to slow down, to rest, you've helped me to see that on days that I'm taking walks to the park, picking out colored leaves, listening to good music and singing in the car with this beautiful miniature blessing, that THOSE DAYS, they fill me up way more than any project I could be working on, or any wedding I could photograph. While I'm over here glorifying this notion of busy and successful, you're changing my heart for something bigger. Because being a mama, is all about strength and courage, and waiting on future babies, man, that is ALL ABOUT STRENGTH & COURAGE. 

So Lord, I hear you. And I'm sorry for doubting you.

My beautiful friend didn't even know or understand the gravity of those words she spoke to us this morning. She simply knew we needed to hear them and that was enough. Which is so beautiful to me, because the Lord speaks through people ALL. THE. TIME! But sometimes we are just not in the right state of mind to receive His words.

When I played that message this morning, I was hurrying to get ready, and I thought, yes, I need to be Strong and Courageous. Thank you, what a great message to head into this work day. And then hours later, as I laid down next to my little boy in hopes of getting him to fall asleep for his nap, I heard those words again. Jonathan slowly drifted off to sleep, as hot tears streamed down my cheeks. I realized those words meant something entirely different to me today, because I actually feel weak & broken. I feel sad and defeated. With each passing month, I feel this crushing blow to my heart, because last year when I wrote that post, I thought, God is going to redeem Himself. He is going to show up so big, and hopefully next year, I can talk about how we have another baby, and see, Look at How Good and Big and GLORIOUS our God is. And just yesterday, I sat there wondered Where IS GOD? Where is this child He promised us? 12 whole months and we are not any closer to expanding our family. As I read post after post of all these other people talking about baby #2 for their family, and I'm still here with nothing to show for it. 

But friends, I'm here to tell you, HE IS HERE. In all this mess, HE IS HERE. Just be STRONG & Courageous, keep pushing through and slowly His plans will be revealed. Day by Day, his plans will become clearer, and If NOT, HE IS STILL GOOD. Because ultimately, He knows better of the needs of our hearts, better THAN WE DO! Just listen to His Voice and hear His Commands! And Please know that if you need prayers, do not be afraid to ask for them!