That time Madewell accidentally changed my life

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About a year ago I received the sweetest surprise package from our friends at Madewell. It was a beautiful wooden box containing a lovely red floral scarf, a timeless white tee and THE PERFECT denim jacket.I was so excited and grateful and honored to be gifted this, as I was a new appreciator of the Madewell goodies! I have slowly been building a capsule wardrobe with Madewell pieces being my staples. Everything I own from Madewell is so comfortable, so flattering, and well, made very well ☺️

The only problem with this surprise gift was that the shirt and jacket were a size small and I was wearing large, or more commonly, an XL. When I went to try the jacket on, I couldn’t even fit my full arm through the arm holes😂

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I was still very thankful that Madewell gifted me such a sweet gift, but thought I should probably go ahead and gift the shirt and jacket to a friend since I couldn’t fit into either. I asked a few of my small sized pals if they wanted the goods and they all said the same thing, “save it and maybe you’ll fit back into them one day!” I listened, but wasn’t quite convinced I would ever really get to wear them.

My first pair of Madewell shoes and they do not disappoint ! These Frances Loafers are SO comfortable!!!

I was pregnant and breastfeeding without a break for the last 8 years! I have absolutely loved it! Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, growing, nourishing, teaching, and raising our daughters… This is my greatest joy!  However, I suffered a serious back injury that caused great pain and rendered me unable to be very active while I was pregnant. I picked up some poor habits and developed a bit of apathy in regards to myself over the past few years and I hadn’t even realized I had gained so much weight or become so out of shape. I didn’t have much energy. I didn’t like how I felt or how my clothing no longer fit. I decided I was ready to make some changes; not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of my daughters and husband. I wanted them to have a healthier version of me.

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I told my husband and a few friends that I was going to fit into that Madewell jacket and, although I really meant it, I eventually just put the box of goods up on my closet shelf and honestly forgot about it.  Fast forward to late June and something started stirring in my heart. Our babies were no longer babies. I was beginning to think about weaning Frankie, Chris and I had agreed that our family was most likely complete, and most of my wardrobe had become too tight to wear. I knew I needed to make some changes. So I did. 

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Wait, what is this? Is this Jurassic Park? Is that Laura Dern? What is happening?!

I’m going to tell you guys something only a few people know about…The year was 1997. My favorite movie Jurassic park. I was obsessed with this film and when I envisioned myself as a grown woman, wife, and mother, I envisioned myself as a bruenette Laura Dern in my high waisted denim!

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I mean… 1.) Jurassic Park is my all-time favorite movie! 2.) I just wanted to wear mom jeans and look for dinosaurs:D

When I entered adulthood, the high waisted jeans I had dreamed about wearing had gone out of style. When they finally came back I met them with a strong-willed mom pouch that had no time for pants with real pockets or buttons😂 I know this sounds so silly, but it was like a real thing to me. While I was loving growing and nourishing our babies, I had stopped nourishing myself along the way.  It occurred to me that only I could make the changes I wanted to make. And dangit! I wanted to feel comfortable in those mom jeans!

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I pulled out that Madewell denim jacket and decided that was my goal. I was going to wear that jacket and was going to Laura Dern the heck out of the highest waisted mom jeans Madewell had to offer (which are these 11” high waisteds if you’re curious😂🤘).

I started July 1st. I was around 190 lbs,  wearing a Madewell size 31 jean and they were TIGHT! I want to add here that there is nothing wrong with the size you are wearing if you are comfortable and healthy.  I just wasn’t happy or healthy where I was and I needed change. Some of my friends were also beginning some self-care journeys.  Seeing their results, along with their encouragement and motivation, helped me so much in getting started and sticking with the changes I have made. Community is so helpful!

When I got these pants, I couldn’t even button the bottom button! It felt amazing that I could button them to the top!!!

I decided to start with a low carb/clean eating diet, incorporating meals from whole 30, and cutting out processed foods, bad sugar, carbs that weren’t properly fueling my body, and the booze. I started drinking kombucha daily and adding more fermented foods to my diet. When I would crave sweets, I would eat a spoonful or two of RX vanilla almond butter and found that adding a little bit of heavy whipping cream to my afternoon collagen + bone broth protein filled coffee helped me from eating junk. I still do this and crave it and look forward to it! Also, I add citrus essential oils to water in the mornings and evenings and that really helps satisfy my cravings. There were very few days I would “cheat”,  but I allowed myself lots of treats that tasted good and wouldn’t hurt my progress. Honestly, I would google “whole 30 approved version of whatever I was craving” and learned how to make many of my favorite things in a way that benefited my family and I so much more!

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Norah always checking to assure my crinkles were still there.

Week 1: I lost 7 pounds and my clothing felt looser. I didn’t take before photos or measure any of my inches, but I could already feel a difference in how I felt and how my clothing fit. I ate a variation of eggs, veggies, and proteins for breakfast and lunch. I continued making most of our favorite meals, but substituted zucchini noodles and squash for regular noodles. I replaced breads I would normally eat with more veggies and lettuce wraps. It almost felt too easy. Giving up the foods I once ate daily didn’t feel like much of a sacrifice at all. I reduced my portion sizes but never counted calories, carbs, or macros because I’m too lazy for this stuff. I mostly just paid attention to what foods made me feel the best and added more of those. While I added these, I also removed the foods that made me feel not so good.

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The first person who said anything about me losing weight was our oldest daughter. She walked into the bathroom one morning and said, “You look smaller, Mom!” I explained that was something that sometimes happens when you give your body what it needs. Then my husband started commenting on the changes and my friends and acquaintances began motivating me more and more. Others were seeing the changes I was feeling and that was super encouraging!

Norah often comments about different ways my body is changing and asks regularly that I please don’t lose my crinkles. She has been one of my biggest supporters and reminds people when they comments about my weight loss, that I might be skinnier, but I’m also healthier. She maybe also said something along the lines of, “Wow! those used to be so round and big. Now they just kinda hang there, huh?”:D So… #balance #yep #thanksgirls #truth

At the end of month 1, I was down a surprising 28 pounds and my jeans were so loose I got to thrift some belts!!! 😳😳😳😳

I was in it! I felt energized and pumped up and ready to keep going!

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Matchy sets from our friends at Shop ARQ

I started working out almost daily in August and just felt SO good!!! My sister in law introduced me to the beach body workouts and I started doing the Real Time 21 Day Fix Lives and loved them! I’m doing the extreme version right now and look forward to them! I’ve tried lots of different workouts and have learned to do what I like and not try to do something that I hate because someone else is doing it. Actually, that’s one thing I have really learned in the last few months. You need to do what fuels YOUR body, what makes YOU feel well, and gives YOU positive results. Once September rolled around, I decided it was time to try on THE jacket. I honestly didn’t even think it would fit, I just wanted to see if I could tell a difference in the way it fit.

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GUYS!!!!!!

And with legit tears in my eyes right now, I am here to tell you, IT FIT LIKE A GEM! 😭 It was loose even! The jacket that I couldn’t fit more than a forearm into, FIT! AND the white tee that legit looked like a child’s small on me when I first tried it on, is now a loose  tee and it just feels so good!

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Thanks for capturing this hair flip, Morgo.

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I was feeing SO good but, October was a weird month. I passed out, my face caught my fall, and suffered a concussion so I couldn’t work out like I had been. I couldn’t look at screens or do much and felt pretty lethargic most of the month. I continued to eat clean and decided to have some blood work done, as I was concerned about what might have caused the passing out and wanted to make sure my lifestyle changes hadn’t caused it.  All my blood work came back as ideal as possible and I got the go ahead to get back to normal! Also, probably my favorite jeans ever!

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Every time I wear this jacket I feel like I have superpowers. That sounds dramatic, but it reminds me that I can do hard things! And also THESE JEANS!!!

Now, I want to emphasize again that I don’t think there is anything wrong with being in a size large or extra large or any size where you feel good and healthy… But I wasn’t healthy. I felt miserable, was growing more insecure, felt tired, and lacked the energy I wanted. Today, I look different, but I FEEL so different! I have energy, I feel strong, I can do legit push-ups, I feel healthy, have no back pain, and am officially down FIFTY POUNDS AND SIX JEAN SIZES!!!

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I thrifted this Madewell Cardigan but here is something similar!

Guys! LIKE, our 7 year old is 50 pounds just to put how much weight that really is into perspective!! 😳  While this journey isn’t as much about weight or sizes as it is about health, I went from a size 31 to a size 26 and a L/XL to a XS/S simply by making some healthy lifestyle changes. I feel so grateful! I can play with the girls so much more! I can jump on the trampoline more, wrestle around more, and run through the house more! And Bonus! I‘m even better at hide and seek as I can comfortably fit into smaller spaces now:D It’s really the little things that feel like huge victories to me! And also, maybe I can share a few tops with our 7 year old now. In all seriousness though, I get a little emotional thinking about all of the girls and I sharing our clothing with one another a few years down the road and want to remain in a state of health that allows me to do that… Some days I still can’t believe I get to mother these 4 beautiful daughters ❤️

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I  want to add that while I made some big changes, I’m not a crazy person. If we want pizza and beer, we have pizza and beer. But I still find ways to make it healthier and realized I don’t need 4 pieces of deep dish and 4 wings and four breadsticks and half a growler of IPA at one meal to feel satisfied. 😂. I’ve actually stopped drinking almost entirely, and for me, that’s another big success. Another story for another day, but a really cool thing.

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I truly feel capable and confident in ways I have not for years.

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I have more energy to do every day things and just that alone feels so incredible! Also, a thrifted bodysuit from Madewell that I could live in!

That was a really long way to say, THANK YOU MADEWELL for accidentally triggering something incredible for me. Thank you for new self control, new goals, new perspectives, the ability to wear more of what I enjoy, and the gift of feeling well (AND ALSO that high waisted denim)!!! It feels SO good! I am just so grateful to everyone who has helped me!

 

 

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Grainy photo but a funny story and the most artsy self portrait I have of myself. I’ve been laughing with friends, joking a lot about how I feel like you can see more of my French heritage now and then also I got a turtle neck after telling friends a week prior I would never wear a turtleneck… So one of my besties documented this moment for me… The moment I felt very fashion and turtlenecky. This friend also had her friend from France tell me I looked very French over FaceTime and it was so funny and I’m just really grateful for my friends who have laughed with me and helped take care of me and truly helped me reach my goals!

Thank you for real to Madewell for helping make my wardrobe dreams come true and to all of our friends and loved ones for all of your kind words and encouragement! I am grateful to be feeling so well!

Disclaimer: Many of the clothing pieces featured were gifted from our friends at Madewell or thrifted, and I have tried to link all of the pieces in the post for you! All of the opinions stated here are my honest opinions and I wrote this blog as a way to share some of the changes I have been making and to thank Madewell for partnering with me!

This is a first

DSC_7482We have found ourselves in a new place and I don’t really know how to feel about it. Chris and I found out we were expecting our first child in December of 2011. Norah was born and our lives were forever changed in the most wonderful ways! Six months after she was born we found out our sweet Charlie was on the way. Then fast forward to her being a bit older and we discovered Ada was on the way, and then since we had this system nailed down, we found out we were expecting while Ada was mastering walking. I think. Is it terrible to say I can’t actually remember if Ada was walking or not when we found out. I should know this:D #mombrain. Anyways, I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding without a break for more than 7 years now!!! And I have LOVED it!!!  And I don’t know that I’m ready to be done. But there is a reality that we might be.

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My thoughts exactly, Frank:D

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I really wish I would have documented breastfeeding more, but just never really thought or remembered to do so as much as I wish I would have. I don’t have many photos nursing Norah or Charlie and I hate that! Breastfeeding, for me, has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I was so fortunate in that I got to exclusively breastfeed the girls for their first 6 months of life and then continued nursing until the next baby was due. I was extremely blessed in that I didn’t have the difficult time breastfeeding that many of my friends have had. It came to me like a second nature, I loved it from the very first time, and I never experienced any kind of clogged ducts or mastitis or really even sore nipples. They all basically self-weaned and was just awesome! Aside from Ada thinking a pierced nipple might be a cool idea while she was teething, it’s been a really enjoyable, more so magical, kind of thing for me.

DSC_7485I have actually mostly always looked forward to the girls waking up at night. Night time nursing was this quiet time where nothing else in the world seemed to matter. It was just me and our baby and I loved it so much. I have been able to nurse Frankie the longest, and while I have loved it, I know our time is coming to an end because no baby is due.. and she’s almost 2… Plus, maybe she’s been the most demanding and is still wanting to stay up all night partying and binge drinking…And momma is tired. And we miss our bed being our bed. So, send all the weaning tips my way!

DSC_7591This is the first time we’ve made it to the weaning stage not being due with our next or already nursing a newborn. The first time in almost 8 years where my body is about to be completely mine. And it kind of hurts way more than I thought it would. I’m not growing a baby and I’m not sustaining one’s life with my body and it’s seriously SO weird. I think I’ve kind of been thinking maybe we aren’t actually done having babies, but then maybe we really are…or maybe we aren’t… or maybe we are… or maybe we aren’t… This is kind of what I go back and forth thinking all the time now.  Either way,  there is a reality that I am almost done breastfeeding… for now… or maybe forever. Even if it doesn’t feel possible that we’re really at a place where we could be done, we might be.

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Anyway, knowing that this season is coming to an end, I needed to document a few things. One of my all-time favorite photographers, Bethany Meysenburg, came and spent some time with us and documented me in my favorite element. At home, with our family, nursing from room to room, hanging out with the little ladies, just my absolute favorite! The girls are more so little ladies than the little girls it feels like they were yesterday. They are growing and changing so fast. It’s amazing watching their personalities develop, but I would be lying if I said I’m not emotional about how fast it seems to have all happened and is happening.

DSC_7596I don’t really know what else to say except, thank you so much Chris for choosing me and giving me the most incredible gifts I have ever known. Thank you to our midwife who became family to us and gave us some of the most incredible experiences of our lives.  Thank you to our friends who joined our family, and thank you for sharing your gifts with us, Bethany… Also a quick shout out to stretchy pants and push up bras:D

(Warning: These are breastfeeding photos so some of these photos contain slight nudity. I tried to make sure I didn’t post any that would make anyone too uncomfortable, but I also wanted to share the special bond that I don’t want to censor.)

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Thank you so much for capturing these very precious moments for us, Bethany!

A few shops we love that are featured in these photos.

Frankies tunic & bloomers- BloomHandmadeCo

Frankie’s Button Up Vest- LittleCottonWood

Norah’s Dress- Fin & Vince from BarbaAndRoo

Charlie’s Dress- JuneIsleClothier

Ada’s dress- Roaming Threads

Frankie’s & Charlie’s Bows: KDBird

Ada’s Bows: CraftedAndCo

Momma’s Clogs- LottaFromStockholm 

Black & White Striped Pillows: ChapelAndCo

Table Runner- NotPerfectLinen

Momma’s Bedding- Parachute, MaeWoven, TheCompany Store

Diaper Bag- Josefina bags

Linen Nursing Cover- VeniceAndJune

Norah and Charlie’s Bedding- SchoolHouse

 

Getting Cozy with Garnet Hill

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If someone told me I had to pick out one outfit to live in and then also told me to fill a basket with a few necessities, I can tell you right away what both would be!  I would pick leggings, a pretty sweater, house slippers, blankets, pillows, coffee, and more baskets😂🤘 Basically, my mom uniform is a real thing and it consists of leggings, slippers & a pretty sweater.

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Being home the majority of my time the last few years, I have really started understanding what makes me feel cozy and at home… And I have no shame about it! Homeschooling the girls has been one of the greatest things I have ever known! Being home so much has made me take notice to how my environment affects Chris, the girls, and I and our days and has kind of forced me into new habits, new routines and even a bit of a new aesthetic. 

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When I feel cozy and comfortable, but also put together, I truly function better. I feel more relaxed, our days are smoother and it’s just so nice!

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So, with that being said, we have partnered with our friends over at GarnetHill to share with you a few of our favorite things that have helped us stay cozy at home!

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1.)  Them leggings though! I never knew how much a person could stretchy pants… Until I was pregnant for 6 years😂🤘  but for real, a nice pair of leggings are a staple for me and these are perfect! 

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2.) A pretty sweater to make me feel more fancy when living in the stretchy pants. Do you guys know about cashmere?! I didn’t, and now that I do, I’m obsessed! SO soft and cozy! But like, it’s even softer than you’re thinking. It’s like wearing a baby sheep… but without all of the judgement and inconvenience that would probably come from wearing a baby sheep😂 I have a few cashmere pieces from Garnet Hill and I bet I will have more one day☺️ I also like the fit of this sweater. It’s a bit oversized so it helps hide the last bit of my mom pouch that doesn’t seem to want to leave, plus, I’m still breastfeeding and this one is super easy to get access to them goods☺️🤘 I’ll link the products featured here at the end of the post🙌

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3.) House slippers. I never knew the goodness of slippers before this stay at home business… Now I have a couple pairs and they’re basically the equivalent to business socks for me. You know if my slippers are on, I’m reporting for duty, or most often literal doody😂 Remember how I don’t get out much…☺️  Just let me have these mom jokes☺️😘 But for real, I feel so cozy and ready for the day in my slippers! 

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4.) Did someone say waffle weave? 😂 Can you even have an Instagram account without some pretty white waffle weave something? 🙈 This merino wool blanket is my new favorite! When we go to watch a movie or cuddle up with a book, it’s the first blanket the girls grab! So, so, so soft… We’re talking that baby sheep softness over here again! 

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5.) Pillows! If you know my husband, you will know we disagree on very few things. But pillows are one of them. He thinks less is more, and I think fit as many pillows into each living space as we possibly can and then add a few more😂. It’s a problem, but he still loves me ☺️ We, and by we I mean the girls and I, and not Chris, 😂 are loving these gorgeous 26×26 big ol’ down pillows!!! I have them on our couch and chairs and bed and enjoy them so much! Chris will learn to love them too, I’m just sure of it.☺️

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Anyways, what is your mom uniform? What things make you feel cozy at home? Should we start a recovery group for pillow and blanket addicts? Thanks for reading friends!A864FF3D-86DC-4D19-89F0-51D0EE2E24A4

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📷 MegganHarrisonPhotography

Garnet Hill products featured:

CashmereCroppedSweater

GreenCottonKnitLeggings

Slippers

WaffleWeaveMerinoBlanket

EuroPillowInserts

(Disclosure: this post was made possible by Garnet Hill, but all opinions expressed are my honest opinions)

ONE MORE MAKES SIX

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I recently got to partner with the lovely Bethany Meysenburg and Artifact Uprising to bring to life some creative visions Bethany and I had, and I am overwhelmed with gratefulness with the end result!

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Several months ago, I was looking at the ol ‘gram and stumbled upon a crazy beautiful feed! I soon realized that this was a photographer named Bethany Meysenberg and then realized she lived close by!  Bethany’s photos are so moody and romantic and once I realized she lived close by,  I knew I wanted to work with her!  After visiting, we decided to work together as a creative collaboration, and I am so thankful we did!  Some of the belongings that I value the most are the photographs we have been so blessed with by our sweet friends who happen to be incredible photographers and have chosen to bless us with their passions and talents!

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Photos are one of those things that I have learned to treasure so much.  I don’t think I ever thought too much about photography until my father and sister passed away.  The photos I have help me to keep the memories I have of them and even sometimes remind me of a memory I had forgotten or tell a story I still didn’t yet know about them.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetI am able to share photos with our daughters photos of the Grandpa and Aunt they don’t get to meet in this world.  I get to share my childhood and my memories with our daughters so well because of photos! When I say I treasure these moments captured, I truly mean it.  We’ve only done a few family photo sessions and usually only when we welcome a baby, so about every year:D, but I’m going to try and be more intentional about taking and printing more of the daily moments we capture.

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Sometimes I have been teased for taking so many photos, especially of our daughters feet or photos where they’re not facing the camera, but I know all too well that these moments and tiny details that I love so much, might one day be forgotten if not for the sweet photos that I will have to look back on and remind me.

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The way Norah looks at her little sisters, how she takes being a big sister so seriously; Charlie’s pigtails and the way she almost always has a collection of toys, make up brushes or art tools in her hands; The concentrated stare and little tongue Ada sticks out and presses onto her upper lip while reading and building blocks or how she’s climbing on everything lately; Frankie’s itty bitty toes, her dark little locks and pouty lips; The way our girls jump on the bed and dance together.

DSC_9934The way they look at their daddy with this look that lets me know they understand how treasured and valued they are; And the way he looks at them that reminds me just how blessed I am to be married to such an incredible man! Oh, and Chris’ sexy beard and luscious hair that may be receding a bit more each day:D These are things I don’t ever want to forget…

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Maybe one day the girls will look back and think, “I remember you reading us that book mom!”, or “look at dad and that guitar he still plays!”  I want them to have their childhood captured in photos so that they one day can share their childhood and memories of us with their children and grandchildren.

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Because photos are so special to me, I knew I needed to start printing them. I’ve been terrible at this and have felt a lot of conviction to print more photos as there is just something so special about having a tangible photo to hold. There seems to be so much more life in printed photos.  I recently had some lovely prints made from Artifact Uprising and the quality was amazing!  When I saw these new Flatlay Photo Albums , I knew I wanted to get some of our favorite photos captured by Bethany  printed in one of these. And I am so glad we did!!! This book is definitely a treasure! I already am working on another one!

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The girls and I went through it several times and I maybe just wept because I am so thankful for the blessing that these photos and this book are…

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This book is super special. My Grammy gifted this to the little ladies and it is one of the books they always choose when I ask them to pick out a book to read. In it, Grammy wrote a scripture, one she has written in all of my books that she gifted to me when I was the girls’ age.  Proverbs 3:5-6. My mom saved all of these books from our childhood and recently gifted them to me. Another thing I truly treasure!

So, with that, I’ll leave you with a few more photos! If you live in Kansas and are looking for a photographer, please check out Bethany Meysenburg and if you’re looking to get some photos printed, books made or some unique and meaningful gifts to gift, check out our friends at Artifact Uprising!

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Side note: We get asked often about this rug, so I thought I would share about it here.  It’s the Hand Woven Rigo Jute Rug from Plush Rugs. We have enjoyed this rug so much! It’s lovely and sheds much less than jute rugs we have owned in the past. You can click here to see it and here to see more jute rugs similar.

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DSC_9697DSC_9640DSC_0158Here’s a little slideshow that I discovered after inserting the photos above:D!

 

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Also, without printed photos, I wouldn’t be able to share these gems with you:D Think of this as a thank you for reading!

(Disclosure: This blog was made possible thanks to a partnership with Bethany Meysenburg and Artifact Uprising, but every word is my honest opinion.)

3 little monkeys jumping on the bed

You know how sometimes you just have those days where you’re emotional and grateful and looking at your family and wondering how you got to where you are in life?  My Grammy texted me this morning just to share that she was proud of Chris and I and I just wanted to cry because this is the life that I prayed I could have one day but genuinely didn’t think I could have… I don’t deserve it, but I grow more and more thankful for it. Even when I’m tired or stressed or as I listen to our 3 & 4 year arguing over the ideal spot to have their picnic right now… I am just so grateful. The word Redeemed rings in my ears often and when I look at Chris and our daughters, the ring feels more like a shout!

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I’m just feeling extra grateful for that shout today…

My friend Robyn was so kind to do a little extra shoot and capture something we love just as much as baking around this house! Bed Jumping!!! I just had to share these sweet images! Thank you so much Robyn! These are truly the moments I know I will think back on, smile and cry about when they are grown. I hope they will be mothers who will love their children fiercely, that kindness will flow from their hearts and homes and that they will be filled with the joy that comes from watching their babes jump on the bed…and maybe jumping with them when they’re a little less pregnant:D

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Products Featured:

Pajamas: G. Nancy from Baby Donkie 

Momma’s Top: LoveWinnieJames

Photography by RobynBunch

Baking with my babes!

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Hey friends! So, if you have been following me for awhile, you know one of our absolute favorite things to do as a family, is bake together!  When we homeschooled last year, every week we baked/cooked something that coordinated with the letter we were learning that week. It was so fun and it’s so amazing getting to teach them baking skills and introducing them to new foods and such a fun way to incorporate learning into our week!  Some things we made were healthy, some not so much, but all so fun to make together! Cooking as a family is my favorite!  When Dad gets involved I love it that much more!  Chris is an insane cook and these girls don’t know yet just how lucky they are to have a Dad with such amazing culinary skills! #happywife!

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Having a house full of daughters is kind of like a dream come true!  I don’t know that I necessarily ever imagined this, but it is truly incredible!  We joke that we’re going to need to remodel our kitchen soon because our house is full of people who love to cook, including my husband who is the best of the best!  But, we probably really will have to… So, if you want to come help remodel our space, let me know:D

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It is so wonderful watching each of our daughters’ personalities develop, and you can see it so much when we bake.  Norah takes baking pretty seriously and wants to get the recipe right.  Charlie pretty much spends the whole time taste testing anything that falls onto the table and Ada just likes to bang spoons and make messes!

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It’s so fun watching them pick out their aprons, their whisk of choice, choosing which ingredients who gets to put in first and probably most of our recipes get extra eggs because egg cracking is their favorite part, next to dough tasting of course!

When my sweet friend Robyn told me she was flying into town from Phoenix and asked if we would want to do some photos, I knew right away that I wanted her to capture us doing one of our favorite things and do a little baking session! Guys, if you live in the Phoenix area, hit her up for photos!  She does it all and her work is so good! But seriously, she does such a great job at simply capturing what’s happening and makes you feel totally comfortable. So, please check her out if you’re in her neck of the woods! I maybe ugly face cried when looking at these because she did such an amazing job capturing the girls’ personalities and the little moments that make up our time spent baking with one another!

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We usually only get family photos done when we have a baby, so like once a year:D But, seriously, this was such a blessing!  Robyn did a little home session for us after we welcomed Ada and I cherish those moments so much! I knew I wanted to do something to remember this special season with these 3 little ladies before their 4th sister arrives, and this was absolutely perfect!  I am so excited to have those moments as our family of 6 beginning, but this was so very special!

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I imagine what life will be like when they’re in their teens and I get so excited! People make lots of negative comments about how terrible it will be, and I just smile because I know it doesn’t have to be!  I am so thankful to get to mother these ladies and when I imagine those years I imagine more coffee dates, more movie nights, more conversations in our kitchen… I know there will be rough moments, but I know none of those will compare to how wonderful the good ones will be!

A little alliteration for you!  Cooking Chocolate Chip Cookies wearing Comfy Clogs with the Cutest Crew!  See, education, education, education! IMG_6269

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Robyn, Thank you so much for the gift of these photos!  We are truly so grateful!  Check Robyn out at RobynRena.comInstagram and Facebook!

Featured Items

Norah’s Dress: RemieGirl

Charlie’s Dress, which she basically lives in: RyleeandCru

Charlie’s Hair Bows: TheLittleDesignCo

Ada’s Romper: ShopTheRabbitandFern

Momma’s top: LoveWinnieJames

Momma’s Clogs: SandgrenClogs

Some thoughts about Father’s Day & an Interview with my Love On Fatherhood

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Recently, BabyMori reached out to my super hunk of a husband, Chris, and asked him the question, What does Fatherhood mean to you?”  I was excited to read what he wrote because I am constantly amazed at what an incredible Father he is.  We talked in our dating days about wanting two daughters, and now that we’re about to have four daughters, I would have 100 more babies with this man!  On that note, want to have at least 5 more, husband? Just saying… think about it:D

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Father’s Day is one of those days that is bittersweet to me.  This will be the 8th Father’s Day that I mourn the loss of my Father and sister.  While I miss my dad tremendously, I can only imagine how much joy it would bring him to see the way my husband loves me and the way he fathers our daughters.  I know this is what he prayed for me when he first held me.  I imagine him rocking me to sleep and praying for me to have a husband who would love me and our children the way he loved my mother and me. I know that when he dreamt of having grandchildren, he dreamt of them being fathered by a man like Chris.  While I mourn the fact that my dad didn’t get to walk me down the aisle and give me away to Chris and mourn that he did not live to meet his grandchildren (he is about to have 9 now!) or embrace us as we welcomed our daughters and became parents, I know that the things he prayed over me were answered, and in more ways than I think he ever imagined.

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I miss my dad so much, especially on this day… But the joy that I feel when I see the smiles on the girls’ faces when they model a new dress for their father, or the way the girls soak up the way Chris teaches them how to play a new game or the way they hide and jump out to surprise him when Chris gets home for work… That joy and thankfulness trumps the pain that comes with not seeing my father today.  Chris preached at Church today, so he got there before we did.  When we walked into the sanctuary, the first thing they did was look around for their dad and then took off running for him as soon as they found him in the crowd.  That love they have for one another, that excitement they have as they run to their father and then watching the way he picks them up and embraces them, feeling that same excitement… It’s just so rich!

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So, with that, here is an interview with Chris on what Fatherhood means to him.  Happy Father’s Day to all of you Father’s out there, and for all of you may be mourning any kind of loss of a Father, a spouse or a child, I pray you feel more joy than pain today and that you are overwhelmed with love and peace each and every day you mourn those losses.

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An Interview with BabyMori- What does Fatherhood mean to you?

“Fatherhood is, to me, a gift, a responsibility and a blessing all rolled into one. I get to experience what it is like to have my hands involved in molding and shaping a life, but am also being molded and shaped by my daughters. My eyes are constantly opened to new things around me, in my daughters and in myself.  Fatherhood has shown and is showing me just how compassionate I can be, but at the same time, has shown me and shows me just how truly selfish I am and can be all at the same time. Fatherhood is one of the most fun things I have ever done while also exhausting and frustrating. I think Fatherhood is amazing, but also a weighty responsibility that I want to continue to grow in and handle correctly.  My understanding of what it means to be created in the image and likeness of my Creator has been broadened beyond what I ever thought it would be.

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On a related note, as a father to daughters, I will say that fatherhood has made me keenly aware of the way we, often unintentionally, belittle our female population. As we enter into the last stretch of pregnancy with our 4thdaughter, I am met with many comments about my lack of sons that are increasingly frustrating to me.  Many times the conversation goes this way:

Person – “Wow, your 4th child.  Do you know if it’s a boy or girl yet?”

Me – “It’s my 4th girl”

Person – “Wow, I’m sorry” or “You must have more patience than me” or “Still don’t have that boy yet?” or “Will try until you get a boy?”

IMG_7078Now, I understand where the line of questioning comes from, but this is often in front of or within earshot of my daughters.  I would love to take this opportunity to say that I absolutely love raising these little girls and in no way feel as though I was left out of something simply because I do not have a son, or that in some crazy way, these girls are of less value to me than having a son. I thank God for these 4 precious girls that I have been entrusted with and cherish the fact that I’m able to be part of their lives, and they a part of mine.  Sure, the novelty of raising a little boy is alluring and I enjoy entertaining the thought of having a little mini-me running around.  That novelty, however, pales in comparison to the blessing of this house that is filled with estrogen.  I want to see the gifts set before me and be diligent to raise strong, productive, useful, and joy filled women. I am planning a small bunker for myself for the future, though, and will be practicing my most intimidating facial expressions and death threats for the boys that will be knocking on my door.” -Chris Pahls.

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To read more inspiring stories about Fatherhood, head over BabyMori and read more in their Journal Series.

Photos By Robyn Bunch, Courtney Unruh & Stephanie Pollock

 

International Family Day: An Interview With BabyMori – Inspiring Lives 14: The Importance of Family, Kindness and Accepting Loss


  • How did you and your husband, Chris, first meet? 

Chris and I will never stop laughing about how we met!  I’ll try and set up the scene. It’s 2004, we’re college freshman, I’m maybe hung over (because #college and I was into poor choices at this stage in my life:D) and I was dressed in what we will call ‘not my best look’. We were in our University Cafeteria, and I’m standing in front of a TV & and literally shoveling ranch dressing smothered cottage cheese into my mouth using a chicken strip as my utensil of choice when my friend came over and introduced Chris and I 😀 I knew him after that as Hot Art Student Chris and he knew me as That Weird Chicken Strip Girl 😀 We didn’t begin dating until two years later, and have been inseparable since, but to this day Chris will joke, “I can’t believe I married the chicken strip girl”. So, maybe not a love at first sight story but it makes for a good story and we will never stop laughing about it. Oh, and I’ve been working on my table manners and Hot Art Chris has only continued to get hotter and hotter:D

  • Life isn’t always kind to everyone. How do you both approach life with such positivity and love?

Chris and I both understand that you can’t take life too seriously.  We have learned to really value the good moments, as we understand it is these moments that will help get us through the more difficult times.  We both value kindness and try to remember that the person honking their horn at us maybe just found out they have cancer, or the mean lady in line at the coffee shop is maybe grieving the loss of her best friend.  We understand that people are hurting all around us and believe we are called to be kind and loving to all people at all times. We both share the belief that everybody has a story to tell, everyone’s story is very valuable and sometimes these stories really just need to be shared and listened to. 2016-04-20 09.17.39.jpg

  • You’ve both lost family in the past, something that can be so difficult to cope with. How has family helped you to find the light at the end of the tunnel?

Chris and I were dating when my father and 17-year-old sister were killed in a tragic car accident.  I kind of lost myself for a while.  I hurt in a way I didn’t know was possible and I was hurting even more deeply for my family, watching them grieve.  I know watching my family and I hurt the way we did was difficult for Chris. I remember Chris not really giving me advice when I was really hurting, but just trying to be there and listen to me when I needed it. He still tries to do this. Please do this for your friends experiencing loss. Just be there for them. Just listen to them. Just cry with them…

Chris lost both his grandparents in the same week and my water actually broke with our first daughter the morning of their funeral so we were unable to attend.  As strange as this sounds, we gained such interesting perspective through this.  Although we will all experience extreme sorrow on this earth, there is still immeasurable joy that happens alongside this sorrow as well. However, sometimes you have to choose which thing you’re going to give more attention to, the sorrow or the joy.

All of us will experience loss and difficulty but we also all get to choose how we respond and react to these difficult times and painful emotions.  After the loss of my dad and sister, I reacted in many ways. Some reactions were good, some were damaging, but in the end, with Chris’ love and support, I went back to school and became a therapist so I could walk alongside people who were going through their most difficult times and be a part of their healing process.  We have learned, though, that you don’t need any kind of special degree to walk alongside people and help; we can all do this every day.

We can take the time to visit with the person checking us out at our your local grocers, we can be kind and buy someone’s coffee behind us in line at the local coffee shop or simply compliment and encourage that sleep deprived mother trying to convince her toddlers why they don’t need that candy that they’re letting the world know they need… You’ll be amazed at the connections and relationships that will form around you if you take the time to do these simple things daily.  Listening to people’s stories and sharing ours can have so much power and impact on the world around us. Chris and I believe we were made for connection and community and these are ways we have learned to join together as a family and connect with others around us no matter what season of life we may be in.

  • Moments are so rare because they come and go so quickly. For you, what family moments will you always hold close?

When it pertains to loss, I will never forget the moment I held my father’s hands or touched my sister’s beautiful face and said goodbye to them for the last time as they laid in their caskets. I can’t help but cry and breathing sometimes becomes difficult when I think of this moment, knowing I wouldn’t see them or touch them in this life again.

However, when I think of this moment, I also begin to think of the many unforgettable memories that made saying goodbye to them so difficult.  I remember the first time I held Bethany in the hospital when she was born and being so excited to have another little sister.  She was such a spunky, compassionate and genuinely unforgettable person. I remember my dad sharing with me, shortly before he passed, the regrets he had as a father and asking me for his forgiveness while expressing his deep love for me as his first-born daughter. My mind is flooded with memories of family game nights, road trips across the country and so many of my dad’s corny jokes that I will forever be grateful for!

I have learned so much from my family and so much more in having to say goodbye to them. Their loss made me realize I will say goodbye to other loved ones before I’m ready to, so I am trying to be more aware of this and hold tightly to the happy moments, especially as a wife and mother.

When it pertains to my family, there are so many memories that will stay with me.  The moment Chris asked me to be his wife, the moment we promised to love one another even through the hardest of times, the moment we became parents and every moment we met each one of our daughters for the first time. Every time we welcome a baby, I look at him and feel the deepest emotion that I don’t even know how to describe.  It’s like, WE did this! You did this! I did this! This is our baby, this is our family.  I think about this feeling and treasure it deeply.

IMG_6767.jpgThere are so many moments, which might be considered mundane, that have become so precious and almost sacred to me because I have learned that forever is a lot shorter than it sounds. Making pancakes in the morning, singing songs in the bathtub, the girls crawling into our bed after they’ve peed in theirs:D  I know these moments are fleeting and I want to hold onto them as long as I can!

  • What does family mean to you and how do you enjoy the little moments?

To me, family is a gift.  I don’t necessarily deserve my family or this life of ours, and yet they have been given to me and I to them… And for that, I am so thankful. There are some days I almost can’t believe how blessed I am! Before we had children, I was such an extrovert.  Now, I’m happiest at home hanging out with our family! I love and look forward to the days where our calendars are empty and all we have to do is to hang out with one another! Movie nights, dance parties, baking and making meals together, playing outside, watching the girls play together… Even cleaning the house is so much more fun as a family! I know my family is a gift and I am so thankful and continue to grow more and more thankful!  I think the best way to embrace family is to understand that it truly is a gift and to try my best to act in a manner that reflects this gratitude.

  • Finally, what does motherhood mean to you?

Motherhood.  So much can be found wrapped up into the word Motherhood. Motherhood is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given.  Motherhood is a huge responsibility, a new identity, a constant dance of evolving and adjusting. Motherhood brought with it new insecurities, new challenges, new opinions, new fears, new convictions, new emotions, new abilities, new passions, new hopes and aspirations, new relationships, new priorities… To me, there was almost my life before motherhood and my life after motherhood.  Motherhood is not the only thing that defines me, but it is a confounding element that has completely redefined me.

 

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Read more inspiring stories @ https://babymori.com/blogs/journal . Thank you for letting me share my heart @BabyMori!
 Photos by StephPollock & RobynBunch

 

 

Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister: Sisterly Love

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Motherhood is more amazing than I could have ever imagined. There are so many aspects that I never knew existed or never even thought about before having our own children.  One of those things I never really thought about when we were dreaming of children, was what it would be like to get to watch their relationships with one another form and change as they grew.  We planned to have one baby, and now, 5 years later, our 4th girl is due in October:D  Watching these little ladies is such a gift! I can think back to when they were so little and just learning how to use words and communicate with one another…And now they’re best friends, most of the time, and doing just about everything they do with one another!

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I am the oldest of 4, with 2 younger sisters and a brother whom I love dearly.  I also gained 2 brothers and an amazing sister-in-law when I married my husband.  Our youngest sister, Bethany went to be with the Lord 8 years ago when she was 17 and I miss her more than I can express.  Losing Bethany strengthened the bond I have with my sister Heather and has taught me so much about how incredible the gift of siblings can be.

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I have a lot of regret as a sibling. I feel like I missed getting to know my siblings or pouring into them the way I should have… mostly because of my own selfishness… One thing I really want my daughters to understand is that they are precious gifts to one another and their job as a sister is to be selfless, compassionate and a best friend to one another…  I want to model that they are to be understanding and gentle with one another; to hold one another accountable yet give one another lots of grace. It’s easy to get frustrated and judgy with the ones you love most.  I am guilty of this and wish I would have shown my love to my siblings better.  I pray that through what I have learned, these daughters will love and protect one another in such a way that when they look back on life, they can smile and know they always were there for one another and that they will never feel alone in the many stages of life they go through.

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When it comes to the girls’ personalities and interests, all of our girls all pretty ‘girly girly’ but some of their favorite interests include learning, reading, baking, playing with dolls & barbies, playing dress up in princess dresses and momma’s clothes, lots and lots of make believe, playing midwives, doing make-up, building forts, dance parties, making & playing with play dough, painting, coloring, playing tag and hide-and-seek, playing outside and really just doing anything together! Norah wants everything Disney Princess Ariel, Charlie wants all things Princess Rapunzel and Ada likes anything she can throw or chew on:D

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It is truly so interesting how different they are from one another…. Chris and I started talking last night about what it might be like welcoming our fourth little lady, and we couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of four daughters but more so, about Ada becoming a big sister! She is so funny and wild and is going to be so in love!

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To describe them each briefly, Norah wakes up in the mornings like Disney Princess happy! Charlie always wakes up a bit grumpy and hungry and Ada always wakes up way too early and ready to wrestle and play.  Whenever Ada sees her two big sisters in the morning, she squeals with joy and instantly tries to wrestle with them!  It’s amazing watching how much she loves them, how much they love her and how much they all just love one another! My heart swoons thinking about the 3, soon to be 4 of them, growing up together and all the memories they will make together! Norah is our social butterfly, Charlie is our super creative artist and Ada kind of acts like she’s been raised by wolves 😀 I’m so excited to see what baby girl #4 will be like?! Also excited to giver her a name!

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Our two oldest have recently entered the ‘fighting’ stage and they are, surprisingly, very good at it.  One minute, they will be playing barbies, the next minute they’re fighting over who said what and then act as if the world is ending.  Chris and I are working on trying to learn what works best for each of them and that’s an interesting process as well. They fight over who gets to wear what outfit and they almost always ask to be “matchy matchy” which just means dress similarly, so I’m getting smarter about getting them “matchy matchy” coordinating outfits

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Even in the more difficult times, I am so grateful to be their mother and feel so blessed to call these daughters ours! Sometimes I just watch them and smile and take 1,000 photos so I never forget how these moments felt… When they hug and tell one another they love each other, or compliment and encourage one another… all the hard stuff seems to melt away…well, most of the time:D Motherhood is simply amazing and I am so grateful for our little girl party!”

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We are very thankful to have partnered with LittleCottonClothes and their Sisterly Love campaign for this piece.  Thank you LittleCottonClothes!

Heidi Skirts and Sidonie Sailor Shirts by LittleCotton Clothes

Knee Socks by RedRoverKids & AtHomeWithAveryGrace

More than just a Chalkboard

I get a lot of questions regarding our chalkboard and where we purchased it or if we made it how we did it, so I thought it would be a good idea to write a little tutorial and share a little about it!

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When we started educating at home a little more, I knew I wanted a chalkboard to incorporate into our lessons, but wasn’t sure where to get one or where to put it.  Then my handsome and brilliant husband had the idea to make our own! We were new to our home and had a big empty space on our dining room wall that we knew we wanted to fill with something and a chalkboard felt perfect! Also, our 1935 home has plaster and lath walls so hanging heavy stuff can be quite tricky, so we try to avoid drilling into and hanging anything heavy as much as possible in these bad boys. This method was easy and kind on our walls!

We only had to get 2 things! Black chalkboard paint and Pine 1×2’s!  We got both from our local hardware store for less than $20!!! Chris measured and taped off the wall and rolled on about 3 coats of the chalkboard paint. We had an idea of how big we wanted it so we knew what length of 1×2’s to get before we purchased them.  Then he just cut the sides to fit. Once the paint dried, he simply nailed the 1×2’s to the wall!

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We’ve had friends stain their wood dark, use pallet wood or larger planks, use dark green chalkboard paint, paint the entire wall without framing it, make smaller chalkboards, etc.  It’s a super simple and affordable project that can easily be altered to fit your space and personal aesthetic!

 

 

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I feel like I can’t call this ‘just a chalkboard’  because it has been incorporated into so many special memories and holds so many dear moments for us in our home!

So many meals, special events, laughter and valuable conversations shared with friends, so many teachable moments we shared with our children and things we learned ourselves as parents, even our oldest’s first portrait of me and our family was a chalkboard piece!

So, I hope this was helpful and that you’re inspired to create a special place in your home to be used for all kinds of memory-making moments and events!