Sunday, June 19, 2016

Family Photos

In April, just as it was finally starting to feel like spring, we had family photos taken. Marshall was 14 months old, and I feel like he's already changed a lot since then! We worked with family and newborn photographer, Kristen Koppers, for the first time. She captured so many fun moments and certainly worked to get Marshall to smile for the camera. I really love photos that are taken during last light or "golden hour". The grass and trees weren't very green or in bloom yet, so everything was still earth toned and awakening from winter. The colors are soft and "dreamy" in my opinion.

Marshall was a good sport, despite being up past his bedtime. He was just regaining his full-range of walking, after having his leg cast removed right before Easter. It was a fun shoot and I love the images we got! I especially like that Kristen included the majority of our shots (after weeding through the non-keepers). We got SO many final images to keep and choose from. I have a hard time narrowing down just a few selections, so this was a huge plus. I've already had a book made and plan on ordering some large prints.

These are a few of my favorites! I can't get over Marshall's sweet smiles, and the love and joy I feel when I look at these. I'll let the images speak for themselves. 


Wednesday, June 8, 2016


I recently read an article about the decline of friendships after the age of 25, especially among women. I find it interesting and something I can actually relate to, at this stage in my life. I'm a bit past the 25 year old age bracket. Ok, I'd rather not admit that I'm closer to the 35 year old age bracket. Um. What? I don't know if it's simply because of the stage of life I'm in now, raising my young son and no longer working outside the home, but my circle of friends has shrunk, significantly over the past 2 years or so. Some friends have moved away, some continue to grow their family and naturally become increasingly busy, some have simply drifted away. I know people and friendships inevitably change over time, but I feel like friendships are even harder to maintain than ever before. You would think with the addition of social media, smart phones, and every means possible to keep in contact, that friendship would be easier than ever before. But I'm finding quite the opposite. 

I've always had this notion in my head of having a "best friend." Someone you can call, day or night, living close enough to drop by for a cup of coffee or take a spontaneous trip to Target together. Going for walks around the neighborhood with your strollers. Sharing advice about marriage and raising kids. Checking in on one another when you know there's something going on. Celebrating the happy and helping to shoulder the sad. Bringing over a meal or your favorite cookies. Someone with similar likes and goals to share life with on a semi-regular basis. A best friend kind of friend. A BFF, if you will.

Am I living in a dream world? Does this kind of friendship only exist on TV? Or do you just have to work really hard at it? Or either you have it or you don't? I feel like some people are blessed to have friendships like this. Maybe even a lifelong friend that you've known since you were 10 years old. If that's you, consider yourself lucky, indeed. 

Maybe it's because I've always had a build-in network of friends, where ever I was  - high school, college, part-time job, full-time job, church. Now that I'm a stay-home mom, I'll be honest, things have gotten pretty quiet around here. I LOVE being a stay-home mom, that's for sure. It's a gift that I'm thankful for, every day. But before I had my son, I pictured life as a full-time mom looking a little differently. I didn't imagine it being lonely at times. I didn't think my social circle would almost completely disappear. I didn't anticipate friends being so busy with their own families and lives that I would hardly see them anymore.

I know having children does change your availability, that's a given. Life now revolves around nap time and bed time, and schedules and routine become king. It's hard (and expensive) to find sitters, and to be honest, it's really nice just staying home on the weekends and enjoying family time. Sometimes it's more work to go out as a family. I get that. Then there's the guilt associated with taking "me time" and doing something on your own while your child(ren) and spouse are at home. 

But I still think that close friendships with other like-minded women is important - at every stage. I've been blessed to have different friends come into my life at different times throughout my life. And maybe that's just how it works - different people at different times. My best friend in junior high might have been intended for that unique time period. My best friend in college may have been the friend I needed for those years. This sounds so dumb even writing it, but has anyone else ever had "friend envy"? Is that a thing? I'm admitting that I have. This isn't a cry for help or a pity party, more of an observation and wondering why. Why some people have that instant connection and bond of lifelong friendship, and others stay at the acquaintance level or outskirts of close friendship. Anyone else? 

What I've come to realize is that I want to be that type of friend, and have that type of friendship, but it does take work. It's not going to happen if I sit in my house everyday waiting for someone to think of me. I have to reach out. Duh, right? Friendship is a two-way street. And if someone isn't reaching back out, move on to the next. I've also learned that friendship can't be forced. If people change, or don't reciprocate, as hard as it is not to take it personally, it may be time to move on. To look for other opportunities to make new connections. To be the friend that someone else might need at that very moment. You never know until you have a conversation.  

So, what's the point of my rambling? I guess it's just to be a friend. Be a friend to someone who may need one. Do a little something extra for someone else. Go out on a limb. Drop off an iced coffee and give them a hug. Send them a note in the mail. Send them a text if you miss them. Or (gasp) actually make a phone call, instead of sending a text. I feel like we have gotten so electronically removed, and friendships have gotten so screen-based, that we've forgotten how to actually BE a real friend. In person. Face to face.

You don't necessarily have to be a BFF (best friend forever) but you can be a BFFN (best friend for now). You don't know the difference it might make in someone's day/week/month/year.

Friday, May 27, 2016

David and Elsa's Wedding

Last weekend, we celebrated with David and Elsa at their beautiful beach wedding, in Beach Haven, New Jersey, on Long Beach Island. Their ceremony took place on the sand right along the edge of the ocean. It rained the rest of the weekend, so they picked the perfect day for it! 

Elsa grew up on Long Beach Island, which has been a special spot for our family to vacation and take day trips. We have come to know and love Elsa over the past few years. She and David compliment each other so well and make a great pair. Can I just say what an absolutely gorgeous bride Elsa is? Such a natural beauty, inside and out. I admire her bubbly and outgoing personality. She is a teacher, so she knows how to take charge and she knows what she wants. I'm so lucky to have her as my new "sister."

Family and friends came from far and near. Andrew was so happy to be the best man in his little brother's wedding. He won't admit it, but he was nervous about giving the speech at the reception. He did such a great job and shared both funny and sweet words. And he looked mighty handsome! 

The bridesmaids dresses were so pretty! I love that coral color and the style was so elegant! Laura looked beautiful.

My "date" was a handsome little guy in a bow tie. This was Marshall's first wedding! He was a trooper. We managed to keep him entertained until waaaaay past his bedtime. 

We have such beautiful cousins. And we had fun on the dance floor! 

My little family. I wish we had more pictures of the three of us. We were too busy enjoying the festivities to take more photos. 

The reception was at The Boat House, overlooking the water. Such a perfect location. Every detail was so thoughtful and beautiful. I know Elsa and David spent a lot of time planning, preparing and decorating. The flowers with custom wood boxes (made by David and his Dad), the favors, the cake, the cute signs - It was all gorgeous!  

Elsa's parents really know how to dance! Elsa's Dad sang a song for her which was very sweet. 

My nieces were the cutest flower girl and ring bearer! 

 Husband and Wife! Such a beautiful, happy couple.

I don't think there was a dry eye while David danced with his Mom to "Find Your Wings." 

 Someone was getting a little cranky....

Congratulations, David and Elsa! Welcome to the family (officially), Elsa! We are so happy for you and so blessed that we could celebrate your special day. Thank you for making us feel so welcome during our stay and for all your special touches. We love you both so much!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Random Likes and Tips

I highly recommend getting an ice cream cone in the middle of the day, around 3pm and enjoying it while basking in the sunshine. It will change your entire mood and put a spring in your step. 

I've been on a quest to find the "right" deodorant, that actually works and is "natural" for a very long time. I've got a bathroom shelf filled with rejects. I think I've finally found the deodorant that has changed my life. For real, guys. It actually works. PiperWai is a charcoal creme deodorant that works naturally. It was on Shark Tank and I found it via a friend's beauty blog. You can order it here. It is worth every penny! 
I am very disappointed to share, that after a couple months of using PiperWai, I have developed an allergic reaction to it. Which I am quite surprised by, since the whole point of it is to be a "natural" product. I'm not sure what ingredient is causing my sensitivity, but I've had to stop using it for a while, due to a red rash and severe itching. Yikes! I contacted the company, but did not get a response. Quite disappointing. After doing some digging of my own, I discovered other customers were experiencing similar problems. I hope PiperWai is taking notice and works to adjust to their formula! Other people that I know who use it, are doing just fine. So maybe it's just not for everyone. Sad to say. 

I don't know if this is true for everyone, but I find this simple trick to be a little helpful. If you're really tired (which is fairly often) and your face shows it, wear a bright colored shirt. It will make your complexion look a little brighter. Stay away from black, gray and dark drab colors, which will only emphasize your tiredness. 

BB Cream, where have you been all my life? I'm probably the last to try one, but I really like the BB Cream with SPF 20 by e.l.f. (Eyes Lips Face). I'm currently using the color "Buff" after trying "Fair" which was, well, too fair on me. They're $6, so it's not a big investment to try. I put it on all over my face, after my moisturizer and it covers so smoothly! A very easy and nice foundation. And it's got sun protection built in. Win-win.

I recently read a book that my new friend, Becky, wrote. It's called Broken for Good: How Grief Awoke My Greatest Hopes. You can find it on Amazon here. To summarize, I'm going to borrow the description from Amazon, "A daughter's narrative about life with and without her father, whose death plunges her into deep grief but gradually becomes her most compelling reason to hope." It is so much more than that, too. Becky is an amazingly beautiful writer, to put it mildly. Her analogies and vivid descriptions brought me into each moment. I plan on re-reading it again. She also has a blog (yay!).

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

My second Mother's Day was lovely! The weekend was special because Andrew's parents visited us. Marilyn and I attended a ladies conference while the guys hung out. We all went to the zoo, which was a lot of fun on an exceptionally beautiful day. On Mother's Day, Andrew made crepes (per my request) and they were delicious. Marshall and Andrew spoiled me with a large gift - a Kitchen Aid Mixer! I've been eyeing them for a long time, and always hesitated to get one. I'm so excited to use it! I tested it out by making whipped cream for our crepes. It was a really fun weekend. 


Isn't she pretty? The perfect edition to our "new" kitchen.

I don't know how I got so lucky to call Andrew and Marshall mine.