Project 365 {April}

April started with a surprise trip to Texas where I can go ahead and cross of blue bonnets & pics with long horns off of my photo bucket list! The weather got nicer, and yucky again, and nice and then rainy & cold but hey, nothing surprising there. We played with friends, celebrated Easter, started enjoying our deck again and spent some time with cousin to end the month. Thanks April, you were great!  

Project 365 {March}

Our March started with an amazing trip to Texas. We got to spend some time with cousin on her spring break, and ended with concerts and a few travel days around the state. All in all March was pretty darn good to us!

Letters to My Daughter {The Present in the Presence}

Tonight I chased you, my daughter around the school. We ran and raced and laughed and clapped. We sat in different colored chairs and climbed up the stairs. We played hide and seek and laid on the ground. Our Moana piggy and chicken toys raced and walked on the carpet saying "walk, walk, walk" over and over. You asked me to lift you high and I did. We counted the lockers and you looked a me with those big doe eyes and said "Mommy play" and that's what we did. I will admit, very truthfully that life with you as a toddler is a challenge. The number of difficult, long, stressful days have been outnumbering the fun, adventurous, stress free days as of late. Surprisingly you demand much more of my attention than you did when you were a baby. You have an opinion on everything even though you only have a couple of full sentences in your arsenal. You are emotional. And when I say that I mean to the extreme. Things are incredibly happy & exciting, or they are horrible and screaming/kicking/crying worthy. You have learned the word "NO" and don't respond well to other people telling you no. You eat like a bird and run like a gazelle. You are in so many ways exhausting.

Often my mind wanders - what are we doing next, what should we have for dinner, what time is it, I'm tired let's stop playing, are other people watching you run around the store and wondering what the heck kind of Mom I am. The obsessive need to check my phone for notifications or emails makes it hard to fight the impulse to pull my phone out of my pocket every 5 minutes. Every moment is so involved it is hard to chose just one thing to focus on.

To put all of those things aside - the constant focus & attention you demand, the million thoughts on my mind at any given time and really be there with you is so so challenging, but it is also incredibly rewarding. I need to remind myself that it's ok to just be here, that my presence is equally as important as those other things that pull me away along the way.

When we left the school tonight and you chose me to carry you to the car instead of Grandma (that NEVER happens) I couldn't help but smile at the connection we just had. Those moments that are forever ours.



Minimalist in the making - {Bathroom Flip}

Ok, so maybe this wasn't the most cluttered room in the house, but we had to start somewhere - and what better low pressure, easy project to start with than the bathroom. I have always longed for a simpler way of life - less things = less cleaning, less stress, less worry. So this year I made a goal to go through room by room and purge. Not just simple things like garbage and old boxes but ALL OF THE THINGS. Things we haven't used in the 2 years we've lived there, things that we've been holding onto from place to place trying to find a use for. Pretty much everything we don't use on a monthly or less basis goes. Anyways, back to the bathroom. I started here because of the obvious small square footage and no windows to deal with but also because since it was the only room we had not painted when we moved in, I was itching for a change.

We built the board & batten on the long wall to give it a little more depth and detail. We are changing all of our trim throughout the house to white, so I knew it would match well. I did do some painting in our laundry room last year, and I chose to paint the cabinets white which I didn't love the look of - perhaps it was my lack of patience or experience with it but I wanted to try something different.

Everything I read pointed me towards General Finishes gel stain - I've used it in the past and loved it's quick drying and deep rich tones. It took 3 coats to cover the entire vanity but it was well worth it! I used Java, which is a deep rich color. It made the existing countertop and white trim really pop with the contrast.

Chris came through big time with the barnwood frame around the existing mirror & hexagon shelves that he made in our previous house, and he even convinced me to splurge on a new light fixture which I loved the idea of finishing it my mounting on a moss covered piece of barn wood (sealed of course)

The main goal was to give it a fresh look & clear the clutter without spending a ton of money. Between the paint and stain, and a few other new finishes like the shower curtain from UO and our light fixture we came out to just under $200 for this flip.


Project 365 {January}

No promises, I did try this project 2 years ago and it flopped after the first month.. but I am trying VERY hard to continue capturing our everyday life. It pushes me to look from different angles, to find light where it's hiding, and of course try to capture the personality and expressions of our crazy adventurous two year old. So like I said no promises, but here is our January!

The Art of Adventure

A lot of people have told me they admire my ability to get out all the time, with a kid, exploring, adventuring. First of all let me say that I'm flattered. I've never felt more independent than I have since G was born (you would think it would be opposite right?) It isn't always as easy as photos make it seem but there are a few things I've learned over the past 2 1/2 years that have made the whole "adventuring" thing much easier for me & my sidekick. I know things may not always be this way so while it's just the 2 of us I like to take advantage of any opportunity we have to adventure together. So here goes, I hope this helps with your future adventures! 1 - Be less tethered to things. Our adventures aren't always pre-planned, so there are times when I am not 100% prepared for a trip but that's ok. The more I accidentally left the diaper bag behind, the better it felt! I know this is not always an option with small children but my go to is usually a juice bottle, a treat bag, and a few diapers. These go easily in my purse or camera bag and that's it! For long distance trips if I remember to pack an extra pair of pants for G it comes in handy, worst case we've made pit stops at the closest Target for a quick change! You will feel the freedom without things weighing you down.

2 - Don't plan. The more you plan, the higher your expectations of how the day should go will be. Things don't have to be scheduled to the minute. Give yourself a little lead time if you have places to be before and after your adventure but other than that let things happen organically.

3 - Leave your phone in the car. I know, I know we all say it "I want to be more present" or "I hate all of my notifications" "I'm going to take a Facebook break" well here's a simple solution - leave it behind. If it's not there you can't compulsively check it right?! Chances are if you are out exploring in the middle of no where you won't have service anyway so leave it in the car, or at home. Even if it's just for the 15 minute run into Target. It will feel liberating I promise! You don't have to give up Facebook for life to be present.

4 - Don't give up on what you originally set out to do. Kids moods (especially toddlers) change constantly. It's inevitable. So if you get in the car and your child wants to scream because they dropped their toy, and then refuse to put their jacket on, or run through the store instead of sitting in the cart (sound familiar?) or are just having a rough day in general don't give up. Chances are if you ride it out their moods will get better. I know there have been many times when I've thought after our first stop "ugh we should just go home" and then 10 minutes later we are laughing and singing in the car and it turns into the best day ever.

5 - Have fun. This one seems obvious but I had to include it because I feel like as Mothers we are inclined to forget this part of Motherhood. There are so many things that run through our minds on a daily basis, trying to make the best decisions for our babies and our families, cleaning, preparing meals, getting our kids to their various engagements, etc. Don't forget that this part makes it all of the worry and stress worth it. Life is truly not worth living if you don't have fun!


Adventures Together {Madison Children's Museum}

If you haven't been, you need to check out the Children's Museum in Madison. It is full of things to discover, play in, create, etc. Perfect for your pint size cuties! We had great fun showing our friends around and they even got to meet some creatures of the rain forest. (Don't miss the club house on the roof!!!) Thanks for coming with us ladies, here are a few favorites from the day!

Adventures Together {Milwaukee Public Market}

I mentioned in a previous post that 2016 was full of adventures and meeting new, amazing people! Well after mustering up some courage I asked a few photographers I have been admiring so much (especially their beautiful images of their own children) to get together. Ironic that I know more Milwaukee photographers now that I don't live there. Our group grew by a few other lovely people and after much debate we found a date that worked for all of us. Here's a little peek at our morning adventure. It was truly amazing meeting all of these wonderful ladies in person!  

An Invitation to Get Together

We all do it, I am guilty of it for sure. Talking more to someone online than in real life. Don't get me wrong - the internet is a great place to connect with people, to keep up with friends and relatives that are hundreds or thousands of miles away, to meet others who have the same interest but may not always have the time or schedule to get together frequently. It's pretty amazing really. But what I've discovered the last year or so is that if you just put yourself out there - just ask, or plan a date, you will generally get a great response - "LET'S DO IT!" or "I WOULD LOVE THAT!" and then you can breathe a sigh of relief and plan your day together. It's usually as simple as that! 2016 was definitely the year of get togethers for me - I have met SO many photographers both local & a few non (hey Jess!) IN PERSON. What I can tell you is it usually results in a few of the following : A) Amazing conversations. B) Beautiful pictures. C) Great friendships. And most of the time it's all of the above!! So this year I encourage you to put yourself out there. Invite your photographer friend out for lunch, or your best Mom group friend on a play date. I'm sure your results will be amazing!


Finding Simplicity {New Beginnings}

A lot of times I question myself as a mother - Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Should I be doing something else? What I've discovered in my last 2 years of motherhood is that it's hard for me to sit idle. There's always cleaning to be done, or places to shop, or new adventures to be discovered. So being at home for entire days at a time aren't really at the top of that list. But when we do spend days at home, or long chunks of time I tend to over think it. As an Aunt to my niece I always had these grand days at home packed with games and projects and arts & crafts. With Graycen it's different. I don't always know what to do with a 2 year old. It has really taken me a while to figure out that a SIMPLE project can keep her entertained for long periods of time. I don't need to go out and buy $50 craft boxes or plan several different projects for her to do. One simple project can keep her active and keep me idle long enough to capture her expressions and excitement of "painting Mommy" and that makes both of us happy. So yesterday we did just that. We happened to be at Home Depot so I bought a little clay pot and a new plant for the new year and we painted and planted and we were happy together as a family, at home, with the simplicity of each other and a little paint. This year I plan to do more of that. To slow down, to not over think or question my abilities as a Mother in the day to day. We have thus far raised a pretty happy little girl and I plan to keep it that way!

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Motherhood is...

Motherhood is .. {Connection} Finding the people who value the same things as you - family, love, friendship. This past weekend I had the opportunity to meet a long time photography friend - Jess of Yeah, She Snaps! My dear friend Kaley of Kaley Rae Photography joined us for the journey and boy did we have a great time! Our littles finally got to meet each other and adventure, and we of course all had our cameras out to capture the day. I can't tell you how much I value these two ladies friendships, and how exited I was for our littles and really all of us to finally meet! Be sure to follow this month's "Motherhood Is" blog circle here.

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Motherhood is ....

... blooming where you are planted. A little over a year ago we moved into our new home in a completely new city and started new jobs. I was nervous. Would my business survive being relocated? Would I be able to find new clients near my new home? My daughter's "go with the flow" attitude and ability to be happy & thrive no matter where she is - in the car, at the park, grocery shopping or sitting at the doctor's office has truly inspired me this year. She taught me to bloom where you are planted. Follow the rest of this wonderful blog circle here with my dear friend Courtney of the Rusty Lens

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