Another year, another Valentine's Day, another chance to spread the love to EVERYONE! Something I dislike about this Holiday is that people feel the need to have that "special someone" to spend their day with. If they do not have a special someone they are casted into this lonesome depressing single awareness day haunted by couples. WRONG! You do not need that "special someone" all you need is someone to love on. Don't have anyone to love on? Go find a homeless person and buy them lunch! Today needs to be less about the romance/chocolates and more about the fact that we should be loving on everyone! That is why I have the girls help me make Valentine's Day treats for all our neighbors every year and why I love this Holiday. It is just another reason to go all out for someone else. So I encourage you to share love with somebody random in your life or better yet a complete stranger. Go make someones day! XO
I remember being so overwhelmed when I first started looking at baby products during my pregnancy. I spent many sleepless nights researching the best of the best, but honestly you never know until you try it out for yourself. The list below is what worked for our family and it may work for yours... or it may not. This is just one mamas opinion and I encourage you to find more.
Carseat : Nuna Pipa I absolutely love this carseat. It is sleek and works so well when we travel. It looks like they just came out with two lighter models than the one that I have. I would say that the Nuna definitely feels heavy when baby starts packing on those precious rolls, but the new models look great. Also, if you are a Nordstrom Card holder, buy this through them and grab some extra Nordy Points!
Stroller: Uppa Baby Vista I was going back and forth between Uppa Baby and Bugaboo. I ended up going with Uppa Baby the Vista Model because it can covert from a one to two seater stroller. I knew that Brian and I were planning on having multiple babies close in age so this would be the best bang for my buck. Plus they are super stylish and I LOVE the new leather handles in the recent models. I have traveled with this through airports and all around town. It holds up well and has an amazing amount of storage space. Yes, please! Always down for more space.
Baby Wearing: Solly Wraps + Tula I have enjoyed using both of these and would not be able to pick one over the other. The Solly Wrap is so easy to store, it is light and can fold up to go anywhere. It is great for those Hot summer days and letting your babe snuggle up close. The Tula I did not start using until Karis got bigger and we were going to Baby Barre classes. I have the Standard Baby Carrier so I had to wait until she was 15+ lbs to use it. Still it took awhile because she was too short and I needed the newborn insert. They now have Free-to-Grow Carriers that look amazing. If they had this out when I was purchasing one I would have bought it instead. The Tula has been great for cold weather because it is a lot thicker material. They have lighter carriers for those in hot climates.
Breast pump + Storage: Medela has some awesome breast pumps but I didn't really know which one to purchase. My friend Christina had twins two months before I had Karis and she was great at directing me in this area. She recommended the Sonata Smart Breast Pump and it has worked great. Honestly no complaint. Even though I am a stay at home mom, I still wanted to store milk for when I have babysitters. We use the Kiinde Pouches, Warmer, Bottle, and Nipple - All of these came in the Starter Kit. I am currently booked to travel a lot the beginning of this year and without Karis, I still want EBF with a couple solid foods a day. I will post about traveling while pumping in the next couple months, wish me luck!
Bassinet: Swivel Bassinet : I loved the Swivel Sleeper. Karis' bedroom is located upstairs so I knew we needed a good bassinet for our room downstairs. She slept in there for 7.5 months and it was so convenient while I was breastfeeding in the middle of the night. It is also super sturdy. My husband was concerned that our 110lb Rhodesian might knock it over on accident and that thing was solid. There are different "series". We got one of the nicer ones with all the gadgets and what not - not worth the money. We never used any of it.
My thoughts on The Moses Baskets: Plum and Sparrow has a beautiful line of Moses Basket Bassinets. They are totally insta worthy and you can easily carry them anywhere so the baby can sleep near you. It look me a long time to get one because they would sell out so quick. I ended up using ours maybe once or twice. One of the times I had Karis in there she kicked the side of the basket where a straw was sticking out and it totally cut up her foot. She was bleeding everywhere and crying. Not exactly my idea of a nice napping place. It didn't work for us, but maybe it will work for you.
Noise Machine: I actually saw this product on Shark Tank. Hatch Baby Rest. This is a super cool noise machine and night light that you can customize with sounds/colors all on an app. You can set timers on it and it is made to grow with your baby. It is kind of pricey for a noise machine + night light, but has been so useful. We use it every night.
Baby + Hygiene:
Diapers: Honest Diapers are by far the cutest diapers but Karis' big ol' butt cheeks would not fit well in them. We had major leakage. We did Pampers for awhile, but I felt like they would fall apart, maybe that was just me. Sometimes it feels like a huge blur. I ended up randomly buying Huggies because they were at Costco and Disney print since we were headed on the Disney Cruise (So Hello, we definitely need Disney Diapers). And I ended up loving Huggies the best. They have so far been leak proof even with homegirl's major poop explosions.
Wipes: I love Water Wipes! We have a monthly subscription on Amazon so we get a fresh bunch every month. You can use them all over the baby and I love how pure they are.. 99.9% Water!
Baby Tub: 4moms Infant Tub One of my friends bought us this even though we did not register for it and I absolutely fell in LOVE with it. It was so easy to use and Karis loved it. I am the worst at gauging temperature especially because I love ridiculously hot showers/baths. The thermometer works well on it and I was also fortunate that it fit perfectly in our laundry room sink.
Soap: I used a bunch of different kinds of soaps. California Baby Soap, Johnson & Johnson, Shea Moisture, Organic Goat Milk, and ended up landing on Dove Baby Wash from head to toe. Our Pediatrician gave us a sample and I could not use anything else after that! I love the foam pump and it feels clean/simple. Occasionally I will give Karis an organic milk bath by Osmia Organics.
Lotion: I use both California Baby and Dove Baby. Both smell amazing and moistures her skin so well.
Diaper Rash Ointment: So far we have only had one diaper rash outbreak, but it was a bad one. I tried using California Baby for a couple of weeks and saw some of the rash clear up, but not everything. I then switched to Destin Maximum Strength and it was literally cleared up in one day because of the high percentage of Zinc. We have not had a problem since.
Diaper Pail: We have two different diaper pails since her room is upstairs, but we do a lot of things downstairs. We have Ubbi and Munchkin. I bought two different kinds on purpose so I can see which one works the best. The Ubbi seals off the smell well, though we just recently got into stinky diaper territory, so I am curious to see how well it holds up. What I love about the Ubbi is that it can use any kind of trash bag! The Munchkin we purchased later when she moved up into her room. I love how big it is and how well it seals off the smell, BUT you do have to use their bags and they are pretty pricey. It says that each bag holds up to 180 diapers.
Baby + Play:
Playards: My friend Arissa told me about the 4moms Breeze and I felt like I HAD to have it. This was one of my baby items I was most excited for. It was totally worth every penny and lives up to all the hype. Truth be told I have never used this in the house, but we use it at the ranch. The floors get dirty really quick and this is a great place for her to sleep in. It really is just a push of a button to open it and a quick pull to put it away.
Activity Gym: Karis LOVED her Activity Gym. There are so many great kinds that you can find everywhere. We bought one from Pottery Barn Kids , but I also loved The Land of Nod play mats and gyms. They both have a beautiful line of baby products!
Bouncer/Jumperoo: Karis has so much fun in her little bouncer. She uses it all the time and just giggles. We used this Fisher-Price Jumperoo. It holds up well and she loves all the different activities she can play with.
Swing: We have the MamaRoo, but I cannot remember if it is the current model. *side-note it is crazy how fast they update models. I bought all of this stuff last year (2017) and I already feel like i am out of date. Unfortunately, Karis was not a fan of the MamaRoo and we used it maybe three times. I love the design, I love that you can control it from an app on your phone, and I have heard it worked well for other babies. Maybe the next baby will like it..
Floor Coverings: My friend showed me these AMAZING Mats by Gathre. They are so beautiful and it is pure torture that they always update their line, because it makes you feel like you need and want every new color/design. We have one for under our high chair and then a big one when we go outside. Since we have hardwood floors and I mean hard.. that thing hurts if you hit it right..I started looking into different padding so Karis can practice sitting up, crawl, play, etc. I wanted a non-toxic playmat and found two different types that I love. Creamhaus has a beautiful and thick folding mat that is use easy to use. It reminds me of a tumbling mat.. it is very comfortable and easy to clean. I also love CorkiMat by Pillobebe we have the 6 tile set and sometimes I just use a couple of the squares as opposed to all 6. They are well padded and come in cute designs.
Baby + Eating:
High Chair: Tripp Trapp I love everything about this high chair. It grows with the child, it is easy to clean up, it is designed beautifully, and has been a loved product since 1972! It is a bit pricey for a high chair I must admit, but so worth it.
Bibs: Bapronbaby are my absolute favorite bibs. First off they are full coverage, I can trust that when homegirl goes into full on mess fest that her clothes will be safe. They also come in the cutest designs and they are so easy to clean. LOVE THESE!
Utensils: NumNum Pre-Spoon Gootensil is the only utensil that Karis uses right now. We do not use them all the time because we want her to feel the texture of her food and help her develop her motor skills. But every once awhile we give her these to practice and use while eating.
Plates: We use the ezpz Mats and bowls. Easy to clean, easy to use, and they are so fun!
Baby Led Weaning: I did not really know what BLW was and wanted to learn more about it. I stumbled upon this resource called Feeding Littles that has been SO HELPFUL. I bought their online course during a Holiday special and I plan on buying their Toddler course in the future as well. This is also where I found our favorite bibs, utensils, and plates. I definitely recommend that you check it out. I also have an AMAZING MAMA friend who blogs and is serious #momgoals. Her post on BLW is awesome and she has some other great posts about raising her twins. Check her BLW post out here: The Dismuke Family.
My go-to stores for baby items:
There are many "first" celebrations in a humans life. So here is to Karis' and her first half birthday. Will she have a half birthday party every year? Heck no, but it just so happened that her half birthday landed during our Thanksgiving vacation in California. So why not enjoy some half pies for a half birthday with all your besties?
We rented a space in McKinley Park right next to Sacramento's beautiful rose garden. Both friends and family came out to get together, enjoy some pie, coffee, and a beautiful day in the park. Karis is LOVED by so many amazing people that she does not get to see on a daily basis. I plan to make a huge effort every year to come home and allow her to build her own special relationships with the people I love most. A huge thank you to my family and all of my friends for taking the time to love on us and pray for us even when we live so far away.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite Holidays! Growing up we would always go to either my Grandma's house or my Auntie Kim's house in the Bay Area. I remember wonderful memories at both, but I especially love going to my Aunts because she lives in Alameda. Alameda is a small town outside of the city and walking distance to the beach, it is a beautiful town. On a clear day you can see the San Francisco skyline from the beach!
It was a perfect overcast day and also Karis' first Thanksgiving.. so I gave my dad a crash course in photography and took some fun family pictures at the beach! She squished those itty bitty toes into the sand and was all smiles.
There was a lot of excitement behind this trip. It was my first time going home for a Holiday in over two years, Karis' first Thanksgiving, and Karis' first time meeting my extended family! My Grandma was the absolute cutest with her. She immediately grabbed her when she came through the door and DID NOT put her down until she had to leave. It was so great to be with family in my home state.
Claire turned the big 1-0 today!
And we could not be more proud of the person that she is growing into.
So we headed on over to the Confetti Room at Montrose Studio to document this special day!
Because.. well.. you only turn 10 once.
One of my favorite things about Claire is the way that she loves her sister. As an only child who had gone through a tremendous amount of change within the last couple of years, I was worried that the addition of another girl in the family would be a negative experience. BUT Claire proved me wrong! She has taken Karis in and loved her whole heartedly. The bond that these two share is so special and I am incredibly proud of Claire. She loves others genuinely and well.
We are so thankful for the LIFE and JOY that Claire brings to this family.
So here are 10 things that we absolutely love about Claire:
1. She loves Jesus : She goes out of her way to tell others about Jesus with no shame or hidden agenda. We are most proud of her girls bible study that she created all on her own.
2. Family comes first : There is nobody she would rather be with than her family. She has been raised by many family members (Fun Fact: her first word was Dee Dee) and is quick to accept new ones. She accepted me with open arms and loves spending time with my parents, her Pop Pop and Grandma (especially at Disneyland). My family is so appreciative of the way she loves us.
3. She makes the best of situations : Life isn't always easy but she makes it look that way. No one is going to rain on her parade!
4. She is ALWAYS smiling : I think her favorite thing to do is smile. People have always commented that she smiles in all that she does and it is a beautiful smile at that!
5. She goes out of her way to make other people feel included
6. She toots her own horn: She is confident in her ways. From the way she dresses, talks, walks, runs, and even her silly animals noises. Homegirl owns it and she owns it well.
7. She is passionate about studying animals : Fun fact did you know that an armadillo is related to an elephant? This is the kind of fact she spits out at least 10 times a day in this house.
8. She has a good sense of humor and makes herself laugh
9. She likes to explore new places : She has become a great traveler, thanks to her daddy.
10. She's a total daddy's girl : Lord knows she loves her daddy. Lol.
Let me start out by saying having a blended family is HARD! I totally understand why Jesus created marriage to be a one time thing, because there are so many struggles that each family member has to deal with. As a stepmom I deal with learning how to mold into Brian and Claire's life while trying to also bring my values, goals, or family traditions. Brian has to learn how to adjust to co-parenting with someone totally new and Claire has to learn to adjust to just about EVERYTHING.... It is just a lot of adjusting while trying to take into account everyones emotions/feelings/timing..
But as the holidays approach us I get frustrated with the same yearly dilemma of not getting to spend the "major" holidays with the whole family. It is not out of selfishness, because I think it is very important for Claire to spend time with her mom and her mom's side of the family. Claire always tells me about the wonderful memories she creates with her mom and cousins, I am truly happy that she gets those special moments. It is just out of sadness that I want the whole family together especially with this year being all of Karis' firsts!
For example we were not able to visit the pumpkin patch this year because of how the weekends worked out, but I was desperate for Karis' to get her first pumpkin pictures. Thankfully our sweet friend Elizabeth Jones took these snap shots. I was bummed to not have Claire be in the pictures with her sister but it was one of those "it is what is it" situations. I am not sure that things will get easier as more babies come into the picture and the kids get older, BUT I am thankful that at least we get to spend one "major" holiday a year as a whole family unit. If you are a seasoned blended family I would love to hear your input on what works for you and your family. In the meantime enjoy these ridiculously adorable pictures of Karis during her first October outside of the womb!
OH. MY. GOODNESS. decorating Karis' room was too much fun. I very much wanted this baby to be a little boy, but I am so thankful that it turned out to be a girl! I wanted the room to be bright and dreamy, girly but not TOO girly, and I think that I captured just what I wanted.
Woodlands animals are totally in right now, but I was super picky about the type of print I wanted. I found these gems on Etsy and felt like they added the perfect touch of black that the room needed.
The black and white polka dot wall is EVERYYYYTHING!
If you have any questions about the room please email me and I would be happy to share!
All photographs captured by Vienna Glenn Photography
Okay Mamas, give me some grace in that fact that this is my first time giving birth. I have done my "research", but like all things you really do not know what to expect until you actually do something. So this is what I have put together through different website lists, blog posts from other moms, and advice given from friends.
I have been told that comfort is key in "relaxing" during this not so relaxing time of life. I purchased the Mama Bundle set from Francis & Henry and boy am I happy that I did. Included in this set is a nursing dress, cardigan, headband, swaddle blanket, and Eve & Rose body oil. They come in various neutral colors (which is my go to anyways) and everything is incredibly soft. Like ridiculously soft. It comes packaged beautifully in the box pictured above and I cannot wait to use it in the hospital.
In addition to the nursing dress and cardigan above I packed some good ol' granny panties and a nursing bra that was purchased from Hatch. I have been told granny panties are a must and who am I trying to impress anyways? No one. I also packed travel size Aveda for showering (which I have heard differing mom opinions on if you really use the hospital shower), some Kopari coconut lotion, and Philosophy purity face wipes.
Here is an overall list of what I have packed, hopefully I use it all and if not I will come back and update!
Wet brush hairbrush
My own towel (for shower)
Baby go on outfit
Iphone + Charger
Portable speakers to play calming music
My own blanket
Printed out copy of my birthing plan
Small thank you gifts for staff
Handkerchief for tears of joy (or pain)
Comfortable slip on shoes
Snacks - Mostly protein bars
Happy Cinco De Mayo y'all! May your day be filled with lots of tacos, laughter, and fun!
I had so much fun snapping photos of Brian and Claire in their matching taco shirts. They are quite the dynamic duo and pretty much inseparable. Twins and best friends; these two are peas in a pod. I love their relationship and their love for tacos. If you want matching taco shirts for your loved ones check out Etsy!
Let me start off by stating that I am incredibly thankful for this pregnancy. I feel so blessed to be carrying this little miracle, but pregnancy has not been all sunshine and rainbows. Fortunately, I have had no morning sickness and my emotions are manageable. I have not had any cravings or smells that make me want to vomit. But the constant exhaustion in the first and third trimester have been draining the life out of me, I am uncomfortable with all the changes in my body, and there are so many insecurities I hold with all the unknown. I stay awake at night worrying and trying to “perfect” what our little blended family will look like.
How will I find the perfect balance in making everyone feel loved in the family?
What is the best way to transition Claire from an only child to a big sister?
How do we make sure Claire does not feel left out when she is away from us during the Holidays?
These questions had my mind spinning and reading every parenting book/article I can put my hands on. Then I decided to just let it all go. I cannot expect to be a perfect stepmom or mom, nor should anyone else expect me to. But I can pray, I can try, and I can learn from my mistakes.
After deciding to let it go and give it to Jesus I have had this overwhelming peace. Joy comes with the peace in accepting that I will mess up from time to time. I feel so relaxed and simply waiting for the arrival of baby Karis.
How Far Along: 32, almost 33 weeks!
Size of Karis: A classic (but stylish) looking fanny pack
Symptoms: Not being able to sleep at night and obsessive nesting.
Loving: The nesting part: I am an organizer, a list maker, a doer… so this experience has been great for me. I also appreciate how much she kicks, it tells me that she is doing okay. And oh my word, the nursey decorating has been so much fun. Makes me excited for the next baby – too soon?
Loathing: Bending over to pick things up, getting in and out of the car, getting in and out of bed. It feels like a full workout trying to do normal things with this belly.
Movement: She is constantly moving and will not stop. Sometimes I ask, very nicely, if she can just chill for a second so I can get some sleep. She does not like it when I put a book on top of my belly to read at night or if Balboa rests his head on my belly while sleeping. She will start fussing and trying to kick off whatever is on my belly. (Already a bossy little girl – mama is going to have to change that).
Missing Most: Fitting into my old clothes, I miss dressing up. That and a simple glass of wine would be nice.
Can’t Wait: To hold and snuggle sweet baby girl. To start working out again and do a cleanse. For Claire to hold Karis and become a big sister.
All photographs taken by: Kati Hewitt Photography
Claire and I LOVE pineapple. Brian not so much, but he was a trooper and tried the Dole pineapple ice cream (which is also served at Disneyland if you cannot make the trip to Hawaii). We toured around the Dole plantation, conquered the Dole pineapple maze (thanks to Claire), and bought some fun souviners.
Welzie is a local artist who started out as a surfboard shaper with a rad imagination. People started to recognize his designs reflected on surfing style and the local surroundings of Hawaii. Sure enough everyone wanted a piece of his art. This is a mural that he painted outside of a North Shore shop. I was also able to purchase some cool designs of his artwork for my office! Win win situation. If you are interested in his artwork check his site out here.
Matsumoto's shaved ice is a MUST in North Shore. Every single time we go to Hawaii we have to stop and grab one. I am not even a fan of shaved ice, but this is on a whole different level. They have a wide selection of flavor choices and a huge bonus is that you can add ice cream at the bottom of it. WORTH IT!
Claire was stoked to see some sea turtles. Believe it or not these are the smallest sea turtles I have ever seen. We normally come to Oahu in November and see sea turtles that are double to triple in the size of these little babies. But we still had a blast and loved watching them swim around in the ocean.
Yay! Spring Break is upon us and it the eve of our adventure off to Oahu, Hawaii. This is our last big family trip before Karis makes her way into the world. So this is our "Spring Break + BabyMoon" vacation. Oahu is one of my favorite places to visit and I have been so fortunate to grow up on the west coast, which makes the island hop a short 5 hour journey. Now that I live in Texas I understand why Texans do not go to Hawaii as often as west coasters. It is a solid 8.5 hour flight to Hawaii from Houston, Texas. Yikes, I might as well be going international! So I made a list of my favorite things as far as long flight entertainment and comfort goes. This flight will be quite a different journey in itself as I am currently 28 weeks pregnant, but I would say Hawaii is worth the sacrifice.
These are my to go for comfort on long flights:
1. Travel Blanket: Is it just me or is it freezing on long flights?
2. Compression socks: These work wonders on long flights to help circulate the blood flow
5. Savvy Travel Wipes: I bought a jet setter pack that had various types. I like the tech wipes and teeth wipes the best
I have found this to be my perfect combination of things to do on a long flight:
1. MacBook : because this provides endless possibilities of entertainment
3. Sudoku : It's my favorite puzzle
4. Sketch book + essentials bag full of my favorite pens : this is to practice hand lettering, make to-do lists, and/or let Claire sketch
5. My current book : Parenting with Love & Logic (THE BEST PARENTING BOOK I HAVE EVER READ)
Happy Valentine's Day sweet friends! Claire and I had so much fun dressing up in matching mom/dot shirts and taking pictures at this colorful heart mural in Houston. We spent the day making sweet memories, yummy treats for all our neighbors, and the cutest Valentine's Day cards for Claire's classmates.
Claire INSISTED on having her Valentine's Day themed animals for the photo shoot! And who am I to say no to this sweet girl? They made for fun props during the shoot.
Any excuse to make yummy treats! Claire and I wanted to make sure everyone felt loved on Valentine's Day so we bought the most adorable heart pans from Williams Sonoma and made brownies for each household on our street. She went hard on making sure that whisk was licked clean. Silly girl loves her chocolate, just like her daddy.
We took a short break after making heart brownies and decided we needed some well deserved hot chocolate and mini pies. How ADORABLE are these Williams Sonoma Valentine's Day dish collection? Too adorable.
We ended our day crafting our hearts and souls into making each classmate a personalized Valentine's Day card. Paper Source had an amazing DIY card collection, so we chose Dinosaurs for the boys and Mermaids for the girls. This literally took us hours to put together each card and candy bag, but we did it and we did it well. I had so much fun laughing and spending sweet time with this girl. I am so thankful to be a part of her life and share memories like today. Hope you all have the sweetest Valentine's Day and that you feel extra loved. XO
This past year has been a busy year for our family. We were married in July, moved into our new home in August, found out we were pregnant in September, and added a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy to our family in November (post to come).
There were times when I felt overwhelmed and exhausted (especially during my first trimester). There have been so many changes in such a short amount of time, but every single one of them have been an incredible blessing..
I had convinced myself that this pregnancy was going to produce a wee baby boy. I told everyone I was sure it was a boy and I am pretty sure that I convinced most of the people around me that it was a boy. When we received the results, I immediately sent them off to my sister-in-law, Amanda. Brian and I had discussed how we wanted the whole family to find out what the gender was with us. We were given the results mid-November and waited until both sides of the family were in Southern California for our New Years vacation. Amanda did a fabulous job of keeping a secret and organizing our reveal. (Thanks Amanda!)
Turns out we are having a baby girl! I was in complete shock, but now that I have had time to let it settle in I could not be more excited for the adventure to come. Claire is going to make the BEST big sister, it brings tears to my eyes thinking about the bond/memories that she will get to have with this sweet baby girl. Brian has already shown me what an amazing father he is and I am excited to continue to learn how to parent along side him. Welcome to our family Karis Olivia Craft, we cannot wait to meet you this upcoming May!
Photography by Rachel Jane Photography
We love Napa! I grew up close to Napa so it was where we had our first date and a couple years later - where we found out we were PREGNANT! (which was this trip, to be exact.) Needless to say, Napa is a very special place for us.
We made this trip with one of our favorite couple friends to enjoy the wineries and Indy Race! We literally found out 10 minutes before leaving on our winery tours that I was pregnant. I had a hunch and made Brian go get me a pregnancy test just to be on the safe side. Sure enough it was positive and there went my day of wine tasting. Which I was fine with... because I WAS PREGNANT! The rest of the day was spent trying hard not to tell every single stranger about our exciting news.
“You plan the honeymoon and I will plan the wedding”, is what I told Brian last year. He agreed and exceeded any fairytale expectations that I had of a honeymoon. It was the perfect combination between relaxation, romance, and adventuring off into the unknown.
The stars shone bright, the food was fresh, the ocean filled with the most beautiful fish, but what stood out most of all were the people of Fiji. It was such a humbling experience to be able to be with the villagers and learn about their everyday life. Most of their homes had no doors and they slept on the dirt floors. The kids attend school on their home island for grades K-8 and then move to the big island to continue high school. What made them so unique is the genuine contentment with their lives. Everything was so simple and they were so happy. You could see it in the way they smiled, sang, and laughed with one another. Life is good.
They introduced us to so many cool things about their culture, such as Kava, their famous Fijian drink! They mix the powdered root of the pepper plant, Kava, with water and drinking it causes a numbing sensation around your mouth. They say that if you drink 5 “high tide” (meaning full) bowls of Kava that you will have the best sleep you have ever had. We had a fun time watching them make it and they taught us the proper way to drink Kava, which included two claps acknowledging your acceptance of the drink and then two claps after you drink to say thank you.
In addition to being able to go to the village and a Fijian church service, many of the locals worked at the resort we were staying, Qamea Resort and Spa. They were so kind and quickly became our friends. “Bula Ana, Bula Brian!” is the way we were greeted everywhere we went on the resort. (Bula means hello in Fijian) The community aspect of the resort made me feel at home, in the way you feel a sense of ease around your family or close friends. We had the best time meeting couples from around the world and learning about the Fijian culture. I highly recommend going to visit for a celebration or just for fun. Big thanks to my hubby for planning everything, love you!
Our wedding was held in Winters, CA at Park Winters on July 22, 2016
All photographs were taken by: Vienna Glenn Photography
Say hello to beautiful baby Adeline (in the pink) and handsome baby Espy (in green). We had so much fun loving on these sweet 1 month and 2 month old babies. They have some of the best moms and I am excited to watch them grow up!
Christi Reynolds was my make up artist who became a dear friend. I am so thankful that God put her in my life, she has been so encouraging to me.
Jessica Reynaga has done my hair for every homecoming, prom, senior ball, and now my wedding. She is the mother of one of my best friends and I was so happy to have her share another special day with me!
The pictures captured of Brian and Claire are some of my favorites! They are two peas in a pod, I adore their relationship and how close they are to one another. They are truly best friends!
The back of that dress though.... in the words of Geena, "FIRE!"
A huge thank you to both friends and family! This day would be nothing without you all. We love you!
When I was first engaged my YoungLife kids prayed over mine and Brian's relationship, one of my favorite things someone prayed was that our wedding would be the least exciting part of our marriage. While I loved our special day, I am looking forward to creating a lifetime of memories and adventures with this sweet man! Xo
I am so excited to share with you our wedding details. I was very fortunate to be working with such great people, from the owners of the Inn, the florist, my photographer, the DJ, the bakery, and all of the people who helped put it together. I could not have asked for a more perfect, stress free day!
All pictures were captured by Vienna Glenn Photography. (My one non-negotiable for this wedding, she is amazing on so many levels!)
Polaroid cameras + Washi tape + Gel pens = Perfection
There is a small house on the property that was once the original homeowners. The new owners have made it into a beautiful vintage styled home with dried bouquets from several weddings.
I fell in love with these vintage doors and knew they would create the perfect alter.
Visual Impact Design brought our wedding to life with these beautiful flower arrangements. The doors, the tables, my bouquet were designed exactly how I had envisioned them.
And of course a wedding would not be a wedding without calligraphy, something I lack in. A huge thank you to my cousin Samantha.
Any Sacramento local knows that Freeport Bakery is THE bakery to go to. They designed a beautiful naked cake. We could not decide between all the cake choices so we ended up choosing both the buttermilk with lemon mousse, and the chocolate with strawberry mousse. Yum.
The invitations, programs, menus, and escort cards were all created by Be In Love Designs. She was great to work with and knew how to design exactly what I wanted.
Those of you who know me or my family would know that Disney goes hand in hand with our everyday lives. Disneyland was a huge part of my childhood, it was where I met my husband, where I had my engagement pictures done, I have a Mickey Mouse tattoo - you get the picture. While I have obsessed over Disney and its philosophies about love/life I never really thought about how their character development of stepmoms has shaped their audiences opinions.
Disney has done a fantastic job at turning step moms into the villain of the story. They are often selfish, demeaning, and down right cruel. As a child I thought, "She is the worst, poor Cinderella!" But besides hating them in movies, I have never taken an interest into the complexities of stepparent-hood , but then again why would I? I did not grow up thinking, "I want to be a stepmom someday" and I am sure that most women would agree that was not a thought as a little girl. I am going to be honest, it is tough emotionally and trying to find that perfect balance is a constant internal battle.
You want to love and support your partner in being a parent. At the same time you need to let the biological parent take over in discipline and overall a lot of the major decisions regarding your stepson or daughter. This does not mean that you can not have a say in the matter, but they need to be the ones who directly address whatever the child(ren) need to hear.
You want to love the child(ren) just as you would love and raise your own. But it is different, for me I was not in Claire's life until she was 6 years old, I am coming into the game late and it easily can make me feel like an outsider at times.
You do not want to over step the birth mom's role, but instead encourage a healthy relationship. To do so would be the biggest example of love, forgiveness, and selflessness - which is a tough thing to tackle.
After tossing and turning on those nights when frustration would overcome me I came to a simple realization. Claire is not my child, just as any future babies I give birth to will not be my child, they (we) are all children of God. As a parent our purpose is to love, support, and guide children in this world - then we learn to release them to God and to trust that they will learn to love Him and allow Him into their hearts to guide them through life. While this is easier said than done because we are so emotionally attached to our children, I have been blessed with the opportunity to experience how to parent in this way before I have children that I birth into this world. I feel so honored that Jesus has blessed me with Claire. I love our relationship and how much we have grown together. I am sure, as any relationship with another person, we will have our ups and downs. I just need to focus on the overall goal: loving Claire and leading her toward Christ, who is her true protector and parent.
Our soon to be family is part of a wonderful small group. Besides our Sunday night dinner and bible study we get to actively encourage each other throughout everyday life. One special occasion that we recently celebrated was Colin’s Ironman Triathlon.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Ironman let me break down this extremely challenging course for you.
Part 1: Swim 2.4 miles Part 2: Bike 112 miles Part 3: Run 26.2 miles
Jaw-Dropping, am I right? I get exhausted just thinking about how intense this race is. For our friend Colin this was his SECOND time completing the race. [Oh, no big deal.] His wife, Christina, organized a surprise celebration for when he crossed the finish line. She was a trooper! She ran around, prayed, and encouraged Colin throughout the entire race. We showed up about 30 minutes before he crossed the finish line and jumped up and down as we saw him pass. I cannot imagine the feeling of victory he must have felt as he crossed the line. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about the accomplishment of it all.
We are so lucky to have such good friends in Texas. I love living life with them and sharing special moments. They have become my Texas family and our soon to be family is better because of them.