First Day EVER!

Yes. It’s true! Tuesday was Ezekiel’s first day of 4K! Many of you have been asking about it after seeing his sudden school pictures pop up on my IG Story, so I thought I’d share a little (errrr a lot) about how this all came to be! I know several moms who’ve found it difficult to decide if/where/when they should enroll their pre-kinders… So I don’t think I’m the only one who had such a tough time committing to a solid plan! 

First off — this was a total last-minute decision after an entire summer of contemplating several variables. Just practically speaking, Ezekiel is an early-October baby, so he misses Oregon’s age requirement (5 yrs) for Kindergarten by just 34 days, and the early admission application requirement by just 4 days, yet he’s learned most of which is taught in pre-school already so… therein lies a dilemma. On top of that, Z has been totally against the idea of going to school PERIOD –  in fact – the mentioning of such absurdities over the last 2 years would often melt him down to a pool of tears. And this is where the not-so-practical variables come into play.

Ever since being separated from me for some  2.5 months while Cruz was in the hospital, Ezekiel has dealt with mild-to-severe separation anxiety, and he developed a couple nervous tics as well. That said, both of these issues have been almost unnoticeable since baby Valor arrived, and the only time his anxiety would typically surface was when he’d think about going to school. “I’m never going to school, I’m never going to college like Uncle Austin, I’m never getting married like you and daddy did, because I already told you I’m living with you forever and ever!“, he’d cry.😊 Although it was cute/sweet to hear such innocent declarations, it was hard to console him without promising an unrealistic lifetime of never leaving my side😰😂 The most surprising/unexpected of all his bawling sessions  was a couple months ago while we were watching Goofy (the one where his son, Max, moves out to go live on-campus) and suddenly he was shedding crocodile tears all over the couch and asking why life had to be this way😆  I’m sure his responses are totally normal to a degree, but I’ve had to be extra sensitive with these meltdowns because of his insecurities that stem from grief and abandonment anxiety. Do I attempt to teach him at home even though I KNOW I don’t have the right temperament whatsoever, or do I force him to leave every day and risk adding even more emotional stressors??? 

After months and months of feeling torn between homeschooling and private school, a new school arrived on the scene.  I’m sure those that know me personally (and the ins/outs of how this school came to be) might make their own assumptions about why it feels “right”, but all familiarities and connections set completely aside, I was still skeptical until I found out the name of this new school was VALOR! For some reason this seemingly-insignificant coincidence was all it took to tip the scales of my conflicted heart, and plans to enroll Ezekiel in 2017 were set in place, regardless of whether he wanted to go or not. I guess sometimes we just need a tiny seal of confirmation to nudge us down an unfamiliar path. 

BUT THENNNNN…. Ezekiel suddenly flipped the switch on us last week when we spontaneously toured “next year’s” classrooms! He got to see where his desk would be, he played in the Kinetic sand boxes, met most of the school staff… and I saw his face light up like a Christmas tree! 😍🎄 “Mom, I want to go to school now, when I’m 4 !” he said, while not breaking eye-contact with a stuffed animal he’d grown rather attached toNext thing I knew, I was closing down Target on Labor Day trying to find school supplies off of picked-over shelves that looked like they’d been pillaged by ransacking thieves lol. And although he started out the year with the wrong-sized supply box and zero “Tyconderoga” pencils 😳 (among several other things), what mattered to me was that he walked into that room full of new faces with confidence and excitement, and he came home bursting at the seams with fun tidbits about his day, listing off a series of names that belonged to the new friends he had made.

I’m still shocked that he’s officially in school right now, and as I sit here typing the house is unusually quiet… but my heart – and most importantly his heart – is happy! “Ahhhhh”, [as I take a sweet sigh of relief] I’ve finally found peace-of-mind when it comes to his education vs. well-being 😌 I thought being away from him would be hard, but it’s surprising how easy it is to let someone go from 8-3 when you’re used to missing someone who never comes home 💙 

Now the question is, how’s Valor gonna do without his daytime playmate!? So far, he’s needed a LOT more attention from Mama, which is why it’s taken me two days to draft this short little update 😜 Oh that #momlife… 

I hope everyone’s back-to-school week has been nice to you! Stay strong, the weekend is near! 

XOXO,

Brittney


“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Eph. 4:32

The 10 Best Things About Palm Springs

#doorgoals

#doorgoals

You may be thinking, how would SHE know the ten BEST things about Palm Springs??? Well, first of all, these are the 10 best things in my opinion, and secondly, my opinion is based off of the past DECADE of visits! Yes, 2016 actually marks ten years of experiencing the desert. My first trip to PS was 12 years ago with Jared’s family – when the hubs and I were still dating – and we’ve vacationed there every year since (with the exception of 2012 when we bought the colonial, and last year, when I was living in Palo Alto CA for the entire month of July waiting for Valor to make his debut)! Over these past 10 visits I’ve gotten more and more familiar with both Palm Springs and Palm Desert, and I can comfortably/confidently say: there are 10 pretty fabulous things that make Palm Springs such an attractive vacation-destination!

1. the hot heat

OK. If you like it HOT, then PS is the place for you! How hot? REAL HOT. BUT NOT BAD-HOT. There’s a major difference between, “I’m a sticky-sweaty-mess, DON’T BEAPIN’ TOUCH ME”, and, “I just wanna take a drive on the highway with the windows down and crank up Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling'”!  So… let’s have a quick lesson on humidity, shall we? Whenever I tell a fellow Oregonian that PS typically runs anywhere between 101 – 117 degrees during the summer months, they look at me like I’m crazy and say, “I COULDN’T STAND THAT”! But that’s because Portland feels uncomfortable when the thermometer barely reaches the 90s. A perfect example of this: Oregon doesn’t often hit the triple-digits, but this week we scaled up to 99-100 and I felt like I was overheating…. I even saw an “extreme heat” warning when looking up the local humidity levels online lol. We’re talking about desert heat here, where the air is dry and rarely muggy. I’ve also experienced PS in November, and that was absolutely LOVELY weather (literally perfect temps) but I know it’s harder for families to get away during the school year. Of course, you’re gonna be hot – duh – but you shouldn’t be sweating profusely like one would in Portland at such extreme temperatures. Unless you’re laying out at the pool for 2 hours straight while sunbathing like we do every morning on vacay, but that’s what jumping into the cold water is for! I’m convinced you’ll become addicted to overdosing on those vitamin D rays while sipping your iced coffee and listening to the sweet song of the katydid crickets no matter HOW hot it is………… annnnnnd suddenly I have the 1960s hit HEÃT WÃVE stuck in my head! 🎶 🎶 🎶

Marriott's Desert Spring Villas

bathing suit from @albionfit

(tanning tips: get your layout-time in/done by noon, and freeze your bottled water the night before so you’re not drinking warm fluids!)

2. the pretty palms

I suppose for some of you this isn’t much of a selling point, especially if you live where palm trees are indigenous to your area, but for me – they are EVERYTHING. Tell me… is there anyone in this world who doesn’t like them!? I call them “calm trees”, because there’s just something about them that brings an immediate feeling of R&R to my weary soul. And the cacti! Did I mention the cacti!? There are plenty of different varieties covering the desert grounds for all you cactus-lovers out there! We usually drive down instead of fly (to save money on plane tix /car rental), and once we cross the California border I have fun trying to spot the first palm tree. (SUCH A DORK!) Granted, the first several palm trees we see in the northernmost parts of CA are often scraggly and few n’ far between, however it’s when the streets suddenly become lined with perfectly manicured palms on both sides that I know – WE HAVE ARRIVED! The city does a diligent job keeping their bushy beards groomed, but I’ll take my palm trees in any way, shape or form😉 Now, if only I could figure out how to grow one in my swampy yard……

wamp😭wamp😪

3. the good food

Yes, I’m sometimes guilty of still hittin’ up the all-familiar-chain-restaurants when I’m out of town, because it can be overwhelming to find something new/good that’s really worth venturing out for. But there are some mouthwatering dishes being served at these following places that should be tasted by ALL, and I’m not about to let you miss out!

When in Rome… one must try:

norma's

Norma’s

Serving comfort food, pie, and breakfast all day, Norma’s is located at The Parker –

4200 E Palm Canyon Dr. Palm Springs, CA 92264

El Jefe Saguaro

El Jefe

El Jefe is a kid-friendly Mexican tequila bar (within the Saguaro hotel) that has the BEST-DRESSED CORN-ON-THE-COB this side of the border, so make sure you hit them up on Taco Tuesday!

1800 E Palm Canyon Dr. Palm Springs, CA 92264

The Daily Grill 73061 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Daily Grill

Located on a fun little strip called “The Shops On El Paseo”, Daily Grill has a killer Sunday brunch including bottomless mimosas and homemade monkey bread! Not to mention, they have super cute black/white checker floors😉 (You’ll most likely wanna window-shop the ritzy storefronts afterwards too, just for fun!)

73061 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260

LULU

LULU

LULU is a retro-glam bistro on the main drag of downtown PS that’s worth a stop for their giant chandeliers, 5-Star 4-Course Dinner, and their scrumptious Vichyssoise (a potato and leek soup served deliciously cold)!

200 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Cliffhouse

Cliffhouse

With an amazing outdoor patio and a twisting staircase entrance that winds through the rocky cliff, Cliffhouse is an upscale-casual Coachella Valley favorite!

78250 CA-111, La Quinta, CA 92253v

Palm Desert The River

The River

In case your appetite is NOT feeling super adventurous, The River at Rancho Mirage is a GREAT spot where you’ll find some popular chain restaurants (and stores), built over a giant manmade river! Just decide what you’re in the mood for and take your pick from: Five Guys, Ben&Jerry’s, Starbucks, Baja Fresh, Cheesecake Factory, BB’s, PF Chang’s, Babes, Fleming’s, Yard House, GIOIA, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory! This is also our favorite Century Theaters in Palm Desert as well, so if you love movie-dates as much as we do, take your main-squeeze to THE RIVER! There’s a little bit of everything really (including a Forever21🙂 )

 71-800 CA-111, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

4. the famous hotels

Palm Springs has many gorgeous resorts, but I just HAD to give some attention to two of my faves. We’re talking….. you’ll want to move in and never leave… like EVER.

The Saguaro  1800 E Palm Canyon Dr. Palm Springs, CA 92264

The Saguaro is a fun, colorful, playful, party-like atmosphere that is captivating for all ages. Even if you only stop in for a quick peek (remember you can grab a bite at El Jefe!), it’s just an experience worth having no matter how short your stay may be. They have different events throughout the year, so checkout their website to see what’s going on while you’ll be in town!

@saguaroPS

@saguaroPS

 

 

Parker  (the old Autry Hotel) 4200 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

Parker Palm Springs

I’m all about architectural history! I may not be good at remembering other historical facts lol, but buildings just fascinate me. It’s interesting to think of who once stood within the walls that you now stand! So of course I fell in love with the Parker because not only is it a piece of art to fix/feast your eyes upon, but it has a romantic story as well.

building history: Gene Autry purchased this property in 1961 to house his baseball team (the California Angels) during spring training. After 33 years in the hotel biz, Autry sold the property to his hotel director and The Autry was then turned into a French themed resort using designer Hubert de Givenchy (the designer used by Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy and AUDREY HEPBURN at the time!) BTW, it still feels totally French, especially the outdoor gardens, pools, and patios! Autry and his wife continued to live at the hotel in a private residence located at the rear of the property, which is now open for public reservation! In 1998, the hotel was purchased by Merv Griffin and renamed Merv Griffin’s Resort Hotel and Givenchy Spa, and suddenly the resort became a hotspot for celebrities! (A little celebrity gossip: Robert Downey Jr. was actually staying in room 311 when he was arrested for drug possession in 2000, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie stayed here while shooting a cover-story for W magazine in 2005, but apparently stayed in separate rooms! Gasssp!) Anyway, the resort was eventually sold to Epix Hotels and was vacated. So sad to think something this beautiful was just abandoned! But then hotelier / knight in shining armor, Jack Parker, purchased the resort in 2003 and hired designer Jonathan Adler for a $27 MILLION remodel… thus resulting in the jaw-dropping masterpiece it is today 😍

entrance

entrance

happy hour lounge

obsessed

the aestate

artwork by the lovely @theaestate

This is my "I'm so hot I could faint but MUST GET A PICTURE in front of this door" face😳 We had just come back from exploring the Parker Gardens and it was hotter than hell, but worth the sweat 💦 Their never-ending-maze-of-a-courtyard was like a secret slice of Europe tucked away in the midst of the desert! Basically, these doors could be called the magical wardrobe to the South of France 🇫🇷 NBD

We took this picture right after exploring their never-ending-maze-of-a-courtyard! It was seriously like discovering a secret slice of Europe tucked away in the midst of the desert! Basically, these doors should be called the magical wardrobe to the South of France 🇫🇷 NBD

Now obviously both of these hotels are a little on the spendy side, but like I said above, both have awesome restaurants that you MUST indulge in regardless! I would recommend staying in Palm Desert if you’re wanting to cut costs, because hotels are a little more affordable when you stay just outside Palm Springs.

5. the coachella tramPalm Springs Tramway

If you’re not afraid of heights (like my husband is), Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is actually the WORLD’S largest rotating tramcar, and it ascends 2.5 miles into the wilderness where one can go on a guided nature walk, hiking, even camping, and end the day at either Pines Café (a cafeteria-style restaurant), or Peaks (a fine-dining restaurant with an incredible view of Coachella Valley that will leave you in awe of God’s creation)!

  1 Tram Way Palm Springs, CA 92262

(If you’re looking for even more extreme family outings, checkout

Wet ‘n’ Wild Palm Springs, or Magical Adventure Balloon Rides!)

6. the designer shopping

I prefer to shop in 3 marketplaces – online, small brands I’ve found among the IG community, and VACATION. I save/budget accordingly, so that I’ll have a decent amount of clothing money set aside for shopping every year. WHY? I worked at Nordstrom for about 4 years and I can remember countless times where I’d be pulling stuff from the floor that was “Racked” (aka, being sent to Nordstrom’s Rack), and the instructions would say which Rack each item was being sent to. Very rarely would I rack a high-end-designer-piece that was being sent to my local Rack because Portlandia is too green to buy clothes that haven’t been recycled 7 times lol! (I say that tongue-in-cheek, but you get my point.) Almost every steal-of-a-deal-big-name-item was sent to the Racks of CALIFORNIA… and now you’re starting to see where I’m going with this! $200 Rebecca Minkoff purse for $89? YES PLEASE! Want $100 off a pair of Joe’s Jeans perhaps? OF COURSE I DO! How about a pair of go-with-everything-pumps for 90% off????  YEPI’LL TAKE THOSE TOO.

Cabazon Mall

So, gotta lot of shopping to do??? Let me be your guide 😏

1. The Desert Hills Premium Outlets

THIS PLACE IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCE TO BELIEVE! Make sure to dress in shoes made for (miles of) walking, and plan on it taking 2 separate trips to cover the whole mall! There are 180+ stores offering anywhere from 25-65% off retail prices, plus if you stop by Guest Services you’ll get a VIP coupon-book full of additional secret-savings!

48400 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230

2. Desert Crossing Shopping Center

Including but not limited to: Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, Target, Ulta, Pier 1, annnnd CHIPOTLE! Every year I find at least ONE item at Marshall’s and/or TJ’s that was worth hunting through all the rubbish!

111 Fred Waring Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260

3. Westfield Palm Desert

Just your basic mall, but worth going because they have a Windsor! When I first went to Windsor a few years back I didn’t realize they were a storefront for the same @windsorstore I followed on IG, so this year I made it a point to stop and checkout some of their items in person! Also, this mall has BUNGEE JUMPING!

72-840 California 111, Palm Desert, CA 92260

4. The Nordstrom Rack Town Center Square

Including but not limited to: The Rack, Home Goods, Whole Foods, and (the best mani/pedi for the price at) Anne’s Nails! I spent MOST of my budget at this Rack. Just sayin’!!!

44449 Town Center Way, Palm Desert, CA 92260

7. the desert dinosaurs

The Cabazon Dinosaurs are a MUST SEE! These larger-than-life replicas are absolutely spectacular, and they’re conveniently located next to the Cabazon outlets, so be sure to stop by for your kiddos thennnnn go shop till you drop😛 There are two giant dinosaurs and a gift shop that are able to be seen/toured from the road, and there’s actually seating (provided by Burger King) underneath the belly of the brachiosaurus if you want to order lunch and eat with the dinos – but if you’d like to see ALL the dinosaurs you can buy tickets for $10 each, between 10am – 7pm daily!

50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230

8. the presley place

Yep, Elvis really did live here! He and his wife Priscilla spent their honeymoon and first year of marriage living in this 5,500 sqft mid-century “House of Tomorrow”. It’s three stories stacked in four concentric circles, without one square room in the house! Crazy right!? Looks like The King had good taste in more than just fashion and music😎 They do tours on the daily (at 1pm and 3:30), but don’t make the same mistake we did this year! One must call ahead to reserve a tour guide at this number (760) 322-1192, or visit elvishoneymoon.com

Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway

The Presley Estate has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Architectural Digest, and The Travel Channel – no surprise! Now,  A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION and a little more getting your butt on VACATION, PLEASE!!!

1350 Ladera Cir, Palm Springs, CA 92262

walk of stars

other things to do while downtown: as you’re walking the main drag (Palm Canyon Drive), grabbing a necessary Ice Blended Drink from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, look down at your feet to find these granite “palm stars” embedded into the sidewalk! It’s kinda fun to look for names you recognize while touring around town.

 CBTL: 100 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262 >> gotta post that #purplestraw

9. the friendly giraffes

Living Desert Giraffes

If your littles are brave enough to feed the giraffes at the ZOO, take them to an experience they’ll never forget at The Living Desert!!! Giraffe feedings are usually in the morning at 9am and 11am, but check the daily schedule beforehand just to be sure!

47900 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

10. the pink door

that pink door

Excuse me, I actually mean, “THAT pink door”. This is that pink door which went viral on Instagram and after seeing it in person I can totally see why! First of all, it’s practically twice my height… making quite a bold statement to all who cross its threshold. Second, the owners couldn’t have achieved better curb-appeal even if they tried! I’m obsessed with all the details: the door (color, square-detailing, topped with the perfect knob), the landscaping, the architectural symmetry, and last but certainly NOT least – the lion head (to your left)! Oh Palm Springs… why must even your houses be better-than!?😫💦  Driving around and looking at the homes in Palm Springs is one of our new favorite things to do just because they’re so different from anything we have in Portland. It’s like going back to a different era (I’ve heard Beverly Hills is much the same way). And you wanna know how I KNOW #thatpinkdoor is visually appealing to both males and females alike!? Well… after 5 years of begging my hubs for a pink door and having him slam a giant “NO” all over my design-plans, he took one look at this lovely place and said, “ok, never mind, you can have a pink door if you really want one”. I mean, can you believe it, people!? The man who hates pink just gave me the green light on painting the focal-point of our exterior pink!!! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

1100 E Sierra Way, Palm Springs, CA 92264

 

Ok guys! Sorry for the extremely long post (seems to be my new M.O.😳), but I wanted to be surrrrrre I covered  e v e r y  t h i n g  I could think of so that you can have the most enjoyable stay possible! There are still many other things to love about Palm Springs, but these were the things that I deemed BEST. I’m not sure this post was really even necessary considering Palm Springs sells itself lol, but I had fun putting this together for you anyhow! Thanks for stopping in everyone and may your week be short-n-sweet!

XOXO,

Brittney

 

 

FYI: we are blessed enough to stay at the Marriott’s Desert Springs Villas through a family timeshare. If you’re interested in finding out more about Marriott’s Vacation Club Ownership, just click the button below!

Marriott Vacation Club Ownership

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WetnWild_Rotator_9Online-950-425

it is well

Stevenson, WA

I wake up every morning with a deep ache. My heart feels heavy, my stomach often ill-set, yet it is well with my soul. I go about my days wanting someone I can’t have; missing what could be and what was. Each week that passes I wonder, will I ever get used to living without him? Will I ever lay down my head and go to sleep feeling satisfied though I cannot kiss his cheek or tuck him into bed? No need to visit his room in the middle of the night and make sure he’s still breathing, because he has already drawn his last breath. With every sunrise my heart breaks over and over and over again, yet even in my brokenness it is well with my soul.

Stevenson, WA

Every year that comes and goes just puts more space between us, allowing others to assume time is healing the wounds, when in actuality I wish he wasn’t such a distant memory. The further removed I am from his death, the more final and empty it seems. I will live the rest of my life navigating through the stages of grief as they repeat at random and without predictability – plunging me in and out of depression and then back into denial – but this is just me forever loving him with the same growing intensity as I do my living sons. When his 5th birthday passes uncelebrated, and there’s no discussion about where he will go to school, no teaching him how to ride a bike without training-wheels…. I will feel every missed milestone like a knife to the chest but it will STILL be well with my soul. I have no idea what eternity looks like – whether or not I will get to raise him and experience the things I long for with all my being – but even without knowing what’s to come, I trust that it will be better than my simple mind could ever fabricate and therefore, it is well with my soul.

Stevenson, WA

I now have tangible proof that there was illegal practice involved with my son’s mistreatment, along with many warnings that I should not speak such things unless I want to be taken for all I’m worth, but somehow it is unexplainably well with my soul. I could place blame on the negligent individuals for their actions, letting anger and bitterness boil up inside like a smoldering mountain, but instead it is well with my soul.

Stevenson, WA

Though sometimes it seems easier to go the way of hatred, I have found that forgiveness let’s me live more free. The emotional stress tends to be physically taxing, but letting my burdens lay at the feet of Jesus instead of dragging them behind me like a deadweight… well this allows my mind and body to find retrieve. Understanding that I can do all things though Christ, yet NOTHING without Him is a dependency that even my wildest-of-hearts gladly yields to. Like discovering a thought-to-be-mirage is in fact a REAL spring of water in the desert, I continue to soak up refreshing nourishment in the most dry places, and I’m reminded that it is miraculously well with my soul.

Stevenson, WA

And to the naysayers that would challenge my choice of beliefs, you must know that even if all these things my faith-eyes see turn out to be nothing more that a fantastical idea that got me through the worst of my travels, the peace that goes beyond my comprehension would still make it worth it all — so, IT IS indeed WELL with my soul.

Horatio Spafford wrote the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” after the death of his 2-year-old son, and the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. The Spaffords later had three more children, then on February 11, 1880, their son, Horatio Goertner died (the age of four) of scarlet fever. I plan on getting the words “it is well” tattooed on my arm soon, as it speaks to me in so many ways. If you’d like to buy this it is well tee (or any of the cute items from @ShopHelloGrace), she has kindly setup the code: MCR15 as a special discount for my readers! Love you ALL and thanks for stopping in❤

XOXO,

 – Brittney

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend
A song in the night, oh my soul!”

It is well, it is well, with my soul”

by Horatio Spafford


It Takes an Army

If you saw this “picture perfect” post pop up on my Instagram feed last week, you might’ve made some inaccurate assumptions about the events surrounding how that sweet mama-moment came to be…

family photos

… So I feel there is something that needs to be said:

I’m constantly hearing other moms talk about how NOT glamorous their lives are in contrast to those around them; feeling inadequate and “homely” when comparing themselves to the PERFECTION that they see in other people’s lives. But I tell them this – the truth is, I highly doubt there are many photos being posted on IG that are really and truly as worthy-to-be-envied as they may seem. Behind every gorgeous selfie there are 150 outtakes, behind every home decor staging there’s the removal of everyday messiness, and behind the “mama-blogger-status photo shoots” there are the MELTDOWNS! It takes hard work getting kids to cooperate sometimes, and even more work on top of that to find a day where the sun’s shining, clothes are clean, hair is done, makeup is on, and we actually have a moment to leave the house in between naps! So let’s just cut the crap and get this straight: no one’s life is as flawless as it may appear, nor should any of us ever feel even a twinge of jealousy when scrolling through our social media feeds. Why compare somebody else’s BEST MOMENT (after all, they deemed it post-worthy) to YOUR behind-closed-doors REALITY. Parents: We’re all in this crazy human-growing gig together, and we all know how difficult the unfiltered ins/outs of parenting can be – so let’s encourage one another and be each other’s cheerleaders! Let’s celebrate the wonderful and exciting moments as a team, and be there as a support system when things are going…. well… NOT so wonderful. 2 Corinthians 10:12

Here are a few of my favorite outtakes behind last week’s ATTEMPT at a photo shoot! It took an army of help to get this scattered squad in line, but we pushed through the tears and  e v e n t u a l l y  had a genuinely fun time together. The end result: a precious memory, pictures of my boys wearing their matching “be still and know” tees in honor of brother Cruz, and one really good photo that made the stressful morning all worth while. It’s really one for the wall, you guys! (And by wall I mean, the imaginary family photo wall that I have YET to hang in the stairwell lol #dontjudge)

DSC_0225

Just seconds in, Valor was NOT having it, and Ezekiel was fighting his own tears about taking a break from cousin Jaden…

family photos

Then Z was upset about wearing his coat, and pouting that I put his hair up in a man-bun. (He’s had this adorable haircut for a while now, but refuses to ever wear it up like this!) I just started laughing at their sudden onset uncooperative behavior…

family photos

Ezekiel gave Valor a kiss which is a nonstop occurrence around our house, but of course his response was MORE TEARS haha!

family photos

And now we finally arrive at the moment (20 minutes in), where Valor takes a huge breath – blotchy face n’ all – and decides he’s gonna be happy for no apparent reason🙂

family photos

^^^ Me saying, “I should have known this day would go like this…….”  ^^^

family photos

Valor is clearly too big for this size 6 mo tee from @bestillclothingcompany, but these tops were the main inspiration behind the photoshoot to begin with, so let’s just take a moment to adore the big baby in a belly shirt!!!

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#MINORadjustments

if only he'd let me put is hair up more often :(
^^^  If only he’d let me put is hair up more often😦  ^^^

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Look how cute they were being! I love seeing their blossoming relationship unfold.

When Cruz was in the hospital, the owner of Be Still Clothing Company sent me an encouraging note about the faith-filled inspiration behind her brand, along with a thoughtful care package full of shirts and trucker hats for the family – one of which was a sweet little tee for Cruz. At the time, I wholeheartedly believed Cruz would be coming home with us, and I looked forward to the day I’d be dressing him and Ezekiel in their matching clothes. After he passed away, I put Cruz’s shirt away with all his other keepsakes, and thought I’d never want to put it on another child… perhaps I wouldn’t even have another baby??? So, you can only imagine what it felt like to retrieve this smaller-than-remembered-shirt from the attic and do these precious pictures with Valor! Life today often leaves a bittersweet taste in my mouth, but I feel so incredibly thankful and blessed beyond ALL reason that God gave me these two miracles to raise. With a 50% chance of needing a liver transplant, both of these little dudes live to remind me  e v e r y  day of the love my Father has for me❤  Every morning I wake to find them breathing, I feel grateful.

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^^^ this is one of my favorites ^^^

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style icon tip: sweatpants and pumps for an ironic combo

 

In case you’re wondering which came first – the post title or the army jacket that so fittingly goes with the title – it was definitely the jacket. It’s like, I knew when putting on my outfit of the day that I needed to be up for a challenge 😏😉  (the heels and sore feet however are another story!)

>>> to buy SUPER cute & inspirational clothing for you or your kiddos, click on the image below! <<<

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

XOXO,

– B

be still clothing company

Psalm 46 (ESV)

10 “Be still, and know that I am God.

They Grow Up When We’re Not Looking!

I feel like I’ve done EVERYTHING to cherish EVERY moment with Valor – because I understand how fragile and without-guarantee life is – yet somehow this little guy celebrated his half birthday yesterday (Z is already 4 years!) and I have no idea where the time went! I sometimes wish kids could stay small forever, but then again I’m looking forward to their future, full of so much anticipation and excitement! I think I just love and enjoy ALL the stages of parenthood… although, the current stage Valor is in might be my favorite with him yet! He’s such a ham, and I can’t seem to reach my fill of smooches and munches!

#ValorGrowthChart

He went from just laying next to his #ValorGrowthChart lightbox, to suddenly ^THIS^! What a little rascal!!!

(You can buy this fun @TypoShop lightbox for 30% off at CottonOn!)

#ValorGrowthChart

#ValorGrowthChart

OH, SWEET HAPPY BABY!

He really is the happiest, easiest baby!

(I think he knows Mama needed a little TUB OF JOY!)

 

MILESTONE CALENDAR:

  • all he wanted for Christmas was his two front teeth and he got them (well, the bottom ones anyway)!
  • Jimmy Fallon was right, Valor’s first word is “Dadadadadadadadadadada……….”
  • running into the kids’ table, rolling over my toes – Valor’s favorite event of the day is cruising in his Combi Car (aka his walker)
  • if his frustration and anger don’t get the best of him he may be crawling soon, but for now I guess we’ll settle for the pushup-scoot-scream-rollover routine. #temperTEMPER!
  • got milk? Valor can’t get enough of his booby milk and oatmeal, but has yet to acquire a taste for much else
  • this chubba is pushing 20lbs and wearing 18+ mo clothing…  so I guess we don’t need to worry much about his noted disinterest in food quite yet!
  • time to lower the crib… this feisty explorer has decided to start climbing his way through life, and he’s strong enough to do pretty much anything he sets his mind to
  • mommy is feeling like a new person, because teething-pain has finally subsided and V is back to napping and sleeping through the night again… WHICH IS WHY I’M BACK HERE BLOGGING!

I might be crazy but I’m already planning his 1st birthday! I figure time will fly by anyways so I better get a head-start, plus I think it’s therapeutic for me to put thought into things like CELEBRATIONS, especially when Cruz’s 2nd Deathiversary is coming up exactly one week from today. (Oh how I miss my little fighter boy!) I don’t feel bad for going a little over the top for Valor’s 1/2 birthday (do people usually blog about half birthdays?) and I won’t feel bad for throwing Valor an insanely BIG first birthday because I think  e v e r y  year our children are alive on this earth we should throw a huge party. I used to think birthdays seemed selfish – because it’s like the one day a year where our kids get bit by the it’s-my-party-and-I’ll-cry-if-I-want-to bug, and they think it’s ok to suddenly act spoiled rotten – but now it’s simply a day where my heart is rejoicing, and I want others to come and rejoice with me “prodigal style”😉 Luke 15:22-25

What are your thoughts, Mamas? Is it just me or are we gonna look back one day and wonder where those 18 years went with our college-bound BABY wishing we were still corralling our never-ending-question-asking kindergartener!? These are the days… oh yes, THESE ARE THE DAYS.

XOXO

always on the go...

always on the go…

 

Buy your own Combi Car HERE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fashion + fitness + function = freaking amazing

I am SO excited to be teaming up with @albionfit!

You know that feeling when you wanna look cute, but comfort just sounds wayyyyyyy more appealing? Well that’s ME pretty much every day now that I have a new baby to love! I find myself without makeup on and running errands in whatever is easiest to throw on reallllll quick, but it’s always super awkward when I bump into someone I know or someone who follows me on Instagram WHILE LOOKING LIKE A TRAIN WRECK. But thanks to Albion, the debate (between choosing to go casual-comfy or to actually put some effort into my outfit for once) is over.

Everywhere I go I get compliments on my items from Albion! I’ve lost count on how many people have come up to me while I’m wearing my Slate Antigua Leggings to ask, “OK, where did you get those amazing leggings???” Or, when I wear my Go Long Crew, everyone wants to know where I found a basic long-sleeve tee that has thumbholes (because is there anyone in this world who doesn’t secretly love the way their hands look in thumbholes?)!  I feel so good about myself whenever I’m wearing anything Albion, and I am positive you will too.
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I love the fit, the feel, the fabric that won’t fade, and the fashion statement that is @albionfit. I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown tired of buying $30 yoga pants every couple of months because they’ve already developed holes along the inner thigh, or because they look super old and ratty after just one wash, or they literally attract every little bit of hair/lint/fuzz because they’re a static-cling-nightmare! #NOthankyou
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I’m so ^happy^ to have found this company – mostly because of their awesome floral leggings that have all the right flowers in all the right places (if you know what I mean) – but also because I kind of adore their backstory. They’re a husband/wife team who fell in love at the office (Jim & Pam style), and they share a mile of memories together at an incredible place called Albion Basin (which may have the most beautiful wild flowers EVER),  and the two of them decided they wanted to share Albion Basin with the world. I think it’s worth noting when a couple not only shares the same dream, but when they are able to work together in order to see that dream unfold.
Wildflowers below Devil's Castle

Albion Basin

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Here are the links to buy the items featured in my Albion shoot:

the Antigua Extend Leggings (slate)  I’m wearing a medium

Don’t forget to enter our GIVEAWAY on IG! I’m collaborating with Albion to give you an opportunity to win a FREE pair of leggings for you & your BFF, because I know once you try a pair you’ll be hooked😉

rules::
follow @albionfit
like the photo on IG
tag a friend (BOTH OF YOU WILL WIN!)

BONUS ENTRY** you can pin your favorite Albion item on Pinterest and leave the link in a comment!

Let’s go! It’s time to UP our legging game, girls!

XOXO

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But it’s TRADITION!

Up until my life didn’t allow for it, I was a Holiday snob who was adamant about keeping traditions alive. I grew up going to the same tree farm every year, hanging the same eclectic ornaments, setting out the same sentimental trinkets, decorating the same mint-frosted gingerbread men, using the same singing-snowman cookie jar… and heaven forbid anything ever be different! However these past few Christmases have been anything but traditional. We bought our house in 2012, yet (if all goes well) this will be our very FIRST year to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas at the colonial! Can you believe it!? I can’t tell you how fun it was to go back to Hagg’s tree farm this year with a baby!

Although it was sad to take this extended-holiday hiatus, it was also quite refreshing. I was obviously frustrated that last year’s #plumbingproject hijacked yet another year of home-for-the-holidays, but I fully enjoyed the once-in-a-life-time situation of living with my parents as a married woman. I mean, who doesn’t want 3 months of Mom making dinner most nights and offering to help you with the laundry???  I’d rather have those unordinary occasions logged away in my memory-library than have  e v e r y t h i n g  go according to plan just for the sake of ritual. I’m not saying my sentimentality or desire for normality has evanesced, but often the things that (we think) mean a lot to us are not important at all. (We might place meaning on something, but that doesn’t make it meaningful.) My BEST Thanksgiving to-date was Thanksgiving 2013, spent in a hospital bed with Cruz. While most of the country was gathered ’round tables garnished with turkey and stuffing, my little babe lay starving… so I chose to fast instead of feast. Now, how’s that for untraditional?!

But although I may not seek or rely on consistency in my own life as much as I used to, it’s still important to me that I provide a more “reliable” environment for my kids while they grow up. In an ever-changing/unpredictable world, traditions are a great way of creating the feeling of stability. I’d like my boys to look back on their childhood someday and have anchoring memories that will hopefully draw them home for Christmas, no matter how far away they may be.❤

Christmas 2015

If you’re anything like me, I had a hard time figuring out which traditions I should and shouldn’t carry into adulthood. When you get married, suddenly you’ve got twice the amount of parties, twice the gift-exchanges, twice the dinners…… which equals twice the time, money, AND extra pounds! I found myself feeling anxiety instead of relaxation, and suddenly the hilarious Vince Vaughn movie Four Christmases became all-too-real!

So… this predicament many of us find ourselves in just begs the question: HOW DOES ONE ESTABLISH THEIR OWN FAMILY TRADITIONS???

Extended family get-togethers grow so large after you + all your siblings/cousins start having kids, and eventually some of us have to go our separate ways to start something new. I think the temptation with traditions is to try continuing allllll the silly little things – the food, the activities, the gatherings – but just because you’ve always done something doesn’t mean you still have to! The pressure to live up to “the good ol’ days” can almost squelch one’s ability to enjoy the NOW-moments taking place; while you’re busy stressing over an under-appreciated 12-course meal, you could be sitting with the kids sipping the homemade hot-cider you made for the first time. The gift budget may have fallen short of your unrealistic expectations, and the peaceful-present-opening might seem a bit more chaotic than you remember it to be, but these odd and unfamiliar happenings are not bad, and they might even be the NEW traditions starting to unfold for your little family. So revel the perfect imperfections, and stop trying to recreate the past!

Your Holiday Tradition Guide

When picking/choosing your family’s traditions, it’s best to keep it real simple. I used the old English rhyme for brides (minus the something blue)……

Something Old

This one is sentimental. What are the things you and your spouse did as children that meant the absolute most to you? You may or may not have grown up with similar traditions, and some of you may have come from different beliefs or religious backgrounds, so pick 1 – 2 things each of you did, and be willing to compromise with conflicting traditions (i.e. You always opened presents Christmas morning, but he opened at midnight on Christmas Eve, etc). When the two of you cannot agree, maybe it’s time to consult the kids!

Something New

This one is personal. What is something unique/special to your family that could become a NEW custom? Maybe you happened to go on a movie-date after your first Thanksgiving together as a couple…  so why not make that the end to every turkey dinner from here on out!? Maybe you were so broke your first year of marriage that you bought nothing but lottery tickets for each other… so why not put Holiday Scratch-Its in the stockings every year!? (and be THOSE parents who reminisce with their kids about the same thing over and over😉 )

Something Borrowed

This one is casual. The best way to establish an arbitrary custom is to adopt a preexisting tradition from someone else. What have you seen your friends doing with their families that looks enjoyable/entertaining? What’s trending on social media? Read the December issue of Family Fun magazine to see what Disney is suggesting, or look up the Top 50 BEST Traditions online… there are some GREAT ideas out there! (And don’t be afraid of the ones that are out-of-the-box or opposite of how you’re used to doing things.)

Something TO:

This one is charitable. Christmas should never become about us… it should always be about others, right?! Every year, giving TO a cause or charity should be of highest priority, and you can make this process fun for the whole family! Whether it’s taking your kids to Target and letting them each select items to fill a shoebox for a child in need, or writing/drawing thoughtful cards to the child or soldier you support…… this tradition of giving instead of receiving will become the most fulfilling tradition of the season. Checkout these #GoodforGoodness’Sake ideas!

 

Note that these are my suggestions for creating new traditions, but I’m in no place to suggest what you should do with ongoing family commitments etc. My husband and I get invited to 6 different family gatherings every Christmas, plus 2 work/ministry related parties, and we don’t even come from blended families. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those of you who have more! Before we had Ezekiel, we did our best to make an appearance at each location, although most of the time the get-togethers would be scheduled for the same day/time… so we had to alternate years. But now that Ezekiel is older, we’ve made it a priority for him to see his immediate cousins, aunties/uncles, grandparents, and GGs (aka great grandparents), but we don’t stress over making it to everything else. If we happen to be available for anything broader than that – which RARELY occurs – then we feel blessed to have an opportunity to reconnect with the families we grew up with as well! I wish life wasn’t so complicated/busy, and it’s sad that family traditions have to go through these awkward and sometimes hurtful changes, but I feel like I’m doing the best I can to keep  e v e r y o n e  happy.

If you still want more ideas, here’s a list of The Strickland Family Traditions!

I hope I helped solve at least one dilemma you’ve been dealing with in regards to the starting/stopping of family traditions, and please feel free to share YOUR unique ideas for everyone to read in the comments as well! I WANT TO HEAR THEM!

Happy Holidays, Everyone! Just 16 days and counting!!!!!!……

Baby's 1st Christmas

>> Baby’s 1st Christmas <<