Archive | family

Tips on choosing outfits for your family photos

Every year, like many of you, we have family photos taken.

And every year, like many of you, I obsess over what to dress my family in for said photos.


Okay, maybe obsess is too strong a word, but I do think about it for a while.

Choosing clothes that coordinate and allow personalities to show and don’t require purchasing entirely new wardrobes is a process. Fun for some, stressful for others. It falls into the fun camp for me and so I thought I’d throw out a few tips for choosing outfits for your family photos.

start with a consistent color palette

You don’t need everyone to match, but it always looks most aesthetically pleasing when colors coordinate. Choose one color and vary the tones (as we did this year with monochromatic grays), or several colors that work well together (like jewel tones or classic red and green).

Keep your setting in mind when picking outfits

Choosing outfits based on location seems pretty obvious, but it can also be a source of inspiration.

Last year, we had photos taken at a Christmas tree farm and so I added accessories like scarves and hats and cookies and hot cocoa in cute cups as props (see a photo here). This year, we were at a more formal location and I love the gray and white of the steps, so it inspired a slightly fancier outfit selection. Let your location help you decide on a color/style direction.

choose clothes that are not completely out of the norm, but maybe a little special

My boys wear athletic shorts and sweatshirts everyday so stepping it up to jeans is a big move. My nephew, on the other hand, is a fashionable thing and doesn’t think twice when he’s asked to wear a suit and tie. How formal/informal you go depends on your family, personalities and how much bribing you’re willing to do to get your kids to wear what you’ve picked out. I’m all about dressing nicely for pictures, but I also don’t want to completely lose the kids’ personalities.

On the morning of our photos, our No.3 would having nothing to do with the sweater I bought for him. It was a fight I fought for a minute and then (wisely) Ryan reminded me to let it go. If he’s wearing something completely uncomfortable, he won’t be himself in the pictures. That’s not what I want. So we compromised and pulled a sweatshirt from his closet that still worked with our colors and made him happy.

shop your closets and fill in the gaps with an item or two

Sure, buying a whole new family wardrobe sounds fun, but if you are limited by budget, try shopping your closets first and then fill in with a few purchases.

I like to start by choosing my outfit first (because I’m vain and want to wear something I feel good in), and think of husband/kid options that will coordinate, taking into account what we already have in our closets and drawers. If you don’t have much budget, try adding a new accessory like a cute hat or pair of tights (like Audrey’s polkadotty ones).

And most of all, smile and be yourself – which also means letting your kids be themselves (said the mom who does a whole lot of bossing and hold still and smile normal, please! every single time).

Happy picture taking!

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sending him into the world


This is my baby. He’s almost 12 years old, is kind and witty, loves reading and digging, playing with friends and will probably invent some crazy contraption when he grows up because he’s always coming up with ingenious ideas.  He wants to be a teacher or a chef or a professional lego builder. He likes to play soccer. He follows Jesus.

And he starts middle school tomorrow.


He feels good about it.

I can’t decide how I feel.

On the one hand, I know he’s ready. He really is a great kid with a good sense of who he is and what he’s about. He has a nice group of friends who support each other and will help each other navigate the big halls of middle school.

On the other hand, he’s my baby! And middle school can be so cruel! And how is it possible that he is old enough to be in a time of life that I remember like it was yesterday?!

I’m so proud of our son. I know he’ll do great. I’ll try to hold it together when I send him off, and then I’ll come back home and sit on the couch and cry. Being a mama is the best, and also really heart-wrenching.

Lord, please watch over my baby. He’s yours, even more than he is mine and I trust you with him. Amen.

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a day trip to mt rainier

Exploring Mt Rainier / jones design company

Ryan and I took the boys on a day trip to Mount Rainier this weekend.

You know how it is when you live somewhere and take certain places for granted and skip out on doing the ‘touristy’ things because you aren’t a tourist? This was one of those things.

But Ryan has summitted the mountain twice (he’s kinda amazing) and we were Audrey-less for the day (because let’s all admit that hiking with a 5 year old girl is not the easiest) so it was the perfect chance to do something fun and outdoorsy with the boys.


The south entrance to Mt. Rainier is about two hours from our house – a beautiful drive through little towns that are in the middle of nowhere and I always wonder what draws residents to choose to live there. You get to the Mt. Rainier National Park entrance which is about 2500 feet above sea level and can stop off at lots of different turn-offs along the way up.

We stopped for lunch and hiked down to the Nisqually River bed, which is remarkably low as a result of our way below normal snow levels this winter.  The river water is all murky looking because it is from a glacier and is filled with tiny particles of bedrock (read the actual description here if you’re interested) and is super chilly even on a summer day. The top of the mountain peeked out through the clouds every once in a while and is seriously breathtaking up close.


After lunch, we ventured on to Paradise – an area at about 5000 feet above sea level with a visitors center, picnic areas and hiking trails. This is the point where the real hikers take off from, but also great for just day trips. If you hit it right, Paradise is filled with wildflowers. We were a little late for those, but it was still so pretty.

Like I said, Ryan has done the big hike twice before and it was so fun to hear more about the specifics of his trips: the gear he used (40 lbs worth), how long it took (4 hours on the snowfield, sleep until midnight, hike to the top and summit at 7am, then hike all the way back down), what the top looks like (a crater you walk across to sign a book. On a very clear day, you can see all the way to Seattle). Needless to say, we were all super impressed with him.

We hiked the trails up for a bit until we were all winded. This hiking mountains thing is not for the faint of heart.


One of my favorite parts was seeing so many different people speaking so many different languages. I forget what an amazing thing this 14,410 ft mountain is. It truly attracts visitors from around the world.

Once we made it down, we stopped in this teeny, tiny town for ice cream, sat for a moment on a chair lift-turned-swing then made our way back home.

I’m so glad we took the day to explore this part of our home state. It makes me excited to find the next ‘touristy’ thing to do with the kids!

Have you done anything fun around your home this summer? Please share!

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Oh, how she’s grown.

Just the other morning, Audrey crawled up onto my lap as I was at my desk doing a little work. She sat there, as she has since she was a baby, only this time, I could barely see over her head.


My baby is no longer a baby.

This little lady has been my sidekick from the beginning. That’s what happens, I suppose, when you’re born number 4 in a busy family. All three of my boys are perfectly content playing on their own; not so much Audrey. She craves relationship. On her days home from school, she is rarely far from my side – splitting her time between singing and dancing on the cleared-off coffee table, or chatting my ear off. She’s a 5 year old ball of joy, imagination, emotion, grace and stubbornness.

Time flies. This parenting thing is just cruising by and I can hardly believe how quickly my baby has gone from teensy romper-wearer to princess-jammie girl.

Many of you have been reading from the beginning – when my Audrey girl was brand new. Can you believe how big she’s gotten?! Thank you for sticking around and being so kind to me all these years. I just love doing this blog/business and without you it would be nothing! xoxo

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and she scooooorrres!

Yesterday, we played soccer.




Let me tell you a few things about this soccer game:


1. A bunch of our friends decided a really fun/great way to get in shape for an upcoming trip to the beach was to play soccer.
2. So we joined an over-30 league.
3. Most of us have never played.
4. Yesterday was our first game.
5. I scored a goal.
6. For the wrong team.
7. To be fair, the ball ricocheted off me and just happened to land in the net, but still, it was a goal for the wrong team.
8. I actually celebrated that goal.
8. Because I’m pretty confident that will be my one and only goal of the season.
9. The Jones girls did not inherit athletic ability.
10. But, seriously, it was so much fun.


So the moral of the story is: if you and some crazy friends decide to join an over-30 soccer team – even if you’ve never played and don’t know what to wear so you put on stretchy pants with your kids’ shin guards + socks on top – you should totally do it.


Just make sure you know which goal is the right one.
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from our family to yours


Our cards are sent (we chose this one from minted this year), the kids are done with school and the finishing touches are being put on our plans and menus and tables and (hopefully) hearts. How did this Christmas season fly by so quickly?!

A new favorite tradition is having our family photos taken – for our card, but also to document our family at this time in our lives. This year, we were photographed by the talented Stacy Jacobsen at a local christmas tree farm. It was super chilly out and the kids are at goofy ages where they have a hard time smiling for real, but she worked her magic and captured some beautiful images.




I’ll be enjoying lots of family time and a short break from blogging this week but will continue to post a glimpse into our holiday on instagram (jonesdesigncompany). Feel free to find us there!

Wishing you and your family a time of joyful celebration this Christmas.


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what we’re wearing (family photos 2014)


Tis the season for family photos. If I could, I would have photos taken every couple of months. But, alas, I live in reality and not only could I not afford it, my kids would probably go crazy if I forced them into outfits and made them smile real smiles more than once per year. Just kidding. They love it. Sort of. For a few minutes.

This year, we’re doing a mini session with the super talented Stacy Jacobsen (if you live in the seattle-tacoma area, she’s your girl!) at a local christmas tree farm. These mini sessions are ideal for us because they are quick, affordable and we’ll definitely get at least one great shot for our christmas card. Part of the fun for me is pulling together coordinating, but not too matchy, outfits for the whole family using as much as I can from our closets, and filling in with a few pieces where needed. I want everyone to feel comfortable and like themselves (not an easy task for boys who prefer athletic shorts and WSU sweatshirts over jeans and collared shirt …) but it is also my one chance to dress the whole family. I kinda love it.

Here are some close-ups of our outfits with sources:


shirt / sweater / jeans / shoes


shirt / sweater / jeans / booties / scarf


shirt / vest / jeans / shoes / gloves


shirt / sweatshirt / jeans / scarf / shoes no-3-outfit

sweatshirt / jacket / jeans / shoes


shirt / sweater / skirt / shoes / hat + gloves

Hopefully the photos will turn out cute!

(Last year we wore similar styles – jeans, navy, gray – with a few pops of orange. Paige flew in to seattle for the long weekend and gave us the most beautiful family photos – see a bunch here)

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speaking your child’s language

We just returned from a weekend away at our favorite beach house on Whidbey Island. I’ve written about this magical place several times before, and posted a million IG photos (#theboathouse). Our good friends are gracious hosts and their hospitality provides the most cherished and memorable adventures for our kids. It is for sure their most favorite place to be.


I love the boat house for many reasons, but lingering at the top is watching the boys be boys. They have complete freedom. They can roam the endless beach collecting shells and digging for sea creatures. They cut down branches and make paths through the woods and whittle sticks with their pocket knives. They shoot bb guns and practice with their bows & arrows. They kayak or paddle boat and swim in the freezing cold water.  They build forts and bon fires and swing on a hammock. Continue Reading →

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june insta wrap-up

The best thing about instagram is the way it helps me document our every days. Outings, around our house, pretty things that catch my eye, moments I want to remember. I love documenting for me, but I also find sharing and interacting to be so enjoyable. It is fun to see how other ladies live, their surroundings and what they find inspiring (here are a handful of my favorite IG feeds) and perhaps my photos are fun for you to see a bit more behind the scenes of our life.

Here’s what happened in June …


girls weekend at the beach / teaching my baby the art of baking / mixing patterns


dress rehearsal for baby ballerinas / summer house tour / going away invitations for my bestie’s family


color + stripes in Audrey’s closet / graphic design class open / favorite summer salad


hair cut day (not in love with the results) / napkin doodling / cotton candy + mariners baseball


teacher thank you gifts / pretty cupcakes / beautiful hike with the kids


moving in our friends / truth for the day / puppies are cute


swim lessons / I want this house / watercoloring a new print for our Rwanda trip

It was a bittersweet month … the end of a great school year, best friend moving away, new friends moving in, start of summertime fun. This season of life is full and fun and we are excited for what’s to come this summer.


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It gets easier

There’s a super cute mom at preschool pickup who reminds me so much of me just a few years ago. She has an almost four-year old who holds her almost two-year old’s hand to cross the parking lot, while she awkwardly carries her newborn in a cumbersome baby carseat carrier to pick up her just turned five year old from pre-k. She is happy and generally put-together and sweet to her girls. Motherhood looks good on her.

While in line for lunch at our kids’ mothers day tea, we started chatting – about how many children we have and how far apart they are … you know, the things moms naturally talk about while standing in line with strangers – and discovered our families are very similar in age spread. Since I’m a few years ahead in the mothering-four-close-together-children-thing, she asked a question that I haven’t stopped thinking about:

At what point does it get easier?

It was so cute the way she asked it because it wasn’t at all in a complain-y voice like when with they stop needing me every second of the day? or even said out of desperation like when am I going to be able to breath again?! but really just a question of stages, a curiosity of what’s coming next. I loved it.

Mostly, I loved answering.

It gets easier. Soon, it will be so much easier.

They will be able to get dressed on their own and buckle their seatbelt. They can play quietly for longer periods of time and you won’t have to dread the silence (because we all know that a silent two year old is an up-to-no-good two year old). You can sit at the park and watch them climb without having to stand at their sides ready to catch them when they fall. You can even sleep in on saturday mornings and vaguely hear them pour themselves a bowl of cereal and not feel like you better hop out of bed and get them breakfast because they are now capable of doing this on their own.

That’s the stage we’re at with our kids. We’re at the point when it is easier. And it feels amazing.

It’s harder, too, don’t get me wrong, but in very different ways. You become less concerned with things like drawing on walls and fingers in electrical sockets and pay more attention to issues like character and relationships and tone of voice (ahem). It’s a whole new stage of parenting we’re entering with a 10, 8, 6, and 4 year old.  Less physically demanding and more in our minds and hearts. We’ve made it successfully past the precious but constant newborn stage, the darling but mischievous toddler era and now we’re guiding these little people to become kind and generous, responsible, enjoyable, gracious bigger people. What a beautiful, tiring, challenging, joy-filled, selfishness-exposing honor it is to raise kids.

There are times to come when I will look back on those early, early days and think that was easy. And I’ll probably look back on right now and find it difficult. I’m only 10 years in and surely there are the highest of highs and the lowest of lows to come. I still have so much to learn. But as my husband likes to say, perspective is everything.

Be encouraged, weary mom with nursing babe in one arm and pant-less toddler running wild. And keep on going, mama who hasn’t slept in three years and can’t remember the last time you washed your hair.

It gets easier.

You’re doing a great job.

. . . . . . . . .

Just for fun, here are a few oldie photos of life when my babies were babies:

emily and two little


boys at wedding

emily and no3

mom's wedding

audrey and mama.jpg

walking into school

It was tiring back then, but so, so sweet.

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tiny dancer photoshoot with my baby girl

When Paige was here this past fall, we set out one very chilly morning for a girly photoshoot at this gorgeously dilapidated old farmhouse nearby.


Paige styled the whole thing – choosing our outfits and bossing us around with how to do our hair (kidding. She’s not bossy. But she did have a vision and I was just along for the ride). Being in front of the camera is not totally comfortable for me, but if I’ve learned anything about having your picture taken is that the more awkward you feel, the more awkward the photos turn out so you might as well just relax and smile and try to look cute so you’ll like the end product.


And, my goodness, I just adore the end product. Paige is such a talented photographer – knowing how to find the right light and make the experience fun and comfortable.



She perfectly captured our girly ballerina side, a tiny dancer photoshoot as Paige called it (she was headed to the elton john concert when she returned to atlanta so that probably has something to do with the cute name. PS. I love that song).



Outfit change!


 I wore this dress for my little sister’s wedding when I was six months pregnant with No. 2. It was all pinned up around the back to keep it from falling off, but I just love the juxtaposition of the crumbling down house and unkempt grass with the fancy black dress.




Promptly after the photoshoot, we put on our warm coats and went to starbucks for an extra-hot latte. We were freezing!  What’s so great about these photos is that you would never guess that we were shivering. Paige did the most amazing job.

For christmas, I gave Audrey a little book with all of my favorite photos from our morning at the dilapidated farm house.


It’s only a few inches wide and such a sweet memory for her to look through.


 What a beautiful gift Paige gave the two of us to have this mommy-daughter moment documented for always. I sure love my little Audrey-girl and feel so grateful for a tiny dancer in my life.

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dear february

Dear February,

I wonder if you ever get tired of being called ‘the month of love’. Do you kinda want to be known for more than just chalky conversation hearts and a little man-baby called cupid? I mean, look at you. You’re the shortest month, but full of all kinds of goodness like superbowl sunday and half of our family’s birthdays and a gloriously long presidents day weekend. You produce crazy weather – obnoxious amounts of snow mixed in with beautifully clear and sunny days, which make our skiing adventures extra special.

You have your downsides, no doubt. You’re still winter and by now we’re all pretty ready for that to be over. Colds and flu bugs seem to hang around you and make their way into our homes.  The whole valentine’s day rose prices are a little out of control.

But still, you are good. Fun. Busy.

And we love you.

Until next year …




our february in instagram snapshots.

Notable moments: seahawks superbowl win, No.1’s 10th birthday, Ryan’s birthday, sledding & skiing, our 15 year anniversary, Audrey’s birthday and lots of creating.




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today, we skied.

The older boys had the day off school. The little ones did not. What’s a mom to do with a 10 year old and an 8 year old on a random january monday? Hang out on the mountain and ski, that’s what.


We’ve been up skiing as a family a handful of times, but this was the first for just a mom + boys ski day.


It’s strange and wonderful all at once to be in this new phase of parenting. I went skiing with my children. Not to library storytime or the bouncy house or the zoo, but skiing. On a mountain. In less-than-ideal-icy-snow conditions. And they did awesome (minus that one run-in with the tree as seen above). These boys are great. I’m happy to be their mom.

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getting personal

First of all,  G O   S E A H A W K S !


The excitement in this city, this household, this girl is out of control.  We love our Superbowl-bound football team!

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Ryan added a new feature to the blog last week – a link to every post on one page in chronological order {you can access it over there to the right on the ‘all posts’ image}.

You know when you find an old box of notes and photos from high school and you don’t mean to but you end up sitting for hours reading through them all, reminiscing, smiling, maybe crying a little? That’s what happened when he showed me the new post archive page. I read those very first posts – back when my babies were babies, when I had no idea how blogging would impact my life – reminiscing, smiling, crying a little.

It sort of put me in a funk.

All last week, I was melancholy, contemplative, creatively dry. It may have been due to the weather because it was dreary, foggy, gray all week and any time you go days without seeing sunshine it makes you slightly crazy.

But I think I was also deeply impacted by those first posts; by how simple they were, how unprofessional and unpolished and pure they were. I blogged because it seemed fun, because I needed a creative outlet, because it was new.  Most of all, what I noticed from those early blog posts is that they felt personal.

I was really hard on myself all week. Have I lost that personal feeling here? Have I become too complicated, too professional, too polished? Because that’s not really who I am and I hate feeling like a fraud.

On Friday afternoon Ryan finally got to the bottom of my pity-party-issues.  We realized that this blog actually has become less personal.  I’ll always be honest about my deepest thoughts and share them freely, I love doing a good craft project and showing you how to do it as well, our house will continue to be a canvas for decorating and the blog will be full of these things.  But they miss about 80% of my regular life – our family, the kids, learning how to parent, what we do over our weekends, vacations, that space between dinner and bedtime. This is what makes up our regular life. And it doesn’t often make it on the blog.

All of this was bothering me until Ryan reminded me that that’s what instagram has become. I may not document our family’s daily comings and goings on the blog anymore, but I do snap photos and post to instagram throughout each day that act like mini blog posts in photo and caption form.

Things like finding Audrey in the refrigerator getting herself a snack:


Or this sweet moment between No.3 and his great-grandpa:


Or that time when I said “smile!” and this is what I got:


Or any of this:


Our life. Moments I look back on reminiscing, smiling and maybe even crying a little.

As it turns out, it’s still personal. It just looks different than it did in those early days. I’m thankful for tools that make capturing our everydays a little easier.

If you’re curious, you can always follow along on instagram {my name is jonesdesigncompany}.

Now if the sun could just show it’s bright and beautiful face …

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family photos 2014

Before I jump into sharing our family photos, just wanted to let you know that today is the last day to order from the shop to ensure christmas delivery.


Your support of my little company means so much!


And now for family photos …

A few weeks ago, the super talented, very wise, fashionable, kind and sweetly southern Paige came for a visit and photographed our family. I’ve long admired her talent and was so thankful to have her capture our family just being us {a coordinated-outfit version of us, at least}.

The photos – every single one – turned out beautifully. She was fun and made us feel comfortable, even though it was 30* out and we were freezing. The kids did well, Atlas made it into a few and we now have cherished images we can’t wait to hang on our walls and give to our family.

Want to see a few of my favorites?


Sometimes I look at us and think, ‘wow, that’s a big family’. Okay, all the time I think that.


This one is just too good for words. It totally captured the kids and their cuteness.


And this one. It was almost our christmas card {see below} but instead will be made into a gigantic canvas.


Another card contender.


Even though we can’t see everyone’s face, I like that she had the kids play and captured this moment.

We picked up Atlas and took just a couple more photos, but by this time it was suuuuper cold and the kids were feeling done.



Yet, Paige managed to snap a shot that is another favorite of ours. I especially love No. 3’s hat.


We wanted to have great pictures to document our family at this stage, and also to use for christmas cards. Did you know that Jones Design Company was started as a custom stationery business about 11 years ago? I did wedding invitations and baby announcements and lots and lots of christmas cards. Half the time I made our cards and the other half was too burnt out to get our family cards put together in time.  A stationery designer not sending out holiday cards? I know.


This is the first year that I have not done a single christmas card order. It’s a new stage of business for me and while I’m so very thankful for the past years of orders, I’m also thankful for a holiday season where I can focus on other projects and clear out more space for family time.  It’s also the first year I did not design or make our own cards. This year, we ordered from Minted.

There were so many great pictures to choose from, but we ended up doing a full family shot for the front


and this darling photo for the back


I could not be happier with the Minted experience. There are a million designs to choose from, you can customize fonts and colors, there are add-ons like extra thick paper, gold foil printing {yes!}, envelope liners {I choose gold glitter} and even free addressing. The order came quickly and the quality is excellent.

There is still time to order your cards! Use discount code HAPPY2014 to take 15% off your order at

Thank you, dear Paige, for sharing your talent with us. These photos will be cherished.

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