Archive | family

we still think we’re young

This past weekend our family {along with 8 other families – that’s 17 adults and 29 kids – oh my} spent 5 amazing days camping at our friends’ beach house property. It is an annual trip and the highlight of my kids’ summer.

We crab.


brady and the crab ethan and the crab

We kayak.


We fly.


We pour sand on our friend’s head.

audrey pouring sand

We play games and with the help of our talented speller {for the spelling bee competition}, compulsive sweet tooth {pie eating competition} and a slightly cheating momma {three-legged race}, our family was the big winners. Lucky us, we get to proudly display the trophy for an entire year.

whidbey cup

But the best part of the trip by far was the addition of the innertube. The boys, of course, loved it.

the boys on the tube

But us moms : we were in heaven.

mom trip 1

mom trip 2

girls on the tube

I haven’t been on a tube in way too long. It was SO . MUCH . FUN.

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summer in snapshots {week one} and a simple way to make a photo collage {tutorial}

Last week I mentioned that I’d be playing along with Amber of Starfish Jewelry and taking a photo each day to document our summer. Did you do it too? Here is our week in snapshots:


I’m linking up at Starfish Jewelry Designs : click the button below to link up too.


zig zag

I’ve been asked a few times how I create my photo collages {you can see more examples here and here}. And now I will give out my secret.


That’s right. There’s no fancy photoshop steps involved : just Google’s pretty amazing free photo-editing software called Picasa.

There are lots of different ways to edit your photos and as I get more into photography, I’m learning more about how important editing is. But Picasa has been a great resource for me {especially since it is simple and free} and is what I often use for my photos on the blog.  You can download it HERE.

Once you have it installed on your computer, import your photos either from your camera or from a file on your computer. You can learn more about the editing features on the picasa site, but feel free just to play around – they make it pretty easy.  Okay, on to the tutorial :


When you open picasa and have photos uploaded, it will look something like this:


Now you can select the photos you would like to put in your collage Continue Reading →

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our new family photos

We had family photos taken a few weeks ago. It was an unseasonably warm and gorgeous day {which after being rained out twice before, it was a welcome surprise!}. We worked with Estepworks Photography and could not be happier with the images.




Baby girl isn’t walking on her own quite yet, but she loves holding hands and taking steps: and the boys and mommy & daddy happily oblige.



We spent an hour or so walking around Bellevue Botanical Gardens and the boys were completely in their element exploring, throwing sticks in the water,  jumping off rocks, trampling rare plants. Sorry Bellevue Botanical Gardens for that.






I’m so happy to have these images to remember this time in our family’s lives.

If you live in the Seattle area and are in need of a fabulous photographer, please feel free to contact Estepworks Photography.


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these hands

I took these photos one afternoon a few weeks ago.  It was a moment when I was truly cherishing my little ones.


With their sweet hands that clean.


And build.


And craft.


And draw.

But I’m afraid I don’t always cherish these moments. Too often, I see it like this:


Audrey wasting another diaper wipe.


#3 making a mess in the living room.


#2 using far too much tape.


#1 leaving his papers strewn about the table. Again.

Ugh. I hate admitting that.  Do you know what I mean, though? So often I miss the joy of their playfulness and creativity because I’m more concerned about things like wasting tape and not wanting to clean up another mess. Things that are necessary, no doubt, but not things that show my children how much I value them.

My babies’ hands make messes. They hit. They drop their food on the floor and wipe their sticky fingers on the sofa.

But they are everything I’ve ever hoped for.

They are full of curiosity and unlimited talent. They share their toys. They offer to help. They draw amazing pictures and write silly stories. And they give the sweetest hugs.


I created this little note card to put up in my office : sometimes I just need a gentle reminder to refocus my perspective. Perhaps you do as well.


Being a mommy can be a thankless job. We may not hear much gratitude for all we do, but I know that simply by loving our families to the best of our ability, we are making a difference. And perhaps with the right attitude, this great responsibility and honor can be full of joy and grace even when it’s messy.


Sorry that I overlooked that many people have one child! So here is a card for you.

And a family one as well.


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spring wardrobe

See that ad over to the right for EstepWorks Photography? We’re having a family photo shoot with him in the upcoming weeks {our first date was rained out : late winter/early spring is very unpredictable in the NW} and I’ve been trying to come up with coordinated – but not too matchy – outfits for our family of six to wear.

. . .

A few days ago I received an email from Jessica letting me know about a fun contest she is hosting. All you have to do is come up with a design board of your favorite spring outfit and include two pieces from her jewelry line to be entered to win a pretty generous prize.

. . .

So I combined the two thoughts – outfits for our photo shoot and outfit for a spring design board – and came up with one giant collage to suit the entire family.

Here it is:outfits


What do you think?

For the record, I think ‘his’ outfit is a bit prepier than ‘he’ would actually go for {especially with the little pom-pom boutonniere which I happen to adore}. I am loving Kayce Hughes’ shirt dresses and those joyfolie shoes are the sweetest things ever.  I tried to include pieces that our family actually owns so that when photo-day arrives I could achieve a similar style.

So there you have it : my version of our family dressed for spring.

You can enter the Design Your Look contest at www. It is pretty fun to come up with a dream outfit : or six.

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I want a dog

Both Ryan and I grew up with family pets.  My dad is a lover of all animals and we always either had a dog, cat, rabbit, goat, bird or some combination.  I am not overly affectionate with other people’s pets, but I have always loved my own.

Ryan and I have often talked about getting a dog.  Its only natural. Get married. Buy a house. Have a few kids. Get a dog.

But I have two problems. 1. I’m not a big fan of dog hair {or wet dog smell or dog poop}. 2. We are not the type who will take a dog for a long walk everyday. Not that we’re lazy :we just have a pretty busy life {you know, four kids, a couple of businesses and all}.

So here’s our solution: English Bulldog. They may drool, but they don’t shed much. And boy, oh boy, are they lazy. Perfect.



We have wanted to wait to get a dog until we were out of the baby stage : which we are approaching.

Yesterday I saw a man walking the beefiest looking English Bulldog. A few hours later I saw the above image {on My Sweet Savannah} and it clicked: I want a dog.

So : I’d love to hear your thoughts on dog vs. no dog. And if you know anything about living with a drooly english bulldog, please feel free to share the ups an downs.


Okay, maybe I don’t want a dog. At least not an English Bulldog. I’ve loved reading the comments and one thing I can say … I have three boys who are not necessarily smelly now, but in a few years, I’m sure they will be. I don’t think adding a smelly dog to the mix is best for my sanity. Maybe I should take Holly‘s advice and notice the leopard carpet in the photo instead of the dog!

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legoland adventure

We’re back from our Legoland adventure. And it was a good one.

my boys

We flew from rainy, windy 40 degree Seattle to sunny and mild 70 degree San Diego. Ahhhh. Just what I needed.


My poor No. 3 had not seen the sun in a while :

My three boys and I traveled with my mom, my older sister and her two kids and we realized when making reservations for a rental car that we couldn’t fit all of us in one car. So we decided to hire a limo to take us to our hotel. BEST IDEA EVER. We didn’t need a car once we were at Legoland and just hopping into a car and avoiding the hassle of a rental car was great. Plus, the kids thought it was pretty fancy.


Legoland {in case you were wondering} is an amusement park perfect for young kids. There are themed areas {pirate, castle, adventure, duplo} with many life-size lego statues.  The rides are mild, the park is super clean, the people are friendly and its great for lego-lovers.





The scariest ride {my fave!} was just the right amount of thrill for our oldest boys {7 & 6} who were brave little guys and went on it together.


My littlest boy {age 3} was too young and short for a few of the rides, but had so much fun on the many he could ride.  Like these cars that they have full control over. I’ve never seen a crazier driver – so glad we have 13 years before he can drive for real.


There are also a few little ‘shows’ like this fire fighter one with a catchy song and lots of great stunts. We watched it both days. The big boys thought it was great to sit in the ‘wet zone’ where they were drenched with a fire hose.

wet hot stuff

One more fun part of Legoland : miniland. My mom and I were excited to see all of the miniature models of cities, landmarks, scenes. But my oldest surprised me and he loved it even more. At one point he said, “I just want to stay here and stare!”. He even had me photograph different scenes so that he could try to recreate them at home. Love that kid.


It really is impressive to see what the lego-artists have created.



Our final day was spent with hours of swimming before getting back on the plane to come home.


Such a great time with my boys {and family}

If you are thinking about taking a trip to Legoland, here are my tips:

1. If your kids are much older than early elementary age, it may not be the most thrilling for them.  It was perfect for our group, but I could imagine a 10 year old not being quite as entertained.

2. We spent two days and it was just right.

3. If your child is under 38″ there are not a lot of rides they can ride. Still lots of fun activities and playgrounds though.

4. Don’t eat the hotdogs. Do try the apple fries.

5. We stayed at the Sheraton right up the hill and we loved it. Nice staff, great restaurant, beautiful grounds. Plus we got a great deal on Priceline.

6. Go to the park during the week. Our first day {Thursday} we hardly waited in a line for any ride. Friday was a bit busier, but we still only waited for 10 minutes at the most.

7. Put sunscreen on your kids. Oops:lesson learned.

. . . . . . . .

Today is the last day to sign up for the March Giveaway.

If you would like a chance to win these goodies:

click {H E R E} to enter.

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wedded bliss


mom & walt wedding

My sweet momma was married one year ago to the most delightful man who has added so much to our crazy family.   Poor guy inherited three daughters, three sons-in-law and seven grandchildren with one more baby girl a few weeks later. But he’s adjusted well and we all adore him : especially the kids.

To my mom & ‘new’ dad : wishing you years and years of wedded bliss. We love you.

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random notes for today:


If you ordered an art print last week and have not yet received it : IT IS ON ITS WAY!

. . . . . . . . . . .


My baby is S E V E N today. Seven! I get teary just thinking about how fast he has grown. I don’t know why I get so sappy on my baby’s birthdays : don’t I want them to grow and flourish? Of course! But there is something slightly mournful about knowing my son will never be little again. I guess that is why they say “cherish every moment”.

6 mo rocking


shaving creammy boy

I could not love this boy more. He was the sweetest baby, the most delightful toddler and now a kind, smart, goofy and amazingly creative big kid. I’m pretty proud to be his momma.  See? I’m crying.

. . . . . . . . . . .

I had a minor break down on monday {although I’m pretty sure my husband would not call it minor}. Sometimes I just get a little overwhelmed by life and responsibilities and all my to-dos and asking for help is not my greatest strength. While I may look like I’m good at balancing marriage and kids and business and hobbies, I can assure you I struggle mightily.


So monday after calming down, I created a calendar for myself to help avoid said meltdowns.  If you would like to print your own, I’m happy to share. You can download the pdf file, save to your computer and print them weekly to help you {and me} stay organized.


. . . . . . . . . . .

Once again, thank you for all of your nice comments, your amazing encouragement to me, your support of my business and my blog.  I am so thankful for the many ways you bless me.

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feeling good

I’m feeling good about myself this morning :


: our family christmas cards are ready to be put in the mail


Since I make cards for a living, I always feel this self-induced pressure to send out my ‘best creation yet’ for our holiday card.


But by the end of the season, I’m typically out of new ideas and our card doesn’t get the royal treatment. This year was no exception, but I did go to the extra effort to hand cut each one and I do love how they turned out.


p.s. If you’re last name is Jamieson, Ostan, Coonrad or Allen : would you mind sending me your address?

: teacher gifts are finished and packaged.


The boys’ beloved teachers are getting a set of gift tags with some string and a navy blue flower pin. 


A little something out of the norm for their sweet teachers.

: while taking these photos, santa’s little helper found my stack of tissue.


IMG_8267  IMG_8266

I think gift un-wrapping will be very exciting for her this year.

: but I’ll tell you what I’m not feeling good about :

Our christmas tree stand didn’t enjoy being moved {for the third time this season} and decided to fall over just minutes after admiring it in its new perfect spot. Oops. Only a few ornaments were injured in the fall, but we now have a tree with a broken stand leaning against the wall.


We are hosting a big party here on Saturday, so I guess the good news is that it will be fixed by then. Don’t you love hosting parties for that very reason? All of the little tasks you’ve wanted to finish get done {and the bathrooms get cleaned as well}.


Now off I go to the mall to buy myself some boots. And maybe a skirt. Or two.

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the bungalow

Remember the garage where I held my boutique last summer?


Well, above it lies the most wonderful guest house {called the bungalow}.  We were lucky enough to be able to take a little family stay-cation this weekend to this space and it was just what we needed : quality time with the kids, a christmas movie, lots of bouncing off the walls and a bit of relaxation.


The bungalow belongs to my sister’s husband’s sister & brother-in law {say that three times} who are the most gracious hosts and so generous with their beautifully done home.


They’ve equipped it with a mini kitchen, the most fluffy bed, lots of movies : it’s better than a hotel room.




I love how they built in the bed. We are trying to copy them in our upstairs bonus room with a cozy spot for the kids to snuggle up and cladding our walls with bead board might be in order.


Everything is so pretty and fresh with green, aqua, black & white touches.


IMG_8033  IMG_8035




Even the bathroom is luxurious and modern.

IMG_8049  IMG_8050

We’re planning another stay {with just me & Ryan this time!} and I can’t wait.

Thanks Greg & Kristen for the most amazing time!

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let it snow

We don’t get a lot of snow in the Seattle area. So when it comes, we get a little giddy.


An inch or two means school is cancelled, errands are postponed and snowmen are built.


We’re in for a very fun day.

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today is my birthday

I know I said I was going to do a tutorial today, but I’ve changed my mind.

You see, today is my birthday.  And while birthdays have not traditionally been my favorite day, today I’m loving it.

I feel : old : and yet, just right.  My age fits where we are in life – and that place feels good. Our life is not one without issues, but it is also full of joy and love and laughter {and an occasional whine and middle of the night cry – I do have young children, after all} and I feel so blessed for many things.

So rather than a tutorial, I just want to post some things that make me smile.

Like my best friend who is the cutest pregnant momma ever {and the fun girls behind her}


and these silly boys




This little girl {wearing her daddy’s baby sweater} enjoying a spool of ribbon

IMG_6152[4] IMG_6151[4]

My sweet no. 3 who brought his sword, shield and helmet with him to the park


all of the cousins together for a ALS benefit walk {and the fact that the big boys are old enough to hold the babies}


Many things about this next picture make me happy.


1. Ryan’s hat is on backwards

2. He’s holding a zhu zhu pet {which I think are weird, but my boys love them}

3. #3 is having the time of his life riding a bicycle barefoot and helmetless

And my new birthday wreath made by Nonna.


It really makes me smile.

Hope you have a joy-filled day!

I’ll eat an extra piece of cake for you.

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moms & flowers

I am so very thankful for the mom’s in my life.

image  image

My mom {left} is young at heart, fun to be with, adventurous and the best person I know at opening a present and making you feel like it’s the greatest gift ever received. My mother-in-law {right} is as creative as they come, smart, joyful and has an uncanny ability to find treasures in a junk store.


They both adore their grandchildren and do so much for us.  I am truly grateful. 


My M-I-L despises the term ‘mother-in-law’ and since I mention her on here so often, I think I should come up with a new name.  The boys call her Grandma Nonna {which literally means ‘grandma grandma’ as nonna is the Italian word for grandma} so I think I’ll just start referring to her as Nonna. 

anyway :

Nonna is a nurse by trade and a florist {among many other things} by hobby.  She grows a gorgeous garden, always sends me home with sweet little arrangements and has done many weddings {often as a gift to the bride and groom – that is how generous she is}.

This past weekend, she did the flowers for a small wedding in autumn colors.

IMG_6007  IMG_6009

{bridesmaids bouquets}

IMG_6011  IMG_6012

{the bride’s bouquet}


IMG_6018  IMG_6019

{bells of ireland, hypernicum berries and alstroemeria}






{a bird’s nest cake topper}







Aren’t those the most delicious fall bouquets?!!

We had fun taking some photos for a tutorial, so please come back tomorrow and see how Nonna makes a darling {and simple} wreath for the centerpieces.

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