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Spring Breaking in San Diego

Each year we vow that we’ll go somewhere sunny and warm for spring break. For one reason or another, we never do.

Until this year.

Months ago we booked tickets to San Diego, California to visit my cousin and his family and to get some much needed vitamin D. We did not have much of an itinerary which made for a completely relaxing and happy family trip.

It has been a few years since the kids have flown (Audrey didn’t remember ever being on a plane, even though she has flown a few times) and they were all super excited.

We left Seattle on a gross rainy spring day and landed a few hours later in San Diego to bright sun and clear skies.

Just what we needed!

Traveling with big kids is so easy. The boys played on their phones/ipads with headphones in the whole time and Audrey spent her time looking out the window, listening to music on my phone and playing with the wikki stix in the kid pack that Alaska Airlines offers. They carried their own bags, were polite to the flight attendants and didn’t spill their drinks. I miss the days of little kids, but this made me remember how much harder it was back then to travel!

(Look at how gorgeous that fiddle leaf fig tree is!)

We spent one day at SeaWorld and had so much fun. Between the clear skies, the rides, the non-existent lines, the dolphin and orca shows, we were all very happy.

Did you know I have a thing for marine mammals? Dolphins, in particular. I just love them. Always have, always will. I teared up multiple times throughout the day when we saw them.

(P.S. when I was in high school I wanted to get a tattoo of dolphins jumping all around my ankle – like an anklet. I’m so glad I didn’t.)

Just across from SeaWorld is Mission Beach so after a full day of rides and animals, we popped over for a few minutes to hang out at the ocean.

It was sunny, but pretty chilly (like high 60’s) so I didn’t think the kids would need to change into the swim clothes that I brought along.

Um … how have I not learned yet that put any water-loving child near the ocean and he will inevitably give himself fully to it. We started by just telling them to only go up to their knees and within minutes, all three of the younger kids were soaked. And loving it.  I totally get it. I was the same way as a kid, too.

On another day, we drove out to La Jolla. It was raining earlier in the morning, but it cleared up just in time for some sight-seeing, sea lion watching and more beach time.

(can you see the sea lions on the rocks?)

Ryan calls California The Motherland. He loves it so much. We met at college in Southern California and he spent a portion of his childhood in Santa Cruz, so it’s in his blood. And, truly, there is so much to love about the laid back attitude, the blue ocean, countless beaches, fast drivers, and health-conscious restaurants.

Speaking of health-conscious … the cousins took us to a dessert place on our last night that certainly does not fall into this category but it was the perfect ending to a great trip.

Audrey ordered the Unicorn Sundae complete with cotton candy, marshmallows, and a candy bracelet. How over-the-top is that?!

Also? Even though it wasn’t very warm, we all were kissed by the sun and it felt so good.

We’re grateful for a quick getaway with time with cousins, swimming, sunshine, dolphins and sweet treats.

And now it’s back to school and work and activities galore before summer break is upon us (how did this school year go so quickly?!).

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Friday Favorites

This week our kids are out of school for Mid-Winter Break. Since we haven’t seen much snow this winter, we went east of the mountains to our favorite vacation spot for a few days.

There wasn’t much snow east of the mountains either, but that didn’t stop us from driving up as high on the ridge as we could and letting the kids sled down the road.

The air was cooooold and crisp, the sun was out each day and we had a great couple of days exploring the beach, hot-tubbing, playing games (this one!), eating out, being with friends.

On night one, the sunset was so gorgeous I asked my friend to take a picture of our family.

The original is actually the photo below:

Can you see the difference?

One of my favorite things is to slightly retouch photos from my phone to remove distractions. Here’s what I did to this one:

I use an app called Touch Retouch (here’s a post about my process) and it truly makes a difference in the end quality of a photo. Sure, it’s kind of cheating, but you can’t always get a perfect photo (aka avoid people in the background and messes on the grass) and I love the photo much more with our family and that view as the focus.

A few more favorites from around the web this week:

+ Have you seen the dreamy kitchen Studio McGee designed for Food Network? It’s absolutely gorgeous.

+ Food Network is giving away $250,000 toward a kitchen of your dreams (you better believe I’ll be entering regularly!). You can enter here. Also? Is $250,000 really how much people spend on their dream kitchens?

+ Audrey’s birthday was earlier this week. She asked for slime, ballet flats and these tiny socks (such weird asks!). I bought her this adorable dress and these leggings because she still lets me dress her and I’m taking full advantage.

+ We also gave her a couple of sets from the Target American Girl knock-off line. I know the quality is not quite as nice as American Girl, but the accessories are so much more affordable and they are darling! She got this school room set for Christmas, and this mini teepee set and crutches set for her birthday.

+ Have you been enjoying the Olympics these last two weeks? We have had the tv on SO MUCH trying to catch every event. My top moments: Shaun White’s amazing win (and his emotional reaction), the gorgeous Russian ice skaters dueling it out for gold and silver, Red Gerard’s gold-winning slope style snowboarding run.

+ Did you know that Red Gerard is the younger brother of the author of my current cookbook obsession?

+ This was a fun read: Ranking the Hardest Olympic Sports

+ Also a great read: Kelly Corrigan’s newest memoir called Tell Me More. I have been sick in bed since returning from our trip and read this one yesterday all the way through. So many wise/funny/poignant words about life, parenting, grieving, loving.

+ Since laying in bed is all I’ve been doing, I haven’t changed out of my pajamas. I have a few pair of these menswear inspired pajama sets from J.Crew and love them. They are sort of spendy, so wait for them to go on sale (like right now! Buy 4 items get 40% off with code ZMTWKIP)

+ If you need help finding four items to add to your cart, here are a few of my picks:

Ruffle Neck Pullover Sweater The reviews are very positive about the style and material and suggest sizing up.

Antique Gold Hoop Earrings My mom has these and they are perfect.

Demi-bootcut Crop Jean I feel like I’m ready to transition out of skinny jeans. This pair might be a good spring wardrobe addition to wear with flats.

Plunge V-Neck One Piece Swimsuit My friend and I ordered this one-piece (mine in navy, hers in red). It was terrible on me (I’m long-torsoed and flat chested and prefer a modestly cut bottom). HOWEVER, it looks so good on Erica. I’m jealous.

+ I laugh at every single thing he posts on instagram.

That’s it for today’s list. I hope you have a great weekend (and I hope I can get out of this bed sometime soon).

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We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Christmas cards are sent, packages are wrapped, the menu is planned, it just starting snowing (!), grandparents are here and the house is as clean as it’s been in a long while. We are having a big crew here for Christmas day (nothing gets you motivated to finish projects and clean the house like hosting!) and can’t wait to celebrate with our favorite people.

Wishing you much joy and peace from our family to yours!

xo, Emily

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One place you should visit: the most darling PNW beach town

Last week was our Spring Break. The first half of the week was spent at home; the second half was enjoyed at the most charming town on the Washington Coast called Seabrook.

We spent last year’s spring break in this cute town (read about that trip here). The town was modeled after my favorite place of all – Seaside, Florida, which we visited last year on our road trip (read about that here). The community is darling and idyllic with walking paths and sweeping Pacific Ocean views and community parks, shops and cafes.

This year, we stayed in a big coastal home in town that we shared with our good friends and four of their five kids.

When we were booking our house, Rae and I were super picky about the inside being cute :) We succeeded in picking a very nicely appointed home that was conveniently located and was more than big enough for our two families (the house is called Down the Hatch, if you’re looking for a rental).

We made ourselves right at home and so enjoyed a few days of quality catch-up time with our friends.

Also, how cute is this bathroom?

We’ve had such a wet and rainy spring so far … but we had a gorgeous sunny day on Friday, which we fully embraced with time at the pool, a stop at the ice cream shop and early evening beach-time. And yes, while sunny, do keep in mind that it was only 59* out! Our PNW children are so crazy with their shorts and swim suits and all the adults were layered in sweaters and jackets.

The other days were rainy, rainy, rainy, but we didn’t let that stop us. We swam (thank goodness for an indoor pool), played lots of Settlers of Catan, Stratego and Hand + Foot, watched a few movies and ate a lot of food.

And, of course, I couldn’t help myself from taking photos of the gorgeous homes as we walked to and from the pool or the coffee shop.

We packed up yesterday to return to reality, but before we drove home, we lingered at the pizza place.

It was so fun traveling with Rae – she takes pictures of kids and life (like the ones above) and I take pictures of empty spaces with pretty, inspiring decor. We’re a good pair.

You can (and should!) follow Rae on instagram here and her blog here. And I’m on instagram here.

Another thing you should do: visit Seabrook.

Sorry for being so bossy. I’ll stop telling you what to do now.

Overall, it was a very successful spring break. We’re refreshed and ready to finish out the school year!

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5 games I actually enjoy playing with the kids

I’m so sorry; that title sounds terrible.

I like my kids. And I like playing with them. But when it comes to playing board games together as a family, there are some that are just brutal.

Take Monopoly, for example. Or Sorry. I played both games for hours with my sister and cousins when we were kids. But as an adult? No, thank you.

Our kids ask every once in a while, “can we have family game night?!” and I want so much to say yes. Really I do.

So I’m always on the lookout to find games that we all enjoy. Here are five of our family’s favorites:

headbandz

headbandz
First, you wear these silly plastic headbands, so that makes everyone smile. Second, it feels like a fun way to teach kids how to be descriptive and ask pointed questions and I like a game that sneaks in learning. While probably best for younger kids, my older two will still totally jump in on a game if we’re playing.

product description:

Play Hedbanz, the quick question game of “What am I?” Ask “yes” or “no” questions to figure out if the cartoon on your head is an animal, food or man-made object. Be the first player to guess what you are and win!

apples to apples

applestoapples
The boys found this game at the house we stayed in for spring break and we stayed up way too late on night one laughing at our answers. I’m pretty sure we were playing with the adult set, there, but the kid set is great, too.

product description: 

Apples to Apples Junior brings all the fun and hilarity of Apples to Apples to the younger crowd. Players aged 9 years and older will have a blast making crazy comparisons while expanding their vocabulary and thinking skills at the same time. The 576 unique cards ensure maximum inventiveness, so each round is filled with surprising comparisons from a wide range of people, places, things, and events. Fast-moving and refreshing, Apples to Apples Junior is easy to learn, easy to play, and great for hours and hours of entertainment!

zingo

zingo
Zingo is a well-loved game in our family, especially when the kids were younger. Audrey and Mason will still play (in fact, I heard the card clicker clicking yesterday!). It says ages 4 and up, but I think you could start earlier than four with this matching game.

product description: 

Zingo! brings fast-paced excitement and learning to the classic game of Bingo. Slide the Zinger to reveal picture tiles, make a match and fill your card to win. Images with printed words and two levels of play make this the perfect game to grow with.

suspend

suspend
We bought this for one of the boys as a guessing gift for christmas. (Guessing gifts: mystery packages we wrap up for our kids starting on December 15th. You get three yes or no guesses on the first night and then one each consecutive night until you guess correctly or it’s Christmas Eve. It’s a very fun tradition passed on to us from my aunt and uncle.) The night he guessed it, we played over and over and squealed every time the tower collapsed. Plus, because it’s about balance, it feels a bit educational.

product description: 

A family game of tricky hangs and steady hands! Try this hanging balance game and you’ll be hooked! Suspend comes with 24 notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces to hang from a tabletop stand. Sound easy? Try adding another piece! Each time a bar is added, the balance shifts, the difficulty changes and the incredible midair sculpture transforms. Can you add all your game pieces without making it fall? This tricky game for 1-4 players is a test of steady nerves and steady hands.

monopoly deal

monopoly-deal
This is a great alternative to the real monopoly game and much faster. It takes a round or two to get the hang of it, but after that, you’ll play hand after hand.

product description: 

Get a handy way to play the classic property-trading game! Be the first collect 3 full property sets of different colors, and you’ll win the monopoly deal card game. You’ll pick up cards when it’s your turn and play action cards to charge players rent, steal their cards or demand money for your birthday. Build up property sets, gather piles of money and keep wheeling and dealing until you’re the monopoly deal winner!


Does your family have any favorites? Please share!

 

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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.

standingonsteps

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

mom-and-ethan

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.

ethan

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.

mt-rainier-collage-1

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.

mt-rainier-collage-2

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.

mt-rainier-collage-3

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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from our family to yours

christmas-cards

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.

family-and-kids

family-truck

kids-photos

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.

merry-christmas-family

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what we’re wearing (family photos 2014)

photo-outfits-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:

dad-outfit

shirt / sweater / jeans / shoes

mom-outfit

shirt / sweater / jeans / booties / scarf

no1-outfit

shirt / vest / jeans / shoes / gloves

no-2-outfit

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

sweatshirt / jacket / jeans / shoes

no-4-outfit

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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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 …

insta-june-1

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

insta-june-2

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

insta-june-3

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

insta-june-4

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

insta-june-5

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

insta-june-6

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

insta-june-7

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.

instagramsm

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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

  umbrella

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.

1

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.

tiny-dance-mom-&-audrey

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.

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in-chair

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).

audrey-bw

audrey-and-doll

Outfit change!

black-dress

 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.

dandilion

91-2

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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.

tiny-dancer-photo-book

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

tiny-dancer-book-inside

 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 …

xo,

emily

february-instagram

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.

instagram

 

 

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getting personal

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

girls-seahawks

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:

audrey-in-the-fridge

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

great-gpa

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

smile-in-the-car

Or any of this:

instagram-collage

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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