Monday, November 21, 2016

Simplifying the Season

Okay everyone, who else is beyond excited that Christmas is officially in sight? I have been looking forward to this Christmas for a long time. I am so excited that baby girl is old enough to understand more fully everything that is going on around her and get all caught up in the magic and spirit of it all. Last year was pretty amazing, and she was only 9 months old!

Now, some of you might be groaning while reading this. There is still so much to do. Plans to be made. Traditions to uphold. Food to make. Parties for hosting. Marshmallows for toasting. Caroling out in the snow. Day-to-day life to manage on top of it all. Whoo! I can get tired just thinking of everything that can get slightly out of hand at this time of year. 

That's why I'm really excited to tell you all about an amazing series that my blogger friend Justine is putting together: #SimplifyingTheSeason


When Justine contacted me about joining her series all about simplifying the  the Christmas season, I was quick to jump on board! I love all of the great ideas that Justine has planned to share with you, and I'm really excited about some of my own ideas that I will be sharing soon.

For today, to kick off #SimplifyingTheSeason I want to share with you the threshold I have for deciding if a certain activity, event, etc will fit into my Christmas season. I will ask myself 3 questions, and if I can't say a super firm "yes!" to at least two of them, it will have no place in my Christmas this year.

1. Does it bring me closer to Jesus?
2. Does it bring me closer to my family?
3. Does it bring me joy?

Get Printable Version HERE
I know that asking myself these three questions will really help me focus, as Justine is advocating, on my Savior, my family, and traditions. The series will run from today (November 21st) through December 26th so please join us as we share ideas on how to simplify the season. I really do believe that it is through simplifying the season that the season will feel most full. 

Head on over to Justine's blog to read more about this great series and to follow along with everything she has planned! You might even catch a guest post from yours truly! 

this season I will focus on what matters most. Simplify Christmas.

What are you doing this year to Simplify the Season?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Halloween 2016

I am really late to the game posting about our Halloween, but I just had to document how truly wonderful it was.

Baby girl had two costumes; one to go with our Monster's Inc family costume and one for trick-or-treating on Halloween night. She was really into the whole thing and walked around saying "trick-or-treat" for days. It was basically the most adorable thing you've ever seen.

Snow White Toddler Costume

Boo Monsters Inc Costume

We had so much fun dressing up with Kymri and enjoying the festivities.
What did you do for Halloween?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Drawing a Blank Review and GIVEAWAY!

(I received product in return for this review. All opinions are my own).

I absolutely love having talented friends! In the artsy department, my skills are less than stellar, so I always appreciate being able to turn to amazing friends for those needs. Is anyone else just absolutely in awe of lettering? I tried to letter one time and it was a pretty epic fail. But I love the look of really well done lettering, so when my friend Kelcie opened her digital print shop, I knew I just had to have one of her custom prints!

Isn't that just gorgeous? I love the simple wreath border that allows the name to really pop. I love the lettering. And I really love the clean, white look. Kelcie took my ideas and made them into a stunning piece of art. She really captured exactly what I was hoping for.

I was so happy to finally have something to go in my square frame! Brad bought me the frame ages ago and I just never found the right print for it. I absolutely love this one in the square frame. I think it makes it look crisp. I love the simple, beautiful design.

Can we also talk about the fact that we've been married for more than 3 years? Where has the time gone? In some ways it feels like it was just yesterday and in others it feels like we've been together forever (and really... we have). I love that this print reminds me of our special day. I will definitely share pictures when I get it hung in our bedroom.

Aside from custom prints, Kelcie also offers a number of other prints in her Etsy Shop. I'm a personal fan of her Abide With Me print and her Arizona Water Color Sunset print. Both are stunning and beautifully designed. I love that her designs are so versatile and could be styled in a number of ways.

Make sure to follow Kelcie and watch as she keeps cranking out amazing designs!

Now that I've gotten you all super excited about Kelcie's designs, I have some great news! She and I have teamed up to offer one of our Instagram followers a FREE Custom Print! Head on over to my Instagram to enter the Giveaway! Hurry, because the giveaway is only open 11/2/16 to 11/9/16!

Monday, October 31, 2016

McKee Ranch: Fall In The Desert

I have been wanting to visit a pumpkin patch and take a hay ride for a looooong time. When we were in Utah, we had so many options for amazing fall activities. Plus, fall was all around us. The leaves changing colors, the crisp breeze, the beautiful mountains, the corn mazes. It was all pretty perfect. Now fast forward to fall in Las Vegas..... We had a few 90 degree days last week and I haven't seen a true fall leaf since last fall in Utah. It's a bit of a bummer, but I know that I'll be doing a heel click when it's time for winter and snow in Utah and I'm wearing my cardigan in the sunshine.


I still wanted to have some semblance of fall in my life. So we did some research and found a cute little ranch not too far from our house. McKee Ranch had a small hay ride, animals, a pumpkin patch, and a miniature corn maze. And it was just what the doctor ordered. Baby Girl was in heaven! She was running from thing to thing and wouldn't slow down for anything. She especially loved all of the animals. The chickens and goats were roaming free. They also had horses that you could ride or feed if you wanted. In all, it was a very fun day.

It was also the perfect location for my October 10. You see, I'm in this great Facebook group that was started by one of my High School friends (who I haven't actually seen in person in waaaay too long... let's play soon, Kylie), and it is the perfect place for pretend photographers like me to get ideas and advice from legit awesome lifestyle photographers. I love the group because it's totally mellow and totally encouraging. Members range from cell phone photographers to full blown professionals, but everyone is so kind! Every month, Kylie gives us a challenge to take and edit 10 pictures that go along with a certain theme. This month's theme was fall. So you can see that the ranch was the perfect location. I hope you'll enjoy my October 10 and that you'll come on over to check out Kylie's Facebook Group. 

This first set was at the entrance to the corn maze. Brad was playing with Kymri to get her to stand still for 2 seconds, and I love that you can totally see the love in her eyes for her daddy! I also love that you can see that she is trying to "get him."

 Climbing the hay pyramid with daddy:

Fall in the desert:
McKee Ranch Las Vegas

"Mom, seriously! Just let me go play..."

McKee Ranch Las Vegas

If you can't tell from the joy on her face, Baby Girl had an amazing time! I am so glad that we found McKee ranch so that we could have a pretend fall! And I'm loving all that Kylie is teaching me about photography... applying it is totally tricky, but it's fun to learn. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Caesars Palace

We've been trying to move through our Vegas Bucket List since our time here is really flying by. We have a number of things that we'd like to do before we leave. One of them is to see all of the free fish tanks/aquariums. So, a couple of weeks ago, we decided to take Baby Girl to see the fish tank and free show at Caesars Palace.

We arrived a little too late for one show, so we had a bit less than an hour to kill before the next show began. We are so glad that we did. Caesars Palace is absolutely beautiful and we had so much fun just walking through the gardens and around their pools. I'm not sure if they always let people walk around like that, but since it's not pool season, no on seemed to mind that we were roaming the grounds. And let me tell you, it was gorgeous!

Garden of the gods Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Garden of the gods Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Caesars Palace Las Vegas

We also enjoyed seeing the Colosseum from the outside as well as the hotel towers and fountains. It was all very impressive.
Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Colosseum Caesars Palace

Fountain Caesars Palace

Then we finally made it to the Fall of Atlantis show. To be totally honest, it wasn't stellar. It was incredibly difficult to understand what the characters were saying. But the fire and lights kept baby girl totally entertained, so that's really all we can ask for. From what we gather, the show is about two siblings fighting for the thrown. The decision is put to the people who are divided. It's here that we aren't really sure what happens... it was just too hard to understand. I believe the gods intervened? Has anyone seen the show that can enlighten us?

Caesars Palace Fall of Atlantis Show

Caesars Palace Fall of Atlantis Show

Caesars Palace Fall of Atlantis Show

The fountain and fish tank were both big hits with Baby Girl and she loved pointing out all the "fishies."

Caesars Palace Fall of Atlantis Show

In all, we had a great time. It was not busy, which was great! We could take our time looking at the beautiful gardens and fountains. And as far as free, baby friendly shows go, this one wasn't terrible.

Have you been to Caesars Palace? What did you think?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

4 Ways to Celebrate Your Spouse: Jord Watch Review and GIVEAWAY!

This post was sponsored by Jord Wood Watches. All opinions are my own. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we found out on Friday that Brad passed the Arizona Bar! We are beyond excited and I am so proud of Brad.

Something I love about our relationship is that we are always very aware of each other's goals and accomplishments and we love to celebrate each other. I think that finding reasons to celebrate your spouse is so important! You can celebrate good news, accomplishing a goal, or just plain being in love. Celebrate getting a new job, finishing a big project, or even something as simple as the fact that it's fall!

We love to celebrate in lots of different ways. Today, I wanted to share 4 of our favorites with you.

1. Go to dinner, just the two of you.
You guys. We actually hired a babysitter on Saturday night! We went out just the two of us to a fancy dinner and it was absolutely perfect. For three full hours we talked about things other than diaper changes and nap schedules! We reconnected and celebrated that life is oh so good.

2. Write each other little notes for the simple things.
Brad is especially good at this one. I am always so touched by the way he leaves me little notes letting me know that he is thinking of me. He is aware of my goals and he knows when I meet them. He tells me how great I am. He tells me that he is proud to be my husband. He celebrates all of the little things.

3. Do something extra special.
Take time to do something extra special that you wouldn't do every day. I went and got a special kind of ice cream that I wouldn't usually buy to celebrate Brad's accomplishment. I made his favorite meal. I got some punny Bar related gifts. Basically, just make a big deal out of little things.

4. Find the perfect gift.
I knew that passing the bar would be a So I wanted to make sure to get Brad the absolute perfect gift. When Jord Watches contacted me, I knew that I had found what I was looking for. Brad has wanted a wood watch for a long time now and these watches are seriously the best I have seen. I had so much fun picking out Brad's watch and waiting for it to arrive. For some reason, it was even more fun to select a men's watch than I though it would be!

Men's wooden watch.

I especially loved that Jord sends the watch ready to wear. We sent Brad's measurements in, and they fit the watch perfectly to him. If you're gifting this like I was, it's a little tricky to get a measurement without giving away what you're doing... just go with a "trust me. I just need your wrist size." haha. I promise that even if they hubby knows that a watch is on the way, he will still be blown away with just how amazing the watch actually is. We're talking beyond gorgeous.

Jord Wood Watch

The wood is all natural and hand finished which I loved. All of the men's watches are gorgeous, so I had a hard time choosing, but we eventually went with the Zebra Wood and White Carbon watch. It's really a cool watch! The wood is absolutely beautiful and classy. I thought it was a perfect gift for my new attorney!

Jord Wood Watch

Jord doesn't skip out on any details either. The packaging is gorgeous and it makes the gift feel even more special.

Wood watch packaging

For you men looking for something special for your lady this fall, Jord also offers an amazing line of women's watches here.

In all, I love that Brad has such a unique watch and that I was able to give him something truly special for such an amazing accomplishment.

Jord Wood Watch

I also have some great news for you all! Jord is offering readers a chance to win a $75 gift card to their store! And, just for entering, you automatically receive a $20 off code! You can enter here:
Giveaway ends 11/20/16, so enter soon! Codes expire 2/28/17.

A major thank you to Jord Watches for helping me pick the perfect gift for my attorney husband!

Wooden Wristwatch

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

To The Mother I Thought I'd Be

motherhood challenges and reality

To The Mom I Thought I Would Be,

 You might be feeling like a little bit of a failure right now. Things aren't exactly as you had planned on. In fact, some things are far from where you had imagined. But I want you to know that from all the planning and imagining you did, you could never ever have dreamed up just how amazing your life would be right now. It might not be going "according to plan," but that doesn't make you a failure. It makes you real, raw, and blessed.

You had planned on having a beautifully organized home. A place for everything and everything in it's place. You imagined toys organized by type and size. You envisioned clean floors, shiny windows, and empty countertops. Instead, you have toys strewn about on the floor as you build an elaborate, imaginative play area. The windows have little fingerprints from playing with window clings with your little one. Those countertops are only cleared off about once a week when you finally get around to it. But you were busy. You were having a tea party and playing dress up. You were reading books and coloring masterpieces. You had better things to do. The house isn't a total disaster. Well... At least it's not a total disaster all that often. But it isn't perfectly ordered. It's lived in. Played in. Laughed in. And it's amazing.

You had planned on having a child who would be perfectly behaved in church. One who would sit quietly and listen to the sermons. One who would quietly admire pictures of The Savior and fold her arms for the prayers. Instead, you have a wiggly toddler. One who gets through the first prayer and song okay but gets antsy after. One who you walk the halls with to keep her happy.  And just when you're on the brink of tears because you don't know what to do and haven't heard a sermon in a few weeks because you've been wrestling the little one and you fear you haven't taught her anything at all, she will excitedly point to a painting on the wall. "Jesus! Jesus!" She will say. She'll blow Him kisses. And you'll know. You'll know that you've taught her something. She knows, recognizes, and loves Jesus. You helped with that. So she doesn't sit for an hour nicely... She knows God, even if it wasn't in the way you had imagined.

You had planned on organizing activities that your little one would be engrossed in for hours. But you have a beautiful, opinionated little one who sometimes rejects the activity that you spent so much time preparing. But if you aren't careful, you'll miss the thing she does want to do. In your frustration, don't miss the book she's pushing towards you. You have probably already read it 5 times that day. Read it again. Embrace her love for learning and her desire to make her own choices. She wants to go to the park? Go. It's just around the corner and it will bring her so much joy. It's okay that life isn't as scheduled and planned as you imagined. It's raw and real. And that's a beautiful thing.

You thought you wouldn't let your little one watch any television until she was three years old. You stayed pretty strong until she was about 14 months. Every now and again it just makes life a little easier. She sometimes needs a break from the constant activities and play. And sometimes you do too. And that's okay. Snuggle up together and watch your 15 minute show. It's alright. Even if other people tell you it's not, you need to do what works for you. Even if the show sort of drives you crazy, she loves it. Enjoy that she's snuggling in to you and snuggle right back.

You thought you would always know what to do. You thought you would always make the right decision. But you don't and you won't. And it's okay. Allow yourself to be real. It's okay to admit when you don't know what you're doing. But give yourself a little credit. This is new to you. You've never been a mom before. As much as people will tell you about a mom sense, it doesn't work all the time. "You'll just know," is something I heard all the time. But you won't always know. You'll need help. You'll need advice. You'll need to take things to your Heavenly Father in prayer and pour your soul out. Tell Him when it's good. Tell Him when it's hard. Find the answers you're seeking and then just dive in and give it your best. You'll mess up a time or two, but you'll learn from it. Life won't be perfect, but it will be oh so good.

You are so very blessed. Don't plan and prepare your life away. Enjoy every moment. Drink in the disorganized beauty. Accept things as they are while working to be the best you can. Don't get caught up in what isn't going according to plan. Don't worry when things don't look absolutely perfect. They won't, and they probably shouldn't. That's the only what you'll learn. It will help you to grow.

So, to the mother I thought I would be... It's okay. You aren't. But you're doing an alright job. And when your little girl comes running to you, smile wide, and throws her arms around your neck, you'll realize that she thinks so to.

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