December 12, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Shaena Crespo

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I never felt called to be a mom. Some friends of mine felt called. But I am pretty sure I just volunteered. 

Our (I’ll say “our” to include my husband because that is what married people do) first pregnancy ended in a painful miscarriage, forever knitting my heart to women who walk the lonely road of infertility and pregnancy loss. Our second pregnancy ended early, exposing us to the miracle of premature birth, a depth of gratitude for neonatologist, and the wonders of the NICU. Our third pregnancy ended with a return to the NICU, and a month of wondering if our child would be “normal”…whatever that is.

I still never felt the call.

Somewhere along the way, I guess I learned to embrace motherhood as a gift rather than a calling. A gift that challenges me to the very core of my being, and a gift that sometimes leads me to question my mental stability. A gift that, through it all, the good and the bad, is making my heart look a little more like Christ’s every day.

In the midst of tender mommy moments and mental breakdowns, I started to write, and found comfort in the freedom of words. Often times, when my kids would drive me crazy and my mind would torture me with all sorts of lies about my inadequacies, I would sit down and write, and things just became clear. Truth I held in my heart would find its way to my fingertips, and burdens that had seemed heavy suddenly felt light. And with my thoughts held captive and challenged by truth, I was free to laugh, love, and just enjoy this crazy journey of life and motherhood.

I guess that’s why I started blogging. I realized there is power in real life, and it’s worth sharing.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Honestly that depends on the day. Mornings are my ultimate favorite but when my kids are in school, mornings are more structured than relaxing. On those days, right after school are the sweetest moments of the day. That is the time where park trips and other fun happens. But there is nothing better than Saturday morning snuggles!

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Just three? Honestly, you have featured some of the most amazing moms, some that I personally know and love, but I can always find more amazing women. Moms are awesome that way. 

1. @latishalynphoto - She and I have been friends for years and she is a beautiful photographer. My family has really grown up in front of her lens and it’s been fun to watch her craft grow aswell! I love the way she captures her kids. Sometimes with messy hair and mismatched clothes, but always looking beautiful, imaginative, and free. Just the way kids should be, right? (She also captured these great shots!) 

2. @michelleschroff  - Michelle is one of the most inspiring women I know. She gives until it hurts and then keeps giving. Her passion to see the world transformed by the love of Jesus is contagious and her fun and loving personality is magnetic. She is the mother of 100 I think, although the actual number is somewhere closer to 10. When she isn’t parenting her own children she is loving on others as the founder of Project ZoĆ©, an organization designed to help at-risk youth. (@projectzoĆ©). 

3. @lenyaheitzig - She is creative, strong, passionate, and a spiritual mother to the multitude.

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
The most challenging thing is figuring out how to balance my wants and their needs. They aren’t always the same. It’s easy to say the kids are just being demanding when I have something else to do. I can easily forget that my kids don’t just want my attention, they need it. The other day while I was cooking dinner my son was doing the whole, “Look at me mommy, look at me”. Without looking, I started nodding my head, “Oh that’s great son”. He continued, “look at me mommy, mommy, look at me”. I stopped, frustrated and turned my attention to him and thought, “Look at you, I never take my eyes off you. And when my eyes are closed, you are in the center of my mind”. But when I stopped what I was doing and turned my eyes to my 6 year old making a silly face, I couldn’t help but agree it was well worth the interruption. Sometimes, all he really needs is me, that’s the burden and the blessing of motherhood.
[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Last year I started a “Just Dance Challenge”. I received an Xbox Kinect for Christmas and it had me at hello. I love things that bring people together and get them moving! The goal was just to open our home more and encourage our friends to laugh, smile, and dance! Ironically it turned out to be a challenging year for our family, but it is marked by so much laughter and funny moments with friends in part thanks to the crazy goal to dance with each new person who came into our home. It’s sort of our thing now, the kids are so good, and even my husband gets into it. I know it sounds silly, but I am really for most things that let you laugh together as a family.

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
The rules. It’s a great reminder that kindness rules in our home. My son will often remind me to “mind the rules”.

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
I took a pic of the most neglected room in my house… the laundry room. I don’t know what it is about laundry but it is a bottomless well in my house. What you can’t see in this pic is that this room is not only a mess, it actually smells bad… like sweaty socks and pee. It needs attention… maybe posting it here will inspire me. Maybe.

Be sure and follow @shaenacrespo on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

December 10, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Karen Stott

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
A snippet? Hmmm…. That’s a difficult task for a wordie like me. I’m a storyteller through and through, and I tend to get a little long winded when writing. So please forgive me, but here’s a shot. 

 I grew up on a few hundred acres in the woods of Oregon surrounded by boys. With only brothers and boy neighbors my days consisted of building forts, shooting bows & arrows and any other adventure you could imagine with a stick in my hand. I didn’t even have a pair of “girl” shoes until I was 13. It might’ve been a little extreme. Lol. 

Isaac and I met in high school but never dated. We actually went on our first date the week before our wedding. If you want to know that story, just write me, I will answer. Like any lovesick girl, I love telling it. I was 19, he was 21 and in the Air Force which relocated me to the beaches of Florida for a few years. I don’t know what he saw in me, especially considering I didn’t wear makeup, or cook, or know how to be girly in any sense of the word. But I guess that’s why I love him so much. He has always seen way more in me than I could ever see in myself. And he pushes me to be my very best and to follow God down scary roads, like laying down our business to start a ministry for Women Creatives. I seriously could not do it without him. 

We now live back in Oregon where we can be close to most of our family. Isaac is a firefighter, and I’m a professional juggler of all things wifey, mommy, bloggery, Pursuit 31-y, businessy, laundry and chauffery. We have two beautiful little souls that are the intriguing ages of 6 & 8, and a new little man coming in just a few weeks. Ava, our oldest is quite the clever mix of her daddies A-type-ness and my drama. I’m going to start writing more about our relationship more because parenting an extreme extrovert as an introvert has to be one of those iron sharpens iron scenarios God speaks of. I have learned so much from her. Isaiah, who is 6, is my mini me. He would prefer to walk through life pulling pranks, with no responsibilities wearing a superhero cape and his chonies. His perspective on life brings so much joy to our household. I feel so blessed to have all of these personalities to hoan me, and mold me and remind me of what really matters.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Days with little ones are always such an adventure and rarely are there two days that look the same. But one thing that has always been a constant is the rising up and the winding down. Over the past 8.5 years, those have consistently been my favorite moments with my littles. I’m a snuggler, a hugger. Physical touch is right up there with brown paper packages tide up with string, and if you ever meet me, I will be the one awkwardly running toward you in slow motion with arms open for a long awaited hug. So these quiet cuddly times of the day are all the more precious to me. 

Ava is a morning person so she is raring to go before the sun is, but as the moon says hello and the world becomes quiet again, so does she. Which is pretty rare for her. I love that she climbs up on my lap even though she stands up to my shoulders and snuggles in real close as she watches a movie, or flips through yet another American Girl catalog. 

Our youngest, for now, is a night owl, and resembles the zoned out, don’t talk to me persona that I exude before 10 am.  Because of this, we have a special thing going, and we can talk for an hour without saying a word.   Usually it consists of limbs being intertwined on the couch underneath a fuzzy buzz lightyear blanket. And both of us, completely silent. It’s in these times that the world stands still and I can breathe in the smell of their hair and feel their tiny hands around my middle. The busyness is over and it’s just us… No distractions. Being present. Together. And I can’t think of anything else I love more in the world.  

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Really just 3!?!?! Is it okay if I break the rules a little??? I’m in love with how these women know who they are in Christ and have a vision for their families. It’s not about survival for them or just getting by, it’s about creating memories, cultivating purpose and enjoying the journey.  I just LOVE that about them.  

@Kristin_Wall / @naptimediaries  / @joyprouty @Kristinrogers / @emilyley / @laraacasey / @scobeyphotog 

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
Geez!!!! What challenges have I not faced would be a better question! Considering my upbringing, I find it very humorous that God decided to entrust me with a Women’s ministry for professional creatives. Ten years ago I didn’t know the first thing about being a “lady”, and now I am surrounded by them. Haha very funny. It has definitely taught me that what we are meant to do isn’t exactly what we set out to do. It’s something we find when we fall into the heart of God for our lives.  

Running our photography business for the past 9 years and now running Pursuit 31 full time for almost 3, I could go on and on about the challenge of finding balance and all of that. But really, as the days go by, I’ve realized the answer to “balance” is pretty simple. It’s all about prioritizing and intentionality. When you get those in line, everything else seems to fall into place. So I guess I would have to say that my biggest challenge in creativity and motherhood is just plain exhaustion.   Motherhood is exhausting. Especially when you’re pregnant and chasing other kids, and it would be SO much easier to sleep the day away then be intentional. 

If I randomly get this amazing idea, or God whispers something in my heart to write, I want to be in a place where I can step out in action right away. I want to hear and then do. I want to actually put my hand to all of the things that are running circles in my brain. But that’s easier said than done, and so often I end up choosing the easy route instead of being a good steward of those gifts.  If I have a few quiet moments I will watch a show instead of write, or take a bath instead of get to work, and that needs to change. The Word says no greater love has a man than he that lay down his life for a friend. I want to have that love. I want to be that friend. I want to have the discipline to lay down what I am wanting in a certain moment and be obedient to the whispers God has breathed into my heart. I can’t be selfish with my gifts. They were given to me to be shared with others. Yet finding the energy to actually DO is my greatest challenge.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Hmmmm… wow… There are so many that I love so much. The holidays kind of bring the traditions out in me because I am a huge lover of under the tree Christmas Eve sleepovers, and baking days that leave flour handprints all over the house. 

However I would have to say that my favorite tradition we do with our kids is our “End of Summer Adventures.” When Ava started school I thought about how I wanted to do something fun with her to retain our connection throughout the years. I didn’t want her to end up being 16 and look at me funny when I wanted to take her on a girly weekend because we had never spent time together like that before. I didn’t want to have this “coming of age” awkward weekend where we both knew we had to talk and didn’t know how.  I wanted to establish a pattern of these fun weekends that we could continue and change throughout the years and hopefully, please Lord, even into college or when she’s married. So every year, right before school starts since she was 4, Ava and I have gone on a fancy overnight “princess date” to a hotel. The activities have changed over the years, but we always manage to hit up the hotel swimming pool, paint our nails, get breakfast room service and drink Shirley Temples. Stopping at a photo booth is also a must on our bucket list. Her tastes obviously have changed in the past 4 years and we have done a lot of different things. But the most important thing is that we get each other, uninterrupted, for 48 hours. And we get to do whatever crazy girly amazingness we can think of. The boys get to have their own smelly, cabin-y, manly adventures before school starts too. But they are strictly “No girls allowed”, so I will have to let them share about those.  
[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I love this pic because it is a glimpse into our world. I feel like we are pretty unconventional,  at least compared to how I grew up. We love taking every opportunity possible to find adventure and memories in the everyday. We believe in wrestling, dance parties, blanket forts, pajama days, dress up clothes, tea parties and making dinner together even when it takes 5 times as long. I guess that’s why I love this picture. It’s not a great shot technically, or even of the kids really, but it’s us. And it’s what we do. And I love that.  

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
My goal on instagram is to always be authentic, so there isn’t really anything that I “wouldn’t” share. However as an artist/photographer I do tend to be a little picky as far as how things look aesthetically, or the quality of the actual photo. So this isn’t one I would typically post because it’s fuzzy and bright and there is a blurred dog in the corner. But it’s life, and because of that, it’s one of my favorites. We Stott’s are a roudy bunch, and wrestling in the kitchen goes with the territory.  So… here ya have it folks.  

Be sure and follow @karenstott on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

December 6, 2013

December Desktop + iPhone Wallpaper

I can’t believe this is the final desktop + iPhone download for 2013! Thank you for all of your encouragement and support in this series…..We love that many of you are enjoying these as much as we do. Seriously, it’s been such a fun experience to collaborate with Ashley each and every month….and I look forward to continuing this as we soon begin a new year!
I photographed this image as we were driving home from our annual Hunt and Cut tradition. And when I say driving…..we were driving. Well, my husband was driving, while my camera and I were hanging out the window! I guess you could call this photo a drive by. I love it when shots like this happen…..magic when you least expect it!
I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself an outdoorsy girl…..I love the outdoors, but I wouldn’t hunt and cook my own dinner or sleep in a tent all summer long. Well, I’d might consider it if it were a TeePee! You know what I mean.
However, being outdoors is like being awakened from a long and comfortable slumber. Our souls wake up in a way. When we are outdoors, the things that often distract us from being present [computers, social media, tv, radio, cell phones] are removed. Being outdoors gives our souls rest. We can fill our lungs with deep, long breaths and unclutter our thoughts and mind. We were created to be refreshed by the beauty of creation.
We encourage you to take time this month, before this year closes in on us….to step outside….to listen, to pray, to praise, to thank and to be silent….to listen. This holiday season tends to be rushed, while our schedules fill up with places to be and people to see. Take some time out… present with our greatest gift this Christmas…the One who deserves our time and attention, Jesus Christ.
Be encouraged, my friends…..and I pray you have a very Merry Christmas.
XOXO -kelli
Desktop Download // click and save

iPhone Wallpaper

December 1, 2013

My Everyday featuring ... Christine Pobke

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[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
First of all, it has to be said that i'm a huge fan and follower of this series. It's truly an honour to be amongst the moms who've been interviewed before me - what a wonderfully empowering community this is! Go moms! :)

I was born in Korea, raised in the pacific northwest (my family call Seattle home), and now call Australia home. :) I met my aussie husband in a small village in Japan just after graduating from uni (whitman college in quaint walla walla, washington). We were both there teaching english through the JET programme, and fell head over heels in love. Fast forward ten years and here we are in Canberra, married for over five years, and now a family of three (with our 18 month old baby girl, Pippa). 

I'm a self-taught photographer but have a background ranging in advertising, marketing, sales, academia (i was doing my phd in politics before I quit to become a full time photographer!), art, teaching... the list could go on and on. I always thought I would float from job to job until the day I retired, but somehow photography landed on my lap and I haven't been able to let go of it yet. 

With Pippa, our life has taken on a whole new meaning. I look at her every day with hope, wonder, amazement and love. She inspires me to be a better mother; better wife; better human being. What a blessing children are! 

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
My favorite part of the day has to be our late afternoons together. She gets up from her nap between 2:30 and 3pm, so as soon as she's up, we're outside in our backyard, feeding our plants, painting and drawing, and having afternoon tea together. Pippa loves the outdoors and nature, and is forever wanting to lay on the grass, smell the flowers, water her garden, or paint the trees (incidentally, one of her first words is "outside"). Now that it's spring and getting so warm, afternoons are the best for lounging around and filling up on our vitamin d together. 

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Gosh. Three instagram moms? That's it? That's gotta be a tough one. I don't think i can stop at three, as most of the people I follow on instagram are amazing mothers that I look up to!! I'll try to make this short... 

@haileybe: one of my dear friends who inspires me on a daily basis. She and her equally inspiring husband @surfistatomato "unschool" their two amazingly talented daughters - if Pippa turned out to be half as clever as their girls, I would be incredibly proud! 

@Sheye_rosemeyer: we both shared our pregnancies with each other at the earliest possible stage - that's how special she is to me! :) She's a mother of six, runs several businesses, lives in two continents, and is a darling friend. How she does it all, no one knows. but i'm hoping I can vicariously gain some multitasking skills from her.

@lyndzeeeeee: probably my most stylish friend and she doesn't go broke doing it! If I had one power in life, it would be lyndzee's gift of thrifting in style! Plus she's an amazing mom of three littlies, follows her heart and her dreams, and pulls off amazing red lipstick.  

@jess_cudzilo: Jess is one of those girls who I knew would be an immediate friend... and if we lived in the same city, I'd want to hang out with her every day and become BFFs with her. She's warm, kind, honest and caring. Who doesn't wanna have a BFF with those characteristics??!
[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
Motherhood is such a journey, I've learned. The relationship you cultivate with your child is so different at each stage of development: one minute you're nursing every few hours and then suddenly you're drinking coffee while they run around exploring their freedom. To me, the balance will always be skewed in one way or another: I don't think I'll ever get to the stage where I think I've finally achieved a perfect daily balance with both. And I kinda like that. The biggest challenge has been learning that motherhood and creativity is a work in progress, as well as a work in tandem! Learning to accept this has been a big "aha!" moment for me. 

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Pippa hasn't been around long enough for us to have new family traditions together, but one thing we've loved doing so far is going away to the coast for christmas. It's so nice being able to spend time at a beach house, swim in the ocean, and just feel like we're on some far away remote island! 

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I'm sharing our living room because that's where we spend the most amount of time together as a family. Clint (my husband) loves playing the guitar for Pippa, reading her stories (and doing voices as well as making up his own storyline), and she spends hours rolling around on the floor (or on us), while singing songs and making a crazy mess. Plus the wall has images of all of our adventures together, and it's such a daily reminder to live in the moment and make every day count in its own special way.
[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
This is us in the mornings. Me fast asleep (as clint has ''morning duty" before he heads off to work). :) I wake up when she's up at around 7:30, but quickly get to snooze for another 45 min before hubby heads off to work... the two of them read together every morning, and it's about the only time pippa is ever really cuddly (or still). :) I suppose this isn't something I'd ever instagram as (a) I'm sleeping when this happens, and (b) I look a fright! :) Luckily for us, we had some friends staying over who graciously photographed us together as a family, and this is one of her lovely shots (tealily photography). 

Be sure and follow @pobke on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

November 26, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Andrea Gutierrez

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[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I'm a Southern California native, married to my best friend Rick for eleven years and mama to two children, Natalie, 9 and Finn, 20 months. My story is an ordinary one made extraordinary because of what Christ has done for me and continues to do. I'm constantly in awe of what He reveals in my life and I love finding my identity in Him. Making the decision to be a stay at home mom changed almost everything for us. We had to sacrifice a lot, including moving in with my family so that we could stand by our convictions. It's been a tough road of humility and constant learning but I am grateful for it. Almost ten years later, I am being encouraged and renewed in my calling as wife, mom and homemaker as I see the possibility of change and new things on the horizon. I am thankful everyday for God's patience with us and am excited for what new challenges He has called us to as we live this life for His glory. As for me, simple things add happiness to my heart. I enjoy drawing and illustrating, reading, laughing (it's my favorite!), baking, coffee in the morning, a cup of tea with honey any time of the day, and the beauty and wonders of the Great Outdoors.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
I never thought I would be a morning person but the last few years my perspective has changed. Knowing that I have a household to take care of encourages me to make the most of the morning. I love waking up to my children's faces, even on mornings where one or both are grumpy. Those mornings I have to remind myself that it is a gift being here with them, just for them, preparing them for the day ahead. It's also one of the greatest opportunities to learn and show grace. There has been many a morning that has been less than ideal, but through His redemptive work, I can take our sinfulness before Him and use it to live out the gospel in the hard moments by confession, repentance and grace. Every morning is an opportunity to find grace, even in the common things like freshly brewed coffee (with cinnamon!), the cool sweet air from an opened window and the day waking. I've come along way from just rolling out of bed with barely enough time to do what needs to be done. I am thankful to have mornings with more purpose and intentionality, pointing our thoughts and hearts towards Christ as we go forward with the day.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
These three ladies have made a significant impression on my heart: Joy @joyprouty, Terri @woodsermom and Stephanie @mamagaddis. They have sparked courage and strength in my heart to face the challenges of being a woman and a mother. Joy has so greatly shared with her followers a life that is real, beautiful and full of hope. She and her husband have bravely leaped into the unknown, and created a real-life adventure to share with their children in the process. By simplifying their lives, they choose to live by faith and not by the limitations of fear or doubt. 
Terri's life in pictures is an absolute inspiration to me. Her sense of purpose and love for her family are clearly evident. I'm constantly in awe over her idyllic photos and at the center of it all, a strong love for Christ. One day I will have a great, long conversation in her backyard, by the fire pit with her!

And my dear Stephanie! Who moved away too soon but through God's providence and the wonders of texting and FaceTime, has become one of my very best friends. She was a part of my church community group and after hearing her and husband's testimony, I was floored by God's grace in their life and their strength in Him to overcome. Shortly after having their sixth child, they moved to Louisville. She continues to encourage me by showing me real faith in real life. I adore her family and He has motivated to live a life more intentionally because of how she is faithful to what He has given her. 

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
It's been tough carving out specific times to be creative and do something other than just domestic duties. I listed the above women because I see that life can be joyfully and creatively accomplished (with 4 kids, 9 kids, and 6 kids, respectively). Sometimes I am slow at grasping concepts but I also realize everything is a season. Now that my son is older and I am not constantly on call to nurse, I try to find little moments for creativity. Sometimes I am not so successful. It's trial and error and also allowing myself to be patient. I understand more and more that my family is my first priority and mission and everything else comes after. I still have goals with art and storytelling, there are still crafts I am dying to do and other creative pursuits. I know as I am constantly learning how to prioritize my life, I believe He makes way for things. Sometimes it's hard for me to understand it and have patience but it's pretty awesome knowing that. As I get life together, there will be time for these things, eventually! Who knows, I might become a celebrated author and illustrator when I'm 60!

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
When my daughter was younger, before life got hectic with school, homework, softball and just living, I loved making things and exploring life with her. I enjoyed showing her this world He created and learning about it through stories, crafting and being outside. Life is much different now and it seems it gets harder to have these special times, especially with her. The traditions I want to build for us are having time together that almost seem like ideas from bygone eras. Life is fast, busy and you have to 'keep up' with what culture says you should be doing. I want to find moments to slow down, pretend, play games and enjoy each others' company. This past Summer, we created 'Camp Lupine' in an effort to make the most of what we had during the months she was off from school. We came up with a couple of family holidays (she usually comes up with them on the day) like National Gutierrez Strawberry Dipping day. We started our own secret code that I drive her nuts with, leaving notes for her to decode and it's a crack up for me. Also, being intentional to help develop a relationship between the two children since there is an eight year gap. To have them spend time together, do things together and establish themselves as part of a loving, close family, not just being siblings with no connection because of their ages. I want both children (and future children if the Good Lord wills) growing up knowing that we purpose to be a family, making our own culture, having our own mission and being intentional with not just living, but enjoying life with one another, all for the glory of His Kingdom.

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
Being that we don't live in our own place, I have struggled with the idea of home and what is 'mine'. On Instagram, I typically share photos of my family outdoors but the pictures that are inside the home are usually close ups. I realized I purposely do that because in my heart I feel like this is not our own surrounding. I know my parent's deeply love us and have helped us tremendously, but as a wife and mother, I am eager to create our own space, a place that has our signature on it. Most photos I put up on IG from the home are of what I'm about to make for dinner. A simple photo of a vegetable or two, on top of my cutting board. Those pictures, to me, say a lot of what 'home' is; providing for my family by feeding them a meal made with love, being together, growing together. It's my way of saying 'By His grace, I promise you this and more'. 

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
We have been learning a lot on how to be an intentional family and a frugal one as well. Most times we don't have the means to celebrate little things in big ways. It gives me the chance to hopefully create memories in simple ways. I try to do little things for my girl especially, so that she knows she is loved and important in the family dynamic. I know it can be tough having a much younger sibling that takes a lot of care and management. For her last day of school I put up a bunting I made her, with a small chalkboard sign welcoming her to Summer. I also brought her flowers as in our now tradition for the last day of school. I didn't post any pictures of the bunting or the sign because it's not much but that doesn't matter. What does is that I made it special for her in the way that I could. I hope when she is older, she can understand and appreciate that it's not always the big things that win, but the small, constant, simple ways love shows itself.

Be sure and follow @dearpomegranates on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

November 24, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Katherine Kuck

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[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
Hello! I'm Katherine Marie! Sometimes, when filling out forms where it asks for 'profession,' I half jokingly check the 'other' box and fill in "professional fun-maker, mess-maker, picture-taker!" Really that just about sums me up. I live in the Midwest with my husband and five kids and we make a whole lotta messes. We love to have fun. And I feel blessed to be able to capture it on "film."  Since I'm a list maker at heart, to give you a real snippet of me, I'd like to share a short list of my "life quotes":

1. God loves you just as you are, not as you should be.  Brendan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel 
2. Art is the smile of the soul.  Unknown
3. Be who you are and say what you feel.  Those you mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.  Dr. Suess 
4. You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it.  Robin Williams
5. Grace means that ALL of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.  Unknown
6. If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.  Maya Angelo 
7. What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herin lies the key to your earthly pursuits.  Carl Jung
8. One day at a time. (If one day seems like too much to handle it's okay to take it minute by minute.)  AA Slogan
9. Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching.  C.S. Lewis
10. Don't worry my child. I have it all under control. ---God 

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Life with kids is such a magical adventure! One of my favorite times of the day is when we have our "FUN TIME." Sometimes it's hard to find time when we can squeeze in uninterrupted moments of creativity and adventure, but I have an unwritten rule that we do AT LEAST one fun thing everyday. No matter how chaotic or stressful the day may be, my goal is to purposely create one moment of magic where we can celebrate together. It doesn't have to be elaborate.  Our moment might be as simple as tossing a football back and forth in the living room to practice multiplication facts. How many tosses can we make without making a mistake?!! Or it could be kinda crazy like our annual whip cream fight. If I'm really feeling dedicated it might even be a week long celebration where everyday we plan a different activity based on a theme.  I love creative arts... so anytime we are creating and learning together is my favorite time! 

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
I am absolutely blown away by the creativity, joy and happiness that pours out through--- @jesussauvage / @mandylynnephoto / @annettab . These mamas are all completely different, but the one thing they have in common is that the way they weave creativity into their everyday world. It's pure BLISS!!!  

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
The part I struggle with the most is fitting all the NON-creative stuff into my day! It's easy for me to make time for creating WITH my kids and FOR my kids because I just love it so much, but tasks like cooking, cleaning and the never ending laundry piles... well that's always an issue around here! My house is rarely clean and I only dream of being truly organized. I think I'm finally getting to a place in my life where I'm okay with that!?   

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Ohhhh what a task to pick just one! I love traditions like I love sweet coffee on a cold, drizzly day. I'm just crazy about them. Since Christmas is next month, I'll share my favorite holiday tradition. Every year the kids dress up in their Santa suits and hand out treats to the folks mailing off their last minute cards at the post office. It's one way we try to spread a little kindness during the chaos that sometimes accompanies the busy holiday season. Last year the kids gave out hot chocolate packets and Hersey kisses.  Between "customers" they sang carols and danced. I'm getting excited for Christmas just thinking about it!!  

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
My favorite part of where we live is our back yard! I can't decorate AT ALL! I have NO sense of style when it comes to the visual details of my home, but when I'm outside, amidst God's glorious design, that's where I feel most at home! In the warmer months we take projects and adventures outside whenever possible.   

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
Typically I have to force myself to share photographs like this one. I hate that nearly every photo of me with my family is horribly out of focus with bad lighting! What I'm very slowly learning to embrace is the beauty in the imperfection. Years from now I won't care that the photo isn't technically correct. I won't care who was looking at the camera and who wasn't. I know I'll treasure the simple fact that we are all in a photo together. 

Be sure and follow @katherinemaries on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

November 11, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Katy Kristin

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I was born and raised in northern California. My parents taught me at a really young age what a life lived for Jesus looks like & I am forever grateful for their example. I met my husband Scott in college. We lived next door to each other for several years but didn't end up dating until we were out of college. We got married in 2005 and moved to a little town in central California where we knew no one. In April, we will celebrate our ninth anniversary. In those nine years, we have made lots of mistakes but we have seen much redemption and restoration. He is my very best friend, my better half & my rock. We have two little kids. Miles is 3 and Camden Jane is 1. My family is my biggest joy in life. There is no one else I'd rather spend my time with. I'm a stay at home mom and an etsy shop owner. I sort of have my hands full. :) I am a lot more introverted than people think I am; I crave alone time and peace & quiet. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, you can find me curled up with a blanket & twinkle lights, a cup of coffee with vanilla creamer, and a fantastic book. I love to write, to read, to create, decorate, design, laugh, and make others laugh too. I am never the life of the party, but I always like to have fun. I love to dream a big dream.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Right after naps, both of my kids are still waking up and life is still quiet and calm. Miles is probably a little bit grumpy & Camden just wants to be held. So we will go sit on the couch and I will hold both of them close while they wake up. Sometimes they want to read, sometimes they want to chat, sometimes they just want to watch Curious George. But I love this time because it won't last forever. In fact, I'm sure it will come to an end before I know it. So I smell their hair, and I feel them breathing, I hold their hands, and I pray for them. I pray for myself as I navigate how to parent them better. The moments are always over too soon for me. Soon, they jump off my lap and start playing with blocks and chasing each other down the hall. But I savor the closeness for those few minutes every day. 

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
There are a lot of ladies that I would choose but since I am limited to three, I am going to choose @keepupwithjj / @life_made_lovely / @jessmcclenahan. Each of these moms have overcome something in their life as a mother & I am humbled by their stories. I love how each of them are real & honest & love the Lord. I would like to be the kind of mom that they are someday.

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
Well, since I am the mom of two very busy little children and a busy etsy shop, I have to be really careful with my time. I made a commitment when I opened my shop that I would never work when my kids are awake. My computer is in the office in the back of the house and I choose to be present with my kids (or else who knows what could happen out there!). Through this journey, I have learned that I just can't do it all. It has been good for me to learn that my family comes first no matter what. Sometimes I have to say no to something I really would have enjoyed designing. I have never regretted saying no to an order to spend more time with my children.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Usually between 4:30 and 6 is rough for me. I am exhausted and my kids are bored. Ha! All of us want Scott to walk through the door. So when dinner is over and we are calming down for bedtime, a few nights a week, we will go out to a field nearby and watch the sunset. Miles asks to watch it several times a week now. And it is a really good way to reflect on the day. Lots of times, I have to ask for forgiveness. (I make a lot of mistakes as a mom.) Lots of times, we have to leave early because someone is crying. But every time, I am reminded of God's beauty and the season he has me in right now. And every once in awhile, Scott takes us all out for ice cream. Those nights are the best. ;) I made a commitment to myself that for the year of 2013, I would post one picture a day of a moment I found beauty in. I have missed one day. I don't regret missing it. That is life. But I decided that even if it is the ugliest day, the sunset is still beautiful. So if you see me posting a sunset on Instagram, you know that I am sitting there with my family probably listening to a Mickey Mouse cd, singing along to it, and striving to finish off the day on the best possible note. 

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
We spend almost all of our time in our family room and kitchen area. It is sort of the hub of our home. So I would share this picture of my kids reading together in the living room. And also, this picture of them playing the piano together. This is where the life of our family is.

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
A picture I wouldn't share on Instagram would be this picture of my kids laying together on the floor. It is beyond blurry and is so very grainy. There are toys all over the place and there is just so much wrong with it. But more than anything else, I see such a sweet relationship between the two of them. I am working so hard to teach my kids that they are each other's very best friend no matter what. And I feel like in this very blurry and grainy picture, that friendship is very evident. 

Be sure and follow @katykristin on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms