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
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iPhone Wallpaper

December 1, 2013

My Everyday featuring ... Christine Pobke

 photo CHRISTINEPOBKE_zps204dd6a6.jpg
[#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