January 30, 2014

My Everyday Featuring ... Allison Trowbridge

[photo by Jenny Haas]

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
Hello! My name is Allison and I am a wife, mama and homemaker. My husband and I fell in love when we were 16 and here we are 11 years later, still loving and fighting, laughing and crying, and living this crazy and wonderful life together. We have two children: Luca (5) and Adele (3). We live humbly and serve a very extraordinary God, who has blessed us with so much more beauty and grace than we deserve.
I am a once-upon-a-time English major, turned mama. Once our Luca was born (two weeks before my and Adam's first wedding anniversary), I couldn't bring myself to go back to school and finish my last five quarters; I knew my place was at home, with my baby, and it was with the support of my husband and family that I made the decision to stay home and raise our little one. Those first three years of marriage and mamahood (and home renovations on our 150+ year old house) were a whirlwind, filled with all the bittersweetness imaginable. When Luca was three years old, six months after our darling, Adele, came along, he was diagnosed with Autism.
For me, this is where my story began, where our story began. I've felt more heartbreak, more love, and so much more hope in the last two and a half years than I ever thought possible.
And this story that's being written, it is a beautiful one.
[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
My favorite part of the day is in the morning, especially these late fall mornings when it is still dark and cold outside. I like to kick on the furnace, turn on the twinkle lights in the living room, brew a hot cup of coffee and lay with Luca and Adele under a chunky afghan while they drink their chocolate milk and we talk about our dreams from last night and our plans for the day. These early mornings are those treasured memories that I will take to heaven with me one day.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Their love for their children and their art of creating- be it their homes, photography or anything else their imaginations conjure up- it's inspiring to say the least. I wish the world were filled to the brim with people like these women.

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
This title, this role of "homemaker," is one that I take very seriously, and I am so honored to be able to stay home each day with my children, to build my home and make it a safe haven for myself and my family- with that being said, some days, I don't feel like making beds, putting laundry away, doing dishes, sweeping floors and making meals. Some days, I just want to play; some days, I just want to write or go out for a drive into the middle of nowehere with my Nikon and shoot God's beauty. But, alas, my responsibility is to my home, to my family- they keep me grounded.
[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Each day we have tiny traditions- eating dinner together, welcoming Adam home with hugs and kisses when he walks in the door from a long day at work, bedtime prayers- and I am so thankful for those. My favorite big tradition though, is going to the Christmas tree farm a town away and cutting down our tree in December. My heart warms just thinking of this. It's one of those moments that I cling onto while it's happening, taking in the sights, smells, feeling in my chest... it's a tradition that neither my husband or I had as children, so it's ours- our little family of four, cutting down our Christmas tree.

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
At any given time, there is a candle lit, some twinkle lights on, the dishwasher running and a record player spinning. Adele, she's our dancer. And I'm a firm believer in the fact that turning on a record player is just as important as reading fairytales; we like to do both in our home :)

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
Luca and Adele, just hanging out in their underwear with angry bird band-aids on, painting a mess in the kitchen. And although I don't have the picture on my camera roll anymore, I took one the other night and sent it to a good friend of mine, who claims that my house in never messy- there were dirty dishes and clothes thrown throughout the kitchen and laundry room, homework and watercolor paint covering the kitchen table- and come to think of it, Luca and Adele were running around naked! Most days, I am a very ordinary mama, just doing her best to keep her head above water, trying to piece together frazzled ends and savor the sweetness between the chaos.

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

January 27, 2014

My Everyday Featuring ... Courtney Lott

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
Hello! I’m Courtney Lott and I am from Atlanta, Georgia. I am a daughter of the King, married to my best friend, and mommy to my 7 littles: Mina 10, Aidan 8, Michael 8, Aniya 5, Carson 5, Emmy 3 and Collier 2. I am passionate about adoption and orphan care; I own an adoption consulting firm, Faithful Adoption Consultants. I am an advocate for Sickle Cell Disease, Epilepsy and most recently,Down Sydrome. We are incredibly blessed and not one bit of this life was part of my plan. Aren’t God’s plans so much better? 
The most important part of my story began when I met my husband and we started our life together. Emory and I were married in 2003 with different plans for our family size. He wanted one child and I wanted 4. One year and 8 days after we were married I gave birth to our first son, Aidan. Emory was content, in his mind our family was complete. God had other plans, BIGGER plans.

Over the next 7 years the Lord would add to our family 5 times through adoption, both privately and through foster care, and also add one more biologically. We adopted out of birth order and acquired our 7 children in a span of 7 years….never a dull minute around here. 

In 2008, Emory and I started Faithful Adoption Consultants. We walk adoptive parents through the domestic adoption journey from beginning to end. Our clients contract us to walk them through each step of the process, we educate and advocate, as well as help them bring home their bundle of joy much faster than your average domestic adoption agency. Through FAC, God has brought Emory and I some of our dearest, most treasured friends. 

In addition to running a business and chasing these 7 littles around, several of our kiddos have special needs.

Aidan (our oldest son) is epileptic and as of now, is not well controlled, which means he is on a lot of medicine, and has lots of doctors appointments to regularly check his medication levels, lab work, MRI’s, EEG’s etc. 
Emmy, our 3 year old, was born with Sickle Cell Disease. Emmy has the worst type, she received the S gene from both parents, resulting in SS Sickle Cell Disease. Emmy has had 50 + admissions, and recently almost lost her life to sickle cell complications this past March. In 2011, I founded Emmy’s Got Style, which is an organization that makes and donates stylish, functional hospital gowns to chronically and terminally ill children. We also use EGS as a platform to raise awareness about Sickle Cell Anemia. (We are reconstructing our website, but you can check us out on FB – www.facebook.com/emmysgotstyle)

Aniya, our newest addition is 5 years old and she has Down Syndrome. We have only had Aniya for a few months, so we are still learning and trying to decide where the best place for us to advocate for Down Syndrome might be. For now, we are spending our time figuring out our new normal as a family of 9. 
Each day is an adventure around here….and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
I have so many sweet moments throughout the day with each of my littles, but collectively, I would have to say dinner time. 

We make it a point to eat dinner together every night, whether at our own table or at a restaurant.  I love this time. It is the sweetest time of our kids opening up about their day, about how they feel and what they look forward to. 

Each night we do hi/lo’s at dinner….each person goes around the table and tells us their day’s high and low. I love this. It gives us the opportunity to pour into each one of them about the highest and lowest moments of their day, and talk collectively as a family about the important things.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Oh, geez, there are so many. I don’t know that I can only name 3, but I will try. I am going to go with moms that share my passion for orphan care, large families, foster care and adoption.

@letlovegrow –   This momma of 9 (6 bio and 3 adopted) shares my passion for orphans, has a huge family and still seems to look sane….that is inspirational in my book. I love her heart, the way she advocates for the least of these, and her fierce love for family.

@itsjustemmy – This sweet momma has 3 kiddos (their third was just born this past week – and is their 2nd daughter by the miracle of adoption) is a constant source of encouragement to me and to so many others in our IG adoption community.  Blessed to call her friend.  She, too, is a lover of Jesus, her family, orphan care and constantly finding new ways to give and bless others. 

@K8CL8N – also owner of @TheAdoptShoppe – This sweet momma has 4 kiddos (2 bio and 2 by adoption) and owns The Adopt Shoppe…..she may be one of the most generous people I have ever “met”.  She is constantly finding new ways to bless others with her amazing talent of creating beautiful jewelry. I adore her heart for Jesus, her family and for orphans.

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
This is a hard one. I am going to change the question just a bit, as I am not creative at all, motherhood hasn’t hindered that, God made me that way. I think for me the question would be more of what challenges do I face in motherhood and balancing the owning and running of a business?

Boundaries. The hardest part is setting boundaries between work and personal.

Adoption is such an emotional journey, so I naturally become emotionally involved with my clients, which can be difficult to turn off the work side of me during my “off” hours.

In recent months, I have really put boundaries in place with clients, which has helped balance my time with my family vs. working. Due to the nature of the job, I don’t have typical business hours, which allows me the flexibility to be wherever I need to be with my kids, and since I can work from anywhere (as long as I have a computer and a phone) I am still readily available to my clients when I need to be. 

Running a business and having a family is definitely a balancing act, but I am thankful for the opportunity to have both.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
7 years ago we started the tradition of surprising the kiddos with an “UNbirthday Party” several times a year. They have no idea when it is coming, and they are thrilled every time we do it. What I love is that it’s as simple as buying a birthday cake and bringing it home when it’s nobody’s birthday….they love it. I really hope that it will be one of those memories and traditions for the kids that they take with them when they have children themselves. I love seeing the joy on our kid’s faces when they realize that it is an Unbirthday Party night…..makes my heart smile every. single. time..

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I would probably choose first thing in the morning, when everyone is waking up and getting ready for their day. My awesome hubby wakes up for the 5 oldest in the mornings and gets them started while I snooze for an extra 30 minutes, so when I come down and he is getting ready to leave, I start my day by seeing all the kids helping one another with breakfast, backpacks, helping with lunches and finding missing shoes….it’s a sweet moment for a momma’s heart to see her kids helping each other joyfully in the morning.  

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
It would be probably be this:

This is the hardest part of my day, the reality of parenting 7 small children. This is after school, with 5 kids doing homework, eating snacks, making messes and 2 littles buzzing around their siblings trying to get their attention….you’ll see 3 BIG dogs walking around in all the chaos, and probably find me multi-tasking between making dinner, helping with homework and taking client calls all at once. It is the hardest part of my day, it is our daily routine, it is also one of my favorite times, despite the difficulty of it, because we are all back under one roof together, and I love having them all in one room.

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

January 23, 2014

My Everyday featuring ... Chrystal Smith

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
Oh my, a snippet. That's tough :) My story is a long, grace-filled, complicated, twisty and turny, beautiful mess of a journey with lots of chapters... the good, the bad, the ugly, and mostly the glory-filled. I grew up in southern California, making sure my toes were never too far from the sand. When I was 14 I met a boy who changed everything about my life. I married him in 2001 and he's been my rock ever since. Raising our three boys (ages 11, 8, and 3) with him is the greatest blessing. On a whim in 2007 we decided to trade in our flip-flops for boots and moved our little family to the quiet suburbs of Austin, TX. Neither one of us had ever been to Texas and we basically bought our house site unseen. It was a total leap of faith. And, for us, the best leap of faith we could've made. I would've never guessed that the wide open rolling hills of the Texas hill country would feel like home even more than the sandy shores that I swore I'd never leave. We've been able to make our roots here and thank God every day for leading us toward a life far greater than anything we could've planned for ourselves.

My greatest passions are motherhood and healthy living. For me they have become almost one in the same. I'm on a constant quest to raise healthy little humans and to nourish my own broken body, despite the many health challenges that have been put in our lives. Multiple autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and autism spectrum disorders have pushed us to dig deeper into our health, lifestyle, and food choices. By cleaning up our diets and our home, we've been able to dramatically improve the health and well-being of every member of our family. Organic, local, grass-fed, all-natural, fresh, holistic, and free-range are all words that I get excited about. The benefits of making these things a priority in our home have been undeniable. And along with staying nourished physically, I also believe that an important part in raising healthy kids is to build healthy spirits and a healthy appetite for learning and doing good in this world.
Thrifting, hiking, traveling, volunteering, date nights, clouds, and pies are a few of my other passions. In no particular order.

Photo by: Wildflowers Photography 

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
My favorite part of the day with my boys is probably a tie between dinner time and prayer time. These are the two designated times of our day where we are all in one spot, all free of electronics and other distractions, just talking and being present with each other. We try to make having dinner together a priority, even when it seems impossible to align all of our schedules. Sometimes it's dinner together in the car on our way to soccer, but we make it work. Our dinner time discussions are typically about the highs and lows of our days and sometimes it's just everyone talking over each other or just giggling about nonsense. Whatever the case may be, it fills my heart up every time.

Every night my husband leads our family in prayer. Even if he's out of town on business, he'll call and FaceTime with us. We each go around and thank God for all that we have to be grateful for from that day. My favorite part about it is that every day we tend to have more and more to be thankful for. I think that in taking the time to be intentional about saying all of our blessings out loud every day, we become more aware of the abundance of big and small gifts there are in each and every day. Even on the hard days, we always have something to be thankful for.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
This is so tough! I'm inspired daily by so many instagram moms in so many different ways. It has been such a blessing to get peeks into the homes and lives of so many wonderful women. I am constantly amazed at the inspiration and friendships I have gained from such an unlikely source. I can honestly say that every mom I follow inspires me in some way.
Three women (okay four, I cheated) who come to mind that inspire me in big and different ways are:
@wifeysinger: Hannah just overflows with love and wisdom. She is an awesome example of a woman with a giant heart for Jesus and someone who handles the unexpected with grace and strength. She is impossible not to love.
@christinesunflower: I've been lucky enough to meet Christine in real life and she is just pure loveliness. And she has the most adorable little sunshine-y girl and another baby on the way. It's a gift to be able to watch her grow into motherhood and see the way she loves her babies to no end.
@sduerre and @sehatcher81: These ladies are especially inspiring to me in this chapter of my life because of their amazing journeys with foster care and adoption. We are in the process of going down this path and these two moms (along with several others... you know who you are, ladies) have shown an honest and heartwarming portrayal of what to expect. The invaluable words of wisdom they've shared with me have been such an encouragement.

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
I would say that, for me, the challenge has been when I fall under one extreme or the other. There's been many days when I've given myself no creative outlet. When I've just been completely consumed with motherhood and all of the responsibilities that go along with it. The days when just the thought of taking any time for myself made me feel guilty. I think for the longest time the extent of my creative outlet was things like how to manage eating while talking on the phone and breastfeeding simultaneously... or perfecting my one-handed diaper changing skills (ha!). 

In 2011 I found myself toward the other end of the spectrum when I followed my passion to start a gluten free vegan bakery with a friend. I didn't anticipate how rapidly it was going to grow and I found myself completely consumed with keeping up with the endless opportunities that were coming at us. I was fueled by the connections I was making with the amazing customers, the feelings of accomplishment, the praise and feeling of relevance, and the passion for all of the creative freedom that goes along with starting a business. Meanwhile, my health and my family took a back seat. My youngest was a baby at the time and every day was a new milestone that I was missing. Even when I was there physically, my mind, my energy, and my focus were completely on the business. In 2012 I made the sobering decision to sell out of the business and walk away from that dream. I don't regret the decision and God has made it clear in many ways that it was the best choice for me and my family. I have a newfound appreciation for mothers who are able to balance demanding careers and family life while giving of themselves fully to both. I think that there are those who are able to juggle it all beautifully. I know some of these superwomen first hand. And after giving it my best effort, I will be the first to admit that I was not blessed with that super power. 

Over the past year I have been doing a lot of soul searching as to what a healthy balance for me is when it comes to pursuing creative outlets and being the best mother and wife that I can be. I realize the importance of having something that stirs my creativity and passion and fills my cup. I have become much more intentional about where my time and energy goes, while still making sure that I give myself opportunities to stretch myself and grow. I recently started a blog and I love the freedom that gives me to share my passion for cooking and family life and connecting with other like-minded moms. And being able to use my brain on things besides matching socks and building lego towers is a total bonus. I imagine as my kids get older there will more time for my creative pursuits, but for now I am grateful for the clarity in what my limits and priorities are. I've found that it's a complicated balancing act that looks different for every mom. And I can say that based on the sense of balance and contentment that I'm feeling in this particular season of my life, it's worth the effort and possible sacrifices to find that sweet spot.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
I LOVE traditions. I feel like that is where some of our best memories are made. We have lots of traditions in our house. You could even say I'm a bit of a tradition nut. To me, traditions feel like threading together all of the years with a constant string of memories that all feel familiar and different at the same time. Some of our traditions are simple ones that are a part of our everyday, while others are big ones that only happen once every 10 years.

I would have to say my favorite tradition in our family is our "Big 10 Trip".  I decided years ago that for each of my boys' 10th birthdays I would take them on a one-on-one trip of their choice as a sort of right of passage into the land of double digits and tweenville. For my oldest son's 10th birthday he chose San Diego. The zoo there is home to the only Pangolin in the U.S. The boy is very passionate about Pangolins, so this was a big big deal for him to see one in real life. It was such a blessing to have him all to myself for three days, just cherishing him in his happy place. I felt like we got to know each other better and connected in ways we never had. I'm already counting down the days until I get to take my other boys on their trips.

My other favorite (honestly, I have lots of favorites) would be our annual summer road trip. We head to California and Arizona to see family and we try to mix it up every year and visit different spots along the way. It's always an adventure and I feel like having that time of us all being together 24/7 for weeks at a time is something that I'll especially cherish years from now when all of our kids are off on their own.
[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
This is our living room where most of our time is spent. I love the big windows that allow the sun to flood the whole room with light and warmth. We are a family of bookworms and I love it when we can all curl up together on the couch with our books. The cozy peacefulness of it just feels like home.

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
I call this dinner du jour. While I love making healthy, pretty, appetizing foods, truth is there's plenty of meals in our house that look like this... the dreaded microwaved hot dog (the grass-fed beef $7 ones on expensive gluten free buns, so there's that) with raw baby carrots, and potato chips. On a paper plate. Life is busy and crazy and sometimes it's all I can pull off. And, sadly, it's one of my boys' favorite meals. Go figure.

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

January 21, 2014

My Everyday Featuring ... Megan Modderman

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
am my story, so a "snippet" of me must start with the fact that I'm a big ol' mess redeemed by His grace. I'm a mixed bag of likes & dislikes, gifts & weaknesses. Some weaknesses include an undying love of mashed potatoes with butter, flips flop wearing even when the snow flies, way too much espresso consumption on a daily basis, and cookie dough licking. Hmmm, I may have food issues.  

Anyhow, some things that make me happy are (my family, of course, but we'll get to that in a minute) warm sand between my toes, michigan's for 3 seasons of the year and florida's during the winter, sunshine (duh), hunting thrift store treasure, the smell of burning leaves, busy hands, long road trips and traveling the world, triple creme brie with raspberries, being known, country AND city, learning new things. Honestly, I could go on & on & on but I'll spare you the novel.

I'm full of discrepancies. I'm laid-back when i'm not being a control freak. I'm positive when I'm not being cynical. I'm an introvert who needs to be alone when I'm not getting the call to come over to your house. I mess up daily but am unspeakably grateful that His mercies are new every morning.

My husband likes to say that I chased him but I was really his catch. At 16. In the church youth group. 5 years later we were married and now it's been 16 years of traveling life's road together, raising the three awesome children God blessed us with. My dream was always & forever to be able to stay home with them and thankfully, that's what I get to do. To use other gifts God gave me and also bring home some bacon, I work as an on-call florist and own a small business selling vintage & handmade on etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/sparrowmercantile) and instagram (@sparrowmercantile).
[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
I don't think I have just one favorite part of the day with the kids. It's different all the time! I will say that this is the first year I am not homeschooling all three of them. Two are going out of the home for school. What I've realized those two are missing out on the most is laying on a quilt in the grass with me reading aloud from a favorite book. Preferably something by laura ingalls wilder. Or curling up under afghans drinking hot chocolate with me (again) reading aloud.  

Another favorite time is when we sit down to eat dinner. Usually to a meal that's been brewing in the kitchen for a couple of hours so the anticipation is high & the kitchen smells are mouth-watering. I love being able to sit down (finally) and enjoy tastes and conversation with each other.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Only THREE ig "moms that inspire me"? That's just cruel & unusual. It literally pains me to be limited in who i can mention! Every person I follow enriches my life in a different way. It could be that I connect with their lifestyle, or admire how they live out their faith, or I appreciate their authenticity & humor. I've met so many women through this crazy thing called technology. Friendships that are real and true. Some women that have been mentioned here already and some others that may not have been...beautiful, Christ-following, creative dear-to-my-heart mamas like @leslie_padgett & @the_reed_life, @tweetpotatopie & @farmgirlpaints, @redletterwords & @mindypeterson, @aimeek73 & @birchmama
p.s. #youshouldknowthisaboutme: I'm a rule breaker.

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
I AM passionate about creativity. Aren't we ALL considering we were made in the image of our Creator God? I need it. I'm made for it. It's chiseled deep into my core. The need to MAKE. My hands are always busy with some sort of project. Some new idea I'm trying to move into real life from my brain.  Do I have the luxury of sitting at an easel for 6 straight hours brushing paint onto a canvas? No, of course not during this season of life. The season when there are children needing me to be present. It hurts a bit, the wanting to create for ME, but the fact that these precious children will be grown & gone all too soon is never far from my mind. Nurturing that same desire in the kids helps to satisfy some of that desire in me, as well.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Traditions make me feel all warm and cozy inside. Because they foster a strong family bond, I'm always thinking that we should be coming up with more traditions to start. There are the obvious holiday related ones like cutting down the Christmas tree, wagon ride, toasting marshmallows, saw and all. The observing of advent and Christmas morning stockings before monkey bread, grapefruit, and then the gifts. 

But I think everyday moments can be considered traditions, as well. Moments that are repeated & looked forward to like licking the cookie dough off the beater (as I, ahem, may have mentioned earlier) and reading a story at bedtime. Even kissing hello & goodbye is tradition.  (and here is where I insert yet another kissing photo in the hopes that my children will see and be grossed out.)
Photo by // @mindypeterson // 

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I guess I'll stick to the rule this time and only show *one* room of my house. It's the one in front of me basically all day every day as I wear a path in my kitchen. I swear I spend 85% of my day in the kitchen. We love the open layout which enables me to be part of what's going on in the living room. On a good day, board games, legos, homework, reading, creating, eating. On a bad day, squabbling amongst the natives.
[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
My "real life happenings" photo that I wouldn't typically share on instagram is lame because I think I probably DID share this. (see #rulebreaker above). The real life is the messy, unmade bed with a gigantic, much-adored goldendoodle staking her (sleepy) claim and a boy doing his schoolwork.
That pretty much sums us up, the messy beautiful. :)
Be sure and follow @contentedsparrow on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

January 16, 2014

My Everyday Featuring ... Jessi Connolly

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I became a Christian when I was fifteen and met my future husband a few months later. We were like high-school sweethearts who sort of tumbled fast and forward for the first few years of our marriage. We were married when I was twenty, got pregnant within our first eight months later, and proceeded to have three kids in just under two and a half years. The last ten years of our life have been tumultuous, but filled with God's grace. Now we find ourselves in Charleston, the church we've been in the process of planting for several years is launching this weekend, we have four amazing kiddos and two online businesses.
[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Most DEFINITELY after dinner, before bed. We read, we giggle, we play, and we laugh a lot. The rest of the day can kind of feel like go, go, go - get it all in! But it's those moments before bed when I really want them to stay up for hours with us because we're all just enjoying each other. 

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
@thetinytwig Inspires the mess out of me because she's one of my closest friends and I see the inside of her life. I know she's genuine and I know her heart is so genuinely passionate about her family and the people God has given her to serve. 

@honeyholden I'm super inspired by Stephanie because she's a few steps ahead of most of the women I do life with. She has grown kids and even a few grandkids, even though she looks like she's in her twenties! It's a blessing to see a woman loving her husband and following her creative pursuits in the steps ahead of me. It gives me vision and hope and I learn a ton from her. 

@laraacasey I'm always crazy inspired by Lara Casey because she's the closest picture I have to what it is I'm trying to do. She's a speaker, an author, a blogger, a shop owner, a business owner, a team member, and she is also a passionate mom & wife. She is honest and humble, but she also realizes that her role is to inspire and spur people on. 

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
One of the biggest challenges I've faced is just watching my heart. I think it's pretty easy to balance our time, to make a schedule that works that takes care of everything. I can make a to-do list to get it all done or I can enlist help where I need it. But I can't make a list or a schedule that watches my heart and keeps it in check. And it gets wonky. Sometimes I care too much about others approving of my creative endeavors, sometimes my heart gets so wrapped up in business and numbers or projects and tasks that I forget to enjoy my family first. I forget to celebrate and just drink in the day. 

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Almost every single day, we tell something we're thankful for at dinner. As soon as my kids can talk, they join us - even if they just repeat us for like two years until they say their own thing. 

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I'd pick this picture of our kids & their friends on the couch. The reality is there are ALWAYS people in our home. I mean, always. And we love it that way. But we want it to be real and lived in and cozy. If you popped in, you wouldn't be surprised to find two or three extra people there, but you would absolutely know you can take your shoes off and grab a seat. 

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
This photo of us is VERY real life. Paper plates, throw together dinner, extra friends at the table. But we're all there and talking and eating. 
Be sure and follow @naptimediaries on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms