Saturday, April 20, 2013

{Family Fun}-Lane Packing

Last week we decided to take a last minute pic-nic lunch out to a local attraction. Lane Packing, a magical place that packs peaches, pecans, strawberries, and more. I called my sister in law, Olivia, It was one of those "It's beautiful, the kids are happy and healthy, we don't want to do housework, quick pile in the car and lets go!". My favorite kind of last minute fun! I love being Aunt B to my adorable niece and  nephew. I love that my nephew say's "Aunt B(ea)" with a little southern drawl. Gosh that boy has stolen my heart, and his little sister, heavens to Betsy  when she starts to talk, I'll never be able to say "No" to her requests. They are sweet as pie! Thought I would share a few photo's from our fun trip. We have decided that when our family and friends come to visit, Lane Packing will be a "must visit" location.
They have old tractors you can sit on. Also known as "Little boy's heaven!".
My beautiful sister in law, Olivia and my adorable niece Mali.

"Oh you know, just relaxing on a tractor."

This cutie LOVED sitting on the tractors.

Mali wanted to try too. She ADORES her big cousin Clara, and I assure you the feelings are mutual.
Mali "Driving" the tractor.

Liam looking super cool in his Mommy's sunglasses. He kills me.

Not the best picture, but darn it, I'm never in any photos. So. It's going up!

My sweetheart of a girl, Clara.

If your ever in town and need a fun place to spend an afternoon, we highly recommend Lane Packing!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Laundry Room Organization!

We have a cozy little rental house we call home. And though our laundry room is not very big, it stores many things. It had been a mess, and a place where we just put things that didn't have a "place". I was tired of not being able to find something the moment we needed it. And got to work organizing and giving everything a "place". This is the fruits of my labor. But mind you, this project cost a total of about $25 dollars.

To find the free printables I used (including the labels), you can visit my Pinterest page HERE. I want to say, that this project did not cost me much of anything. I already had all of the containers/baskets on hand.I was just using them in different spots around the house. But, most of them I have purchased here and there at thrift stores and goodwill. The plastic white containers I purchased at Dollar General, it's a great place to get containers (cheaper than wal-mart!) The picture frames used to display the free printable artwork, I bought at The Dollar Tree. For $1.

I keep an old mason jar that says "Mom's Jar" to put loose change in. Then I use the change to do fun things like get dollar cones with the kids. Or bless others by giving quarters away at Aldi for shopping carts. Or we give a child a penny to ride the horse at Meijer while we are shopping (when we lived in Indiana). It makes finding loose change in the washer/drier that much more fun! A fun tip for artwork when your on a budget: Simply use a hot glue gun to glue a clothes pin to the wall. (make sure paint is high gloss, if flat paint it can damage the wall) It's also nice because you can switch pictures/art work out easily. I keep a basket for random socks without matches. Sometimes the match appears...and if not, we have a nice stash to make hand puppets with or use for rags. I keep all of the cleaning supplies up high. Even with child locks on cabinets, children can get in cabinets. I choose to use all non-toxic home made cleaners, but even then, keep them far out of a child's reach.

The rugs I found at goodwill. Great place to find bath-rugs! The bag holder is from Ikea (from a friend, Thank's Becky!) I believe it was $2. The broom/mop holder is from Lowes, though after I purchased ($8.99) I found cheaper at the Dollar Store. Live and Learn. I keep the Arthritis Foundation bag packed with snacks. It's handy for me to grab and go in an emergency, or just a fun run to the park. In the light blue bag I keep dogs leashes,treats,toys etc. Again, easy to grab if we head out to the park last minute.

The Iron holder is from Wal-mart I think it was around $4.99. I like to buy detergent when it's on sale, and keep extras in the big canvas bin. All of the random baskets are from goodwill. Great place to find different baskets. The black "Bread" container is from Dollar General.
I have this little cork board on the door to the laundry room. One of my favorite pictures of Clara, a few free printables, a pin from my first Mission's Trip overseas to Russia (to remind me to pray for my best friend who went with me, and now serves as a missionary) and an arthritis pin to remind me to pray for so many of our Systemic Juvenile Arthritis friends. Every time I open the laundry room door (hundreds of times a day!) I have a visual reminder to pray for those I dearly love.
 So there is our little laundry room. That packs a whole lot of stuff into it!
Most of all, love. We are blessed to have a place to wash our clothes. We don't have to walk miles, to a stream of dirty water, and rinse our clothes. For that, I am so thankful. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

5 Tips- {Photographing kids}

Being a Mom, and photographer. I know how difficult it is to capture a great picture of a child.
 It's as though the stars have to be aligned. Or it can feel like that at least. But there are a few things you can do to prepare to make it SO much better!

1.) Chill. Relax. and have FUN! I know, easier said than done. But kids pick up on EVERYTHING! If you are stressed (and lets face it, family photo's always stress us out!) kids will be stressed too. Talk about it a lot before hand, weeks before hand! Make it sound like it will be so much fun. 
Make it something to look forward to, not dread.

2.)Less is More. You really only need a handful of good pictures. Snap fast. I almost always find, the first picture of my kids, is the best. The most natural too. So, have the settings on your camera ready to capture that first perfect smile! And for photographers, work fast! Kid's attention span isn't very long,
 don't drag it out!

3.) Pack prepared! I keep an old diaper bag packed with my photography must haves. 
And this is what is in it.
a.Baby wipes
b. Spray bottle with water (for hair)
c.First aid kit
d.Finger nail clippers (especially for newborn shoots)
e.Baby oil and cotton balls. (great for dry skin on kids of all ages.)
f.Comb and brush
g.Small mirror
h.Noise makers (like this)
i. Fruit snacks and a bag of candy or suckers.
j.bottled water for each client
k.rubber band hair ties
l.extra hair bows,and headbands
When you pack prepared, there will be less melt downs!

4.) Let the kids participate. Too many times when I am doing photo's of kids, their parents stand behind me and tell their kids "smile" or "come on honey, look at the camera". Typically, this does not work. And it backfires. It's okay if they don't look at the camera, or smile. Saying silly jokes, or saying kind things, "You are just a little ray of sunshine, look at how awesome you are!", almost always draws a smile. 
Barking commands, never does. And there is always my favorite "If you smile, I have candy for you!".
Yes that always works.
 5.)Let the kids lead the way. Ask them what they would like to wear, or where they would like to have pictures taken, or what poses they would like, or what toy or stuffed animal they want in their pictures. Doing so, makes the child feel validated, and important. 
Because, they are WAY more important than any picture of them is!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

{Elliott Update}-Systemicjia

First I want to say Thank-you for all of the prayers for Elliott! God has moved mountains in the last few weeks and I know it is because so many of you are going before The Throne of God on Elliott's behalf.

We were able to see a different Doctor at Emory. He is a much better fit for us. The way it was orchestrated is completely of God. Elliott is needing to begin a stronger medication. But due to insurance issues, he can't.
We have been accepted into shriners hospital in South Carolina.  If we can not get insurance figured out quickly, we will have no option but to travel to shriners.

Elliott has felt pretty miserable.  Constantly running fevers and begging me to make his pain go away. It is so hard to see him in pain.
So here are the ways you can pray!

1.) Insurance. Its a mess. Pray we can get it figured out soon.
2.) If we need to go to shriners that Elliotts rheumotologist will be understanding and even willing to be the consulting physician.
3.) Brandon and I need wisdom as we make decisions for Elliott. We need discernment.

1.) Elliott was measured for his adapted stroller and insurance covered it all!
2.) Elliott really liked the new rheumotologist. We are so thankful for Dr.P!
3.) Elliott felt good on Tuesday and we had a fun day out and about. (Picture is at a local peach grove, he loved that tractor!) Good days (ie: pain isin't paralyzing) have been few and far between, and we were thankful for a good day!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Home State pt.2-Marco Island Florida

Here are a few more pictures from our beach vacation. The kids loved swimming, everyday, in the swimming pool. It was heated to a toasty 80+ degree's. Good thing too, considering it was pretty chilly outside!

I tried to get them all in one picture.
When we went to the beach we saw DOLPHINS! Of course, the sun came out at about the same time, and this over exposed picture was all I was able to capture. Dolphins are fast...and unlike the trained dolphins at sea world, these ones would not jump on command again for me. And I wasn't going to stand there all day to attempt to get one picture!

My little fashionista. I love this swimsuit on her! Mostly I just love her!
Jackson had so much fun digging a hole, and burying his little brother.
 Riley kept giggling, and making the sand crack.

Elliott checking on Riley. 
(Ignore my bad photo shop job. I didn't want the half naked, large lady in the picture. Your welcome)
Elliott wanted to give it a try. Then after about half way, decided he couldn't sit that long.
Jackson LOVED digging "forts" on the beach. Here is my mother in-law helping him. With my kiddos and husband in the back ground.
Marco Island has the BEST park for kids! We had fun exploring it, and playing basketball, four square, etc.

My sweet boy Riley...telling me about something, every so seriously. I love that you can see the remnants of babyhood still in his face in this picture. I know that is swiftly fleeting. Thankful to have captured this moment.
Elliott. This look always makes me swoon. With all that this sweet guy has been through, he still manages to flash his million dollar smile. He had so much fun at this park. 
This playground was "Under the Sea" themed. Jackson screaming 
"AHHH, I'm being swallowed by a whale!".

My father in law,and my husband enjoying some fishing. 
Poor guys, faithfully fished. And caught one tiny fish the entire week. Bummer.
Brandon did catch one little fish...Riley was SO excited!

Riley showing me Daddy's fish. The boys loved playing with the bait in the bucket, and the prize fish.

The view from my beach towel. Will never ever tire of that view.
I snapped quite a few photo's but decided to just share a few of my favorites. 
A huge thank's to my in-laws who invited us to tag along on their vacation. We had a wonderful time. 
The kids haven't stopped talking about it. It was a much needed break from the daily tasks of life.