Sunday, July 20, 2014


the word for this month's Mommy Blogger Collective is heat...and what better word for the middle of july or more specifically for a photo from our beach trip last week.

before i do a post with a million and one photos of our first trip to the outer banks with J, i wanted to make sure i write down a few things i want to remember. its super easy once a little time goes by to only remember the moments that coincide with the photos we have. and i think I've said this before, but I'm really quite terrible at writing things down on a regular basis.

so, on this sunday night while the laundry is finishing (towels! so many towels!) and the house is quiet, here are my thoughts on this first trip to our special beach with my family. because it was oh so special in all of the little moments as well as the big ones.

> James, your sandy little feet and hands will always be my first and foremost memory of this trip. so much sand, but those little fingers holding onto that orange shovel and digging with all your might-just the sweetest.

>vacation does NOT mean sleeping in when you have a twenty month old. we were up early every day of vacation but ended up with the best morning spots on the beach. and duck donuts. always duck donuts.

>the Nags Head Pier is and will always be my favorite lunch spot with Tyler. so many good thoughts and conversations have been had in that restaurant.

>extra hands in the form of uncles and an auntie and grammie and grampa make vacation times so easy. so many people to love on james and entertain him when waiting for a table begins to take its toll.

>late night games of pool with my brothers, card games and hanging out are the best times. and that late night coffee/bookstore run with my sister was a good memory to keep too. mucky ducks and salt marshes over starbucks any day.

>there are never too many shovels or buckets when digging holes at the beach, this quickly became J's favorite thing to do. first thing in the morning, sitting up in bed, "go 'side?" coming from my kiddos mouth and what do we do? we go outside and dig holes in the sand.

>finally, finally, finally after three days J found the courage to walk to the water with me and get his feet wet. it was the sweetest thing, watching his face as he tried to figure out what the ocean was. i felt so special, getting to witness this big moment with him, his first view of the ocean. i know it will change a little for him every time we go, but this first time was magic. it was all over his face and watching him try to figure it out. man. so good. by friday, his feet were splashing in the water and he was laughing right along with us. so proud of how brave he is.

>realizing that vacations to the beach mean way less time to read than they used to, now that we have a toddler. but i had two full afternoons during nap time with the pool to myself and my book on a towel at the edge of the pool. it was just what i needed and i only wished i hadn't been wasting my time on the worst nicholas sparks book ever written ever ever. EVER.

>sneaking out to mail our postcards and making time for ice cream and a walk on the boardwalk in Duck was really special. its funny how these small moments tyler and i have to ourselves seem so much more substantial and important and full than they did three years ago, when we had them all the time whenever we wanted. that ice cream cone tasted so good in the sunshine with him.

love all these memories, from our first trip to the beach as a family of three.
excited to share more photos soon!
xoxo, R.

“Heat” is the July writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Renee of oh renéeA few words from Renée — Oh Renée started as a creative outlet for me a few years ago, a happy place to share creative and fun projects or fashion. Since then, it has evolved into one of the best things I could ever have done with my time! The last few years of blogging have become much more personal to me- more of a way to document this life of mine, with my husband, with my little boy and with the world around me. I enjoy sharing glimpses into our days and sharing in other mom’s lives as well, as part of this wonderful world of social media. Being a mother is better than anything I could have expected! Truly. I call Ohio my home, I keep the joy of traveling and exploring new places close to my heart, i spend my evenings knitting and am never without a book in my hand or in my purse. My blog is much of the same! You can also find me on Instagram at
/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// ChristinaCourteneyDenaEricaErin,GillianKatieMistyNicole, and Renée. ///

Thursday, July 10, 2014

life. right this very moment.

the other night before bed i was skimming through the photos from that day and found this one. it's blurry, its not really of anything specific and I'm not even sure i remember taking it. for half a second my finger hovered over the trash symbol and then something hit me. 

what else are these days of mine anymore, other than blurry moments in the sunshine, sitting outside with James playing or watching him play. so i kept it. and then i posted it on instagram as more of a way to hold on to the thoughts swirling in my head late that night, than anything else. 
you guys. this blurry, unedited accidental photo, it's all there, the whole of our days. this summer, these days and days of James and I playing in the yard, hot and sweaty, covered in little pieces of grass and mulch. and always wet, always always wet from the water table or a puddle or the spigot or the watering can. blurry, hot in the sun moments where he comes to babble something really important, reach for my hand and walk me to somewhere important. with a bit of something stuck on his cheek and a bug bite or two, with dirty fingernails and the biggest smile. and me, I get to take his hand and slow my steps in time with his. these are good good days. they are full and loud and exhausting and happy. they make me so so so tired. but they will be over in a blink and I know in twenty years this photo will bring all of it back- these hot and tiring days of summer with my almost two year old James, sitting in the sun. 

its good, right? this life of mine. and its mine. and while on the same thread....these simple good days of sitting in the sun playing with James can sometimes make me feel like Im not being purposeful with my day, with my time. like, there are a million other things on my to do list and at the end of the day, if those things are unfinished, was the day a failure? was I not productive enough? maybe i should really be working all day? or at least working more? doing more? 

and then i came across this article from Ann Voskamp. "The Great Challenge Facing All Women".  I don't usually share articles on Facebook or with friends, but this one spoke to me with resounding echoes that I'm still mulling over days later. why am i feeling unproductive if that 'to do' list doesn't get done? who am i measuring myself up against? right now, what I'm doing, raising james, is the single most important thing i could be doing. hands down. comparing my accomplishments while doing so, against other women and moms, is so destructive! 

"Your most meaningful work in the Kingdom of God may not be the big things that you do — but the one little person you love."
there are so many good points in this article. that having everything all at once isn't always the answer. that saying a 'quiet no' is quite possibly a yes for someone else and a yes for myself and time spent with the most important work I'm doing right now, for time with James sitting on the back deck marveling at bubbles and little ants crawling on the ground. there are other seasons for work, for commitments. for now, this season is for James and that is ok. it is perfect, for our family, right now. 

and this: "If you aren’t encouraging women to live out their particular calling, you may just be idolizing a particular idealized form of yourself."

because that is SO important to remember. we each have our own calling, not any one mom's way of mothering is better than another. whats best is what your own calling is, what your own life is meant to be (not a copy of another's, not a constant measuring/judging with yours). how many times does that happen in a day, its so easy to do, to measure your self up against someone else and call faults or successes. 

so, with that being said, here's to bookmarking this article. here's to the lines I've copied down in my journal to remember. heres to more quiet days, less running around "being productive" and more enjoying the moments of this season. 

xo, R. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

a bucket full of raspberries on a sunday morning

A few Sundays ago, James and I drove a few minutes down the street to our local orchard for their weekend berry picking. Slightly intimidated by all the potential berry possibilities and not wanting to go overboard (I mean, they are delicious but I know what kind of girl I am. I am not the girl who will go home and whip up pies with these berries. Or put them in jars. I am the kind of girl that goes home and snacks on them until midnight with a good book). But, I digress. We didn't need to go overboard, so I put James in charge of the bucket. And then we narrowed it down, after an intense debate, to just the raspberry bushes. (Because lets be honest, raspberries are really truly the best berry).
 James put on his serious face (lips pursed, brow furrowed) and very importantly walked over to the nearest bush to see what was going on. I showed him the red berries and how to pull them off gently, then let him do the rest (with supervision of course and a little bit of pointing). He was a champ! Kept checking on the berries in his bucket, keeping an eye on them as he walked back and forth across the lane, which was just so funny to watch. And then he'd look at me with these wide eyes and put one in his mouth, like he really couldn't possibly begin to understand what we were doing but he was going to do it anyway.
It was super hot and humid and sticky out, there was a kiddie pool waiting at my parents and after about half an hour of picking James decided maybe he should try dumping the bucket out and starting over. So he relinquished his bucket carrying privileges and I carried him instead. $2.15 later, we had the perfect berry snack and were only a little bit cranky (him, not me). Worth it, though. Those berries were the sweetest and I can't wait to go back in the fall for apple picking. Hopefully with a bigger bucket! ;) 
Also, for good measure and in case you think my kiddo is an expert at getting his photo taken, this is what happens if dare I say "smile James!". Happy he is my little goof! :) 

xoxo, R. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014


our word for this month, as part of the Mommy Blogger Collective, is SHINE.

a long time ago, in a galaxy far away, i used to scrapbook. i had all sorts of scrapbooks and i love taking photos (obviously) so i had all sorts of photos to use too. and paper and stamps and all that fun stuff.

and then life got busy and well. who has time to drag out stamps and cutters and all that jazz? the last thing i attempted to "scrapbook" was my wedding album. SIX YEARS AGO.

so im a bit behind, yes? my goal this summer is Project Life. in an effort to not totally overwhelm myself, i've only printed out photos from 2012 and on. pretty much the good years, also known as the years with james, or when i was pregnant with james. :) so far, in only a few weeks, I've been able to get completely caught up with 2012 and even dive into 2014 and recent weeks as I go. I've had SO much inspiration from other project lifers on IG and i just am constantly inspired to document these days. there is so much life in them, they need to SHINE. this, in my opinion, was the best way i could keep them shining for james (and any future children) in the future.

i find myself snapping more impromptu photos during the day, jotting more things down and generally keeping more of a life journal of moments, so when i get those photos printed out and ready to go in the album I don't even need to think. everything is written already (mostly).

this project is making me SO happy. i love that I'm able to give these photos, silly ones and important ones all together, a place of honor. a place to shine. i have tried journaling, I've tried blogging (for better or worse some months) but i feel like this place, these albums, is where our moments are going to truly shine. i can be honest and open and share a not so perfect photo or two because why not! its my family album, for my family and for my future families. its so good, when you think about it.
so we can call it scrapbooking, or memory keeping or whatever floats your boat, but as far as I'm concerned its one of the best things I've started doing in a long time.

shine on memories, I'm so grateful for all of them.

xo, R.

“Shine” is the June writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Christina of Mouse in Your HouseA few words from Christina — At Mouse In Your House, I’m bringing you stories about being a working mom, quirky family lifestyle trends, frugal living, DIY ideas and the talented people who make life something amazing. I hate getting bored and occasionally use Mouse In Your House to ask people very personal questions that I would, otherwise, never get away with. My goal is to find chicks and gents doing something cool and inspiring, which could lead to a feature about a family who took the year off to travel the world one day and the next day’s post could be all about how to dress a stylish toddler. To qualify for a feature, I need only go, holy moly that is frigging awesome….and you may even get a long set of questions for our next Q&A. That’s the way I roll. And P.S. I LOVE budgeting and it has taken over our lives in the past. We recently graduated from living in a 400 square-foot apartment to a 1,400 square foot house in my beloved small town of Knoxville, Tennessee. You can find me on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterestGoogle+.
/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// ChristinaCourteneyDenaEricaErin,GillianKatieMistyNicole, and Renée. ///

Sunday, June 1, 2014

things that are awesome//sunday evening

//a slow weekend and meals at home
//ice cream. ICE CREAM. especially when it comes home as a surprise with my husband.
//house of cards. i can't even.
//and the serious craving for ribs I've been having since we started watching it. which i fixed today. goodness.
//a sweet little boy who gives kisses for free, with a "mwah" at the end for emphasis.
//getting lost in a good book for more than five minutes and forgetting about anything and everything else.
//this weather. this weather and no mosquitos for two whole days.
//james' face when he eats a slice of watermelon. (more on that later)
//friends who are having babies or about to have babies. so many babies. so much goodness.
//vanilla coke
//scrapbooking again, using project life for the first time. hooked and never going back.
//talking about our upcoming beach vacation every day, musing over what james will do/say when he sees this and that. oh my. we are totally first time parents.
//and a car ride that ended with a firm no backsies decision on what we're doing for my big thirtieth birthday this year. so. excited.

heres to an even better week! and happy june!!!

xo, r.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

our home// the nursery

the thing about james' nursery is that as soon as we put together the new dresser he got for his birthday (thanks nana and papa!) last november, i felt like it needed a whole new look. mostly, we can blame winter and being stuck inside. mostly, too we can blame me just being me. :) 

(you can see his newborn nursery set up here)

i had to purchase a two black curtains once james started sleeping in his crib regularly for naps and bedtime (around his first birthday!) and then of course i had to purchase those cute little fabric bins from target for his room too, since they matched so perfectly! they corral all of his toys and blocks and books at the moment. 

i painted the lines from a song on a canvas to hang over his crib. we would listen to it as i rocked him in my arms, dancing around his room, during those early early days. it will forever hold a special place in my heart! the pom pom garland is the same one from my shower, made my by mom and i at the end of my pregnancy. 

i gathered all of the special photos hanging in his room before, along with some of my favorite prints and a few white frames for his 'gallery wall' above the dresser. it turned out exactly as i pictured it! and it is a constant source of conversation between james and i while he is getting changed. 

simple and sweet, with lots of bright light when we need it! and just in time for me to share this before we switch bedrooms with james and start all over again! ;) 

happy thursday! 


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

bloom// a mother's day

This month's pompt for The Mommy Blogger's Collective is bloom. What better photos to share with this prompt than the ones we took on sunday, when we celebrated Mother's Day surrounded by tulips? 

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..." James 1:17. 

Mother's Day is bittersweet. I think in a lot of ways it always will be for me, even as our lives change and we grow older. I read a lot of other posts and essays this week about Mother's Day and so many of them rang true: remembering mothers who are gone, showing our gratitude for those mothers we have in our lives and who we cherish and offering a bit of grace and understanding for those women who want so desperately to be a mother themselves. For a very long time, that last one was the category I fell into and not just on Mother's Day. I appreciate this holiday all the more now that I have been given the opportunity to mother and guide this little boy of mine, i appreciate my own mother so much more and am even more grateful for the friends and family members i have who are mothers themselves and the example they give. But mostly, the grace and understanding and love and prayers I have in my heart for those close to me who are still waiting or for those who are about to meet their little one after so much struggle and heartache trying is what has changed the most. Its not easy, all that waiting. But it is all the more sweeter when the time comes to step into those shoes, finally, and love that sweet baby. If I could go back in time and tell myself that over and over again all those years I waited, I would. 

This is the best and most rewarding job, its hard and frustrating and tiring of course, but its so good. I don't need a Mother's Day to feel special or loved, by any means... I get that every day with this little stinker of a toddler who is just so full of life, every moment. But taking the time to celebrate on a warm spring day among these blooming tulips is all the more reason to smile and feel extra loved. And to remember how fiercely the love for this kid came, after so much heartache and waiting. 

here's to loving all of the mothers. every day. 
xoxo, R. 


“Bloom” is the May writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Misty of Momista BeginningsA few words from Misty — I’m Misty, the southern California blogger behind Momista Beginnings. I began this blog while pregnant with Mia over two years ago to create a space for mamas out there to connect with their inner “momista.” According to me, a momista is a devout follower and lover of motherhood who takes her role to the next level. She uses her strengths to create the best childhood for her kids through activities, traditions, adventures, exploration and experiences. My blog aims to inspire all of this. Other bits of me make up my blog as well, like my passion for photography, art, crafts, my love for baking and cooking and family updates. I’m an ex art teacher of over 10 years and my art projects for kids make appearances from time to time, too. You can also find me onBloglovin’InstagramFacebookTwitter and at my photography website and its Facebook page!
/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// ChristinaCourteneyDenaEricaErin,GillianKatieMistyNicole, and Renée. ///

Saturday, May 10, 2014

the ice cream stand.

Tuesday night we took a walk as a family for the first ice cream cone of the season!! I waited patiently (almost) as best as I could all day for Tyler to get home from work so we could go....its hard, when the ice cream stand is within walking distance. I mean, really, James and I could have gone multiple times during the day....there is no such thing as too much ice cream! 

Our kick off cone is always always a sugar cone twist with sprinkles! SPRINKLES! Ack. The best. 

an impromptu family photo (with a timer and awkward running on my part) because Im really afraid one of these springtimes we won't be living here anymore and the walk to get ice cream just wont be the same. this is really the very best part of living in our town, in our one hundred and twenty year old house. (eek)
oh so very much looking forward to an entire summer of sticky ice cream fingers and cheeks and this kid and oh man. i better start filling up the ice cream money jar fast! 

xoxo, r. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

when life gives you plastic easter eggs.

also entitled "that time i stayed up way too late knitting a little bunny for james' easter basket" or also "in which the easter bunny leaves eggs at our house for the first time" or even "the one where james decided easter baskets are for the birds". any of those will do really. take your pick.
ive got to work some things out with easter. last year, frankly, doesnt count. i was a nursing machine and a wake up in the middle of the night machine (again to nurse) so it was all a blur really and every one was understanding and gentle regarding my tired eyes on the regular. this easter, somehow i ended up with quite a few food related obligations. and im certainly not the one to just go buy something pre-made either. (the horror! ;) so i spent that entire saturday stressing about all the food. and then making all the food. AND THEN. and then i decided that night to knit up a little bunny for james, for his easter basket. because it was nec-es-sary. i think we also decorated eggs and ate dinner at some point too. i can't remember.


face squishes are my favorite, especially when they involve my favorite human.  
our easter, regardless, was lovely. family filled. fun. easter egg hunts. i made the pioneer woman french toast bake the night before and it was heaven. so really, the whole she-bang. james was a CHAMP during the easter egg hunt from his crib to his basket. my oh my, that easter bunny was tricky. by the time james made it to his actual easter basket, he couldn't have cared less. THE EGGS! so much more interesting. and that little bunny i knitted? he actually just noticed it yesterday in his bedroom and held it up to my as if to say "hey mama! where oh where did this bunny come from and why does it not have any eyes?!" oh my stars, i tell you. actually, easter baskets are much more fun the day after, when we're home recovering from all the food and candy (me).
see what i mean about those eggs? and im also probably the only mama to put veggies in her kid's easter basket. proud. 
 my easter dress was incredibly short and inappropriate, which i didn't find out until five minutes before we needed to leave, so i wore a skirt over it the entire day. annoying. james looked rather dashing in his little blue sweater and tyler, as always, is my handsome husband. we looked the part, even if i feel like my eyes look a bit crazed in all the photos. no more late night, spur of the moment knitting for this girl. eep.
my two favorite males. in blue. of course. 
this was after all the food and after we had passed nap time by hours and after we had taken many many photos.

james rocked his first easter egg hunt with the cousins. it was so special watching him wander around the yard with his basket alongside all of his cousins who have been doing easter egg hunts for much longer than he has. his serious nature and extreme feats of concentration came in handy while searching the ground for eggs, i really only needed to point out a few before he caught on. its funny how even these silly events make me SO proud. like, look thats my kid, MY KID, with the basket of eggs. look how awesome he is! :) but truly. 

i realize only now that there really aren't any photos from easter at my parents house later that evening. i took a few of my sister and i, but by that point i was exhausted and james was just bewildered by what was turning into a long long day of eating and juice drinking (that never EVER happens) and i don't think he understood why we kept asking him to wander around picking up plastic eggs. i can only imagine his thought process! but sometimes its really a breath of fresh air to put my camera down for a bit, honestly. and all in all, photos or not, the whole day was sunny and happy and we couldn't have asked for anything more when it comes to celebrating such a joyous day! and goodness gracious, my family all sat down to watch jim henson's the bunny picnic circa 1984 or something (ON VHS, no less. look it up. its a thing.) and it was really just the perfect ending. ;)

the funny thing about blogging is...

sometimes a month goes by and you realize you haven't hopped on the computer to say even two words. or that post you thought you scheduled didn't post itself. or that silly app called instagram is just so much easier to share on, when you have a busy toddler and a busy life in general. or really honestly, sometimes a break from the online realm is just g o o d. (my computer is currently uploading 1,810 photos if that is any indication as to how long it has been since i turned it on. yikes).
so here we are, with April at the end and May around the corner promising sunshines and outside times and walks and walks and walks. we are so very much ready for this spring to shine! and for the ice cream stand to open, but that goes without saying.

xoxo, r.