Dog Days of Summer

We’re soaking up the last days of summer around here. Enjoying homemade iced coffee in the backyard. Running through the sprinkler. Staying up late to watch movies and eat popcorn. Grilling out with friends. Picking dandelions (and the occasional black-eyed-susan from the neighbor’s yard – oops). Taking tricycle rides to the park. Dancing the night away at summer weddings. Ahh these days are sweet.

My twin nieces start kindergarten this week. Really? How are they five years old? It’s crazy to think that in three short years our Anna could be getting on the school bus with them.

While I’m sad that our summer days are coming to an end, I can’t help but look forward to the fall. I mean, who doesn’t get excited about skinny jeans, boots and pumpkin spice lattes?

Photos from Mother’s Day Because I’m That Behind

The funny thing about starting to do photography professionally is that you get that much more behind with your own personal family photos. I’m sure my fellow photographers can relate! We have to really be intentional to get photos of our kids – otherwise it doesn’t happen. I was just looking back and realized that I never did anything with the photos from Mother’s Day back in MAY!

It was Jon’s idea to go out and take some photos of me with the kids as part of a Mother’s Day gift. Smart boy knows what I love…my kiddos and photography. He got some great shots. I’m laughing in retrospect because our “photo shoot” was a disaster. Anna was running every which way and had no interest in listening to anything we said.  I was trying to make sure she didn’t jump to her death from the height of the jungle gym. David (who never cries) was fussy the whole time. And oh yeah – I was especially grumpy because I was suffering from a bit of entitlement syndrome (you ever had it?). I think I was throwing myself a pity party because my newborn and toddler didn’t get the memo that you are supposed to let mama sleep in on Mother’s Day. Such is life.

But boy do I love these photos. They remind me of the precious early days of mothering two babes. They remind me of the way Jon loves me. I know that years from now, I will look back at these photos and be able to remember Anna’s adventurous spirit and David’s sweet snuggles. I will remember that in life things don’t go according to plan. But that it’s beautiful anyway.

So I say all this to encourage you to GET IN photos with your kids. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t had a proper haircut in 10 months or that your toddler had a screaming fit 5 minutes ago. I love what Emily from The Anderson Crew has to say about embracing the camera. Seize the moment and pick up your camera. You will be so glad you did!

 

The Hurt Family: Gender Reveal

gender reveal

Today I have the special privilege of sharing the Hurt Family’s big GENDER REVEAL!

Jenny is such a special friend. I consider her a virtuous woman, beautiful inside and out. She has really encouraged me in my faith journey over the past 5 years. She was the one to push me to step up to lead my first bible study. It has been a pleasure to watch her blossom into motherhood.

Jenny and Mike have a precious daughter, Alexa, who is 18 months old, and are now expecting their second baby in January. What better reason for a little photo shoot than to reveal the baby’s gender?

gender reveal

We thought it would be fun to let big sister Alexa share the news…pink or blue?

gender reveal

Drum roll please…..

gender reveal

And it’s a BOY!

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Congratulations! So thrilled for you all. You will LOVE having one of each : )

And today is their NINTH wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary you love birds!

Baby Andrew: 6 Months New

Andrew Hopkins

I think 6 months is my new favorite age to photograph. A few reasons why:

  1. They are super curious and inquisitive.
  2. They can’t run from the camera.  
  3. They will make eye contact and aren’t camera shy. 
  4. Their little personalities are really starting to shine. 

Sweet little Andrew was no exception. His parents Matt and Joy are friends of ours, and boy does parenthood look good on them. They are patient and kind and best of all silly. You can see the sheer delight Andrew brings into their lives.

Matt and Joy even learned about my secret talent at our shoot: ridiculously life-like monkey noises. I think Matt was more entertained than baby Andrew.

Andrew Hopkins
Look ma, I can fly!

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As the shoot was ending, we decided to let Andrew try his first ever strawberry. It’s think it’s safe to say he’s a fan!

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Thanks again Matt and Joy for allowing me to love on your adorable little man!

Lessons Learned: “Next” or “Exit”

Recently, I was completing an online training class at Bank of America (where I work)and I accidentally clicked “Exit” rather than “Next”. Immediately, the training ended! Luckily, with the click of a button, the training launched again, taking me right back to where I left off. This simple online application made me think about broader examples in my life – times when I should choose to “exit” rather than moving forward; or alternatively, how often I should click “next” rather than exiting. Some examples that came to mind:

1. Rather than continuing to harbor on an issue when the point has been made – EXIT.

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 (ESV)

2. Rather than engaging in gossip – EXIT.

Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:16

3. Rather than continuing to push myself when I’m at the point of diminishing return – EXIT.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2 

4. Rather than starting a quarrel by speaking my mind – EXIT.

The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” Proverbs 17:14 

Alternatively, times when I should push forward and not exit:

1. When the task or the call seems impossible, trust that God is the way – NEXT.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

2.When loving is hard because I feel resentful and want my own way, love anyway – NEXT.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

3. When the intensity of the hurt makes it seem impossible to forgive, forgive anyway – NEXT.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – Matthew 18:21

4. When the busyness of life makes helping others seem like a bottleneck in my plans, help anyway – NEXT.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 13:16

I think you get the picture. Every day we make the choice to persist or desist. Some of these choices are minor – like whether we continue eating or stop. Others are major – like running a red light instead of stopping. How do we know which path is correct? Psalm 119:105 gives us the answer:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Being in God’s word and abiding in Him is the only way we can truly know which way is right. When we’re there, the Holy Spirit will prompt us and God will bring scripture verses to mind to direct us. Now I just need to make time to be in the “word” as much as I’m in the “world” – with the “world” being Facebook, Magazines, etc. Good luck to you on doing the same!

_________________

Thanks so much for sharing Jill!

Gosh I am certainly convicted by the verse about getting up early and staying up late worrying about things – it really is all in vain. Instead of worrying, I should surrender my anxieties to God and he will give me rest!

I also am struck by Jill’s point to take time to help others even when I am busy. I have a packed week with several work deadlines, but God still calls me to sacrifice my time to help a friend. I think that “busyness” often leads to selfishness.

How about you? What areas in your life do you feel God prompting you to “exit”? What areas do you need to move on with and say “next”? Love to hear from you in the comments below.

Dear David,

Dear David,

My little bub-a-boo (yes, I call you that… ) I can’t believe that you turned FOUR months old on Monday. You bring me such joy, sweet boy. I remember being a little apprehensive of having a boy, but man have you stolen this mama’s heart. Your Daddy is already giving me a hard time about how I’m such a softy with you.

You are sooo laid back. As long as you can spot me (or Daddy or Anna) in the room, you are content. You love to talk. You will just coo away at us, having little back and forth conversations. If Daddy or me are not available, you like to talk to the owl on your bouncy seat. I think you tell him all your secrets. You are rolling all over the place (both from tummy to back and from back to tummy). When you get hungry and I take too long to get you your milk, you have the cutest, most pathetic little whimper cry. You are very strong – on tummy time you are already practicing your crawling skills. I predict you will be full-out crawling by six months. Mommy has it coming when you are on the move!

You already love to watch your sister. She will be playing nearby and you will just study her every move. I have a feeling you two are going to get into lots of trouble together.

You are an excellent sleeper. Your last feeding at night is at 7. You are usually in bed by 8 and sleep until 4ish. You then like to eat again and then go back to sleep until after 7am. Lucky us! Sometimes you even make it until 6 or 7 to eat again. Can you teach your sister to sleep til 7?

Your smile makes me melt. You look so much like your Daddy. I hope you keep his beautiful blue eyes. I also love this thing you do when you are trying to laugh. I will be snuggling you and kissing you and tickling you and you will open your mouth REAL BIG and you try so hard to laugh but no sound comes out. It’s precious. Will you please stop growing up so fast? Time, slow down!

And here are your 4-month check up stats:

Height: 25″ (41%)
Weight: 15 lb 3.5 oz (44%) you certainly look a lot chunkier than you are : )
Head Circumference: 41.5 cm (44%)

Love you forever.

MaMa

Eyes on the Pedals

Jon started teaching Anna how to ride her bike this past weekend. Now she has been on plenty of rides before, but this time she actually learned how to pedal herself. She was so proud! We were cracking up because her eyes were so focused on the motion of her feet that she would forget to look up at where she was going. She would veer off course into the grass or towards the mailboxes. We would have to remind her to look up and out.

See her concentration?

I feel like I have been guilty lately of “keeping my eyes on the pedals”. I’ve had my head buried in the sand, focusing entirely on myself and how to get through the day. And maybe that’s ok when I have a two-week-old, but it’s not acceptable anymore. I can see how these “blinders” have inhibited my sense of empathy for others.

Just this morning, I was at Barnes and Noble with a friend and her two kids. The toddlers were monopolizing the train table as usual as the babies sat slobbering in our laps. Well another cute little toddler mama (eight months preggo with her second) arrived. Her two-year-old son joined our kiddos with the trains. My friend Cheyenne and I were sitting in the only two chairs. Well Cheyenne offered her chair to the other woman. Sounds like a simple thing to do – and completely characteristic of my friend Cheyenne, who is so caring and sweet. But the thing that got to me is that the thought to offer my chair HAD NOT EVEN OCCURRED TO ME. I was so focused on my own silly conversation that I had neglected to notice the needs of another. And you would think I would be super sensitive to this woman…wasn’t it me who a mere four months ago was lamenting about the aches and pains of chasing my own toddler in the third trimester?

Who else have I neglected while I have been living in my self-centered bubble? Lady at Barnes and Noble – please consider this my sincere apology.

It’s time to get my eyes off the pedals.

Lessons Learned: Don’t Poke A Bear

You may remember my dear friend Jill from when she shared the beautiful story of adopting her son a few weeks back. Well,  Jill is back, and I am thrilled to announce that Jill will be writing a brand new series at Letters From Lala, titled Lessons Learned.

Lessons Learned will offer practical advice from a biblical perspective. Without further ado, take it away, Jill!

Image Source

My son, who is 18 months old, had to be picked up from daycare for biting another child. He first bit one child on the playground and then was put in time out for doing so. At daycare, this “time out” spot is in his crib and apparently during his time out, he bit another child! My husband and I could not figure out how that happened. Our son’s crib is in the corner of the room and there is only one other crib adjacent to it. The child that would normally be in that crib was on vacation so he wasn’t there. That meant another child must have walked up to our son’s crib while he was in time out. And our son was in a bearish mood and did not want to be bothered, so he bit this other child!

My husband’s response to all of this was that the other child had it coming. And my response was that our son needed to be responsible for his own actions, regardless of the actions of others. A discussion ensued and my husband agreed that we should all be responsible for our own actions, but that if you poke a bear, you should expect that bear to retaliate.

I had to admit that he had a point. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized how clearly it lined up with scripture. Scripture that I must admit had not stood out to me before.

Proverbs 17:14 says

Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out.”

Interestingly enough, earlier in Proverbs 17, verse 10 says

It is safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to confront a fool caught in foolishness.”

And Proverbs 18:6 says,

Fools’ words get them into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating.”

Finally, Proverbs 19:13 states,

A foolish child is a calamity to a father; a quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping.”

I don’t know about you, but I hate it when something is constantly dripping and there is no way to fix it. It’s Chinese Water Torture, really! The other morning I woke up and somehow that night, someone (probably me!) had left the faucet in the kitchen on ever so slightly. I could hear the dripping as soon as I stepped out of our bedroom, and immediately had to fix it. Luckily it was an easy fix and I could have my cup of coffee and my quiet time in peace.

But that peace was not without vivid images of bears and dripping spigots. And I could not help but wonder how often I had “poked” my bearish husband and, albeit unintentionally, been as annoying as Chinese Water Torture.

Sure, I felt like I was in the right at the time. I was tired, stressed, hungry, fill in the blank, and I thought something should have been done that wasn’t and therefore I was speaking my mind. But what I was really doing was poking a bear. And that bear retaliated and I was left in the floor trying to mop up the mess from the spigot that was no longer dripping because it had been ripped out of the sink! What’s worse – whatever I thought needed to be done still was not completed and I was in worse shape than before.

Ouch… I hate it when my husband is right, especially when scripture reiterates it like that. So, how do I keep from poking a bear? Love.

Proverbs 10:12 says

Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says,

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Ahhh…. And there it is. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Now I know I cannot, in my own strength, have this kind of love. But, through God, I can. So I pray that I will and that this love will keep me from poking any and all bears. It’s never worth it anyway.

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Thanks so much for sharing, Jill! Stay tuned for more editions of Lessons Learned!

I am a runner.

On the mornings when I feel like conquering the world.
On the mornings when I want to pull back the sheet and tell the world that mama is taking a day off.
I am a runner.

When the sun beats down hard.
When the rain pellets my face.
I am a runner.

The glory days of uniforms, bib tags and personal records may be behind me,
Replaced by ten unwanted pounds, a double jogger and a furry mutt. And yet,
I am a runner.

When my steps are in rhythm to the blaring music’s beat.
When my steps feel unsure against the surrounding silence.
I am a runner.

On the days when I am celebratory and giving praise.
On the days when I am lost and feeling weary.
I am a runner.

When the smooth pavements of suburbia rise up under my feet.
When the snarled roots of the trails threaten to entangle.
I am a runner. Running with perseverance the race marked out for me.

Prosciutto Pineapple Pizza

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe. Maybe that’s because my idea of cooking since having baby #2 has been picking up a rotisserie chicken at the store (and by me of course I mean Jon). Well this recipe is almost as easy, just a little more tasty and creative.

I would also qualify this less as a pizza and more of a flatbread. But now that wouldn’t afford me the three-word alliteration, now would it?

Ingredients (Makes two flatbreads):

  • Package of pre-bought flat bread (I purchased mine at Target and there were two in the pack)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh pineapple
  • 1/4 lb of prosciutto, sliced thinly
  • fresh cilantro
  • 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush flatbreads with olive oil.
  2. Slice prosciutto into long, thin strips and drape evenly across flatbread.
  3. Slice fresh pineapple into small chunks and place evenly on flatbread.
  4. Top with mozzarella cheese.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and flatbread is crusty.
  6. Top with fresh cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.

I like to serve this for dinner along with a salad. It would also work well sliced up and served as an appetizer. Prosciutto is a bit of a luxury ingredient I just can’t give up from my days living in Italy. Luckily, it’s packed with flavor so a little goes a long way. 1/4 pound cost between $3-$4 and was enough to make two flatbreads.

Hands off! Get your own slice!