Friday, January 31, 2014

Catching the Moment

I can't believe January has come to an end. It has been the fastest January ever, but if time has taught me anything, it will just keep getting faster. When I began this Catch the Moment project I solely wanted to improve my iPhone camera skills. I've discovered some new tricks and definitely gotten a little more comfortable with it, but I'm still battling toddler blur. But this project has taught me more than just which apps to use.

It has taught me to embrace the now and to remember the small things that might otherwise be forgotten. These kids change so quickly. I mean some behaviors seem to drag on for-ever, but truly...everything is just for such a short time if you blink you could miss it. And while I'm totally ok with forgetting dirty diapers and snotty noses, I never want to forget blue tongues and sleeping babies.

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen quite a few of these. As time goes on, might give myself some grace and not worry about having an Instagram worthy photo every day. Because really blur or bad lighting isn't going to keep me from the moment I choose to capture. Sometimes there is beauty in imperfection isn't there? 

January has been a fast and fun month. And cold. Definitely cold. We might have a little (or a lot) of cabin fever which probably explains why there has been so many shenanigans this month. 

I hope this encourages you to capture your everyday. While life might seem mundane, I bet you can find some special moments if you just look. Embrace them, blur and all!

A few housekeeping items:

 - I've been giving myself grace in these parts lately as I tackle other checklists that have been living in the back of my mind far too long. But I'm promising that when I'm here to make it count.

- I've started a new link up on Facebook called Friday Favorites. Please join me and help get this thing off the ground. All you need to do is come link up your favorite post of the week. It can be yours or someone elses. I'll leave it pinned to the top of the page through the weekend and hopefully everyone can find some new reads and provide encouragement to the bloggers that have inspired us.

- While I'm here more sporadically than normal, you can find me daily on Instagram and of course on Facebook...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

To the Bloggers of the World: Encouragement Matters

A friend reminded me the other day of just how long I've been doing this whole blogging thing. It's been almost 6 years if you are wondering. Honestly, it feels like yesterday to me and (while I'm being honest) it still feels like I have no clue what I'm doing. And that's okay. This whole blogging thing has grown and changed so much over the years it's hard to imagine that anyone can keep on top of it all. 

I don't know in which way the rest of the Internet world is headed, but I have decided it's time to figure out where I am headed. At one point, and maybe I'm over-generalizing but, I think we were all just happy to find that we weren't the only crazy people in the world with x,y,z problem so we shared our hearts, our day to day and all the little trivial tid-bits about ourselves in hopes of finding out we weren't "the only ones".

We made close friendships and read each others words daily. Now that we have that covered, I think things have been going in a different direction. There are so many people in this Internet world now. There are more bloggers, more readers and a lot of opinion givers. I no longer feel comfortable sharing the nitty gritty of my children's lives. I don't know if that has more to do with the fact that there are so many people out there or if it's more to do with the fact that really their story is not my own. But regardless, this blog will stay about me and my experiences because that is all I know. Of course the children are intertwined with that, but at a comfortable distance.

I also realize how many reading choices there are out there. We are bombarded daily with what Facebook recommends us reading or the numerous tweets and alerts telling us the hot topics that certain well known blogging sites will most certainly cover and soon be scattered around Facebook taking over the hope of ever seeing "real life" friends pictures and updates. We are filled with inspiration from beautiful Instagram and Pinterest pictures showing us how, if we wanted, we too could make life more picture perfect. 

We battle with doubts of self worth and the wonderment of if we have anything we could offer when all we can think about is that "she" could or has done it better. Why can't we do it all? Regardless, we all have our stories, our talents and our ways of sharing them. Maybe it's through pretty pictures, or projects, or tutorials or our words. Maybe it's by knowing how to share others stories with just the right person or, strange as it is these days, your physical presence in someones life. 

I may be getting off track or over thinking this a tad much, but all of this culminates to where I want this teeny, tiny blip on the Internet to go. Over the past year I've struggled with this very thought. It takes time and effort to keep something like this going. I have to sit and write and edit, take pictures and edit those, and do projects with tutorials included to make this blog go. All for free. That's right. I make minimally reportable income on this little old space that I've been keeping up with for 6 years which I'm sure makes a lot of you wonder "WHY?!?".

It's a good question.

One I've been asking myself a lot more lately as I feel smaller and smaller everyday.

So I've done some soul searching. I've chased the money train with this blog. I've tried ads and networking and "really putting myself out there" and I find it exhausting...and obviously fruitless (for me). I've tried to do this blog solely for myself without regard to anyone reading and I have found that it's an ugly place where I feel all "look at me!". I've thought about quitting, but I just can't. So I've determined that I'm going to do it for you. 

I do it for the person sitting behind their computer reading this who maybe has never even commented before that can read my words and relate. I do it for the person who hops onto one of my tutorials from Pinterest and realizes that they too can do something crafty or maybe make what's in their head come to life. More than anything I want to make sure this blog is for inspiration, thought and hope. I am not trying to sound noble, I just want to offer the inspiration and hope that so many of you have given me over the years. 

I was telling my friend that sometimes the silence around these parts really gets to me. It makes me feel like no ones out there and that doing this was all for nothing. But after I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I realized just how many times I had been the silent one. The one who read something powerful and never said a word but had it resonate with me throughout the day. The one who used a Pinterest tutorial to make a birthday party come to life without ever thanking the person who helped me make it happen. The one who had read heartfelt posts that literally had me crying on my keyboard and never said a word. The one who never encouraged the person who obviously so desperately needed it, but was thankful that they too were like me. 

This is not some crazy plea to have you comment on my blog I swear. All of this just made me realize that this little place can matter. Your little (or big) place can matter. You matter.

I've decided this year that I'm not only going to be more selective about the things I read or allow into my life, but I'm also going to be more selective about the things I share. I want this place to be encouraging and inspiring. I'm not doing this for me, I'm doing it for you because there are so, so many of you lovely ladies that do it for me every day. Some I have never even told. 

Encouragement matters. In a world of overly opinionated, overly stimulated people, encouragement for good matters. We are so quick to hop on the debates over hot topics, but we need to be quick to encourage. So that's what my hope is for this year. To encourage. To be encouraged. It's a wonderful little circle and I thank you for being part of it. You encouragers and inspirers of the world out there sharing your hearts and talents: keep it up! It matters, you matter, it's making a difference even if you have never been told so.

- Here's another post on a somewhat related topic from Jamie the Very Worst Missionary: Say Anything.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jackson's Winter ONE-derland Party

Well folks another party is in the books. I think people are secretly waiting to see if I get tired of throwing these charades, but it's my happy place. I know it can be stressful at times (mostly the night before when we are up until 2:30AM), but I love, love, love the party planning and crafting. Could I do without throwing the actual party...yep. Strange? Maybe. But, I'm an introvert soooo maybe it makes sense? 

Honestly, I feel like it's the one place where my talents come off as "cool" for my kids and if I can make them happy then it's a winner. Ethan has been bitten by the party bug for sure and was super excited about Jack's 1st party. In fact, Ethan proclaimed that his 4th birthday would be a 4-wheeler theme. If he's anything like me (and he is 100% all me) that theme won't change even though his party is 10 months away. 

Jackson's party was semi-woodland themed. It turned out less woodland than I originally planned, but I think I got an okay mix in there. Every time I throw a party I learn a little something and this time I learned to let things go, for example, a homemade cake. I'm ashamed to admit that even though baking is another happy place of mine, it is just too time consuming in combination with crafting and having a house clean with little ones so I cheated. One day, I'm sure that will change, but for now...a cheat is totally okay. 

Jackson and Ethan both had a wonderful time with friends. We are so thankful that our family made the drive up to celebrate with us. It made the party extra special. If you have any questions about party details, please ask. I handmade pretty much every last bit of the party decor so it was super easy and affordable. 

Party with us on Facebook...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

For Those Who Feel Empty

Have you ever felt lost in life like you are walking around without a light on? You have no idea where you are going and you have even given up caring about the fact that you are stumbling around in the dark? 

I've been there. 

I've lacked passion for life. 

My inner fire went out. 

I felt empty.

While this time period is frustrating and emotionally draining, I do believe it serves a greater purpose. Without this period we would be unwilling to make the uncomfortable changes that God is calling us to make. Sometimes to do great things and serve the way God sees fit we have to do uncomfortable things. 

Do not be scared to take the steps God is calling you to take because we can be fearless in the Lord.

So, if you are lost today wandering around in the desert without a light on, please don't loose hope. God is your light. He might just be calling for you to listen and reminding you to be dependent on Him. 

Great things are coming. 

You just wait.

Let's be friends?

Monday, January 13, 2014

How to Organize Your Photos

Photo organization is more important than ever before. I say this because the amount of photos we take now is astronomically more than we did 5-7 years ago. I'd venture to say that most of us don't even print our pictures out anymore (at least not the majority) because where in the world would we put them all?? Last year I took close to 8,500 pictures. That's a lot of pictures! I just got a smart phone a few months ago (Behind the times, I know!) and I'm betting that will even increase that number more. Without good organization, all this documenting I'm doing has a good chance of never even being seen by my children when they grow up. What a waste! So today, I'd like to share with you how I digitally organize my photos or basically a glimpse into my "process".

Step One: Upload

Everyday or perhaps every few days I hook up my DSLR and phone to my computer and upload every picture to Lightroom. Lightroom has been such a fantastic way for me to organize my photos, but no worries, if you don't have it the ideas I'm about to share will still be helpful. I have a "Pictures" folder on Lightroom and my computer that sorts everything out by year then the date.

A glance at photo organization in Lightroom...

Step Two: Edit

I then go through my upload and delete the ones that are blurry or what not and flag the ones that are my absolute favorites. I define favorites as the ones that are framable or possibly usable in a photo book at some point. I'm trying to do a little better at weeding out as I'm still left with quite a few "okay" ones. I just have a hard time parting with some of the candids! You just never know what you will want to look at years down the road.

Yearly "Favorites" Collection...
*Notice how few pictures are in each folder.

Ok so at this point I edit the "favorites". And yes, I typically do all of this the day that I shoot the photos. I have found it is very, very important to not get behind on this. Do it while it's still exciting and then be done with it instead of letting it overwhelm you later. After I edit, I save my favorites in a collection in Lightroom. I label these in my back-up disk as Date_Edited_Event. And my "okay" photos are just labeled Date_Event. That way I can quickly find my favorites if I need them for a blog post or photo book. Some days are just labeled with a date and those are typically my random phone shots that just have 1-5 pics in the folder. 

Step Three: Back-up

I back-up my photos 4 different ways. I feel this is super important because you can never trust just one system. Everything has a potential risk of failure, but it's highly unlikely that all three systems would fail me at once. 


I use an online backup system to automatically backup everything on my computer and my external hard drives every single day. I personally use Crashplan although there are many services out there like it. It costs $5/month on a month to month basis...I did a longer term, I believe 4 years and it costs $4/month. I don't know about you, but peace of mind is worth a lot more than that to me so I'm happy to hand over my money. I've used it to restore accidentally deleted files. If your whole computer goes down you can either restore it online for free or you can have them ship everything to you on a hard drive for about $200 for a quicker restore. Considering I have all my memories on here....that is priceless. 

I also use my computers back up system to back up everything on an external hard drive. I do this less often than I should...every few days, but it should really be everyday!


At the end of each month I transfer all of my photos to an external hard drive. I sort them much like I do in Lightroom. 

Inside my 2013 folder...

A look inside the month of October...

I also upload them to Shutterfly. I solely do this because it is typically where I order my photo books from and how I share pictures with family. They have an easy to use sharing site that will email your family once a week to share any new pictures you choose to share with them. I previously used Kodak as my go to photo site and was greatly disappointed to learn that Shutterfly does not offer high resolution downloads. If I had not backed up my pictures elsewhere I'd be stuck with low-res quality pictures if I ever wanted to order from any other site!

**Side Note** I know we are talking mostly about pictures here, but I do the same thing for my videos. I separate all my videos from my pictures into their own little folder each month. At the end of the month I'll put together a highlights reel of sorts using iMovie in hopes that maybe one day my kids will actually watch it instead of having to sort through hours of video to find the good stuff!

Step Four: Making It All Tangible

Oh, this is the step I'm still working on. I try so hard to think about how our children are going to be able to sort through all of this documentation one day. If I took an average of 8,500 pictures every year for the next 18 years that would be 153 MILLION pictures and probably a years worth of hours of video. No one is ever going to sort through that people! 

At the moment, I make a year end video using all my monthly highlight reels and stick it on a DVD as well as my back up disk. I also make a yearly photo album using my "favorite" pictures and a yearly Instagram only photo book to show more of our daily life. Minus the pictures I hang on the wall, I do not order prints. There are just too many! And where would I put them???

Instagram Books

Lately I have been feeling the need to make the boys their own keepsake box of photos. I love photo books, but I just make one each year for the family and the photos are still not really tangible for the boys in the future. I'm hoping to order one of these for each of the boys soon to put my absolute favorite photos in it each year and perhaps put together some sort of disk with extra photos and video for them to go through one day. I don't want all this work to go to waste! 

How do you make your photos/videos tangible for the future generations?

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Getting All Caught Up...

Apparently, I've given myself some grace in the blogging department, but here I am. Hello. I always have such a hard time bouncing back from breaks and honestly we are just now getting back into the swing of normalcy around here. But that's okay...just practicing some more grace in life right?

I think I mentioned this in my last post, but I decided that this year I would join in on the Project 365 fun on Instagram. You can follow me here. I'm not sure how often I will link up on the blog, but today seemed like a good day to have a picture filled random post so here is what we have been up to so far in 2014...


I woke my husband up 20 minutes before this picture was taken at midnight. Approximately 5 minutes later he puked (and it was not from having too much fun). Yep, that's how this household rings in a New Year....with sickness. I'm holding out hope that it was just left over sickness from 2013. Fingers Crossed.

Besides that little detail we had a very wonderful New Years Eve. We took both boys to see Frozen. They were entranced the whole time. Ethan was caught up in my Sour Patch kids (and the singing) and Jackson was mesmerized by the large bag of buttery popcorn. Although I much would have seen American Hustle or Saving Mr. Banks, I have to say I really enjoyed the movie. We even braved dinner after the movie and I couldn't have been more pleased with the way the boys handled it all. Yay for getting out again!


This little guy has been doing more and more walking lately and he is completely obsessed with apples! Really, food in general is an obsession at this point. He is now officially our number one beggar and he has some pretty stiff competition. We had our one year appointment yesterday and finally this guy is in the clear growth-wise. Height and weight are both over 40% and his head is still ginormous at 78%. 


We have decided to continue with the Emeals program this year. We have been doing the clean eating plan and I love how easy meal planning has become. We are still struggling with managing a grocery budget though! This week will be our first week trying out the low-calorie and comfort food menus (the comfort food is per request of the husband). I'm hoping these might be a tad less costly, but we will see. 


Ethan is now obsessed with having all kinds of things in his bed with him. We are up to 3 "blanks", a fox**, an "Ellie", a turtle and various bears. This is why I have a fairly strict "please no stuffed animals as gift" rule. These were all preapproved gifts by the way ;). I know, I suck. But seriously, he carts everything downstairs in a crate everyday and most of the time requires multiple trips or assistance. It's getting out of control.

**And yes, we are OBSESSED with "What Does A Fox Say?". He almost knows all the words and even has a book.


One of my goals this year is to find more one on one time with Ethan. I get to spend special time with Jackson while E's at school, but honestly I hardly ever get any one on one time with Ethan. This has got to change. I miss being fun and silly with my boy. Not that we can't be fun and silly with's just different. I'm spread thinner, more distracted. We need our special time. So when we got a chance to go to the grocery store by ourselves, I let him do something he always begs me to do...push the cart. Watch out folks! We are dangerous both to other shoppers and our grocery budget. I'm pretty sure I came home with at least 5 items I had no recollection of putting in our cart. 


Jackson is in teething hell right now. Scratch that. We are all in teething hell right now.  My beautiful, angel of a sleeper is now a party animal who refuses to go to sleep and won't even settle for being rocked or held. He has had 6 teeth for the longest time, but now has at least 4-5 more coming in all at once. I recently got him some teething tablets and one of those crazy, magic bead necklaces is on it's way to our front door. *Hangs head in shame.*
Oh hey, did you know last week it snowed and was really freaking cold? even made it's way down here to Tennessee and we enjoyed it for all about 5 minutes. Anything below 30 degrees is entirely too cold for me. Please never make me move north. That statement was probably the kiss of death.


Not only am I not prepared for cold weather, neither was our house apparently. While I love having snow for a short period of time because of its beauty, I could do without the cold that comes with it. We had a busted pipe causing water to spill out of ceiling in the bedroom and one heating unit stopped working on us all in the same day. Thankfully our downstairs unit held strong and we all just piled into our warm, yet leaky bedroom. I am super thankful to God that everything was resolved the next day with very little impact to our wallet thanks to a handy husband. 

While the experience was annoying, it did remind me of how lucky we are to have the simple things like a warm, dry house that can weather out the cold. I really feel for families less fortunate than us that can't afford to keep their heat running for days or don't have enough coats for their children when in-climate and unusual weather strikes. The experience was a little reality check for sure. 


If you pretend I am on central time, then I made this picture just in the nick of time to count for day 8. I thought this project would be a snap, but turns out sometimes it is hard to find beauty or something interesting in a typical normal day. I'm thankful that this project is going to stretch me in that aspect. 


Yesterday was the first day in what feels like 3 weeks that actually was normal. I was needing that so much. Ethan headed back to school, Michael actually left the house for work and Jack and I had a couple of errands to run. It felt so good to be back on track! 

Nurse Loves Farmer

As always, I appreciate your support. Thanks for over 200 likes on Facebook. Totally amazed...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

More Grace in 2014

I honestly think 2014 is the first year in many, many years that I truly do not know what is going to happen. We have a few travel plans we hope to follow through with, but other than that the calendar and life planning are generally clear. I am looking forward to the surprises that life will bring this coming year (hopefully good ones!). But good or not so good, I'm leaving it to God to show the way. 

Every year I come up with a little paragraph about my hopes and goals for the next year, nothing too specific, just a general theme. I find it's invigorating and nice to start the new year with a little inward focus. I just love the thought of a fresh start and a renewed focus on bettering myself and life around me. 

Quite frankly, my goals have been somewhat similar the last few years: slow down, enjoy the moments, be a more joyful giver and financially fit. And this coming year, is not really any different. I still want to focus on those very same things. With every new little life change…a new baby here, a new move there…new challenges always seem to arise. There is definitely still room for improvement.

This year though, I'd like to add a new focus to the list. Something that God has laid on my heart and that is to have more grace. More grace for myself; more grace for others. If I may confess, this is not a strong suit I have. It is a place where I fail time and time again. I have very little patience for things not going as planned whether it is my own fault or someone else's. It causes undue stress for myself and everyone else and it's time I practice giving myself and those around me more grace.

Happy new year friends! 

**To fill my goal of slowing down and soaking in the little moments life brings, I've decided to do project 365 through Instagram. You can follow me @mythoughtsuninterrupted.**

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