deep love for this 102 year old lady(home).


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Grass green, pale pink, sky blue, flowered wall paper, linear “Roberts” flowers, those are the layers we’ve discovered under our white paint in the office. They are all so beautiful, and sitting here, thinking about all the people and families who poured their style, taste and love, into our 102 year old home. . . I’m awed and don’t want to cover it all up (now that each chipping layer is exposed on one portion, of one small wall).

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Chipping away these flies on the wall of our homes history, wondering about all the previous owners, and thinking about the decades… century (!) of love and memories  etched into each layer.

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The deepest layer of wall paper is paper bag brown with beautiful botanical book style flowers on it, and I am imagining it was once a sweet nursery full of golden books read by a darling chubby cheeked little baby girl, and a spindly white cradle rocking next to to the beautifully framed window where my gangly girls now hang out their bob haired heads to yell for they neighbor boys to come over.

And, the newest layers. The chalk walls, first words written and sounded out, serious stares of sleepy shuttered eyes. And of two sisters. Who are leaving big love and memories and marks.

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I have fallen deeply for this home. Over, and over, and over again.

And am proud to hang a bit of it’s history in on my walls.

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long weekend love.


We’ve been living this weekend, and it feels good and slow and bright and just right. And there are still a couple days left. I’m so full.

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And eating well. Those quiches, yes. Forever and always.

Full.

 

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I used to think that fulfillment was found in only the usual spaces. The paycheck with my name on it, the pat on the back from a superior, the scale moving downward, and the compliments from strangers. It was a small definition and one without much depth.

I grew a little and found fulfillment in consistent alone time with God, in meeting Him at 6am, on the dot and without fail. In being at church on the right days, with the right people, at the right time. But that was weak and small, that was habit and religion, not fulfillment and relationship. That was another definition that was little and without growth.

Lately I’ve noticed fullfillment shifting, new every day. It those deep baby sighs as they fall asleep in my arms, full. In hands plunged deep in the sink of hot water washing the film from a meal I made with my hands, full. I am finding it in reading to Nolie, endlessly, full. In spelling out words, counting up high, singing without ceasing, and prayers on my lips all the time, full. Thanks Full. His gifts, so full. A constant conversation with my God, not a stranger, feeling Full.

I have been doing the work, or rather letting it happen, that I am not aching for Full to come in the form of a check, habit, number, or accolade. But I am noticing Fullness, fulfillment, and Him. Everywhere.

In bubbles blown high off the back deck, in a freshly cleaned kitchen, in burping a newborn, in a rearranged living room, in a nearly all homemade renovation, plunging into the cold lake, in hands callused and held tight for ten years, in my girls bright eyes, in new words learned from lips and pencils.

The definition is growing, expanding, exploding. And it’s unending.

fathers day; Dear Charlie

I wish I had all the moments bottled up. They’d fill the mason jars, overflow the cups, it’d be the moment when the bath runs too high and Nolie starts giggling and Ev stands tall and the water just barely drips over the edge and all of a sudden it’s an overflow of love/holdme/read another book/can you build that papa/I’m your baby/toss me up high/draw another picture with me? and those looks you give. The exchange between all of those sparkly artist eyes, the ones you all share.

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The look of concentration Nolie has, ear protection on, while she builds a fairy world in the scrap wood box below you as you craft art for our home.

The tiny voice saying her known words, “Ebby Papas Baby. Ebby Lobah you.” that she’s felt since the start and can now put to voice.

It would be canisters full, memory cards overloaded, words piled on top of each other in the tiniest scrawl I could fit on a card, that would start to scratch the surface of those moments.

You are a super dad. A super husband. And a constant source of hand squeezes, kisses, encouragement, and growth. You see where we fall short and work to build up. You look at our girls as precious, important, and people in their own right. You don’t steam roll, take over, covet control, or put your foot down. You give empathy, words, affection, read books and care about learning what we can change and do better.

My hope was to be with a man who was always growing. Someone who knew that they knew nothing, who didn’t take the roll of Dad lightly. You study it. You pray over it. You talk and talk and talk with me through the ideas and ideals. You put effort and time, care and thought, and so much love into being a Dad.

When we first found out I was pregnant with Nolie. And I sat there on the big green ottoman, knees to my chest holding that test. And you ate peanut butter cup after peanut butter cup after peanut butter cup and I shook and shook and said “I think I should just call my Mom. I really need to just call my Mom.” and you looked at me, with steady eyes and said. “Autumn. I am so excited, this is good!”

You were right. You were so right. This is good. This is past good, out of the park, beyond my wildest dreams, the best adventure. Thank you. Endlessly, over the top, don’t have the space or words in the world to put it together, Thank You.

You blow me away my Love.

Happiest Fathers Day Charlie, your title of Best is shared with only one other man, my Dad. And I don’t have to tell you what a high honor that is.

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hands in deep.

I have my fingers dipping into so many little pots, stirring and tasting and trying, but not quite seeing the ends yet.

It’s a phase of calm and consistent. Eating well even if my jeans stay tight, of running the miles even if they feel hard each time, of talking her off the ledge and using calm words and decibel even with my crazy rises and bubbles up into what could be explosive. I am in a space of meal planning, the same simple meals, to save the pennies. To paint the same colors and love them each time I stroke them on. It’s feel like a hard space, waiting. The in between. The “results” and “behaved” are far off, or maybe right there, but I can’t tell because it’s all around a bend.

All I can do is remember two things; I am worth moving, eating, loving well. No matter what. No matter what the ‘results’ look like. And no matter how long any of it takes to achieve.

And, two, the girls are worth my calm-loving-empathetic and listening response. Every.Single.Time. No matter if it’s the hundredth time Ever has hit Nolie, or the thousandth time Nolie has deemed a trinket “too special to share! NO EVER! NO!!!”, no matter if I didn’t sleep the night before, or if we are out of coffee. No matter what. They are worth that. And hand in hand, they are worth apologizing too. Even if they don’t apologize back. They are worth the fresh starts, the clean slates, the ‘no keeping of accounts’. They are  girls who pour grace out on me when I fail, and model to me all the love I want to give right back.

This is a good space, a good season, a waiting and calm and consistent space.

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finding my church.

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I don’t make room for guilt and God in my heart. It seems that one or the other is reigning and the relief and comfort both bring, while so different, is consuming to the point that my body is flooded, there is no room.

Today, during my few minutes of yoga  (I’m doing another ‘ten day challenge’ on my blog Facebook and instagram) I had that sweating/shaking/you brain isn’t ‘thinking-thoughtful-thoughts anymore’ moment. And I felt so clearly; “God is here. Here in yoga, in your book, in your baking, in your interactions with your girls. You are engaging Him, loving Him, and knowing Him better in these spaces.”

I am not a fan of many devotional books, contrived bible studies, or video series that are shown at Women’s Breakfasts. I have a hard time reconciling the woman on the video with my woman in the mirror, we seem like different breeds. The Church and I often times not lining up. My heart wanting to give to every homeless person I come across for my tithe, and churches seeming to scramble for new sound systems and technology for their sanctuary… I know none of it is that simple, but it feels simple to provide what you have to those who ask, without question. And, regardless, it often times leaves me feeling  lost and guilty for not being at every study/sunday morning/and devotional. And I have battled that guilt for years. Ached for those spaces to feel right, the right fit. But have yet to find that church setting that seems to be brimming with Jesus and not judgement and legalism. And I know that half that battle is in my own heart, but big pieces of it also seem to lay in a deeply broken church. One that holds one mold, one kind of person, and I have struggled to reconcile where I fit.

But this morning it rained down on me in the midst of a thankful filled Sun Salutation. Yoga is a prayer, I spend those 25min feeling awe for His creation and how intricate my body and muscles and blood flow are. I feel intense thankfulness for the time and space from my girls I am getting to take. And I feel that calm, quiet, listening space emerge in the moments of holding a post just long enough to shake. I feel Him. Without judgement of “are my hands in the air?” or “did I just parent wrong in front of that church Mom?” or any other guilt ridden junk I lay on thick in those situations.

I feel abundance, and wholeheartedness, I feel vulnerable and awake, and feel thankfulness and new understanding. I end conversations with fiends (“non christians” !) and feel closer to God, deeper in relationship, and in Worship without ceasing, as opposed to ending the song set and checking the clock worried about my preschooler in the sunday school program.

I’ve found where I fit. I fit in with God. I fit in with movement. Nature. Friends. I fit with vulnerability and raw conversations with people who challenge me to look at what I think and believe and back it up; in scripture, in great books, in prayer, and in ironsharpensiron with Charlie. I feel at rest in where we are right now.

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And if those movements don’t look and feel like worship, deeper than I’ve ever known, I don’t know what does.

spring fling.

The sun has been out in full force and with it I’ve felt the settling into this home. Hanging some photos, getting some personality into the nooks and crannies, hosting friends and so many kids for all day playdates, and getting down to business on back yard planning. But in all of it I can get so swirled up in ideaplanmoneytodorepeat that I don’t get anything done and instead end up pinning for days and stream of conscious planning with Charlie but never pulling the trigger on even the small projects. So, I need a few goals. A couple of bullet points to get going for the upcoming spring; Happy Spring Year? Happy New Weather? Happy Midmarch? I’m not sure. Whatever it is, I’ve got the fresh bug and want to get while the gettings good!

First Off! FOOD. We’ve been packing in the fancy pizza, amazing mead, endless pudding and pie, and… obviously… pounds. So some smoothies, clean eating, and fresh foods are first on the list. And, WATER.

1977237_10100813944166420_485947768_n{Charlie got me a Ninja as a housewarming gift, not the biggest fancy set but the sweet $100 one from Target. It still felt like a big pill to swallow $$$ but OH MY  has she been earning her keep. I’m going to post some of my favorite things I’ve been making in there. But let me just say; If you aren’t making pancake batter in a blender, you’re doing it wrong.}

Two: Get in the sun, every chance I get!

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I am a rain lover, a cozy upper, and a hot drink connosouir. But lately? I’m a sun cat. I want to be in it, around it, soaking it in, and keeping all those rays in my pocket for the harder days. Our new back yard is super different (wrap around, say whaaa?) and has some work to be done. We need to fence a portion of it, make the whole space a little more entertain friendly and get some playspaces set up. And the planning phases are SO fun. But the execution is going to need to really get started! Brings me to my next one…

Three: Put my  hands in the dirt at every chance. Need to till up the garden beds, get my seeds going ASAP, and make all my big long seed lists!

Four: Run. I’ve been sorely neglecting the gym and the pavement and my body/heart/mind are all suffering. I feel lost about trying to shore up the motivation (again again again) but I know how worth it the fight is. Here’s to starting anew tomorrow. If I put it here, it’ll happen, right?

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Do you have any new goals? How are you carrying them out? Forehead tattoos? I’m thinking thats my next step.

We’re Home. And leaving home too.

We’ve moved out of dreaming, scheming, buying, paperwork signing, and planning. We’ve moved out of the home that witnessed us grow up and into a family of four. We’ve moved out. We’ve moved in. And now that we’re home, the realness of empty walls and new spots that don’t quite fit the old stuff is weighing heavy. The big home that will hold the bulk of memories is here, but we’re sitting on the side of the scale where memories are light and small and the bulk is still to come, but can only happen with time. We’re in that spot of  finding your back roads and ways home, how to best find the freeway, and what grocery store is the closest walk. The “what room are you in? I can’t find you!” and “where are the mugs again?” . And the blinking and wondering… ” Is this all really … ours?” When do we call the landlord?

We are in our little dream home. And it’s everything and more. Each little nook we keep finding and falling hard for.

but still . . . 

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Our little town got an uncharacteristic ten inches of snow the days before we moved. But we did it anyhow. Through drifts up to my knees we hauled boxes down the ramp and into our home.

But maybe more importantly, in drifts up to my knees, we moved out of our old home.

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About seven months ago we out grew this house. The girls wanted doors to close, space to run inside, space for art and painting and learning to cook. The walls felt low and heavy, the arrangements felt stale no matter what we did, and our ache to make a space our own in every way started to burn big. The desire for renovations. Responsibility. Walls to come down, in hearts and structures, got huge.

After we found out about the Little Lettered Dream Home, I mentally moved out. I was unpacking my couch in the new roomy home, I was hanging fresh art on walls, painting bright white and deep blues. Only I wasn’t. I was living the day to day in a home I had hit bursting point with. I was so frustrated with it’s lack of function. With the muddy yard, the galley kitchen, the too small garage. I was out of love with the very things that drew me to the home three years ago. We were bumping our heads on the ceiling, our bodies into each other at every turn, and my want for some expanse and privacy was growing big.

Everyone knew where we lived. It made for a magic porch, but it also brought with it some fears and a little too much exposure. I had been craving a little anonymity. A bit of privacy. Less fishbowl, with still so much light. I wanted the Little Lettered Dream Home that I had fallen so hard for.

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When we picked up the keys from the seller. I got in the car and tears just streamed and streamed and streamed. It was real. Hard and poky in my hand I held our future. I had moved out of the renters unknown. And into the “my kids will grow up here. my next baby will be born here.”

I moved into the office for writing. The extra deep bathtub to reset. The renovation dreaming and planning. The big shop for Charlie to make all his own.

So in a whirlwind of help, extra arms, love, and speedy movement… we painted everything, did a few repairs, made a lot of ‘homeowner’ purchases, and packed up our whole lives. And moved.

In the hubbub of making a new home, going to Ikea, unpacking and building everything. . . I almost forgot our old little red home.

Till we got a message from our old landlord “I trust you guys, you can hand the keys over to the new tenants (our friends, by the way), as soon as you’ve cleaned it out.” 

…and it hit like a ton of bricks. Or harder.

The first Home we had. The one that I drove up to started sobbing the moment I saw those giant flowers in bloom and a little space to call ours. The space that rescued us from a very bad neighborhood, from homelessness and confusion after we had jumped in faith and given notice with nowhere to go. The place the held our first garden. The space that grew more strawberries than we could eat. The space that hosted endless backyard playdates, the birth of so many friendships, and probably hardest to close the door on of all. The birth of my second baby. The redemption of birth and the expansion of my heart in the most profound way I have ever experienced. And we were locking the door behind us.

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As hard and weighty as it felt to close the door behind me and leave the memories to age in my head and rattle around inside the house that is our home no more, I am so excited to close that book and start this new one.

The one with growing girls, and gangly legs, with big talks and bigger decisions. The door to school, and babies, and reading, and new growth is open wide. And we are here to breath it in. This home empty of our memories but full of 102 years of other peoples heart is big.

And pretty beautiful too.

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Love, love here we are.

{Pablo Neruda.}

So fresh and so clean! My home/body/laundry master list of recipes!

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I heard, about five years ago, someone say “if you wouldn’t put it in your body, don’t put it on your body.” it hit home, stuck in my head, but didn’t bring about much change. Till we had a baby… after having Nolie I started to really consider what I was using on her/me and around our house. I knew she would crawl/get into stuff and put her mouth on every single thing… and I felt like it was really time to change. I started with homemade laundry detergent, that quickly led me to home made spray cleaners, and finally into no-poo hair care, body scrubs, and lotions. We kind of jumped ship quick! And haven’t looked back! Since then we’ve gotten even deeper and don’t do no-poo anymore, but just use hot hot water and scrub well daily. All of our hair has never been healthier! I want to quickly share our go-to family recipes for around our home.

A bottle of Dr.Bronners still finds it’s way in (it seems to be the only way to really get extra virgin coconut oil out of hair, or greek yogurt for that matter ;) ) and brings us many bubble baths, and I buy Mrs.Meyer house cleaner spray here and there because the marketing has won me over. But about 90% of the time we are using wholly homemade cleaners for our home, clothes, and bodies. And loving it! And? LOVING the  money we save!

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For Home:

I use a spray bottle with half white vinegar and half water for nearly everything! I have a few bottles and add different essential oils to each one depending on where I use it most. For the kitchen I typically make satsuma vinegar (I put orange peels/satsuma peels into a glass jar filled with vinegar, I let it sit for about ten days. Don’t worry! It won’t mold! and then strain out the peels and use that as my kitchen vinegar.) and mix it with half water and use that for my countertops/kitchen table/stove/highchair/sink. When my sink gets extra rank I do a sprinkle of baking soda all over it and then spray my vinegar (Nolie and Evie LOVE to watch it bubble up!) and give it a quick scrub and then lots of water to wash/rinse it off. It will shine after!

For the bathroom, I mix half vinegar and half water with a few drops of tea tree oil (available at most natural food store, or for pretty cheap even at Trader Joe’s!). That helps keep bugs away, is a natural way of making your bathroom smell stellar, and is a natural antimicrobial. But keep it up and away because when drank straight (as opposed to diluted a few drops in water/vinegar) it is unsafe.

For the Tub/Toilet, I have found the BEST mix is one cup white vinegar, one cup hot (from the tap) water, and a few drops of Dawn Dish Soap. Shake it up, spray into tub/toilet and give it a little scrub. It works wonders!

For Laundry I mix equal parts borax and baking (or washing) soda and then half that amount of biokleen or oxyclean. (for example, one cup baking soda, one cup borax, 1/2cup bio/oxy) and then use one Tbs. per load in my washing machine. I’ve been using that recipe for four years and it has never gone wrong! It is SO CHEAP.

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For Exterior doors/windows I keep a spray bottle of water with lemon oil in it. Evidently spiders don’t like lemon. And I REALLY don’t like spiders. So I spray around all opening windows and doors a few times a week during the summer. It also brings a really nice fresh scent to our house.

Window Washing, we go old school here with straight vinegar and newspaper! Just like your Mom and Grandma did ;) I will say though, I do love and miss windex. It’s possibly my one holdover with the whole natural home stuff, I miss it like whoa.

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For Body:

For Hair, we used to be “no-poo” and use a mixture of baking soda/water for washing and then a dilution of Apple Cider Viengar (ACV) and water for conditioning. I still use ACV here and here if my hair feels a little coarse, but not often at all (maybe once every two months?). Otherwise I am going on two years of nothing and Charlie just broke over six months. Both of us had fairly long “adjustment” periods where our hairs oils balanced back out, and looked pretty ugly for a bit. For me it was just a couple weeks, for Charlie it was almost a month. He works a hard labor job, gets sweaty often, and struggled with not great skin. Since moving to just hot water washing his skin has cleared up considerably and his hair is healthier and less greasy than before! So, for hair, the recipe is hot hot water (as hot as you can stand is what I do, Charlie and the girl do theirs considerably less) and scrub it pretty hard (to redistribute the oils that are there) and that’s all. I do a little rub of tea tree oil along the nape and behind the ears when I think of it just so that we all smell a little extra fresh and because I am a bug worried freak, but that’s just preference and totally not necessary.

For Body Cleaning, Charlie is a big fan of the Dr.Bronner bar soap. The girls love bubbles so we put Dr.Bronners liquid soap into their baths pretty often too. I use baking soda and salt scrubs. My go-to, everyday, scrub is equal parts sugar and salt, a big drizzle of honey, and some eucalyptus oil (a drop or so). I use that to scrub my whole body and it leaves me smelling amazing and being super smooth. Nolie and Ever also love scrubs and epsom salts too so those get a lot of use. On a day when I know I am going to be cleaning my tub anyhow I will also use my coffee grounds as a body scrub too, evidently it’s great for circulation and can help lessen the look of cellulite even, crazy! I mix them (coffee grounds) with either a little melted coconut oil or olive oil and use them on my legs before I shave.

Shaving! I do shave, despite all the other hippie sounding tendencies ;) I use a tiny bit of coconut oil on my legs in the shower (we keep a jar in the kitchen, bathroom, shower, and bedroom) and then shave and rinse the razor very well (EVCO can kinda build up if you don’t!).

Body Lotion, I use plain coconut oil on my whole body as a lotion/moisturizer. It smells amazing, melts on contact, and absorbs into your skin really quickly. I put only a tiny bit on my face/mainly just lips because I have naturally pretty oily skin on my face. But I lather it on the rest of me! You could melt it ahead of time and add an essential oil to if it you wanted more of a scent (almond or lavender would be amazing!) but I never get around to doing that.

Face, I use one tbs baking soda and two tbs milk on my face really often as a wash/scrub and it cleans really well. I also use an egg white all whisked together and applied to my nose like a mask for black heads. Another frequent one around here is oatmeal/honey/sugar as a scrub/mask for long baths or “beauty parlor” with the girls. They especially love that one because it tastes good too!

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For the Girls:

Here’s the beauty… nothing any different that what I use on anyone else. We all just do hot water scrubs for hair, use coconut oil for lotion, and it also works great for diaper rashes too ;)

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section or on my Facebook page! I’ll try to respond promptly!

Ten Tips to getting your best family photos ever!

1. Hire an amazing photographer. Don’t skimp, save up, and remember how worth it these photos are. Find one who not only has a style you love, but who YOU love. The more comfortable your family is with your photog, the better your pictures will be. Remember this, you guys are beautiful when you are just living life in love together. Find someone who captures that.

1475972_10100738406913680_378939463_n2. Come up with an idea! Keep it simple, but having an idea in mind helps in every other way. If you have an idea/theme that will help you decide on outfits, props, destination, everything! I knew I wanted cozy/cabin feeling outdoor photos. So we packed up loads of blankets, a big thermos of hot cocoa, and wore tons of layers, and off to the tree farm we went!

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3. Count on Candids. Don’t get to0 pintresty with your plans, unless you are kidless then pintrest to high heavens while you can! Go into your photos with lots of opportunity for cute candid photos that include your whole family. For us, nursing is a go to because it contains the squirmiest of our family, and everyone is engaged. Mugs and hot chocolate also work well because the girls liked to sit and clink glasses, cuddle up, and drink something sweet! So it helped them sit still and be able to get some awesome sister photos. The candid’s are always going to be the lifelong favorites, the moments that aren’t perfect but are so dead on to where you’re at, so allow for those to happen without all the “you sit here. SMILE!” stress.

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4. Don’t be afraid to let your kids be themselves. Does you daughter ONLY wear that one dress. Go with it! Does your husband just hate v-necks, let him pick what he wears! And does your youngest just never sit still? No biggie. Find ways to chase them toward the photographer, or bring a fun activity, or pack a sucker (yes, I wholly advocate that). Getting awesome pictures of happy kids is far easier than getting pictures of kids who are annoyed or encumbered by clothes they don’t like. And, bonus! It takes the heat off of you picking their outfits!

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5. Prep your kids. Get them excited! Tell them what’s happening, and why it’s going to be fun! Show them pictures of you when you we’re little, explain how cool it will be to look back on this. Nolie LOVES to see photos of herself as a baby, and talking about how she can see these when she is a teenager is a HUGE selling point. Let your kids get excited about this too, make a card for the photographer, help decide what to bring as a prop (cider or hot cocoa? obviously my girls are brilliant and picked chocolate). These are family photos, and the more ownership your littles take in them the more fun you will all have, the more of an experience it will be, and the better the pictures will turn out.

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6. Have some fun. Laugh too big. Have a double chin. But give up caring, because in ten years, those huge laughs on your face and your tiny children and your young husband… they will be your absolute favorite memories.

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7. Remember that bold is best, and matching is unnecessary. This holds true for lips (bright! pop!) and clothes. Save the clothes with words/characters for another day if you can (if you can’t, go for the giant Minnie Mouse shirt and a smiling kiddo over the sad faced girl in a gorgeous mini boden.)

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8. Get your makeup done, Mama. I know, I know. This is weird, expensive advice. But I HIGHLY recommend it. You know the age old “if mama ain’t happy, no ones happy!” same goes for photos; “I’m mama feels great, everyone feels great!” my confidence, lack of stress, and feeling like my best self… it made a world of difference for our photos.

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9. For at least a few photos. Pretend your photographer isn’t there. And kiss like the kids are in bed. Comfort your kiddos like you would when no one is there for the photo. And let everyone just be; kicking,nursing, kissing, crying, just let it be for at least a few.

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10. And, finally, your kids are the most beautiful, intense, amazing, and worthy of remembering creatures on the planet. So with a good photographer, there really is no screwing those cherub cheeked babies up.

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Makeup (and confidence boost!) by; Love Beauty 

And Photographer (and friend); Tiffany Burke Photography