Thursday, February 11, 2016

Outside Portraits {The Picture Perfect Project #2}

For the second installment of The Picture Perfect Project and I focused on taking outside portraits of the girls. Both Kinsey and Brielana are outdoorsy chicks and any excuse to get a breath of fresh air around here, they pounce on it. And I guess having a park right down the street doesn't hurt either ;)

I had to remember to adjust the ISO and the shutter speed when in sunlight otherwise I wound up with a bunch of over-exposed pictures that I couldn't save with editing. Even though I got a few very cool actions shots (think flying off the slide) they were just yuck and I was disappointed. Guess that's why practice makes perfect! Another thing I need to remember to do is focus; they are slightly blurry and I didn't notice on my tiny iPhone screen but once they were uploaded on my computer and magnified, I noticed it.

Settings AP 2.2 ISO 32 S 1/366
Settings AP 2.2 ISO 320 S 1/2052
Settings AP 2.2 ISO 32 S 1/1208

Settings AP 2.2 ISO 160 S 1/1953
This is my favorite picture of the girls this month! They aren't even looking directly at the camera but they look so sweet and little; a perfect reflection of how they are exactly at this moment in time.
Settings AP 2.2 ISO 32 S 1/62
Here's where focusing better would come in handy. It's o.k but the sharper image would have been better.

Settings AP 2.2 ISO 32 S 1/1053
And again with the focusing!

And there you have it: February is in the books!

Link up your Pictures below! Thanks for joining us!

Linking up with Annie and Natalie and Vanessa.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Kinsey Behind the Blog {February}

When a bunch of my favorite bloggers announced The Kids Behind the Blog series, I was all over it! Kinsey says some of the cleverest things and we all know how I like documenting that sass. Here is the first interview for The Kinsey Behind the Blog:

1.) Where is your favorite place to go?
The Aquarium.
2.) Who is your best friend?
3.) If you could be a superhero what would your superpower be?
Um, eye lasers.
***Brian: she means heat-vision.
4.) What is your favorite candy?
Jelly beans.
5.) Who is your Valentine?

For more of Kinsey's quips check these out:
The Little Things: #KinseyQuotes
#KinseyQuotes v 2.0

Hall Around Texas

Linking up with Beth, Crystal, Jess, Meghan and Stephanie

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange

Kinsey, Brielana and I participated in a Valentine's Day blogger exchange this year and I have had so much fun crafting it up. Kinsey has been the best helper and I got to get lost in a cutting-assembling craft, so life is good ;)

Kinsey has been on a letters kick lately (yay!) and to further that natural curiosity I figured we would make Tic-Tac-Toe valentine's (and also because X's and O's= kisses and hugs!) I also lucked out when it came to having materials on hand, Aunt Cindy had just sent us a boxful of scrapbooking supplies and ribbon and Valentine's themed paper was included!

I cut down the 8.5 X 11 printed sheets into four's until I had the desired amount (we made 20) I did the same process with the white paper but cut an extra inch from the top/bottom and sides so it had a patterned paper border. We typed and printed our Valentine's message and glued, glued, glued.

And because I have an obsession healthy appreciation for my laminator, I sent the valentine's through for protection and to act as a "white board", just write then wipe! You can use anything for the X and O markers (I purchased jeweled hearts from the Dollar Tree but I saw the cutest erasers at The Dollar Spot that would have worked great. And there's always candy!) just make sure there are two distinct colors/patterns for distinguishable game play. And there you have it: Tic-Tac-Toe Valentines!

And here are the adorable Valentine's we got:

Nothing is as special as receiving letters in the mail. But the best part is opening them. And then eating them!!!
Thank you blogger friends from Kinsey and Brielana and I for the lovely Valentine's and making this holiday extra sweet!

Tawnya, Scarlett & Bodhi @ All of Life's Little Adventures
Jen & Hattie @ And Hattie Makes Three
Ashley, Waverly & Avalon @ Being Brickner
Jess & Abbie @ Being Mrs. Beer
Elizabeth & Mason @ Chasin' Mason
Liz & Jude @ Ellie and Addie
Crystal & Mason @ Hall Around Texas
Desiree, Marcus & Julia @ Macke Monologues
Sara, Mac & Mim @ Running From the Law
Jess, Cameron & Louise @ Scott Family of Maine
Jessica, Cameron & Emerson @ Secrets of a Stay at Home Mom
Sarah, Brantley & Holden @ Seeing All Sides
Karli, Kaye & Sawyer @ September Farm
Chrissy & Elin @ Simple Joys Blog
Courtney & Aria | Sweet Turtle Soup
Meghan & Noah @ The Adventure Starts Here
Stephanie & Connor | Wife Mommy Me
Whitney, Kinsey & Brielana @ Work It Mommy

And if you need more Valentine's Day ideas, check out this Pinterest Board! It won't disappoint!

Linking up with Beth.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Elizabeth from Chasin' Mason {The Mommylogues Series}

This next guest blogger for The Mommylogues Series is one of my favorites! Elizabeth from Chasin' Mason is wonderful and I count her as part of my blogging tribe. I'm not even going to sugar-coat this but I cried ugly tears reading this post and practically burned dinner because it's that touching.

Hi everyone! My name is Elizabeth and I blog over at Chasin' Mason. I blog about my adventures in motherhood and daily life with a toddler (more like preschooler now though!). And if you couldn't guess by the title of my blog, I mostly blog about my son, Mason. Occasionally I like to throw in some recipes and DIYs and whatever else strikes my fancy, but for the most part, I just blog about our daily happenings. Thank you so much, Whitney, for having me here today!

My journey to motherhood started on November 19, 2011 -- the day I found out that I was pregnant with Mason. I remember it like it was yesterday (which must be why I still remember the exact date!). The day before we had met with our photographer for a "trash the dress" session at the beach. I remember thinking that my wedding dress felt a little tighter than normal, but I attributed that to the fact that it had been a year and I'm sure I gained some weight since then. We had just celebrated our first wedding anniversary on November 7th and I thought it would be fun to do a little "trash the dress" session to celebrate.

The next morning I realized just how late I was and decided to take a pregnancy test. And sure enough those two pink lines appeared! I'm pregnant! I ran into the bedroom, shook (my husband) Seth awake, and shoved the stick that I had just peed on right into his face. Romantic, I know. And then we just stared at each other in disbelief. We had been trying so it's not like it was a big surprise to us, but at the same time, it was a surprise. I mean, you never really know when it will happen!

After that, I texted my sister in law and my best friend a picture of the pregnancy test (TMI, I know, sorry girls!) to tell them the good news. Although it has been approximately 22 minutes (I'm sure) since I had taken the pregnancy test, I had to tell someone! I'm horrible at keeping secrets.

I wish I had started my blog back then so I would have my pregnancy documented (especially since I'm 99% sure that Mason will be our only one (more on that later) but I can't say 100% for sure so I have to leave the 1% open to potentially change my mind!) but I didn't end up starting it until after he was born in 2012. Instead, I documented my pregnancy with weekly bump pictures. I'd post them to Facebook so everyone could see the progress and then once I was on maternity leave, I scrapbooked them and put them into a little photo album.

Mason was born on July 18, 2012 (you can read his birth story here) and I was overjoyed to finally be a mom! Everything went as smooth as possible and after a few days in the hospital, we were on our way home as a family of three! I felt extremely unprepared to be in charge of this baby especially since I knew nothing about babies, but like they say, your motherly instinct takes over and you just know what to do.

The first few days at home were great. I was having some trouble with breastfeeding (more on that here) but made an appointment with the lactation consultant to discuss my concerns and figured everything would be fine. I was wrong. Long story short (long story here), I couldn't breastfeed Mason. I couldn't produce enough milk to sustain him and he wasn't getting anything. I tried pumping and would get maybe 2 oz after each 20 minute pumping session. It was torture. So, ultimately I decided that the health and wellbeing of my child was most important and we switched to formula. This didn't come without some challenges though and we later found out Mason had silent reflux.  Silent reflux is like regular reflux but instead of throwing it up, he would swallow it. So it hurt coming up and hurt going down. He would cry in pain and arch his back every time he ate. It was AWFUL. So after talking to one of my friends, I finally figured out what the problem was, spoke to Mason's pediatrician and we got him some liquid gold (aka the most expensive formula ever - Similac Alimentum) and everything went a lot more smoothly and I had my happy baby back!

The months went on and I adjusted to being back at work and we seemed to finally be in a good groove. I never thought of myself as a boy mom, but once Mason was born, I couldn't picture myself any other way. I was embracing the cars, planes, trains, and trucks, and loving every minute of it.

We celebrated Mason's first birthday, celebrated holidays, celebrated New Year's, celebrated his second birthday, celebrated holidays, and celebrated another New Year's.

By now it was 2015 and Mason is 2 1/2. We've noticed that he's not necessarily at the same stage on certain things as other kids his age, specifically talking. I didn't really think anything of it, I just thought he was a late talker. He was late to walk, so I just assumed he was late to talk too. Boys are lazy like that sometimes, right? Or so I thought.

Then came April 2015 and my whole world was turned upside down. We found out that the reason that Mason had a speech delay was because he has autism. The moment that the doctor said those words to me, my head started spinning. Not in a bad way. I never, ever, ever thought any different of my sweet and perfect boy, but I just had NO idea what this meant for him and our family. I was so overwhelmed with all the information that they gave us and didn't know what to do with it all. Thankfully I had an amazing resource to turn to or I don't know what I would have done. She helped me and educated me so much.

A month later, I wrote this letter to Mason.

An excerpt from it :
"...This diagnosis does not define you. You are still the same sweet, loving, caring, amazing little boy that we've always known. You are friendly, you are outgoing, you are fearless. You are a joy to be around. And your dad and I... we will make sure we give you every tool you need to grow, learn, and thrive. I can't wait to enroll you in kindergarten and cry my eyes out that my little boy is growing up too fast. I can't wait to see you make your first science fair project. I can't wait to see you play sports. I can't wait to see you graduate high school and to help you move into a dorm at college and then really cry my eyes out that my little boy really is ALL grown up. And furthermore, I can't wait to meet the girl you know you are going to marry and then walk you down the aisle to wait for her. One day (long, LONG from now), you will make me a Grandma and make me the happiest I've ever been to hold a baby since July 18, 2012, the day you were born.

I never thought of myself as a parent of a child with special needs. But here we are, here I am. A parent of a child with autism. And while that might be true and we might have some hurdles we need to jump over, you, your dad, and I are no different than we were on April 8. And I intend to treat you exactly the same way I did on that day from this day forward. I am constantly in awe and inspired by you. You make me want to be a better mama. I love you more with every day that passes...."

To this day, I still cry when I read the letter I wrote him. And to this day, every single word is still true. Our life is definitely a lot different today than it was on April 8, 2015 (the day before he was diagnosed), but all for the better. He has since gotten tubes in his ears and had his adenoids removed. He has started talking SO much more and I could not be more proud. He knows all his (primary) colors and can say them out loud (sound them out - bew for blue, gree for green, reh for red, etc) and identify them on paper. He knows the numbers from 1 to 10 forwards and backwards. He knows tons of sign language. He knows how to spell his name (Mmmm - Ahhh - Sssss - Ohhh - Nnnn). He can identify all the basic shapes. He can do the whole alphabet in sign language and can say the letters (sounding them out) from A to F but gets more letters daily. He understands way more than he can communicate verbally. And so, so much more. He is loved by everyone at school and is a joy to be around. He has great social skills and good eye contact. He is growing and thriving and I couldn't be more proud.

Though this is definitely not how I pictured my life, I have learned so much from Mason and wouldn't change a thing. Sure it can be more challenging, more stressful, and definitely more expensive at times, but at the same time, I am learning so much just seeing life through his eyes. He lights up with joy when I ask him to help me bake cookies. He screams "YEAH!" when I ask him if he wants to go over to his best friend's house. And he is a total pain in the butt sometimes when he steals my drinks, eats the food off my plate, and tells me what to do. But he is the most loving little kid. And even though he can't use words to tell me that he loves me yet, I know he does. He shows me through sign language and through the huge, wet kisses he gives me every morning, every day when I drop him off at preschool, and every night before bed.

This is our story, my journey through motherhood, and I can't wait to see how the story continues!

Whitney, thank you again for having me today!

Follow along with us! Blog // Bloglovin' // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest // Twitter

And in case you missed them:
My Journey to Motherhood {Introduction to The Mommylogues Series}

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Today You are Five

Happy Birthday, Kinsey Olivia
Today you are five.
When you were too small
To tell me hello,
I knew you were someone
I wanted to know.
For all of your tininess 
Couldn't disguise
A heart so enormous...
And wild...
and wise.
This is the first time
There's ever been you,
So I wonder what wonderful things
You will do.

~Emily Winfield Martin

And for some nostalgia, the past two years as recorded on this blog:

affiliate links used

Hearts and Crafts {TTBH #5}

First and foremost, HAPPY 5th BIRTHDAY, KINSEY!!! 
*Fun fact: Kinsey was supposed to be a Valentine's Day baby but decided to come 10 days early and has forever kept me on my toes since Day 1 :)

And speaking of Valentine's Day, my TTBH post is dedicated to all things hearts and crafts (I just had to with that one!)

{Tissue Paper Hearts}

Materials needed:
parchment or waxed paper cut into heart shapes
tissue paper (I used red, pink and white but the white didn't show up very well)
glue wash (equal parts Elmer's glue and water)
paint brush

This craft can be a bit messy but its fun and looks darling when dry. Kinsey did all 5 hearts in one sitting and I actually had to cut more tissue paper and mix up more glue wash! The paper will curl a bit but once its all dry I just stuck ours under a pile of heavy books overnight and they straightened up nicely. These make cute hanging decorations or can be used as Valentine's.
If you really want to get those fine motor skills going, have your child cut out the paper hearts and cut or tear the tissue paper.

{Raspberry Foam Dough}

print recipe

Raspberry Foam Dough
A scented and soft sensory dough. A great alternative to play dough.
  • 1/2 can Shaving Cream
  • 1 cups Cornstarch
  • 1 box Raspberry Jell-O
Mix together all ingredients until well combined. Have fun! *This foam dough is not edible.* If dough starts to dry out just add more shaving cream.

And since it's Thursday, I'm utilizing "Throwback Thursday" and sharing two crafts from previous years that Kinsey did that are d-a-r-l-i-n-g:

{Heart Wreath}
This is an easy-peasy craft: just cut out the center of a paper plate and glue on pre-cut hearts in various sizes and colors, embellish with stickers, attach yarn or string and hang!

{Hand print Flowers}
Using any color paint on white paper have child make hand prints but leave enough space to add stems and leaves. The tagline takes it over the top "handmade with love", isn't that sweet?!

Thank you for joining Amanda, Courtney, Beth, Courtney and me for Teaching Together Blog Hop! See you next time on March 3rd and don't forget to link up below! ***By submitting a link, you are giving us authorization to feature your post.  If your post is featured, we will include a picture and a link to your site to share the love!***

Linking up with Annie and Natalie and Vanessa.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Chocolate chip raspberry muffins // Valentine's recipe {FFAY #1}

sweet and tart muffins perfect for Valentine's Day or any day

Welcome to the first Foodie For A Year link up! I am so excited to share this Valentine's recipe with you, it is one of my favorite muffins of all time! The best part of this flavor combo is, it is completely customizable (because I like options) so if milk chocolate and raspberries aren't your thing, use white chocolate chips and strawberries or dark chocolate chips and dried cherries; both which would be phenomenal! You just really can't go wrong!
Easy to make and gone too fast! Sweet and tart muffins perfect for Valentine's Day or any day!

print recipe

Chocolate Chip Raspberry Muffins
My favorite muffin recipe of all time!
  • 5 1/2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • optional: red food coloring
Preheat oven to 350 F. Put muffin liners into a muffin tin and set aside. Mix together flour and baking soda and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and then the milk. Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.Add the chocolate chips.Gently fold in the raspberries. Add a few drops of red food coloring to get desired shade of red or pink. Spoon batter into muffin liners and bake for 15-20 minutes, until tops are golden brown or an inserted toothpick comes out clean.Transfer from muffin tin to cool and enjoy!

These muffins are very moist and last up to 5 days (not that they do around here!) in a covered container.

Now it's your turn, link up below! Thanks for joining Courtney, Jamie, Elizabeth, Jamie, Sarah and me! Next Foodie For A Year link up is on April 5th and is a brunch recipe!

Linking up with Beth.

Work it Mommy

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