family · growth · life lessons

In this Season: Goodbye 2017

We are literally a day or so away from a brand new year… I can’t say I’m ready (but I kind of am). 2017 was interesting to say the least. It brought lots of clarity, frustrations, challenges, and yet an immense amount of growth and appreciation I haven’t had in years past. Reflection is always welcomed, but I hope that it propels me to really taking on whatever 2018 has for me.

I look at my Best Nine (which is completely determined by what others thought were the best moments haha), and I see a lot of joy. Not just because we’re smiling or photo ready either. I see it in the faces of my kids who have blossomed tremendously in who they are this year. I see it with the coming of another baby, which I expected/didn’t expect the timing again deal…and I feel it. 2017 was not my best friend, but it was very friendly to me.

This is my personal recap of the year:

  • Mike and I grew incredibly close this year in trusting one another and as friends. We learned to speak on deeper levels and work with not against each other.
  • Kai has caused me to listen to understand rather than be understood. He is an intricate blend of sensitive, fierce, and love – so so much love. He requires and ultimately deserves my best, and he reminds me constantly.
  • Titus is taking life by the horns and not letting go. He backs down for no one and I’m okay with that…now how to refine that is the journey I think we will forever be on haha.
  • Finally for me I’ve read a lot…opened myself up more and stepped back simultaneously in a new dance of vulnerability. Allowing breaks when needed and new boundaries when necessary. Apologizing less and saying thank you more. Acknowledging my shortcomings as not horrible, but either areas of growth or acceptance…

I hold very few expectations for 2018 except for more clarity and much more living my best life without holding back. So here’s to a new year and more joy!

collaboration post. sponsored post · selfcare

Self Care: Best at Home Teeth Whitening!

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If I do anything well, it’s taking care of my family! And if I’m horrible at one thing…it’s taking care of myself. Most moms can agree with this, and it’s not necessarily because I don’t love to be pampered – I just don’t frequently make the time! I mean my focus is often my boys: making sure they look awesome, eat really well (counting donuts as breakfast), and doing my best at this mom deal. If you ask me what I do for myself, most days my morning coffee is still on the counter cold, I’m wearing the same jeans from a day ago (also that’s all that fits right now – pregnant life), and I’m simply just overlooking myself.

So when Smile Brilliant contacted me, I knew it was a sign that I needed to fit some “mommy care” time into my life! In fact it was perfect timing, as I’ve had to put on my agenda slowing down and making sure that I’m taking care of myself. In addition to taming my eyebrows more consistently and putting on mascara more often, enhancing my smile was a no brainer. If you haven’t noticed, I love to smile… I mean really love to smile, it’s one of my favorite features. With the holidays around and our most recent trip to Disney, all I’ve been doing is smiling! However, as a deep lover of coffee, that doesn’t always mix well with bright shiny teeth. That’s where Smile Brilliant has come to the rescue!

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Smile Brilliant is an at home whitening system that is so simple, honestly even this busy mom can make time for. The package arrived right at my door with all the tools I needed to not only create a mouth tray, but also the whitening and desensitizing gels for when I was able to get started! The boys were completely fascinated by the teeth mold process as my mouth was filled with blue paste (total boy approval). Once I shipped off my mold I didn’t have to worry, because I got an email letting me know when my teeth trays were headed back to me! I’m really impressed with the results and love that you can use the custom fitted trays 1x a week or more frequently if you needed a brighter smile quickly! Check out my results below:

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As I started using Smile Brilliant and sharing with friends I got some great questions! One of the main ones surrounded sensitive teeth. With the whitening system you also receive desensitizing gel that eases this process. I do have sensitive teeth, so this was extremely useful to me and being able to touch base online with the helpful team at Smile Brilliant allows full access to any concerns you may have as well! So no worries fellow friends with sensitive teeth, we’re covered. I also was asked regarding the teeth trays… I mean do they really fit? For me it was a YES! The trays fit like a glove and are not uncomfortable at all. Even if you had a challenge with your trays, you can always reach out to have them adjusted…see how well you’re taken care of?

I don’t just want to keep all of this goodness to myself, I most certainly wan to share it with you! The team at Smile Brilliant would like to giveaway to one of you a teeth whitening system of your own! Perfect to kick off your New Year!

ENTER TO WIN!

*Giveaway participants MUST enter through the link above to be counted*

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Smile Brilliant and the product has been provided by the company. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. I’m incredibly grateful for your support of companies that support Graciously Woven.


How to Whiten Your Teeth

children · family · fun · holidays · life lessons · motherhood · quality time · style · toddler life · travel

Christmas 2017: Family Pajama Day Mickey Style!

We’ve been working hard at our Family Christmas list over here and I can tell you it’s been so much fun! Last week Mike and I surprised the boys with a trip to Disney, and it was nothing short of truly magical (even for Mike!). From Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party to enjoying the Animal Kingdom, and more, I have to say it was a great end to the year and jumpstart for the holidays. I can’t wait to share all that we did in the next several weeks!

Though we did lots of things on vacation, we actually rested (I know it happened!!) On our second day at our resort, we opted for a pajama day (sticking to the list). Mike actually spotted these Mickey family pj’s online at Target a few weeks before leaving and immediately told me to buy them. It was one of his best ideas (he takes full credit).

Our first night in Florida as the boys settled in I laid out their pajamas. After laughs and bath time, they came and were beyond elated to sleep in their new jammies. For the whole set it cost about $50 (free shipping!!), but the quality is on point! If you know me, you know I love Target (no one is paying me to share this goodness…yet).

Having us all hang out in our pajamas, sun beaming through the windows, and no rush to go anywhere was the medicine our busy lives desperately needed. Slowing down is an intentional practice we have cultivated for some time, especially this year. It’s so great for your soul…and our pajama day confirmed that.

I adore these guys – they make my days stressful, exhausting, but oh so incredible. They indulge in such simple things that remind me to keep on with pajama days in our favorite family jammies and rest! Sweet rest to keep us focused on what’s best in this life!

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children · family · fun · holidays · Home · life · motherhood · quality time

Christmas: Enjoying the Season

It’s only taken about one or two rounds of Christmas for my boys to catch on to the “receiving bug.” The “can I have it,” “when can I buy it, and my personal favorite, the full list of gifts they just know they’re going to receive. Truth is I cringe sometimes when I hear how much Kai wants and I can’t help but think – what am I missing? But before I go stroll down mother guilt lane or sit on a woe is me potty… I remind myself that it’s all a part of parenthood…and I can be a great teacher if I’m willing.

Last year we paired down on gifts. Between grandparents and extended family we quickly realized how overloaded the boys were with stuff and certainly with expectations! I loved seeing their faces beam, but I will tell you aside from that I couldn’t recall anything special that made the holiday for us as a family. We did go drive through the lights one evening, but nothing else stands out.

So with that in mind, after some thought and massive budget adjustments – we agreed this year we wanted more memories and less stuff! More things that can’t be bought and have a lasting affect on our boys and us as a family.

So we made a list, there are tons of great ones you can google or find on Pinterest as well! I encourage you to be ALL IN if you’re desiring an experiential Christmas this year. It’s much more emotionally engaging than you realize, so pace yourself and don’t poop out!

This is our list:

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Here are some helpful tips:

1. Less can be more! Don’t squeeze a ton of events or activities in one sitting. Being present and engaged for ONE event is far better than rushing through FIVE!

2. Ask your kids! Though our boys are young, we wanted to know what they want. A lot of that we took in and realized our oldest was screaming TIME…so events weren’t as important as being together (noted kiddo!)

3. Create your OWN thing! I love to see what others are doing, but our family is unique and so is YOURS! It’s great to research, but the best part is to make this an experience YOU won’t forget. Some stuff on our list isn’t exciting for most, but it is for us! And that’s just fine.

Lastly friends, I share all of this because our schedules are crazy…and I don’t want life with our kids to feel like a jumble of one hit wonders. That after the wrapping paper is to pieces or the gifts are “old” my kids still crave to live life with me…and I miss it. So saying yes to more time and no to stuff is what we’re committing to. Our time with these sweet babes is short, and I want to soak it all in.

advice · children · family · growth · life · motherhood · quality time

Motherhood: The Value in my Boys

Me: “Do I need to help you wash your hands?” slightly annoyed

Kai: “YES! And I also want you to stay, because I need to poop…just stand right there because I need you until I’m done.”

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Just as I’m getting ready to sit and download all of my thoughts, I have this wonderful opportunity to spend in the bathroom. Coincidental, of course not! Moments like these frustrate me until I’m standing by the door with the fan on listening to all of the thoughts running through my little guy’s head…and then I remember – his poop stinks. Haha, no I remember much more along with that.

As I’ve been preparing for the addition of another little man into the house, I have to be honest – I’m taking this time way better than the last. I cried with Titus. I mean sobbed when I found out that we were having another boy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read the blogs about boy mom life and celebrating being the only girl…but can I be real – I wanted (and still do want) a girl! Not just for dressing up purposes (those are fantastic), but because I have an incredible relationship with my own mom. I’ve always wanted to have that mother-daughter relationship and with each babe I felt like that ideal was slipping away.

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Until recently, two students of mine that greatly remind me of my own two boys began asking me advice about life and how to approach various situations they’ve had. I found myself giving advice that I didn’t realize isn’t common for them. Things like “do you know your value?” “Being manipulated isn’t okay, and you need to walk away if necessary.” “You’re important, do you know your worth?” Their responses were, “I’ve never heard that from someone before..I” It broke my heart. And it dawned on me that so often boys are overlooked and I was about to do the same thing! About to miss the opportunity of building up my boys to be men that know who they are and aren’t searching for it in anyone else. That it’s just as much my husband’s job as it is mine to see their value and nurture the heck out of that.

Spending time reevaluating my own expectations of relationships with my boys has challenged me to see how little I fully understand the value in their need for a vibrant relationship with me…and that my words, my actions, my love is incredibly vital to who they will become. You may be reading this and either relating or thinking how could I not see this. So I will frame it in the fact that truthfully I have two existing healthy male relationships, and those have taken great work and understanding (still do), my dad (stepdad) and my husband.

The majority of my roots are heavily maternal and deep in the essence of being a strong independent woman. Does that negate the worth of men…in some ways yes. Watching my single mother be everything at all times made me love being a woman and caused me to see very little value in a marriage or partnership with men. So having boys rocked my world, I mean has shaken it. I’ve never been so needed, so lost in all things boy, and so loved in spite of being frustrated that I have to repeat myself an innumerable amount of times.

So in a society where the extremes of feminism somehow overlook how wonderful men of value are desperately needed, I see my boys so much more as a gift today than ever before. That even my own thoughts and pre dispositions have had to be tailored not once, but going on three times (I have to laugh). I want my boys to know how great it is to be a man who knows his worth, the same I would a daughter. That their first healthy relationship with a woman can be with their mom, so I need to grow in understanding them and how to best love them in how they receive it. With a house and heart full of boys I owe that to them and myself…to their future wives and their own sons.

I couldn’t imagine a better way to grow as a mother…excuse me I’m being called to rub someone’s head.

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autumn · children · fall · family · fun · weekend

Weekend Adventures

Though we have great plans for travel with our littles, but truth is we can’t always fit in long trips right now. So I’m constantly taking hints from other moms and even local events I see on Facebook to find ways we can enjoy each other simply for the day.
pumpkin1Here in Northern Virginia there are tons of great activities that are usually within about an hour away from our home. So this past weekend’s adventure was at Hartland Orchard! Not only do they have a fantastic location for picking apples and other tasty fruits and veggies, they have a fun Pumpkin Festival that you can participate in. The boys had a blast and everyone crashed by the end of the day!

The cost per person was $10, but you were able to do a Corn Maze, tunnel slide, enjoy live music, try out the apple cannon, and several other fun activities. I would definitely recommend it as sometimes the other popular pumpkin patches in the surrounding areas can be overcrowded on the weekends and/or even more expensive. It just depends on what you want to do!

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What are some of your favorite day trips to take with your kids? As the season changes and it gets cooler here, I want to take advantage of as much as we can! Hope you had a wonderful weekend.

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autumn · blogging · children · collaboration post. sponsored post · fall · family · growth · Home · learning · life · marriage · ministry · motherhood · quality time · weekend

In this Season: New Surprises & Family Moments

Though I took an unexpected break from blogging, it has definitely still been in the forefront of my mind. Being able to share and record life in a unique way is a big piece of my heart and I’m so grateful to be back (hopefully for much longer). Well much has happened! Lots of growth, changes, challenges, but oh so many triumphs. The ones that humble you and remind you that God is working ever so sweetly in your life to make you better. 
As you can see the boys have grown! And their personalities are something for short stories and live television for sure…especially Titus. They are so much fun, so much that we are having our THIRD BOY in February! Yes, you read that right…our THIRD BOY ha! I can’t say that Mike and I weren’t hoping for a girl (so much he thinks we should try one more time…), but my heart truly is at peace and full of excitement. 
We had the opportunity recently to do a family photo session with one of my absolute favorite photographers and close friend from Uplifted Photography! I cannot even describe how I feel looking at our family in this new season. Thank you as always Bri for capturing us so perfectly, and sweet baby boy before his arrival!