BEFORE THERE WAS YOU

I’m so thankful we were able to sneak in some family photos before Quincy’s arrival!  We shot these with my dear friend Jackie right before our FW17 lifestyle shoot for Rylee and Cru and it worked out so perfect….because Lord knows getting everyone dressed up and out the door at 39 weeks is no small task!  Now we just need a family pic of all 5 of us to hang on the wall and I think I am done with photoshoots for the year! ;)  I am still working on a post sharing Quincy’s birth story (and pics of her sweet face!)….so that will come very soon!  Or whenever I get an hour to sit down and write it which has not happened yet! haha.  It’s a good one, promise.

xx


Desert Escape

We had the chance to sneak away last week for some much needed family time in one of our favorite places, Palm Springs.  A little bit of desert sun and relaxation was definitely calling our name!  I’ve realized as the years go by, I really do have to be so intentional about planning times like this with my family.  Whether it be an actual family vacation or just a one-on-one date with each of my kids or my husband, it’s so important to have that time with them.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up at work and the busyness of life that without realizing it, months have passed us by without planning for that one-on-one time.  Anyway, this vacation was just what the doctor ordered.  My parents even came along which made it extra special.  The kids are pretty obsessed with them so it was a good time for everyone.

I’ve gotten way better about packing for trips like this.  MINIMALISM – it’s my 2017 motto. I used to over pack and stress out about not having enough for the kids so I would bring way more than what was necessary (for both them and myself).  But I’ve realized less is honestly more, especially when you know you will be in a bathing suit 80% of the time and the place you’re staying at has a washer and dryer on site.  (We rented the PS Hangout  house by the way and it was amazing!)  The one thing I knew for sure to bring was our new Bugaboo Bee5 stroller.  It’s light and compact and so easy to travel with.  I’ve owned a number of strollers over the years and this one is definitely the lightest I’ve ever had.  Which definitely comes as a bonus when you are 6 months pregnant and not bending the way you used to.  This stroller was designed with the urban mom in mind, and although I’m not riding trains or taxi’s all that often, it is definitely nice to have a stroller that is easy to pick up, open and close and maneuver around tight spaces.  I chose an all-black version (so typical), but it can also be customized with a number of colors and accessories that reflect your own personal style.  I love all of the accessories available to Bugaboo Bee5 stroller like the cupholder, food tray, iPhone holder, and transport bag.   I also got the bassinet for baby girl that will be here before we know it!! Eek! I just did the math with Sam and we’ve got just 14 more weeks! We are struggling with a name so if you have some ideas, I am all ears! This pregnancy is flying by and that is definitely not a complaint.  I can’t say I love being pregnant, I actually kind of hate it, but I know the end result is worth every second of nausea, aches and pains…. so August, you can come as soon as you want this year ;)


FAREWELL 2016
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Happy New Year friends!  I know it’s been a minute since I have given a life update here.  I thought it a fitting time given the start of a New Year :)  I can hardly believe 2016 has already come and gone.  I’m also finally getting around to sharing our family photos shot a few months ago by my amazingly talented friend Beth Wells.  She always has a way of capturing my family so beautifully, even despite the foul moods of the two pipsqueaks (though, you’d probably never know it).  Family photos are kind of the worst aren’t they!! Oy.  But once a year, I’m dragging them all out to take a photo with me weather they like it or not. haha. It’s my motherly duty and maybe they’ll thank me one day for it.  Or maybe not, but I know I’m always glad we do it, so there’s that.

2016 was definitely a full year for my family.  In the beginning of the year, Sam and I both had big dreams of growing each of our businesses.  Needless to say, it was a year of WORK, of giving up certain things to devote more energy to the ones we felt most passionate about.  Work-wise, 99% of my time and energy went into designing and growing my brand Rylee & Cru.  I gave up a majority of the freelance work that used to dominate my schedule, and while I sometimes missed working on creative projects for other people, it was really freeing to finally just say ‘no’ to (nearly) everything in order to do ONE THING really well.  In years past, that has always been a struggle of mine.  Saying yes to everything and feeling like I was doing a million things just “OK”, but not doing anything excellent.  It’s felt really good to have that intentional focus. We also signed a lease in September for our very own office/warehouse to have the business (Rylee & Cru) run out of!  This was a huge scary decision but also one I felt really confident about.  After working out of my home for the last 5 years, making that work / home separation has honestly been pretty life changing.  It’s made it a lot easier to leave work at work and it’s just so much healthier for everyone!  Sam has grown his business at Loneflag and continues to work hard at his marketing & design agency, Other Sons.  He wears a lot of hats and manages a lot of people and I’m just really proud of him for the business leader he has become.  He works with the most genuine kind-hearted group of guys who have become like family to us, and we just feel so blessed by all of them and for their part in making these businesses a success.  He also had the chance to help put together the new space down at Liberty Station called Moniker General.  If you live in the area and haven’t made it down there, it’s a must!  They are really cultivating an amazing atmosphere and community that we are really happy to be a part of.  We always have people asking us how on earth we do it all with kids and honestly, we just do the best we can and sometimes it’s freaking hard and we feel like sucky parents and friends.  But we know families with more kids and more “entrepreneurial pursuits” than us and they are somehow “making it work” too.  And they inspire me.  I’ve always thought it is better to chase your dreams and to “try” than to regret not having pursued the things you feel called to for fear it will be “too much”.  So far, we’ve felt really blessed by the experience and we keep plugging along!

On a more personal note, it’s been a rough year in terms of my health.  After a lot of doctors visits and testing, I found out I have an auto immune condition called POTS which mostly effects my circulation and heart, but also creates a number of other bizarre symptoms.  I have a condition called Raynauds that makes me ultra sensitive to hot/cold temps and really poor circulation in my feet and hands.  I also found out I have a heart that beats just a little too fast and arrhythmia, which leaves me with constant heart palpitations and dizzy spells.  It’s all auto-immune related and most of the problems I’ve been experiencing are linked to one another.  It’s nothing that can kill me (so they say!) but just effects my quality of life.  Some weeks I feel totally normal, and other weeks symptoms flare up and it’s really hard to get through the day.  So I’ve been managing that, both emotionally and physically, and my prayer for this next year is breakthrough and healing in these areas.  God has healed me from other health issues in the past, and I believe this too will just be a season.  I at least have hope of that.

The kids….they are our saving grace and our pride and joy.  They make life so much sweeter and inspire me in so many ways.  Rylee just turned 5 in August and is growing into such a little lady.  She is in her second year of pre-k and will start Kindergarten in the Fall.  She has a sweet sensitive spirit about her and sure knows how to love.  She is independent and creative and quite the performer.  She is the protective (& bossy) older sister to her unruly little bro and she takes that job very seriously!  Cru just turned 2 in September and he is my wild man.  He definitely gives us a run for our money but he makes up for it with that smile.  He is talking up a storm now (thank goodness for finally being able to communicate!) and his world revolves around trucks and dinosaurs and wrestling!  He is 100% boy but he still needs his mama’s snuggles and I hope that never changes!  God has blessed our family beyond measure and I am thankful everyday for all that we have been given.  I am thankful for the “down’s”, because it helps me to appreciate the “up’s”.  My hope is that this next year Sam and I can devote more time into family memory-making. More intentional time with our kids, more family getaways, more time together….just the four of us.


RAISING A CONFIDENT GIRL
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If there’s one thing I want Rylee to know is that she is beautiful and so very loved.  I grew up with amazing parents who loved me well and told me I was beautiful and always reminded me of my worth….and yet, I still remember struggling with self confidence.  There was so many things I felt were imperfect about appearance….my nose, my hips, my hair, my flat chest.  I was pretty good at picking out my flaws and telling myself that I just wasn’t good enough and that no, I was not beautiful.  I fed into those lies in my head and I let it affect who I was.  Oh to go back in time again and know the things I know now.  I believe that we are all created with purpose.  We all come in different shapes and sizes and colors and that is what makes us beautiful and unique.  Being a mom to a little girl scares me sometimes.  As women, we are so often held to an unrealistic standard of beauty and I want so much to protect her from that, but I know I can’t.  But as her mother, I know what I can do is love her (and tell her so), encourage her in her passions, acknowledge her strengths, and remind her that “even as a girl” she can be anything she wants to be if she works hard and believe’s in herself.  And hopefully, HOPEFULLY, she grows up to see herself the way I see her!

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I love the message that Dove’s #LoveYourHair campaign is spreading. Dove Hair believes a positive role model can greatly impact a girl’s confidence. In fact, a recent Dove study found that 82% of girls learn to care about themselves from their mother.  Rylee is at an age now where she looks up to me in almost every way.  She wants to be just like me, and while I selfishly really love that, it also holds a certain weight, knowing my words and actions are being soaked up like a sponge.  Teaching her to love herself, starts with me.

Join Dove’s mission and inspire a young girl in your life to love her hair. Create and share your custom animated message by visiting LoveYourHair.Dove.com!


IN THESE SHOES
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How is it already back to school season!?? This summer seriously FLEW.  We had to make the tough decision earlier this year if we wanted to hold Ry back one more year in Pre-K or send her through to kindergarten.  Her birthday is August 19th, so she would have been the very youngest in her class if we were to send her through.  After chatting with her teacher and sitting on it a bit, we came to the decision that it would probably be best to let her have one more year in Pre-K.  For Rylee, this decision wasn’t really an academic one, as we felt she was more than equipped there.  It was more an emotional / social one.  Ry is a sensitive little person. (I have no idea where she got that from! haha).  She is shy and timid and slow to open up.  When she does, she gives all of herself, but it’s getting there that is the challenge.  We felt that one more year in Pre-K would give her the opportunity to grow in her social skills and self confidence.  I know in my gut it was the right decision for her.  We just got a letter in the mail today from her new teacher and she has made me read it about a thousand times over!  She is so excited to see some of her old classmates from last year, and meet some new ones too!

We took a trip to Famous Footwear to get ALL of us some new kicks for the season.  Needless to say, we went a little Converse crazy!  Sam has been wearing cons for as long as I’ve known him.  Of course, Cru is a mini Sam, so we got him a new pair of black chucks to match dad.  And Ry wanted to be like me with new leather white ones!  I guess Sam’s style has rubbed off on all of us :)  I’m wearing the new Chuck Taylor All Star High Top Sneaker in all white.  With all the running around bringing the kids to and from school, dance classes, play dates, ect, it’s nice to have a pair of shoes that are comfy and adapt to my on-the-go lifestyle.  I used to be a heels gal, boy has that changed!  I think we are all ready for school to start and to have our schedule back again!  Super excited for my girl and all the fun things in store for her this school year!  Let’s do this! Oh and make sure to check out my instagram to enter to win $100 gift card to spend at Famous Footwear this season!

Thank you to Famous Footwear for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.