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Friday, December 4, 2015

In Over My Head

Earlier this year I watched my friend experience one of the hardest things in her life:  she lost her baby at 33 weeks (I was only 3 weeks behind her in my pregnancy with Scarlett).  It was heart wrenching and excruciating to say the least.  I got to be with her in the early stages of them inducing her at the hospital and experiencing that - stepping into her world with her, even if only for an hour, was really special and brought us even closer together.  Singing at her beautiful, perfect, tiny, baby boy's funeral was one of the hardest things I have done.  No one should ever see a casket that small.  Watching the family's raw emotion through the songs and service as they said goodbye to a life that they had excitedly anticipated was gut wrenching.

On the day that we learned they had lost their baby boy, I heard this song for the first time:  In Over My Head by Bethel Worship.  I heard that song and just cried.  Something about the lyrics just clung to me in those weeks of walking through this - weeks of grieving and feeling helpless to provide the support that a hurting friend desperately needed, weeks of not understanding grief and not knowing how to help or what to say and weeks of not being the friend that I needed to be.

I have come to this place in my life
I'm full but I've not satisfied
This longing to have more of You
And I can feel it my heart is convinced
I'm thirsty my soul can't be quenched
You already know this but still
Come and do whatever You want to

I'm standing knee deep but I'm out where I've never been
And I feel You coming and I hear Your voice on the wind

Would you come and tear down the boxes that I have tried to put You in
Let love come teach me who You are again
Would you take me back to the place where my heart was only about You
And all I wanted was just to be with You
Come and do whatever You want to

And further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours
And further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours

Then You crash over me and I've lost control but I'm free
I'm going under, I'm in over my head
Then you crash over me, and that's where You want me to be
I'm going under, I'm in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I'm beautifully in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I'm beautifully in over my head
I'm Beautifully in over my head
I'm Beautifully in over my head


What you don't know is that I have been going through a pretty rough grieving period of my own the last few months (which is why I have been pretty MIA on the blog front). I had never experienced true grief before this and let me just say:  it is very real, and big and crazy and scary.  I have been on an emotional journey - a part of me saying goodbye and letting go - that I don't want to be on but there is nothing I can do about it.  It's a pretty helpless feeling.

I am so thankful that I have Jesus during times like these!  That I can trust in a God who is good and is for my good in everything.   Clinging to the fact that I know He is sovereign and nothing in my life is an accident is a huge rock for me.  I honestly don't know how I would do this without Him and knowing these things.  It's okay to be in over my head because its not up to me - its up to Him and nothing is over His head.

I have witnessed the power of His redeeming hand at work the last few months and my view of Him is growing by leaps and bounds.  Watching Him create life out of ashes is an awe inspiring thing and He is showing me that no one is beyond His reach.  No situation is beyond his ability to restore and redeem.  The question is not:  "Can God redeem"?  He is perfectly able and willing.  The question therefore is:  "Are you willing to let Him"?  That is amazing to me.  It's one thing to know these things - but to experience them firsthand is life-changing.

I am starting to cycle through and come to the other side some - to find my new "normal" and to even laugh and experience joy.  You have to even when you think that you can't.  I have two little ones who are so dependent on me and life doesn't stop even if it feels like it is over.

Jesus has been so incredibly tender with me the last few months and there have been some really sweet moments along the way.  I feel so incredibly grateful that He gives us what we don't deserve.

Eventually I do want to get this blog up and running again.  For now I am going to be taking my time and really re-focusing on what Jesus would have me do with this.  I love you all - thank you for letting me share a little of what has been going on with me.  I hope you enjoy this Christmas Season with your loved ones.  A little baby came - specifically for you....for me, in the greatest Love story of all time.  He came with a mission to redeem us to Himself and I am so, so thankful that He specializes in redeeming everything about our lives - not just our salvation.

Here is the song if you want to take a listen:



Merry Christmas!

Joy

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Funky Tights & Dress Coats

Hey girls,
  Last Friday I had the pleasure of helping to style my new friend, Jill.  She is so fun - super easy to talk to and laugh with.  We shopped a good part of the day and found her several new items for her closet.  A couple of our conversations inspired today's blog post.  We were talking about options for tights/leggings under dresses and I reminded her that funky tights are so fun and people forget that they can be a great accessory.  I also asked her about a staple dress coat for the winter that she can wear with dresses (or even with pants for a different look).  I really think a good, basic dress coat is a huge necessity if you are someone who likes to dress up some.
  This last Sunday we were early for church (only because we were late for the first service and so then decided to go to second service ;)) and I realized that my outfit embodied both of these topics so we grabbed a couple pictures at the park where we were playing with the kids.









Dress:  Sears - Kardashian Kollection
Tights:  Maurices? It was years ago...
Shoes:  Target
Coat:  Maurices


I hope this gives you some fun ideas for fall/winter!

Cheers!
Joy

Friday, October 9, 2015

Scarlett Turns 6 Months

My sweet, cuddly girl turned 6 months on Sunday and I can't even believe it.  Time goes SO MUCH faster the 2nd time around.  What a joy she is to me (and our family) and I love watching her little personality develop.  She is not as happy-go-lucky as Simon was (at her age) but she is still a pretty happy baby and definitely is a lot more aware of things than he was.  She definitely is just as social and loves to "talk" but being in loud crowds for a while will over-stimulate her (un-like Simon) so then she needs to retreat to a room where she can have some alone, quiet time.  That is something that I totally get as I was much the same way for a lot of my life.  I would actually get raging headaches as a child when I had been in loud, social functions for too much time.

  Our oldest niece, Maddi, was in town and snapped a few pictures for us to commemorate Scarlett turning 6 months.  Maddi did Simon's 6 month pictures (in this same park!) so it was neat to do them again with her.

















                                   



You know, we really tried to get one with all of us looking ;)



I just had to put this one in because it cracks me up =)







Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Scarlett's Nursery

I have slowly been working on a nursery for Scarlett and while I still feel like it's not done, I have come to the realization that it's probably as "done" as it's going to be until we switch her to more of a big girl room.  I do have some more things I would love to get for her but I think I will wait until we have her bed (and not crib) in there so that I'm not doing a room now and then again later.
  Once again, the pieces we have for her have all been generously donated to us (she is using the same crib Simon did) so while they don't match, I'm not caring at this point because most of them will leave once we switch her room over anyways (no changing table, no crib etc).
  I love neutral colors for her while still adding a feminine touch and a bit of glam (let's face it, she's MY daughter after all).  =)  Pictures still need to be printed off for her wall (you'll see an empty frame!  ;)) so that's still to come as well.


Of course they had to pose in the crib 




Playing on her rug



I just love the mobile


Gold Mirror:  Target
Pillows:  Target
Lamp:  Walmart
Basket (on dresser):  Homegoods
White Mirror:  Walmart
Rug:  Ikea
Curtains:  Pottery Barn
Mobile:  Pottery Barn

Cheers!
Joy

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Blmommy.com

Hey girls,
  http://blmommy.com/mommy/ is a pregnancy/beauty site that I follow on instagram and I think they are just so fun.  You will find everything on there from blog posts to photo shoots to birth to babies, beauty and everything in-between. I love scrolling through all the different photo shoots that various photographers have done.  It is so fun to see all these beautiful families celebrating a new, little life.

  One fun thing on there is that they feature different photographers from different states so if you are looking for one that specializes in shoots from maternity to newborn (or 6 month or 1 year photos) etc, it can be a good resource for you!

  They also just started printing actual magazines and because of our amazingly talented photographer, Christa Taylor, our photos were picked to be featured in one of their prints!  I have already ordered a couple copies (I want to make sure I save one for Scarlett for when she is grown). But, if you click here, you should be able to see the digital version.  We are featured starting on page 133.  =)



Anyways, just a fun tidbit for you.  And Christa's info is on the page too so you can schedule with her for your next shoot. She truly is amazing and has given our family such a gift with these photos.



Cheers!
Joy
  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Nails: What's the Scoop

Ladies, today we will be discussing the latest trends with nails. Yes, even nails have trends (like everything else).  I am totally NOT an expert in this field but let's just say that I have tried them ALL and definitely have a favorite.

When I was in highschool and college, the acrylic nail was touted as the best:  This is where they attach a false nail to the end of your own nail and then fill it in with a hard solution.  It can make your nails feel a lot stronger (and thicker).



The classiest look for them was, of course, the french manicure.  Now, I don't think acrylics will go away anytime soon, but there are certain ways of wearing them that will look outdated.  For example, while there is nothing wrong with a french manicure, it's more "in" right now to do a solid look and if you want more the french feel then do a light pink or even a solid white on your whole nail. If you like them really long, try the pointed look to be super trendy.

-Gel Nails - these are basically the same as acrylics so there's nothing really to differentiate here.

-Gel Manicure:

Okay, as you may have guessed, this is my current favorite.  A gel manicure is a regular manicure in which they use a polish that is thicker and hard.  It is not a regular polish, it is a gel consistency. This allows you to showcase your own nails but have your color last a lot longer than a regular manicure.  I can stretch these out to about 3 weeks if I have to (and if I go to the right salon), although, depending on the color it will go longer or shorter.  Square is still in as is the pointed nail.  I have never bought one of these kits to try at home because I really am not good at painting my own nails. =)  These manicures typically run around $25 a session which I think is pretty reasonable.  Some people have said that this gel color leaves their nails weakened afterwards.  If you are not going to be doing this regularly then a tip to avoid weakening your nails is do not pick at the color when it starts to come off!  Soak them in acetone, scrape it off and then buff your nails (or pay $5 to have them take it off).

-Regular Manicures - I think any manicure will never go out of style and while I have done these before (typically if I'm doing a color that will look dirty soon - aka, white), I know that the color will chip after only a few days and it's not worth it to me to keep going back weekly.  (Also, I love that the gel color makes my nails a little thicker and stronger so that they don't break as easily.) As a Mom, I'm pretty hard on my nails. =)



So, that's my run down of the different kinds of nail options out there.  Here are a few random tips to keep in mind:

-Shorter, clean, nicely painted nails will never look out of style. =)
-White nails are super hot right now but it will look dirty faster so maybe don't pay for a gel color if you are just going to want it off in a week.
-Black nails are still really in although they are more of a fall and winter look
-Any light, nude color is extremely classy and will make your hands and arms look longer and more graceful (a bright color will not do that for you as it breaks up the overall look from your arm down your hand).
-If you like it, the pointed "cat" nail is something fun to try.
-Pick a color that will compliment the colors in your closet
-French is okay if you love it but it's a tad "outdated" at this point =)


Cheers!
Joy

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Maxi-SKIRTS

Okay, I have been wanting to write this post for a while because I love finding ways to use different articles of clothing to create multiple looks.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to wear dresses as skirts.  Yes, I do this a lot.

One of my pet peeves is when I buy a maxi dress, wash it and it shrinks several inches and becomes too short.  That means that I now have to pair it with flats (which are ok sometimes, but yes, I am a girl who likes her heels ;)) OR it looks super awkward and highwater ish.

Example A 

So, I decided to wear some of mine as a skirt instead which then makes it longer and allows me to wear the heels I like.








Of course I had to get a couple pictures with Miss Scarlett because she was looking so cute in her green dress.  She is in such a fun stage right now and I am really enjoying her a lot.

For this look to work, I wore a black tank top and used a belt to cover the top of the dress (because it had the sweetheart neckline).   I'm not sure why it looks bunched up in some pictures - I didn't realize til after they were taken and it was too late to fix it.  ;)  You can find lots of ways to make dresses into skirts and it's so fun to have a new look without buying a new piece.


Dress:  It's super old - I got it long before I was ever married.  Hot Topic I think?
Shoes:  Target
Tank Top:  Motherhood Maternity (please tell me I'm not the only one who loves maternity tank tops??)


So tell me, how do you like to re-use your dresses?  I love new ideas.  =)

Cheers!
Joy


Thursday, August 6, 2015

St. Tropez

Okay girls,
  My latest summer obsession is the St. Tropez Tanning Mousse!  Seriously, if you haven't tried it, you are missing out!!  It gives the BEST color that I have ever tried and it's totally smooth with no lines or anything.

As a Mom, I don't have time to lay around at the pool getting a tan - I'm running after my toddler and holding my baby which means that my arms/back/chest can get some sun on their own but my legs hardly leave the water nor does my face see the sun.  I didn't want to just have white legs and face all summer so I've been self-tanning them to match the rest of my body.  This stuff looks so natural, I have had people tell me that my tan looks good (including legs) and when I tell them it is a mousse, they don't believe me!

If you try it, you HAVE to get a mitt to use to apply it with.  I had never tried one before but was very interested (anyone who self tans knows all about avoiding the orange palm ;)).  I purchased both at Sephora and I will never be going back!

It is so easy to apply, dries quickly and gives the best color.  I look forward applying my new tan on a weekly basis!

Here's how I apply it:
-I shower first (usually in the evening) so that I can exfoliate well and shave.  You want to make sure that you shave right before you apply it (including your face if you do so!) so that you'll get the best, non-streaky look that lasts the longest.  

-After I have dried off, I put some lotion on the parts of my body that I want to make sure don't look weird (elbows, knees, ankles, wrists, armpits etc). I give that a minute or two to dry and then just put my mitt on, squeeze some mousse onto it and rub it on.  It practically melts into your skin.  You will see a tiny difference at first but not a ton.  

-Wait til it dries on your body to get dressed (usually I put on pj's afterwards so that it's loose clothing).

-Give it a few hours to set in - usually I just go to bed and in the morning I wake up with a perfect, sun-kissed glow.  


Tip:  When applying to your back (I usually don't need to during the summer), have a friend or spouse do it for you in the places that you can't reach.  =)





                                                                                     




Cheers!
Joy



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

DIY Kombucha

Hey girls,
  Today's post is how to make your own Kombucha.  We love this fermented tea that is chock full of probiotics and try to have some everyday to help keep our immune systems boosted.  Fortunately, it is delicious and super refreshing so it's not hard to do.  Simon would drink it all day if I would let him.
  Now, in order to start making your own Kombucha you will need to find someone who already makes it to get a scoby from them.  Once you have a scoby you are ready to go!

  I like to use green tea to make Kombucha.  I think the flavor is nice and I just like it.  You can use decaf tea or regular tea - your preference.  There is an actual green, Kombucha tea that you can also use.

  For a 1 gallon jar, you will need 10 tea bags.  Steep the tea bags in boiling water for around 10 mins (more is fine).  While the water is still hot, add 1 cup of sugar to the mixture so that it can melt and dissolve.  Once this cools down, add this mixture (minus the bags) to the jar with your scoby (side note, you will need some previously made kombucha in your jar already with the scoby so when you get a scoby from a friend, take some of their mix too).  Then fill the rest of the jar up with water.


Once that is done, cover your jar with a clean cloth and put a rubber band around the top to seal it off.  Make sure you don't have wrinkles in the cloth to keep out the fruit flies.  =)  

Allow this mixture to "ferment" on your counter for 7 days.  Then taste test it to make sure it is ready for a second ferment.  It should not taste too sweet or too tangy.  It should be right in-between.  Once it is ready, get your jars ready for your second ferment.  




I got these jars from Ikea and they work great.  For a 1 gallon amount, I use 3 of them.

In your jars, add sugar - enough to cover the bottom of the jar but not a ton.


Once that is done, add fruit of your choice to flavor it.  I use frozen fruit and have tried all sorts of flavors.  You really can't go wrong.  =)  If you want to play around with ginger and things that is ok too!


Now fill up the jars with the mixture and close them up.  These will sit on your counter for a second ferment for 3-4 days.


After 3-4 days, place your jars in the refrigerator and drink up!  I like mine served over ice and with a straw to feel fancy.  =)  Also, I strain out the fruit.  Some people eat it but I prefer not to.  This is what it will look like:



You can leave your scoby in the 1 gallon jar (with some mixture to cover it) until you are ready to use it again.  Also, you can filter out the sediment that will gather and wash your gallon jar regularly.

I hope you enjoy it!


Cheers!
Joy

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Difference Between 1 and 2.

Okay so I thought I'd do a little update on everything since we had a baby and moved to a new state.  I have to be honest, I have a wide range of thoughts and emotions when it comes to noticing the difference with 2 kids as opposed to just 1.  I do feel that we have had a slightly different experience going from 1 to 2 because we had such a big move at the same time BUT it's still an adjustment and I I wanted to do a fun little list of things that I have noticed.  I'm sure people with even more kids could make a different list but this is what I've been experiencing lately.

Big Helper
1.  Ease.  I promise you, it is easier the second time around:  With your first, everything is new and you are questioning every decision which can make you stressed out and makes things "hard" on some level.  With #2, you have done this whole pregnancy/baby thing before so things come a lot more naturally and you are way more confident which can make it "easier" than the first time around.

Little Doll
2.  Baby weight.  This one is so incredibly true.  With your first, the weight seems to just fall off even without you trying - its really not fair because it gives you the impression that you can surely have that happen again (yes, you can be the ONE person that happens to, right?! ;)).  But after your second, it really does stick to you longer (even if you gained the same amount or less).  This has been a big surprise to me.  I know it will eventually come off, but it's weird to have it hanging around as long as it is.



3.  Time.  The first couple months you feel as though you officially have no time anymore.  Between trying to run a household, occupy/manage your older child and feeding a baby every couple hours, your own eating schedule goes right out the window (amongst other things - and the weight STILL isn't coming off how???).  This one also is was a big surprise for me because Simon was a baby who would go 4-6 hours between feedings from the get-go and sleep most of the time between so I had hours on my own to do whatever.  Scarlett eats a lot more frequently and needs more "entertaining" than he did which cuts down more on free time. However, I also recognize that this is a stage - there is no season that compares to the newborn/baby stage as far as the physical neediness.

Learning to vacuum

4.  Tiredness.  I am actually less tired this time around having a baby and a toddler.  That's probably because when you have your first, you have never experienced night feedings for months on end  - there is nothing like it to prepare you for that (AND Simon would take an HOUR for every feeding).  The second time around it's almost like you kind of know what to expect and you know that you can do it.  You adjust a lot easier to less sleep (BONUS, Scarlett has been doing longer night stretches a lot faster than Simon did and she takes half the time or less).

Bumbo Time

5.  Coffee.  If having your first baby didn't turn you into a coffee drinker, your second will.  =)  It definitely gets me up in the mornings AND now I'm occasionally having it in the afternoon too.



6.. Hormones.  Okay, this might actually be the difference between having a boy versus a girl but I've struggled a lot more this time around with wild hormones after the baby came.  Because Simon was such an easy baby, I really didn't struggle much (other than lack of sleep).  This time around has been harder (probably because we moved right afterwards which meant my toddler and baby were struggling PLUS I was still recovering.  Peter was also gone/busy a lot with moving us which threw me right into juggling 2 kids on my own almost from the get go.).


I have so much respect for all you Mamas out there!  Being a Mama is hard work - some of the hardest I have ever done.  But it WILL be worth it (and IS so worth it).  Keep up the good work!  It's so true:  "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world".  We are raising some pretty important people and it's such an honor to be a part of that.

Cheers!
Joy