The day after Judah was home I invited myself over for a little in-home session to get some photos of the sweet trio (+ kitty) in the comfort of their home. My sister is a NICU nurse and she tells me stories a lot about NICU families, and I can imagine while you’re super thankful for the awesome care your baby is getting (and the support you’re getting from nurses!) you also just wish you were at home having that normal newborn eat-play-poop-sleep-poop-eat-repeat routine. I loved seeing Judah’s sweet nursery and chatting with Serena and Lathan about life and ministry and how they ended up in North Carolina (and are now in California!). They are such a strong couple and honestly are total naturals at the parenting thing. I cannot get enough of newborn sessions, guys. Their rolls, squishy cheeks, funny faces and noises. Their crazy dinosaur hands and the yawns. THE YAWNS. This guy was especially chubby and wonderful.
Oh Serena and Lathan — thank you for having me and while I’m sad our time together was short, I’ll carry your friendship with me always. Cheering you on from NC!
It is CRUNCH TIME! Less than 10 days til Christmas, less than two weeks to my son’s birthday, and then that + 3 days until New Year’s Eve and then HELLO 2019! Am I ready? Sure!
I rarely, rarely, have all my ducks in a row for the next year before January 1 and I’m totally okay with it. I’m a procrastinator at heart, and sometimes I don’t know what my goals are until right up until the deadline. This year I’m a little more ahead than ever and have a lot of my Powersheets prep done and words picked out for the year ahead, but there are a few wrap up tasks I have on my checklist for the end of the year that honestly have the most impact on my “feels”.
Goals are fine and well, but I love a FRESH START and here’s how I capitalize on that fresh feeling digitally and start the new year with minimal digital clutter.
- Back Up all iPhone photos and delete from phone.
- We started using Smug Mug in 2015 to archive all of our family photos and never looked back. I try to do it quarterly, but DEFINITELY do it in December– but my favorite thing to do is just dump all of my iPhone pictures into a folder in Smug Mug. There’s videos that I sort out later into their own folder, but I just dump everything (screenshots, accidental selfies and coffee pics and all) and clear off my phone. I usually vow to do better about hoarding the digital iPhone photos the following year, but rarely do. But it’s okay, because Smug has unlimited storage and it is what it is.
- Catch up on all real camera personal family photos and upload to Smug Mug.
- Every month I try to take some “everyday” pictures of kids around the house or tote my camera to any sort of special event or trip we go to. This year I got SUPER behind from like August to November and I just now wrapped up those photos. End of the year goal is to get all of those culled, edited in Lightroom and uploaded in the proper month/year gallery in Smug Mug. I used to be really meticulous about the organization (but as the kids have gotten bigger it has just turned into October: ALL THE PHOTOS.
- Finish the year’s Chatbook and get it in the queue to be ordered.
- I try to have been working on the year’s Chatbook little by little so that once December is over I can throw the last few pictures in and have it ready to go once a coupon code is released. I hate having our family photos weighing on me so this takes a huge load off. I’ve talked a lot about my love for Chatbooks on Instagram and an updated blog post is overdue, but here’s one from a few years ago outlining more of how we use it.
- Clean out Notes app in phone.
- I use Notes for everything. Random phone numbers, planning out stuff for my photography team, email drafts, long text drafts, unfinished blog posts, coffee orders, sermon notes,… It’s a hodge podge and after a while it stresses me out. This time every year I go through and delete the notes that don’t make any sense and categorize the ones that do and that I need to save. I find some gems in there (OH HEY 5 blog posts ready to be published!) and some that are just random numbers or words that really don’t make any sense, but going into the new year with 3 notes in my phone (or ZERO) is the best.
- Clean out Reminders app in phone.
- Same as above. Random Target list from four months ago? BYE FELICIA. I find some gems here too! One time I used a reminders list to keep track of prayer requests and it was really cool to see how God had answered them.
- Clean out folders on computer and send old documents to trash.
- Delete all junk/old email, flag and save those that are still relevant.
- This is probably my favorite. I love starting the year at literal inbox ZERO. I try to take any important emails that are still relevant and save the info somewhere sustainable (in a contact, in a Google Doc, etc.) but anything else? Bye bye bye.
- Factory reset of iPhone.
- It’s probably good to do this every now and again. It deletes everything stored on your phone including apps and how you have them arranged. I love this part though, I delete any apps I don’t use on the reg and only add them back as I need them. Contacts, calendar, music, podcasts, email and notes are all saved in the cloud, so clean out those things too (one day soon I’m gonna clean out my contacts too!) so when you sync on your new-to-you-factory-reset iPhone you aren’t putting all the junk back on a “fresh” device.
- Clear all phone backups out of iCloud.
- This takes up so much iCloud space. If you’re starting fresh you don’t need a phone backup. Delete all your backups (have your photos backed up tho, however you decide to do it) and start fresh and enjoy all the new iCloud storage you have!
What’s one thing (digital or not) do you do to get your year off to a fresh start? Share in the comments!
This summer, I was given to Lathan and Serena as a baby gift and as it often turns out, they were a gift to me! This sweet family has such a heart after God and his calling on their life in ministry, they were truly inspiring to talk to and get to know during their time in North Carolina. Hearing them talk about how God had ordered their story and orchestrated everything in their life thus far (including Judah’s amazing birth story) was like balm to my soul. This year was a whirlwind for me serving in ministry, and it was so encouraging to hear from someone outside of my normal circles as to how God was moving and inspiring them.
I had a blast hanging out with them on their last day in the NICU before they got to bring their sweet rainbow baby home. The timing worked out perfectly and I arrived just as they were officially discharged and got to capture them putting Judah in the carseat for the first time to go home after a weeklong NICU stay. He is such a little miracle– and blew his doctor’s minds with his resilience and speedy recovery after a complication at birth. He is mighty, that Judah and it was an honor to document the moments leading up to his first nap in the car.
I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for my most favorite face toner for like three years! And I got a fresh bottle of Frankincense in the mail a few weeks ago weekend (my crunchy is showing) so I could make another batch of this wonder potion. I am an extreme case when it comes to eczema and sensitive skin, and this toner is my JAM. It takes the sting out of eczema flares and fights acne without causing another flare. It’s hard to find something that can help both extreme conditions without exacerbating either and apple cider vinegar is the magic ingredient.
Basically from like age 16 to 26 anything that I used to fight the eczema caused clogged pores and anything to help fight the zits caused an eczema flare. And then I covered it all up with kinda orange drug store foundation. Repeat cycle.
This toner came to be in my postpartum days after Lincoln when my eczema flared all over my body. I was on a mission to simplify all of my beauty products so I knew EXACTLY what was going on/in my body (like literally I washed my hair once a week with baking soda and ACV) and I’ve just kept it in my life ever since because it works so well.
In the crunchy community there’s a lot of talk about oils and which ones are best or safest, etc. and I’ve used a lot of different kinds and for my everyday cleaning oils I’ll get the ones from Whole Foods or the Amazon best seller, but for things I apply directly to my kids or face I try to barter from someone who sells Young Living or I order directly from Hopewell. I’ve never tried DoTerra, or Plant Therapy but I hear great things! I’m a distributor of Young Living (got my starter kit back in 2015) and order from them occasionally just to keep my membership active, but unless I want something specific to their brand (most recently: Christmas Spirit PLEASE) I keep my options pretty open. If you have any questions about oils I have a TON of friends that know and use them regularly and I can share my little bits of knowledge and connect you if you have questions I can’t answer! I do love those little colorful bottles and what they add to my life (STILL LOOKING AT YOU CHRISTMAS SPIRIT).
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (with “The Mother”) // 1/3 cup
Witch Hazel // 1/3 cup
Lavender Oil // 10 drops
Tea Tree Oil // 10 drops
Frankincense Oil // 10 drops
Water // 1/3 cup
I have this funny little glass container on my sink so I just eyeball it when I fill it up, but these are the approximate measurements. 1 part of each, although depending on your skin sensitivity you may want to dilute. Also, I’ve heard some concern from friends that don’t like the smell of ACV and it lingers for only a moment– and the yummy smell of the oils is what stays. Definitely do a small test area at first, for me redness will show up immediately if I need to dilute more. Listen to your body and enjoy the tingle of balanced skin! Let me know in the comments if you try it or if you have any questions!
‘Tis the season to buy gifts for your people! And then sometimes they ask you what you want for Christmas and you’re like…. money? A nap? A few extra hours in the day? I can tell you a few big ticket items that I’d like (hello, Sony a7iii + some lenses) but the $30 or less range for family secret Santa that’s not a giftcard? So hard for me since most jewelry, make-up, lotions and soaps are out. Here are a few of my favorite gifts that helped me live with my mom brain — practical and fun. Thoughtful and helpful. Not a spatula, dishtowel or a book about disciplining your toddler. Win win win!
Tile // starting at $14.99 // Amazon
Marshall gave this to me for Christmas last year and I literally use it every day. I have a Tile on my keys and one in my wallet. I can ring my keys from my phone OR my wallet, and all the vice versas. The app on my phone also shows me the last place my wallet and/or keys was seen. I literally tracked them through church one time using the app. I was bad at keeping up with things pre-kids, so I can’t blame mom brain entirely on this, but it has helped me get out the door so much faster with all three of my things: keys, wallet, phone. If I’m missing one I can find it within seconds. Highly recommend for anyone who has ever lost their keys ever. Also, the song your keys sing when you “find” them is really loud and can be heard if you’re unsure if your keys are locked in the car or not. I have experienced this three times this year. Excellent quality product.
Coffee Warmer // starting at $16.99 // Amazon
I literally got this as a gift for my birthday this year, so I’ve only had it a few days but it is a GAMECHANGER. Raise your hand if you’ve ever reheated coffee in the microwave during the day? More than once? More than three times? Given up and stuck it in the fridge and used the next day for iced coffee? I AM RAISING MY HANDS. It turns on automatically when you put your coffee cup on it and off when you remove it, which means you don’t have to remember to turn it off, and it keeps your cup and it’s contents piping hot. Tea, coffee… hot all day. It’s a dream come true.
Capello Alarm Clock // $14.99 // Target
This was a gift to myself a few months ago. I had a lofty goal of sleeping with my phone downstairs and using a legit alarm clock. I am so distracted by my phone, so I’d pick it up to turn the alarm off (after snoozing it like 100 times) and start the day mindlessly scrolling and forgetting why I even picked it up in the first place (to turn the alarm off). It’s super pretty, and I love the soft glow of the numerals and it gets me out of bed to turn the beep off in the mornings.
This sweet little fresh 48 brings me to tears every time. Every dang time. I met sweet Cayden not long after he acquired the greatest bonus mom ever– my friend Katie that I grew up with. She is just golden, inside and out. An incredible friend, wife, mom, photographer… and it was so special watching her step into the role as his stepmom years ago, so watching her introduce him to his baby sister was so sweet, I was pretty weepy. I am constantly overwhelmed and honored and humbled that I get invited to these moments.
Originally the plan was for me to document Emelyn’s birth, but as we know, births RARELY go according to plan, so I came the next morning as soon as I could to snap a few fresh photos. We were able to time it perfectly to when Cayden came to meet her and his reaction is just one of my favorites ever. His whole face just lit up as soon as he walked into the room. The age difference makes it so sweet. Toddler siblings don’t usually grasp the weight of what this little person means, but Cayden teared up a little when he saw her… he knew exactly that everything changed and his world was about get a little louder and so much sweeter.
One of my dear, sweetest mentors and friends invited me to Indiana this summer for the opportunity to take senior photos for Jamison– a little stunner that I babysat when he was my son’s age. How is this real life?! Just like I did last summer, I flew out for the day and we got to do some midday portraits somewhere in Indianapolis and then I had the best street tacos of my life that drastically altered the trajectory of my tastebuds and that have added “Taco Tuesday” to our meal plan indefinitely. It was a blast — I am a sucker for adventure and loved the opportunity to fly, and read for fun, and be alone and shoot midday in a brand new place I’d never been. I left feeling so filled up creatively, and reminded so clearly of God’s hand in my life over the last 30 years. I am so thankful for relationships that stretch back into my teenage years, God has moved so mightily in my life through them. Congrats Jamison — the best is yet to come!
This summer I had the honor of taking some last minute bridals for a sweet friend of ours from church. I don’t shoot weddings (longest story ever, part one shared here) anymore so the opportunity to shoot a beautiful bridal was a sweet one. Golden hour and my first shoot on the Sony did not disappoint. Thankful heart.