Our Christmas Card | Photo Affections

This year, I found a killer deal on Living Social for Christmas cards.  I had never heard of or used Photo Affections before, but I thought…why not!? I was not disappointed!

Their site was user-friendly and I loved their layouts.  There were so many to choose from, I had a hard time deciding.  In the end, I created 8 different options.  I printed samples of each and took them home to Brian for him to narrow them down!  It was a tough decision, but here’s the one we chose!

christmas card

I love how they turned out.  The order shipped promptly and I received the cards about a week after I created them.  I did order these in October though, so maybe I beat some of the rush!?  I know…so Type A!

What blew me away about this company was their customer service.  About 2 weeks ago, I received a complete duplicate order of our Christmas cards again!  I panicked thinking that I must have accidentally hit the “Re-Order” button when I was on their site.  I logged in to my bank account to check, but no charge.  Hmmmmm.  Strange.    I ended up calling their customer service department.  As soon as I explained to them that I received a duplicate order but was not charged for it, they explained.  They informed me that another customer called and said that they had issues with the paper of their cards (apparently, it appeared as if something had spilled on them), so Photo Affections pulled all orders that were created from the lot of matte paper that the other’s customer’s cards had come from and re-created the order.  They didn’t want any other customer’s having the same issue and having any delay in receiving corrected Christmas cards if there were issues.

I thought that was super of this company – even when our cards were completely perfect!    So, for $20, I ended up with 140 beautiful matte Christmas cards!  What a deal!

I most certainly will be using them in the future for all of our printing needs!

P.S. I love receiving Christmas cards!  It’s the highlight of my day this time of year!  It’s like having little surprises in your mail each day!  Love it!


Dear Life… Letters from a Tired Mama

Today, I am choosing to write letters of “concern” to the areas of my life in which I am struggling. Think of it as the angry holiday shopper, who is being rude to the store employee’s, demanding something or other at customer service and who is voicing their concern…loud and clear!  Yep…that’s me! That’s where I am!



Dear Daylight Savings,
Give me my baby back!  I can’t solely blame it on you, but I will.  Ever since you appeared, McKenzie fails to sleep past 5:45 a.m.  We’ve been uber productive recently, but that’s because we’re up, fed,  and dressed all before 7.  Give me back my baby that used to sleep until 8:30/9.

Dear Sleep Regression,
I want my baby back as well!  You know…the one who used to sleep soundly throughout the night. This tired Mom needs a break.  I need the baby that would sleep 12 plus hours.  Not the one who now finds it fun to wake up any time between 1 and 3 each night to check in on me. The toddler that likes to be rocked, but refuses to fall back to sleep until 4:30, when my alarm goes off at 5.  At that point, if I’m lucky, I can get dressed in peace.  Most mornings, I have a sidekick. Drying and styling your hair with one hand (because someone needs to be held) is a fine art.   I’m begging, let my toddler sleep!

Dear Molars,
I believe you are breaking through.  I also believe that you are working hand-in-hand with Daylight Savings and Sleep Regression.  It’s not nice to gang up on people.  I don’t have solid proof of your arrival, (because checking could mean possibly having one less finger – due to a crazy toddler chomping down) yet I believe that you are here.  You, my friend, are a part of her moodiness and sleepless nights.  Just show up already so we can be done with this whole teething thing.  It seems as though you are also friends with Karma…because we basically survived all other teething sessions without incident yet somehow you want to really drive the point home with this one.

Dear Tantrum Throwing 19-Month Old,
Mommy loves you so much, but I’ve had enough.  I’m so thankful that you are a healthy and independent little person.  I love that you have found your voice, but the constant screams of “Stop!” and the screaming every time you don’t get your way has to stop.  You’ve made your point.  You’re mad.  I get it.  I still doesn’t change the fact that you have to get in to the car seat to get home.  Now let’s move on, so we can end our day – at home and preferably happy!

Dear Husband,
Thank you for sharing the duties with me and getting up with McKenzie in the middle of the night.  You’re probably doing this more for your own safety, because you’d truly have a crazy person to live with if not…but nonetheless, I’m thankful.

And in the true spirit of the holiday season…

Dear God,
Thank you for giving me McKenzie.  I’ll take the sleep deprived nights, the tantrums and the fits, because that means that I am blessed.  Please give me the strength and patience, and maybe even a few more hours (or minutes) of sleep each night.  Amen.

Random Acts of Holiday Kindness

Happy December and the beginning of Christmas craziness!  I completely enjoyed Thanksgiving and spending so many days home with my love and little girl!  It was nice to disconnect and really just spend time with family, some of whom traveled in from Houston!

Although my favorite time of year, it’s also one of the busiest.  Our family has lots of traditions and fun events that we like to do during this holiday season.  I’ll touch on more of those later. All of these traditions keep us so busy though.  I don’t think there is a weekend until half-way through January that we don’t have something planned!

I find this season incredibly fulfilling, yet at times, incredibly stressful.  It’s those stressful moments that remind me that I am loved and blessed.  From buying presents to holiday parties, I know that I am lucky.  Lucky to be able to afford to do so.  Lucky that I have so many family and friends.  Lucky that we like each other so much that we want to spend time together.   It’s this time of the year that causes me to stop and think.

What if other’s aren’t so lucky?  What about those that spend the holidays alone?  What about those who wish they had enough money to buy presents?  What about those that wish they had a warm place to stay?  What about those whose only wish for Christmas to is be healthy?

But better yet…

What about those that have all of the above, but get so caught up in the commercialism and business of the season that they forget about others?

This holiday season, wouldn’t it be nice to show others that we care?  That’s why I’m requesting that for the month of December, you join me in displaying random acts of kindness.  To help those in need. To help those who need a reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season.  To help remind yourself that even the smallest acts of kindness can mean so much.

Below are just a few ways that you can pay it forward this holiday season.  There are so many others!

Not all of the acts of kindness need to be momentous.  Just the other day, while sitting in the Starbuck’s drive through, I decided that I would pay it forward.  I pulled up to the window to pay for my order and told the barista that I would like to pay for the car behind me as well.   She was taken back and just kept saying over and over again, “That’s so sweet.  That is so nice of you! This just made my day”.  I didn’t even do anything that directly affected the barista, yet, she was moved.   I’ll never know what the reaction of the person in the car behind me was, but I can only hope and assume that it brightened their day.

I know my random act of kindness was just coffee.  I didn’t solve world hunger or find a cure for cancer, but I can hope that the cup of coffee and scone reminded the customer that there are still good people in the world.  That maybe it changed their mood and outlook for the day in some slight way.  That maybe they chose to pay it forward to someone as well.

This holiday season, let’s pay it forward with random acts of kindness.  You’ll never know the impact that you could have on someone’s day.

What random acts of kindness will you do?

The Thankful Project: Day 28 – Topic of My Choice

thanksHappy Thanksgiving Everyone!

For those of you that stuck with me throughout these past 28 days, thank you!  I know some of the posts were more serious than others, but I hope that you enjoyed taking the journey with me.   I’m thankful that I stuck with it.  Some of the prompts encouraged me to write outside of my comfort zone and for that I’m thankful.  This series has allowed me to express myself and make new friends along the way.   For that I’m grateful!

You’ve heard what I’m thankful for during the past 28 days, yet there’s even more I’m thankful for.  Today, among all of the other blessings in my life, I’m thankful for this space. Something that I started a few months ago as a place for me to jot down my, has grown in to so much more.  I’ve developed friendships with incredible other women – women that come from all walks of life, from place throughout the world.  The sense of community has been incredible.  We’re all on our own journeys, but it’s nice to know that we’re all in it together.  Some days, the little comments of encouragement, support and gratitude are what get me through the day!  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

In light of Thanksgiving and spending time with my family for the next few days, I’ll be missing from this spot.  I’ll be back in December with more holiday themed goodness, but for now, enjoy this day with loved ones and know that I’m thankful for you!


thankful project titleI’m linking up with Kenzie over at Chasing Happy for the month of November.
Be sure to stop by and check it out!

The Thankful Project: Day 26 – A Criticism You’ve Received

So you know when I miss a blog post, when I’ve signed up for the challenge of writing for 28 days straight during the month of November?

Or when I did’t get that job I applied for?

Or when I miss a day of P90X or Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution?

Yep.  All of that.  It bothers me.  I am a perfectionist at heart.  Even border-line OCD.

I pretend like it’s okay to miss the blog post and that I’ll catch up later.  The truth?  It bothers me all day that I didn’t get a chance to post, when clearly I knew what the prompt was for Day 24.

That job? I pretend like it wasn’t the right fit.  The truth?  I self-examine and over analyze every single thing I do to figure out why I didn’t get it and what more I could do.

The workout’s? They’re over until next Monday, because no workout can ever begin mid-week and you must start again at Day 1, since you missed a workout somewhere in the series.

I say all of this to show that being a perfectionist is a double-edged sword.  I work hard and put all of myself into everything I do, but I’m thankful for the criticism I received that says I’m too hard on myself.

I don’t know if it’ll ever change me, but it can remind me to put things into perspective.  That it’s okay not to have blog posts scheduled and set-up if I wasn’t motivated or inspired to write.  That although I may not have been the right person for the job I applied for, I’m not a failure.   That workouts can start mid-week and that you don’t need to start over.


That it’s great to put so much of yourself in to all you do, but that you’ve got to take care of yourself as well.

I’m thankful I’m a perfectionist, and even more thankful for those who put it into perspective.


thankful project titleI’m linking up with Kenzie over at Chasing Happy for the month of November.
Be sure to stop by and check it out!

The Thankful Project: Day 25 – Something You Know

After cutting down our Christmas tree and decorating with a toddler this weekend, I learned a lot.  Who would have thought the lesson would have been taught by a toddler?

Let me back up.  This weekend, we spent Saturday cutting down our Christmas tree.  It’s a tradition that Brian and I have done every year.   Last year, Kenzie was just 6 months old and I carried her in the baby carrier.  Let me tell you, much easier!

family 3

Tree Farm 2012

This year, we have a 18 month old who has more determination and will to do things her way than most adults I know.  Honestly!  We arrived at the tree farm and had a slight melt-down early on because we were making her wear a hat.  Once we were over that, things were smooth sailing…until they told us the tractor that takes you to where the trees are, wasn’t up and running.

“OK”, we thought, “we’ll walk it.  It can’t be that hard.”  Again, naive parent’s here.  McKenzie wanted to walk the gravel road herself.   She wanted to walk it at her pace and if you attempted to pick her up, then she would lose her mind.


See the tree on the upper left side of the screen? The one at the top? That’s where we walked to!

The whole tree experience, that should have taken 30 minutes from start to finish, ended up taking 2 hours.  When we finally reach where the trees were, she had a melt-down because she didn’t want to walk in the grass.  She wanted to stay on the gravel road.



We finally found the perfect tree and cut it down.  We figured she’d be tired and would want to be carried on the walk back.  Again…we were wrong.  She walked the entire gravel path back.

bri tree

Our tree 2013

I wish I had a way to track how far this little girl walked.  It was easily 3 miles.  She never gave up.  She never quit.  She just kept walking, as fast as her little legs could carry her.

So you know what I know?  Toddlers…they can teach you a lot.  Like how to slow down, to enjoy the moment, to take your time and to really appreciate the things that you are doing, because if we hadn’t, we would have missed the opportunity to capture such gorgeous pictures – the lake, the green trees and the sky.


Tree Farm 2013

I’m really thankful.


thankful project titleI’m linking up with Kenzie over at Chasing Happy for the month of November.
Be sure to stop by and check it out!

The Thankful Project: Day 21 – Something That’s Easy to Take for Granted

Each morning, we get up, shower, get dressed and prepare to start our day.  We often take for granted that we are able to get out of bed on our own, able to shower and dress on our own, and able to care for ourselves.

Working in a hospital has given me a new perspective on the things that we take for granted day in and day out.  Today, I’m thankful for health.  It’s so easy to take for granted.  It’s so easy to assume that we’ll always be healthy.

I’ve seen my share of sad stories – more frequently than I’d like.  I recently met a man who was diagnosed with brain cancer.  The man I saw in the hospital bed, was not the man he once was.  He was confused and combative.  He required assistance for just about everything – eating, toileting, bathing, and walking.

His wife and his family were by his side the entire time. They shared stories with the staff about the man that he was.  They shared stories to remember him.  They shared stories to remind us that the man we were seeing and caring for now, was not the man they knew.

The wife told stories and showed the staff pictures, with the most recent picture taken in August.  It was a picture of the two of them – at a gala.  Both were dressed exceptionally well and looked full of life and love.  She told us that this picture was taken 2 weeks before he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

I thought about that man and his family a lot after that.  It’s incredible to think that in 3 short months, this family’s life has been turned upside down. In 3 short months, this man deteriorated so quickly.  In 3 short months, a wife lost her husband and the sons, their father.

My heart broke for them.

There are hundreds, even thousands of stories like this one.  Although heart-breaking, it serves as a reminder to take care of ourselves, because our health is so important.  It’s one of those things that you don’t realize how important it is, until you are sick.


It’s one of my biggest fears, especially now.  I worry about our family.  I pray each day that we continue to be blessed with health.   I can’t even imagine what these families go through, especially when it happens so suddenly. I can’t imagine what I would do.  What if that was my husband?  I would want to be by his side every moment of the day, but I also know that I would need to work to continue to provide for my family.  I would feel torn, overwhelmed and frustrated.

It’s a good reminder that when these families are demanding, frustrated and sometimes outright mean, that they aren’t the same people either.  They are dealing with extraordinary stress, facing the fear of the unknown, and are worried about their loved one.

The toll that illness and disease takes on a patient and their support system is immense.   We may take it for granted each day, but health is so important.

Today, I’m thankful for the health of my family and friends and pray that we continue to be blessed with health and happiness.


thankful project titleI’m linking up with Kenzie over at Chasing Happy for the month of November.
Be sure to stop by and check it out!