Family

A Fresh Start + Val Marie Paper

I'm not a morning person. When I wake in the morning I walk around in a zombie like coma and go through the motions quietly and contently. Konner is the same. It's nice because we "get" each other. As we drive to school we jam a few jams, check out the scenery, and start our day with a smile. And coffee. I need my coffee. 

But today...today as we were listening to the radio trying to get our jam on, we were silent. Silent because we caught wind of the terrible news coming out of Las Vegas. I listened to the basics, answered a couple of Konner's questions and then changed stations. The next station was listing out the details of a local police officer that was fatally shot last night. Moving on to another station that was thankfully playing one of our favs, "Clocks" by Coldplay

When I arrived to work I pulled up the news on my computer. As I read more information about this tragedy, I got sad. And then angry. And then confused. What is going on?! What is happening to our world?! I looked to October for a fresh start. August and September brought on so much tragedy and heartache that I NEEDED a fresh start. I was couting on October. And then BAM. First day of the month...tragedy. 

But then...as I logged into my email I was reminded of what we need. What this world needs. What I need. Prayer. 

I struggle with this. I struggle with seeing the good when there is so much bad. I struggle with the why's. And the how's. I struggle with keeping the faith when evil is lurking so close. Too close. 

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Every year I purchase a new prayer journal from Val Marie Paper. I absolutely love her journals. Do I still struggle with prayer? Yes! But I'm learning. I'm learning to be a prayer warrior. I'm learning to keep my Faith strong. I'm learning to set aside those 10-15 minutes a day even when the world is full of distractions and evil. I'm learning thanks to Val's amazing and simple journals. I want to use it daily. I need to use it daily. It gives me a safe place to write down my thoughts so that they don't overload my mind.  

In my email this morning was a reminder. A reminder that it's ok to be stuck. It's ok to struggle. It's ok to feel discouraged or confused. It's ok to feel a little disappointed in that lost connection. The connection between you and Him. It's ok to need a fresh start. But you have to START! Start now. Turn off the podcast. Close the book. Shut off the TV. Grab the closest paper to you and your favorite pen and begin. Begin with a prayer. 

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If you need a little nudge or simple direction to get started, I highly recommend scooping up a Fresh Start Journal. This 31-day devotional on prayer was created to help you know more why to pray and help you create a consistent habit of it in your life.  It's a great way to get started and a great way to get a feel for how Val's journals work. And friends! Fresh Start is $5 off for OCTOBER! Use code FRESHSTARTOCT. Holla!

Another favorite of mine is the Kids Prayer Journal. I purchased one of these for Konner last year and it was a hit! Not only does it teach kids the beginning steps to becoming a prayer warrior, but it gives you a chance to sit with them and guide them through their Faith. What a special time! 

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The Family Creed guide is another great addition that I can't wait to start. This guide helps us become more intentional about motherhood. This is something I need and want to do. Something I have to do. I'm tired of going through the motions. I'm ready to set goals for myself and my family to help us thrive and grow as a family. 

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There's so many great options with a little something for everyone over at Val Marie Paper. I hope you find something that tugs at your heart. Take time to free your soul and focus on YOU! You deserve it! 


**Contents of this post may contain affiliate links. I buy it, I love it, I share it, you buy it, you love it, we all win.**

2016 Pre-tween Boy Gift Guide

Christmas is a little over two weeks away and I would be lying if I said that I was even close to finished shopping. NOT EVEN CLOSE. Like...I have two gifts purchased. Yikes! Every year I tell myself that I will start early and every year I fail. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime y'all! 

This year, ironically enough, my hardest gift receiver is Konner. Partly because he has so much already, but also because he isn't asking for a lot. He has a couple of things on his list that I will be sure to snag, but I've had to dig around a bit to find entertaining, but not wasteful gifts for him. If you are in the same boat and have a child around his age (I STILL CAN'T BELIEVE HE WILL BE NINE!) I've got you covered! I'm a huge fan of educational and enrichment toys and gifts, I believe in playing outside versus being stuck behind a screen, and I'm allll about being bold in your Faith. If you feel me...keep scrolling. 

From left to right, top to bottom:

1. Buglet essential oil diffusing bracelet - Do I have any 80's babies following me? Remember slap bracelets? Yeah...you remember! They were all the rage back in the days of bright colors and spandex. Well...Buglet is taking slap bracelets to a whole new level with their essential oil diffusing bracelets. Dab a drop or your favorite Young Living essential oil right onto the pumice stone and you are good to go! I MIGHT have ordered an extra for myself. 

2. Curious Chef Kitchen Basics Kit - Kids love to cook! Curious Chef items are some of my favorite. They are real, working pieces that are safe for children. So your little one can lend a hand and you don't have to worry about missing fingers. 

3. Razor Heel Wheels - Remember Heelys? Those shoes that were really skates but were really shoes. I was too old to own a pair but I vividly remember strolling the aisles of Target with kids whizzing by me imagining the humor that would come from my sticking my foot out just enough to trip them. (Too much Big Daddy...Sorry!) Well...these are apparently the newest fad. And Konner wants them. #LordJesus

4. Razor DeltaWing Scooter - Konner LOVES to play outside and I LOVE that he loves to play outside. Kids need exercise. Not only for our sanity, but for their overall wellness. I did a little digging and came across this Razor scooter and I think it will be perfect a little outdoor fun! 

5. Kid's Prayer Journal - Valerie, owner and designer at Val Marie Paper, is local to me and creates the most amazing prayer journals. I've given both the women's and kids journals as gifts in the past and they are always well received. I LOVE the kids prayer journal for it's ease of use, but the most amazing part is that it guides children to a strong and solid relationship with Him. 

6. Tinker Crate - Last year for Christmas I purchased a Tinker Crate subscription for Konner. Tinker Crate is a monthly subscription that includes a project, instructions, additional activities, and online videos. It's interactive and can be enjoyable for the entire family. The bonus to this is that you can get one month or continue it throughout the year. We continued it for a few months and he loved getting a surprise activity to build. Also check out the other boxes created for younger kiddos. 

7. Claymation Kit - Uncommon Goods is one of my favorite sites to browse. It's packed full of unique gifts and activities for both children and adults. Kids can explore the amazing art of DIY animation with this creative claymation kit. Let those little imaginations soar! 

8. UNICEF Kid Power Band - Unless you are living under a rock, you know that fitness bands are a MUST HAVE right now. Konner begged for a Fit Bit for his birthday earlier this year but I just couldn't justify the price for something that could get lost or broken. Even the kids ones were very pricey! So I did a little digging and hit the jackpot at Target! (Surprised?) I came across this UNICEF Power Band and knew it would be perfect. Not only is it priced right, but the mission behind it is incredible. "The UNICEF Kid Power band empowers kids to get active, go on fun missions with famous champions and send lifesaving therapeutic food packets to kids in need." It counts steps, tells time, and earns rewards. It connects to an app so the kids can track their rewards and see their action helping others in need. Read more about it here: http://unicefkidpower.org

9. YL KidScents Oils mini set - We LOVE Young Living oils in our house. It's no secret. And I LOVE that YL has created a line specifically for kids. Each oil in the KidScents line is safe, gentle, and created just for little ones. They are grab and go which is not only convenient for us busy parents, but it teaches the littles how to take control of their own wellness. 

There you have it! Just a few of my favorite gifts for active and imaginative boys. Have a favorite gift to add to the list? Feel free to link me in the comments! Everyone loves a little online shopping. 

Grace, not perfection : Chronicles of a bad Mom

Parenting is hard. So hard! I mean let's be real. Kids poop in their pants, cry when they're hungry, throw crap in your face, and vomit on your new Free People dress. And then...they need to learn how to read, ride a bike, and tie their own shoes. Not to mention...they want to attend birthday parties on Saturdays when you are just so.dang.tired. 

Then...you have to feed them organic free range breast fed sweater wearing chickens. I mean...what.in.the.world?! Crazy right? 

It's hard! The decisions. The responsibilities. THE OPINIONS!!! #somanyopinions

In this day and age we are expected to do it all with a smile on our face and a crown on our head while wearing red bottom heels. (What's up with those anyway?!) Make a mistake and you are doomed. Doomed by the stranger in the grocery store, doomed by the lady glaring at you in the ice cream shop, doomed by the gentleman playing on FB in Starbucks (You didn't think he was actually working on that computer did you?), doomed by the social media keyboard nazis. They're real y'all! And they're brutal! 

Picture it...

You're in Target with your precious, sweet angel of a child. He sees the $3 Star Wars Lego set sitting in the "shit you don't need but usually buy anyway" section. You know what I'm talking about. It's the same spot in the checkout lane holding the Reese's and Funyuns that you grab while waiting for the woman in front of you to sort through her coupons. 

So...your kid sees this toy that he doesn't need. But he insists on having it. You tell him no. He whines. You tell him no again. He yells. You give him "the look" and threaten his life in the softest whisper. He SCREAMS. You ignore him. He's still yelling. You lose your shit. Fun times!

Then you look over your shoulder and the stranger behind you is glaring at you. They are giving you the look of death. Because you know...their kid is a perfect angel. Always. 

You get nervous. You forget to scan the cartwheel app. You can't find your red card. Disaster!

So you scurry out the door and your child is still screaming. You try to load the groceries into your car as fast as possible (so you can get home and lock yourself in the bathroom) all the while...another stranger is walking by you staring at you. The shame! 

So much judgment. 

Why...why are we so quick to judge? Why do we assume perfection? What happened to grace? 

Parenting is hard. I suck at it on a regular basis. Sometimes I feel like a bad Mom. But...I have to give myself grace. I have to realize that I am human. I have to realize that my child is not perfect. 

We, as parents, need to realize that we are doing the best we can. We all deserve a pat on the back. Go ahead. Do it. You deserve it!

 Even if you:

• Bought that Lego set after saying “no” 5 times

• Let your child eat a bag of chips for breakfast

• Skip bath time because he went swimming earlier that day

• Let your son pee next to the car in the parking lot because you didn't feel like walking inside

• Throw away toys while your child is at a sleepover

• Tell your child the ice cream man plays music when he’s out of ice cream

• Put super glue on a cut that might have needed stitches

• Told your child his friends birthday party was cancelled because you were too tired to bring him

• Sent your child to school in unwashed uniforms

• Tell them to go watch tv when they wake up before you on Saturday morning

• Play bumper carts in Target (TRY IT! SO FUN!)

 

We, as a society, need to realize that we have two choices when it comes to people, to see the good or see the bad. When you choose to see the good, you will live a life of compassion. People will see the good in you. This is how you live a peaceful life. 

So next time you see that Mom holding back all.the.cuss.words when her son throws a fit for an overpriced Lego set, give her a little grace. Lend her a hand, unload her groceries for her, and flash her a smile. She's doing the best she can! 

Starbucks Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato

So here's the thing...I'm a creature of habit. When I go to dinner with my family or a group of friends, I always order the same thing. Planning to take me to a new restaurant? I will stare at the menu FOR-E-VER and then order under pressure and more than likely regret my choice. I wear black and grey and maroon (when I'm feeling spontaneous) and black and army green and black and dark grey and black. I like to live on the wild side. Clearly. When I go to Starbucks (Starbs...if you're one of the cool kids) I always order the same thing. Grande Java Chip Frapp with coconut milk, no whip. It's my drink. It's my life line. It's what my barista starts making as soon as I walk through the door. 

That is...until June 11. It was a typical Monday. Boring as hell. If I had to guess, it was probably raining that day. #Louisiana

So I headed to Starbs to grab my usual. (This has recently become a daily thing. More on that later.) When I opened up the app to check my Gold card balance (Yes, the addiction is real) I am greeted with an announcement about a new drink. Normally I ignore those announcements because...yep...I'm a creature of habit. I don't venture out of my comfort zone. Ever. But I see it..it's sucking me in...the magic words "coconut milk". I love coconut milk! It's in MY drink. The one I get every.single.time. 

I click on the details of this new drink and it sounds amazing. Coconut milk, white chocolate mocha, espresso, caramel drizzle, mocha swirl. HEAVEN! So against my own will...I decide to order it. I almost chickened out when my barista asked "The usual?" but I remained strong and uttered the words...

"Nope! I'm going to try something new today!"

GASP!!!

I'm pretty sure her jaw hit the floor. But she flashed me her usual smile and made my drink. My new favorite drink. Yep. I said it. I have a new favorite.  I am now the proud coffee addict that orders the drink with the most complicated name on the menu. And to make it even more complicated, I add extra white mocha. #YOLO

There it is! My new best friend! We have a bond like no other. You know what makes that bond even stronger? TARGET!

ICMM + Target = Heaven on Earth. I'm pretty sure I heard angels singing next to the mustard.

So about that addiction. Well...it's real. Starbs used to be my Friday treat. I headed there after a long week of work to reward myself for staying sane. Then life got stressful and I slipped a couple of drinks in during the week. Then life got hectic and I headed there almost every afternoon. Then I got an email from Starbucks inviting me to "compete" in a challenge. I'm pretty competitive so I accepted with open arms. So this week, against my will, I HAVE to go to Starbucks everyday before noon to earn 80 Bonus Stars. I mean...what else is a girl supposed to do?

See that sweet smiling barista? She spells my name correctly AND draws cute pictures on my cups. Oh...and did I mention that they have potato chip chocolate? It really is heaven. 

Did I mention that I love Starbucks?

 

Jimmy the cat

These last couple of months have been hella busy on our end. My family thrives on routine so the summer months kick our butt until we are begging for school to start back up. Then school starts and we are crying because...homework. And OMG! As I'm typing this I'm realizing that school starts in less than a month. Insert panic mode. 

But enough about that...we got a cat! (Just call me Dr. Seuss)

Jimmy the cat graced us with his presence for Konner's birthday back in the beginning of June. I never thought I would be a cat person but he has stolen my heart. Even when he's an ass hole and bites my ear in the middle of the night. 

I thought long and hard about adding ANOTHER animal to our already too small house, but I just couldn't say no when I saw his cute little face on my friends Facebook. She found him at her complex and was highly allergic so he needed a home. Now he's a member of our family and he fits right in with the craziness. He was super shy and a little hesitant the day we brought him home, but after a few days he fell right into place. 

 

As every photographer would (and should) I documented his arrival with a newborn session. I'm definitely thinking #kittenwhisperer should be added to my resume. 

Find me on Insta to follow Jimmy and his shenanigans! @eryn.mcbride