There's something about the ending of the year and ringing in of a new one that makes us pause and reflect. It's easy to just focus on a couple of moments, and we tend to focus on the really good or the really bad ones. But like they say in Rent - 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year?
We tend to focus on the really big moments, maybe 15 or 20 when we think back on a year, but there are so many little moments in between those big ones. And those tiny moments are what make up the fabric of our year. These are the ones we don't take pictures of - the silent exchanges, the belly laughs, the quiet kisses, the heads on shoulders, the beaming smiles, the kissing of booboos.
In a day and age where everything is over documented, it's nice to think of the moments that are stored in our hearts, and not on our hard drives. If we pause and reflect on those moments, I guarantee there's a lot more good than bad.
2018 was a big year for us. We welcomed Chloe into our family, and we learned to function as a family of four. We found our groove with Eddie's new schedule and I had some really great milestones with my blog and with my photography business. I spoke on my first panel thanks to MamaBoss, scored an amazing partnership with JOHNSON's and was flown to New York City for an event. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that there were so many little moments - moments that aren't the first ones that come to mind when I think of the year - but moments that really define the everyday. Moments like Caleb first meeting Chloe, or Eddie telling me how beautiful he thinks I am. Moments when my clients get back to me telling me how much they adore the photos I captured of their families, or when you, my readers, reach out to me and tell me that something I wrote really resonated with you.
We've got about 960 minutes in a day (that's not counting 8 hours of sleep). Those are a lot of minutes, each one with an opportunity to create a moment or a memory. And while we don't take snapshots of each of those moments to store in our hard drives (can you imagine the size of the hard drive you'd need?!), we're constantly experiencing moments and creating memories.
So in 2019, I'm focusing more on storing memories - some on my hard drive, for sure - but more in my heart.
I'm storing the smiles.
I'm storing the smirks.
I'm storing the funny faces.
I'm storing every "I love you."
I'm storing Caleb's "Goodnight and goodbyes."
I'm storing Chloe's grin every time she sees Caleb, Eddie, or me.
I'm storing every squeeze Eddie gives me.
I'm storing every shared meal, every clinked glass, and every kind exchange.
I'm storing the cuddles along with the middle of the night wake ups.
I'm storing every grateful note or e-mail.
I'm storing every heartfelt thank you.
I'm storing it all.
I won't forget them, because even if I didn't take a photo of each of those 525,600 minutes, those are the moments that make up my life.
Cheers to 2019, and to storing all the moments.
From us to you, Happy New Year!
Christmas Day is just over a week away, which means all the festivities and activities are in full swing. This time of year, it’s so easy to get caught up in everything we should be doing and lose sight of what really matters. There are invitations to cookie exchanges, brunches and dinners and ugly sweater parties, and gifts to be bought and wrapped. And in the midst of all that, it’s easy to lose focus at Christmastime.
At the start of the season, I knew I was in for a busy busy couple of months - and by start of the season I mean October. As a photographer, I start booking up in late October and I’m typically booked up until mid-December. I was hosting Thanksgiving, and I also signed up to help out with a big fundraiser at Caleb’s school on December 1. Sprinkle in there my Christmas mini sessions, hubby's birthday, and various other compromises. So I knew that October through December was going to be hectic.
When I get busy with work and outside compromises, everything else suffers. Right now, my laundry is piled high on the sofa in our bedroom because I haven’t put it away in about two weeks. Before that? It had been about a month since I had actually put my laundry away. My house was a mess, and I hadn’t gotten a single Christmas gift. And while I’m okay with a little bit of a mess (like the laundry I mentioned earlier), it really starts to grate on me when my house is in a shambles. It heightens my anxiety and I have a hard time focusing on everything I need to do because my space is just so out of whack. My self-care suffers, I eat garbage, and I don’t drink enough water.
So when the invites started pouring in for events and activities, I thought really long and really hard about what all of these things would mean for me and for my family. More “hurry up we gotta go,” more leaving my kids, less time with my husband, and more stress because I had all this work to keep up with. So for every invitation that came in, I thought long and hard. And I only said yes to the ones that I thought would truly bring us joy while we were participating.
That has meant that we have spent more time together and less time running from one place to another. We have enjoyed each other’s company and sat down to meals together. We have spent time with family and we have been happier. I have had more patience, and when Chloe and Eddie both came down with nasty colds/viruses, I didn’t freak when I could barely get any work done for 3 days.
And to be honest, I don't feel like we have missed anything this Christmas season. On the contrary, we've enjoyed the things we have been able to do because we didn't feel stressed or overcommitted. One day, our kids will ask to participate in certain activities, and we'll let them choose the activities that bring them joy - but we will teach them to do things because they love them.
At the end of the day, resting and recharging and spending time together has been just what we have needed to get through this Christmas season feeling happy and content. And at the end of the day, that's what Christmas should be about - finding what brings you joy. If making gingerbread houses stresses you out, don't do it. If the thought of standing in line to visit Santa brings you to tears, then don't take them. And if what makes you happy is drinking hot chocolate on the sofa in your Christmas pajamas while watching Christmas movies with your kids, then DO THAT. You don't have to do things because everyone else is doing them. Choose your joy this season, and let your Christmas be yours.
Gift-buying can be stressful during the holidays, but it doesn't have to be. With so many gift guides and lists out there, you can find something for everyone on your list. I've gone ahead and put together a list of some of the things I love, along with a couple of discount codes I've gotten you hooked up for! Most of these are for adults, but some of them have kid options, too. If you want some ideas for kids, check out my Gift Guide for Kids. With just about two weeks left until Christmas, make sure you check these items out!
For the Hostess
Okay, so we watched this funny SNL skit the other day, and I am not telling you to re-gift a cheap peach candle! But in our house, there are candles going pretty often, and these SoyDelicious holiday collection candles are everything. The ladies behind SoyDelicious sent me their "oh xmas tree" and "frankincense" scents and can we just say, you'd never know there wasn't a real Christmas tree in my house! These candles have an 80-hour burn time and can also double as a moisturizer (that's what that little wooden spoon is for). Anyway, I always keep a couple extra candles so I never have to run out for last minute gifts - but I always make them really good candles that I would want to use, too. And these fit the bill perfectly!
For Your Favorite Lady
I don't think you could ever go wrong giving a woman the gift of some luxurious beauty products. Selah Skin Studio's holistic products are not only good, but they are good for you. They have everything from bundles to individual products, and even some products for the men in your life! I absolutely love their milk + honey cleanser and their radiance serum. And check out below for a 15% discount!
Use code momlife for 15% off your purchase until 12/31/18.
For the Chef in Your Life
We are huge fans of The Spice & Tea Exchange and their spice blends. They have some really great gift sets that are perfect for anyone on your list who loves to entertain or cook. They have blends for everything from grilling to baking, and in all kinds of price ranges!
I love being able to personalize gifts for people. I feel like personalization is not something most people spend extra on for themselves and it's a gift that shows a little extra thoughtfulness. This MOM Tee from The Enchanted Wire & Wardrobe is perfect.
Another really cute personalized option are these packing cubes from Shop Blop. I have one with all of Chloe's necessities that makes to really easy for me to switch bags if I need to, and they hold so much! They're a really practical, useful gift - and at this point in my life, I am all about practicality!
And for a huge selection of items that you can personalize, I have used PersonalizationMall in the past and have been so happy with nearly everything I have ordered from there - from dish towels to ornaments and everything else you can think of to personalize! As a matter of fact, I have a cart full of stuff I need to finalize!
I like subscriptions because they are the gift that keeps on giving! These are a monthly reminder of your thoughtfulness, and there are options out there for nearly everyone on your list! If you don't want to commit to a full year, consider a one-month or three-month gift subscription.
Know someone who loves to read or listen to audiobooks? Consider gifting them an Audible or Book of the Month subscription.
A new mom or expectant mother? Shipt, Instacart, or Amazon Fresh can help her get groceries without leaving the house!
A mom of multiples? How about a subscription to Blueberry Pediatrics? I know in our house it has saved us from having to head out the door to the pediatrician or urgent care on more than one occasion (including twice this past week alone!)
For men? The Dollar Shave Club has awesome products (we are obsessed with their toothpaste!).
Your crafty friend would appreciate Amazon's Adults & Crafts Subscription Box.
For the beauty lover in your life? Birchbox fits the bill.
So there you have it, some of my picks for 2018. Clearly this year I am all about practicality - I wonder if that has anything to do with being a mom of two? ;)