Life · Traditions

Social Media Hiatus: an Update

I decided to give up social media for Lent again this year — I’ve blogged about it before here and here. This time I’ve been needing to pull away for a while and decided to go cold turkey again, unlike last year when I did a modified version (only using it when my kids were asleep). Frankly, it’s been a little hard. I don’t miss wasting time so easily, but I’ve been working a lot on photography lately and I have taken some photos I REALLY wanted to share on Instagram. Yes, it’s silly or probably vain, but I miss that feedback — if I show a picture to Andrew he’ll say it’s nice and then that’s that. It’s over. He doesn’t quite have the gushing gene, even though he does appreciate my talents (actually, he had printed out and framed some photos of mine when he asked me to marry him!) But maybe it’s a good reminder to print and display photos I love, so that they’re sticking around for longer.

And hey, if you’re here you get to see them now! 😉


And nobody clicks over here unless I post to social media to let people know I’ve posted, so I’ve had roughly three views in the last two weeks, ha! (I might enable auto-posting to Facebook when I publish to remedy that, come to think of it. Done!)

So yes, I’ve been feeling disconnected. I miss checking in on some friends’ lives — but on the other hand, I’ve also texted friends and actually communicated with others face-to-face. We’ve been to several play dates. So it’s been good for me, I think. And I realized the other day Lent is actually closer to 44 days… gah! But that’s the point, right? It’s supposed to be a sacrifice.

I’ll admit it: I snuck onto Facebook once or twice on the computer and caught a baby announcement (yay!) and plenty of political debates I hadn’t missed one bit. I even just re-downloaded Instagram and almost posted before telling myself how silly I was being and re-deleting it. The pull is strong.

So what have I done with all those extra in-between moments, what have I made of this that’s good instead of just plain white-knuckling?

Well, I don’t have my phone nearly as constantly on me (in my hand, in a pocket, at arms’ length) and therefore have been more available for the little requests like wanting to be held, playing a card game, giving extra cuddles to Jonas… I’ve pulled out my real camera more and captured some beautiful moments that make me happy…


I’ve spent more time with my husband instead of on my phone… I’ve read two books and just started a new one. (Hands Free Mama is really life-changing. The book is excellent but her blog is a great place to start grasping at what really matters ❤ It was a great way to kick off this social media fast.) We played outside in the snow and made treats together and I’ve also had mental energy to complete tasks for my church work.

I’ve also still used other things as time-fillers — it’s so easy to try to satisfy those bad habits. The photography forum I joined has become my go-to “I’m bored, let’s see what’s new” place, which isn’t ideal. I should go there to accomplish a specific purpose. And reading books in the evening can prevent conversation with my husband even if all the screens are off.

But this afternoon I set down my phone and spent some time reading an Ensign article that it turned out I needed to read, then texted a friend about it and received more pearls of wisdom and needed encouragement. And I got some real rest to fight off this nasty cold. And I held Adelina in my arms immediately when she asked for it.

So yes, it hasn’t been super easy. I honestly really miss Instagram sometimes. But I’m grateful for the chance to pull back and focus on the things I need to hone in on. This isn’t permanent, only a needed exercise to re-assess my priorities. And I’m sure grateful for these beautiful children who fill my days ❤



Holidays · Motherhood · Traditions

First Day of Advent: the Christmas Season is Here! + a DIY Acts of Kindness Manger for Kids

December is upon us! I wanted to share something I did with our three-year-old today to help us have a more Christ-centered Christmas and build a new family tradition. Scroll down for details!

service manger

The halls are decked (I’ll share a mini Christmas home tour soon!) and the advent calendar is stuffed with a scripture study schedule and little chocolates (had to sweeten the deal for Adelina this year!).


It’s kind of struggling to handle the chocolates, ha! Those are some teeny pockets!


Gifts are finished or in process — I’m making my daughter a baby doll diaper bag and it is coming along sooo cute, I can’t wait to see her face when she opens it up and unpacks all the fun little items! (changing pad, fabric diapers, little minky “wipes,” baby bottles and baby food…) We got a fun surprise of having to buy a new washer and dryer last night so… Merry Christmas to the grown-ups! Ha. But still, I’m really looking forward to enjoying this season.

Speaking of which: it’s time to Light The World with acts of kindness!

For day one, we made a giving manger out of popsicle sticks and a baby Jesus out of modeling clay. Adelina’s was way cuter than mine and she actually came up with a much better concept to get the manger to stick — she’s amazing!


You’ve probably seen this concept around: children get to put a piece of straw in the manger every time they do an act of kindness or service. On Christmas Day, they can place the baby Jesus in a manger filled with love ♥️

I first encountered this back when this company launched their gorgeous book and manger set. But back then my daughter was like two months old so it was a bit hasty ha, and then this year when I was finally close to building up the gumption to purchase it, they had sold out! So I decided to DIY it, and honestly I love how it turned out, especially because my daughter had a blast making it with me! She saw me working on something and pulled over a chair, and ended up doing much better than what I had planned. So yay for creating memories together 😉

The way to make it is pretty self-explanatory from the picture: we cut several in half to form the base, then went outwards hot-gluing the craft sticks on alternating layers (had to keep cutting the end ones a bit longer each time). The last few layers we stopped going outward.


The little box you see to the left was my first attempt at a manger, but Adelina had a much better idea when she started layering them on top of each other — way sturdier ha! The straw is just raffia from a craft store that I cut up into decent-sized pieces, and we made the Baby Jesus out of modeling clay, it’ll dry out as we leave it out over the next few days. I’m seriously impressed at how well she made it — I threw mine out after seeing hers!


And there you have it. I love the homemade feel, and I love that we made it together and that she made the Baby Jesus all on her own — it’s that much more special ❤

Today’s prompt is, “Freely ye have received, freely give,” so my goal for the day was to give more freely of my time and attention to these sweet children of mine. And I’m so glad for this beautiful Christmas season!

Here are some more resources:

The Giving Manger — my original inspiration
The Last Straw — children’s book
#LightTheWorld campaign and ideas
A Year of FHE made an awesome kid-specific version of the LightTheWorld calendar
The Last Straw online story to print out and read
Straw for the Manger children’s story
And here are some more ideas I’ve written about for an intentional Christmas!

Kids · Motherhood · Traditions

Happy First Birthday, Jonas!

Well, it happened. This handsome baby boy of mine turned ONE this week!


Honestly, it was a little bittersweet! With our first I was always looking forward to the next milestone — in part probably because her newborn phase was really, really hard. But with our sweet Jojo every moment (well, almost) has been so delightful and he’s been such an easy baby that I just don’t want to let go of these moments! We’ve started night-weaning (yeah… I’m a sucker on that and have a track record of letting these kiddos have their nursing as long as they want… how can I refuse them?! But I am so ready to get more sleep at night!) and surprisingly that hasn’t been too emotional, but him growing up and turning a whole year old on me? Not OK!

But we do love to look back on the beautiful times — and the challenges, too. I’m grateful our boy has such a sweet disposition because he’s been through a lot with clubfoot already. He needed to be a zen baby because he’s had other challenges in life. Bless him and the sweet spirit he brought into our home ❤

I know, I can be a little overly sentimental. I just can’t help it!

Anyway, his actual birthday went well: I knew this time around to have zero expectations ha ha! Plus we were snowed in (gotta love beautiful, wild Wyoming!) so we took it easy. Adelina helped me pick out a special snack to share with brother (goldfish, obviously — and he LOVED them) and cake “design” and a special candle. We had two balloons (because this whole someone-else-is-getting-attention thing was hard on our toddler…) ready in the morning and those provided plenty of fun, then during Jonas’ first nap Adelina helped me make his cake!


When Andrew came home that evening we had a perfect wintry day dinner (soup + grilled cheese + salad) and poor Adelina was way too excited about opening the presents she had helped me wrap so we let her help. There were some tears about the presents being for someone else than herself… but we got through it, poor thing! That is definitely a challenge, I know she’s at a “selfish age” but teaching her unselfishness is a new challenge entirely, and it feels daunting!

Anyway. Cake time!


Jonas eyed the candle with a great deal of curiosity… touched the cake — it was too hard for him to really grab at it so we decided to cut it up… and then… he dug right in!


And this time around, our kid was definitely interested in his cake!


Happy Birthday sweet Jonas!


Holidays · Traditions

Easter 2017

Our Easter was relatively simple this year, but still lovely.

I loved doing some of the little things in preparation, like dying eggs with Adelina (she loved it, obviously. We even managed to not make too big a mess!). She was so proud of her creation!



She very much enjoyed helping with these cookies too…



We did some special scripture studies during Holy Week — watching Bible videos, reading special articles, etc. For Family Home Evening, I opened Easter eggs that told the story of Christ’s last days with Adelina. She’s still a little young but getting to touch and hold objects was fun and helps the concepts make a little sense. (Here’s one, and another version here)

For my own personal study I found this guide really helpful — and no, I certainly didn’t make it through the whole thing! But over the years I look forward to refining what works for our family traditions. This is a great guide for families as well.

And yes, Easter also meant the end of my social media fast. This year was interesting because instead of a complete break, I decided to only allow myself to use social media when the children were sleeping. Full disclosure, I wasn’t 100% successful. I had some rough days here and there where all I wanted to do was escape. But generally it went well and it was really beneficial in terms of evaluating how I was using social media and for what purpose. It helped me exercise restraint in a more real-life type of scenario. I significantly disconnected from online hysteria and debates, which was really good for me. Instead, I plunged myself into books, I texted or called friends more often (instead of just assuming they’ll see my updates on the internet), and I had more time for reflecting on the important things. General Conference was so good this year, and I think part of it was I was cleared from a great deal of the distractions I usually surround myself with. This “fast” was so good, I think I’m going to continue to restrict social media time in a very similar way. In the last few weeks I also gained some really good insights into things I need to change in my life, and received a really direct response to how I could invite Christ into my life more — a concrete way I could do that. It’s funny how the answers come when you’re finally listening…

So there’s my recap of sorts. It is absolutely worth doing, and I recommend it to anybody who’s looking to recenter their thoughts on what really matters. It was a really great tool to start some important reflection. And it helped me make more mental space to prepare to celebrate Christ for Easter.

Of course, I love the fun and decoration aspect too 🙂 I’ve been slowly collecting or making little items for around the home — a moss-covered bunny hanging, a linen table runner, an egg wreath that I adore. And no spring would be complete without tulips and daffodils!


I got to enjoy these on Saturday at the Provo City Center Temple (I got to shoot my sister’s engagement photos, and I can’t wait to share them with you!) Since we had to travel that weekend, my plans for an egg hunt sort of went out the window when I realized it was just one thing too many. I decided it wasn’t worth stressing about, so instead, Adelina simply found a surprise from the Easter bunny ready for her.


(And yes, things got a little crazy so I dug out and repackaged a toy or two! Ha ha. I didn’t even buy any chocolate eggs… I know, I know. But she seriously didn’t need more junk food that weekend.)


The big item in her basket was an apron I found just in the nick of time. I love cooking with her, and she loves the hands-on fun — like playing with dough — so much! She was a great helper for our Easter meal that day 🙂


As for the traditional family photo… Jonas had a blowout ON Andrew before we got a chance to take it! And then Adelina was waving a stick in my face the whole time, so this is as good as it gets.


Real life, right?! (Just take my word for it, Jonas looked stinking adorable. And my husband was handsome as always of course!) I had some moments of frustration that day, but I’m getting better at tampering my expectations and being reasonable about what will and won’t work with small children. So when Adelina decided that “I’m going to get a quick picture!” meant “Quick! Run around as fast as you can and whatever you do, DON’T look at the camera,” I took a deep breath and just went with it.


Jonas has matching shoes that he can finally wear now! And yes, she’s been wearing that cardigan since she was about six months old…


Gah! She was so tiny! But seriously, I can’t find a good replacement for this cardigan and I love it so much! It’s probably getting a little ridiculous though.


And there you have it: hope you had a beautiful, peaceful, and meaningful Easter weekend!

Holidays · Traditions

Sweet Valentine & Toddler in the Kitchen!

We had a pretty sweet Valentine’s Day around here — simple, but full of good moments.


It started with Jonas taking an awesome nap, which meant Adelina and I got plenty of time together to make some treats!


This has become something of a tradition for me and I rather like it: making chocolate-covered pretzel rods & strawberries. I LOVE those pretzels, especially with the crushed peppermint. Adelina did a great job of crushing and sprinkling it!


We definitely had to wash hands a few times though, she kept licking her fingers clean ha. I wouldn’t have cared so much except we all had a cold and some of these were intended for other people…


(It’s pretty self-explanatory how you make these, but for a few tips: I hate using the “candy melts” because they taste nothing like chocolate. I use milk chocolate chips and white chocolate chips, melt, then dip and drizzle. Make sure the strawberries are completely dry before dipping or it’ll make a mess of your chocolate and the chocolate won’t stick properly to the fruit — I usually pat them each with a paper towel before dipping. Oh and cute cupcake liners are perfect for giving the strawberries a few extra presentation points 😉 Crush some leftover candy canes for the pretzels and sprinkle while the chocolate is still wet or it won’t stick. Let cool. Voilà!)

Andrew stopped by for lunch and I handed him a plate to take to his office. I also gave him a little felt mailbox valentine with some chocolates and notes (I loved these prompts over at Marriage Laboratory for 14 days of love letters!). I used to think Valentine’s Day was cheesy and overly commercial (it’s definitely a commercial holiday…), and I still think giant teddy bears and heart-shaped jewelry are ridiculous, but all things considered, I do love the idea of a day to remind the people around you how much you care. Plus you don’t need to convince me to eat more chocolate…

After Adelina’s nap, I had prepared a valentine for her too: a little baggie with a Frozen sticker book, some glow sticks and lollipops. Great way to get over the post-naptime grumpies!


We set off to deliver our treats to a “Galentine” and her little girls — gotta love Leslie Knope 😉 Adelina was excited to deliver them but sad once she realized we weren’t going over to play ha ha!

Later that afternoon, I cut out a paper heart and had her decorate it for Andrew. When he came home that evening, she stood at the top of the stairs, hardly containing her anticipation, crying out “Papa!” and rushing down the stairs to hand him her scribbled Valentine. It was pretty cute.

You know, we haven’t always been very good at holidays around here. You get married and both swear that Valentine’s Day is stupid because you don’t need a special day to say “I love you,” and then several years go by without really celebrating any of the other holidays or milestones either, and you start to realize little holidays really are kind of nice, and that little gestures go a long way. My point being, it takes time to develop rituals and align expectations, and I’m glad we’re getting to a point where traditions are beginning to form.

That evening, after getting the kids down to bed, Andrew had prepared a little surprise of his own! I’ve been on a big hygge kick lately — I’m reading The Little Book of Hygge, which has been really interesting, plus I’ve always had a big crush on Scandinavian cultures. One of the concepts is spending simple, cozy evenings in good company, and I’ve been mentioning lately how we’ve definitely gotten into the rut of collapsing in front of Netflix at the end of the day instead of talking to each other. Anyway: Andrew prepared a “hyggelig” evening, complete with a puzzle (of a scene along a dock in Copenhagen, ha!), candles (proper lighting is very important for good hygge), and hot beverages!


I’m pretty sure the last time I did a puzzle, I was a kid. It was fun and it was something different where we could just have casual conversation for a while. I love that he takes note of things I mention, it’s the little things in life!

Hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day! Have any other fun things you do to celebrate? I think “heart attacks” are pretty cute too, I’m always on the lookout for other ways to involve little ones.

Holidays · Motherhood · Traditions

Blessing Day

This story is not sweet or picture-perfect… but maybe there’s at least a lesson to learn, so bear with me.


Since we were with all of Andrew’s family for Christmas, we thought it would be nice to bless Jonas with them there. We blessed Adelina in France two years ago so it was mostly my family then. And it is rather special to bless a baby boy on Christmas day when you think about it.

But as much as I’d like to say it was all lovely and wonderful, it was mostly just stressful. It’s a pretty wild rush to get ready and go to church on a Christmas Sunday, after the stockings and breakfast, and luckily we all made it in time. Jonas was actually perfect and slept throughout the whole meeting and his blessing, so that was a relief. Adelina was a little hyper but she did OK thanks to Omi. The meeting ended and I wanted to grab a photo with the whole family. Of course, it was suddenly uncharacteristically cold and blustery in St George, so everyone was freezing, and did I mention the presents were still waiting at home? So this is the cousin photo we got!


It actually cracks me up looking back… real life right there! But at this point in the day I was getting really frustrated because Jonas was now screaming and Adelina was melting down because she didn’t want to take off her coat for the photo, and we have a very limited window of time to get this done… fine, let’s head home.

I really wanted to get a photo of our family because dang it, we’re dressed in our Christmas best and I’d like one stinking photo, right?! I’ve carried this baby for 9 1/2 months and looked exhausted and overloaded for months, so the one day I finally look nice, I’d like just one picture before everyone tears their clothes off! But no. This is the best we could do.


Double chins all around, Adelina was crying because she didn’t want her socks off, Andrew had immediately undone his tie on the 2-minute drive home because he wanted to put on his BYU tie that day (bowl game week), and Jonas wouldn’t calm down. So that was fun (just writing about this makes my skin crawl all over again). I finally just gave up, so frustrated I could hardly speak, and it was time to do presents anyway.

I know, you’re probably laughing at me right now… I wouldn’t blame you. Sometimes we do this to ourselves — have high expectations (apparently, getting a single decent photo is a high expectation these days) and get frustrated when they don’t hold up. Another life lesson to store away. I was just glad to be done with the whole ordeal and finally just enjoy Christmas.

And once I took a breather and gave up on my dream of a picture-perfect moment, it was a lovely day. Everyone just hung out and relaxed, the kids played with presents, we all enjoyed sweet Jonas and ate delicious food… simple things. I tried to get some photos of Jonas but once again came up short, so you know what I did? I dressed him up again the other day and did a photo redo. And that’s how I got the photos I actually wanted!


Moral of the story: don’t plan more than one “thing” in a day. It’s not worth it. Leave space for important things because it’s just too much to try to combine. Also, expectations… waaaaay lower. You’d think I would’ve learned that by now, but here we are again. In my defense, holiday expectations mixed with postpartum exhaustion are a little intense! So that’s the story of how poor Jonas’ blessing went down!

DIY · Holidays · Traditions

Thankful Tree — Thanksgiving Traditions

I hope you had a lovely thanksgiving — we certainly did! Yes, it was very soon after Jonas’ birth… but we kept it simple (I’m a turkey breast kind of girl — who wants to deal with that much bird anyway?) and my wonderful in-laws made it all possible by alternately cooking and holding the baby. My sisters (+ a special friend) were able to come up from Provo and join us despite snow the day before, and it was great! Man, I LOVE Thanksgiving food, especially my MIL’s famous monkey bread… that didn’t last long ha!

Anyway, I wanted to share a fun little tradition I’ve been developing on over the years. It’s nothing particularly original and I’ve been inspired by various bloggers, but I really like how it turned out this year: behold, our thankful tree! (modeled by these silly turkeys…)


The concept is simple: create a bare tree with brown paper (I actually have rolls of it that I use as wrapping paper — brown paper packages anyone?) and then have paper leaves and pens handy for people to write things/people they are grateful for. Last year I had a string with clothespins for the leaves, this year I made a whole tree, and I think it turned out pretty cool!


Some people were being a little silly with some of these… 🙂 I meant to get it up sooner in the month, but we got kind of distracted by a baby that refused to come and then the actual baby himself… next year! Obviously nothing particularly original, I know many families have versions of this, but I love how it’s a simple way to encourage gratitude and to count your blessings!

Now, on to Christmas!