THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT | The Overwhelmed Mommy is Changing!

As most of you know, I'm a full time wedding blogger. I get this question a whole like, like every time someone asks me what I do.

"So you actually make money from blogging?"

Yes. It took some time to build and grow but with my three year anniversary of The Overwhelmed Bride coming this November, I can proudly say that yes, I make a full income from blogging.

When I first started out and came up with the name, I bought a couple of URL's, one being I knew that one day, I may want to grow a blogging empire and as soon as I found out I was pregnant, my second blog was born, The Overwhelmed Mommy. But this time, however, I wasn't the expert. I was "the overwhelmed mommy."

I started blogging pictures and updates of my little bump, announced when we found out we would be having a beautiful little girl and blogged my entire pregnancy journey just for fun. And then Ava was born and I found out about the whole Brand Repping world and fell in love with taking photos of my adorable little girl in the most adorable fashionable clothes.

And up until now, it's all been just a fun hobby for me.

But I am so excited to announce that starting next week, we are transitioning to a full blown mommy, baby + lifestyle blog! Don't worry, we're still going to be Brand Repping for some of our favorite shops and we will still be partnering with lots of brands to show off some of the neat baby and kid products we come across. So the pictures of Ava won't go away, don't worry.

But I know that one day Ava will grow up (tear) and one day all of my future children will grow up and no longer will I be able to dress them up in cute clothes to show off to all of you. And it makes me sad to think that one day, this blog will cease to exist so I'm making sure that doesn't happen.

So starting next week, we are going to be bringing so much fun inspiration your way! I'll continue blogging about mommyhood from my own eyes, my trials and tribulations and my wins, but we will also be featuring newborn shoots, maternity sessions, nursery inspiration and a whole lot more fashion for babies and kids of all ages. We will now be a source of mommy, baby, and lifestyle inspiration from all walks of life!

And what does that mean for all of you? If you are a mommy, then I will now be your source of baby fever (yeah, just wait until you see the newborn shoots we have lined up!), inspiration, and a place to help each other out with mommy advice, tips, and tricks. And if you're a shop owner, then send all of your photographer mommy reps my way because we would love to feature all of the most fashionable kids out there (and promote you, of course!)

And finally, if you'd like us to try out your product or want photos of Ava wearing your clothes, we will still be doing that just like we have been :)

I hope you're all as excited as I am to continue this blogging journey and to bring a whole lot of swoon worthy photos and ideas...we already have 6 photo sessions lined up to be featured and I cannot WAIT to show you all of the beauty we have in store!

So if you are a photographer and have a session you'd like featured, whether it's a nursery, newborn, maternity or even a fashionable kid, head over to our website to submit or you can submit via Two Bright Lights!

We aren't stopping what we're doing, just adding a whole lot more! And I hope you're all as excited as we are! Happy Friday everyone!


We've been working with Toe Jammz since Ava was only a couple of weeks old but seriously want to shout their name out on the mountain tops because we LOVE their adorable baby shoes! We've showed them off all over our Instagram but I don't think we've really explained how it all works so today, we're doing just that!

Yes, you get to design your own baby shoes!

We own 5 pairs right now (...and counting) and each new pair we get is so much fun to design based on the season and the colors Ava has in her wardrobe!

Here's how it works:

Toe Jammz has lots of fabric options listed on their site, from solid colors to fun designs. You choose the fabric you want on the toe and choose which you want on the base and voila, you're a shoe designer!

Best of all? They aren't expensive and they get here quick!

And Toe Jammz named a pair after Ava! Click the link below to head over to their site to purchase "The Ava Sue" or to design your own pair of baby shoes! And scroll down to see some of the fun pairs we have designed.



As you all know, we came back from vacation last night and today seems like Monday, but a whole lot worse. My husband is back at work, I am back to blogging (although, that's the fun part!) and we just aren't too excited about getting back into our "normal" every day lives. Don't you feel the same after vacation?

But the one thing that totally saved me was all of the packages that arrived while we were gone -- So much happy mail and so many adorable baby clothes to show off to you all!

So first thing this morning, I put together a hip, fall baby outfit with some of our new items! We have black torn baby leggings, an ecru baby sweater, a baby infinity scarf and a fall maroon baby bow. Click the shop names below to shop the look!

Leggings | Tenth & Pine
Sweater | Nomad Shoppe
Headband | Lavender Parade
Scarf + Falsa Blanket | Wild Sunshine Threads


15 Halloween Costume Ideas for Babies

Sponsored with love, by Etsy

Halloween sure did sneak up on us and I cannot believe we STILL don't have an outfit picked out...not that we have any plans, but still. I'm really wanting to do something as a family (Baxter included) and I'm the kind of girl who likes making costumes myself rather than buying them so it's crunch tie in the Hallak house! So if you have any ideas for us four, send them my way, pretty please :)

For those of you who are still in need of a baby Halloween costume that you can just purchase (because that's what I should be doing this year), I've done a little searching and found some adorable ideas for you all! Here you go!

If you see one you like, just click on the image and it will take you right to where I found it!

MY BATTERY RANT | The best toys for babies (and moms)

Whatever happened to old fashioned toys? And where the heck did board games go? I know they still exist in stores but they've gotten all high techy. Last night my husband and I sat down for a game of good old fashioned backgammon and you know what? We loved it!

I grew up on playing cards and cardboard board games and that is how we've always said we wanted to raise Ava. But in this day in age, high tech gizmos and gadgets are what every kid "needs." Heck, even our cars are computers these days.

Okay yeah, I totally like having an iPhone and love some of the kids learning apps I've downloaded on the iPad but you know what's just the worst part of all of this new tech stuff?


Not only are batteries extremely dangerous around kids (okay, that's not the real reason I don't like them...yet) but they're so dang frustrating. Every toy seems to die after less then three weeks of use and my limited supply needs to be replenished every single shopping trip. Maybe I should look into an Amazon prime subscription for them?

Ava used to love her toy car. I could put her in there every morning and it would keep her occupied the entire time I did the dishes and got the house picked up. And she loved it! And after just a couple of weeks, the batteries died and I literally cannot figure out how (or where) to replace them.

And so, instead of a very useful mommy tool, it's turned into a big piece of plastic rolling around my kitchen. A big piece of plastic that annoys Ava far more than it entertains her. And I don't blame her! If mommy clapped and cheered every time I hit the button that made noise and flashed bright lights, I'd be frustrated if I couldn't figure out how to make that magic happen anymore, too!

So instead of the most amazing toy that gave mommy half an hour of productive time any more, it's now turned into a big piece of rolling plastic that Ava wants to go in, but can't stand when she's in. It's a lose-lose for everyone and it's all because of batteries.

And that's why old fashioned is always better.

the best baby toys, the best toys for babies

I've only bought Ava two toys since we got so many gifted to us at her baby shower and my number one criteria for my purchases? No batteries needed.

So today, we headed to Target to pick out a xylophone - a non-battery operated, good old fashioned xylophone that will literally last forever. And that's the best baby toy I could ever purchase.

It's funny how the toys that are more expensive, actually die the quickest. 

Simplicity wins.


Better late than never, right? Okay, well we are only a week past her six month birthday. And today, we took her half birthday photos! My husband doesn't believe in half birthdays but if there is a reason to celebrate, I am all for it! So of course, we had to get some great shots of Ava at six months. If I had it my way, though, we totally would have thrown a half birthday party. Frank wins this time!

Ava got her first tutu for these photos (crazy, right?!) and I am totally obsessed. She such a little princess. And I am sure there is a stage coming soon where her outfit of choice will be a tutu EVERY SINGLE DAY. She looks absolutely darling in it, so that's fine by me!

We got her entire 6 month birthday outfit -- the "half" onesie, bow and tutu -- all from Bellen Whistle. Isn't it just perfect? I think so!

six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit
six month birthday outfit, baby half birthday outfit

TIPS FOR TAKING PHOTOS OF YOUR KIDS (from a real, non-professional photographer mom)

You all know that I am the definition of a mamarazzi. Of course that is partially because I blog for a living but even if I wasn't a wedding + mommy blogger, you better bet that Ava's life would be fully documented. I just love capturing those precious moments and adorable outfits that so many of our favorite shops send our way so I always have a camera with me everywhere I go.


Before December of last year, I never owned a camera. Well, I did take photography in high school and have own those small little pocket cameras for years but I've never owned a real, DSLR camera. Like a professional one...or at least one that makes m feel like a professional. So when my husband bought me a Nikon D3300 for Christmas last year, my photo adventures began!

So just like most of the moms out there, I am a newbie to the photo world. I've just done a whole lot of trial and error-ing since Ava has been born, taking hundreds of photos of her pretty much every single day.

Just so you know, these are in no way professional tips. So if you are are a professional photographer, I knowyou're totally going to judge me and tell me that some of what I am doing is wrong. But in all honesty, I don't plan to be a professional. This is just my advice to moms out there who do plan to go pro. Just a few quick tips from newbie mamarazzi to newbie mamarazzi :)

And here are some of my tips for taking photos of babies:

1. Never use artificial light.

It may just be me, but I don't like the way photos look with a flash or even in daylight with the house lights turned on. So I typically only take photos during the day when no flash is needed and always always always turn the lights out inside the house to prevent that yellow tint from getting into my shots.

We're lucky to have lots of big windows in our house but if you don't, try shooting outside!



2. Lay on the ground or stand on a chair.

There are a million photos out there that look great from a million different angles but my favorites are always the ones from a very low angle or a very high angle looking down!



3. The 2/3 Rule

When taking photos of Ava, I try my best to position her nicely within the frame. So basically, if you split every single photo up into thirds, you get three rectangles vertically or horizontally.

If I place Ava in the far right third, then 2/3 of the photo will be open space on the left. Or if I place Ava in the far left two thirds, the the right one third would be open space. And finally, if I place her in the center third, then there is 1/3 on her right and 1/3 on her left, centering here right in the middle. And you can use the same exact rule for vertical images.



4. Sport Mode

Shawna from Bledog Fotography: If you're reading this then don't hate me but oftentimes I put my camera on auto sport mode. I hold down the shutter and snap away. And that's the only reason I'm able to capture so many of Ava's silly faces and candid moments! I'm just not quick enough to capture them in one try. And personally, I think the candid photos are more beautiful than the posed ones, and definitely make the best keepsakes!


Those are the four top tips for taking photos of your kids that I use every single day. And I learn more and more by trial and error (and from Shawna, of course!) We're actually thinking of putting together a little online course for all of you mommies out there so you can learn how to capture those moments more beautifully. If that is something you'd be interested in, comment below and let us know!

DIY BABY BOW TUTORIAL (in less than 5 minutes!)

A little disclaimer before I get started with this one because I am a huge supporter of small shops and I think everyone should be! Sometimes I get Ava dressed and think to myself, "Man I really wish I had a bow in this color!" Hard to believe since we have so many, but it happens from time to time. Of course, I can't wait a week to get one in a mail when I have an immediate need for a photo and in my case this time, I had some leftover fabric from the DIY Boho Fringe Necklaces we made, so I decided to create something fun.

These are in no way meant to replace my small shop orders because let's be honest, they don't look nearly as fabulous as the hundreds of bows we have ordered from all of our favorite shops. But sometimes when you need a quick bow in a certain color, DIY may just be the way to go!

So we decided to do a little DIYing with our leftover fabric and create a couple of quick and easy DIY baby bows in less than 5 minutes!

STEP 1: Cut your fabric into a square or rectangle, depending on the shape, size and style of bow you want to create. For these bows, we did a 3 inch by 2.5 inch rectangle.


STEP 2: Fold your fabric back and forth, back and forth, as though you are making a paper fan. Tie a string, ribbon, or rope of choice to the center to hold it in place, leaving extra slack on the end.


STEP 3: Pull out the sides of your fabric to form the bow. .


STEP 4: Attach the bow to a clip or headband using hot glue or by tying it on using the extra string you have left over! And voila! You're done!



Miracles can happen. I just know they can. Whether it be small little triumphs in our every day lives or miraculous cancer cures, miracles happen every day.

There's a little girl named Brylee Joy and I've been following her story for a while now. I've never met this little 5-year-old beauty, but she's the niece of some of our good friends and she has taught me more than I could have ever imagined out of a young, innocent life.

Brylee is fighting her battle with brain cancer and from the videos I see posted every day and that contagious smile, you just would never know. Yesterday an update was posted on her prayer Facebook page and while I pray for her and her family often, that update really brought me to write this and to hopefully pass on the life lessons I've learned through her story.

1. Live life to the fullest. Cliche, I know, but it's totally the truth. Head over to that Facebook page and watch any video of that darling little girl and you'll see what I'm talking about. I mean, Ava won't fall asleep one night and I'm at my wits end and yet, this little girl is fighting for her life and that joy is forever present.

2. Faith. I've never seen a little kid have so much faith. Her faith in God is just unreal. And her parents? Wow, just wow. Through the daily updates, I have never seen a family so trusting in God. I don't know how they do it and I can't imagine living in their shoes but their love and trust in Him is the kind of faith I strive for.

3. Hold your loved ones tight. They often post photos from just months and even weeks before she was diagnosed. A happy little girl, just living a normal life and then boom, her life was changed in an instant. We never know what life with throw our way but we do have the power to love and to cherish each moment.

4. Prayer doesn't always mean healing.

So when our little ones are crying for no apparent reason, hug them tighter. When you feel like the world is crashing down on you, have faith. And finally, be happy for what you have and life fully and happily no matter the circumstance. I truly believe that this little girl was somehow placed in this world for a reason. Heck, she taught a grown 26-year-old mom more about life than I ever realized before. Yes, I've heard it all before but for some reason, her life has really had an impact on me. And I believe that our own kids can teach us to love life fully and happily every day as long as we take a moment to see, hear and watch them.

They posted an update yesterday that truly brought me to tears and brought me to write this and hopefully gain some prayer warriors for Brylee and her family. And no matter what God or being you believe in, I just ask that you take a couple of minutes out of your day to pray.

I've been praying for this little girl for months now and in the doctors' eyes, her fight is almost over. Yes, miracles can happen every day but prayer doesn't always mean healing. And that's really something I've never fully understood before. So I pray for her comfort during this time, and for God's will to be done. I pray that everyone who has followed her story has learned a great deal about life and love and happiness, as I have. I pray for her family during this difficult time, that they are able to continue to have faith in God no matter the outcome and of course, I pray for a miracle if that is God's plan.


For the seasoned mommy, this may seem a bit silly but as a first time mom I had no clue whatsoever about diaper rashes. And apparently, Ava's got some sensitive skin because within a week of being born she already had diaper rash. And it was BAD. Okay, I have nothing to compare it to but it seemed bad to me.

I know that we needed cream to get rid of it (we used Desitin) but what would prevent her from getting a rash in the future? We would change her diaper less than a minute after she relieved herself and still, the rash would come back.

And then I finally discovered that some wipes are just water. Who knew? Admittedly, the idea of wiping her with only water grossed me out. And then I realized that adults wipe with less than that so it wasn't gross at all!

We tried Huggies Natural Care wipes and they worked like a charm. Yes, she's gotten a slight red bottom here and there but nothing even close to a diaper rash since we switched. Voila!

how to prevent diaper rash

(click on the image and it'll take you to where we purchase them on Amazon)

So for all of the mommies out there who are struggling with the red bottom, give it a try!

Any other mommies have good tips for preventing diaper rash? Comment below!



As the summer is coming to a close and I see all of the mommies (and teachers) posting their "first day of school"  pics and the classic "empty classroom all set up the day before school starts" photo, I look back on a summer that changed my life.

Despite the obvious -- raising my first little girl who turned me into a mommy and chopping all of my hair off because those hormones are making me lose it all in clumps -- the way I now view life did a complete 180.

There are a couple things that definitely contributed (Frank going to a Tony Robbins conference, reading "The Power of A Positive Mom" and my getting way more involved in church activities), but first and foremost it was my change of mindset. I wouldn't say I am a downer but if something in my life goes wrong, I feel as though the world is crashing down on me. Why me? Why don't I ever get a break? And when I finally do feel like the world is on my side, something else goes wrong.

Why me?

I've come to realize that that's just life. Even if I had the "perfect" life from the outside, I am 100% positive there would be tons of struggles headed my way.

Because that's just life and life isn't perfect.

how to stay positive as a mom

This summer, I became a positive person. And if you learn anything as a mom, I'd say that being positive should be number one on your "work on myself" list or whatever list you want to place it on.

Kids will be kids and there is nothing we can do about it. So whatever is going on in your life, find a way to turn it into a positive. Seek out happiness, because it isn't just going to come knocking on your door.

When Ava spits up (well, projectile vomits) in the middle of a restaurant, just be happy that you're wearing your $20 shirt and not the $200 one you just bought last week.

When your favorite show doesn't get onto the DVR thanks to Frontier's amazing new service, think about that extra hour of quality time you get to spend with your baby, your husband and your pup.

When your usually easy going baby is still awake and it's midnight, just think about all of those extra snuggles you're getting with her.

And if the car doesn't start when you're running late for a beach trip, just think about how happy your husband will not be to drive his Mustang GT down the canyon road, since he never gets to drive his car when we are going anywhere as a family.

Heck, when you're in the middle of writing a blog post on how your life changed this summer and your internet browser suddenly shuts down and doesn't save anything you've written, realize that maybe that was just God's was of telling you to start fresh. That first draft wasn't so great anyways!

And finally, if Ava's favorite yellow taggies blanket gets misplaced at a family BBQ an hour and a half away from home and not even her blue taggies blanket can replace the yellow one...well you can flip out then. Because I can't imagine anything positive could come out of that situation ;)

What I am getting at is that there is truly a positive in every situation. It may be hard to figure it out while you're in the middle of a crisis, but I promise if you look hard enough you'll find it and it will change your life for the better. As moms, we need to set that example for our kids so that they, too, will make the choice to live a positive, wonderful life. We have the chance to create an amazing, happy, beautiful life for ourselves and our families but we just need to make the commitment to do that.

It's a choice.

This summer changed my life and I hope that seeking out the positive in every situation you encounter will change your life too.

No matter what gets thrown my way, my life truly is amazing.


When Ava was first born, she slept just about all day. You all know that newborns sleep a ton but at that point, all I wanted to do was snuggle and hold her and stare at her all day long. So that prevented me from getting anything done.

And then she got into a normal napping and sleeping schedule and I still never got work done. Blogs on The Overwhelmed Bride were scarce (I used to publish a blog every single day) and I couldn't figure out why I felt like I never had time for anything. The house was clean, the laundry was done and she was napping, and I still just didn't get anything done.

As this summer rolled around, I joined a mom's Bible study at our church and with a couple of mommy friends, we started a mommy-kid play date once a week.

Just so you know the background on this, I never put on clothes. I wear my pajamas all day long, my hair up in a messy bun, and no makeup...ever. But of course with these weekly events starting, I needed to look a little more put together than I was used to.

The Key to Being A Productive Mom

The first week rolled around and I got dressed and put on makeup TWO DAYS IN A ROW.


Each day I would get home around 11:30am and although half of my day was already gone, I would get so much work done. Like way more work than the days when I had the entire day to work!

And I finally figured out the key to being productive...

...getting dressed and looking my best!

Whether you are a stay at home mom or a working mom, I seriously think this is key in having productive days, whether that means getting out of the house to go to the park, going grocery shopping, vacuuming the house or anything else you have on your to do list. Even if you don't have time for makeup, just put on some clothes or quickly slide on some mascara (I mean, it only takes a minute).

And not only that, it makes me feel great, puts me in a great mood, and makes my husband happy too!

So try it out and let me know if it work for you!


The other day I was browsing through Etsy (what else is new?) and came across the most adorable baby boho necklace. As I was about to click "purchase" I realized that I could easily make it myself! And why buy something when you can make it yourself for double the price? haha Well that's typically the case with DIY projects, but in this case, I was able to make 3 of them for less than the price I saw this one for and I still have enough materials to make probably 6-10 more...not that Ava needs that many boho necklaces, but you get the point. And sometimes, it's just fun to try out something fun and new!

So I gave it a try!

With no directions whatsoever, I experimented with different sizes and materials and came up with three different variations of the necklace. It only took around 10-15 minutes per necklace and I had a blast doing it!

I am not going to show any photos of Ava wearing it quite yet, because I have a boho crochet vest coming in the mail soon and that just has to make it's debut with one of her new necklaces. But I will show all variations so you can choose which you like the best! -- Happy crafting:)

How to make a DIY Boho Necklace:

1. Choose the fabric you'd like to use for the necklace. You only need one fabric per necklace, but I guess you could mix and match within the same necklace (I literally just thought of that as I was typing so I will have to give that a try!).

DIY Baby Boho Necklace Tutorial

2. Next we are making the part that goes around the neck and for the first necklace, I chose to braid the fabric to create the actual necklace. I forgot to take into account how much the fabric would shrink as I braided so I had to tie some string on the end of this one to make it long enough. So if you are choosing to braid, make sure it is about three times the length you want the actual necklace to be!

Some variations on this are half string and half braid, full braid, and braided string that isn't the same as the fabric. You will see all variations in this post to see which is your fave!

So anyways, cut your material into three sections and tie them all together on one end so you can braid. Then braid it as tight as possible all the way to the end and tie it off.

DIY Baby Boho Necklace Tutorial
DIY Baby Boho Necklace Tutorial

3. Cut 10-15 strips of your printed fabric. I experimented with different lengths and this definitely will vary depending on the child. But whatever length you choose, cut the strips into double that length, as they will all be folded in half.

DIY Baby Boho Necklace Tutorial

4. Attach the strips to your necklace braid by looping in half and then pulling both loose ends around the braid and through the loop. Pull tight so it won't fall off and continue with all strips.

DIY Baby Boho Necklace Tutorial
DIY Baby Boho Necklace Tutorial
DIY Baby Boho Necklace Tutorial

The Final Product

And here it is, the final product! You can see the braided necklace variations I tried, different lengths for the frill and different amounts of frill on each, some more full and some with less. And then on the peach one, I also added so very thing gold strands which I absolutely LOVE! You can scroll down to get a closer look at each :)

Which one is your favorite? Comment below!

DIY Baby Boho Necklace Tutorial
DIY Baby Boho Necklace Tutorial
DIY Baby Boho Necklace Tutorial
DIY Baby Boho Necklace Tutorial


I can't believe I am actually saying this because I ALWAYS get things done way ahead of time (yes, I am that girl who shows up to everything 20 minutes early) but I JUST finished the last piece of decor in Ava's room. Yep, we had a blank wall above her crib up until yesterday. Okay, let's be real -- I am sure I am going to find something else I totally love and will just keep adding and changing up her room decor. I already am planning to get one of those adorable little play teepees once she starts crawling! But until now, I can finally say that her room is complete...just four and a half months late.

I had a lot of trouble deciding what to put above her crib because what if it fell? I needed something that was lightweight so if it were to fall on her, it wouldn't hurt her.  And so, on a whim yesterday, we ran to Michaels and picked up some goods to DIY a little craft that I think turned out absolutely adorable.

Side story -- When my husband came home from work and I showed him, the first thing he said was, "Well what if those push pins fall out of the wall and into her crib and she rolls on them? That won't hurt her at all (sarcasm)." Dreams shattered. And after I hung it, Baxter walked in there and growled and barked at it like it was an intruder for a good 20 minutes. So apparently I am the only one who likes it but I am going to show it to you anyways :)

And it only took about 10 minutes from prep to hanging which was the coolest part! So here it goes:

What you need:

- 2 push pins or thumb tacks
- 5-6 feet of twine (or string)
- around 30 yards of ribbon, lace, fabric, etc
- scissors (you can't forget those!)

How to make it:

1. Cut your ribbon, lace, string and fabric into 2 ft strips.

cute and easy DIY nursery decor ideas
cute and easy DIY nursery decor ideas

2. Tie each strip onto the twine (I used 5 1/2 feet) in the center of the strip, so that one foot hangs on each side of the twine. I didn't have any pattern to mine, but just tried to spread out the colors.

cute and easy DIY nursery decor ideas

3. When you are done tying, flip all of the strands to one side and slide them to space it out as you like it.

cute and easy DIY nursery decor ideas
cute and easy DIY nursery decor ideas

3, Hang it up with your push pins and voila, that's all there is to it!

cute and easy DIY nursery decor ideas
cute and easy DIY nursery decor ideas
cute and easy DIY nursery decor ideas
cute and easy DIY nursery decor ideas


This week's reading was all about attitude and were my favorite chapters. I wouldn't call myself a very positive person, at least in times of hardship. Any curve ball that gets thrown my way always seems to be more than I can handle. And so, these next couple of chapters are ones that I am most working on in my own life to not only make my own life happier and more positive, but to show Ava that she should do the same as she begins to encounter hardship in her life.

And this week we have a lot of Ava photoshoots going on with lots of different brands (they seemed to all come in at once) so I am not going to be "chatting" about each of the quotes below, but I hope that you're able to have an internal conversation or a conversation with a friend or your spouse to go deeper into each of these points that found throughout the three chapters I read this week.

It's all about perspective.

"The question is not "What are you going through?" but "What is your perspective and attitude in the process?" (126)

Trust in God.

"Contentment is the opposite of self-pity. If our hearts are content because we trust in God as our loving provider, then we'll tend to keep our eyes off our troubles. But if we dwell on our wants or our difficulties (great or small), we will lose sight of the provisions God is granting us." (127)

Attitude is a choice.

"We learned that contentment is not based on what you have; it is based on how you choose to view life. It is an issue of the heart." (128)
"The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing that we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes." (137)

Gratitude is Contagious

"We can give our children no greater gift than a positive, consistent attitude of gratitude. Attitudes are contagious!"" (141)

Our struggles are blessings.

"If we had our choice, we'd probably choose to go through life without any struggles. Who wouldn't want life to be easier? But like it or not, our struggles actually serve a purpose. The hep us grow and develop into stronger, wiser, and more faithful people." (146)

Let our children struggle so they learn to turn to God.

"As positive moms, let's give our children a balanced outlook on life. Yes, there is pain in this world. There is disappointment. There is struggle. But there is also God." (155)


This week's reading was all about prayer and just like last week, I am going to be writing down some of my favorite excerpts from the book and my thoughts on each! Hope you can join in and read along with me :)

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)

Why do we pray?

"We pray because God tells us to bring all our requests to him.
We don't need to impress God (or the people around us) with our ability to spout windy, pious-sounding prayers. Prayer, Jesus said, is actually best when kept personal and simple." (80)
"We pray because we need wisdom from above to be good mothers." (81)
"We pray because it turns our eyes toward God and off our problems." (82)

This section really stood out to me because from longer than I can remember, I was told that God has a plan for us and that everything in our lives happens for a specific reason. And I struggle with this and the idea of free will because at times, we don't know why something has happened to us or why we were put in a specific place but later when we look back on these instances, we can often trace them back to why they happened. If it happened, I would have done this or received this job or gotten that deal. And so for this point, the part that stood out to me most was the idea of praying because I am a mother. I cannot be a mother alone and I need God to help me with this path I am taking. And so, prayer is needed.


I don't have time for prayer.

"'Sometimes we think we are too busy to pray,' C.H. Spurgeon once said. 'That is a great mistake, for praying is a saving of time.'" (85)

This one is so much of what I see in my own life. We have somewhere to be after dinner so we quickly sit down, skip the prayer because we are rushing, and scarf down our food. Is that 30 seconds of prayer really going to make us late? Nope. And so, the idea of prayer saving us time really hit home for me. And you'll see inthe 'Cleaning out our closets' section why.


Never give up on prayer.

"As positive, praying moms,, we need to be persistent." (91)
"Checking emails can be downright frustrating at times. Just when I feel like I have responded to all m emails, I'll check in the hours later and the inbox is full again. We can never say, "Well, I finished checking emails. I won't have to do that again." No, as much as we should like to have victory over emails and messages, they keep showing up again and again.
Many of our responsibilities as mothers require that kind of continual, repetitive attention: the laundry, dusting, picking up toys, cleaning dishes, even changing diapers (up to a point). Our worries, cares, and fears demand similar repetitive attention." (102)

Do you ever feel like you pray and pray and pray and nothing ever happens? I sure do! And sometimes, I just want to give up. It isn't helping anyways so why waste my time? What if we were to give up on potty training after the first try? There would be a whole mess of a house and so much more work for us to do, cleaning up accidents and washing the sheets over and over and over again. And just like that, prayer takes consistency too.


Cleaning out our closets.

"As mothers, we have a tendency to hold on to things we shouldn't - and I'm not just talking about old bowling balls, broken umbrellas, and worn-out tennis shoes. Too often we allow the cares of life to pile up in the closet in our hearts called "worry." Just as we clean out the junk in our home closets on a regular basis, we need to continually cast off the worries that we collect and tuck away in our hearts. And while we might reasonably clean out a junk closet once or twice a year, we should tackle our worries one a daily basis." (95)

Now this is me to a tee. I hold onto things. I get into fights with my husband and just won't let it go. I hold grudges and never forget them. I worry, I stress, and I just can't leave it up to God. And so, this is where I am going to work on my prayer time because in this way, I believe prayer could (will) have a huge impact on my life.


This summer, I am attending a Bible study for moms at my church and over the course of the next couple of months, we are reading and discussing the book "The Power of a Positive Mom." After reading just one chapter, I was hooked.

Now if you know me, you know that I cannot stand reading. I just hate it. It's boring to me and when I read, my mind begins to drift. But for some reason, this book has me wrapped around it's finger and, so, I decided that I would blog along each week as I read.

While it is a Christian-based book, it really is a great read for any mom (or dad) out there, whether you are Christian or not, as it talks about many different aspects of being a mom outside of religion.

Each week, I am going to highlight some of the points that really stood out to me, and the things that I am really going to try to implement in my own life. And so, here I go!

Our kids don't always need us.

"But I came to the humbling realization that there are times when our kids can and will make it without us - even should make it without us. It is tempting as mothers to step in and solve all of our children's problems, thinking we are the only ones who can. The truth is that our children need experiences that teach them to cope without us. If we take care of every need and are present in every situation, how will our children learn dependence on God?" (13)

This is one that is going to difficult for me to learn and while Ava is so young right now, it is something I will definitely need to work on as she gets older and more independent. We want to raise independent kids who love and lean on their parents, but who also are able to live their own lives, make their own decisions, and accomplish goals without mom helping them every step of the way. Whether we like it or not, our kids are going to grow up and it is up to us to allow them the room to grow.


We need to stop comparing ourselves to other moms.

"Often, however, we are tempted to compare ourselves to other women, and we forget that God has created us as unique mothers designed with exacting care to benefit our unique homes and families...Other families and other mothers may look like they have it all together, but in reality they, like us, have their good points along with their flaws, their challenges, and their regrets." (22)

This is one that so many moms struggle with and I point the blame on social media. There is nothing wrong with social media and, in fact, without it, I wouldn't have a job. As a blogger, social media is my job. But in life, we like to portray the happy moments in our lives and would never even think to post a photo of our kids in the middle of a tantrum. And there is nothing wrong with that either, as we don't want to come across as complainers! But just remember that just as your life may look perfect from the outside to others, those other moms and families are struggling in areas as well. We are only human and every human struggles.

And the point that I loved most about this, is the idea that you were created as a mom for your family and your family only. God gave you the perfect child for you - that child was chosen for you specifically and that is what makes being a mom so special. You may be able to handle your own struggles, where another mom may not be able to handle them as you do. And so is the same with you being placed in their shoes. So just remember, that you were imperfectly created as the perfect mom for your family.


You don't need a full schedule in order to be a good mom.

"Is there anything on the list you don't need to be doing? Is there anything on the list you sense God telling you to stop doing? You and I must reexamine our activity load on a regular basis, asking ourselves these important questions, making adjustments and gaining control of our calendars. Although we may think and overflowing plate of activities and interests makes us "well-rounded," the truth is that it i more likely to stress us out and make us ineffective in our areas of primary responsibility." (24)

Now this one is huge for me as my daughter is only three months old and I have already taken on a new blogging venture (this one), joined 2 mommy groups, started a mommy-kid play date once a week at our church and joined a small group. And as Ava gets older, I am sure I am going to want to volunteer for everything and anything at her schools and sign her up for every activity and sport there is out there. I mean, I have the privilege of working from home and creating my own hours, so it would be terrible for me not to take on those tasks, right? Well that's what I always think and I don't like to say no. And while I am not overwhelmed by the activities I have taken on at the moment, I am sure they will continue to pile higher, leaving me burnt out and unable to tend to my core responsibilities as a mom.

Keeping my responsibilities outside of the home to a minimum so that they remain manageable, will enable me to be effective in other areas of my life but will also allow me to focus my attention on being a mom over everything else. And more than anything, THAT is what will make me a good mom....not taking on every other responsibility outside of the home.


Moms need a break.

"Our cell phones are a vital part of our daily lives - we would never think of leaving home without them, right? Unfortunately, they always need to be recharged. Many times I've had to make an important callor find directions, only to see the display on the phone blink "low battery." Cell phones may be a great convenience when they are fully charged, but they are useless if they run out of battery.
The same is true for mothers. We become drained too. We get tired physically and emotionally from the constant effort to discipline, entertain, and care for our kids....We all need a break, a respire, a safe haven in which we can re-energize from the cares of motherhood." (28)

While we are on 24/7 as a mom, we need our sleep and we need a break. During those breaks, we are still mom and are still going to be on call but we need to find time for ourselves too. I know that I need to work on taking a nap, sleeping in once in a while and even going out to get my nails done alone or grabbing a drink with friends. Those moments don't make us bad parents because we need a break from our kids, but they give us a way to re-energize and re-charge that battery FOR our kids. So those breaks, while they are for us, they are positive for our families as well!


Our kids need constant encouragement.

"One of the greatest investments we can make i the lives of our kids is to give them sincere and specific words of encouragement. It costs us so little in time and effort, but the rewards are priceless. When our young people are reminded of their God-given value, they receive deposits of confidence, security, and well-being in their emotional bank accounts. The begin building on their strengths, knowing the have something to contribute to this world. On the other hand, when our children have nothing positive to believe about themselves, their emotional bank accounts can become bankrupt - overdrawn by the negative comments and disappointments that occur every day in the world around them." (36)

I think this one just takes a constant reminder over time. We get so deep into our every day busy lives that I can definitely see myself forgetting the need for constant encouragement in my child's life. So for this, I think I need a post-it note on my mirror to remind me each morning. And in addition to encouraging our children, I think we should add encouraging ourselves to the daily checklist too!


We cannot make our kids want what they want.

"As mothers, our affirming influence is like that breeze that firmly sends the sailboat of our children's lives across the water of life. Helping our children reach their destination - to achieve the fullness of their God-given potential - is one of the most rewarding aspects of our jobs as moms. But we must be careful. It is tempting to impose our own expectations on our children, to try to push them in the direction we want for them rather than the direction God has planned for them since the beginning of time. Our challenge is to learn how to be the wind in their sails without blowing them off the course God has set for their lives." (51)

Just like a rebellious teenager, kids are going to love what they love and will be good at what they are good at. I find myself in conversation with my husband asking, "What sport should Ava do so she can get a full-ride to college?" Instead of remembering that God has designed a plan or her life, we begin to plan it out at such a young age. Of course, the activities we place her in are going to direct her, but what if Ava doesn't like sports? It's crazy to think since we are both sports families and even more difficult to actually type and publish those words but no matter how much we push her in one direction, she is who she is and is going to follow her own path in life. 

And so, as a mom, I need to encourage her where she needs to be encouraged. I need to allow her to try out different sports and arts and music so that she can find what she loves, rather than becoming a competitive gymnast because that is what I did and what I want her to do. I need to encourage her and be her biggest cheerleader in whatever she chooses.


A smile goes a long way.

"A smile speaks volumes to our children. When a mother smiles at her son from the audience of a school play, she tells him, "I'm proud of you. You're doing a great job." When she smiles as her daughter comes in the door after a difficult day at school, she reassures her, "It's okay. Everything will be alright." (66)
"We don't have to wait to have "happy feelings" before we smile. Think about it. Most of the actions we take in life are not based on a feeling, but on a deliberate decision. You don't wait for the feeling to hit you before you do the laundry, do you? I hope not - otherwise you'd have piles of dirty clothes ling around just waiting for you to get a warm, fuzzy feeling about doing the wash. For most of us, I think, those piles would simply keep growing! No, you do the loads because they need to be done. It's not a matter of feeling like it; it's a matter of choosing a course of action. Smiling, too, is something we can choose to do whether we feel like it or not. It's an act of kindness - sometimes a sacrificial one - extended to those around us." (67)

We all know that there are studies after studies that prove the power of a smile not just in others, but in ourselves. So why not make ourselves happy while making our kids happy too? It's a win-win for everyone and is something that is so simple (and free!). And that's another post-it I think I should add to my mirror. If I do nothing else in life, a simple smile every single day will definitely make me a better mom.

I know I just wrote a novel but there is so much more to learn from this book and these were just the points that really hit home with me, personally. So each week, I will continue to blog about the book and what stands out most to me. And I encourage you to follow along with me!

Lastly, I am going to leave you with a prayer that was included in the book, that I just loved and wanted to share with all of you:

"Wonderful Father, thank You for allowing me to participate in the glorious occupation of motherhood. Thank You for being the perfect parent - and the perfect role model! Please help me to remember that my job is significant and eternally important. Help me to glorify You as I work, teach, play, change diapers, and make sandwiches each day. Bless my family with peace and safety as we grow to honor you. In Jesus' name I pray, amen." (15)


Every mom plays an important role in her baby's life. In adition to providing our babies with life, with milk to grow and a home for over 9 months, we have a special bond with our little ones. And for some reason in our society, it seems that the men are always considered the "next in line." They are mommy's loyal helper, the one who takes the baby when mom is too tired, who changes diapers when mom just needs a break and the ones who are always learning how to take care of a baby. They are always learning "the right way to do things" because mommy knows best.

the role of the dad in a baby's life

Well that's what so many dads (and moms) think of the role of the daddy, but in reality, were are on equal levels in our kids' lives and guess what? Mommy isn't always right! The way she changes the diaper is her way of doing it, and dad has another way of doing it. The way dad dresses his little girl and the color bow he picks out is adorable to him, and could never be the wrong way. I often find myself correcting my husband on the way he takes care of Ava.

"You know if you roll the dirt diaper up like this, it works a lot better and creates more space in the trash can."

"You know that the water in the bath tub can be warmer than that, right?"

"That outfit you put on her totally doesn't match!"

And because of all of this, he has come to ask me to pick out her outfits and asks me if he is putting her diaper up high enough over her belly. Frank is the most amazing daddy and could very easily do all of this on his own, of course, but because of how I have worded things and how many times he has been "wrong" in my eyes, it is almost as though we make our husbands feel that we are better at taking care of the little ones than they are. But we aren't.

Just because I am the mommy, doesn't mean I am right. And it doesn't mean that he is right. It just means that we are different and we have our own ways of doing things, just like another mommy may do it differently than I do.

To all of the mommies out there: Stop telling your husband's how to do it right. If the baby's diaper explodes all over the place, he will learn how to do it differently. And if she spits up all over him, he will know next time that a blanket may be better than a small burp cloth.  And guess what? He will continue to choose funky outfits that you never would have thought of, and may even put her romper on backwards but does that all matter? In the end, no.

At one point, you didn't know how to put the diaper on correctly and you didn't know how to swaddle and guess what? He is as smart as you are and will figure it out just like you did. So let him do it his way. He is a daddy and is just as good of a parent as you are. And he is doing it all right, just differently.

the role of the dad in a baby's life

And to all of the daddies out there: You are doing a fabulous job. Whether your wives say it or not, society always tells us that mommies do it better. But we don't. We all have our own ways of taking care of our little ones and we aren't right and we aren't wrong. So when it comes time to pick out her outfit, pick what YOU think is adorable, change the diaper the way that works best for you and sooth her the way you think will be best to comfort her while she is crying.

Daddies, you are amazing at being a dad. You aren't mommy's little helper and although you may not be able to provide milk out of your boobs (which still makes me feel like a super hero), that is literally the only thing that you can't do that mommy can. The one and only thing. You are equal to your baby's mommy and you, too, play an overwhelmingly important role in your kids' lives. So take ownership of that and know that you are learning every day, just as mommy is. And you are doing a great job.

Dear Dads: You aren't mommy's helper. You're an amazing dad.

How to Tie A Baby Head Wrap

For those of you who follow us on Instagram, you've seen these videos already. But if you don't or you missed them, we made some mini tutorials on how to tie a baby head wrap. Of course there are tons of ways you can do it, but these are four of our favorite ways we style Ava's bows and head wraps, and they can all be done in 30 seconds or less!

So here are the four videos on how to tie a baby head wrap so you can become an expert in no time! Which is your favorite?