Find beauty in the ordinary.

All too often we forget to take the time to slow down and enjoy the simple things. “Busy” has become an accomplishment, rather than something to avoid. We’re working so feverishly toward our goals that time flies by, and a year passes in the blink of an eye. We get lost in the monotony of the day-to-day routine, and we forget to slow down and actually enjoy the present (myself included).

This is one of the many reasons why I love photography. One instant, frozen in time. I usually prefer portraits, but I think these photos are particularly beautiful (I took them January 2012 on a trip to California). I love the feel, the texture, and the color. These objects are so ordinary that the beauty lies in their simplicity.

Row boat in Dana Point, CA harbor.

A backyard orange tree.

A wet dock.

Moss in the backyard.

A hair dilemma.

I have straight hair. Very, very straight hair. So straight that if I curl it (even with hairspray), it’s flat within 10 minutes. Imagine my surprise when my daughter has fluffy, curly hair. What do I do with that? Curly hair does run in my family (my sister & dad) and on Jon’s side too, so I wasn’t horribly surprised.

First thing I did was ask my sister what to do. She told me 1) never brush her hair unless it’s wet because it separates them, 2) get layers in her hair because it brings out the curls, and 3) use product for curly hair! Well, I’m still not good at it, so inevitably I always just put her hair in a ponytail. Which I do very well, if I do say so myself. But the day I snapped these photos (when we were in California) we left it down. It was pretty, but I did break rule #1, and you can tell. See what I mean when I say fluffy? I just wound her hair around my finger when it was wet to accentuate the ringlets.

And I didn’t realize how red it looks until I saw these photos! She got this horse with a Barbie for her birthday and she was very proud it…I love how she’s trying to ride it (in the above pics). She wouldn’t part with it for days! Not even on the airplane ride home. =)

Her outfit was under $15:

  • Shirt: Target, $7.99 (unusual for me, because I never buy her new clothes!)
  • Jeggings: Target, clearance $3.98 (they’re one size too small, so I turn them into capris by rolling them up once)
  • Shoes: Old Navy, thrifted $1.99 (I threw them in the wash and they look brand new!)

Dear Disney Vault: I Hate You.

First of all, thanks so much to everyone who’s following me over here from the Trendy Tike blog! Again, I just want to express that I really feel like I have more to say than just tips and tricks about kid’s fashion. Of course I will continue that stuff on here too…how could I resist? BUT I want to be able to be myself and not feel like it’s inappropriate for a kid-centric blog, ya know? Because for anyone who knows me personally, you know I’m a bit of a straight-forward, potty-mouthed, open-about-everything type person. Oh yeah. So if you’re looking for a “picture perfect” lady, alas, that is not me.

So moving on to this post: Am I the only one who friggin’ hates the Disney Vault? It’s particularly annoying because my favorites are still locked away…every 10 years or so they re-release the classics? Laaaame. But I’m super excited because they’re releasing Cinderella on October 2nd! It’s my favorite next to The Little Mermaid…we’re saving a gift certificate that McKenzie got for her birthday to buy it. I vividly remember making a fort out of table/chairs/blankets and watching it in my living room as a child. Maybe I’ll re-create that for Kenzers. We shall see. It’s just such a happy story. Those bitchy step-sisters definitely get what’s coming to them.

And truthfully, I know if I really wanted to I could stream them, buy some on eBay, or get a VHS and play them…but it’s not the same. I suppose it’s a good marketing plan and what-not, but it sucks! Urgh. Dear Disney Vault, I hate you. A lot.

Oh, and what’s up with the re-releasing in 3D in theaters? Don’t get me wrong, I love to see them again on the big screen, but am I seriously the only one who hates 3D movies? McKenzie won’t even keep the glasses on if we go, and then I worry about it hurting her eyes. And it kinda gives me a headache. Fortunately, the theater near us also always offers the movies in 2D as well (which is cheaper too, so that’s a plus), so we just see that. Do they offer 2D everywhere when 3D re-releases? I have no clue. Damn you Disney.

But yeah, thanks for sticking around folks. And “follow” along if you haven’t already, either by email or by “liking” Life So Lovely on Facebook! ;)

McKenzie’s First Day of School!

As a parent, the first day of school was definitely a bittersweet day! Jon came home early from campus just so we could both walk McKenzie to school, since she’s the afternoon class of 4K. I just can’t believe our baby is getting so big! Granted, she is probably the youngest in her class…but still.

So funny story: I have a chalkboard and I was trying to make it look super-cute (like this girl’s blog…she’s a freakin rockstar at the chalkboard), but I was failing miserably and running out of time. Long story short, I ran to Michael’s and bought a frame ($4.99), scrapbook paper (65¢), and scrapbook lettering ($3.99). So for under $10 I was able to make her a Pinterest-style frame in 10 minutes, with less than an hour to spare before her school started. I was very relieved, and I think it turned out pretty cute! At least it looks polished! Apparently, I am no chalkboard artist. Haha.

A few hours later, I walked back to the school and picked her up. She saw me, ran to me, and gave me a huge hug. Her sweet hugs are enough to make my heart melt.

Her teacher told me that at the end of the day, McKenzie announced, “That was easy!” Super cute. The whole way home, she was talking about how much fun she had, and how she can’t wait to go back tomorrow! I certainly hope she always keeps up this positive attitude about school! Oh, and I didn’t cry once. ;)

I love all the pics I snapped today. I especially love that there are some of me with her. All too often as the momma/photographer, I am not in any pictures ever. Oh. And I think the one of McKenzie hugging Jon (daddy) goodbye are especially precious. Here are some photos from our sweet baby girl’s first day of school:

UPDATE: I thought it would be cute to take the “First Day of 4K” sign and turn it into a real photo frame, with some of the fun/memorable photos we took today. I think it turned out adorable! Please excuse the crappy camera phone pic. I chose the one of her with her backpack and one of her waiting in line to go into her classroom. I’m so happy she had a great first day. =)

Photography.

I started my photography business early this year, and it has been so much fun. Photography is never something I would’ve seen myself doing professionally, after all, I majored in English Linguistics at UW-Madison. But I truly enjoy what I’m doing right now. It’s so flexible and I love being able to schedule my own hours, and it’s especially great when I get to bring McKenzie with me! She tagged along to baby Brixton’s newborn photo session today, and she was a good little helper. Here are some of my favorite photos:

I am so privileged to be the one to capture these moments in people’s lives!

The Laurie Berkner Band!

McKenzie is one of the most musical little children I’ve ever met. If it involves singing or dancing, she’ll love it…guaranteed. So one day, my good friend Stephanie came to visit (who happens to be an elementary school music teacher) and she’d burned two great kid’s CDs for us! One of them was The Laurie Berkner Band (this song is McKenzie’s favorite).

The best part is that they’re on Netflix and there are two different shows, so definitely check it out if you have it. There are fun moves and everything…it keeps her entertained for awhile. Haha. It’s great for both boys and girls, and even babies would love it, I’m sure!

The best part is that the music isn’t annoying like some other kid’s music I’ve heard (think the SpongeBob theme song), it’s actually very good. Anyhow, I’m super excited because they’re coming to Milwaukee on October 28th! It’s going to be a Halloween special, and I can’t wait to go with McKenzie. She’ll even get to dress up! She’s gonna have so much fun.

When we told her about it, she was ecstatic. She said, “Oh my gosh! I love her voice. Will I get to meet her? I’ll have to tell her that she has an awesome voice. Will she sound the same as on TV?” So full of questions and excitement. It was pretty much the epitome of adorable. =)

So yeah, check it out. I really recommend them if you have a musically inclined kid!

Free 8×8 Shutterfly Photo Book Code…who doesn’t love FREE?

Okay, so I LOVE those few times a year when Shutterfly gives away the free 8×8 hardcover Photo Books…and now is one of those times! I just got the e-mail yesterday and I am soooo excited, you guys! The promo code is: SUMMERBOOK and it’s good until Wednesday, September 12th. You only pay shipping…so basically, it’s time to get creative! Here are some things that I currently want to do with Photo Books for McKenzie:

http://www.shutterfly.com

-Memories: I have recently resolved to make a photobook for each year of her life. I never really kept up with the baby book for her, so I think this is a great way to chronicle her infancy/toddlerhood/preschool years before I start forgetting the silly/adorable little milestones she’s had! I’ll need to catch up on Birth/1-Year,  Age 1/2, Age 2/3, and Age 3/4…oh my! I have a lot of pictures to sift through. =)

-Create a Story: I always thought it would be fun to create a little story with McKenzie, take pictures for it, and turn it into a Photo Book…wouldn’t that be such a fun little memory? You could either make it a project, write your own little story, and take pictures for it OR you could have your little kiddo(s) act out parts of a popular kid’s story and/or take pictures with friends to re-create  it for a Photo Book (think: ToyStory, Cars, Nemo, Snow White, Cinderella, etc). It’s kinda like publishing your own book!

-“A Day in the Life:” What about a Photo Book chronicling “A Day in the Life of (your kid’s name here)“?  Wouldn’t it be fun to read them their own story at bedtime?! How cool would that be? This could totally work for any age too, boy or girl. I really want to do this before it gets too cold outside to take pics!

-Give a Gift: These Photo Books are great gifts, and I want to start prepping for Christmas. And thoughtful gifts mean so much more than expensive ones…no question! I mean, no one needs to know it was free! ;)

I hope this gave you some good ideas for Photo Books so you can make fun, free one too! And please, you guys, let me know if any of you do idea #2! I really want to see one made this way, I think it’d be so fun! Remember, the coupon code expires Wednesday, September 12th…so you only have 5 days! Do any of you have other fun ideas for fun Photo Books?

As a side note: I’m working on creating another blog as a more permanent one that I plan to use: “Life So Lovely.” I’m going to re-copy all these posts to that one…I don’t really want to be restricted to blogging about kid’s fashion, because I think I have a lot more to say. Just interesting things. Parent things. Wife things. Life things. School things. You know, just general stuff. Never fear, I will always post about McKenzie and her little fashionable-self…I don’t think I can help it! Haha. I just think I’ll be able to build a longer-lasting audience if I have a less-narrow specification…ya dig? So that’s in the process. I’ll continue blogging on here until I feel ready for the big reveal of “Life So Lovely.” Stay tuned, and as always, thanks for stopping by!

Shop Smarter, Not Harder: Barbies on a Budget

McKenzie is currently on a Barbie kick. Which is completely fine…but who knew those things are so dang expensive?! It’s at least $10 for one. In order to save a little dough, I went to our local Goodwill to check out what they available. And I lucked out! Over the course of a couple weeks, I was able to find enough Barbies for great imagination play. And at only $1.99 each, they definitely didn’t break the bank. Since she’s only 4-years-old, McKenzie could care less if it’s thrifted…a new toy is a new toy!

Some of the Barbies were naked, so we went to Wal-Mart and got them some new clothes ($3.27/each)…but most of them came with an outfit. So for between $1.99-$5/each she has a new barbie clan. We even lucked out and found a Barbie car for $1.99!

Also, in order to keep them looking nice and prevent their hair from getting tangled, I always put their hair in ponytails right away. Everything pictured cost about $25 (including the new clothes), which is at least 50% off what we would’ve spent if we bought ‘em new. If you don’t have a big selection at your local thrift store, always check Craigslist and eBay! You never know what you’ll find.

Here’s another example, too: McKenzie had been asking for a guitar for weeks and I found this one at Goodwill for $1.99! And hey, you won’t feel bad if your kid(s) wrecks it, since you got such a great deal. =)

What hurts more than giving birth?

Answer: This double ear infection. Like, not even kidding. Oh. My. Goodness. The pain was so excruciating that it made me physically sick…3 times. At least labor is a fleeting pain, with an awesome payoff. What do I have to show for all my pain this Labor Day? A ruptured f*%#ing eardrum. It’s been at least 48 hours of agony at this point, and pain meds (and I’m talking 2 Vicodin, here) do nothing. Yep. Worst Labor Day Weekend ever. Jon has been a saint caring for McKenzie all day by himself, as I lie in bed with an ear infection, terrible fever, and ruptured eardrum. Laaaaaame.

And McKenzie was the sweetest little princess all day. She would crawl into bed and try to make me feel better by stroking my face and hair. She tried leading me by the hand to her bathroom to get some of her “red medicine” (liquid children’s Tylenol) to “make you feel better Momma.” She is seriously the sweetest little kid ever.

It’s funny how your worst days can make you the most thankful for all the wonderful things in your life.

I’m not cheap…I’m thrifty!

Who likes to waste money? No one, that’s who. So whenever we visit California I always stop by the local Children’s Orchard to buy McKenzie “new” clothes. It’s a resale shop with children’s clothing and toys…and I LOVE it! Kids grow so quickly that their clothes stay in awesome shape. ((Check out the store locator on the home page to see if there’s one near you.)) I always go a little crazy and buy a ton of stuff… this visit, I got her ENTIRE winter wardrobe for around $80! Crazy, right? 6 pairs of pants, 6 shirts, 3 dresses, 1 pair of brand-new kicks. Yep. Momma did well! Here are my finds (and FYI, these are photos of the actual clothes I got her):

The brands for the jeans above are (left to right): Gap 1969, Genuine Kids, and Koala Kids. She only ever has about 2 pairs of jeans at a time. It’s all you really need.

These are all corduroy pants if you can’t tell from the picture (pink ones are actually thrifted from Goodwill). I love bright colored pants on kids…and they’re even popular on adults right now…not that I could wear her pants. Haha. Any-who, the pink ones are Genuine Kids and the other two are Cherokee. Sa-weet. That means that all 6 pairs of pants were under $30. They averaged $4.80/pair…for name-brand pants! Talk about a steal. ;)

And aren’t these dresses ridiculously cute?! The brands are (left to right): Old Navy, Gymboree, and the tags on the striped one were cut off…so if you know, leave a comment. ;) I figured that the red one will be for Christmas. The other two are just great fall/winter wardrobe staples. They could be worn with boots or shoes. =)

All the shirts I bought from Children’s Orchard were $3.99. The brands above are (left to right): Oshkosh B’Gosh, Jumping Beans, and Gymboree. The brands below are: Carter’s, Gap (obviously), and Jumping Beans. I love all the fun, bright colors!

Also, I always shop for shirts to match the shoes that she already has…like these ones from Target, which I found on clearance for $2.98. That way, I always know that her shoes will match her clothes, and I can dress her quickly without putting a lot of thought into it! Makes things super-simple.

Lastly, I found these amazingly cute Adidas shoes there…they are definitely brand new and they were only $7.99! They will match perfectly with the (3) new Adidas tracksuits that she got for her birthday from our good friend, Kim, in California!I hope this gave everyone some insight into how I shop for Kenzie…can you believe all of these clothes are used? Can’t you just see all the adorable combos of outfits we can do with these pieces? If you don’t have a Children’s Orchard near you, there are tons of private resale shops around, and I shop at Goodwill all the time! I’m very picky though (I won’t get clothes if they look too worn), and I shop for the look of the clothes, not the brand. And even check Craigslist! You can get great deals on kid’s clothes. So you see, guys, I’m not cheap…I’m thrifty. ;) Oh, and thanks for all the birthday wishes already on FB! Y’all know how to make a girl feel special.

[[All photos were taken by me in my living room! Not too shabby for my first time editing photos this way, right?!]]