Let’s just say I packed way, way too much for Alt. I tried really hard to only bring what I knew I was going to wear but extra stuff just creeped in. I did however plan some outfits I knew I would feel confident and comfortable in. I promised myself I wasn’t going to let it be a big fashion show and get all intimidated by what others were wearing. Don’t you hate that feeling? It’s so silly. I just wanted to have fun and know that after I decided what to wear I wasn’t going to worry about it anymore. This will be a 2 part series. Here are my first 3 outfits from Alt. Summit…
^^ Worn: Conference Day One
I looked through my pinterest fashion board before I left for some inspiration. I noticed I had pinned a lot of Denim on Denim, especially involving jean skirts. I knew I wanted to wear something just like that.
OUTFIT ONE DETAILS: Joe Fresh Denim Shirt (similar), Modcloth Denim Skirt (Simiar), Kork-Ease Boots, Bonlook Glasses, Michael Kors Watch, Rings from Forever 21 and Moorea Seal.
^^ Worn: Mini Parties on Friday Night
OUTFIT TWO DETAILS: J.Crew Shirt (Almost exactly the same!), Lulu*s Necklace, UO Moto Leather Pants (Similar), BCBG Heels (similar), Michael Kors Watch
^^ Worn: Thursday Night GREEN Party
When I found out the theme for the party was “green”, I was kind of bummed. I literally own nothing green. I guess I really don’t like wearing that color. Who knew? I started looking online but I couldn’t find anything I liked. Nothing! Well, nothing that was under $100. I wasn’t about to buy something (I would only be wearing once) for butt loads of money. I decided I would try making a skirt instead. I headed to Jo Ann’s and found the taffeta on sale for $1.50 a yard. Oh yeah!! 4 yards, 1 gold zipper, some new green thread and I was out the door for a total of $12. Fist pumps anyone? I was a little scared it wouldn’t come out that well. I totally made it the night before my morning flight out there. Nothing like some healthy pressure to get it done. It’s nothing fancy or show worthy, but all in all it turned out pretty well for a girl who doesn’t sew great. I was pretty proud of myself. No pattern or anything! A few pinterest searches for skirt tutorials and then I just sort of went for it.
OUTFIT THREE DETAILS: J.Crew Button Up (similar, similar), Self-made skirt, BCDG Heels (similar), Moorea Seal Necklace, Michael Kors Watch.
Well, Alt. Summit is over. I am on a plane thousands of miles above the ground. Left alone with my thoughts and some $8 wifi. To be honest my thoughts are racing. It’s been a jam packed 4 days. I had the most ridiculous trip out to Salt Lake (and by ridiculous I mean TERRIBLE- do you follow me on twitter or instagram?). I thought when I got there it would slow down, but you are kind of on the go, go, go the moment you get there. Not in a bad way, it’s a go, go, go in the best possible way. It’s just very busy. Have you ever been to a blog conference before? They can be very overwhelming. So many bloggers, so many panels and so many sponsors to schmooze with. Where does one even start? Sometimes it feels like when you first get on a cruise ship and there is just SO.MUCH.TO.DO, that you kind of freak out because you want to do it all and you don’t want to miss anything. You plan your schedule to the exact minute to get the very most out of it all. But you know what I’ve found when you do that? You almost end up missing more. Sure the panels are fabulous and it’s great to head into the lounges to talk to sponsors but you know where I have found the most valuable connections? When I have been casual and have bumped in to people over lunch, or between a session. You can easily miss those special moments if you have your nose to the program, quickly moving from place to place.
I spoke on a panel about sharing without over sharing and dealing with negativity. I’ve seen more than my fair share of negativity about my blog and I have come a long way with how I deal (emotionally and practically) with it since my very first mean comment. To be honest I just don’t have room in my life for it. I never ever go read any of the comments they write about us on other sites and if they come here it’s my right to delete any hateful comment. End of story. It’s funny because my panel spent a good hour talking about all the negativity, yet all I could think about was how grateful I was. I looked out seeing so many smiling faces looking back at me and I thought this is why I blog. Here I was, sitting beside some of my favorite bloggers at a conference that was full of so many talented and aspiring women. It was awesome. Negativity aside, the blogging community is so freaking fantastic more than 95% of the time. In all my years, I would have never thought blogging would’ve changed my life as much as it has. I’ve made so many dear, dear friends that I couldn’t imagine my life without. I have loved meeting every reader who has come up and said hello over the years. Every postive email, comment, tweet. They do not go unnoticed. I know who you guys are. I may not always get to respond but if you’ve been commenting on my site then I can assure you, you have touched my life. The good will always out weight the bad. Always. Always. Always.
I shared a hotel room with 4 other girls. There was 1 king size bed and one tiny couch. Let’s just say 3 of us got cozy in that big bed together (yes, that’s us in the top picture with the animal masks. I’m the squirrel). My Dad asked me if it was awkward or uncomfortable to be in a room with girls I don’t know very well. Truth be told, it wasn’t. At all. After going to so many blogging events, I’ve realized that finally getting to meet online friends in real life is pretty much the most awesome thing ever! It’s like all the awkward “get to know you” stuff is out of the way already. You follow them online so you already know so much about them. All you are left with is the excitement of meeting someone you know you are going to love. Sharing a room with Moorea, ChelseyWhitney and Morgan was by far one of my most favorite parts of this trip. I also got to meet Lesley and oh man! I wish we lived closer. She was so wonderful, I knew we would be fast friends! These women inspire me in so many ways. Really, ALL the ladies I meet this weekend left a mark.
It was a whirlwind of a trip that’s for sure. It’s always hard being away from Kev and the girls but I came home feeling reenergized and so blessed by so many wonderful friendships. If you haven’t been to a blogger meet up or conference I would totally suggest trying it out.
p.s. it was an extra special bonus to be there along side Susan as we all watched her hard work pay off on Shark Tank. What a super fun party! So many congrats and jump high fives to such an awesome kick ass lady. Like I said on instagram, there may be lots of knock offs out there BUT there will only ever be ONE Freshly Picked.
(All pictures that don’t look they are from an iphone were taken from the Alt Flickr. Thanks to the photographers who captured such great moments through out the conference!)
Today I am honored to be partnering up with Lulu*s to share a little bit about how my friendship with Julie from Orchid Grey started. And give you (and your bff) a chance to win free dresses for a year. A YEAR!
One of my most favorite reasons why I love blogging so much is because of the community. 6 years ago I got to meet one of my very first blogging friends in real life. I followed Julie’s blog and knew she worked as an admission counselor at an art college in our state. I was bringing my high school students to a portfolio review at a local college and thought “I wonder if Julie would be there?”. We emailed back and forth and realized we were actually going to be at the same portfolio review day. So crazy. See? We were meant to be friends. We met up the night before the portfolio review and the rest is history. We have been close friends since! I am so thankful for her. We have shared many a fashion week hotels together, bounced thousands of blog stories, ideas and struggles off each other, traveled to conferences, swaps, hundreds of thrift stores, but my favorite part are the times were Kev, the girls and I just get to hang out and enjoy Julie and Chris’s company. Low Key. Lots of fun. Tons of memories.
So when Lulu*s approached us asking if we would be interested in celebrating Galintine’s Day together. It was a very quick and loud YES!! We jumped in the car and headed to Rochester to celebrate a few weekends early. Did you know Rochester is in the middle of Albany and Pittsburgh? I know. Crazy, right? We had a fabulous weekend together. We spent lots of time at the Cafe my sister works at. Java’s might just be one of my favorite places. So full of life and color. I think we ended up there 3 times in 1.5 days. It was the perfect place to catch up.
OK, OK! I know you all want to know how to win free dresses for a year right? So awesome!!
LuLu*s The Great Galentine’s Giveaway: Win Free Dresses for a Year!!
Valentine’s day may be coming up quick but here at LuLu*s, Galentine’s day reigns supreme!! Forget the flowers and treat yourself to a year of fresh frocks! LuLu*s is giving away one free dress a month to one lucky gal (and her best pal) for all of 2014! Follow the link to enter and refer your best gal pal with your custom generated link for a chance to WIN.
Head over to Julie’s blog to see details of her amazing outfit!
I am tired. I am very tired. This quote has been ringing in my ears a lot. I’ve also been wearing this sweatshirt a lot lately too because it makes me laugh at how true it is. It’s like a sad, sad joke. After a month of vacation and holiday travel we’ve spent the last few weeks trying to get in our groove at home. That especially means with sleep. We have been neck deep in sleep training with Rowan and well, it just is not going well. She got a little to use to sleeping all together (most nights in the same bed) and doesn’t want to stay in her room. We’ve made a few advances here and there but then something comes up… like more travel. Having 2 kids that are literally up every half hour all night long is wearing. Physically and emotionally. I swear if it’s not one, it’s the other. I can’t even imagine what a full night of sleep feels like. It’s been over a year that’s for sure. I am continually praying that I can find wisdom and have patience over it all. 3 year olds are smart little creatures. Much smarter than we give them credit for. Rowan knows exactly what to say in the middle of the night to get me into her room. I try to resist but then my mom guilt gets me. I start thinking “what if she really is thirsty? What if her poor little throat is dry and I am denying her a drink? I’m so terrible”. Ha! Oh man the inner struggle. I know she’s bested me when I bring her that drink and she throws it to the side without even taking a drink. Then says something like “but my back is so scratchy now”. Oh the excuses.
It’s true. Some days on this journey called parenthood are long. They can be very long. But you know what else is true? The years really are short. When I think back to Rowan being a baby, I really don’t remember the struggle all that much. I know it was there. But where there was once frustration and anxiety over being a first time mom, its now filled with lots of sweet memories that overpower any of the bad. So with that perspective in mind I am whispering to myself with each middle of the night wake up call… “This is just a stage, this is just a stage”. I know this too shall pass. Soon enough (and really it can’t come soon enough) they will both be back to a good sleeping schedule and we will all be sleeping through the night. Until then though, I will try to embrace the tired and keep wearing my sweatshirt as a warning to others.
NOTE: I am currently in a hotel room in Chicago all by myself. ALL.BY.MYSELF! After an extremely long day of a bunch of canceled flights, I am left all alone in a city I wasn’t supposed to be in. I WILL SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT TONIGHT! I am super pumped about it, even with a 6am wake up call. Get this though! It’s almost too quiet. When you are surrounded by chaos all day, everyday, when you get a chance to be alone it’s almost too quiet. Why is that? I am sure that thought will pass in about 2 seconds when my head hits the pillow and I get 6 glorious, uninterrupted hours of sleep.
I miss my babies though.
I digress. Anyway. Whatever your parenting struggle is right now. I hope you can find comfort in remembering it’s a short road on this long journey. It will pass. You will look back on the years and remember the great joys, the struggles will be but a distant memory.
Happy Friday Everyone! We are off to Rochester for the weekend to see my 2 sisters and to hang out with Julie and Chris!! I am so super excited. Who knew Rochesters was smack dab in the middle of Albany and Pittsburgh. Here are my favorite items from around the web this week…
1. LOFT is having a 40% off sale ON EVERYTHING!!! I am kind of dying over all the simple and chic items they have for spring. The styling is perfect on the pictures above. I really like what they are doing over there! 40% off!!
2. I got these jeans the other day and they are PERFECT! and so inexpensive. I love them.
3. Oh I just loved this post from Danielle. So Sweet.
4. Doing something special for Valentines Day? This is the perfect dress!
I am not much of a breakfast eater. Sure anything covered in maple syrup is delicious, but those kinds of breakfast are few and far between in our house. I would eat a bagel everyday if it wasn’t bad for you. Mmmm bread. I am always on the hunt for something that is healthy and delicious. I do LOVE smoothies so I make a lot of those in the morning for everyone. When we were in Hawaii there was a Lanikai Juice by where we were staying and we started getting Acai Bowls every morning. OH.MY.GOODNESS!! They are so freaking good. It is like a super thick smoothie (more like frozen yogurt) that is topped with granola, fresh fruit, honey and toasted coconut. I would have eaten one every morning. The acai berry is known as a “superfood” because it’s super high in antioxidants.
When we got back I decided I HAD to figure out how to make them at home. I did some research and found that they sell acai juice at our local grocery store (I found it by where they sell the Naked and Bolthouse Farms smoothie drinks). If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joes or Whole Foods near you I’m sure you might be able to find the smoothie packs they sell in the freezer section. I am not so lucky. The juice has to do for me. It’s ok though. It works great mixed with frozen fruit.
Here is what you need:
1. Granola (try to find one that has no more than 5g of sugar- this one has 6g. Shhh don’t tell).
2. Organic acai Juice
4. Fresh berries
5. Frozen blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
6. Banana (freeze some for a thicker consistency)
8. Shaved Coconut (I didn’t have any this time)
9. Chia Seeds
I always just eye ball it, but I pour the juice and all frozen fruit into blender. Add a spoonful of chia seeds and blend until smooth. We don’t have a vitamix but we do have a Ninja and it works quite well. We like it. Remember to start with less juice first. You can always add more. Too much means you will have to add more fruit. You are looking for a thicker than smoothie consistency.
Pour into bowl, or wide rim cup. Top with granola and sliced fruit. Drizzle with honey.
I have majorly fallen in love lately with Boden. Have you ever shopped there? Such cute stuff. I like it because it’s priced great, chic and stylish and perfect for my 31 year old self. The catalogs I get in the mail get one too many dog eared pages of things I would like to order. And don’t get me started on Mini Boden. Oooh the cuteness!!
I really love the pattern and bright color of this sweater. I’ve been wearing it a ton. I think I love it so much because it lets me dress simple. Jeans. Sweater. Watch. Heels. Done and Done. The pattern really takes the place of any accessories needed.
I got these cute heels at Tj Maxx the other day. They’re just a tiny bit higher than a kitten heel and oooh so easy to walk in. Makes a casual date night seem a tad bit more special.
Ok. Well I’ve rambled way too long about clothes now. It always makes me feel a bit weird now a days to write a post strictly about what I am wearing. So to change it up a bit…
It’s 12:50am at the moment and the girls have been up a total of 5 times already. Lord beer me strength. I have to keep whispering to myself “this is just a stage. This is just a stage”. This is just a stage, right? Someone please give me a glimmer of hope that one day I will sleep through the night again without being woken up 100 times.
At least I can wear sunglasses to cover up the dark circles that are forming under my eye until that day arrives.
Alright! You guys asked for it. Here’s a tutorial on how I made our family t-shirts. If you follow me on instagram you know I made everyone a shirt for Kev’s birthday back in October. We surprised him that day and when he came home from work we all had our shirts on. Kev and I have always loved screen printing. When were dating we use to screen print shirts and sell them at art markets in the area. Then we bought a 4 color screen printing press. When we moved to Hawaii, Kev had big dreams of starting a t-shirt company with his designs. It still to this day is something we talk about from time to time.
When I made these shirts I was running a bit short on time. I did the cheat version of screen printing and instead of using real screens used freezer paper. Which is awesome for you guys though because that means pretty much anyone can make these shirts!! They are so super easy.
1. A printer (or a staples near by)
2. Freezer paper
3. X-acto knife
4. Masking tape
6. Water based screen printing ink. Craft paint works good too- it will just be pretty stiff whenever you wash it. An iron will help soften it before you wear it. So if craft paint is all you have then go for it. Rowan’s and Finley’s shirts are made with craft paint. We love Martha Stewart brand craft paints. Such pretty colors.
In photoshop or a word document type out all your names. I chose to use DAD, MOM, ROWAN, FINLEY. Layout it out how you want it printed on the shirt. I decided to change each one slightly to have that person’s name on top. Print out in a variety of sizes to see which one will be the best fit for your shirts.
With your print out taped to a cutting mat, place a sheet of freezer paper over top (shiny side down). You will be able to see the words from the print out through the freezer paper. Tape down freezer paper so it doesn’t move while you cut. You can use a ruler if you want or you can just free hand cut out each letter. Be very careful to only cut where the letters are. You are creating a stencil for your shirt.
When everything is cut out. Take the stencil (and with the shiny side down) iron it onto your shirt. Make sure to line it up as best you can so that it’s straight on the shirt. Press down hard on all small thin lines between the letters to make sure they are attached well. You don’t want paint getting under there.
Time to paint. You can do a few things here… With the craft paint, I used a sponge brush to lightly paint and “dab” the paint. This isn’t fool proof so you kind of have to roll with the punches here. The freezer paper works really great but it isn’t perfect. Sometimes paint will get under the edges a little. Just be gently as you paint along the edges. If you are using screen printing ink, you can use a palette knife like a little squeegee and spread the ink across the stencil. This way worked really well for me on my shirt.
The craft paint might need a few coats. Depends on what color paint and what color shirt. Make sure to let each coat dry before you apply another one. Be sure to add in thin, even coats. I got a little a head of myself with Rowan’s gold accent color. I globbed it on so it would cover better. It has been flaking off in the wash now because it was too thick. If you want to add a second color or patterns to the letters (like Finley’s, Rowan’s & Kev’s shirt) make sure you do this before you pull off the stencil. When all is said and done you can pull the paper off and marvel at your finish product.
Then have a ridiculous family photo shoot in all your finished t-shirts.
It’s probably time to stop taking pictures when someone in the family looks like this…
It’s no secret around these parts that Finley is obsessed with stuffed animals. At any given moment of the day there is a good chance that Finley is holding not one but two stuffed animals. She just loves them. Especially those extra soft ones. It was an easy choice to decide to have a stuffed animal theme birthday party for her. I made little party hats for all her favorites and used them to decorate the table and dresser. We decided to have the party later in the afternoon on her actual birthday, so we just had cupcakes and ice cream and didn’t have to worry about food. I made a bunch of homemade ice cream the week before and had a ton of toppings for everyone to make ice creams sundaes. I stayed up the night before till very late (cough, cough 4:30am) setting everything up because we already had a busy Sunday morning planned. I didn’t want to have to rush around when we got back from church. Anyway, Finley was pointing, laughing and kicking her legs like crazy when she saw all her stuffed animals together. haha. Totally worth it!
What a special day to celebrate our sweet little Fin.
I finally had a few moments tonight to sit and sort through some of our pictures from Hawaii. For being there 2 weeks, I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures on our SLR. You can tell the days I did because there are like 20 pictures from that day but on a whole- not much of our trip was captured.I guess that’s a good sign that you are having a really great time. I think this was one of our best trips ever. It was the right amount of adventure, family time, and relaxation. We got to visit with friends that we haven’t seen in quite some time. We got to drive Rowan by our old apartment and bring her to all our old favorite spots. We had booked a house on Kailua beach for our time there but the week before we left they called and canceled on us because they said they overbooked. Doh! I was pretty upset. It ended up working out great though because we just got a room at Turtle Bay for most of our time. We LOVE the North Shore. Turtle Bay is gorgeous and it’s way out in the country. Far, far from Waikiki. UGH! I do not like Waikiki. So crowded and touristy. It’s fun for walking around at night and going out to eat. But if you go to Oahu, please promise me that you won’t spend all your time in town. Go explore the beautiful island. There is so much more to see than what is in the city.
We also got to stay and hang out at the Disney Aulani Resort. Holy Cow! This hotel is pretty dang amazing. I’ve always kind of stayed away from the typical “family resort”. I thought I would hate them. You know what though? I LOVE THEM. I totally see why families go to them. As the parent you can actaully rest and relax because there is a crap load of fun stuff for your kids to do. That they WANT to do. We couldn’t pull Rowan away. She got to eat breakfast with Minnie. Play water games in the pool with Goofy. Go down waterslides, dig for buried treasure on the beach, watch a luau and play in a kids clubhouse with all the princess dresses she could imagine. This girl was in heaven.
So there you have it. My two recommendations on where to stay. Well 3… 1. try to rent a house near the beach in either kailua or the North Shore. If you have little ones you can’t beat Kailua. 2. Turtle Bay or 3. Disney Aulani.
My other favorite things on the island are 1. Hike the Pillbox in Lanikai 2. Get at least one Acai Bowl somewhere 3. Eat a Leonard’s Malasada 4. Visit Kailua and Lanikai beaches 5. Explore all of the North Shore 6. SHAVE ICE (with ice cream and snow cap) 7. Get a Mai Tai at the beach bar at the Royal Hawaii the same night and time that their Luau show is going on 8. Drive around the whole island 9. Hike the paved Makapu’u lighthouse path and go to the beach (also climb down the path to the tidal pools) 10. Walk Kaena Point 11. Pali Lookout 12. Get a beer and lunch on the patio at Kona Brewery 13. Jump off the Rock at Waimea Bay 14.Roll down your windows and smell the sweet, sweet air as you drive past the dole plantation and the acres and acres of pineapples
Here are a few of my favorites from our SLR…
A big huge thank you to our wonderful and generous hostess Monica. She let us crash with her and her family our last 2 days on the island. They were our most favorite days of our trip. We love the Swanson family so much! If you don’t read Monica’s blog I encourage you to follow along.
I know some people hate the idea of making goals or resolutions for New Years. I love it though! It just seems right. I love the idea of a new beginning. We are a few days in and I think I have finally settled on some goals I would like to focus on.
1. Purge + Simplify. This is the big one for me. I want to purge the excess in my life. I want to get rid of the “clutter” that surrounds us. First, I want to go through our house and donate the stuff that has collected over time. We don’t need half of it. I want our house to be clean, organized and simple. That goes for toys too. Oh Boy! The toys are out of control around here. Thousands of mismatched pieces everywhere. I would like to have just a small amount of toys. I want the girls to get creative when they play, I want them to go outside, I want them to create. I feel like that doesn’t happen when there are piles of unnecessary toys everywhere. Now purge doesn’t just mean “things”, I mean life in general. I just want to live simply and happily. I don’t want to get bogged down with unnecessary things. I don’t want to fall into that “I need that” trap. Materialism is a big problem in our country and I really want this to be a year where I am super conscious about that in our lives. Same goes for social media and being online. So much time wasted. It has it’s place for sure, but I want to make sure it’s in balance
2. Be Healthy. I don’t have any specific weight loss goals or anything. I am honestly quite happy with the “number” I weigh, but I have really enjoyed these past few months exercising with Kev. Our fitness routines have always been separate. He lifted weights, I run/do cardio machines. When he said he wanted to run a half with me, we started doing it all together. What a difference it makes. I really think it has made us even closer. Bonded us on a whole new level. It’s been so fun training together. I still grumble and hate working out, but I want to keep it up. Kev got T25 for Christmas and we’ve started doing that at night since it’s like -12 outside and running really isn’t an option. I look forward to signing up for more races in 2014 though. Wouldn’t it be awesome to travel around to new places just to run races together?
3. Adventure. This is one of my goals every year because I really think it’s a conscious choice you have to make with your family. We love going on adventures! But it can be very easy to miss fun opportunities when you let the idea of it being a hassle out weight the fun. Because lets face it, with kids around there will always be a bit of a hassle involved. But that’s what makes it beautiful. Too much sweet isn’t good for anyone right? I want to take every opportunity this year to get out there with my family and make the most of life. I want to take trips and see new things with them. Locally and far away. There is just so much to see in this life and I don’t want to miss it.
4. Take Risks. I’ve had a list of “dreams goals” in a little notebook for a few years now. Nothing that I really want to share here at the moment, but I want this to be a year I don’t let the fear of failure hold me back from pursuing one or more of those goals. A lot of them are creative pursuits that I know will be good for the soul to dive into and get messy with. I want to spend less time in front of the computer and social media. I want to be downstairs in my craft room creating more often than not. I want to work hard to make some of these dreams come true.
5. Our House. We’ve lived in our house for a little over a year now and I can see some of the steam we had when we first moved in slowing down. I don’t want to to not finish those projects we said we would do. I want to work hard this year making each room feel finished. Along with goal 1, I want every room, closet, drawer in our house clean, organized and decorated. I know I will always be rearranging and decorating but I want to at least come into our house and think it feels finished. I plan on making an in depth post with pictures of specific goals for the house so you can follow along this year.
6. Prayer + Bible Reading. I want to make this a priority this year. It should be a priority every year but I can honestly say it just isn’t. I want to be intentional with my time, my prayers and my reading. There is a christian company in Hawaii called HE>I. I bought one of their tank tops when we were out there this year. I really want that thought to surround me this year. He is greater than I. I need to allow Jesus room in my life. I need to decrease and He needs to increase. All these other goals are nothing without this first and foremost. Jesus must be first.END.OF.STORY.
7. Family. This is a big one! 2014 is going to be a big, big year for us. I just know it. Kev and I have had some major tugging on our hearts lately about changes we would like for our family. We’ve been in prayer over it for quite sometime. God is going to challenge us this year and we’re going to have to fully rely on him for what lies ahead. I am so excited though!! We’ve been given the greatest gift to care and love on our 2 little girls. I can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead of us for 2014.
Happy New Year Everyone!!
What a blessing you are to me.
I don’t have much to write today. I look at these pictures of the sweet little girl who made me a mother and realize just how much she has grown up. It leaves me speechless sometimes. So filled with emotion, I don’t even know how to get out the words I want to say. I am so honored to be her Mom. She teaches me, stretches me and breathes life into me. I welcome 2014. As much as I want to press the stop button and savor these moments with her. I know that each new year will bring a new journey. A new road to travel together. It will be bumpy and hilly at times but we will hold hands together and see what great adventure awaits us.