A Southern Lawn Party

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For our son’s birthday party this year, we wanted to do something a little different. I really like including the entire family (siblings as well) when we can, because it’s always so much more fun when you don’t have to split up your family on the weekends to attend birthday parties. Of course, not every venue works for that, so we decided to have this one at home.

What we ended up deciding on is a Southern Lawn Party theme. We set out tons of lawn games and had classic Southern fare and cocktails outside while the kids played and ran in the grass. We had corn hole, bocce ball, croquet, ladder ball, giant Jenga and a huge game of Connect Four. We even made a life-sized Angry Birds game, which was the hit of the party. Thank goodness for my sweet husband who is always up for the task of making my crazy ideas come to life! To pull this off, he made a giant slingshot using this launcher and attached it to steel pipe he purchased at Home Depot. I hand-painted red and yellow kickballs to look like Angry Birds and used these green balloons to make little piggies that the kids could knock down from the boxes we had saved (from ordering all of those supplies on Amazon!) which we spray painted to look more like bricks holding the pigs.

I’d been praying for good weather since we sent the invitations and man, did God show off! This week, the temps in Houston dipped and the humidity as well. It was absolutely gorgeous. Demeris catered the food and brought their always-amazing BBQ, chicken and sausage along with delicious potato salad and beans with chicken fingers and mac n’ cheese for the littles. We ordered our birthday cake from Moeller’s Bakery, which is our go-to for a cake that’s both beautiful and delicious. My sweet friend Anne Letzerich owns Muddy’s Garden and did the flowers for me. Are they not just exquisite? She heard my vision for an outdoor event with Southern elegance and ran with it!

Below are a few pics from our big celebration. I would love to hear your thoughts. Have any questions about where we got something? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll gladly answer!

 

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Table decorations (I love these striped napkins! Got them here.

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Demeris Catering did not disappoint!

 

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Gorgeous flowers by Muddy’s Garden

 

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How adorable is our cake from Moeller’s Bakery? Yum!

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Who doesn’t love a game of corn hole?

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Connect Four is even more fun when it is giant!

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I hand-painted kickballs to look like Angry Birds!

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And we made pigs to knock down out of green balloons…

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…and saved up shipping boxes for a month to make the bricks holding the pigs.

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The life-sized Angry Birds game was a huge hit!

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Giant Jenga was also a blast



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Toys with wheels never disappoint!



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All in all, it was one fun party!

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The Joy of Giving

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Join us this week for one of the very best holiday markets in town! We’ll be at the Joy of Giving Market at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston in the same spot as always!  (Which is the back corner of the main room in case you haven’t been before.)

Come join us for shopping for a good cause. A percentage of proceeds goes to the Women’s Ministry at the church and with over 80 high-end merchants, you’re sure to find LOTS for your holiday shopping list! And don’t miss the ECW Pantry booth, where you can pick up delicious ready-to-serve meals and also wonderful beer bread and soup mixes. Yay for not having to cook this week!

Shop Tuesday night at the preview party or Wednesday and Thursday with free admission. We’ll see you there. . .

 

See Me

See Me

This year, our children’s school has committed to being a part of +Works (pronounced Positive Thinking Works). I went to a meeting introducing it a few weeks ago and I was blown away. In fact, I’m still processing much of what was said. There are several schools that are joining in this movement and I couldn’t be more excited that our school is among them. The women who started this initiative are two experienced moms (and friends) Sarah Fisher and Trish Morille. As I listened to Sarah speak, I realized how desperately our society needs this thinking. In tumultuous times like this, we need so much more of this and the very best place to start is with the current generation of children. As we learn alongside them and strive to model this type of life for them, our world cannot help but be changed for the better.

Today, our school sent out the following poem from +Works. It struck me to my core as I read it. Tears filled my eyes and my heart was deeply convicted by these words. I thought you might be as well, so I wanted to share them with you. We all need to read this. Multiple times.

Again, these words are not my own, but I did want to share them with you because they are so important. For more resources like this, which I have found very helpful in my parenting journey!) or for information on their movement, please visit their website here or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

SEE ME
I am your child.
I am your student.
I am your husband.
I am your wife.
I am your brother, your sister.
Your mother, your father.
Your friend.
Your neighbor.
I am a human being doing my best.
And I need you to see me as I am.

I need you to SEE me as I AM.

I need you to allow me to be myself with you.
I want to tell you my truth.
Can you hear me?
I am screaming at you with my eyes wide and my mouth shut.
I need you to give me the gift that comes in a simple card that reads:
You are not me.
You are you.
And I love you.
As you are.

I need you to tell me this to my face:
I love you even when and especially when you don’t agree with me because we have so much to learn from each other on this journey.

What is that so hard?
What are you afraid of?
Why do you tell me not to feel what I’m felling when I’m feeling it?
Why do you tell me to believe what you believe when I am still searching?
Why do you dream for me when I have my own dreams?
Why do you think you get to choose whom I will become?

Please know this.
Just because you are older or smarter or richer or poorer or ____er does not make you wiser.
I have seen wisdom spring from unexpected people and unexpected places.
Like youth.
And inexperience.
And silence.
Especially when that silence is imposed.

Please. It is awful not to feel loved.
Hear my voice.
See my face.
Feel my pain.
Set me free.

Shoe Love

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I’ve been getting tons of compliments on these cutout ankle booties, so I just had to share them with y’all.

These little gems are super cute. I’ve been wearing them with cropped jeans, shorts and even skirts and getting loads of compliments on them. The cutouts ensure they aren’t too hot for Summer and the short heels ensure they’re super comfortable. (That’s a must for me these days, chasing three little boys around. I have to be quick on my feet!)

To make your shopping life easier, I’ve linked to a few spots where you can grab a pair here. They come in lots of colors and I’m seriously considering adding this cool black suede pair with white stitching. Love!

How would you style these booties? Tell us in the comments below. We love shared style tips!

Comfy + Cute = Fav Kicks

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As a blogger, I’ve made an implied promise to you to share when I find things that I absolutely LOVE. I find that I tend to like things that my friends like and in this cluttered world of constant noise, I rely even more heavily on recommendations for my friends. It saves me time and money to learn from others. And since I consider you a friend if you’re reading my blog, I want to share things that might help you as well. If you want to read more of my recommendations, look no further than the Things We Love tab (under the yellow heart) in my blog header.

Today, I want to share with you these shoes that are both crazy cute and crazy comfy!  I saw them on someone running out and about in Houston recently and at first glance, I just knew they were Cole Haans. I’ve loved the Cole Haan/Nike Air collaboration for a long time now and I figured that’s what these were. As it turns out, they’re actually a new line by Cole Haan called ZeroGrand, but the premise is the same. Super cushiony comfort combined with the quality and style we all love from Cole Haan. As a mama of three boys aged five and under who owns her own business, I’m pretty much always on the go, so this combination is key for me. I’m certain you can relate!

I debated over the silver and coral pair or the python ones and ultimately kept the python because I felt like they would go with more. When I returned the silver ones to the Cole Haan store, I saw that they also come in black. If they were a little less expensive, I would have two pair in a heartbeat, so I’ll just have to stalk them for a sale!

I’ve been wearing these for a few weeks now and am in love with them. They’re cushiony and comfortable and look equally good  with jeans and a top heading to dinner or with workout gear as we walk to the little league fields. And I just love the asymmetrical slant on the tops of them. It’s very flattering. All in all, I highly recommend you try them out! They’re not inexpensive, but from a price per wear perspective, they’re definitely a good purchase for me. Oh, and I wear a size 9 and I find these run true to size, in case that helps you in ordering.

What are your favorite shoes that are super comfortable but polished enough to go beyond yoga pants? I’m always looking and would love to know, so tell us in the comments below…

 

Lost Pines Vacation

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We visited Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa for a long weekend over Spring Break this year and had the best time! Seriously, this was the first vacation since we had kids over five years ago, after which I actually felt rested and refreshed. HUGE win, friends! Since this place is such an absolute treasure, I wanted to share a bit with y’all about our time there, in case you’re looking for a family-friendly destination in Texas. Lost Pines has everything you’d expect in a resort – from golf to tennis and swimming and a basketball court to a fabulous spa. But, they also have some unique things, like bicycles that you can use all over the property, a game room for the kids and even fishing! There’s something for everyone, so it makes for a great place to travel with other families as well. We went with some dear friends who have two boys close in age to our own crew, which literally quadrupled the fun!

Lost Pines is located in Bastrop, Texas, just about 30 minutes South of Austin on Highway 71. From the moment you walk in, you realize how family friendly the place is. They offer valet (for a fee) or self-park (free) options and are so helpful in getting you unloaded and installed in your room. The rooms are a great size and we were able to put all three boys on the floor in their super cozy sleeping bags and still have the King-sized bed for us (another huge win!) We also chose a first floor room with a patio, which turned out to be one of our best ideas yet. The patio opened onto a large grassy field with sidewalk paths, so the boys were able to play in the grass and scooter on the paths while we sat on the porch sipping coffees or were inside packing up to leave, etc. It was amazing for us and they had a blast having a water gun fight in their pajamas one morning!

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While the accommodations are fantastic – clean, comfortable and lovely – it’s really the activities that shine at this resort. There is just so much to do at Lost Pines! It’s a little like being at an upscale family camp. There are activities for all ages. Our boys are pretty young (all five and under) but the resort would be great for older kids as well, since they offer archery, trap shooting, trail rides, sunset kayaking, rock walls and zip lines and more for the “big kids.” Its easy to give kids a little autonomy in a pretty safe space here, which is always nice.

When we first arrived, we immediately hit the pool area. There’s a lazy river that was great with our little ones who aren’t all strong swimmers just yet, since they could float in the tubes with a bottom on them and feel like they were on little boats. There was also a pool with a huge shallow area that was awesome for them as well and, of course, there are deeper sections with basketball goals and waterslides, etc. It’s like a fun waterpark, but in a size that is manageable for the parents watching their little ones. That night we had cocktails by the fireplace inside during a crazy big thunderstorm that rolled through (and cooled things off for the rest of the weekend – yay!) and then had a delicious dinner and headed to bed.

On the first morning, we went to meet some of the livestock on the property. We watched the staff do a lasso demonstration on some cattle, saw some sweet ponies and heard cool facts about the animals. We also got to see the big horses and pet them. The boys loved it. Later, they had a spot where the boys could climb up on a horse or a longhorn for a photo opportunity. So cute!
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Later in the afternoon, we went over to the Plantation Lawn to check out the family olympics going on. There were tons of fun physical activities for kids of all ages and it made for a great hang out spot where the parents could relax on the lawn while the kids ran around playing. There are games of Capture the Flag, lessons on juggling, giant human hamster balls, sack races, frisbee, wiffle ball and more.

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The resort also has fun craft activities each day, which our boys loved. One day they made puzzles and another they got to create their own bumper stickers. It offered a little creative outlet under the shade of their large, beautiful trees and kept our boys entertained for at least thirty minutes!

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Another fab feature of this place is the playground. It is great for little ones and you can see it from the porch at one of the restaurants, so we were able to let the bigger boys get some wiggles out while we finished our lunch and enjoyed a cocktail. Yay for some adult time on vacation!  {P.S. How cute is this little posse?}

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There are a few fabulous outdoor fire pits that are great for relaxing with a cocktail or cup of coffee. And they have s’mores there in the evenings, which is super fun for the kids (and the adults, too!)

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The property is absolutely gorgeous and its a wonderful place to hike with kids. There’s a cool little pond you can walk to and check out the various creatures who live in it. You can also walk down to the Colorado River, which runs through the property and there are lots of trails around for an easy hike with little ones or a solo run for mom or dad. The entire place is filled with nature and left our boys feeling like adventure explorers!

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Every place you look, Texas-style beauty abounds, making this a fabulous spot for a relaxing vacation in nature. The property is also dotted with darling little vignettes for just sitting still and relaxing in rocking chairs or on cozy benches. One such spot has a giant chess board and outdoor games like horseshoes and washers, which kept our three boys entertained for HOURS!

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The food at Lost Pines is also delicious! There were several options, including a great coffee shop and ice cream place that also has a general market and grab-and-go foods, which made for a great breakfast on our porch one morning while the boys played out on the lawn. There’s also a delicious BBQ spot down by the pool called Old Buck’s Place that really hits the spot after a day of swimming. The Firewheel Cafe had wonderful buffet options at breakfast, lunch and dinner and kids under four are free, so that was fantastic for us! There’s a bar with food and a fancier restaurant option as well, so there are plenty of places to choose from on the property and the food was great! After dinner, we went to the family movie night. Usually, they hold this on the amazing grass lawn amphitheater, but it was really cold and windy while we were there, so they moved it into a ballroom. There was a popcorn machine and everything and it made for a fantastic evening activity!


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There’s also a lovely spa and fitness center. Getting time in those is a huge luxury on a trip for me as a mama of three littles, but I vowed to do both next time we go!

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I just couldn’t get enough of the beautiful flowers and spots for taking a break and relaxing a bit while my boys soaked up the sun with their friends and enjoyed the ranch-feeling of this fabulous resort. There is truly something for everyone here! We cannot WAIT to go back as soon as possible!

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Have you been to Lost Pines Resort & Spa? If so, what were your favorite things there? What other spots in Texas do you visit for a drivable kid-friendly vacation spot? Tell us in the comments below. We love to hear from you!

New Kicks

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I recently got some new kicks and I am loving them! I’ve always found it hard to find black tennis shoes that I like that work well for casual wear. I love the fact that these are a mix of suede and a textured leather. The contrast adds interest and gives them a hip look that I think goes well with both yoga pants (my uniform of late) and jeans (when I want to look a little more put together without actually doing much more work!)

These Nikes are comfortable and cute, which is a huge win in my book. And they’re not too bulky, so they don’t give a “running shoe” look, which I like for a slightly more pulled-together style while running about town. And they are perfect for wearing when you’re chasing littles around the yard or playground. If you’d like to check them out, you can find them here. I highly recommend them!

Happy Love Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day, lovelies! On this day of love, I pray that you are surrounded by those you love and hold dear in this life. If this isn’t you this year – if you’re in a time of loss or pain or struggle, I am praying for you as well. And I’m sending you my very favorite Valentine’s Day quote. Wise words from (my former pastor and a favorite author) Max Lucado

 

“I hope you receive a rose or a special card from that special person today. If you didn’t and don’t expect to, remember that the One who loves you most has already sent you His very best.”

                                                                  – Max Lucado

 

Glamour + Grace

 

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I’m so thrilled to have my some of my bridal jewelry designs featured on the front page of Glamour and Grace today! Its truly an honor to have worked with such incredible professionals on this photo shoot. The sources are tagged at the bottom of this post, so be sure to check them out. Every little detail is just gorgeous!

I’m posting a few of the stunning pics below, but hop on over to the Glamour and Grace blog for even more of this beautiful spread featuring romantic jewel tone wedding inspiration that is sure to make you smile. And be sure to look around their blog if you’re planning a wedding anytime soon – they have such fabulous ideas!

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Photography | Sheradee Hurst Photography | Styling | Krissi Farrimond | Floral, Stationery, & Calligraphy | Inspire Events | Cake | Amy Cakes | Macarons | Brown Egg Bakery | Vintage Chairs | Borrowed Charm | Place Settings | Culinary Kitchen | Gown | Alvina Valenta from Prescott Bridal | Hair and Makeup | Andrea Lemonds of Trichology Salon | Jewelry | Andrea Montgomery Designs | Ring | Trumpet & Horn | Groom’s Attire | Spencer Stone | Vow Book | Wedding Story Writer

Legos + Travel

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We are SUPER into Legos in my house. My boys love them and they are entertained by building and rebuilding them for hours, which is wonderful! On our trip to NYC in December, my oldest and I had dinner with my gorgeous and crazy-talented cousin who lives there and we sat in a quaint French restaurant chatting and drinking wine while he built his Legos for 3.5 hours. It was a God-send for us. He was happy and content to be playing Legos quietly and we got to catch up and enjoy a delicious dinner. The only downside was when he would accidentally drop one of those tiny little pieces on the floor of the restaurant. (Don’t worry – he’s so adorable that the people at neighboring tables were more than happy to help us find them!)

Before our next trip, however, I resolved to find a solution for our problem. So, I took to Pinterest, which I love for the fabulous ideas that I find there (though I sometimes also lose that love temporarily when I realize how far the bar of expectations has been raised by all of those amazing ideas.) The other day, however, in researching travel lego solutions, I found a fabulous one and it worked just great, so I wanted to share it with you!

There were lots of Lego travel box solutions on Pinterest, with some using vintage-style lunch boxes, old diaper wipes containers, pencil boxes, etc. I really think that anything would work. Because I wanted to use ours for plane travel, I wanted it to be a little smaller and because my boys are so young, I wanted the latch on it to be pretty secure. I found all of the supplies for ours at Target (along with a few new small Lego sets to surprise the boys with on the trip, since new toys never hurt in keeping them busy!) but you can also find everything on Amazon and they will deliver it straight to your doorstep – amazing! You’ll need a Lego baseplate in your desired color (I went with green), a plastic container that latches closed (I went with this inexpensive Sterilite one with one divider inside), a hot glue gun and either an Exacto knife or a good pair of scissors for cutting the baseplate to fit.

The instructions for the style that I decided to go with is here on an adorable blog called Housewife Eclectic. Her instructions are fantastic, so hop over there and check them out. I will say that neither Gorilla Glue nor Super Glue works well on these types of plastic, so I suggest that you stick with her idea of a hot glue gun.

I decided to surprise the boys with them on the airplane and they were thrilled!  We definitely still had some dropped Legos, but these helped a ton and were great for transporting them and for playing with them in the car!

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We put one green rectangle on the top of the box and another inside, so that they can play with the box open or closed.

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Enjoy!