In My House

Black Hills Summer Photo Session

I’m finally getting around to sharing the photos from our session last month with Tayhart Photography. Tarin is so talented! My littlest one was not the best participant, but the pictures portray her as the angel she (usually) is.

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I love how Tarin captured the real “us.” She incorporated our love of reading to the girls. She photographed my youngest’s seriousness and curiosity and my oldest’s fun-loving spirit.

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Tarin is a mom of six and so she had no trouble at all making my little ones feel at ease. I love outdoor photos in the beautiful Black Hills. While these were taken a few miles from our house, the images truly look like the landscape of our own backyard.

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Tarin’s attention to detail is impeccable. Her turn-around time is also super quick, which was great because I was chomping at the bit to see the images she captured. Thank you, Tarin for capturing our little family and the beautiful region where we live.

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All photos by Tayhart Photography.

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Books

Books: The Great Believers

I first heard about The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai on NPR’s Here & Now with Robin Young. I was instantly moved by Makkai’s passion for telling stories of the 1980s AIDS crisis and her commitment to conducting solid research as she wrote the novel.

I pre-ordered the book on my Kindle and immediately dove into it when it was released late last month. It is the best book I have read this year, maybe the best in a long time. The characters were relatable and the view of this piece of history both moving and educational.

While writing and researching, Makkai spent time in an abandoned hospital that had been site of an AIDS ward during the early days of the epidemic. This dedication to really feeling what her characters must have gone through is apparent in her beautiful, yet hard-to-swallow writing. In one very moving scene, Makkai has the protagonist visit his ex-boyfriend on his death bed, having gone blind and unaware that his estranged ex was there. In one last, loving move, the protagonist uses a small sponge to provide water to the dying man.

Amidst tragedy, the agony of awaiting test results, and the other events of the day, Makkai creates a story filled with hope for the future. Hope for a cure. Hope for a world where we care for one another no matter what.

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(Image from amazon.com)

In My House

Four!

I feel like it is nearly impossible for a parent to talk about his or her child’s birthdays without also commenting on how quickly time flies. It really feels like just yesterday we were celebrating my oldest daughter’s first, second, and third birthday parties, all at the beloved children’ park Storybook Island. We returned to that perfect venue this past weekend to celebrate her fourth birthday, this time renting the birthday house, which provided a great spot for cake and presents with tons of fun playground equipment right outside the door.

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This year’s theme was unicorns.

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My girl and her grandma planned the cake months ago. It was a tie-dyed unicorn filled with candy.

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Sugar overload ensued, but, hey, she only turns four once, right?

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She’s a big girl now, but I love that she is still little enough to fall fast asleep in the car on the drive home from her party.

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Happy birthday to our sweet, sociable, fun-loving girl. We are excited to see what the next year brings!

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Adventures

Girls’ Weekend: Phoenix

I was aching for some time with my bestie, who lives far, far away, so when we had the idea to meet up in the desert for a weekend of relaxation, it seemed to be the perfect plan. Because her daughter and my oldest daughter have birthdays within two days of each other, it also seemed like a great idea to take them along to celebrate their seventh and fourth birthdays, respectfully. The weekend was divine.

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Yes, it was Phoenix in July. Yes, it was more than 100 degrees out the entire time we were there, but since pool time was the number one item on the agenda, the heat was fine with us. We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Wild Horse Pass. The resort caters to families, but also has plenty for the adults, including great food and yummy margaritas. S’mores night was also a hit among all four of us.

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We took a jewelry-making class, a canvas-painting class, and a class on dream catchers, all included in our resort fee. Another major highlight for all four of us was movie night in the pool. The service was impeccable and every time we turned around the girls were being treated to free smoothies or a decadent slice of birthday cake. We dined at Ko’Sin several times and the chipotle beignets and quinoa breakfast bowl were absolutely stellar.

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The best thing about the resort was that everything we needed to enjoy a relaxing and fun-filled weekend was right on-site. Aside from a morning at a local mall for a Build-a-Bear and ear-piercing outing, we stayed put and enjoyed everything the resort had to offer. The quality time and watching our daughters get to know one another was so special and I can’t wait to do it all again!

In My House

Neutral Guest Bedroom Favorites

Our big concrete, egress, guest bedroom project is nearing completion. I’m excited to put some decorative touches into play in the guest room after the new bamboo flooring is installed. I’m keeping the palate neutral and fresh with black, white, and gray. Here are a few of the pieces I picked up to make the room comfortable and welcoming. I’m loving this room so much I just might camp out down there once in a while.

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1. The current bedding in the room is still in great condition and compliments the black wrought iron bed well, so I’m keeping it in place. This Madison Park Larissa damask comforter set is very similar. (JCPenney) 2. I wanted to keep the walls light, but not too starkly white. This super light gray fit the bill perfectly. (Valspar) 3. Anthropologie Volcano candles have to be one of my all-time favorite fragrances. The scent is citrusy and fresh without being over-powering. (Anthropologie) 4. This mirror is pretty and practical. (H&M) 5. This large metal basket is ideal for placing in the corner of the room to store extra blankets in case our guests get cold. (Target) 6. These geometric lamps provide the perfect amount of light for reading and are only $10 each. (Target)

In My House

Which is Harder: Backing Out of the Garage or Squeezing into a New Swimsuit?

I hit my driver’s side mirror on the side of the garage door while backing out today. Again. I shrugged it off. I do this about once a month. My car is tiny so I have absolutely no excuse. I live in cattle country where a lot of women can back up a Ford F-150 pulling a trailer in their sleep while applying lipstick. Not me, girl.

Speaking of no excuses and squeezing into tight places, it’s swimsuit season. I was planning to be in super awesome shape by mid-June, but the baby weight (yeah, I know, she’s 14 moths old now) lingers. I don’t feel anywhere near as svelte as I would like to be, but I am getting back into a fitness routine that I can follow at least part of the time. I put the swimsuit on anyway.

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As I was splashing in our hotel pool with my two daughters I totally forgot about the added pounds. I forgot about my work stress and my endless list of tasks to accomplish. My daughters don’t care about a few extra pounds (even though they put them there). They just want to have fun in the pool with their mommy.

As women we are usually our own toughest critics. What it boils down to is that if my daughters feel loved and I am taking the time to care for myself so I have the energy to care for them, I consider myself successful. I will never look like a Victoria’s Secret model or completely cross off every item on my ever-growing To Do List, but there’s more happiness in a little bit of imperfection any day. And please be sure to tell that to my husband when he finally notices the dings in the side of my garage door.

 

 

 

In My House

My Favorite Dresses for Summer (All Under $50)

I’m a fan of wearing dresses year-round, but especially in the summer. Dresses are my go-to for work and play. To me, they win hands down against jeans or pants any day of the week. Here are six of my favorites for summer. I own the top three and frequently wear them. I have not purchased the bottom three, and probably won’t because of my strict one-in-one-out closet rule, but they’re three gorgeous dresses that someone out there should be buying and wearing. (Let me know if that someone is you.) All of these picks are under $50.

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1. This black wrap dress also comes in red. It is comfortable and requires zero ironing. It has been my recent favorite for work. (Gap) 2. I usually shy away from horizontal stripes, but the fit of this dress makes all the difference. I wore this one to a friend’s wedding and plan to sport it many more times this summer. (J.Crew) 3. This dress makes me think of the 1940s, and we all know I love everything about 1940s fashion and décor. I have been pairing this with tights, ballet flat, and a cardigan for work, and bare legs and strappy sandals for weekend plans. (Lauren Conrad for Kohl’s) 4. The floral pattern of this dress caught my eye. I think it can easily be transitioned to fall, too. (ModCloth) 5. This dress looks romantic, but also super comfy and I’m a huge fan of ties at the waist. (Loft) 6. This looks like a great casual dress for chasing the kids around the park or even wearing as a swimsuit cover-up. (Anthropologie)