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Top Tips for Family Photo Outfits

You may not know that along with being a blogger I am also a photographer! I have been doing photography for 10 years now as a hobby and a business!

I often have clients ask me what they should wear for their photos especially for family photos since it includes several people. I was recently talking to a friend about this and I decided I should share my thoughts here with all of you! It can be so hard to come up with the perfect outfits that don’t match too much, but still coordinate well.

We recently did our own family photos, which to be honest with you, I dread having our own family pictures taken. I can give clothing advice all day long to clients, but when it comes to my own family I think too hard about it. Not to mention, kids never nap on the day of pictures? Can you totally relate? It’s like they know and plan it just to make us crazy!

So here are my top tips for planning outfits for family photos and my thought process in choosing our own outfits recently! I wish I could also give you tips on how to handle a child refusing a nap on picture day, but you are on your own on that one! Good Luck!

1/ What do you have at home?

I do not like spending a lot of money on family photo outfits. Especially because I am already paying for the session so by the time I am done with it all I am broke like a joke! So I go through everyone’s closets and figure out what everyone has! For these specific photos I knew my husband had a nicer pair of shorts that were light gray and he had a chambray (denim) short sleeve button up here could wear. So I started working around that. My son already had a nice pair of khaki shorts and my daughter had a nice pair of white capris. I started with those items and then went shopping!

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Top 5 Tuesday- June {Baby Edition}

Happy Top 5 Tuesday, friends! It is officially that time again when I share my Top 5 Favorites of the month! Last month I shared all about my top 5 favorite moments in May. It was so neat to think back on special or funny moments in the month and reflect on some beautiful memories that were made!

This month I am sharing 5 of my favorite baby products I have found this month for my 10 month old! I am amazed by all the amazing products that continue to be created to make baby life easier and convenient! I have fallen in love with these 5 products for our littlest little and I’m excited to share them with you!

1/ Playtex Baby Non-Slip Bath Mat- 

My daughter is 10 months old now and is definitely at the point of sitting by herself in the big bathtub. Even though I sit there next to the tub at all times, it still makes me nervous that she could slip easily and I may not be quick enough to catch her. I found this slip free bath mat by Playtex and I absolutely love it! It has suction cups all along the bottom of it and it grips perfectly to the bathtub for a slip free bath time!

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10 FREE Summer Activities Out of the House

It’s a couple of weeks into summer break now and I am continually doing my best to get my kids out of the house a couple of times a week at least! Getting out of the house is a lot of work with children sometimes, but it is a great way to let the time pass by in the day and to get some energy out of their little bodies!

The problem with going out of the house is that it often ends up costing you money. There are so many amazing options out there for fun things to do with kids like the museum or the zoo, but at the end of the day the kids had fun, but I’m broke like a joke.

I am here to share with you my top 10 favorite FREE activities to do out of the house with your kids this summer! Some are obvious suggestions, but I also share some tips to making it a more enjoyable outing! This is a friendly for locals and non locals, but I do share some specific ideas for my West Michigan local friends!

Enjoy and please share any ideas you have in the comments! I would love to hear about any free or cheap activities you have come up with!

1/ Go to a splash pad! 

I am assuming most people have splash pads in their areas, but if you do not it is time to start a petition and get one! Splash Pads are the ultimate option for getting out of the house on a super hot day, but not paying a dime for it! Also, kids can just run wild at splash pads and I have found that my kids can kill a couple of hours there easily! We usually invite some friends along, pack a lunch and make an afternoon of it! I do suggest investing in some waterproof shoes for your kids! Some splash pads are just cement and it can be rough on your kids feet. I have found waterproof shoes have made for a much more enjoyable experience for everyone!West Michigan locals, here are some of our favorite splash pads!

Maplewood Park– 8000 12th Ave. Jenison, MI- This is a gated splash pad and it also includes a fantastic play ground as well!
City of Zeeland Splash Pad– Main St. Downtown Zeeland, MI- This is a gated splash pad
Pinewood Park Splash Pad– 1999  Wolfboro Dr. SE Kentwood, MI- There is also a very large playground here!

2/ Go to the park! 

I know this seems like an obvious one, but my kids can play at the park for hours! One of our parks also has trails so it is fun to change it up sometimes and walk the trails too! Sometimes we will pack lunches and eat there as well! I also like to head to the park about an hour before my husband gets out of work and have him show up with pizza! Then I have entertainment and dinner all accomplished at once and my kitchen stays clean!So pack up the kids, head to the park and bring a book along for you! I am always amazed by how relaxing it is to let them run free on the playground and have some time to breathe in peace!

West Michigan locals, here are some of our favorite parks!

Maplewood Park– 8000 12th Ave. Jenison, MI- This also has a gated splash pad!
Helder Park– 3751 104th Avenue Zeeland, MI- This park has two playground options. If you enter off of 104th it is a newer and bigger playground for big kids and littles!
Hager Park– 8134 28th Ave, Georgetown Twp, MI

3/ Go to the beach! 

Anyone else already sweating in anxiety over this idea? The beach can be a scary adventure to face with children! I always recommend grabbing a friend to tag along and you can both tackle all the children together! In order for a beach trip to work for us I have to be organized! I absolutely LOVE the totes from Thirty-One Gifts! They truly are the best bags for anything, but especially for a trip to the beach! I can fit towels, extra clothing, sunscreen, snacks, lunches, drinks, shoes, puddle jumpers and still have room left! So go run as fast as you can and get one! Your life will be changed forever!Here are some other tips for making the beach a little more manageable:

  1. Bring a couple of plastic bags along for wet items or if a child poops in their swimsuit and its a disaster (not speaking from experience *wink*)
  2. Bring baby powder for easy sand removal from little feet! This is like magic and it spares your vehicle from becoming its own beach on wheels!
  3. Be prepared with snacks! It’s like my kids grow a second stomach when they are on the beach! Constantly hungry! So I say, fed kids equals happy kids and happy kids equals happy mom!
  4. If you have a baby, a tiny inflatable pool would be a lifesaver for baby and you! I know it may seem like you will look like the crazy mom carrying her whole house to the shoreline, but seriously, where else will the baby go? Straight to the sand, which will go straight in their mouth! *gag*
  5. Zip lock bags are your friend! Anything you don’t want sandy or wet, put in a zip lock bag! Sometimes I wish I could fit in a zip lock bag myself!

Obviously they are so many other amazing ideas for the beach, but these are some of my top must haves!

4/ Go to Vacation Bible School!

Do you hear that? I don’t either cause my house is completely quiet right now because my kids are at VBS! I know you can always find multiple VBS weeks in your area at different churches! My kids love VBS week at our church and it’s FREE! They play games, do crafts, learn fun new songs, dance like crazy kids and learn about Jesus in a super fun way! If you have not had your kids try out a VBS, it is time to check it out! This also means you get a few hours of quiet 4 days in a row for a week! We take what we can get right?!

Hop online and search for a VBS in your area!

5/ Go to the Library! 

I used to be scared of taking my kids to the library because my kids think being quite is at megaphone level. Well, libraries are known for being quiet, but these days you can find a library that has a specific kids area where kids don’t have to be super quiet. I think it is safe to assume that most libraries have grown in this area and serve well to the tiny library lovers!

Our library has a specific floor just for kids with toys, dress up clothes, train table, playhouse, computer games and books for days! I highly recommend finding a library in your area that has a great kid area! Also, check out any of their summer reading programs and FREE events!

6/ Go on a hike at a nature center!

Now this is one that is great for a cooler summer day! I personally don’t like dragging my kids out on a hot day when there is no water involved at all, but this would be a great outing when the clouds are out!I know most areas have at least one nature center! We have a few in our area and they are all free to explore! Some places have fees for extra activities, but if you don’t want to spend a dime then roam the nature center trails and enjoy the great outdoors! Most of the time there will be some animals on the trails, various kinds of birds and you could even teach your kids about different kinds of trees! It can be educational for sure, which is a total bonus!

West Michigan locals, here are some of our favorite nature centers!

Degraff Nature Center– 600 Graafschap Rd. Holland, MI
Outdoor Discovery Center– 4214 56th St. Holland, MI- This one has a super neat bird exhibit were you can see various kinds of birds like owls, hawks, bald eagles and more!
Hemlock Crossing– 8115 West Olive Rd. West Olive, MI

7/ Go Bowling!

Bowling is a perfect rainy day outing! It isn’t necessarily free, (unless you get a free pass through something like a summer reading program) BUT it is a very cheap outing! Most bowling alleys offer summer deals for kids bowling OR $1 days where everything is a dollar each! It’s definitely something to look into in your area!

My number one tip, though, is not to forget socks for everyone! It can be so easy to forget socks during the summer because everyone is wearing sandals! Not only are the shoes way more comfortable with socks, but they ease the minds of any germ crazy moms like me!

West Michigan locals, here are some bowling alleys that have some great deals this summer!

Hudsonville Lanes– 5775 Balsam Dr. Hudsonville, MI
BAM!– 478 E. 16th St. Holland, MI

8/ LOCALS FRIENDS- Go to the Critter Barn!

This one is specifically for my local friends, but if you haven’t experienced the Critter Barn yet, then it is time to go! It is located in Zeeland, Michigan and it is completely FREE!

The Critter Barn is a farm where you can go and explore the farm, pet animals, feed animals and more! My kids love going there and we can easily spend a good couple hours there! The Critter Barn has cows, pigs, goats, donkeys, horses, ducks, sheep, rabbits, cats, chickens and more!

Go check it out for FREE!

The Critter Barn
9275 Adams St,
Zeeland, MI 49464

9/ Go to the Farmer’s Market!

This is something I don’t always think about as a family outing, but the Farmer’s Market is a great option of something to do out of the house! Farmer’s Markets are also in the morning so it is a good place to go while the temperature is still cooler. It’s a great opportunity to teach your kids about different fruits and vegetables and to try some new fun foods!Some Farmer’s Markets cater very well to kids and have kid friendly activities as well!

West Michigan locals, here are some Farmer’s Markets to check out!

Holland Farmer’s Market- 150 W 8th St. Holland, MI
Fulton Street Farmers Market– 1145 Fulton St. E Grand Rapids, MI

10/ Go to an Indoor Play Place for FREE

I recommend this one lightly because I am not always a huge fan of indoor play places because of germs. But thankfully summer is a season when sickness is not as common so I don’t stress as much about it! I am sure everyone has a big indoor play place in their area that costs an arm and a leg, but there are also free options out there that I often times don’t consider.

Fast good play places are always an option and they are FREE! Unless you buy food there, which is still very affordable! I personally prefer the Chick-fil-a play places over any other because they definitely feel cleaner and nicer. Another option would be a play place in your local mall! We have a big tree house play place in one of our malls, which is known as the “plague tree!” Sounds appealing doesn’t it? But really, it is a great free option to get you and the kids out of the house! We also have a carousel, which costs $1 to ride, but if you have something like that in your local mall it is a good cheap option! Maybe you could even sneak a little shopping in as well…maybe!

So go find yourself a free indoor play place and let your kids run wild!

Now I need to go through this list myself before I can say I have nothing to do with these crazy children! It’s always nice to get out the house during the summer and hopefully this gave you some ideas that don’t break the bank!

Have a beautiful summer and happy exploring!

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What to Wear Wednesday- The Humble Soles

Calling all little ones with little soles! Have I got some pure cuteness perfectly created for your little feet!

I am a huge fan of supporting small businesses, but I am an even bigger fan when their business supports a good cause! So get ready, my friends, because I am about to introduce to you the sweetest business that is all about adorable product for a great cause!

The Humble Soles is not only a place where you can go and find beautifully created product, but also product created with humble hands. The founders, Gabriel and Ashlyn, met in Nicaragua and after having children of their own found themselves carrying the children of Nicaragua heavy on their hearts. They decided to take a huge step and do more! Children in Nicaragua are continually going without food, unable to get an education and sleeping on dirt floors. The Humble Soles was born and they started creating leather shoes created by the hands of the Nicaragua women with one goal, to help the children of Nicaragua.

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Happy Fathers Day From the Daughter, the Wife and the Adopted

1. The Daughter

As a little daddy’s girl I am sure I celebrated my dad everyday, but Father’s Day was a day where he was celebrated extra and he sure deserved all the celebration possible. I am 28 years old and still convinced my dad hung the moon. I am blessed by a father that has always portrayed a beautiful unconditional love for his daughters. A man that is always so gentle, tender hearted, kind, selfless and by far the funniest guy I know.

My mom would always call him “Disney World” because he is like a whole amusement park of fun in one person.It’s funny to look back at things now that I am a mom and see who was the “fun” one between my parents. Needles to say my poor mom always had to be the one to handle any discipline because my dad always had to keep a smile on our face at all times. Honestly, I think that is actually a beautiful gift that he has because he does it really well. Not only does my dad love the people in his life so endlessly, but He also has an infectious love for the Lord. I have learned more from him than I think he even realizes. My walk with God today has a lot to do with my parents example to me growing up. I want to love and the serve the Lord in my life like my parents did.

My dad also loved my mom. 37 years of serving together, selflessly caring for one another, loving each other deeply and being a team that worked together in the most amazing ways! Their marriage was inspirational and the love he had for my mom set an example to me of what I wanted in a husband someday.

He showed his daughters how to love, but also how to be loved by a husband.
He showed his daughters the kind of father we wanted for our children someday.
He showed his daughters how to find laughter in spite of where life had us
He showed his daughters how to be selfless in relationships and put everyones need above his own
He showed his daughters what it looked like to have a personal relationship with God.

I remember one specific Father’s Day many many years ago. I was about 6 years old and my mom took me to the store to pick out a gift for dad. I was so excited! I found sitting on the shelf a little jukebox that played radio stations. In my little mind I knew this was the best gift for him because dad loved music! I remember his reaction when he opened it. He was so expressive and appreciative. It makes me smile thinking about that now as a mom and how it doesn’t take much for us to show an appreciation to our kids for things they do for us. As far as I know, my dad still has that little jukebox sitting on the bookshelf in his office.

Happy Father’s day from the daughter. May today be a day of celebrating the man who is the best daddy a girl could ask for! I love you to the moon (that you hung, of course) and back!

2. The Wife

7 years ago we welcomed our sweet baby girl into this world and Father’s Day became about my husband as well. He became the father to my children that day and I then had another man to celebrate on Father’s Day.

It has been amazing to watch him grow as a father these past years. Being a parent is never an easy task, but it is truly rewarding and even more fulfilling to watch your spouse grow as a parent with you. Our children are such lucky littles to be loved and cherished by such an amazing Daddy. 

I specifically remember one time when my heart was so full because of the love he portrayed for his family. I had just had our second baby, my sweet boy. I had several sleepless nights during our first nights at home. One evening it seemed as if the baby was convinced it was day time and would not go to sleep. My husband took our little bundle of sleepless joy out of the room so I could sleep while he tried rocking him. I woke up a few hours later to find them both sleeping on the couch together. My heart could have just bursted over that beautiful site of my husband selflessly serving his family and the baby finally sleeping was a breathtaking site as well! *wink*

So to the father of my children,

I see you everyday loving our children endlessly.
I see you putting all of your needs and desires to the side and putting these children first in your life and I am so blessed by that.
I see you as my team mate in this parenting journey. The man who I know I can always count on and our children can count on as well.
I see you supporting their little minds as they grow and learn.
I see you being their cheerleader whether it is on the side lines or it is celebrating their first steps.
I see you being the cause of all the giggles and laughter because you are one silly Daddy.
I see how serious you are about being a dad to these little ones.

So Happy Father’s Day from the Wife. May today be a day of celebrating the man who God chose specifically to be our littles Daddy.

3. The Adopted

28 years ago I was born into the arms of a woman who was not the mom who raised me. 28 years ago I was being held by the woman who carried an intimate bond with me, but would only 3 days later be held by a woman who carried that bond on as my mom. 28 years ago I was not held in the arms of my birth father, instead I was placed in the arms of my dad. 28 years ago my birth father denied me as his own, but the man I call “Dad” called me “daughter” and never let go. The man who raised me and loved me through my life and continues to.

When I reached a curiosity point in my life I began to grasp the fact that I had a birth father out there somewhere that didn’t hold any desire for me at all. It made me very thankful for the dad that I was raised by, but also caused this feeling of rejection at the same time.

It’s amazing the power someone you don’t even know can have over your emotions. 

Only a few years ago did I meet him and it took him seeing my face to acknowledge me as his blood. Thank the Lord I was blessed by a dad who raised me and loves me deeply without any blood connection at all.

In the past few years since meeting him I have learned a lot.
I have learned that I am not defined by who hasn’t wanted me in the past, but instead by my Heavenly Father who has chosen me.
I have learned that rejection is a choice and I don’t have to let the feeling of rejection control my life.
I have learned that no one truly can have power over my emotions except myself.
I have seen over and over again the beautiful life God has blessed me with through adoption.

I don’t hear from my birth father a lot anymore, but we took sometime to get to know each other for a couple years and I am thankful for that time of learning about each other.

Being adopted gives me an interesting perspective on a day like Father’s Day. I find myself still acknowledging and celebrating who my Birth Father is in spite of how close we are now or not. It is because of my birth mother’s selfless chose that I am where I am today, but it is also because of my birth father’s denial 28 years ago that I am who I am today. I have found a place of thankfulness in that instead of hurt. I have found a place of resting in that instead of feeling angry. I have found a place of feeling loved in that instead of feeling rejected.

Every child is always chosen by their Heavenly Father.

So Happy Father’s Day from an adopted child. May today be a day of celebrating the man who denied so that I might truly live my best life.

Happy Father’s Day from the daughter, the wife and the adopted

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