Slide Time

Brandon’s sister and brother in law, their kiddos and Brandon’s mom came up last night. Today we stopped by the pumpkin patch.

We had so much fun. The slide was a huge hit. Of course, we need to credit David for these great images.

I think I have a dare devil on my hands

And Grandma got in on the fun too….

And Bryony. She is intensely terrified of heights, but Lincoln HAD to have her join them on the slide…

And if that doesn’t share the emotion she was feeling, how about this one?

{Oh and we should mention that Lincoln left his shoes back in Stockton, so he borrowed Evy’s hot pink Nikes. Didn’t phase him. ha}

Oh and we can’t leave out our photographer’s self portrait…

I was watching from the sidelines and taking selfies…

Love him for putting up with me.

Grandma and her babies….

Left to right, Jacob, Scout, Evelyn, Lincoln, Levi and Grandma

So afterwards we hit up the local taqueria and then Bryony insisted on us having this…

We cut them all up and taste tested them. Like wedding cake tasting. It was so delicious. Ignore the look on my face, I know I look slightly scary.

And in case you were wondering what our late nights look like over here. Well….here you go. For your viewing enjoyment.

Over and out friends. Love you all.

 xoxo

Happy Endings and New Beginnings

Wow. What a week last week. Seriously, what a crazy, crazy long and exciting week. Wednesday was the big, big day…we finally received our manufactured goods. They came a day later than I expected, but you better believe I was happy they were here…it could have been a lot worse…it could have been one week or one month late, so you won’t see any complaining from me. We moved our car out of the third bay garage {yes, Evy’s Tree now consumes our entire garage} and the freight company unloaded all the boxes for us….

This sweet man was a God send….while he was unloading the truck he looked me square in the eyes and said, “This business is your ministry, isn’t it?”

It gave me chills. Bonifide, hair raising chills. 

While he was unloading the packages, he kept speaking faith over my company:

“You know this is how Steve Jobs started…out of his garage”

“Yes m’am, this business is going somewhere, I can feel it!”

“Next time I deliver your goods, you’re going to be in a warehouse!”

“I better get your autograph now, I can say I was here in the beginning!”

By the time he was finished unloading, I was pretty convinced that he was an angel in disguise. God knew I needed that. He really, really did. Someday I am going to write a post on what I think you need to start a business, but I’ll tell you, one of the first things you need is lots and lots of faith. Faith in yourself first, but I believe you need faith in God as well. See, I put everything I do in HIS hands. And whatever He wants from me, I will do.

Guys, I’m going to be honest with you, if you have followed along at all over the last year, this has been a long, long road. Definitely not easy. There have been many moments where I would wake up in the middle of the night crying because I didn’t know what I was doing, where God was guiding us, and where we were supposed to go. Two years ago Brandon and I stepped out and made a huge step of faith, and here we are. There have been many moments where I stood in the middle of our house and screamed, “What have we done?!?!” Honesty here, sorry.

But over the last couple weeks God has brought a lot of it together for us. He has opened some doors that I never dreamed would have existed two years ago, and shut some doors that I was certain we were meant to go through. Funny how that happens.

See, ministry to me has always been more pulpit. More church oriented. But the crazy thing about Evy’s Tree is that it has shown me that ministry is sometimes different than what you think. I’m finding that ministry just simply means “reaching out”. And that is what, through Evy’s Tree, I’ve been able to do. I’ve been able to reach out to those I would never have been able to meet. I’ve been able to connect, and sometimes inspire, others. And somehow, this has turned into a ministry.

So yes, freight delivery man {I never got his name}…you are right. This business has become my ministry. 

After saying all that, I guess you can imagine how excited I was to receive this shipment. A happy ending to a long time period I’m eager to kiss goodbye and new beginnings to a wonderful new chapter in our lives. Nicole and I waited eagerly all day Wednesday for them to arrive, and when they did, I jumped up and down for joy. So did Jake….when he arrived home from school and found everything in the garage, he was ecstatic. Bless his heart. He knows how important it is to me. 

After we got over the excitiment of the arrival, I had to deal with the huge undertaking of unpacking and consolidating inventory.

Yikes.

Thankfully, I have some pretty amazing nieces. They were exhausted after a full day of school and volleyball practices, but they {and Nicole} came over and helped us unpack and count hoodies.

We finished about half of the boxes that night and then I completed the rest the following day. It took us 19 hours and four people unpack and consolidate the shipment. Yes. 19 hours. By the time Thursday evening came around I was limping to bed, utterly exhausted. But the studio looked neat and tidy, and everything was organized. That’s an amazing feeling.

YES!! That is leftover fabric from the years gone by up on top. If you want fabric, please let me know we are selling it by the pound and would love to get rid of it!

All the hoodies came packaged so beautifully from our factory and wrapped securely together so during shipment they wouldn’t shift. This is how they looked coming out of the box. So nice and neat!

Oh, and Evy wore a mini gunmetal simple to school on Thursday. It’s only fitting that Evy wear one of the first manufactured Evy’s Tree, right?

On Friday morning my niece Brittany came back and pulled all your orders. She made her way through July 30, which was our heaviest preorder date.

While she pulled hoodies, I packaged them with our new packaging. I think you guys will love receiving your hoodies…the packaging is so pretty!

And let me just say, the second thing you should do if you start a business, after having faith, is make sure you are surrounded by good friends. I can’t tell you how many times over the years that my friends have helped me out in a pinch with Evy’s Tree. Natalie and Harmony saw the stress in my eyes and asked if they could come over and help. While I packaged, they finished up sachets for you all. Yes, you get a handmade sachet in each and every box. Hope you love it!

And my dear friend Heidi. I adore her. She came by after school on Thursday and saw the overwhelmed look in my face. An hour later she showed up with this shepherds pie.

It was delicious, and for a family who hadn’t eaten a home cooked meal in several days, it was such a blessing!

We made a huge dent in the July 30 orders.

I am pleased to say that the majority of them should be shipping today. Please watch your inbox for shipping notifications. I hope to catch up with shipping by the end of this week and have our orders back to a 3-5 day turnaround time by next week. Stay tuned!

In closing, I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. We were able to catch my nephew’s football game Friday night. It was so much fun and he is AMAZING!

By Saturday I could barely say my name, I was so tired. Seriously. Our friends came for the weekend, and it was so nice. Instead of us entertaining them, they entertained us…seriously, they made sure I was resting, calm, not working. It was wonderful. The kids swam in the pool at my parents while I rested poolside. I haven’t done that in a long time. It was so needed and so wonderful.

don’t mind my toes…pedicure is next on the list this week…yikes.

I love you guys! I hope you all love your hoodies. Make sure you take some great pictures of you wearing them because we’re going to be hosting a really cool giveaway next week and it involves you wearing your hoodies!! ;)

xoxo

PS…did you guys see the new photos by the very talented DASO Photo? Click HERE and HERE.

First Day of School 2013

Annndddd…..that’s a wrap folks! Summer is over! Where in the world did it go? Am I the only one who feels like the summer has flown by? And we didn’t even do anything exciting….well, that is if you don’t consider launching a fall line exciting. :(

ANYWAY, I can’t say this was the most thrilling summer ever, but I do think we had a wonderful time as a family. We took little day trips, enjoyed our time together, tried to sleep in and take every day as it comes. I’m so thankful for my family and our beautiful life!

So today was the day all our fun and sleeping in ended. The kids were excited, especially Evy. She COULD NOT wait to get to school and play. She loves school! Oh boy, I adore her!

Jake was a bit bummed out that summer was over, but happy to be with his friends again. This kids…such a ham!

The two of them together…such a mug shot!

It’s funny, I’m so used to fussing over Jake’s first day, but I’m realizing that 1st graders don’t get fussed over. We literally watched him walk to the door and we waved goodbye…but Evy, well, we got to hang out in her classroom, talk to parents and the teachers and just get comfortable with the whole new year. It was so nice.

We have met so many wonderful friends through school. It’s been such a blessing. And all Evy’s friends from last year are also doing preschool/4 together this year. Here is Evy’s friend Gabe… we love Gabe! He’s a little man!

This is Gabe’s mom, Natalie.

These preschool moms I have met over the last couple years are such a treasure. This will be our third year that our kids are all together {most of the moms have kids Jake’s age} and I have to be honest and say these ladies are such wonderful blessings to my life. I love them all!

And Evy loves her teacher Mrs. E. She was so excited to give her a hug!

I thought Evy would be sorry to see me go, since she was so insitant that I hang out in the class for a bit….I tried to say goodbye, BUT….

She was too busy with Mr Potato Head. Isn’t that awesome?!?

After we left Evy we made it over to Jake {sheesh good thing I only have two kids to tell you about, clearly I have a lot to say about the first day of school! ha}. We caught up with him just as the whistle blew and he was lining up. I was able to snag a quick hug.

But it didn’t last long, he was too ready to go….

Now isn’t that a perfect photo? The mom…hanging onto her son for dear life, while he’s taking off for adventure and is screaming, “let go!”. Ha. No, that didn’t really happen, but maybe that’s how my mind thought it was.

ANYWAY….

We were allowed in the classroom for two seconds only to snap a quick photo of our kids in their seats. Ummm…two things:

1. He is sitting next to the girl who he had a crush on last year. Can you see the excitement?

2. He is in the front row. Smart teacher!

He got to pose for two seconds with his buddies….

Love those kids. Thankful they have each other.

Well guys, that’s it. Our first day of school. How was your first day??

PS….Don’t forget to get your little one a hoodie for back to school! Click HERE to shop all our kids styles!

xoxo

So Much To Say

Do you ever feel like your world is spinning, and spinning, and spinning out of control? You do? Oh good…then you will understand how I have felt the last year. Whew. What a year. WHAT.A.YEAR.

I say “year” because it’s almost a year to the date that I ended the Save Evy’s Tree Campaign and began my journey into mass production. Ummm…let me just say, this whole manufacturing stuff is NOT EASY. I know I’ve said it before, and you’re probably sick of hearing me say it. Sorry. It is what it is. Hard. Yup.

The past year has been full of some lows…ok, maybe a lot of lows. Not all of them attributed to Evy’s Tree, mind you. In this past year we received a positive diagnosis of ADHD for Jake, which allowed us to finally enter into IEP meetings and the creation of an educational modification plan. This has not been easy. Although our school has been WONDERFUL with the entire process, as a mom you worry. Hope you are doing the right thing for him…am I being too protective? Not protective enough? Is he happy and thriving? Am I doing my best? Living with ADHD is not a walk in the park, that’s for sure. But it’s not impossible either. Thankfully through the lows we’ve felt a lot of hope too. God is good.

And then there are the lows coming with manufacturing. Time constraints. Pattern reworking. Financial surprises {oh boy, LOTS of those!}. Delays {and lots of those too}. It’s enough to want to pull your hair out. And can I be honest? I have no idea what I’m doing. Yes, I said that. Really, no idea. But don’t panic. We’re all good now. Pretty sure I could step into the world of manufacturing and survive, but it hasn’t felt that way during this first run. I definitely have earned my wings in mass production, and I hope I can just grow from here.

But all that to say, it’s been an interesting year. I’ve cried a lot. Yelled a lot too. And stress ate a lot. Yup, I’m guilty of it. Do you stress eat? I do. Not proud of it, but there it is. Thank you manufacturing process for those extra 10 pounds that I am working so hard on losing now. Ugh. So awesome.

And my little blog. I had such high hopes for it. But the reality of it is…I really don’t have time much for it. But when I do have time, I pour my heart out. I promise. There was a time when this blog bled ME. It screamed my name. But now, it screams Evy’s Tree. Maybe that is me. I don’t know…can’t say that’s what I want to be remembered by when I die. When I leave this earth I hope people say I loved. And I was kind. And that you saw Christ in me. That’s what I hope. Not that you saw Evy’s Tree.

And then again, maybe I am Evy’s Tree for now. Maybe, somehow, through this small business, you see my heart? I hope so. I really, really hope so. Because the fact of the matter is I’m no different than you. I am just a mom, trying to make ends meet for her family. Just someone who needs extra income so is trying to create it while being there for her kids on a daily basis. I hope that comes through….I hope.

But you know, there is also another issue. Even though I am working at home to be with the kids, I am still so absorbed in my work. I find my kids tugging at my arms for my attention while I shout, “let me finish this email!”. I hate that. My goal in life is to simply be present for my kids…so why in the world do I struggle so much with it?

I guess the bottom line is it’s a balance. And I’m pretty sure it’s hard to find. And I’m trying. By HIS grace I continue trying. God is so good to me. He loves me just as I am. Did you know that He loves you too? He does. You are ok, just as you are. You don’t have to look a certain way, act a certain way, be a certain way for Him to love you. He loves you just for you.

That’s what I hope I say to those listening. I hope I show you that through all the tears, and the frustration, and the tough times…there are good times too. There really are. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, no matter what God does with Evy’s Tree…I hope that through it all you saw Jesus. And what He’s done in my life. And I hope you want Him in yours. I’m pretty sure that’s not very good business tactics to talk about your faith, but oh well. It’s not my goal to offend, so if I do please forgive me…. I’m not here to talk about convictions, or doctrinal beliefs, or dos and don’ts of Christianity…I just want you to know that Christ died for you, He rose again, and He loves you.

It’s that simple. 

So tonight…as I get ready in the next week or so to launch my first manufactured line, I just want to stand here and say, “It is yours, Lord.” Whatever and wherever this business goes…it’s in HIS hands. This mass produced line will make or break me. It’s the tell tale as whether I will succeed or fail. If I will continue to forge ahead or close up shop. It’s my precipice. And I just want to pick up this entire machine called Evy’s Tree, pack it into a box and hand it back to Him. It’s His. Do what you will Lord.

And to my dear, dear customers who have hung in there with me. I’m so sorry I haven’t shared more of my heartaches. I have tried at times, but I realize that no one wants to hear complaining. So thank you for bearing with me. Thank you for supporting us. I hope that through the years I am there for you when you need a shoulder to cry on. You all are the best. I hope you love this new line. It was all done for you and WITH you. Thank you.

I love you all. Thanks for being here, in this place we call The Adventures of The Miraflor Family…and Evy’s Tree. You guys rock!

Stay tuned this week for a tell all on the new line, hopefully by Friday….. xoxo

Us…after the kids woke me up this past week. Thankful for the time I get to cuddle these two, even if it means I’m awakened early in the morning and very suddenly! Thank you again for making these moments with my kids possible! 

So tell me…do you have a lot to say about something in your life right now? How do you deal with it?

Whoa

…What a day! So I’m just going to put it out there for all the world to know since according to my husband I have no filter {hey, that’s a good thing, right? You’ll always know I’m telling the truth. ha}….

I have a hernia.

Yup. It’s awesome. I’m sure you all so happy to know that vital piece of info and thankful that I scarred your minds forever, but there it is. My kids killed me and left me with a lovely hernia that I inherited after Jake’s pregnancy then I watched it grow during Evy’s. Thankfully it’s been not a big deal AT ALL. Thankfully. Just a little achy every now and then. But this morning….well, it made up for the 6 years of “no big deal”. Yikes!

So I will say this. I have a super high pain tolerance. Most of the time I am shocked to see blood pouring out of cuts that I had no idea were ever there or no recollection of how I cut myself. True story. And you can count on your hand the times I have called someone for help when sick. So when I doubled over in pain this morning while trying to make Evy some breakfast I was shocked. When the pain landed me on the carpet in a ball, I was appalled. And when I called my mom crying, I’m pretty sure she thought I was dying.

Hence this picture:

Two very worried parents sitting across from me in my living room. My mom insisting that we go to the emergency room and my dad claiming the emergency room would be the worst place for me “with all the germs floating around” {He hates hospitals}. Oh boy, these two. They are a kick I tell you. As they are passionately debating over what to do with me, I lay there thankful to have something to keep my mind off the pain. After about an hour of laying in a frozen state, the pain subsided and I made a visit to my doctor. Looks like it’s time to get this puppy fixed as I have a referral to a surgeon and an appointment booked in a week.

Dear Lord, really? Now? 

That’s kinda how I feel today, to be honest. I wanted to scream “NOT NOW GOD”….as Brandon is gone for a week, and I have a photo shoot coming up on Saturday…and there I lay, frozen, and unable to move. Even after the pain went away, I felt like someone had socked me in the gut. NOT FUN. The more I thought about this little health thing making me slow down, the more upset I got. I don’t slow down. Ever. And today, of all days, is a bad day to have to do that.

But God knows, doesn’t He?

I had a couple more interesting things happen to me today and after I {gently} bathed the kids and put them to bed, I sat down and really thought about all that transpired. And I saw myself doing it again. You know the thing probably most of us are really good at doing ….taking our lives and trying to orchestrate it on our own. As I sat on the couch I realized it was time again…to once more hand over my life and say “God, this is yours. This business is yours. This family is yours. My life is yours.”

It’s really what it’s all about, right?

So whatever health thing I have to stop and take care of soon, I will. Whatever pause button I have to push, well….it looks like I might have to push it. And that’s ok. I trust HIM. He has a greater plan for my life and He knows what I need to get where He wants me to go. Just have to keep remembering that. Keep looking at the things that remind me of it. Like these guys….

Even though they are directly responsible for that hernia. ha. They are cuties and for once they got along today. God knew I needed that. Oh and don’t mind my deck. As I was laying on the couch writhing in pain, my dad and I were mentally tearing it up and remodeling the backyard. Yeah, that’s how we roll, unfortunately. Type A at it’s best. Sheesh.

ANYWAY…. GUYS!!!!! I have the best news. Seriously awesome, awesome news. But before I discuss that, I want to point out that I am well aware that I have missed three days now of the Vintage Photo Contest. Yikes. Please don’t kill me {that’s a joke, sort of, since I’m not sure many of you are even participating, ha}….I will start it back up tomorrow or Friday, whenever I can get myself back in working order. But I wanted to tell you why {besides the blasted hernia} I haven’t had a second to do a vintage post….

OUR MANUFACTURED FINAL SAMPLES ARE IN!!!!!!

Yes, I did just yell that. Sorry. But I am so excited. The final samples are here and THEY ROCK. Like big time. Like the most amazing hoodies you will ever want to wear. EVER. The fabric…OH the fabric! It’s wonderful. So luxurious. Like you will never want to take it off. Ever. I have spent the past couple days, while Nicole has flooded your Facebook feed with amazing sale items {sorry about the flooded part :( }, working on the final specs, changes and approval and organizing a quick photo shoot to get some pictures of the out there to you.

I will tell you more about the hoodies when I start debuting some pictures next week, but I wanted tell you how cool God is…..

So you all know my good friend Heidi, right? Well her mom in law, Hope, is from Texas and has a great group of friends that she does everything. One of those friends is THE Sharon Young.  Ok, that name may not mean anything to you, but it likely will if you shop at Dillards or Coldwater Creek, because she designs clothing for them, along with a gorgeous clothing line of her own. Last month when Hope was out visiting her kiddos, I told her at church how tired and frustrated I was with this whole manufacturing process. How I felt like quitting. How I have given this my all and I have no idea what to do next most of the time. She patted my hand and said, “You must meet my friend Sharon”. Well, lucky me, Hope had all her Texan friends up here in the wine country for a long weekend and I got to hob nob for a bit. My mom and I met them at Rustic, Francis Ford Coppola’s Winery, for dinner….

That’s me and Sharon there at the end. 

And the entire dinner I was rude {sorry everyone else at the table, I feel really bad about how little I got to chat with you all! :( } and sat totally engrossed in Sharon’s thoughtful advice, business intellect, and design savvy. For nearly two hours she poured into me and encouraged me. I wanted to cry afterwards. It was exactly what I needed.

Before she left for Texas on Tuesday, Hope brought her over to the studio with the rest of the girls to see our product.

L-R Peggy, Hope and Sharon

When they arrived Nicole was busy cleaning out the inventory and listing it on facebook as fast as we could so we are nearly cleaned out, but the ladies all grabbed a couple tees to take back to hot Texas. They were so cute. I feel so indebted to Hope and if you are reading this: THANK YOU HOPE!! I love and appreciate all you did to get Sharon and I connected. She was a wealth of information and her timing of connecting with me the weekend I received my manufactured final samples was really truly God ordained. He knew I needed that! And to the rest of the Texas ladies with Hope. I LOVE YOU!! You guys are awesome and I wish I could have spent more time with you all. Big hugs to you and come back soon!!!

And in closing, I have got to tell you about a conversation with Jake tonight in the car back from dinner at my parent’s house:

Jake: So mom, you don’t do your hair much at all, do you?

Me: What do you mean, Babe?

Me in my mind: Uhhh..WHAT?!?! I spend great pains to make sure I curl it nicely at least twice a week. Sheesh kid, haven’t you noticed?!?!

Jake: Well, you know you just don’t take the time to do it…like put it in a knot on your head or a pony tail.

Me: But Babe, I wear my hair in a knot every day, and I do a pony quite a bit, what do you mean? Help me out here, what other mom “does” their hair?

At this point I go down the list of all the other mom’s in Jake’s class as well as good friends or family. FYI moms, he said NONE of you “do” your hair except:

Jake: Auntie Heidi, Mom! She “does” her hair!!

Well, look at you Auntie Heidi. Apparently you are the cool mom of the group. But wait, it gets better.

Me: So explain to me, what do you want me to “do” to my hair?

Jake: Ok, so MOM! I have this idea for your hair. It’s three braids, with big huge bows. Bigger than Evy’s bows, so we might not be able to do it, but Evy said we could borrow her bows for now, so that will have to do. Three braids, three bows Mom.

And there you have it moms. Want “done” hair? Practice your braids and purchase those bows. Awesome.

Big hugs everyone! xoxo

Ps…Anyone have any hernia advice for me?? Ever been in that much pain? Help a sister out! ;)

Once Upon A Time There Was A Skinny Girl Named Amy

So last night as I was prepping for the Vintage Photo Contest Blog, I was rummaging through old pictures and pulling out the Evy’s Tree ones. Buried within my hard drive was a gold mine of old photos. One of the albums was entitled “Ventura 2005″….pictures of Brandon and my’s trip down to Ventura California to visit Brandon’s sister Bryony and her husband David, who was attending Brooks School of Photography. We spent the day walking around downtown Ventura and exploring the beautiful California Mission there in town.

Since David is a photographer, specifically a photojournalist, our family is very used to him snapping away with is camera…usually at very random times. This trip was the first time I remember really noticing him doing this. I remember feeling a bit weird that I’d turn and notice a camera in my face. ha.

Now we all just smile or continue talking, guess that means we’re used to it! It was so funny to look back on these photos and see the awkwardness in my face….but even more funny to go back into time and realize:

I WAS SO SKINNY!

I know I’ve talked about this before, but why in the world couldn’t I recognize how tiny I was? Seriously! If there is anything I hope to teach Evy, it’s to learn to see yourself for who you are. Looking back I could kick myself for not seeing it…and I wish to God I could get that tiny now. However, I’m pretty sure with the 40′s gradually approaching I’d look like one big wrinkled mess. HA.

Looking back on this trip also reminds me how easy we had it. I’m one who tends to get “stuck in the moment” thinking that life is so difficult RIGHT NOW. But if I could just manage to look down the road a bit…life is so much more complicated today then it was when we were newlyweds.

Back then we had time to pause, think, be affectionate. You know, do all those things that you can do when you don’t have kids, or a business to run, or a house to take care of. It reminds me stop and do that now…because life is so fleating.

The other day I was thinking about Abraham and Sarah. I started to consider how frustrated they must have gotten in life. You know, waiting all those years to have a child…the child God promised them. I wondered how many arguments they had about it. How many nights they cried themselves to sleep. And I smiled because I thought, God must have been watching every single one of those times.

And I was reminded that if we ever thought we were at the end of our rope…we must not REALLY be at that end, because that would mean God had no purpose left for us here on earth and we’d be gone. He has a reason for us to wait, just like he had Sarah and Abraham wait. It seemed silly, but God wasn’t done yet.

Sure gives you a little hope to think that way, doesn’t it?

So I guess my point about all that is this: don’t be discouraged when you don’t get what’s going on. Things really aren’t what you think…God is working in the background, tying up loose ends for us, finishing things, working His miracles. And someday you will look back on those days you thought were tough and say,“He was there all the time”. Just like I do when I look back at these photos.

Our famous awkward romantic photo was taken on this trip. And yes, that’s Bryony’s forehead front and center. :)

Oh and did I mention that I was VERY VERY skinny back then?!? SHEESH! ;) xoxo

* * * * * *

The winner of the Lovenell Giveaway is:

Congrats Stephanie!!

I’m Ok With Being White

Is it me, or is it TORTURE to get back to work after a three day weekend? I seriously feel like I have been slammed by a truck this morning. Not good. Ugh.

Anyway, I hope you all had a great time with family and friends this weekend…and I hope you took time to remember those who have fought for our freedom that we so enjoy here in the US. I always think it’s so funny on Memorial day weekend… it’s supposed to be a time when we can remember, but instead we usually fill it will a bunch of activities and family time. I suppose that is the point though, right? Cherishing our lives and living it to the fullest? And that we are able to do that thanks to those who fight to keep us safe?

Thank you to all the brave souls who gave their lives for our happiness and freedom. We remember, love, and appreciate you.

And we did live it up this weekend. Our cousins came to visit us.

Jake’s face! Dear Lord. ha.

If you have been following Evy’s Tree for a while, you’ll remember Sarah. She was my assistant for over a year and was so amazing…she’s the one who helped us during our big move nearly two years ago. She is such a wonderful person…and we love Brian, of course, who is Brandon’s cousin. It was so great to see them this weekend, as we haven’t seen them in a while.

We took them to Sonoma on Saturday. If you ever come to the wine country and are looking for something to do, you must visit Historic Sonoma for a day. It’s so much fun. The downtown square boasts Mission San Francisco de Solona, the last California mission planted by the Franciscans in 1823.

There are twenty one missions in California, and Sonoma’s mission is the last one built…every mission is spanned one days walk from each other and they were built with a purpose to help colonize California. Really, the missions have an amazing history and if you ever have the opportunity to visit one, you will surely treasure your experience.

The kids had a blast, and loved every minute of it. They are a great age…at a time where everything is so real and exciting!

In the back courtyard of the barracks, the place where General Vallejo’s soldiers lived.

We walked around the square and visited a few stores, then let the kids play in the park. I love this photo that Sarah captured of me and Jake, while we were resting in the Basque, the wonderful little boulangerie that I have been visiting since I was a teen.

You are never too big for cuddles with your mamma. And yes, he’s only six. He just looks like an 8 year old. :(

So to explain the rather random title of this post…Sarah and I started talking about skin care issues while we were at the park watching the kids play. There was a beautiful family there, not sure what nationality they were {perhaps Jamaican?} but they had this GORGEOUS GLOWING dark skin. We commented on how beautiful they were, and then I started to tell Sarah how bummed for Evy I was when she came out and I realized she has my “wonderful” white skin. Like see through skin. And this see through skin turns all burned and freckly in the sun, instead of tanning nicely like most of my friends did when I was a kid.

Yes, I’m confessing. I hated my skin when I was younger. {I thought} It was one of my most embarrassing features.

I was a cutie kiddo, I know. But had lots and lots of freckles. My mom kept sunscreen on me when I was swimming, but no one wore sunscreen daily because the sunscreen back in the late seventies and eighties was thick, white and greasy. Eventually I looked like this, sometime in jr high…

Can we say FRECKLE CITY?!?! I was so embarrassed of my freckles, and I really hated to be outside because of them, but I was an active kid…loved to swim and explore, which only gave me more freckles, of course. And I saw dark skin as beautiful, and white skin as not so much. ugh

And no, you’re not seeing things, you’ve seen these before. I discussed them HERE.

Anyway, sometime soon after the above photo, someone introduced me to foundation with SPF. WHAT?!?! Where’d that come from? I seriously could kiss whoever came up with it, because for once I had a daily sunscreen that didn’t leave my face white and milky looking, or greasy and yucky. You can see how much of a difference it made in this photo, one year later from the one above….

Today, I wear this 40 SPF daily. Even during the winter.

And I am ok with being white. I was telling Sarah that I don’t even think about it any more. Yes, I glow. But that’s ok. Yes, my legs are see through, but who cares. As I hear people compliment Evy on her “milky” skin, I proudly puff up my chest and think, “Yes, that’s my feature, thank you very much”.

I think becoming satisfied and comfortable with yourself is one of the keys to happiness in life. Accepting the things you cannot change and building on what you have is essential to health, I think. I hope I can teach Evy, that despite the gorgeous olive skin her dad and brother have, that white is IN. It’s cool. And it’s coveted. Take care of it, and it will take you far. Because skin that sees less sun lasts longer, and gets less wrinkles. And because you can’t tan, you never have to spend hours in the sun trying to. So you gain more time in life. Bonus!

So here’s to white skin. I’m ok with you. Thanks for serving me well. And remember friends. Wear sunscreen. Daily. It will save your life.

Are you a “whitey”? How do you feel about it?

Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Big hugs! xoxo

37

I can’t believe I am typing those numbers. But I am. It is true. I am 37. Which means I am inching very, very closely, to the dreaded 4-0.

Why does this not bother me?!?!

I think because I feel I am so so young still. I look at myself in the mirror and I see 16 year old Amy staring back at me. Well, ok, maybe not 16. But definitely 26. You know what’s crazy? The only time I think, “Oh yeah, I’m 37!” is when I look at my hands. Hands tell all you know. And mine are definitely 37. ha.

Anyhoo….

I am ok with 37. I am so thankful for all the good and the bad that the Lord has given me over my lifetime. I am so blessed, and I am thankful for the life lessons that pop up and remind me of that.

I am also thankful for learning. Learning more about myself. About my husband. About my kids. About the Lord. Especially about the Lord. I am so thankful for knowing HE LOVES ME JUST AS I AM. That’s kinda amazing you know? That kind of love? My husband loves me like that. That’s why I married him. Not because he was perfect, or had the perfect job and made a lot of money, or was super good looking {oh wait, he is! ha}, but because he loves me. He really, really does. And you can’t pass that up.

But back to the Lord and His love…I am so thankful for the year 2010. Because in January of that year God allowed something to happen to me that made me really, really examine my life. And I realized how little I did in this life that could make Him love me. I realized, He loved me just the way I was. A failure. A mistake maker. A sinner.

He really, really loved me. Just like that.

And He kept showing me He did. Even though others around me said I wasn’t perfect. Or I made mistakes. I felt HIM…all around me. While I cleaned the kitchen during the day, or folded the laundry at night, I would feel Him. Everywhere. And it started me on a journey of understanding who He REALLY, REALLY was. I am so thankful for that journey.

Because here I stand, 37 years young….and I am teaching my children about His love. That you can’t work to get it. It’s just there because that’s who He is. God is love. And I hope I am leading them down a journey of understanding it. I still don’t really know exactly what that looks like, but I know it is my ultimate job to help them get it. To help them understand. So I will do it. I will teach them.

I know I super rambling but today as I looked back at the last 37 years, I see God holding my hand the whole time. And I see me, working, spinning, trying to make Him love me. But silly me….He already did.

So I hope to spend the next 37 years, if God wills, showing people HIS LOVE…and what that really means. Because I can tell you, it most certainly is not what I thought it meant. Nope. It’s very, very different. And I am so excited about tell everyone I know about it…but especially telling these little ones:

Above photo taken at Moms and Muffins at Evy’s school Friday morning… and below photo taken at Jake’s classroom spa day Friday afternoon.

I must tell them how much Jesus loves them. And how much they will love having Him in their life!

So happy birthday to me! ;) And thank you to all of you… who love me, and encourage me, and support me. I am especially thankful for so many of you who have poured into me over the years. I love you all so much. May you be blessed in all you do!

And Brandon, thank you, for loving me. You show Christ through your love. Love you Babe.

xoxo

My Bangs Were Possessed….

So the other night Brandon and I tackled a job we have been procrastinating on for a long, long time: going through about a dozen banker boxes full of odds and ends that we have been carrying around with us for over 10 years. These boxes have gone through four moves, and have yet to be touched…can you believe that? Over the years we just shoved them in the attic, or the closet, or any out of the way place that we could pretend they didn’t exist.

I guess the reason why we didn’t want to deal with them is that the boxes are full of childhood things that we really had no idea what we were supposed to do with. Boxes full of notes, kindergarten pictures, trinkets and mementoes…. these were definitely not an easy sort!

One of the first boxes I opened up was my high school box. For some reason I kept my high school history book…and it was littered with notes my friends and I wrote to each other during class. I wondered if I even paid attention to the teacher! ha! And then, tucked under the history book, was this gem:

Good grief!!! WHAT in the WORLD was going on with my poor bangs?!? Seriously possessed bangs there, they could reach out and grab you…while the rest of my hair was stick straight! huh?!? Was that the style then? I’m pretty sure that was around 1990….. Thankfully, I improve *slightly*  the next year:

…although my bangs still need some improvement. And how about that bit of bran muffin that is on my front tooth? Yes, I remember distinctly that it was a bran muffin I was eating while waiting in line for pictures, and apparently the lady taking the photo missed that I had a chunk on my tooth.

So awesome.

You can bet I never passed those puppies out. I found the entire picture package, still in the photographer’s wrapping paper, in that high school box. Oh yes. Great history right there.

We also stumbled upon my childhood box…and I guess I have to say I was pretty cute as a 6 year old, but even had teeth problems then….

Note the black tooth? Right…that was from falling in the bathtub and whacking my mouth on the shower door. I proudly lived with that puppy for a couple years until it fell out. I still remember the day I lost it, super excited to be rid of it! ha.

Oh, and how about this one?

That’s my sweet brother and I, practicing our flag waving intended for the Queen of England when she visited San Francisco during her 1983 California visit. We were chosen, because my mom is a British citizen, to be part of a group of school children who were to greet her as she entered San Francisco. We practiced bowing and curtsy-ing for hours, and the newspaper wrote a big write up on us. Unfortunately, at the last minute it was decided the school children were not to attend the ceremony as there were no bathrooms to facilitate a gaggle of antsy kiddos. But no matter…Brad and I got our moment of fame thanks to the San Mateo times. Ha.

Brandon and I found a bunch of other really amazing stuff in those boxes…like my Nannie and Gramps passports {they visited SUCH WONDERFUL places!} and old pictures from their wedding. We also found all our honeymoon pictures, that have been waiting for me to place them neatly in the scrapbook I bought for them oh….9 years ago. So awesome, right?

Here’s my favorite photo.

Us at Animal Kingdom in Disneyworld. We had SUCH a blast on our honeymoon. And we were twigs. Wow.

We finally finished going through the boxes very late at night. I can’t believe we waited as long as we did to do it. All the important things are safely packed away in labeled bins and all the junk that never mattered is now in the trash. An era gone for us.

Want to know the truth? I was near tears at some points. Going through my family’s history like that. Remembering times in my life that were both good and bad. And it made me really, really think: I hope I create a good history for my kids. I hope we do amazing things, and that we document it along the way. Part of the reason for the blog…I hope to create history for those kiddos.

And I hope someday, when they are married and have kids of their own…that they go through old boxes and remember. And feel the joy that I felt when I looked through those boxes; the good and the bad.

Live life to fullest friends!! xoxo

Happy 4th Birthday, Evelyn!

Can it really be true?!? Can my little girl really be FOUR??

Four years ago today, my baby girl pushed her way into the world in a short two hour period, six days early. When the doctor handed over my blonde haired, blue eyed girl, her wide eyes were staring right back at me…filled with intensity and curiosity. This little girl was bound and determined to get her way in life. Never one to take no for an answer, she takes life on with a vengeance and will fight for what she thinks is right. I love that about her. I also love how much she loves me. She is definitely a Momma’s girl, and I am thankful about that.

And now she is four, which of course we had to celebrate. And celebrate we did! On Friday night we invited a few good friends over to enjoy dinner and cake. I decided to not invite the entire class this year, as our family and close friends make things large anyway, and I threw this party together kinda last minute. I know shame on me. {story of my life, ha}

Anyway, we served lasagna and salad for the adults, PB&J and grapes for the kids {Evy’s favorite}…

And lots of water, since it was HOT HOT. Good grief what is up with this hot weather this early in May?!?!

My precious girl. Ummm… this was a princess party. But this is what she insisted on wearing. This is her “rockstar princess” look. Mind of her own, remember?!?! oh boy. Playing with the Lee children…

Posing for me by the cakes I made. We did Barefoot Contessa’s chocolate cake and our annual coconut cake. Roses courtesy of my blooming rose garden. One positive thing about the early heat. ;)

And we had an outfit change. Apparently “rockstar princesses” only wear tops with one sleeve. So awesome right?!?! ugh.

Hanging out with her buddy Addy.

Blowing out the candles…

Cutting the cake

Present time!

Her gift from Mumsy and Gramps…a Barbie Scooter.

Oh my word…when did she grow up!?!?!

Happy birthday sweet Evy! I love you so much! Put Jesus first in all you do, and you will succeed in life! Love you baby girl…

xoxo