Friday, August 30, 2013

Five on Friday- Fall Edition

Once again I'm linking up with Darci and some other ladies for Five on Friday. 
And this week, my five randoms are all about Fall!
via
1- I legitimately was going to just list my five favorite pumpkin flavored things and call it a day. 
But I figured that I should keep pumpkin contained to one thing instead of taking up all five randoms. So here ya go--- WHO IS READY FOR PUMPKIN FLAVORED EVERYTHING?! {{Raises hand}} Y'all, I cannot wait to get my hands on a pumpkin spice latte. I had grand plans of picking one up on our way to a park date yesterday, and then I ran out of time. Womp womp. You better believe I'll be hauling my butt to a Starbucks drive through this weekend! And don't forget muffins, and loaves, and coffee creamer, and, and, and...
via
2- Fall also means football! I was raised in a football household (Go Fresno State Bulldogs! Go Niners!), so I love to turn on a game, grab some snacks and drinks, and relax on the couch (or on the floor with the kids... because they don't exactly like to sit still...). But you wanna hear something so annoying? Hubs doesn't like football. Or baseball. Or any sports, really. How lame is that?? His parents were missionaries and he was raised in Europe, and they don't really care about baseball or football. But I do. In most households, it's the wife that complains about football always being on TV, in our household, it's my husband. He's slowly learning to just deal with it ;)
via
3- I'm so ready to slip on a pair of jeans, a sweater and some comfy socks. There's something so wonderful about cool weather clothes. And I certainly don't mind that they cover more of my I've-had-two-babies-body!

4- Another Fall favorite? Open windows!! It's still getting to 95+ degrees here every day. So I only get to open our windows early in the morning, and usually have to shut them by 830 or 9am. I cannot wait to have them open all day! Or at least all morning!
5- And finally, one of the best things about Fall is that the holidays are just around the corner. I love love love the holiday season. It's so very magical and I just can't get enough of it!
via

Don't forget that I'm currently offering a discount code for my Etsy shop!
Use code BLOGGER15 for 15% off of your order!!

Happy Friday!!!
Have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Camera Practice and a Discount Code!

I've been trying to brush up on my big-girl-camera skills. Aka- not my iPhone. 

I've been using this tutorial over at my sweet friend Mandy's blog to help me get better at shooting in manual mode. 

I've been trying to practice over the last few days.

 These pictures are SOOC (Straight out of camera). So no editing. 
Two reasons for this... 1) I want my raw pictures to still look really good, and 2) I don't have any fancy editing software. 
I use free online editing for now, but I decided to just keep these how they are so I have a frame of reference as I learn more. 






(My favorite one!)

Overall, I think they look pretty good! I'm learning a lot and trying to practice as much as possible. After all, practice makes perfect :)

*********************

On a completely different note... I've been fairly busy with my new Etsy shop
See...

For a sweet pink and gray baby shower

For a fun superhero birthday party

For a colorful farm themed birthday party

For a cute little ladybug themed birthday party

And to celebrate my shop getting off to a good start, I'm currently offering a discount code for all of you wonderful readers! 
Use code BLOGGER15 to get 15% off of your order!!

((The code will expire on 9/30))
I'm still working on stocking my shop, and I'm doing so by creating a lot of custom orders. So if you can't find something that is already listed, PLEASE email me and I would love to work together to come up with something cute for you!!
{{belliesandbabiesblog[at]gmail[dot]com}}
Happy hump day!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Insta-Randoms

I'm playing catch-up today with a bunch of my iPhone/Instagram pictures. 
 I post all of my favorite pictures on Instagram, so if you follow me, you've probably already seen a lot of these. And if you don't follow me, what are you waiting for?? Click HERE
This girl is cah-ray-zayyy!

But I lurve her!

Jax got to feed a huge bird at the bird show at the zoo. He loved it!

First day of pre-k! Can't believe he'll be in kindergarten next year!



Practicing riding a bike without training wheels! 

Love these two

And they love playing with each other!

End of summer water park fun. I'm WAY ready for cooler temps!

But I will miss seeing this cuteness in the evenings once the sun starts going down at 530. 
I pray that these two always stay close. 



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Struggling with fear


A few days ago, as I was driving over to my parents house to drop Jax off for a sleepover, he asked me from the backseat "Mom, when will Nana and Boppa die?" The question caught me slightly off-guard as I started quickly wracking my brain for the best possible answer. I was wondering what made him ask that question, and what made him even think of it in the first place? He is fortunate enough to have 7 out of 8 great-grandparents still living. And his only great-grandparent that isn't living (my maternal grandpa) died when I was 10, so the question couldn't have been triggered by a death in our family. 

I answered him the best way I knew how. I explained that they wouldn't die for a long time because most people die when they are very old, and Nana and Boppa aren't very old yet. Then I explained that even though dying is a sad thing, we get to be excited about going to live in Heaven with Jesus. And now that he has asked Jesus to live in his heart, he gets to be excited about that too. He seemed to be okay with my answer, and I tried to change the subject, but I could see in his face that he was still worried. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he was sad. When I asked him why, he said "because I don't want to die". How do you listen to your child say that and not start to cry? Answer is--- you don't. I immediately started crying as I tried to comfort him with my words and ease his fears. 

As I finally got him distracted with the excitement of going to Nana and Boppa's for a sleepover, I started to think more about the conversation that had just taken place. It's one of those parenting moments that I don't think I will ever forget. One of those hard moments that leaves your heart feeling a bit heavy. And then it hit me, that this hard moment came on the tail of one of the best parenting moments of my life. That Jax had accepted Jesus into his heart to be his Lord and Savior. 

And that this talk about death was a spiritual attack

That at just 4 years old, Jax was already having to deal with the fact that Satan doesn't like it when we give our lives to God. And he will do everything he can to try to break the bond that is formed when we ask Jesus into our hearts... to forgive our sins and to be our Lord and Savior. 

And then I got mad. Because here's the thing.... I struggle with fear. And I especially struggle with fear about death and dying.... and even more so in relation to myself and my kids. I battle it daily. The fear that something will happen to me or my kids at a very young age.

And it made me SO mad that Satan was taking advantage of my weakness and trying to instill that same weakness in Jax. I refuse to let that happen.

"He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you."
 Psalm 91: 4-8

After dropping Jax off at my parents', I sat in my car and prayed. Hard. I prayed that God would show up powerfully and take this fear away. From me. From Jax. That it would not be something that Jax has to struggle with in the same way that I do. 

Fear has always been something that I've struggled with, but it has become exponentially worse since becoming a mother. I rarely watch the news anymore, and I even have to skip over certain blogs that I normally read because my heart just can't handle it. I know that God does not want us to live a fearful life.  Fear steals joy. And I want to be joy-full.


So this is something that I will continue to pray about, seek advice about and trust God about. And my hope is that as I work to triumph over this struggle, that my strength will be passed on to my children, so that they will never have to live in fear.

"Say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you' "
Isaiah 35:4



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jesus loves me, this I know....

We had a life-changing week last week! 

Literally, because...

Jax asked Jesus into his heart on Friday night!!!

We've talked about it in the past and he has prayed a little prayer about it, but I wasn't too sure that he really meant it/knew what he was saying. But as we were talking about it a few days ago, he seemed more interested. I asked him if he wanted to pray to ask Jesus to live in his heart, and he excitedly said "Yes!"

So he repeated a short, kid-friendly salvation prayer. It went something like this...

"Dear Jesus, I know that I do bad things sometimes. And I know that you died on the cross to forgive me for the bad things I do. Thank you so much for dying on the cross for me. I pray that you will come live in my heart forever. I promise to try to always do things that will make you happy. Thank you for forgiving me and loving me. I love you too. Amen."

Afterward, we had lots of hugs and kisses and excitement about what that means. I pray (as I do ALL THE TIME) that as he grows he will have a heart for God. That above all else, he will love God and live for Him. If he does that, everything else will fall into place. 

Another exciting thing that happened this week was that we had Lexi dedicated at church on Sunday. My father-in-law is the pastor of our church, so we are very blessed to be able to have him dedicate our kids. Lexi has been a hot mess all week because of some new teeth. (I really hope they make their appearance soon!). We were really nervous that she wouldn't let my FIL hold her, and that she would just generally be a wreck on stage. 

But she did GREAT!! 

I love that we can declare before our church that we promise to raise our kids to love and follow Jesus. 
And that everyone in the church can help us do that. We are so blessed.

This picture was taken of me, my mom, my grandma, and my great-grandma on the day that I was dedicated. 
What an amazing thing to be able to recreate it 26 years later!



PS- don't forget about the giveaway I've got going on right now. It ends Thursday night!

Monday, August 19, 2013

BuildASign.com Review and GIVEAWAY!!!

{{To stay current on all things Bellies and Babies, don't forget to come like my Facebook page!}}

I was recently approached by BuildASign.com to review one of their products. At first, I wasn't sure that I needed a sign for anything... especially since we just got done with both of the kids' birthdays. But when I visited their website, I found out that they do SO much more than just signs! They make banners, bumper stickers, magnets, decals, and more. I told ya it was a lot! 

I was pretty excited when I realized that they also make business cards because I was planning on ordering business cards for my brand new Etsy shop. Perfect timing! The website was really easy to use and I was especially excited that I could upload my own business card design that I had created. If you don't have something already designed, there are lots of pre-made options that you can start with, then just fill in your personal information. 


I LOVE the way they turned out. 
They're great quality and I cannot wait to hand them out to my customers!

And now on to the fun part... free stuff for one of YOU!

You will have a choice between ONE of the following:
-An 8x10 Canvas Photo Prints from Easy Canvas Prints 
-A $25 BuildASign.com gift card 
-A $25 gift card for Custom T-Shirts from Allied Shirts

To enter, use the rafflecopter below!

You must sign up for email offers from BuildASign.com in order to be entered to win. 
{{Your email address will not be shared with any other companies, and you can unsubscribe at any time.}}

Good Luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was not financially compensated for this review. I did, however, receive 250 free business cards in exchange for the review and giveaway. 




Friday, August 16, 2013

5 on Friday

It's FRIDAY, which means it's time for 5 on Friday with Darci over at The Good Life Blog
So what randomness am I thinking about this week?

1-- Well, we're still recovering from our vacation last weekend. If you missed that post, check it out HERE! I'm already missing Disney and wanting to go back. We are going in June for Jax's 5th birthday (it's a tradition in my family), and we're going with his two best friends who also turn FIVE that month (what??? how are they that old???), but that's still 10 months away. That's a long time!


2-- I've love having a garden outside. Almost everyday I go pick basil and tomatoes, then add some mozzarella and reduced balsamic vinegar, and gobble up my caprese salad for lunch. Bomb dot com y'all!

3-- Jax and Lexi have been playing together so well, most of the time, and I love it so much. When Lexi was first born, Jax was so sad that he couldn't play with her. So now that he can, he is having a grand ol' time. It makes my mama heart so happy. 


4-- I'm still working on getting things made to list in my Etsy shop, and I made this banner for a friend who is hosting a baby shower next week. I love how it turned out! I have quite a few more things that I'm making over the next few weeks, so I'm excited to get those finished and listed!


5-- Ryan did some research about his MBA program and realized that he can actually be finished in December instead of next August! He had extra classes to take for an emphasis in Project Management, but he decided to finish his MBA, then take those classes separately. I'm so excited to have my husband back! He works SO hard and is always going, going, going, so I'm looking forward to having him around a little more!
And I'm adding an extra random thought....
6-- School starts on Monday! I can't believe summer is over, and Jax starts preschool on Monday morning. I'm looking forward to it, and so is he, but I'm gonna miss him!!
Happy Friday, lovely friends!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

And then we stopped by DISNEYLAND!

Ryan and I had been planning a fun vacation to San Diego and Sea World for my birthday last week. We left early Friday morning and drove 4 hours south to LA.
 
-- All pictures are iPhone pictures... 
I was too lazy to use my big girl camera, even though I brought it :) ---

((On the road at 7am))

We stopped there to have lunch with our best friends from our Army days in North Carolina. We don't get to see the Levy's very often since we don't exactly live in the same neighborhood anymore, but we love that they are currently stationed only four hours away! 

((When we met them, they had one kid and we didn't have any. Now we've got SIX kids between us!))

((Love my sweet friend, Jen)) 

After lunch, we drove the last hour and a half to San Diego, checked into our hotel, and spent the evening walking around, playing on the beach and eating cupcakes to celebrate my birthday. 




The next day, we spent the say at Sea World and the kids had a blast. We watched most of the animal shows, rode a few rides, and wandered through the aquarium-type exhibits. 


((Shamu show!))






Earlier in the day, I had (half-jokingly) mentioned to Ryan that I wanted to spend some of my birthday money to go Disneyland on our way home. Well, a little while later, Ryan was texting some co-workers and wouldn't tell me why he was smiling... he finally said "find a hotel for tomorrow night, we're going to Disneyland!". To say I was excited would be an understatement! 
We decided to surprise Jax and not tell him until we were about 5 minutes away. I took a video of us telling him :)

My idea to "stop by" Disneyland on our way home turned into two full days, one at each park. I'm sure I don't have to tell y'all that we had a fantastic time!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE Disneyland and all the magic that comes with it, and I love making these amazing, magically memories with my family!
((Main Street))


((Rockets))


((It's A Small World))


((Radiator Springs Racers... this was SO exciting because Jax was finally tall enough to ride some of the bigger rides!))


((Mater's Tractor Pull)


((You can't go to Disney and not get ears!))


((We ran into Mickey as we were leaving... what a great way to end our trip!))


Until next time, Disney!!