Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

We took these photos last year for Phoenix’s third birthday party. None of us were thrilled to be out shooting a lifestyle session in the middle of a Houston July, but all in the name of some cute (and sweaty) photos.

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Phoenix had requested a Petey party so it was pretty crucial to get photos of him with his dogs. I am really hoping to get him his own puppy this year, to be honest our dogs have never been particularly thrilled with his existence, so I would love to get him a little friend who has just as much energy and love as he does. Phoenix LOVES animals, he even loves bugs, he calls them all his friends and really would never hurt a fly. We even befriended a caterpillar the other day as we were walking out of our apartment, Phoenix would have stayed and chatted with him forever. I don’t know if it’s biological or learned to be an animal lover, but by goodness I am so glad he loves animals. It is true what they say about animals and children though, they do somewhat take a back seat once you have a baby to care for, and I don’t think Petey has ever really forgiven us for it. I will say that he tolerates Phoenix. Phoenix is smitten with him and Charlie though. Again, having an animal friend around that would love him back would be pretty awesome, I am trying so hard to be patient and wait until he is an age where he will have some really strong memories of getting his very own dog.

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Phoenix wore a white shirt so we could photoshop his age on (as you can see in the first photo above), we’ve done this every year and it’s become a fun little tradition. He’s a boy so he likely won’t care, but my aunt always had yearly photos of her boys that hung in her hallway and it’s so fun to see all the little changes that happen in a  year, I wanted to do that for Phoenix.

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love PhotographyHarrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

ToLiveToLove0059

Towards the end, Phoenix got the grumpy bug. I actually love that face so much, I see it a couple of times a week and although he really is a happy kid 90% of the time, this face is also a perfect representation of that part of his personality.

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

And a few of our fur babies, because it’s been a long time since we took photos with these guys! Petey is a rescue, a volunteer from the shelter found him in a dumpster wrapped up in a trash bag with a broken leg. It really breaks my heart to know that there are people in this world that could even fathom doing something like that. I call him my dumpster baby, even though he just turned 7, so technically not much of a baby anymore.

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Charlie is our beautiful Pomeranian pup, we also got him at the shelter and the label on his cage said Pomeranian, but neither myself nor Kris believed it, he was completely shaven and was pretty big (about 15 pounds). We figured he was a mixed breed, but he was still completely adorable so he came home with us. We don’t know how old he is, we’ve had him about 7 and a half years, so it’s possible he is getting close to 10, but he is still super energetic.

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

After having Charlie for about a couple of months his hair just kept growing and growing, until he turned into this beautiful dog. He was (and sometimes still is) scared of noises and sudden movements, so we think there may have been some abuse in his past, but we’re no dog experts so we really don’t know. He is much like a cat- and loves to lay underneath our bed, coming out for meal times and whenever he hears the crinkling of wrappers. He has taken to Phoenix pretty well (much better than Petey) and is very quick to catch any food casualties from P’s plate. He usually beats Petey to them.

Harrup Family Photos | To Live To Love Photography

Meanwhile, Phoenix is changing daily and I am constantly hoping that time will slow down. Right now Phoenix loves playing with tiny legos, he loves super heroes- spiderman, ironman, and hulk seem to be his favorites most days, but batman, and superman cycle in there too. He has a wonderful vocabulary and is constantly surprising me by the things he says. He loves playing at the park and meeting new people, everyone he meets are his new friends (I wish I had that quality). He loves doing new things and gets bored pretty easily, he also never met a Disney movie he didn’t like, Wreck-it-Ralph, Big Hero Six, and Zootopia are a few of his current favorites. Kris and I are really enjoying this stage of his life, we’ve both dove head first into soaking up childhood again- we’ve become Disney-a-holics, we are well versed in all super heroes, and are constantly on the hunt for activities that will make us all feel like kids again. So far the only thing we’ve found we’re not fans of is ChuckECheese. We’re past the terrible twos, and the first couple months of three we had some pretty sticky moments, but those have become few and far between, so we seem to be in this sweet stage of life where our biggest problem is just giving him as much time as we have and answering all of those “why” and “how” questions. We love you Phoenix and are so happy we get to do life with you.

Photo Credits | To Live To Love Photography

The Living Room | Awake Photography

The saga of the living room may be the slowest moving blog series I’ve ever done. Strangely enough, I actually “finished” this room about 10 months ago, and I think we shot it about 8-9 months ago. Why I’ve been sitting on these photos is a mystery…I could blame my real job of planning weddings, but that sounds like an annoying thing to do, so I’ll just show you a before picture so we can dive right in.

beforeTechnically, this is not a before picture, because the room was about 50-75% done here, but it’s the worst picture I could find of the room. Gross before pictures are ALWAYS good…poor photography helps all the more. To go back in time a bit I first shared this room in this post here. A few months later I shared a small update when we switched out the boob light for a hanging pendant. I’m not really sure if you are allowed to switch light fixtures in an apartment, but I really could care less. I don’t think you are supposed to paint either, and we all know that’s out the window.

The living room is the one room in the house I didn’t make a mood board for, I never had a super clear direction. I will say that I was majorly inspired by Emily Henderson in this room, but no concrete plans were ever formed. This room has just evolved over time, it looks SO dark in that before photo and the truth is that other than at night, this room never feels dark. It’s a very happy and bright space, it’s where a lot of life happens.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyThis room is SO bright and cheerful, it may be veering on too much color, but I think that’s just my personality coming out. In my office– we did such small amounts of color, I knew it was going to explode somewhere.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyI painted the walls Super White by Benjamin Moore. The artwork in the collage is a combination of purchased and DIY. Anything that looks like a 5 year old could have splattered it onto a canvas is the stuff that I have done.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyWe ended up purchasing a new slip cover for the sofa since a white sofa on a bright white wall wasn’t gelling too well. This one hides Phoenix fingerprints great, but if our dog Petey so much looks at this sofa, it becomes covered in a million little white hairs.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyJennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyIf only I had fresh peonies to sprinkle around my house all the time.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyLook at those plants outside! They were leftovers from this wedding and I’ve sufficiently killed them all at this point, but I sure do miss them.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyHere’s the first glimpse at the accent wall. I’m certainly not an advocate for accent walls, but I do believe that they can occasionally work and this was a giant white wall that needed something. We painted it an inky blue and it’s a really pretty color (Benjamin Moore downpour blue). In the daytime it looks super bright and inky and at night it turns into navy.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyJennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyI added some hooks right by the front door so we can throw our purses and coats on them when we get home. I mean we live in Houston so let’s be honest about the use of coats here…we may use one 2-3 times per year. We have also found that we very rarely watch TV during the day, but much prefer vegging out at night in the bedroom, so the TV got moved in there. Instead, I opted for a mirror and some extra seating- extra seating is always a good thing. It’s nice to have my mom’s big family over and feel like there is actually a seat for everyone should they want one. I so badly want to turn this light off in the photo below so you can see the moody black shade…I have no idea why all the lights were on in these photos, what was I thinking?

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyJennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyJennifer Laura Design | Awake Photography

On the other side of the room we have our little dining nook, since the last time I’ve shared this space we did switch out the industrial chairs for these white bentwoods.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyJennifer Laura Design | Awake Photography

Next to the dining table we have the big shelving units (2 Ikea Vittsjos placed side by side), to this day I think this was the best decision I made for this room. It makes what could feel like a huge empty space really have a lot of energy and personality. I still keep the bottom two shelves child proofed (nothing breakable) although Phoenix can now reach the third shelf, he is pretty good about not messing with stuff, but when I rearrange sometimes things start to look new and interesting. For example, at Christmas I had all these little white bottlebrush trees I placed all over and he thought those were just the best things ever.

Awake1034Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyJennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyJennifer Laura Design | Awake Photography

Little vignettes are my favorite. I believe this is the start of a shoe collection of sorts.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyJennifer Laura Design | Awake Photography

In the corner we have Kris’ desk. It gets really pretty light over here by the window, I take many an instagram photo in this corner.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake PhotographyJennifer Laura Design | Awake Photography

Over here you can kind of start to see into the kitchen.I really love open kitchens, but this kitchen is so ugly (and there’s only so much you can do to a rental kitchen) that I’m kind of grateful it’s closed off and out of view. We did finally find the perfect pair of stools to place under the counter here. I love the mix of wood and metal and they tuck right in and don’t interfere with the back door. Amazingly enough I also have not painted over these DIY swirly paintings yet either. I do like the colors, so for now they can stay.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake Photography

All the plants on these shelves are also making me majorly happy…I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but 90% of these have bit the dust. My fiddle leaf fig is barely hanging on, but I don’t think he will make it through the winter. I need some serious green thumb intervention.

Jennifer Laura Design | Awake Photography

And that’s it! My favorite parts of this room are my green rug- it hides Petey hair and stains like a dream. My plants- the living room is feeling SO lifeless without them. And my pendant light my dad got me for my birthday a few years back and then installed for me. Thanks for looking and thank you to my very selfless friend Paige for coming over and photograping whatever my heart fancies, she is pretty much the best.

Sources | White Paint- Benjamin Moore Super White, Blue Paint- , Benjamin Moore Downpour Blue, Sofa- Ikea Karlstad, Coffee Table- vintage Milo Baughman, console table- vintage painted white, fur stools- target reupholstered in sheepskins, blue chair, West Elm Book Nook, Bench- target, hooks- Ikea, Pair of glass lamps- World Market, gold shades- target, lamp on console- vintage, black shade- target, round mirror- Ikea, Green Rug- RugsUSA, Pendant light- Shades of Light, Corner Desk- vintage, corner desk chair- vintage, white bentwood- Crate and Barrel, bar stools- vintage, shelving units- Ikea vittsjo

Phoenix’s third birthday | Kristen Curette Photography

This summer Phoenix celebrated his third birthday. This year, I was very particular about letting Phoenix choose the theme. It was the first year he had a very strong opinion about the subject and the first year I feel like he really understood what choosing a theme actually meant. About a month and a half before his party he started asking for a Petey theme (Petey is our dog pictured below). I thought he would surely change his mind and ask for an Octonauts party, spiderman, or avengers theme…but for the next few weeks he continued to ask for a “Petey feme”. I was happy to oblige. Here is my little three year old and our favorite white dog that sheds like no other.

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

Once again we wanted people to have no trouble finding our apartment so we did balloons and directional signs into our complex.

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

Now the paper is pretty special to me. My cousin Audrey actually drew this illustration of Petey for the invitations. How she captured his sad little look is beyond me. These invites were super simple- once Audrey drew Petey I just scanned it in and added some text. This is the first year I designed them myself and ordered them from Catprint.com. We lined and printed the envelopes ourselves as well.

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

Once people arrived inside we had Phoenix’s three year old photo blown up (by Tinyprints). We also used small porcelain dogs in several places…Kris actually suggested this and I loved the idea, but I did have a problem with the fact that this is a toddler party and I’m putting small breakable items all over the place. In the end the fact that they are cute won out and I wasn’t emotionally attached to any of them should there have been an accident (there wasn’t).

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

These stools always live here, but I call them my Petey hair stools. Just pretend I made these from the amount of hair my white Petey dog sheds in one week. #notkidding

Phoenixs 3rd Bday 7.18.15_ Kristen Curette Photography

Phoenixs 3rd Bday 7.18.15_ Kristen Curette Photography 0062

I used fun green fern-like plants everywhere. To be honest I am running out of ideas. For his first birthday we did cactuses, last year we did air plants…what other manly plant options are there? I suppose I haven’t gone crazy with succulents yet.

Phoenixs 3rd Bday 7.18.15_ Kristen Curette Photography 0062

I realize I have yet to share the final photos of our living and dining room yet. I need to, the areas are technically all finished and photographed. Silly me wants to tweak everything and re-shoot it, but I promise to share those photos soon whether I change things or not.

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

Tinyprints provided these pillows for us. The one with the photo of Phoenix and “his” dogs just makes me melt on so many levels. All three of my kiddos in one adorable little pillow. This pillow now lives in Phoenix’s room and he really gets a kick out of seeing his face on a pillow.

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

We did the hot dog bar outside and painted the interior of our fence white just so these photos would look good. Yes, I realize we are completely insane. I also realize we are insane for putting any type of food outdoors in the middle of July in Houston. We kept everything refrigerated until right before serving and it seemed to work out well. At least the hot dogs stayed nice and warm.

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

I made this hot dog bar sign with my printing transfer method. I have been using this method A LOT lately on things other than chalkboard and it works awesomely well.

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

We provided every kind of topping we could think of and put them all in dog bowls. These were brand new UNUSED dog bowls mind you. I think we have about 20 different toppings in all. You could quite literally make any kind of hot dog your little heart desired.

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

I kept the dessert table simple this year. No crazy backdrop. Rise Cupcakes made the cake and pupcakes for me and Brittany did an amazing job, I searched the heck out of Ebay to find porcelain likenesses of our dogs.

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

For the favors Kris made this little grass area with a doghouse on our back porch. Little ones could choose whichever dog their heart so desired, name them, and take them home.

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

Look at those sad puppy faces- they need a home! Oh and don’t think I wouldn’t have loved to have real puppies out here. If parents wouldn’t have murdered me for sending their children home with real puppies I would have been happy to take that route ;) (rescue pups of course!)

Phoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette PhotographyPhoenix Third Birthday | Jennifer Laura Design | Kristen Curette Photography

And I’ll end this post with a photo of Phoenix with my dad- only his bestest friend in the whole wide world. These guys are two peas in a pod.

And if you need more cute kid parties in your life or you are new here, you can see Phoenix’s first birthday party right here, his second birthday party here, or you can see more of this shindig over on 100 Layer Cakelet. ALSO, I’m super curious which party is your favorite. I believe his first birthday will always be mine.

Design: Jennifer Laura Design / Photography: Kristen Curette Photography / Invitation Illustration:Seriously Sketch / Custom pillows, canvas print, napkins, and custom wrapping paper: Tinyprints / Cake and pupcakes: Rise Cupcakes / Signage + graphics: Jennifer Laura Design / Bamboo flatware, hot dog sleeves, and cardboard containers: Shop Sweet Lulu / Balloons: Party City

Trying Harder vs. Surrendering More

Confession time- I had a pretty real week with God last week. I started reading Lara Casey’s “Make It Happen” book and my life literally changed overnight. That sounds insane and drastic, especially since I started reading the book the week in came out last January and then put it down and didn’t pick it up again until last week. I think my heart needed to be in the right place to hear certain things and really get the most out of it. I had sunk so low the day before I picked up that book for the second time… it was almost as if God was like- “ok, now it’s time”. I have been a christian for a couple of years now, but I still felt unworthy. Like ugh, I forgot to read my bible today or darn, it’s 9pm and I haven’t even prayed or acknowledged God in any way today….I would go to bed so often feeling like I hadn’t been a good christian that day. I need to try harder or DO BETTER. How silly is that? Last week it all became so clear to me…

It's not about trying harder. It's about surrendering more.

In the book “Make It Happen” Lara said she prayed a simple prayer of surrender- “God, please show me the way”. This struck home for me so hard. My prayers had always been about- God, help me do this, or help me make this happen. But something about taking a step back from myself deciding what needed to happen and putting it into God’s hands. It was a powerful moment that had me on knees with tears streaming down my face. He is SO good. I have been living my christian life so differently. I find myself wanting to read the bible, searching for more quiet time to pray, and even memorizing scripture in my car instead of listening to podcasts like I typically do. Not because I am “trying” to be a good christian, but simply because I want to. If you find yourself in that middle of the road christian life, man…I feel you. You are saved and you love God, but you just feel stuck…surrender your life. Give it all to him, ask God to lead you.

photo by: Korie Lynn Photography

Equality

As a christian I believe in the bible wholeheartedly. As a christian I know what the bible says about sin. So I know that most christians feel a certain way about what happened last week in the supreme court. I have been struggling with how I feel because I know that I am “supposed” to feel a certain way. After struggling with my emotions over the past week, crying tears of frustration, and even wondering whether or not to share my opinion because I’m not sure it really matters, I decided that I want to share my opinion and I need to get this off my heart.

I can’t help but feel happiness, happy that so many of my friends now get the same rights and privileges that I do, happy to see all of the joy on people’s faces whose lives have truly been changed for the better by this decision. I know that living a gay lifestyle is a sin, but I also know that as a christian I sin everyday and I have peace in knowing that it will never be my job to place judgement. My job is to love. I hope that other christians can follow suit and just love. This place is not our home and I have faith in a GOD that is a much higher power than the supreme court. Have faith in him with me. Let’s love our brothers and sisters fiercely because that’s what we were put here to do.

Kia and Penny | Awake Photography | Jennifer Laura Design

And to the beautiful couple who can now be seen as a real marriage, congratulations Kia and Penny!!

photo credit: Awake Photography

transitioning

Hello there. Life has been quite different around here lately. Kris quit his job about a month ago. We had been talking about it a lot, and while we hadn’t really planned for it- mentally or financially it just sort of happened. It has been such a good thing and Phoenix and I are really enjoying having him home. Ultimately, we think Kris will work full time with me. It’s something he has always wanted and something I’ve been hesitant about. I don’t see myself as a boss. I have my comfort zone of what I have been doing for the last 3 and a half years, so to take things to the next level is frightening. It has also been head scratching…I am not sure what I want out of this business. I do know that I don’t want weddings every weekend. I know that seems silly and counter- productive to say, but I like only having a handful of really special clients. We are going to start doing some different things, but me offering a high-end full service only client experience…that’s not going to change. I have enjoyed that so much this year. Kris is sort of looking for another job. We have been open to the idea, something where he isn’t gone every weekend like he was at his last job. BUT we’re also staying open to the idea of him staying at home and working with me. We are kind of giving it to God and seeing where he takes us. So in that aspect everything really is in the most capable hands….even though sometimes I forget and put on my boss hat and try to run things…this always ends with me getting frustrated. God usually has a very gentle way of reminding me to take a step down. Take a chill pill. But anyways, say some prayers for us in this life transition we are taking on- just pray that God does his thing. In the meantime, Kris and I have been praying every night together for the first time in our marriage and it has been really special. We would love to pray for you or someone you know if you would let me know in the comments :) Happy Thursday! Jennifer Laura Design | Feather and Twine Photography

unpause your life

This year I made a resolution to be content. Here we are in May and I have found two things that are really driving that home for me. The first was a quote I saw a couple of weeks ago that said “unpause your life”. Do you ever feel like you are living life in pause mode? Waiting for a promotion, waiting to move, waiting to graduate, waiting…for what? A few weeks ago I turned 28, I posted this photo on instagram and said

unpause your life

 

“It’s my birthday and today I turn 28! My 10 year high school reunion is this year so I’ve been thinking a lot about where I thought I would be now 10 years ago. I didn’t think I would be a wedding planner, I wanted to be an interior designer. I didn’t want kids…probably ever. And although I wanted my own business I thought I would start it when I was a “grown-up” which at the time in my head meant probably in my thirties. It’s amazing how you just wake up all of a sudden and your life has taken you on a path you never dreamed of. I’m still well on my way to where I want to be in a lot of ways, but the best surprises of my twenties have been my baby (now more of a miniature awesome human thing) and my business…which I never would have had the guts to start if I hadn’t been pregnant. I did some strange things when I was pregnant like chop all my hair off (we’re talking boy short) and start a business (thankfully the business worked out and my hair grew back). So now that I’m almost a “grown-up” it’s exciting that I started my life before I thought I could. Life always feels like we are waiting for something…never sure exactly what. So do something awesome while you are waiting.”

I saw the “unpause your life” quote a few weeks later and it felt like it kind of summed up what I was trying to say. Then Saturday morning as I was creating florals for my wedding I decided to play some Tenth Avenue North on my phone. I just flipped through youtube and played some songs I hadn’t heard before. The first one that played was “Empty my Hands”. The main chorus of the song says- “empty my hands and fill up my heart”. This, to me feels like something God was speaking directly to me, I am so busy chasing these wordly goals, chasing…waiting…and I just need to empty my hands. I do believe that God makes good things happen to people who serve him, but I am just so “busy”. Ugh, I hate that word. With a lot of things that don’t feel like they matter. I want to unpause my life and do things that actually matter.

JLD Office {Awake Photography}

The last few months I have been working for an extremely difficult client. This person is a total nightmare…she has NO idea what she wants, changes her mind constantly, and has way TOO many ideas. No, you can’t have a boho, glam, retro, MCM, girly yet not too much, chic office.

My client needed to just pick a darn direction. You see, the problem is that she likes everything and sees every type of design under the sun because she is obsessed with DIY blogs. So that means she is constantly badgering me with new ideas that she finds and changing her mind after a clear direction has already been set. I should have charged her an extra design fee, but the truth is she just couldn’t afford it. So I worked with her side-by-side, crazy idea after crazy idea, and we finally did it. It may have turned her schizophrenic because the she I am talking about is in fact me…which means I just spent an entire two paragraphs talking about myself in the third person (do those first three sentences count as a paragraph??). Are you still with me? I feel like this office is a long time coming. I’ve been talking about it for the last three years. I’ve shared my ideas for it here on this blog twice (here and here)- each time was different and now that you see what I’ve actually done it’s different than any of the ideas I had previously shared.

I ‘ve been thinking about my office for a long time. I’ve been thinking about the actual office in my apartment that I currently live in for the year that we have lived here. I finally came up with a solid design direction last December. I finished the darn thing about 2 weeks later. Sometimes making up my mind is all that stands in my way. I wish I was a better blogger because I would have loved to capture all of the progress and fun along the way. I’ll try to recount as best as possible. I feel like this paragraph contains lots of short “I” statements.

This is what my office looked like as of 6 months ago.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 11.33.35 PM Before | JLD office

Then 2 months ago I met with some really awesome potential clients (who are now actual clients) who insisted on meeting with me at my office. I always offer it up as an option- “I’m located in Clear Lake”, but rarely does anyone want to venture out to meet me here. I was very excited that they did. But then reality sunk in because it was right at the tail end of wedding season so my office was a total disaster- glitter was everywhere (I now have a careful screening process that weed out any clients drawn to glitter…kidding. sortof).  Anyway, I cleaned my office and whipped it into shape a bit- finally turned my desk a proper direction- at one point I had it shoved into a corner. Don’t ask me why it took so long to figure out that my desk needed to face the door and be nice and centered in the room. The closet doors threw me off-  they are big. and white. and I didn’t know what to do with them. The idea of that being the focal point when you walk into my office and the first thing you see felt weird. I started thinking that wallpaper may be the way to go. Make that boring white wall become an awesome accent wall (ugh…did I just say accent wall?). BUT then once I started looking at wallpapers I realized that I would be completely over what I chose in a matter of months, my taste is not dependable in the least. Although these (12) were some top contenders, I’m glad I didn’t go this route.

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So twenty four hours after I got off the phone with those potential clients this is how the office looked. I turned my desk the right way, decided to embrace the white wall (for now), brought in my wooden console table which usually lives on our porch so I could create somewhat of a “vignette” under my cork wall. And this is how my office looked when I booked all of my clients this year…you see, meeting with those first clients here (and them hiring me) really pushed me to start making every potential client start meeting me here. It seems silly to drive all over town and jump through hoops for someone who hasn’t hired me yet. Once my clients hire me I meet them wherever it’s convenient for them and then I can start hoop jumping ;-) Plus I think people like to see my environment. So that current set up was working (ie. I was booking jobs) but it was driving me nuts. I mean it was a real hodge podge and just all over the place. I took some time off at Christmas so that felt like the perfect time to start making some real progress. I realized that I wanted my office to be a reflection of my website and just a clean white box with a few places of crazy/chaos where my brain could explode for a minute. Enter – a huge cork board (a real live pinterest board if you will), and some pretty white and gold shelves. The cork wall was already in place, but I knew that it needed to stay. I also thought of a few interesting things to do to help the closet doors not look so sad…we’ll get to that.

Quickly after that- this mood board happened.

JLD Office Mood Board

 

It was just thrown together for the ideas- not to really “make a pretty mood board” or anything. But I liked this direction so things started moving quickly. I went to Ikea and started purchasing things. I got really excited when I found this light fixture.

ikea arjeplog

Cut to me at home taking down an enormous ceiling fan and installing this all by myself. I’ve never changed out a light fixture before. Last year when we changed out the light in the dining room, my dad did that for me…and I wasn’t even really paying attention. I watched a couple of youtube videos. I read some instructions, but to be honest videos are way more helpful. After about an hour and a half I had this.

JLD office light fixtureTwo days after that we had this.

JLD office light fixture

A freshly painted clean white box. And can I just say I HATE painting. So many blogs I read act like it’s not a big deal to paint a room and it doesn’t take very long, but I detest it so much. Pull everything away from the walls…tape off stuff, cutting in. It’s all pretty much the worst. BUT I love the result. This made my office feel so fresh. It also made the connecting hallway and living/dining room feel so very tan and gross. #atthetopofthetodolist  After painting everything else went relatively quickly. I made a shopping list and quickly grabbed everything from a number of unique and interesting shopping places….

that’s a total lie I just went to Ikea. And a few days later (right after Christmas) we had this.

JLD office progress photo

My mom was kind enough to watch Phoenix for a few hours so I could go to town on this room. Of course I was jamming out to T.Swifty’s new album that I got for Christmas. Made the process slightly less painful. I’m the kind of person that likes to enjoy a space…I don’t necessarily enjoy the process though. Hanging those shelves- annoying and tedious. Hanging those picture frames into a perfect grid- total nightmare.

JLD office progress photo

But by the end of the day we had this- shelves and photos on a wall. At this point- I just had to wait for a few things I ordered to come in- ie. desk chairs, and closet door wall art to finish everything up. So…the room kind of sat for a month…or two. My chairs came in, and my wall art came in, but I didn’t bother hanging it. No…you see, things like that should wait until about an hour before you plan to photograph a room so you can rush around at 7am getting everything ready. Which is exactly what happened. Soooo…let’s go ahead and get into the afters shall we?

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

So here you can see what I did with those doors. I let them stay white, BUT I painted their little edges gold and added wire word art right above my desk which is actually a scripture that I love very much- 1 Corinthians 13:8. It has also kind of been my mantra for the past two years and it makes me happy every time I read it. It was just the little something that needed to be on that wall- to keep it clean, but not boring. The gold edges did a lot too.

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Majorly want to close my computer in these shots so you can see more of my pretty desk chair. Thanks for pointing that out mom…now that’s all I see. And now probably all you see :) Does anyone remember when I found this chair on craigslist for $75?

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

I only keep pretty folders and tiny notebooks on my desk at all times. Tiny notebooks for my tiny notes.

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

This cork wall makes me SO happy. And this is why my desk was in a corner for so long. I thought the cork wall needed to be the backdrop of my desk…which would have looked awesome, but again just didn’t work at all. Picture me climbing over my desk chair to get into my closet every fifteen minutes.

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Phoenix hi-jacked the shoot- which is very true to life as he is always running in my office in the mornings to see me. I welcome it very much. It used to be too much, but now it’s tapered off and I have to beg him to come visit me…he still does, just not as much. Spiderman slippers and all.

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

My shelves! I tried to style them a bit for these photos, but really and truly this is just where I keep a lot of my inventory. It doesn’t hold everything obviously- there is a TON behind the closet doors, but I try to keep all the pretty things out here that I like to look at.

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Look at me, working SO hard writing in my tiny notebook.

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

Jennifer Laura Design office | Awake Photography

And there you have it, the office that FINALLY is. Thanks for looking and thank you times a million to some very good friends of mine who made this day happen and also ridiculously fun- Paige aka Awake Photography and Erica of Hey Lovely who made me look way cuter than normal. ALSO, my new friend Abby of Abby Speaks Hair for e-mailing me the weekend before the shoot and telling me she could make my hair BLONDE when no one else could. She is a rockstar.

If you need to see more or want to read an interview by yours truly head over to The Everygirl today!

Sources | paint- BM super white, gold wire word art- Turn Left Designs, curtains- ikea, blue bench- target, pink pillow- ikea, gold pillow- hobby lobby, desk- ikea, shelves- ikea, black shell chairs- zoetico, blue wingback- thrifted from craigslist, gold desk lamp- urban outfitters, baskets- ikea, shelving unit- ikea, overhead light black and brass- ikea, frame collage wall- ikea, gold stapler- target, gold scissors- target, lucite desk accessories- the container store, white trash can- ikea, gold side table- target

Walt Disney World recap

Disclaimer: I’ve been gradually working on this post for the last four days. Somewhere between then and now it turned into a novel. You’ve been warned, this is the longest post I’ve ever dared to click publish on.

This blog post is more for me than for you. Although if you enjoy it by all means that would give me warm fuzzies. I for one love/hate reading people’s vacation recaps- I love living vicariously and seeing the cool stuff people do, but I hate reading about someone else having a fabulous time while I sit on my tush very much not on vacation. So to make you feel better I too am just sitting on my tush and am no longer on vacation. And I want to share this so I can remember everything, all the details that I’m sure to start forgetting by next week, and so next time I’m planning a trip to Disney I can remember some of the things I did right and wrong.

I’ve only been to Disney World once before this, it was on a trip with my mom- she was headed to a school leaders conference (she’s the assistant principal of an elementary school) at Disney World and her boss was bringing her daughter so she asked mom if she wanted to bring me. I think I was 21 and I was really excited to go and had a great time, BUT her boss and her daughter had been there so many times that we pretty much just did everything they recommended and waited in lines for hours riding all the big name rides- aerosmith, peter pan, space mountain, expedition everest, etc. It was a very fun trip, but I left feeling like I hadn’t been able to really experience Disney completely- plus my mom was in conferences for half the day so we didn’t get to spend as much time together as I would have liked. It was a good trip, but it really just made me want to go back. Topher had never been and neither had Phoenix (obviously he’s 2). We hadn’t been planning on taking a big vacation this year, but my parents started planning a big trip to San Francisco to visit my brother and I thought it might be fun for my family to tag along. Kris loves wine- so we thought we could turn it into a chance to go and visit Napa. Once I realized how expensive the flights to California were going to be, Phoenix was unfortunately no longer free :( I started looking into other ideas. Maybe lego land or a disney cruise?? Both of which are in Florida…then I started thinking that if we’re in Florida why would we not just go to Disney World?? Then I started pricing it out and realized that we could go to Disney- purchase our hotel and tickets for cheaper than just the flight to San Francisco. It started to look very appealing (Phoenix was free at Disney), I mapped out the drive- saw that it was 14 hours. Not exactly a short trip, but completely doable. PLUS Kris only gets one week off a year and I started to realize that spending a week with my family for his only week off this year may not be his first choice of vacation destinations. Although we do still want to go to San Francisco and Napa at some point in the future. It just wasn’t in the cards for this trip. So plans for a trip to Disney started to formulate. And being a planner in nature, this was wildly fun for me.

I immediately found wdwprepschool.com and Shannon’s website was such a wealth of knowledge. It gave me step-by-step instructions for all of my early planning. Pick your time of year, pick your resort, etc. It all sounds very obvious, but she had so much information for each step- things like past crowd levels for different times of years and the pros and cons of each resort. Just so much information that I never would have had just going to disneyworld.com and booking our trip. She also had tips for adding extra magic into your trip like tinker bell presents and character wake up calls (which I’ll talk more about later). She also had information for Disney travel agents right on her site. I ended up inquiring with them to see if we could get a discount, and they were SO helpful and very straightforward. “No, there are no promotions right now, so booking with me won’t save you any money (it also won’t cost you any more money), but we will help you make all of your reservations, fastpasses, and answer any of your questions along the way”. This sounded good to me, having never planned a trip, I didn’t have the slightest clue how any of that worked. So we booked through Key to the World Travel with Jennifer Van Hill and she was SO helpful and ended up snagging us so many reservations that I don’t think we would have gotten if we hadn’t worked with her. After booking- only about 90 days or so out from our trip we started looking into dining reservations. Dining reservations open up 180 days out from your trip so I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to get anything that we wanted. After a bit of research and asking Kris 27 times his opinion on the matter we ended up deciding that Cinderella’s Royal Table (the restaurant inside the castle…yes, that castle), Be Our Guest restaurant (Belle’s castle), and 50s prime time cafe were musts. Then character meals at Tusker House and Chef Mickeys also needed to happen. Jennifer snagged us every single reservation that we wanted. And then one day when Kris was looking into things and getting excited for our trip he found the tomorrowland terrace fireworks dessert party- basically a buffet of never-ending desserts while you sit and watch fireworks at magic kingdom. He booked that pretty much the second he found it. Jennifer also handled our Fastpass+ reservations when we were 60 days out from our vacation, we just picked what we wanted and she made sure that we got them. In retrospect now that I know a little more about this- we definitely chose a few things that we didn’t need fastpasses for (ie. you pretty much don’t need a fastpass for a show), but it was just one of those things that I had to experience to learn. Around this time I also started buying little gifts for Phoenix here and there (all Disney related). It felt kind of silly, but I knew I was planning to give him some sort of present everyday, this snowballed into me purchasing him a t-shirt for everyday of the trip, themed to what we were going to be doing that day…which then snowballed into me purchasing coordinating shirts for me and Kris. Kris seriously thought I lost my mind when I told him, but once we were there and he saw everyone else in Mickey Mouse shirts and ears he really ended up enjoying it. A lot of the shopping I did pre-trip felt so ridiculous because I felt like we would surely buy a bunch of stuff while we were there, but aside from buying Phoenix one of those bubble guns that light up ($12), buying our 2015 Christmas ornament, and our Mickey ears, we really didn’t buy anything in the gift shops. I actually looked around and piddled in several different gift shops while Phoenix was napping on a couple of different days and every one felt like it had the same stuff- overpriced toys and ugly tourist t-shirts. Dear Disney, you need a new buyer. Looking back, all that shopping upfront was worth it and saved me from purchasing expensive garbage in the gift shops.

We started our drive at 2am Sunday morning. We were planning to leave early Monday morning, but Kris got off so late Sunday night it seemed silly to go to sleep for 3 hours. So we got on the rode and just took turns driving while the other person slept. I had purchased little dollar store Disney toys (the Dollar store has a ton of Disney stuff, FYI) for Phoenix to unwrap every hour of the trip. We had a little stuffed Mickey Mouse that would pop up every hour and talk to Phoenix (ahem, I played the role of Mickey Mouse) telling him he was so excited that he was coming to visit his house and here was a little surprise for him while he waited. This really did make the drive go well for Phoenix. This is a kid who used to scream bloody murder when we strapped him into his carseat as an infant and we could barely get to the grocery store some days. So this trip was like…yah, we’ve come a long way. This also made it fun for me, watching him get excited to unwrap a new present every hour was neat. Most of the presents were things that would keep him occupied for a bit of time as well- a coloring book, a new book, some stickers, little toy figurines. By the way do all kids love little toy figures as much as ours? Seriously that and legos is all this boy wants and he wants to pretend to be one character while we pretend to be the other. A little lightning mcqueen and tow mater got us a looong way. Although it does get old for us adults after awhile.

My aunt Carol also recommended a book- the unofficial guide to Walt Disney World. She told me to get it months ago, but I procrastinated and didn’t buy it until the day before we left. I read it on our drive. It was the perfect last piece to planning our trip. It really helped us come up with a good daily plan- what to ride and when, as well as a schlew of other interesting facts and data. I’ve become a total nerd for Disney stats, info, etc. I also downloaded the app that goes with the book that allows you to put in everything that you want to do that day, your fastpass reservations, and your dining reservations and it spits you out with a plan of exactly what to do and when. Kris and I were both worried that it would feel like some huge to-do list and we would feel like we couldn’t be spontaneous in the parks, but that wasn’t really the case. We always had more than enough time for everything, and did WAY more than we thought we would be able to. When you aren’t waiting in ride lines all day it’s pretty amazing how much you can do. We waited in line to ride rockn’ roller coaster for 30 minutes and that was the longest line we waited in, and that was only because we were too wiped on our Hollywood Studios day to show up at park opening. Other than that we didn’t wait for anything more than 10 minutes. It was really awesome to be at a theme park and not be stuck in line all day. That was a very new experience. Especially being with a two year old who would have had no patience for that nonsense. So if you are going to Disney World get yourself that book. It’s worth its weight in gold.

We checking into our hotel Monday night and from here I’m not going to give a full rundown of each day. Namely because I started writing that out and it sounded incredibly boring. So I’m going to share pictures and just caption them with things of interest, so if I haven’t lost you by now hopefully I’ll keep you until the end. And I didn’t really edit these photos except for a few that ended up on instagram, so sorry in advance for the ugly/blurry photos!

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This was our resort room. We stayed at the Art of Animation resort which is on property at Walt Disney World. Most of the rooms at this resort are suites and the only rooms that aren’t are Little Mermaid themed. We obviously didn’t need a suite with just three of us, but we would have loved to stay in one of the other sections- lion king, cars, or finding nemo. Our room was still adorable, but next time I think I would splurge on a suite just to experience it. Our section was also horribly far from the central check-in and food court. By the end of our trip we were so tired of walking if we had to go to the food court we would just hop in the car and drive.

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Our room was adorable though, especially the tile in the shower that looked like Ariel’s gadgets and gizmos.

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Our first day was at animal kingdom. I tried to get a photo of us in our shirts everyday. So sometimes  I cut our heads off to make this happen. And see what I did- I didn’t buy us matching shirts…I did coordinating shirts. Because you know…matching shirts would have been weird.

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Terrible photo I know, but this was the first show that we saw on our first day. And it continued to be my favorite show we saw the entire time we were there. It was just awesome. We also saw Festival of the Lion King this day and to my dismay the shows were all downhill from there. Animal Kingdom just set the show bar really high so after that watching 4D videos and getting sprayed with water just didn’t cut it.

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Lunch on our first day was at Tusker House. We wanted to squeeze in as many character meals as we could because I wasn’t sure how Phoenix would react to them. In retrospect I’m so glad I did because he finally warmed up to them on our last day there and it was probably only because we saw so many characters everyday.

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Phoenix’s main comment on the characters that first day was that they didn’t talk. Why don’t they talk Mommy? It was kind of sad! I totally wish they did talk even if their voices weren’t perfect, it would be a lot more fun.

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After lunch the kid was pooped and took a nap. We opted to leave our stroller at home because the thought of having to lug a stroller around everywhere didn’t appeal to us- we brought our ergo and while Phoenix doesn’t like riding in it while he is awake he loves it for naps and it was a lifesaver. And after that we called it a day at animal kingdom- this was our shortest day.

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After getting back to the resort we decided to explore it a bit more. All of the outdoor areas, playgrounds, and pools made choosing our resort just so worth it. The theming was just SO cool and it felt like we were still immersed in Disney magic even when we weren’t in the parks. It was a totally different experience than the last time I was here and we stayed and the swan hotel…which was not Disney themed at all.

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The section next to ours was the Lion King. This was Kris’ favorite- it’s his favorite Disney movie of all time.

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I somehow missed getting photos of the Finding Nemo section, but that was one of the coolest sections since it had a full blown Finding Nemo pool and this is the area that is right next to the central hub of check-in and the food court. This area was also so busy with all the people from the food court so if we go back I would probably opt to stay in the Lion King or Cars section.

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Both of which were not too far from the center. Cars isn’t my favorite Disney movie, but this section was SO adorable with a really awesome pool- that we spent a good bit of time at on our off park day. I think this would be my first pick if we came back.

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We ate dinner that night at the food court. If we were to come back I would avoid that place as much as possible- just really terrible overpriced food. A lot of the food we ate at Disney wasn’t very good, but typically if we ate in the parks at a reservation the experience made up for the bad food. There was no experience to be had in the food court.

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Second day was magic kingdom. Again, taking a photo to get the shirts while totally sacrificing our faces.

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And then of course another photo after we got our Mickey Ears.

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We woke up so early (6am) on our Magic Kingdom day that Phoenix was napping by 11. We tried to do boring shows while he napped which was how we ended up in the horrors that were the country bear jamboree and the enchanted tiki room. Never again.

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We ate lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant. The food wasn’t amazing, but the experience made up for it. The food came out in these gorgeous little carts, and our dessert was a little cupcake with “the grey stuff”. After eating our lunch I didn’t have high hopes for the cupcake, but it was actually fantastic and we wish we had ordered two instead of sharing one.

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This was the main dining room that we ate in. And then it branched off into two other rooms.

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The west wing- that was ripped to shreds and even had a spinning rose hologram.

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And then the east wing which I don’t really remember from the movie, but had this cute dancing beauty and beast in the center.

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Tip of the day: when wanting to get your photo at the castle look around for another family who is trying to take a selfie in front of the castle and offer to take their photo, and in return they will snap yours. Bada bing! After this we headed out of the park and took a much needed nap.

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We rode the boat back in that evening. And we were still wiped, but we had dinner reservations at the castle as well as wanting to watch the parade.

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We caught the incredibles dance party on our way back in which was weird and hilarious. Phoenix was still suuuper shy, but did some dancing of his own off to the side.

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Then we headed to the castle for dinner. I think the main appeal for eating here was just to see the inside of the castle. We didn’t know just how special the whole experience would be, so that was a really cool surprise.

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Upon arriving we waited in line to meet Cinderella who welcomed us into her home and invited us to join her for dinner.

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Then we sat downstairs and waited in this room. Whenever a table was ready the host would ring a series of bells and announce that a royal invitation had been extended to the _____ family. Then they were led upstairs. We waited quite awhile after meeting Cinderella, but they finally invited us upstairs and then we were led up a long blue spiral staircase.

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Once upstairs we were inundated with princesses. It was really magical. Ariel was my favorite. She came over and really took some time to chat and talk to Phoenix. Can you see her holding his little Woody figure? She even played with him for a moment. When she left Phoenix asked where her tail was. I very much wish he had asked that while she was there. She was really gorgeous too, I wish we had snapped a better photo with her.

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We also met Snow White, Jasmine, and Sleeping Beauty. They were all so beautiful and sweet. They made our dinner at the castle so special. The food here was ok- you have to pre-pay because reservations are in such high demand and it was a pre-fixe menu. Kris had some amazing crawfish and grits appetizer that I wish I had ordered and I had an amazing dessert that was some type of mousse or ganache. Everything else was fine, but not amazing. Those were two major highlights though!

We woke up so early (6am) on our Magic Kingdom day that Phoenix

Our next day was Hollywood Studios. We didn’t get there at opening because we just couldn’t stand the thought of getting up at 6am again, so we woke up around 9 and got there around 10:30. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), we didn’t have a coordinating outfit that day. But Phoenix did have a Buzz Lightyear shirt since this was the day we were planning to meet Buzz and Woody.

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We had a full Toy Story afternoon. Toy Story came out when I was 8 and that is by far one of my favorite movies of all time and now it’s one of Phoenix’s favorites too so eating lunch at Pizza Planet felt like a must. Then we rode Toy Story Mania with a fast pass. Kris and Phoenix loved this ride, but I was kind of disappointed. I wanted it to be more like Winnie the Pooh or Peter Pan in which we got to fly through the story, instead the review I had read of “it felt like playing bad video games from the 90s while being pushed around on my couch” was incredibly accurate.

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Meeting Buzz and Woody was probably the biggest highlight of the trip for me. I’m sure they make everyone feel special, but they genuinely seemed so excited that we had their action figures with us.

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Phoenix was so fascinated by them and loved looking at their costumes. He got hugs and kisses from both of them. I just had no idea that the characters would be so sweet and just really go above and beyond (err to infinity and beyond) to make us have a great experience. We ended up saying that standing in line to meet characters, while more tedious, was always a better experience than character dining which always felt a bit more rushed.

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They both signed the toys for us so that was really cool as well.

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I hate this picture because Phoenix looks so bored, but it’s just a weird moment. He really was excited and had a great time meeting them.

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The Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Playground was awesome. Phoenix has never seen that movie, but he appreciates a cool playground as much as the next kid.

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Dinner at Hollywood Studios was at the 50s prime time cafe. Which sounds like it’s going to be a replica 50s diner, but it’s really not. It seriously looks like my grandmother’s house. If my grandmother had more mid century modern style as opposed to mid century traditional. It was so so cool and I loved it. I seriously would have loved to steal a few of the pieces of furniture that I saw there.

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The waitresses were supposed to be mean and tell  you not to put your elbows on the table, no cell phones, etc. In fact, we heard many of the waitresses around us doing just that. But fortunately our waitress was really nice and didn’t give us a hard time for not cleaning our plate. Meanwhile behind us one of the waitresses flew an airplane spoon into someone’s mouth while having their table make airplane noises.

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Friday was our off day. It was wonderful, we slept in (as much as you can with a 2 year old), watched TV in the hotel, and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the cars pool.

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This was our little version of heaven for about 4 hours that day. Phoenix even took a super long nap.

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That night we went to Downtown Disney. We had thought about making a dining reservation, but we didn’t, we thought it might be fun to explore. I have to say I didn’t enjoy Downtown Disney much, it was SO crowded, it felt way more crowded than any of the parks did- and there were several places that just felt like we couldn’t even walk. They were doing a ton of construction so I think that may have had something to do with it.

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There were two good things in downtown. The first was the lego store. It was way larger than the one we have at our mall at home and had all these huge characters made out of legos.

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The second being Earl of Sandwich. Funnily enough it was just a quick service chain restaurant, but Disney food had been so bad that we both agreed that this was the best (not to mention cheapest) meal we had all week. The sandwiches were actually extremely good and I would definitely eat there again.

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Our last day was bittersweet because I just didn’t really want to leave. But we did our last day in our Frozen ensemble.

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We woke up early and were at the park at 7:30. We rode all of the remaining big rides that we wanted like winnie the pooh, barnstormer (Phoenix’s first roller coaster!), little mermaid, it’s a small world, etc. At 10:30 it was time for our breakfast dining reservation at Chef Mickey’s and we had probably already ridden about 10 rides. I can’t say how much being there in the morning saved us from standing in line all day. We walked onto rides until about 9:30.

#harrupsdodisney

We had the classic Mickey waffles. And got to meet all the character again. It was perfect, because this time Phoenix wasn’t so scared of them. Many of them even got hugs. And Disney bad food and all could be hard pressed to screw up a breakfast buffet so we pigged out.

#harrupsdodisney

#harrupsdodisney

#harrupsdodisney

#harrupsdodisney

We hadn’t planned on meeting Woody again, but we had some extra time in between shows this day so we made a point to go over there so Phoenix could meet Jessie. This experience was very much like the Buzz and Woody one where they were just SO good with him.

#harrupsdodisney

#harrupsdodisney

#harrupsdodisney

Now this is a terrible photo, so very sorry for that. But this is while we were at the Dessert Fireworks party, we basically showed up an hour before fireworks at the tomorrowland terrace and got a great view of the fireworks while eating all the desserts we could shove into our face hole. It was delightful. Phoenix asked me if he could take photos of the fireworks so this photo above is some of his handy work…and I actually think it’s not bad for a two year old :) After this I really wanted to go ride more rides (because it was our LAAAST DAY), but Kris insisted that this be the last thing we do before leaving…he said this needed to be our last memory. So it was. Which is actually kind of special. Kris doesn’t care about much (he’s the most flexible person I know), so when he actually does have a strong opinion I want to appease him :) Overall, we just had the most amazing vacation ever and I want to go back immediately!

Being happy and finding peace in 2015.

The past two years I have shared a big list of goals and hopes and dreams and unicorns with rainbows….you know, those posts. I didn’t want to do that this year. This year I am simply vowing to be happy in the small and simple- finding joy in the everyday. It’s something I’ve struggled with ever since I graduated from college. My entire life was leading up to this one moment and it was a bit anticlimactic to be honest. Get a job, start real life. Work. Make a living. Pay bills. It’s all so mundane. School was always leading up to something- a 9 week benchmark, the end of a semester, summer break! I have found that real life isn’t really like that. It’s just one long to-do list that never really ends and if you are lucky you can catch up and take a breath every few weeks. I’m not complaining. I think I speak for a lot of people when I write this…at least I hope I do. The last four years, I’ve really struggled to find happiness. It’s not easy writing that, depression is something that is extremely easy to hide and very guilt-inducing to admit. I’m blessed in so many ways that the guilt in even admitting that happiness doesn’t come naturally almost makes me want to throw this post into the trash. So for this year, that is what I am working on. Finding joy in God, finding peace in Jesus Christ. Being ok that not every moment of my life is thrilling and/or exciting. Being ok that I don’t have some large milestone to look forward to or work towards. My hopes for this year are that my life/business brings joy to others in some way. I think joy might come when I focus my energy outwardly instead of inward. Be less focused on myself, be more focused on others.

Happy New Year!