A New Chapter

Today marks a new chapter in my life’s journey.  Fair warning: it’s about to get real.

After almost 10 years of working at IMG in the corporate world, I am taking some time off to focus on family during the early years and to start a little business of my own at the same time.  To say this was a difficult decision is an understatement.  It has been a lot of weighing options, looking at pros and cons, and going back and forth about where we ultimately wanted to be.  But in the end, it’s my gut that led me to this decision.  And it feels so good and so right.

I recently looked back on some journal entries I had 4-6 years ago.  At the time, I was SO TORN about the direction of my life.  In my mid to late twenties, I was thriving on youth and success…and I wanted as much as possible. I didn’t think I could have kids and focus on a career — I knew that either my career or my children would pay the price.  The funny thing is, I still come to that same realization. I can’t have both.  But what I want is so different than what I thought I wanted during those earlier journal entries. From the moment I learned I was pregnant, my entire world shifted.  I know that sounds so cliche, but it is the only way to describe it.  Since becoming a mother, I no longer thrive on self-fulfilling elements….I truly care only for enriching the life of my son and family.

While being the best mom I can be is obviously the MOST important thing to me, there are other dreams I am seizing at the same time. It’s been my ultimate dream to build and run a business of my own, so this opportunity is an incredibly exciting moment for me. It is definitely going to be quite a journey, and I’m not sure where it will go. Will it be a success or a failure?  Will I be happy out of the corporate world or miserable?  Will I have the time to be a mother and build a business?  There’s still a lot  of unknowns and lot of work to do, but I am excited for the challenge… and happy for the chance to be doing it while giving my son everything he deserves.

I hope to use this blog as a sounding board for my journey and I look forward to sharing it with you all.  It may not be pretty, but hopefully it’s true to me.

As I close this chapter, here’s a fun look at some of my fondest memories from my decade with IMG (they could literally go on and on).  I am eternally grateful for the lifelong friends I have met all over the globe and the amazing business skills I have gained along the way. I am a richer person in the ways it matters most.

 

A Woodland Celebration

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Guys, I have literally been planning this for a year (okay, maybe a little less, but not much).  I could probably have 20 blog posts about all of the different projects we did for this party, and I may add different posts that include more details at a later time, but I wanted to share some of the highlights from Grady’s amazing birthday.

What made the party so VERY special was all of the people who came to celebrate him and to shower him with love.  It really was a beautiful thing (despite him being terrified and overwhelmed most of the party :)). The party itself and all of the details really did come together, but it was the company that made it just perfect in every way.

From the beginning, since G was born in Autumn (my favorite season!), I knew I wanted something centering around the clever fox.  At first I was planning a simple fox theme, but the party eventually took on a woodland theme with the fox being the main character.

Pretty much everything you see is hand-made or crafted by my mom and myself.  We did everything in small projects over the last several months so that it could come together at the end.  It was a lot of hours…but I think it was well worth it in the end.

My favorite part of the party is that we created a 1 Year Slideshow of Grady’s 1st year and it played on a loop in the background.  What a great reminder of the amazing and blessed year we have had with this boy.  This is definitely a tradition I hope to continue for each birthday of his in the future.

I think the pics speak for themselves so I will do less talking and explaining on this post than normal :).  I will also try to link most things below.

Too many pics??!  Sorry, I literally could’t dwindle it down.

Sources and Details 

Banners and all die-cuts:  This machine was worth every penny!! We used it for all of the tags and banners.  It cuts and it writes.  It makes everything so precise and professional!! Highly, highly recommend.

Invitations:  My SUPER talented sister HANDMADE all the invites.  What a beautiful touch.

Fox Cake Toppers: Handmade by my mom with Fondant

Grady Cake Topper: Purchased online here

Wooden Backdrop: Handmade by my husband with old barn and palette wood

Wooden Stumps on Food Table:  My dad cut these and sanded them down or use.  Love the height variation it gave the table.

Floral: My mom and I re-created an arrangement I fell in love with online.  The wooden planters were purchased here and the floral was bought online here

Kid’s Play Area:  The mushroom and fireplace are from Land of Nod.  So many good interactive play toys for kids!

Animal Pins:  My mom handmade these with clay and paint, inspired from Oh Happy Day.  Yep, be jealous.  She is amazing.

Fox Plush:  I kind of love the fox plush toys we had all over the house. You can find my favorite one here ….trust me, I know ALL the fox plushes available out there.  These are great quality for the price.

Woodland Animals: My mom Hand sewed these little critters and they were all over the party.  G absolutely loves them!

Animal Cups: We handmade these, but the tutorial is here……so, so cute.  We used them for cups at the Granola Bar.

Chalkboard: Yep, my mom. 🙂

Cake Pops:  Okay, you guys.  I found this shop and she is amazing.  Most beautiful cake pops I have ever seen.  So. Much. Talent. And she is really amazing to work with too :).

Sugar Cookies:  Purchased from Cookie Cousins ….they made a custom cutter based on something I liked on Pinterest.

Kid’s Favors: I will do a whole separate post on this sometime soon. There are too many goodies to include here!

Birthday Morning Surprise

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I decided early on that I wanted to make a tradition for Grady on his birthday mornings with a little surprise waiting for him when he wakes up.  I bought this cart a few months back, and as soon as I bought the cart, I had this vision for Grady’s morning surprise.

I had way too much fun pulling this together, and it pretty much is exactly what I envisioned from the beginning.  I love that it was a great way to display his gifts and show him that this was a special day all about him.

I stacked donuts on a cake stand and had lots of little party animals overlooking the scene. With lots of balloons blown up on the ground for G to play with, we sat around and enjoyed the morning while he opened his gifts and we nibbled on breakfast.  What a wonderful way to start such a special day!

Sources:

The Birthday Hat and tassels along the side were handmade by my super talented mom!

Bar Cart (a bit smaller than most carts out there, but it works nicely for decoration and events!)

Party Animals – I had a hard time finding all the animals in this amazing party hat tutorial  but I ended up pulling them from Target and Michaels.  The best ones (and the ones in the tutorial are Terra animals)

Paper Fans and Spheres

Felt Ball Garland

Cake Stand — My mom had had this for years, but a similar style is here

 

Grady Turns One!

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It’s been quite some time since I last wrote a blog post, but I’ve been a bit busy between work, travel, and life in general with a growing little one in the house.  We have so many exciting things coming up over the next few weeks, so I will try my best to properly document any of those noteworthy things here.

The first of those exciting things is Grady’s first birthday.  I joke with all of my friends that it’s a National Holiday in our household, because it’s literally been something I have been thinking about and planning for a year!!  I know, I am crazy.  But my love for others manifests itself in these ways — planning and creating; organizing and plotting.  Considering the love I have for Grady is greater than any love I have ever had in my life, it makes sense that I have spent the most time EVER on this ‘event’ :).

The first part of G’s birthday celebration includes a photograph session with our AMAZING photographer, Aimee Nelson.  She is literally the most talented and thorough person around and we are so happy she captured Grady’s 1st year of life for us in such  special way.

I do admit that choosing the theme and outfits for a little boy’s cake smash photo session can be super tricky.  I spent quite a bit of time figuring out how I wanted the colors to come together — I clearly wanted it to be blue, but I also wanted it to be bold and dynamic.  My mom helped my vision come to life with the custom backdrop in his photos.  She also created the adorable little “One” cake topper you see in one of the images.  And I landed on the outfits you see from Janie & Jack, Zara Baby, and Polo Ralph Lauren– out of everything out there, they have the most ‘classic’ boy options.  I ended up being very happy with the results!

I have to say, I will forever cherish these images.  They perfectly capture Grady’s transition from a sweet baby boy to an inquisitive little toddler — I see so much of both of him in these images.  How bittersweet it is.

 

Fourth of July Camping

We had such a blast celebrating the Fourth of July this weekend!  We spent the weekend with my parents camping at their property in North Florida.  It was the perfect combination of rustic and civilized :). My mom and I may have gone a little overboard, but it sure was worth it!  We ate like kings, spent some quality time as a family, and celebrated with a beautiful backdrop.  We visited a local fresh water spring and Grady had his first 70-degree water experience.  He actually took it like a champ, after the initial shock.

Here are some pics of the weekend.  I’ll also include our menu from the weekend in case anyone is looking for some camping (glamping :)) inspiration!

This family loves our country and any reason to celebrate it!

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Menu:

Saturday Breakfast: Pan-fried patties of grits, cheese and bacon (yum!) + Biscuits + Bacon & Eggs

Saturday Lunch:  Pulled Pork Sandwiches on Grilled Buns + Cole Slaw + Watermelon + Chips

Saturday Dinner: Three Cheese Potato Packets  + Chicken Sandwiches + Burgers

Saturday Dinner: Mini Cherry and Peach Fried Pies (in the shapes of stars)

Sunday Breakfast: Pancakes + Bacon & Eggs + Fresh Fruit

Sunday Lunch: Picnic lunch at the Springs including Sandwiches + Fresh Fruit + Chips

Sunday Dinner: Chicken and Steak Shish kabobs + Grilled Corn + Watermelon + French Fries + Sweet Tea

Sunday Dessert: Brownie Skillets with homemade vanilla ice-cream

Monday Breakfast: American Donuts — I was dying to make these.  I ended up making these a semi-homemade item. We bought the classic cake donuts from Dunkin Donuts and decorated them.  They were fun and cute, but maybe not quite as cute as the original website I found.  But pretty darn good for a rustic semi-homemade 🙂

Handmade Decor:

Burlap fans (there is a DIY here, but my mom tweaked it for us)

Burlap Flag Table Runner (here is a DIY, my mom also made 1 giant flag, which Grady is sitting on in the photo and we hung up for additional decor)

Burlap Banner (here is the DIY)

Mason Jar flags (I have been dying for these for years, my mom did an awesome job making these…love them!  They are just painted, stamped, and sanded to make rustic)

My Perspective on Motherhood

With it being my first Mother’s Day and with Grady recently turning 6 months old, I thought I would take a few minutes to reflect on what motherhood means to me.

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I have always known that perspective is one of the strongest forces in understanding and appreciating life in its truest form.  Perspective can change everything, and my new perspective most certainly has done that for me.  I used to think that my life had such purpose, that I lived a full life and could not be any happier.  And while that may be partially true, I now see that I was just living a life to prepare me for this. Every bit of happiness I have felt in my life prior to October 27, 2015 pales in comparison to what I feel now when I hold my son and I embrace my little family.

No matter how long the days feel or how sleepless the nights can be, I truly try to stop and enjoy every minute. I now know that (for me) parenthood is the true meaning of life.  If I do nothing else in this world, I strive to equip this little man (and any of my future offspring) with the tools and capability to live a fulfilling, thoughtful, and happy life.  I know he has already done that for me in just a few short months.

I’m sharing some special photos from Grady’s 6 month photo shoot.  The amount of love that John and I both feel for this little boy is indescribable.  He steals a new piece of our hearts every single day and from these pictures it’s easy to see why :).

So far, this journey has been an epic one and I can’t wait to savor every second of what is to come.

Photography by Aimee Nelson Photography

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Mother’s Day Spa Day

Mother’s Day is seriously one of my favorite holidays ever. I have always loved it because it gives me the perfect reason to celebrate the beautiful women in my life who sacrifice so much of themselves on a daily basis.  I understand that sacrifice and love more than ever this year as a new mama.  I am beyond excited to be celebrating Mother’s Day for my first time and it makes me want to recognize the special moms in my life even more.

This year, my mom is treating my sister and me to a Spa Day at the Four Seasons.  So, I really wanted to give them both something that is fun and pairs well with the occasion.  After getting massages, we are planning to have lunch by the pool and then will spend the day at the beach. After chatting with some friends, I realized I should make a gift basket that has all the things they would need for a beach day at the resort.

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I came up with a fun tote bag that includes beach sandals, wide-brim hats, water bottles, magazines, books, journals, beach towels, kimono cover-ups, and chocolates.  Everything came from Target – they have such an amazing collection of things that I was lucky enough to find everything in the right style for what I wanted.  Super convenient! I should mention that another special mom in my life, my mother-in-law, isn’t here locally this weekend. So John and I sent her flowers since mailing things can be tricky.  While I love flowers and they are amazing, I was able to get all of these (useful) things for pretty much the same budget.  Pretty crazy! A little thoughtfulness and time spent really do go a long way.

I absolutely love the way they turned out!  I plan to bring these to the Four Seasons and have them waiting for them in the Locker Room when they arrive.  So excited!

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One tip to point out is that the tote bags from Target came with cardboard shapers on the inside.  I took the shaper and flipped it upside down so that the solid piece is at the top of the bag.  The idea was to provide stability so I could have the contents visible at the top.  I then covered the cardboard with pretty pink tissue paper so it acted as a base.  Here’s a look at it:

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And of course, here are a few more shots of the bags and their contents!

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