Freezing Cold Weather + Crying Kids = Memorable Photos!

A few weeks ago the kids and I headed up to Indiana to spend the week with my family. While we were up there my mom wanted to get some pictures of all her grandkids together since this was the first time in a loooong time they had all been together at once! My brother and sister-in-law live in Wyoming with their kids, my sister and brother-in-law live in Michigan with their son and Drew and I live in Florida so we’re not all in one place very often (my other siblings do not have kids yet)! We coordinated the kids outfits and arranged a date with our favorite photographer in Michigan – Kim (seriously you should check her out!).

There was one little detail that we didn’t plan for though…. the weather! The day of the pictures turned out to be a bitter cold spring day. Seriously, the weeks before (when we were planning their outfits) had been perfectly warm but this day turned out to be freezing. And of course we were taking the photos outside. We scrambled to try and add layers to the kids’ outfits to make them warmer but they were cold no matter what. This made for some lovely pictures….of crying children. Lol. In their defense it seriously was miserably cold – there was a bitter wind that day! Kim was so flexible and we ended up moving our session indoors to a nearby coffee shop after several failed attempts at pictures outdoors. We ended up getting hot cocoa and taking candid photos and having so much fun!

I learned a while ago that you can’t stress about family pictures. Some years they turn out and some years they don’t…. but that’s ok because it’s a reflection of real life! You just gotta roll with the punches… and when it was all said and done we ended up gaining a few good pictures and a whole lot of great memories. ❤

IMG_0551_4x6 crop
L-R: Novalee – 4, Weldon – 6 months, Eloise – 5, Olive – 3, Isaiah – 6, Lincoln – 1.5

IMG_0558_4x6

IMG_0563_4x6
Babies trying to escape!
IMG_0583_4x6
Olive’s face! Lol. She was so cold!

IMG_0584_4x6IMG_0586_4x6IMG_0592_4x6

IMG_0598_4x6
My parents and two of my little sisters.

IMG_0599_4x6IMG_0628_4x6IMG_0632_4x6

IMG_0634_4x6
Weldon is the sweetest, happiest little guy!

IMG_0641_4x6IMG_0643_4x6IMG_0645_4x6

IMG_0652_4x6
My favorite!!

IMG_0657_4x6

IMG_0664_4x6
My sweet parents.

IMG_0668_4x6IMG_0686_4x6

IMG_0690_4x6
The kids had a great time (once we got indoors!) =)

2016 Family Pictures

We had the privilege of working with sweet Madeline from Infinite Focus Photography to get our family pictures done this year! Madeline’s daughter was in Isaiah’s VPK class last year so we got to know her through that. She did a great job and had so much patience!

The kids did so well this year (read: last year they did NOT).  They were all in good moods, well behaved, and actually smiled! It was a miracle!! (It might have had something to do with the promise of milkshakes afterwards if they behaved….milkshakes can solve anything.)

We decided when we first had Isaiah to get family photos done each year. Sometimes it can be stressful and some years the kids aren’t in good moods and sometimes the photos just don’t turn out how I had hoped! But I try not to stress too much about everything being perfect… if they don’t turn out one year I know we’ll be getting more done the next. And no matter how the photos turn out I never regret it! Because you can’t ever go back and get those memories again! The kids are only getting older and changing so quickly! Sure I take lots of photos on my iPhone but there’s just something about professional photos. I love having them and looking back on them over the years! ❤

So, without further ado…. our 2016 family photos!

 

hutchesonhutcheson0hutcheson1hutcheson4hutcheson6hutcheson8hutcheson9hutcheson10hutcheson11hutcheson12hutcheson13hutcheson14hutcheson15hutcheson16hutcheson17hutcheson18hutcheson19hutcheson20hutcheson21hutcheson22

"If it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a no"

So I just realized that I didn’t post any blog posts in December. Nadda. Zero. Zilch. Oh well!

3e2cb-151224_182358

December was a great month for us. Just busy! The kids are at such fun ages and it made Christmas such a magical time this year! But since they’re getting older now we’ve also added more activities to our plate during the holiday season. Isaiah had parties at school and a basketball performance at the half time show of a local basketball game. Eloise had her first ballet recital. We saw Santa at several events. We took one last trip to SeaWorld before our season passes expired (WOW!! SeaWorld at Christmas time was AMAZING! Even though we’re not buying season passes again for 2016 we’re still planning to try and make it there at Christmas time again. Truly magical!). We stayed up late looking at Christmas lights in different neighborhoods. We spent one evening at Adventure Landing for WinterFest. We crammed in as many Christmas movies as we could. We moved our Elf on the Shelf (“Elfis”) around the house every night while the kids were asleep and tried to come up with something creative for him to be doing the next day (man that’s stressful!!).

We hung Christmas lights on the outside of our house for the first time ever (and then (after hanging up 5 strands) realized we didn’t’ have enough to go all the way around the house so we tried to buy more… and then found out that they were out of stock at all the stores and were being discontinued (thanks Target!)… so, since we didn’t want to buy 10 completely new sets (because just 5 new ones wouldn’t match the 5 we already had) and since by this time it was just a week before Christmas, we just decided to get back up on the roof and take them all down. And…the story gets better. When we took them down we put them in a garbage bag and set them in the garage (why did we do that?!?)….and then a week later accidentally threw away the garbage bag full of 5 strands of perfectly good icicle lights (bangs head on table). Yea, that was one of our Christmas adventures I’d rather not remember!). We read the Christmas story several times and and sang to lots of Christmas music. Drew and his dad spent Christmas Eve (after our Christmas Eve service) setting up the new trampoline we bought the kids so they would be surprised on Christmas day. We made a gingerbread house, Christmas cookies, crafts, and decorated the house. Not to mention buying all the gifts for friends and family which rests pretty much solely on my shoulders. We had alot of late nights and early mornings. It was a busy month for sure!

And now I’m just focusing on rest. I usually don’t add too much to my plate but this holiday season I feel like I did. I’m usually good about putting up boundaries. About saying no when I need to. About declining a play date or forgoing an event if it’s just too much. But as 2016 is beginning I want to refocus on this. I want to make sure that I go all in on what GOD is calling me passionately to and weed out everything else that just creates busyness. If it’s not an emphatic YES, then I want to say no. Of course ministry and serving sometimes need to be done whether we feel like it or not and, if God is calling me to it, it needs to go under the emphatic YES category. I’m talking about saying no to things that I add to my plate that are simply things I want to do or even feel compelled to do. I want to say no to those things so that I can have room to say yes to more important things.

Have you ever heard of Jen Hatmaker? Oh my gosh. If you haven’t you totally need to look her up. Here is her blog. She is an amazing woman of God and an amazing speaker. I could really listen to her for hours. She is actually speaking at the IF Gathering (if you haven’t heard of that it’s so awesome too. Click the link!) in February and my mom and I are going to a broadcast of it at her church while we’re in Indiana visiting them later this month. I’m so excited!

Anyways, Jen posted this on her Facebook a few days ago and it exactly put into words what I want my year 2016 to be. I’ll just let you read this and I’ll slip out the door because, really, what more could I say?

 
“As you move into 2016 hoping for a saner schedule that prioritizes your actual life and keeps you focused on the things that matter the most, let me share the decision-making filter my agent Curtis always gives me:
“If it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a no.”
So that medium yes, that I-feel-like-should yes, that guilty yes, that coerced yes, that I-actually-hate-this-thing yes, that I-guess-so yes, that who-else-will-do-it yes, that careless yes, that default yes, that resentful yes, that I-probably-shouldn’t-but-struggle-with-boundaries yes?
NO. Nope.
No thank you. I am unable to commit to that this year. Thank you so much for asking, but any new yes I give right now means a no to my family and sanity. I am so flattered you asked and count on my prayers, but I am at my maximum bandwidth right now. I appreciate your work so much, but I’ve already committed my time and energy this year. I’ve loved being a part of this, but I am no longer able to continue. We are aggressively focused on x, y, and z this year, so as a family we’ve agreed on no new commitments. This is what I can give but won’t be able to do more right now.
Now, the things that make your heart race, your blood pump, the fire in your belly burn, your gifts to leap to life, and keep your family and home healthy and strong…the hell yeses? ALL IN, BABY.”

2015 Family Pictures

Well it’s that time of year again. Time for our annual family pictures! This year the lighting was excellent, the photographer was great, our outfits came together perfectly, the setting was gorgeous…..everything was perfect. Except the kids!!

Each year I have to remind myself why I take family pictures. It’s to remember how my children look and act in the current year, which is usually wild and crazy. We’re not a perfect family so why should I expect my family pictures to be perfect, right!?

This year I got family pictures done to document how Olive still needs either two naps or one super long afternoon nap each day – neither of which she got that day. How this made her cranky and whiny. How her cautious personality means she doesn’t often smile for strangers. And how she’s at the age where she just. can’t. sit. still.

I got pictures taken this year to document Eloise’s cheesy smile. This girl has a beautiful smile with a mouth full of tiny, perfectly straight teeth and yet she smiled like she was an old woman trying to prevent her dentures from falling out. Are you kidding me?!?

I got these pictures taken to document that Isaiah is finally at the age where he understands how to sit still and smile a great smile for the camera. He can comprehend the reward at the end of the photo shoot (I promised mini marshmallows!) and is very motivated by the promise of rewards. He understands that when we tell him to smile he needs to smile AND look at the camera (something the other two have a hard time with). He is a sweet boy and loves to grab his sister’s hand even during a photo shoot.

So, guys, this is my family as it is now. A perfectly beautiful mess. As the years go by I’m hoping (praying) that family photo shoots get easier and the kids look better but for now I’m going to treasure these photos (and maybe even laugh someday).

 

 

 

 

Of my heart. If this was the only photo I got from the shoot I think I’d be happy! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think this one is probably the one that I’ll blow up and hang above the fireplace…… Haha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We may not have it all together. But together we have it all! 

Why It’s Never A Good Time For Me To Talk On The Phone

Oh no. There it is again. I hear it from across the room. “This Love” by Mandi Mapes starts playing. But it’s not from my iTunes library. It’s the ring tone on my phone. My phone is ringing and in 5 seconds someone is expecting me to pick up and give them my undivided attention.

“Hello?” I say. And then the person on the other end of the line speaks those infamous words…… “Is now a good time for you to talk?”

“Hmmm” I think. Is now a good time for me to talk? I assess the situation. My almost 3 year old is crying and whining because she was playing on my phone when it started ringing and I took it away right in the middle of her oh so extremely important game. Because she can’t play on my phone any more she decides to open up a big bag of M & Ms and ignore my death stare as I mouth, “PUT THOSE BACK.” She skillfully evades my attempts to take them away while I try not to let the person on the other end of the line know what’s going on. My big boy is running around the house shooting the nerf gun at his little sister which in turn makes her scream and run for cover behind my legs. He’s also suddenly “DYING” of hunger and begging for a snack. I motion to my 3 year old to share her M & Ms with her brother but she refuses, at which point I give in and give them both a good sized bowl of the sugary snack in hopes of 5 minutes of quiet. My baby wants to simultaneously nurse, grab everything in my hands (i.e. my phone), pour out the whole bucket of her brother’s {tiny} legos and start eating them, and screech at the top of her lungs when she doesn’t get her way. My almost three year old is now yelling at me from the bathroom that she has pooped and needs me to come wipe her. Is it a good time to talk? Hmmmm……

At this point I have two options. I can either decided to hold the conversation right at this very moment, or I can say I’ll call them back during……oh I can’t even say it….. during the {SACRED} nap time. *GASP* Give up the only quiet time in my day? I just can’t do it.

“Sure!” I say. “Now’s a great time to talk!” (Not really, but it’s as good a time as any.)

And then I lock all the kids in the playroom – works like a charm! =)

Can I hear an AMEN from any other Mamas out there? Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s children suddenly need complete and undivided attention in every. single. aspect of their lives as soon as the phone rings?!?!? Don’t leave me hanging here!!!

Oh, and by the way, this doesn’t mean don’t ever call me. Just please don’t freak out when you hear screaming in the background, our conversation is interrupted 20 times in a span of 10 minutes, or you hear me say something like, “I will wipe your butt in a minute!”

These sweet kids? How could they ever give me trouble when I’m on the phone?

A Smiling Sea Lion and Two Jenny Dogs – Our Trip to Orlando!

Last weekend we took a mini vacation to Orlando and went to IKEA and SeaWorld. The kids had a blast (mostly at SeaWorld, not at IKEA because Eloise was too short to go in the kid’s play area so we didn’t let Isaiah go either). We are glad that we decided to go with the season tickets (again, to SeaWorld, not IKEA =) so that we can go back again for more fun!

Most of our pictures are from our second day in the park as we spent half of the first day at IKEA and also it rained most of the first day.

Can’t go to Orlando without a trip to IKEA!
If you know Isaiah you know how much he LOVES his Jenny Dog. Jenny Dog goes with him anywhere and everywhere (along with his blanket “boo”). Well, at IKEA we found another Jenny Dog and Isaiah wouldn’t leave the store without it! So, now we have “old” Jenny Dog and “new” Jenny Dog and they BOTH have to go everywhere with him!
Sweet girls. 
Isaiah loved this coaster and rode it several times. We tried our hardest to squeeze Eloise past the height checker and get her on, but they caught us! Her hair brushed the top of the measuring pole but they were sticklers and wouldn’t let her on. She balled!! =( 
We had a plastic bag over Eloise’s cast to keep the rain out. Surprisingly it stayed pretty dry, even though she jumped in a few puddles! 

Sweet girl napping in the park. 
We saw three amazing shows! This is Shamu, the killer whale. 
My two little loves!

Brave boy!

And, I’ll leave you with something that is bound to make you smile. This sea lion was cracking everyone up trying to get people to feed her by smiling this cheesy smile!!! Then after she got fed she would do more cheesy smiles! It was hilarious. I got this photo after Isaiah threw her a fish. We couldn’t stop laughing about it. Can’t wait to back to SeaWorld and see her again! =)
Don’t tell me you can look at that and not smile. =) =)

How to Make a Personalized Video for Your Kids from Santa!

Last year I came across a really fun website called PortableNorthPole.com which allows you to make a personalized video for your child from Santa (actually you can make them for adults too)! =) This year I pulled up the website again and made a video each for Isaiah and Eloise. You should have seen their faces while they watched them! Totally enthralled and amazed!

The videos are entertaining and very well done. You can choose personal things to be included such as a picture of your child, the child’s name, age, a specific toy the child wants for Christmas, whether they made it on the naughty or nice list this year, and certain things the child needs to work on for next year (for Isaiah I chose “stop sucking his thumb” and for Eloise “stop throwing temper tantrums.” I can always hope, right!?!!). =)

 

The videos are quick and easy to make and completely FREE!!!! If you want, you can choose to pay for an upgraded, more detailed video or a phone call from Santa. But the basic video is free.

You have to pay to download your video to the computer ($2.99) and I didn’t want to do that to include it in this post. But you can watch it online as many times as you want! If you’re interested in seeing a sample before you make your own you can view Isaiah’s video here and Eloise’s video here.

It’s just a fun little thing to do for your kids and I wanted to pass it along! =)

 

By the way, you can read more about our view on Santa and what we teach our kids about him here.

2014 Family Pictures

I try and get family pictures done every year and for the past three years (ever since we’ve had more than one child in our family) I always leave the session thinking WHY IN THE WORLD DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF!?!?
Not only is it stressful coordinating everyone’s outfits and trying to get everyone to look perfect and STAY looking perfect before the session, but during the shoot the kids are running all over, someone gets dirt on their white shirt, someone doesn’t want to smile and has a meltdown, someone spits up babyfood all over, someone cries because they’re cold, someone cries because they’re hot, someone’s hungry… ALL the children want to do is play instead of take cute, sweet pictures that help us look like a perfectly put together family. It’s pretty much impossible to get all the children to look and smile at the camera at the same time and every year, by the end of the session, Drew and I are pretty much exhausted and swear we’ll never do it again.
But THEN… I get the pictures. And no, they’re not perfect. There is not one picture where everyone is looking and smiling. In most pictures one kid has a goofy look on their face. Usually (if the kids are smiling) they’re cheesy smiles. In some pictures one kid is a blurr because they were moving.  But you know what? They’re {REAL}. They are pictures of what {REAL} life is like for us with three young children. They represent a far from perfect and yet completely beautiful time of life that we’re in.
And so, we’ll continue taking family pictures every year. We want to remember how our children and our lives are {now}. And someday we’ll be thankful that we didn’t wait until everything was “perfect” to take pictures and make lasting memories!!
To see our 2011 family pictures click here.
To see our 2012 family pictures click here. (This was before we could show Eloise’s sweet face!)
To see our 2013 family pictures click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures taken by the lovely Kimberly at Kimberly Renee Photography.

How to Pack a Shoebox

It’s that time of year again! Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child time! Have you ever packed a shoebox for them? If not, this year would be a great year to start!

Not familiar with Operation Christmas Child? The cute video below will fill you in on this great organization!! (And even if you know what Operation Christmas Child is, the video is still pretty cute to watch.)

Need more information? Check this out:

How to Pack a Shoebox

  1. SHOEBOX

    Use an empty cardboard or plastic shoebox (average size). You can wrap the box, lid separately, but wrapping is not required.
  2. BOY OR GIRL

    Decide whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Download and print the appropriate boy/girl label. Mark the correct age category and tape the label to the top of your box.
  3. FILL WITH GIFTS

    Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child (see Gift Suggestions below).
  4. INCLUDE $7 DONATION PER BOX

    Help cover shipping and other costs related to delivering your shoeboxes to children overseas by donating $7 for each gift you prepare. You can give online to discover the destination of your box. Or, you can write a check to Samaritan’s Purse (note “OCC” on the memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the items inside your shoebox. If you are preparing multiple gifts, please make one combined donation. Note: Follow Your Box is only available through online giving.
  5. PRAY

    Ask God to use your gifts to show His love to the child who will receive your shoebox.
  6. DROP OFF

    Place a rubber band around each closed shoebox and bring it to the drop-off location nearest you during National Collection Week, November 17–24, 2014. Visit our Drop-off Locations pageto find the closest collection site. Or, call 1-800-353-5949.

Collection dates this year are November 17-24 so you still have time to get a box together! To find drop off locations in your city click here. The boxes get shipped all around the world!

Need some gift suggestions? I’m glad you asked!!

Gift Suggestions

  • TOYS: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.
  • SCHOOL SUPPLIES: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
  • NON-LIQUID HYGIENE ITEMS: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.
  • ACCESSORIES: t-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.
  • A PERSONAL NOTE: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may be able to write back.
  • DO NOT INCLUDE: Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

This year was fun for our family because Isaiah and Eloise were old enough pick out exactly what they wanted to get their little boy and little girl for Christmas. We took a special trip to the store just to buy presents and everything they picked out, we bought! It was hard for them to understand at first, especially Eloise, that they were not picking out gifts for themselves but for someone else. But once they got the hang of it, they were running around the store and putting toy after toy in the cart all while saying things like, “That little boy will LOVE this” and “Mom, that girl must be a princess, she needs this.” I loved seeing their excitement to give!

This year we made two boxes, one for a girl age 2-4 and one for a boy age 2-4. We included things such as a barbie doll, toy cars, notebooks, glitter gel pens, books, combs, beads, hair clips, coloring books, stickers, socks, toothbrushes, washcloth, headbands, candy… and more! We also included a hand written card for each child and a picture of our family. I chose the option to pay the $7 per box shipping charge online here, which will allow us to track our boxes and see which countries they end up in! How cool!

Not feeling like you have the time to put a box together this year? You can fill up a virtual shoe box online in just a few minutes! Click here for more information.

What better thing could we teach our children this Christmas season than how to GIVE rather than GET??

 

Cutting the paper to wrap our boxes. Please note that this is not required, just something we wanted to do. If you do decide to wrap the box, make sure to wrap the lid and the box separately.
Eloise and Olive packing up a box for a little girl.
Isaiah’s card for his little boy and a picture
Isaiah’s box!
Eloise’s card and picture.
Elle’s box!

Halloween with Iron Man, Cinderella, and a Ladybug

The Hutcheson household had a great Halloween this year! We had Iron Man Isaiah, CinderEloise, and Little Livy Ladybug at our house!

The day started out fun when we took the kids trick-or-treating at Drew’s work. They were passing out candy at his office and the kids had a blast meeting everyone and getting lots of candy. Isaiah even got to meet the REAL Iron Man and he was beside himself!

Isaiah and the “REAL” Iron Man!
Iron Man and Cinderella
Then the day got even more fun when we went to a Halloween party at a local church and the kids got to play games, bounce in bouncy houses, ride a mechanical bull, dance to Let it Go, see a Transformer, and meet the REAL Cinderella!! =)
This Transformer was awesome!!! 

                                                      //www.youtube.com/get_player

Incredible Transformer costume!

Little Livy Ladybug!
Princess CinderEloise
Fun on the mechanical bull!

                                                      //www.youtube.com/get_player
        Isaiah rode the mechanical bull and actually stayed on quite a while! He wasn’t too sure about it though…


                                                                             Drew didn’t stay on quite as long. 😉

Grandpa and Mimi came for the fun too!
 

This was at the very end of the night. Eloise had not had a nap and was pretty much in Zombie mode. She couldn’t pass up a chance to dance to Let it Go, though!

Eloise got to meet the “REAL” Cinderella!
We tried…

Happy Halloween!