Have you ever needed to take a break from what you “do”? What makes you YOU. Hit the pause button. Get away? But not away. Take a breather, but right where you are?

That has been the essence of my life these last few weeks…hence my lack of posts.

Sometimes I struggle with blogging.

I mean, I love it. It’s a part of me. It’s my self-care, what I do to survive.

I’m not myself without writing, or creating in some form or fashion.

But sometimes I feel like I am missing out on life, in my heart-felt efforts to write about it. Or capture it. Or memorize it.

Or cling to it.

They say when a photographer lives through a lens, they lose the memory. And I believe that to be true.

I just think the lens itself is interchangeable. Be it an actual camera, or be it life. Be it work or distractions. Finances, or long lost dreams.

Whatever “it” may be, it gets in the way sometimes, doesn’t it? Between us and life…

And whenever it does I take a hiatus from that very roadblock, challenging myself to “be present”.

To live life fully–not on the page, but in the flesh. To experience my loved ones–not on camera, but through sight. And sound. And memory-making.

To disregard the distractions–things that pull us away from the importance.

To detach from social media–and to understand, with a little distance, the illusion that it is.

Life is messy. But beautiful. Not perfect, but incomplete. And if we focus too much on what it is not, then we just might miss what it actually IS.

And I don’t want to miss it. Not now.

Not while pitter-patter feet still live in this house.

So excuse the silence. It’s not permanent, just a hiatus.

A much needed time for me to reset, and focus on living. And enjoying. And experiencing faces like these.


Can’t recommend it enough, really.




The Roller Coaster

 The Roller Coaster

There is nothing in the world more conflicting than being a parent. 

Last week marked Isaiah’s first day of pre-school. In the days/weeks leading up to it, I did my best to prepare. Both him AND me. 

We talked a lot about what his new class would be like: about how to make friends, how to use nice words, how to share, and other important lessons that often tend to get overlooked…like how to speak up for yourself. And how to know that you matter in a sea full of other children. 

I organized lunch totes and Isaiah picked out his very own backpack, which he earned from his sticker chart earlier that week.

The night before, I laid out his nap mat, lunchbox and backpack. We read “The Night Before Pre-School” and I answered his questions to the best of my ability.

We were ready.

And the next morning we were off.

I watched him walk (no, run) into his classroom, and my eyes filled with tears. 

He was GONE. Today it was pre-school, but tomorrow it’ll be college…

My baby.

I dried it up long enough to make it through the first-time parent orientation, then I headed to the car. 

And as soon as I left the building, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I could literally feel it bubbling up from the inside…

But it wasn’t sadness.

It was joy. PURE JOY. Elation really. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’d miss him. But I suddenly realized…

No “Mommy-Mommy-Mommy-Mommy’s.”

No temper tantrums or time-outs.

No teaching moments. For once, someone else was in charge of the teaching moments!



I was FREE!!!!!!

And what the heck? Two minutes earlier I was in tears watching him leave. I actually felt my heart leap out of my chest watching him walk into his classroom.

Now? I was practically dancing in the parking lot. I could do whatever I wanted!


I’ll say it again. There is nothing more conflicting than being a parent.

Think about it… 

From the second you find out you’re pregnant, you’re all “This is amazing! HOLY CRAP I’M SCARED.” 

When you take your newborn home for the first time, you’re on cloud nine. And then you’re all “WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?!”

Take every baby milestone. You’re thrilled when they start walking, but you instantly miss that adorably clumsy crawl–all in the same millisecond. 

And don’t even get me started talking about my boys growing up on me. I can instantaneously cry tears of joy AND heartbreak picturing my babies getting married someday.

The more I think about it, the more I think that there must be something to those intensely opposing emotions. The highs and lows. The internal conflict.

The roller coaster.

I’m not sure what it is, but I know I’ll find out.

For a while I thought I was crazy. Then I realized…I’m just a Mom.

It’s my existence to ride this roller coaster. The ups, the downs. The twists and turns.

And I may throw up, scream out loud, or laugh hysterically all on the same trip.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Because the girl who got on this ride won’t be the same girl getting off. She’ll be changed, for the better.

And if you ask me, THAT’S a ride worth taking.


Happy first week of school, Isaiah. We’re so very proud of you.



The “Perfect” Vacation

We’re back from Colorado. And we’ve recovered.


We spent the past week in beautiful Estes Park, with wonderful and cherished friends. It couldn’t have been more amazing.

And if you know anything about our trip, you might think I was crazy to say that.

We won’t talk about the “how” (because it might be the parenting FAIL of the century) but during our drive up, Sammy took about a four foot tumble–landing head first onto asphalt. We stopped right where we were and called our doctor, who advised us to stay put and watch him closely.

We did just that, in a nearby Barnes and Noble (which turned out to be the perfect place). And as soon as we were out of the woods for any real danger (Praise God) we got back on the road.

We arrived in Estes Park around 11pm (our fourteen hour road trip turned eighteen) and put the kids to bed. Then at 12:45pm sharp, I woke up to the most horrifying scream. You know the kind…where you leap straight out of bed, lump in your throat, running to get to your child before your eyes have even adjusted?

Poor Isaiah was sick. And since this was his first “stomach bug” experience, he was terrified. We did our best to calm him, but the episodes went on well into the morning.

Then I caught his bug, and well…by day 4 of our 7 day vacation, after visiting the Urgent Care in town, things finally started to normalize.

And if that wasn’t enough, I broke my toe on the last day there. No, not hiking. Kicking my suitcase while packing. (I think I should make up a better story, don’t you? How’s this: I got in a kickboxing fight. With a bear. )

With such an “eventful” trip…it would be easy to think we felt cheated. Right?

But the thing is, it truly was amazing.

Was our vacation perfect? No. But in my humble opinion, it was pretty darn close.

We had a terrifying accident on the way up, but were blessed with great doctors to see us through. The Barnes and Noble staff let us camp out on their floor, and turned the other cheek as our kids ripped apart the Children’s section (still sorry about that, B&N). The kindness they displayed to a Mother in tears was simply overwhelming.

When we were up all night with Isaiah, we woke up to dear friends taking care of us. They cooked us breakfast and offered to watch Samuel. They were the epitome of grace, even after we exposed their kids to our sickness (and us Mama Bears know how frustrating that is…on vacation no less).

Sure, we were pretty much house-bound for the first three days, but the views were spectacular. I mean, if you are going to be sick, by all means…do it near Rocky Mountain National Park!

And I broke my toe, yes. But on the very last night. No hiking in sight, just a two day car-ride ahead of us, and the perfect opportunity to “ice and elevate.”

Upon our return to Dallas, I learned of a family who was tragically killed on their way home from their own family vacation–not far from where we had been. A fatigued driver hit them head on. And they’ve been on my mind ever since.

So how was our vacation? Let me tell you. It was pretty amazing. We saw some beautiful sights, and spent wonderful time with friends. But more than that? My family is well, my foot is mending, and we are all home safe and sound. And we are blessed beyond measure. Rich in friendship and love.

Who could ask for anything more.

Thanks for the memories, Colorado. It honestly couldn’t have been any closer to “perfect.”








Sammy’s Sky Party

So the posts have been lacking around here, all because we’ve been busy getting ready for THIS PARTY.

It feels real now. We officially have a one-year-old. It always takes the party to prove it. ;)

I’ve known since Sammy was born that I wanted to throw him a “Sky Party.”

He’s my rainbow baby. And that is something so very special to me. So I wanted to honor the God-given gift that he is, and celebrate with an ode to the Heavens.

We had rainbows, clouds, planes, hot air balloons…you name it. The sky was the limit. (See what I did there?)

Here’s a few pics from the day…


The ribbon bunting was my subtle nod to the rainbow–tutorial coming later this week. It’s literally the easiest tutorial ever, but still worth sharing.

And the cake. Oh, the cake. It just might be my favorite one I’ve ever made. The toppers just melt my heart. Each one made with love for my little man. I squealed out loud when I finished it. Ask Michael.








And how amazing are these cookies?! A friend of mine made them. There is NO WAY I could ever tackle anything that daunting. I keep telling her she needs to start a business. I’m serious, Alice!


Sammy's Sky Party


One year pictures covering the mantel, courtesy of Alicia Skinner Photography.


And ribbon bunting on our double door wreaths. I made these wreaths almost a year ago, and I still adore them. You can change the decor to match the season (or party, in this case). The How-To is here.


The favors were little clothespin airplanes, complete with hand-drawn instructions.


And what’s a party without a photo-booth, right?! Samuel had his very own Hot Air Balloon photo station.

We simply bought a large roll of white craft paper (4 feet wide), sketched out the balloon, and placed a large basket (World Market) in front of it. Big props (get it? I’m on a roll!) to Michael for helping me put this together. I was such a hit. And the pictures turned out just precious.


It was such a perfect day. I truly loved every minute of celebrating my Sammy baby.

Now…time to start planning his 2nd. ;)

We love you, Samuel. We love you more than all the stars. And we hope you loved your party half as much as we loved throwing it for you.


Mommy and Daddy


Sammy Baby

I just couldn’t wait to share my Sammy Baby’s one-year pics. Alicia Skinner Photography for the win!

She always seems to capture my babies’ personalities just perfectly. If you are in the Dallas area, definitely give her a shout.

I had so many favorites, it was next to impossible to narrow it down.

So here’s my top 25…

Just kidding.

Thank you, Alicia. Your photos are magic, as always.





And an outtake to grow on…


Our Insta-Week

It’s been a week. And it’s not even over yet. Ever have one of those? Someone please tell me I’m not the only one. Because I have them often.

I’m waist deep in party prep for Samuel’s first birthday party this weekend. I’m usually on top of these things, making and creating months in advance. But this time? I left it all for the last week. I feel like I’m cramming for the big test.

I got this, I thought. As long as this week runs smoothly, I can get everything done right on schedule. 

Then the boys got sick. Then I got sick. Nothing drastic, just Summer colds. But it’s been enough to weigh us down and halt all productivity.

One of the worst parts of Stay-At-Home-Mommyhood is the lack of sick days, if you ask me. And even worse: working HARDER on your sick days, cause everyone around you is sick.

Our week has been filled with pajamas, pajamas, and more pajamas. It’s been movie-watching, party-planning, nap-taking, and tylenol-dosing.

And cuddles. It’s been filled with cuddles. One of the very BEST parts of Stay-At-Home-Mommyhood, if you ask me. Especially on the sick days.

We don’t have much to post about, because this has been our life. But we will share our Insta-week.

Are y’all on Instagram? PLEASE find me if you are (@alliaars). It is by far my favorite means of social media. I’m actually slightly addicted to it. I just love sharing snapshots of our life, and seeing snapshots of yours. I love that level of connection.

And quite frankly, I just love rooting other Mommies on…all over the world. We’re in this thing together, sick days or not, so why not experience it all together as well? I think it’s so important to what we do. We need to build each other up, support one another, and love each other from afar.

I’ll stop now. Because there’s babies to be fed and party work to do.

But not without our Insta-week. Let’s see…we’ve got Sammy riding his new firetruck, my DIY ribbon bunting, Isaiah watching old Goofy cartoons, us at the Lionel Richie concert (Hello?! Is it me you’re looking for???), and Sammy baby’s new favorite face. (Such the jokester, that one. I think he’s going to be class clown.)

Enjoy! And love to you all!







Samuel: ONE

Dear Samuel,

Well…here we are, sweet boy.

It’s been a whole year since you graced our lives with your presence. You came into this world with a bang, surprising us all four weeks early.

I think I cried the entire way to the hospital. In fact, I think I cried the entire time I was in labor. Not because of the pain (your labor was actually quite painless, unlike your brother’s). But because I was so scared to lose you.

Your Daddy and I aren’t strangers to loss. Or the fear of loss. Our two previous pregnancies can attest to that.

So I know the pain. And I was terrified to relive it.

As soon as you were in my arms, I thanked God for you. You were here, you were safe, and you were mine.

My rainbow baby.

The next hour or so was a blur. A crowded room, post-labor contractions, and a nurse swooping in to take you from me. I didn’t know we’d spend the next three weeks apart from one another. I didn’t know I was saying goodbye to my newborn.

We left the hospital without you, but visited you every day. Being with you was like air to me. We couldn’t hold you much, but we read you stories and kissed your brow as often as they’d let us.

I couldn’t wait to get you home.


And the very day we did, I was re-admitted to the hospital without you. Unable to even receive your visits.

It would be another week until we were finally together.

I guess the reason I’m recapping is because I want you to know…

You were hard fought, baby. So very hard fought.

And in the weirdest way, it was such a gift.

I still struggle. Wondering about that time I lost. That magical first month gone…and I didn’t even know you.

I can never get that time back.

But oh…once I had you. It was like we were light years ahead.

We had a rough start, but we fought hard to be together.  And because of that bond, we’ve never taken a day or night for granted. Not even the sleepless ones.


Sammy, this past year with you has been heaven.

Sure, we had our challenges. But the joy you’ve brought us outweighs it all.

I love to close my eyes and remember you…

The way you you grunted like and old man. How you squeaked like a cat when you cried. Your famous Mick Jagger impression.

The wrinkles on your forehead. Your wishy-washiness (I want the pacifier. I don’t. I want the swaddle. I don’t).

Your larger than life eyes, and your constant inquisitive look.


 Your wealth of personality, and your love for big brother.


 And how much fun you are to love. You make it so very easy, Samuel.


You’re a firecracker, sweet boy. Everything about you.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for bringing your unique joy into our lives. For teaching us we are stronger than we ever thought we were. And that nothing worth having comes easy.

Thank you for always making us laugh, keeping us on our toes, and for being a living example of God’s redemptive love…even after heartbreak.

You. Are. Amazing. And we love you…you guessed it…more than all the stars.

Happy birthday, baby.

Love always,