For Us Moms Who Long To Create

I’m often asked how I do it — how I can be a mom to six and still make time for creative endeavors like art and writing, while also running a business. The shortest answer is this: I didn’t for many years. It looked different in various seasons, and most importantly — I have lots of help (more on that another time!)

We moms tend to think that it’s all or nothing; that we must either throw ourselves into mothering or fully into career, a creative pursuit, or business. We sometimes think that making time for one assumes the demise of the other, but that’s simply not true. 

I spent the first 12 years of motherhood learning how to be a wife and mom. The days were full and nights were short as one or two were always in diapers for the last 14.5 years. I had to learn to rest, again and again. The Lord used motherhood to sanctify me and continues to do so. There was little room for art, but I snuck it in to nap times, evenings, and weekends.

I don’t think I understood it then like I do now, but somehow: We get to reflect our Maker’s artistry, we just have to change the means in which we do so in various seasons. Whether it’s with a sewing machine or supper ingredients, we can use what time and resources we have to do the most with our giftings. It just may not look the way we expect it to. 

I’m honored that part of my story is told by the authors of Life Creative: Inspiration For Today’s Renaissance Mom, Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart. Life Creative, which releases today, is a book in celebration of motherhood woven together with creativity. Wendy and Kelli know what it is to long to create as moms, and they share encouragement for us to do so in various seasons of our lives. It’s a book to inspire women to embrace both by God’s grace and for His glory, because motherhood and creativity are certainly not exclusive of one another.

Are you a Renaissance mom? Are you a creative, desiring to see how God will use your giftings alongside your calling of motherhood? I pray you’ll be encouraged to be equally bold and patient, content yet curious. Our gracious God made you uniquely you…and He’s writing a beautiful story through your giftings, friend.

Because of grace,

 

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The Golden Hour {Family Session With Beth Wells}

We’re not the family that gets our photos done annually. I’ve always been either pregnant, or breastfeeding. We either have a newborn, or one of the boys has scraped up his face. There’s always someone in six who hasn’t had a haircut in far too long…or had one that shouldn’t be photographed. 

But, praise God for friends who offer to photograph our motley crew and take us just as we are on a weeknight after supper. Here in New Mexico, the golden hour is especially glorious…that time of night is a sea of warmth to perfectly complement the ever-growing, breathing, changing, living thing that we call family.  Don’t wait for perfect…that’s not what you want to remember anyway. Bandaged up, messy hair, weighty hearts….sometimes they are more worth capturing than you may think. The golden hour casts a glow upon all that may have felt harsh or unpleasant at another time in another season. So it is with photography…I’m grateful to have these reminders of the sweetest glow we can remember of this moment in time in this slice of the story of us.

Grateful for our photo session with the talented Beth Wells of Lizanne Photography. Beth travels throughout the Southwest to capture weddings, engagements and family sessions in exquisite locations. Based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Beth captures both landscape and nuances of relationship. I’m grateful she spent some time recently capturing our crew. 

Follow Beth on Instagram here and here for inspiration, and book a session with her here

Albion Fit Review and Giveaway

Mr. Simons and I are in Cabo San Lucas for a short getaway anniversary trip…our very first one away without the kids that is not conference-related! The time so far has been restful and adventurous. We’re not here to do lots of touristy things. We’re not here to forget all our troubles in luxury. We’re simply here to celebrate and spend some time alone in a context that is conducive to resting, planning, writing, and taking in the world a day (+ 17 years) at a time. 

We caught the sun setting over the beach the other night. The waves were crashing and in the presence of the most astounding beauty of God’s creation, I really couldn’t help but take it in.

I’ve struggled my whole life with feeling confident in a swimsuit…but somehow, when our attention is so drawn His creation, it feels difficult to complain or be self-conscious in the one He formed in YOU. 

Albion Fit sent me my favorite of their irresistible suimsuits to take on my anniversary trip. This is my first suit of theirs, and could not be more impressed with the quality, design, and stylish print combinations. A lovely swimsuit is hard to find, and I’m grateful to have one I love on this trip. Albion is offering a discount and a GIVEAWAY FOR TWO SUITS over on my Instagram feed! Go check it out! 

15% off to GraceLaced readers, good through August 10.

Use code: gracelaced15

Enjoy! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway, and follow bits of this trip over on Instagram!

Kids In The Kitchen {Goldfish® Trailmix + $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway}

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Some of you follow me on Instagram, and have seen my boys cook and make breakfast, lunch, or even dinner at times. One of them cooks because he truly adores culinary arts, but two of them primarily help out in the kitchen because, well…they want to eat.

I regularly get questions about how I taught my kids to cook and when it’s the right time to start training them. My answer to that is quite simple and maybe not super helpful:

When kids ask to help, say YES.

Hand them a vegetable peeler or a knife, and teach them safety. When kids don’t ask to help, ask them to anyway. Hand them a whisk and give them eggs to beat. If you want your kids to cook, allow them to make you inefficient. Let them shadow you. Give them a chance to taste and critique your cooking. Make it a process that is relational and not just responsible. Skills in the kitchen is one I don’t think anyone ever regrets having. Ever.

And as for age, my answer to that is simplistic as well:

Start them in the kitchen as soon as they can use their hands to follow directions.

Even if they are not using a sharp knife or turning on a burner, kids can be apart of the kitchen simply by contributing to a meal-making process: think stirring, transferring ingredients to a bowl, or bagging up leftover veggies.

One of the first things our boys learn to cook is the breakfast quesadilla and a well-basted egg. But long before they are cooking eggs, the boys are required to prepare their own lunches for school days and prep their own snacks. Sometimes they take turns and sometimes it’s an assembly line, but lunches are always made by young hands.

A crowd favorite for lunchtime snacks is a make it yourself trail mix.

We set out bowls of Pepperidge Farm® Goldfish® crackers, almonds, popcorn, raisins and sometimes M&Ms, and the boys fill up individual sandwich bags for the week. Everyone loves the pairing of savory Goldfish crackers with the sweet and crunchy textures of the rest of the mix. (Frankly, it’s one of my favorite afternoon pick-me-up snacks too!)

Kids making their own snacks is really one of the best ways to get kids comfortable in the kitchen, and (ahem) will also save your summer. As with most new skills, a sense of accomplishment builds more confidence in experimenting and learning more. And so it is with kids in the kitchen: Goldfish® trail mix today just might lead to a good sautée one day.

Share your Goldfish Tales and you could win a trip to anywhere you choose in the US! More details at GoldfishSmiles.com.

What snacks bring back fond memories for you? Tell me in the comments and you will be entered for a chance to win a $100 VISA gift card!

Entry Instructions:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected. 

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 5/14/15 – 6/11/15.

Be sure to visit the Pepperidge Farm® Goldfish® brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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A Little Help While You Sleep {Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream Review + $100 Visa Card Giveaway}

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Undoubtedly, if someone had told me back in college that I would be more tired later in life than I was as a full time student, I would not have believed them. I remember being 20, staying up late, getting up early, and thinking that no one could possibly work as hard as a college student, juggling classes, a part-time job, and a demanding social life. {Insert sarcasm.}

I laugh, now, thinking about how much I took sleep for granted when I was younger. Conversations and coffee until the wee hours… all-nighters cramming for exams… sleep was so optional then. And all I can think about now is how I’ve hardly seen a single night of uninterrupted sleep in the last 13 years. 

Between being pregnant or having a newborn every other year and perpetually having someone in the household struggling with either teething, night terrors, ezcema, or sickness, motherhood has proven to be a labor of love, not rest. 13 years after the birth of my firstborn, I’m still not always sleeping through the night. We still get woken up by littles, but even when they sleep well, I’m usually still doing laundry after hours, catching up on email, and squeezing in some work that I don’t get done during the day in lieu of spending time with the boys. Our days are busy with good things, noble things, even fun things…and I’m grateful for a full and joyous life. But, even while my heart is at rest, sleep can sometimes be a luxury in certain seasons of life.

“Sleep is a daily reminder that we are not God” -John Piper

I love that reminder from Piper… because there is simply nothing heroic about being addicted to work and refusing to rest. But in those seasons when life’s demands result in lack of sleep, greater everyday stress, and general weariness, a little help with our skin never hurts. 

When the innovative folks at Garnier asked me to review their new Ultra-Lift® Miracle Sleeping Cream™ Anti-Age + Anti-Fatigue Night Cream, I initially thought I really wouldn’t need such a product. But then I got to thinking about my age, the fine lines that are developing on my face, and the years and years of a high-demand/low-sleep ratio in my life. So, I agreed to try out this product that uses essential oil, plant extracts, and Adenosine, to regenerate your skin’s surface layer while you sleep. 

Here are my initial thoughts as I have only begun to use it: 

  • The scent is really pleasant.
  • The cream absorbs quickly.
  • My skin feels more smooth and hydrated.

I don’t struggle with dark circles under my eyes, but I do occasionally have issues with my eyes feeling puffy and tired, and for my skin to feel dull. Garnier’s Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream is said to make an improved difference with such issues with continued use. I’m eager to see the results of using the cream for a longer period of time, but for now, I’m grateful for a simple, night-time routine that helps give my skin a boost during a season of motherhood and business that requires a little more energy and a little less sleep. 

Can’t get your nightly beauty sleep? Garnier has you covered with prizes that will make you look like you didn’t miss a wink! Enter the Sleep With This Sweepstakes now for the chance to win Garnier’s Ultra-Lift® Miracle Sleeping Cream, a Westin Heavenly® Bed and more. 

Plus receive a $1 coupon* to try Garnier’s Ultra-Lift® Miracle Sleeping Cream out for yourself. Enter daily for a chance to win a Miracle Sleeping Cream product prize package.

Do you plan to try Garnier’s Ultra-Lift® Miracle Sleeping Cream™ Anti-Age + Anti-Fatigue Night Cream to help fight wrinkles and the signs of fatigue?

Tell me in the comments to enter for a chance to win a $100 VISA gift card.

 

Entry Instructions:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 5/11/15 – 6/30/15.

Be sure to visit the Garnier brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

Vanity Fair Review and $100 Visa Card Giveaway

Some of you may relate: I’ve been pregnant or nursing almost continually for the last 12 years, and while my boys have been worth every pound gained and every stretch mark received, my body is simply not what it once was. And that is very okay, and I’m no longer waiting on perfect.

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Some of you may relate: I’ve been pregnant or nursing almost continually for the last 12 years, and while my boys have been worth every pound gained and every stretch mark received, my body is simply not what it once was. And that is very okay, and I’m no longer waiting on perfect.

But proper fitting, supportive, and comfortable undergarments and bras do make a difference. Now, more than ever. 

I generally would not have jumped at the opportunity to write about bras, but I think it’s actually really important to simply acknowledge that whether you work in the home, on Wall Street, or at your kitchen table homeschooling little ones: comfort, support, and confidence is always in style. The supporting cast members of our everyday wardrobe are rarely mentioned, but undoubtedly indispensable. 

So, when Vanity Fair®, a trusted brand in women’s lingerie for over 100 years, offered me an opportunity to try out a beautiful new bra, and to share about their inspiring For Women Who Do campaign, I was more than willing to participate. 

I’m a woman of many hats: mom, wife, business owner, blogger, school founder, artist, and home educator to name a few. Those roles are sometimes outfitted by t-shirts and cutoffs, and sometimes with a skirt and a silky blouse…different attire for different tasks. However, just as it is with those different endeavors and life callings, it’s what’s beneath the surface that holds it all together. (See what I did there?) It’s the support that allows you to do anything

Things I really, genuinely love about my new Vanity Fair® bra:

  • It fit immediately without twisting and adjusting.
  • The fabric is lovely and sophisticated.
  • No pinching, chafing, or any discomfort.
  • Smooth and invisible fit for t-shirts and silk dresses, alike. 

Most of my days are spent running little ones to the bath and getting the dishes done, but I learned a long time ago, that being at my best includes dressing for the job I want. The more I treat my work as a mother and homemaker as valuable and noble, the more I desire to prepare for the day by giving attention to how I present myself…down to support underneath. 

The “Women Who Do™” initiative is a powerfully uplifting campaign dedicated to praising and celebrating everyday triumphs of women everywhere. Vanity Fair®’s desire is to honor women of all walks of life while providing graceful and feminine support-wear at a reasonable price point.

This Fall, the LiftTOUR, as part of the Women Who Do campaign, will travel across the country conducting bra fittings at major retail locations, and for every woman fit, Vanity Fair® will donate a brand-new bra to the local Dress for Success Affiliate.

Dress for Success® is an organization dedicated to promoting the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, career development tools and a network of support– noticed a need for more intimate apparel to provide its clients. Vanity Fair® saw a welcome opportunity to lend its expertise, resources and extensive product offering to help replenish the lingerie of the non-profit organization. Through this partnership, Vanity Fair® hopes to provide women with the support they need to be successful. 

Isn’t that a great reason to get a great fit?! Look for a fitting near you…

Vanity Fair® wants to know WHO INSPIRES YOU?

Answer the question in the comments for a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card from BlogHer… Good luck!

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 9/8 -10/19/2014.

Be sure to visit the Vanity Fair brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

Memory Keeping Made Easy {Rendi Review and Giveaway}

Sometimes, when the dishes are done and the kids are miraculously enjoying a book together…and your kitchen counter is cleared off enough to bake a few dozen cookies, you step back and realize that you are making memories with your kids. Memories you want to remember — over and above the challenges of the tantrums and sleepless nights. They are the memories you want to keep before you, to remind you that even in the midst of the most stretching circumstances, life is filled with moments you’ll never want to forget.

And for us moms, those moments come and go, quickly passing us by and rarely making it to our cameras, scrapbooks, or photo albums. That’s why I was excited to learn about Rendi, “a fun new company helping you capture, celebrate and archive your story by combining your phone and FB photos w/ your words on photo frames & signs.” It’s an innovative and fun product + app that simplifies capturing and storytelling your most special memories! When the folks at Rendi contacted me to review their 6-Tag Storyboard, I was thrilled and eager to try it out. 

Here’s what I love about Rendi:

1) Rendi is super simple to use! Simply order and design a storyboard online, along with prepaid tags, and you’re ready to go. Rendi conveniently offers an app for your smart phone that allows you to upload a photo and have it customized as a tag for your storyboard in a matter of minutes. With a press of a button, your tags are automatically produced and sent to your mailbox. Nothing could be simpler…you can finally be present with your family AND capture memories at the same time.

2) Rendi is fully customizeable. You can choose color, font, style, and record your own thoughts on each and every tag you create. Each picture you create a tag for can be immediately captured with the time, date, location, and memory you don’t want to forget…right on the tag, if you choose.

3) Rendi is a creative display. Rendi storyboards come with hooks that hold multiple, sturdy photo tags, and a beautiful linen covered keepsake box to house any tags you don’t choose to display. 

I chose to create a storyboard with six hooks, one for each of my boys. I also ordered additional tags to showcase some of our favorite summer vacation memories. The boys had a great time reading and reminiscing with each tag, and placing them onto the board. Wouldn’t it be fun to have tags for various seasons and occasions that the kids can switch out periodically? With a Rendi Storyboard display, photos are always at the ready for conversation, enjoyment, and reminiscing together.

The generous folks at Rendi are giving away a 3-Tag Storyboard Starter Kit!

(valued at $59.95)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Rendi is also offering GraceLaced readers 25% off any purchase through 8/14/14!

Use code: 

GRACELACED25

Happy memory keeping, friends!


This post was sponsored by Rendi, and I was given product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions in this post are my own.