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Summer 2016

The Wouters Family - A fun in the sun family session in Dana Point

The Wouters Family - A fun in the sun family session in Dana Point

Dear Blog... We are sorry we have neglected you for a MONTH. It's not you, it was us. We were having too much fun playing at the beach, being lazy and eating too many cookies. We knew we needed some family time. Time to regroup. Time to refresh our minds and our souls. So we took it. And it was awesome. We are so thankful for time together to make memories, to think, to pray and to get ready for the fall! It's going to be a great rest of the year filled with new experiences, new joys, new trials and, thanks to our month off, we are pumped and ready!

 But enough about that, we want you to feast your eyes on this beautiful family! We might be biased about these guys because, well, we've known them for 10 YEARS, but we think the Wouters are pretty awesome. When we first met them we were all young married couples learning the ropes of marriage and adulting. Shortly after we met, both Sherri and I bonded over pregnancy, coffee and eventually babies. Then as the years went on, we had more kids, life got crazy, we didn't hang out as much but we always stayed close. Now that we live closer, our kids are growing up together, we drink wine together, we workout together and we cannot imagine it any other way! In fact thats how we planned their session! They wanted something different, something fun, so we packed up and went to the beach! Their whole family embraced us and allowed us to join in on their vacation and it was awesome. 

We had a blast finding new places, laughing and getting honked at! Yeah, jumping into the middle of a busy intersection to get the shot wasn't the brightest thing Megan has ever done but hey we got the shot! Although we learned that next year we should do the photo shoot at the BEGINNING of the week so we're not all sunburned and tired! 

Thank you guys for a fun week, for allowing us to capture you and your family, and for letting us be a part of your tribe! We couldn't imagine life without you! 

 

5 Things I Learned From Disconnecting (Sort of) For a Week

5 Things I Learned From Disconnecting (Sort of) For a Week

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Text Messages. Email. In our day and age we are ALWAYS connected. With the advent of the internet and smart devices, it is almost impossible to disconnect from the constant stream of information scrolling through your news feed. That is, unless something drastic happens...like, for instance, when you go over to a friend's house for a barbecue and you accidentally take your phone for a nice long swim and turn your iPhone into a really shiny paperweight! Whoops!

So after my phone did it's best Dory impression, I was kind of without a phone for a week. I wasn't completely disconnected since I could still access the internet on my computer. But I didn't have instant access to every corner of the internet like I was used to having in our smartphone saturated culture. Once I got through the initial withdrawal stage (the struggle is real people), I had some time to reflect and think a litte bit about how being constantly connected affects us.

Before I begin, I must confess that I am not advocating that we all go back to the stone age and start foraging for berries and hunting our own meat with sharp objects. I am an unabashed Apple fanboy (sorry Androidians!) and geek out (probably a little too much) over the latest iDevice or iOS update. So please don't take what I'm about to say as an endorsement of a completely disconnected lifestyle (although if that's your thing, more power to you!). Now that I've gotten that disclaimer out of the way, here are 5 things I learned from being without my trusty iPhone for a week:

1. Let's get THE most important one out of the way first. If you don't read the other 4 things I learned, at the very least, read this one. Here it is...Real relationships happen in real life with real people. This is something that I am sad to say, I forgot far too often. It is way too easy to assume that because your Instagram picture got a ton of likes and comments, or you have a constant stream of Facebook notifications, that you have lots of friends, contacts, and acquaintances and that people REALLY know you. As valuable as online relationships are, I learned that they are NOT a substitute for real live, face-to-face, interactions with other living, breathing people. It was truly eye opening to spend undistracted time with Megan and the kids and to really observe their personalities in action. We all know that family and friends are the most important things we have in this life, but sometimes we forget just how important they are when we are constantly being distracted by all that buzzing and dinging going on in our pockets.

2. The world is an awesome place! I didn't realize how often I buried my face in my phone as the world just kind of passed me by. Whether it was while I was walking to my car (I know, I know, texting and walking is a public safety concern), sitting inside checking out Facebook during an amazing sunset, or just constantly checking your phone throughout the day for no reason. Not to get all existential on you, but after a week without a phone, the birds seem to sing a little louder, the sky seems a little bluer, and a nice breeze is just a little more refreshing. Weird? I know. But it's true. Maybe it's because without a phone, I was just a little more "present" in reality, but I found myself noticing and appreciating the little things just a little bit more.  

3. I got so much more done! Without the constant distractions it was so much easier to stay focused and complete tasks. Dishes got done faster. Kids got put to bed on time. Daily chores didn't have to "wait till tomorrow." It's not that I was being lazy (well maybe sometimes), but without the constant starting and stopping during a task while you check email or see who's texting you, it was so much easier to get stuff done. I even picked up that ancient technology known as a book and read TWO of them! I found that instead of looking back at my day and wondering where the time had gone, I was able to look back and see all the tasks that had been accomplished. 

4. I remembered how to talk to people! True confession time. I am an introvert. No, that doesn't mean I sit in a cave all day and endlessly whisper "my precious" in a creepy voice to my iPhone. It also doesn't mean that I don't enjoy being around other people. What it does mean, however, is that I'm terrible at small talk and that sometimes I need a little extra "alone time" to recharge my batteries after being around other people for a while. What I realized though, is that far too often I would whip out my phone during those "awkward silences" at gatherings or during conversations. It was way too easy to get all Gollum-ish (minus the creepy whispering thing) with my iPhone so close at hand. Instead, without that "safe haven" just a pocket away, I was forced to really engage with people and maintain a bit of back and forth conversation. Crazy right?! Don't get me wrong, no one will mistake me for and extrovert anytime soon, and small talk still kind of makes my palms sweaty, but after a little practice this week with no phone, I am fairly confident I can keep the small talk train rolling down the tracks...at least for a little while! 

5. Finally, don't be afraid of the "B" word! Being bored isn't always a bad thing! Sometimes people eat because they're bored. Others whip out their phones and play Crossy Road. I'm not judging...I still giggle everytime Poopy Pigeon makes that "poopy" noise. However, after not having a smartphone for a week to magically whisk me away to car-dodging paradise any time I want, there were times where I was left to sit with nothing but my thoughts. In our consumer culture, we are constantly bombarded with things that want to "entertain" us and our smartphones are no exception. As I commuted to and from work with nothing to do but think about my day, wonder what the kids did all day, or contemplate the meaning of life, I realized that sometimes it's ok to be bored. In a weird way, I think our brains need a bit of time to sort thoughts, reorganize ideas, and get back on track, and boredom proved to be a really good way of getting my mind right.

Now that the week is over, and my new iPhone arrived in the mail, I'm trying to remember what I learned and change my habits a bit so that I don't fall into the same traps I did before. I utilize the vibrate and "do not disturb" function a lot more now than I used to. I try and schedule times to check social media instead of just "always being on." If there's a living, breathing human in front of me, I try my best to keep my phone in my pocket and give them my full attention. I'm also trying to maintain my new found reading habit. When its time to unplug, I try and leave my phone in another room because "outta sight" in this case really is "outta mind."

I still love getting on social media, hopping through traffic with Floppy Fish, or scrolling through articles on Feedly. But, after a week with no phone, I realized that a little less time with your phone and a little more time with the ones you love is a sacrifice we should all be willing to make.

This totally has nothing to do with phones but they're too cute not to add! :)

This totally has nothing to do with phones but they're too cute not to add! :)

Olivia's 2016 Dance Recital

Olivia's 2016 Dance Recital

We all have pictures in our heads that we will never be able to erase. Sometimes it's good, other times it's bad. We all look back at certain moments in our lives that shaped us. Moments we cherish forever because things were "just right." This past week we had the opportunity to file away a few of those precious moments in our minds.

Our one and only daughter Olivia had her dance recital this past Saturday, and despite a few minor mishaps, which we will gladly share in a minute, it was a truly memorable experience. We sat in the audience with tears in our eyes to celebrate all the hard work she put into learning ballet over the last year or so.

Truth be told, it wasn't all glitter and princess sparkles that day. We spent most of Thursday night and Friday dealing with Olivia being sick and exhausted. We had nightmarish visions of Olivia walking out on stage and projectile vomiting all over it. Thankfully, our worst fears were never realized and she made it through her entire performance without redecorating the auditorium in regurgitated breakfast foods. Dodged that bullet. Whew!

The next little "hiccup" we encountered was the fact that the tickets we purchased were for seats that didn't actually exist. We had mistakenly purchased "wheelchair access" space (thankfully we weren't the only ones who made this little boo boo) when we purchased our tickets online. So we showed up, sat in some seats we thought were ours, because who sells tickets for seats that aren't really there?! Then were told not so politely by a guy who looked like an "extra-large" version of Colonel Sanders that we were in his seat. I was about to tell him we would give up his seat for a bucket of fried chicken and a few biscuits, but decided that probably wouldn't go over too well. Instead, I got up and found an usher to help us find our seats. Score one point for keeping calm under pressure, although I'm still wondering if we could have gotten a free 10-piece out of this whole ordeal. Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20. Either way, the usher helped us find our real, non-existent seats and was very polite in procuring a couple of folding chairs to put where our invisible seats were supposed to be located. After much wandering, question-asking, and fried chicken dreaming, we were seated and ready for the show!

And what a show it was! Olivia looked absolutely stunning that day. We will never be able to get her beautiful face, or her magical performance out of our minds for as long as we live. She danced with style and grace, and (in our extremely impartial opinion) was the most beautiful girl on stage that day. She is growing so fast and we can't help but wonder how many more of these "burned in your memory forever" moments we have left. We know that we are going to wake up one day, and she will be grown and gone. A beautiful, gracious, kind woman who knows how to fill any situation with life and joy. She really is full of passion and joy and is undeniably one of the most radiant human beings we have ever met. She keeps us grounded and forces us to remember daily that life is too short to always be worried about always following all the rules and doing everything perfectly. Her wild and free spirit is exactly what we need sometimes, and we pray everyday that she keeps that spirit for the rest of her life. We also pray that maybe a little bit of her will rub off on us too, and that we would enjoy everyday with as much passion, joy, and unbridled abandon as she does. We love you Olivia and we are so proud of you and who you have become!