Confession: We have never had professional pictures taken. It was not something that either of our families did growing up, so when I would get my friends family pictures in a Christmas card or something, I would always think “Either they are just really naturally that pretty or we need to get pictures taken!” Well, one of my friends just happens to be such a talented photographer. Her name is Chloe and she is launching into other areas of the business and asked if I would like to have a family photo shoot before we left…uhhh heck yeah I would!
She told us about a park or something with a lot of natural elements that she shoots at often. I told her I would trust her, but we’re not really “natury, park people”. She laughed and suggested downtown McKinney. It was so much fun!
I really was nervous that we were going to end up with portraits that looked like we went to JCPenney’s studio and posed with a boa or something (no hate JCP. I shop there. Just not so much with the decoupaged backdrops). She, however, was brilliant. She brought things for us to do or games to play to help us have natural smiles and laughs. The kids were entertained and we got some great shots. Here are some of our favorites.
I am now a fan of family photos!
Thanks for Chloe for the amazing shoot! If you are in the Dallas area, contact her! Heck, fly her out! She’s worth it.
I remember moving to Texas from Florida. I was so excited to start experiencing seasons and the colors of Dallas were beautiful. But nothing prepares you for the incredible fall weather in the northeast. We won’t discuss how quickly it turns to freezing temperatures where you end up looking like the Michelin Man had a baby with Olaf. For now, I am enjoying dressing my girls in FALL CLOTHES! Boots, scarves, and jackets! It is so fun.
However, even my little fashionistas will dirty a good outfit if they pass an all too tempting pile of leaves on their way home from school. I could either worry about having to do laundry or grab a camera… 🙂
a pink pea coat and a leather bomber are always ok!
# <3 NEW York
Guys, my babies are growing up. I cannot begin to tell you how hard that is. Of course, every mommy in the world knows the horror of this feeling. No one needs to try and explain to another mom the pain of seeing your babies developing into children/kids/middleschoolers/teenagers/ adults. Of course, there are perks to be sure. I feel like I’m going to look into all the faces of the moms on Jozlyn’s first day of school… yes, my daughter is going to school for the first time this year, and see an expression of equal parts heartbreak and elation; an inward struggle for a dominant emotion. I am thrilled to have some time to do adult things. I am excited to hopefully have conversations with “big people” who challenge my thinking and help me grow. But I am equally unnerved at the thought of my daughter being away from me for 8 hours a day. I mean, for the next 13 years of her life AT LEAST, someone else will have more time with her than I will. I will no longer be the one who has the best opportunity to develop her character, responses, intellect, and grace. That is a sobering thought.
When considering moving to NYC, of course, we THOUGHT about the day when Jozzy would go to school. We talked about the school systems and some options. We felt very strongly about putting our kids in public school. We want them to be a good influence in the community and thought it would be a great way to meet people outside the church. I still believe that. As much as I love Christian education, and believe me, I DO, I have definitely seen the effects of not allowing kids to develop a Christian worldview outside of the confines of the safe church. When we don’t expose our kids to things outside the church until we throw them out into the college world, we are begging for overwhelmed, blindsided and often times, ineffective Christians on college campuses…many of whom, leave the church once they’ve experienced this “new world”. This, of course, is not the case for everybody but is a large number. We didn’t want that for our babies.
However, when you’re in New York, that safety bubble is effectively burst! There is no “church world”. They are exposed to everything you can be exposed to simply by existing in this place, so we decided Christian school would be a great option. This is the only reason that I’m not having a nervous breakdown right now.
Jozlyn is so ready to be in school. She’s excited to go and I know she will thrive. I know every momma thinks their babies are brilliant…but mine really is…:). Maybe not “brilliant”, but she’s a very capable, smart little girl and I am excited what school will do for her. I’m excited for her to be able to be social and structured. I’m excited for her to experience new things. I’m excited to see who she will become. And I’m excited to get some one-on-one time with my little one.
The kids have coped by clinging to one another and I think the separation will help them gain some needed independence. I’m so glad they love each other, but right now, they tend to fall apart a bit when separated.
We are so excited about Jozzy’s school. I really want to tell you what school it is, but I’ve been on the internet too much and don’t want to say where they are going! ha. I’m that mom. But I will tell you it is an amazing place with fantastic leadership. They have shown love for our family and made us feel like our girls would be special to them, which I’m sure they do to each family, but I love them for it.
You guys are the best! Thank you for lifting us up. We love you.
It is so strange to spend a whole day without Jozzy, but I know she is absolutely loving her time of playing and learning with a bunch of kids! I always love hearing her talk about her day when I go pick her up, BUT I swear it feels like I am just meeting my youngest daughter. Kenny tends to come alive. She is goofy, and silly, and energetic and she loves to make believe. She loves to put on my heels and grab a purse and proclaim “Bye Mom! I go to work!” I’ll tell her bye and then she’ll return and say, “I’m back!”
Today, we went to Central Park, which we’ve done a lot but not just with her. We had a blast and she wanted to do a little photo shoot. Jozzy always loves taking pictures, but this time, Kenny was the center of attention and she loved it.
Last week, I wrote about taking Jozzy to the theater in an Anastasia costume. Since Halloween is coming, here is a quick DIY if you want to make your own princess dress for your little princess.
I scoured the internet for a toddler sized costume for the Russian princess and found NOTHING! I decided I was going to have to jimmy rig something. But when I did research I found that the Broadway costume is totally different than the finale film dress. I knew Jozlyn would request the film dress, but would be so ecstatic to see the dress she was wearing on stage. So I showed her pictures of Anya’s Broadway dress and she agreed that it would be better to go with her red dress…whew.
So, for any other Broadway lovers out there…. here are the steps to making this dress…
Here is the original Broadway dress…..
This is the dress I purchased for about $20…
The first thing I did is CUT THAT FLOWER OFF!
Get some gold trimming and red jewels from your
local fabric/craft store or online…
This ran me another $20
The dress ended up being a bit big on top (she’s tiny), so I just tried it on her and tightened the side seam and straps.
Lay out a pattern for your appliques, and decide what you like. Play with things to get the right scale. Luckily, this Russian-inspired gown called for opulence… the more the better!
I was not excited that the dress has rhinestones on it when I first got the dress, but it ended up adding a bit I think. I layered on one applique at the bust and a simple small one to lengthen the center to her waist.
I then went to town pinning all of my appliques in place..making tweaks as I went. Once I was happy with the placement, I thought I would glue them down… but, I decided to bite the bullet and hand sew them (you can just sew them down). I know some of you are thinking “Why didn’t she just use her machine!?” Well, I tried and broke 2 needs on the embedded sequence… ouch. I had the time, so I just took out my needle and thread and did it myself. It actually took a lot less time than I expected.
Once the appliques were secure, I could get to the fun part…. JEWELS! I bought way too many jewels, but they were pretty and I knew I wanted to make it obnoxiously gawdy! ha. I simply Gorilla Glued the gems in place and tried my best to edit my desires to bedazzle the entire gown. I think it turned out just right.
At this point, my plan was complete… but it never is with me.
One of my favorite aspects of the gown is its silhouette. It is very similar to an Audrey Hepburn gown… a classic 50’s line where there are two skirts: a slim fitting column skirt seen through the front slit of a voluminous top skirt. It is one of my favorite designs in all of fashion and I hated that it wasn’t a part of this mini copy.
I had to at least reference it, so I slit the top layer of the dress right down the middle and tacked it back to reveal the silk under skirt. In the original dress the bottom skirt is almost a baroque pattern. I was not going to spend any more money as I was already at my budget, so I took some leftover trim and cut out some pieces to form a pattern down the center of the underskirt I had revealed. It was not exact but at least it was a nod to the beauty of the Broadway design.
After adding a few more gems to the new pattern and the tiara, I stepped back and felt pretty good about what had been done. Jozzy was going to love it.
If you tackle this (or others), leave a picture in the comments! Good luck!
It is no secret that one of the best parts about living in New York, in my humble opinion, is the access to the most incredible theater in the world! I have always loved theater. My grandmother sat me down in front of the tv to watch musicals since I was born. My babysitter from that time said I had SOUND OF MUSIC memorized at 6… in its entirety… including choreo…:) That started a love affair for musicals that grew to a love of theater. I loved the music, the dance, and the clothes!! Vera Ellen’s dresses that swirled around her as she turned across the floor, Julie Andrews turning curtains into day clothes for a litter of children, Marilyn Monroes beautifully ornate gowns. Period pieces, contemporary works of art… I just love the clothes that litter the stages and screens of the theater. I’ve been obsessed my whole life.
One of my favorite pictures I own is one of Jozlyn before she turned 1. She had a bad ear infection and would scream everytime I laid her flat. The only thing that would help quiet her for a few minutes at a time was when I put on SINGIN IN THE RAIN on my laptop. She would crook her little neck to watch Gene Kelly dance gracefully across the screen. I knew I had my theater buddy! I now have two little girls… two girly girls… and I have been anxiously awaiting the day that I get to take my baby girls to their first Broadway show. The day finally arrived for my oldest. We took Jozlyn to see ANASTASIA. She already knew most of the music since we had been watching it on repeat since we decided to go. And since I tend to the dramatic, I decided my little princess should go decked out as a princess.
I now have two little girls… two girly girls… and I have been anxiously awaiting the day that I get to take my baby girls to their first Broadway show. The day finally arrived for my oldest. We took Jozlyn to see ANASTASIA. She already knew most of the music since we had been watching it on repeat since we decided to go. And since I tend to the dramatic, I decided my little princess should go decked out as a princess.
She was so excited! When Anastasia came out on stage in this dress, Jozlyn freaked out! I love making my baby girl happy!
Here are some of our favorite shots of the day.
She was wide awake when we were headed home… at nearly midnight! haha
Thanks for checkin in!
Summer was quickly coming to a close and Jozlyn would not stop asking for another day at the beach. The funny thing is that I grew up in a home that was no longer than 15 minutes from a beautiful Florida beach… and I think I made my way to the sand a total of 6 times in 10 years. My little girl, however, is completely enamored with the sight of the waves and the feeling of sand between her toes. So we made plans to go with our good friends just before school started.
I guess she had fun 😉
So blessed to have sweet friends that love on my kids and are a god send to me! Thanks for checking in!
This is not happening. I feel like this cannot be happening, but it is! I am sending my daughter off to school. Not mother’s day out. Not a two day a week day care….SCHOOL! What is happening!?
We found a great, Christian school in Queens and were blessed enough to find a way to get her in at the last minute! She was so excited that “going to school” became the go-to bribe for the whole week before she went. I would say, “Now Joz, you need to obey Mommy like a big girl. Big girls get to go to school, but babies stay home with Mommy all day.” Like I was actually going to consider not taking her to school! lol.
She picked out her outfit and I bought her a new jacket. Kenny was even unwittingly excited…not realizing she was going to be without her best friend during the day now. My big girl smiled the whole morning even though we had to wake her up earlier than practically she’d ever been woken. New York is amazing, but since we moved here during the summer, it’s been hard to for her to find friends. And Jozzy is a social girl, so no kids around is a bit of a problem for her. I knew school would solve a lot of her loneliness and have been so excited to see her little eyes light up like this!
I am so going to miss having her infectious energy with me all day, but am so excited to see how she blossoms in this new environment! I just hope the teacher can contain her! lol
It was a rainy, dismal day this evening, but I promised Jozzy that we could take her scooter to the park once it got here… and don’t you know, my precocious little 4 year old would NEVER forget a promise. As soon as we told her the shipping boxes were in daddy’s office, it was over. “Can we go to the park with my scooter??”
“I don’t know baby. It’s kind of rainy today.”
“but mooooommmy, you promised.”
And I’m done. “Let’s go, kids!”
We packed up snacks and jackets and Joz jumped on that scooter as soon as we got out of the elevator.
She rode it all the way to the park….then she saw the water. There is a large sand pit at the playground, and they have a water feature next to it, that I think is predominately there to help kids wash off the sand. However, for my kids it was a shower head. Jozlyn basically went head first as soon as she saw it! Here are some of my favorite shots from the day.
I’ve always joked that I have no soul. I think it’s been my way of apologizing to the world for my innate instinct to be void of emotions when any normal human being would be a blubbering idiot or giddy or whatever the situation may have called for. It is something that the Lord has been working with me on, but I’ve got a long way to go.
The only time my mercy meter would really register any activity growing up was during those commercials for poverty stricken children in 3rd world countries. Praise God I didn’t have access to my families bank accounts because I would’ve absolutely bankrupted my dad. I literally had to change the channel. For some reason, I was able to muster up compassion for people I didn’t know who were in desperate need, but when it came to people within my sphere of influence…. well, I wasn’t exactly a soft place to land, unfortunately.
Fast forward all these years later and my family has just moved to a city where I come across incredible need every 20 feet. And I don’t have a remote that works on real life. I can’t change the channel. Now, anybody who has lived here will let newcomers know that this overwhelming sense will fade and you will soon be able to walk by with the learned and perfected gift of ignoring or even overlooking. This may sound cruel, but it is, in fact, a necessity of life in an urban city. But one I have not mastered.
This past week, my husband has indulged me. I have not yet learned the art of neglecting the need. Please understand me. I don’t mean to sound condescending. I recognize that the need is so much more evident to my eyes. I am fully aware of that, but I’ve decided to just live in that. I understand that there are people who are not ACTUALLY needy that are out there and people who are surrounded by it have a much better radar for those situations.
We took the girls to the park and so bought a couple extra baked goods to divvy out as we saw people in need. We gave away a pillow and blanket we were throwing away and talked about how to approach the need in the future without bankrupting our already tight budget.
I am not saying this to make it sound like I do all of this sacrificial work for the needy! I am saying it for accountability and encouragement. This fervor may wane. I pray it doesn’t, but it may and I will need to be reminded to SEE people; not to wonder about HOW they got in this mess and blame them for their situation. My job is to love them now.
Jesus always met a need… a physical need of the people He ministered to. I want to learn to be aware of needs around me. I want to teach my girls to see need around them and to be a soft place for people to land. A source of compassion and love.
The census of 2016 shows that since 2010, people are moving to the city in rates of about 60,400 per year. The homeless population in 2017 is just under 62,000 people. What if every new resident of the city allowed themselves to feel the compassion that innately wells up in us when we first come to see the need? People tend to suppress it. I feel like it makes us feel more like a genuine resident. But we need to prioritize looking like residents of the Kingdom, and the mayor is commanding us to approach the needy head on…not pass them by. What if every new resident chose not to suppress compassion?
I am not suggesting that there would be no homeless, but I am suggesting that we would look more like our Maker. I am suggesting that we would encourage a community of compassion and I am suggesting that people would feel differently in themselves.
I have never understood the stereotype given to many New Yorkers of being rude. I have rarely experienced a rude New Yorker. Their kindness looks and sounds a little different than it does in the south, but the sentiment is the same.
I have been lost on the subway and they have helped. I have had a malfunctioning metro card and they’ve given me a free swipe. They’ve seen me struggle with a stroller and two kids and missed a train to help me up the stairs! They have told me when I dropped something. The wait staff at restaurants have always been kind and courteous. People have even walked by…total strangers and made passing jokes or casual conversation. It’s far from the stereotype of everyone being on their phone and refusing to acknowledge another person’s existence.
That being said, they are usually focused and on task. They don’t like people who talk or walk slowly and they don’t do superfluous conversation at least in passing…which I love. But the moms I meet on the playground are helpful to give me information on child rearing in the city and let me know when Jozlyn has run off (again). These people are awesome and genuine. What you see is what you get. I love it.
I’ve been warned of its dangers and many of those dangers are very real. My brother had his iPhone swiped from his back pocket while he was up here (tip- don’t leave your iPhone or wallet in your back pocket..ever). But some of the fears I had were from movies from the 80’s when Central Park was a den of thieves. If you are coming to New York now, please know that there are legitimate things to be aware of, but don’t live in fear here. There are a lot of good people around
Yes, this is the city that never sleeps, but when I came as a tourist, I felt like I had to see this amazing, one of a kind place in such a short time that I would cram a month’s worth of activities in a weeks time frame. Well, of course, it felt like a whirlwind! But Dallas would too if I said I had to go to the Houston Rodeo, the Ft. Worth Stockyards, a Cowboys game at the Star, Six Flags and see a show in all three cities in a period of three days!
We have intentionally been taking the mornings to spend with the girls doing things they would like; parks, candy stores, toy stores, train rides, but not with an agenda (or with a packed one anyway…moms got to have some sort of soft plan). Just relaxing days of family time and you know what? The city is kind of peaceful. Yes, peaceful!
It’s like there is so much noise and stimuli that it all becomes this sea of white noise and that “city hum” just becomes the soundtrack to your day. Maybe it’s because I sleep with white noise, but the horns, and construction, and cries of the guys trying to get you to book a bike ride or carriage through Central Park has become this amalgamated, layered track by which my girls and I get to live. It’s on repeat and I love it.
I remember walking through my house after we sold it. It was empty and desolate and I was having a rough time of it. Y’all may remember my post about how much of an emotional wreck I was. I was so nervous that my kids would be missing out on things in Texas.
The truth is…. they don’t care! Kids at my girls’ ages need to know one thing; Mommy and Daddy are here. Their world hinges on us…that’s it. My girls could not care less about what they don’t have that they used to (of course, they miss their friends and their grandparents… we facetime often). When Kendall gets a little overwhelmed about all the change, she doesn’t whine and ask for her old swing set or favorite past time she used to enjoy. She looks up at me with those big gray eyes and deep, gorgeous dimple that she inherited from her daddy and says “hold you?” She just needs to know that Mommy is still here and I’ve got her. I don’t know about you, but that’ll preach. She just lifts her hands to her mom (one of the pictures I always remember when I reach my hands up in worship to my Heavenly Father). No matter the chaos, the safety of a loving parent’s arms is the calm in the midst of confusion. Then when she has regained her confidence, she’s off again…. happy and loving this new adventure.
We have the most amazing friends…seriously; Carson and Rachel, Janean and Jonathan, Josie and Jordan, Nikki and Tanner, Nicole and Zac, and so many more! And we miss them dearly. But we were not on the ground for 3 hours before my phone was hit up with messages of people I hadn’t spoken to in years, but they are here and wanted to connect. You have no idea how much that can mean to a newcomer trying to figure out how to create a new normal for her babies.
It is amazing how, no matter how long or short you’ve known someone if you are believers, many times there is an awesome chemistry and familial spirit that is just THERE. There is such sweet comfort and love that has been given to us from who would be complete strangers other than the fact that we are all part of the family of God.
This kind of goes without saying, but this place is awesome. There is something amazing to do all the time…and usually for free! My kids have been on technology WAY less this past week. Yes, I acknowledge that it’s been only a week, but I’m hopeful this trend is here to stay. They’ve just been too preoccupied with everything to do. And since I can’t just sit at home and send them to the game room, I’ve been more engaged with my kids making me a more intentional parent than I’ve been in the past.
Yes, to everyone that said that before we came… you were right. Congratulations! ha. It’s just hard with kids. Without kids? It’s amazing, but these little mini me’s just complicate things in the most amazing, exhausting, miraculous way ever.
It’s hard not having a washer/dryer in the building, let alone apartment. It’s hard hand washing dishes. It’s hard keeping things spotless for fear of mice. It’s hard trying to get the girls used to sharing a room. It’s hard taking a stroller and two kids up and down a subway platform. It’s hard not having a functional kitchen. It’s hard sharing a bathroom. It’s hard trying to memorize where all the elevators are. It’s hard figuring out where to eat when you don’t recognize any restaurants. It’s hard starting over. It’s hard not having my parents here. It’s just hard.
But you know what? It’s worth it. It is absolutely worth it. Not the city…the people… the call. For all the “hard” that there is, there is only One “good” that matters, and I cannot wait to see what He has in store for New York. I cannot wait to see how He will use Jordan and my girls. I cannot wait to conquer those “hards”. It is worth it.
I look forward to learning so much more as we move forward. Please subscribe if you want to stay informed on how you can pray for us and what we’re up to. We love you guys.
Love, the Grizzards