Monday, March 30, 2015

Dear Little One

Dear Little One,

Pregnant. The test confirmed you were in my belly as the word  popped on the screen. I couldn't believe it. Tears of joy and shock flowed down my face. Praise the Lord!

Mommy and Daddy fell in love with you the second we found out. I told Big Brother that he was expecting a little sibling but I think he was more excited to be taken out of his crib after a long night's sleep. We praised God for you and prayed for you. No matter what you'd be a perfect gift from God.

From the time I found out you were growing in me, I dreamed what you would look like. I imagined the things you and Big Brother would do together. I loved the idea of a family of four. So tiny and precious and you already captured my thoughts. I would look at my belly and be in awe at the work God was doing in me. What a miracle. 

Thank you Laura Ryan Photography for capturing
me and my angel baby.
One day, my belly started to hurt and I started to bleed. I thought it was normal because it happened with Big Brother. But it grew and my belly pains didn't go away. I called the nurse who told me to go the hospital. I prayed and prayed. Daddy prayed. We didn't want to lose you, our precious baby. 

It was a long time at the hospital. With lots of tests and waiting.  I waited a long time to find out that you were leaving me. The first thing I thought was, you get to dance with Jesus now. Your safe. But my heart hurt. I wanted you to be with me, to come meet Daddy and Big Brother.

I had to go to the doctor again to make sure there were no complications and that in fact you went to be with Jesus. Another long wait but only one test to take. This would give me an answer. Waiting gave me a sense of hope. Women get their periods during pregnancy, maybe I am one of them. There could be a miracle baby in me. After what seemed like forever the doctor came in and apologized for the long wait. The doctor was nice and pleasant but he said, "I'm sorry but you are miscarrying...". My heart sunk but a sense of relief came that there were no complications with losing you.

I felt peace knowing that you were with Jesus now. If not me to take care of you, who better than Jesus? You are in the best hands ever. Although, I still miss you. I still long to have you in my belly. I still cry for you. I questioned why. Why couldn't I have you? Why couldn't I deliver you? Why are you gone? Why? In the end, I don't need an answer.  God knows. He knows my heart, He knows His plan for my life and yours. He wanted you to be with Him.

But my precious Little One, thank you. Just like your Big Brother, you've brought me closer to Jesus. In my weakness you brought me to my source of strength, the Lord. Children are a blessing from the Lord and you and Big Brother have blessed me so much. No matter how short of time you were with me, you're in my heart and I look forward to meeting you. I imagine Jesus introducing you to me and I feel such joy. I love you Little One.

See you someday, love you always
Your Mommy

Friday, March 27, 2015

Small Business Feature: BeliRaq

Photo Courtesy of Andrea de Gruchy

Our last small business feature for the month is something exciting and fun. We have the pleasure of sharing BeliRaq Dance Fitness created by Andrea de Gruchy. If you are looking for a good work out, a fun time, and a place you can be yourself, keep reading! Andrea will inspire you to get up and get moving!

Where did the idea for BeliRaq come from?
Photo Courtesy of Andrea de Gruchy
         The idea of BeliRaq came to me when I was developing my first business, which was performing belly dancing for restaurants, hookah lounges, birthday parties, BBQ’s, stage performances, etc. After performances, many women would approach me and ask how I could do all these isolations and look so graceful. Through all of these performances and teaching “technique” belly dance classes, I realized even more how much I wanted to teach dance and perform! But I wanted to do more than just teach “technique” belly dancing. I really wanted to show women that they can get a really great workout with belly dancing, so I created a program that has more spunk and attitude then just “performance” belly dancing. At that time, dance and fitness became one!
Photo Courtesy of Andrea de Gruchy

What do you enjoy most about what you do?
         Honestly, it is really hard to narrow it down because I love everything that comes with owning, managing, teaching and meeting new ladies. But if I had to choose, is seeing the ladies realize that they can dance and get a workout at the same time with belly dance/Bollywood at their own level! To have that “wided eyed” moment that they don’t have to be stick skinny shape with dance experience, they can embrace their own body shape and curves and put their own personality into the movements.

What are some of the benefits of attending a BeliRaq class?
         Some of the benefits of attending a BeliRaq class are the low and high intensity cardio-packed routines while staying in a low/ moderate impact. Switching from low to high intensity in workouts helps you burn calories faster and longer because our metabolism starts to increase which helps to burn calories even when we aren’t working out!
During the lower intensity parts of the workout, we integrate isolations, which are great for body sculpting and toning. I hear all the time that women want a flatter stomach, who doesn’t? So we work on a lot of core that incorporates the upper and lower body movements as well as undulations. Undulations are a great benefit in BeliRaq because it targets spinal flexion and extension while working on engaging the core and stretching out the muscles to become more flexible.
Also, the sensual movements of belly dance help lubricate the hip and shoulder girdle, spine, knees, lower back and every joint in the body. It is proven to help with arthritis, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, etc. (on a side note, I hear many women tell me they tried BeliRaq or are continuously taking BeliRaq because their doctor mentioned that they need to take belly dancing because of the benefits.)
Photo Courtesy of Andrea de Gruchy
As women get older, the many common areas of tightness are the hamstrings, hip flexors, the spine and rounded shoulders making a “hunch-back” look. We make sure to workout these different areas as well as stretching them. In BeliRaq, we target all of these areas by doing squats (which is a multi joint multi muscle workout, it works the quads, hamstrings and gluts all at the same time, which is why men and women do them so often) lunges (which target the quads, hip flexors and hamstrings), forward flexion by hinging at the hips (this targets core, flexibility in the hamstrings, and mid/lower back muscles), saidi (which is a style of belly dancing it targets cardio, hip flexors and gluts) and using chest lifts (which target the upper abs and the upper back muscles) and shoulder circles(targets the joints in the shoulder, upper back muscles, and depending on how much you incorporate the movement you can get a little of a rotation which targets the oblique’s and upper abs) to help posture.
You’re probably wondering, wow, this is a lot, but what about lower abs? We target lower abs by isolating the lower body with hip circles (you can really target lower abs by pulling them in when coming around to the front with the hips), hip lifts, shimmies, hip slides, hip tucks and releases. Overall, BeliRaq is a full body workout! ;)

What new things will we see from BeliRaq in 2015?
         New things that are and will be happening is the brand new logo and website! We have incorporated our new logo on shirts and soon to be coin belts, water bottles, bags, jackets, bummer stickers and window decals. The website is up and running well. Eventually we will be selling products online too! We are also working on certifications so many ladies can teach all over the U.S. We are having more boot camps and workshops outside of a weekly class! 

What advice to you have for others trying to start a business?

Photo Courtesy of Andrea de Gruchy
         My advice to starting a business is to make sure you know in your heart that this is what you truly want to do and if you are willing to be responsible to making it grow. Know what service or product you want to sell. Know that you are the BOSS. No one will set your schedule for you; it’s all up to you to take charge. Money will come eventually, but not right away. It takes time to grow and nurture it, like a baby! The business is like a small child. Most importantly you have to be mentally, emotionally and verbally strong. You will grow, as a business owner so don’t worry if you lack in some areas, just stay positive and focused. One last thing, see yourself as a business owner. For example, in my case, I’m not only an instructor, performer and a dancer, I’m first and foremost a “Business Owner.”


Friday, March 20, 2015

Small Business Feature: Laura Ryan Photography

Photo Credit Laura Ryan Photography

Today we are excited to feature a business that we both love and adore. More specifically we love the business owner! Laura Ryan Photography has captured a few special moments for our families and we just can't get enough. If you are looking for a photographer with passion, heart, and someone who is genuine, Laura Ryan is your girl. We hope you take the time to get to know and love her as much as we do!

Photo Credit Laura Ryan Photography

What made you want to be a photographer? (Or How did you get your start as a photographer?)
Why? I think the why is the most important behind everything that we do, and for me it is the foundation for my business; it is my heart. I want to capture real life – the raw, the messy, the good, the beautiful, and the story that is their story.

What is your favorite type of a photoshoot?
Photo Credit Laura Ryan Photography
This is hard! Each type of photoshoot tells a different story and I love it for that reason, but births certainly have a special place in my heart. There is nothing more special than the love that I get to witness during a birth. The way a mama embraces the pain because she know that it will be worth it, the way a husband comforts his wife because he would trade her places if he could, and the way they both embrace their baby for the first time. There is nothing like it in this world.

I still remember my first birth. I knew this family had struggled with 5 years of infertility so I knew that it would be emotional and that I could not miss that first moment. The nurses hand baby to Mama and she whispers, “I have waited for you for so long.” I was able to capture that moment for that family. A memory that sadly would have faded over time, but because they have those images, the family can remember that moment forever.

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
Aside from being able to capture such precious memories for people, I think the most rewarding part of my job is the relationships I form with my clients. Because of the nature of the photos I take, I get to know my clients on a more personal level. I am with them through some of the most vulnerable times in their lives and it’s an honor to be part of it. I truly believe that God has given each of us a story and it’s my job to do that story justice.

Photo Credit Laura Ryan Photography
How would you describe your style of photography?
Technically speaking I am natural light lifestyle photographer. My sessions typically take place in either the client’s home, an outdoor location, or a hospital/birthing center and we utilize whatever natural light we have available to us.

I also use a different approach to “posing” my clients than the traditional “look this way, place this hand there, and this leg that way, and so forth.” I like to use verbal cues to bring out different emotions (I have to thank my mentor Jamie Clauss for this suggestion) in clients. To give you an idea, at a recent maternity session I asked Mom to just walk through the field for a few minutes and reflect back over her pregnancy and just be in the moment with her daughter. It was beautiful.

What advice would you give others trying to start a business?
As crazy as it sounds, I would give the same advice that my husband gave me. He told me,  “you love this and you could be good or even great at it, so do it or don’t do it because just thinking about it isn't getting you anywhere.” In that moment I decided there was wisdom in what my husband was telling me, and I ran full speed ahead with that and have not looked back.

After that I would tell you that it takes a lot of hard work. Do your research and then validate that research with professionals in your area. Know what it takes to own a business and how to run a business. Know that you will fail but also know that you will soar. Know that success takes time. Know that no dream is too big but also know your limitations. Know when to ask for help and know when you need to take control. Know your vision and know where you want to go.

Photo Credit Laura Ryan Photography

God Bless,

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Small Business Feature: Orchard Girls

Remember our Mommy-On-The-Go Box Swap a few days ago? Well we just love our friends over at Orchard Girls & Orchardbaby Boutique so much that we want you to get to know them a little better!

Also, Orchardbaby Boutique opens today! There are so many great handmade baby items over there that we can't pick a favorite!

Here's our interview with Kayla & Kenzie:

Give us a little intro to what Orchard Girls is about!
"Orchard Girls is the name of the blog that we started about 3 years ago. We loved working together on this project and also loved making all the DIYs on the blog. We decided to turn what we love doing into a business by creating Orchardbaby Boutique. We especially love sewing so we decided to focus on sewing baby items like blankets, burp cloths, and quilts."

Sleepy Foxes and Chevron Burp Cloth Sets

What inspired you to create your business?
"Both of us have small children and we are always on the look out for cute items. Coming across things in stores or online, we started thinking, 'We could totally make that!' We made items for our own babies and thought other people might enjoy them as well."

If you could describe each other in one word, what would it be?

Kenzie: "I would describe Kayla as dependable."

Kayla: "I would describe Kenzie as genuine."

What's it like being Mommies, bloggers, & business owners?
"It's interesting. Hah! Sometimes projects get pushed aside when the family needs to come first. But we truly love making time to create unique items. It gives us a creative outlet and something to do to feel 'productive,' you know, besides tending to our children and husbands 24/7."

How long have you two known each other?
"We've been best friends since we were 14. We met at church and have been inseparable ever since. We lived together while in college (majoring in the same thing: Community Services). We then ended up marrying brothers. It's kind of a Nicholas Sparks story about best friends."
Arizona Horizon Lovey Blanket

What part of Orchardbaby Boutique are you most passionate about?
We're passionate about your little ones and all the things that keep them comfortable. We love the thought of those babies snuggled up in the blankets we made with such care. We're pretty much obsessed with cute fabric, too, so this definitely gives us an excuse to buy a lot of it!

Be sure to stop by Orchard Girls and Orchardbaby Boutique to show these girls your love!

God Bless, 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Small Business Feature: Sweet Georgia Peach Bakery

Today we have the honor of showcasing a local small business! We absolutely love the owner of Sweet Georgia Peach Bakery, Stephanie, and her family! We are so inspired by the way Stephanie juggles business life and family, all without sacrificing either! Please visit her here. She's made amazing goodies for our families and we can't wait to order from her again!

Photo Credit: Laura Ryan Photography
Where did you learn how to make such delicious treats?
"My twin sister and I were brought up by our grandparents. My Grandmother, Mildred, taught me everything I know when it comes to cooking and baking. The decorating came later, I loved baking by cake decorating was not my forte. We are a basketball loving family and I learned from Michael Jordan on this one: 'I worked on my weakness until it then became my strength'. It has been almost 9 months since Sweet Georgia Peach Bakery's inception and at this point I am confident in my decorating, but baking will always be my passion, as I feel like my Grandma is here with me every time I pull out my mixer."

Photo Credit: Laura Ryan Photography

What inspired you to start your bakery?
My greatest inspiration is definitely my Grandma, but there are many others. I believe that this is my calling, my way to give back to society, and that my Grandma is smiling down on me from heaven knowing that I am happy doing what I love. Being a military spouse, I knew that I wanted to do something that 1) wouldn't take me away from my children on a regular basis, and 2) could travel with me so that I did not have to start a job over every time I moved. Until a year ago I did not even consider that I could take my greatest passion and turn it into a career. It was then that my oldest daughter put in her 'order' for a grand cake and I learned that I could do something with the skills that I had started to develop.

Do you have a favorite cookie or cake recipe?
I use all my own recipes and I'm constantly developing new ones. I believe that my favorite recipe is my chocolate chip cookie recipe because I developed it based on a 'super secret' one that a dear friend in South Carolina gave to me. I would love to one day share a recipe, but this one will definitely remain to secret! I will, however, give y'all a few pointers to make delicious chocolate chip cookies: 1) Use both white and brown sugar, equal parts. 2) Cream the butter and sugars until extremely light and fluffy, don't worry about over doing it with beating until you add eggs and flour! And 3) you want to add more chocolate chips than you think, there should be several in every bite.

Photo Credit: Laura Ryan Photography

Photo Credit: Laura Ryan Photography
Photo Credit: Laura Ryan Photography

 What is your favorite type of event to cater to?

I love to see the faces of the little ones when they smash their cake, especially when it is captured in smash cake photo shoots. These little ones are a major reason why I love what I do. I would have to say, though, that my favorite are the donated cakes that I do. I love providing a dream cake to a child that may not otherwise get one. I love giving and although a cake seems trivial compared to other contributions, I believe that making a child feel special and loved is crucial to development of character. I also love that I can focus on baking and work on creativity (because it does not come naturally for me) without the pressure that comes along with a paid order.

Photo Credit: Laura Ryan Photography
What advice would you give others who are trying to start a business?
Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life! Cliche I know, but nothing rings more true. I believe that it is not in God's will for us to go through life being a slave to our jobs. I believe that when you find your true purpose in life you will have a joy that can't be found anywhere else. Does that mean that you will always be happy in your job? No, just take a peek into my life on Friday night when I had six cakes due on Saturday...not fun! The satisfaction that comes with a job accomplished is worth the trouble though, and I am always ready to start again for the next
Photo Credit: Laura Ryan Photography

Do not start a business in debt! Build up little by little. It may take awhile to get where you want to be, but in the off-chance that it isn't wildly successful, it will not add financial strain to your family. I have plans to open a storefront eventually, and know that debt may come with that, but until then I have a successful business that does not involve debt payments. I am happy to enjoy the fruits of my labor even at this early stage.

I also would like to add that bringing up your child will always come first! You will never look back and think, 'Wow, I wish I would have worked more.' You will most likely think that you should have spent more time enjoying your family and children. No business opportunity will compare to your family. 

God Bless, 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mommy-On-The-Go Box Swap

We recently decided to team up with the ladies over at Orchard Girls for a Mommy-On-The-Go box swap. Box swaps are a great way to discover new products. There are so many possibilities! To participate in a box swap just choose a theme (What's In The Diaper Bag, Spa Day at Home, ect.) and someone to swap with. You each choose items that you would use and send them to the other person. It was funny to see how many things we actually did differently. Kenzie and Kayla were so creative and thoughtful with their box! Check out their post here

Thanks for the help, James & June!
Let's take a look at what we got!

Travel wipes cases: These flexible cases are perfect for any diaper bag. And they hold more wipes than a traditional hard case.

Disposable bags: Hey, messes happen and sometimes throwing dirty clothes/diapers straight in a diaper bag can be an insult on your sense of smell. Seal it off with these bags!

Lip balm: When chapped lips are the last thing you need to deal with!

Gum: No one likes stinky breath!

Hand sanitizer: When soap and water just aren't handy.

Spray disinfectant: Shopping carts, restaurant high chairs, playground equipment...Let's be honest. How clean are they?

Stain remover: Kids like to share their messiness.

Tissue: Their boogers...your boogers...we all got 'em!

Small cosmetic bag: Perfect for keeping all the small items together! And it's super cute!

Reusable shopping bag: Kenzie & Kayla reminded us that this bag is perfect for items that won't fit in your diaper bag.

Snack cookies: Don't worry about sneaking a few of these for yourself. They're actually pretty good!

Emergency toy: For when the toys you keep in the diaper bag and the car just aren't cutting it.

Snack cups: These cups are great for keeping snacks contained and they're great with little ones are learning to feed themselves.

Stroller/car seat blanket: This beautiful blanket came from Orchardbaby Boutique (opening later this monthy). It's the perfect size, so so soft, and we LOVE the print! Be sure to drop by their store in just a couple of weeks to snag one for yourself!

If you have young kids, chances are you're going to need all of these items at some point. So keep everything in the glove compartment or a plastic bin in your car.

What items do you keep close by when you're on the go?

God Bless,