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    Golden Hour

    Three kids into this parenting business, and I have learned a couple things. Never have great expectations for taking photos during the newborn weeks. The baby will be fine, but the other kids will be anything but cooperative for photos as they deal with their new sibling angst. Those pictures will not be shared.

    However… a few months later everyone will bounce back, you’ll carefully align naps and feedings and sugar bribes, motivate your husband to smile (“genuinely!” you beg) for half an hour, and pray for the best as the sun drops in the sky.

    And sometimes your prayers are answered as your toddler and preschooler twirl in the golden rays, the baby is calm, everyone smiles, and you catch your breath as you realize how beautiful the scenery is right in your very own neighborhood.

    Thanks, God.

    *All photos by Abby Sue Photography.

    Photo credit: Abby Sue Photography. If you are local to Orange County, Abby is a gem!


    Sandy Feet

    Last spring, Micah’s sweet cousin, Ciara, came to visit us while we lived at the beach. Ciara is a talented photographer, so while she spent the week with us, she snapped the most amazing pictures of our kids. I love having these beautiful candids of life by the ocean, and I can’t believe we didn’t have to pay a penny for them. Thanks, C!

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    Best meals for postpartum moms

    If having three babies in three and a half years taught me one thing, it’s what makes up the perfect meal for a postpartum mamas…

    These are my rules:

    • Must include protein.
    • Can’t be lasagna or penne (because someone else already brought them that).
    • Always include dessert.

    I can still vividly remember certain meals people brought us way back when Zianne was born, such as tri-tip with homemade bread (what?!) or pulled beef sandwiches with an amazing homemade cake for dessert.

    I also remember when one of my best friends (who lived in a different state) told us to pick takeout from anywhere we wanted near Micah’s work. It was a weeknight, she would call in our order, pay over the phone, and Micah could pick it up on his way home. This was genius and taught me I don’t have to be local in order to gift my friends a meal.

    I also remember one time when Talitha was two or three months old. We were talking to some friends at church and they were like, “Hey! We never got to bring you a meal. You’re probably still tired and really sick of casseroles. Pick your favorite Thai place around your house, and we’ll drop it off to you around 5pm tonight.” Amazing!

    These acts of kindness taught me to think outside the box on meals. You can order a meal even if you live far away. Don’t skip the opportunity even if you didn’t get on the initial meal list. Often three month old babies are harder than newborns, and a family might appreciate the help of a prepared meal a few months later. And don’t forget mothers who just experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth. Few people want to cook when they are going through such grief. Even ordering a Panera dinner they can pick up one night might be a tremendous blessing to them.

    Here are some of my favorite meals to bring (or receive):

    • Breakfast for dinner is always a hit… a coffee cake, an egg dish, and a container of berries make a complete meal.
    • A great piece of meat like a tri-tip or a roast.
    • I never get mad about a pan full of enchiladas or burritos (but do check with them and make sure they didn’t just eat Mexican)…
    • I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like this gnocchi soup
    • Meatball subs are super easy, full of protein, and a nice change from pasta meals…
    • Pizza or Thai takeout from a local favorite restaurant…

    Other things I like to include:

    • A salad or some kind of veggie. Trader Joe’s bagged salad kits are easy and delicious.
    • A fun beverage. The Italian sodas from Trader Joe’s are great as well.
    • If they have other young children, I’ll toss something in for them. For example, if I make burritos, I’ll pre-make some cheese quesadillas that can be reheated or add a kid-pleasing side such as applesauce pouches.
    • Dessert. Always, dessert. (These are my favorite cookies currently, but even a tub of ice cream will do.)
    • Think about breakfast too. I try to include some oatmeal muffins to eat the next day. A little extra protein for nursing moms!

    There you have it. Some ideas from a mom who has received a LOT of meals over the past few years (thank you, friends). Now when I prepare a meal for a mom, I always try to love my neighbor as I love myself… and I always want dessert!