Wednesday, November 28, 2018

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Well friends,  it's that time of year again... the time when all of those adorable snail mail delivered Christmas cards arrive on doorstep.  And me?  I do the walk of shame every single year, from my mailbox back to our house, because I never, ever send them out.  

In all fairness, the last time I tried to get a cute "family photo" to send out in a Christmas card, Levi pulled a...well, a Levi... and the photo below is what we got.  So, instead of being sent in cards to grace all of your refrigerators, this photo just stays framed on my wall year round to keep me humble.  

But THIS year, I'm trying something a little different.  If I can't be trusted to slap on some stamps and place a sticky finger, smeared envelope in the mail (because hey, let's face it...with three kids, that's what you would be getting), I'm going paperless.

Yep, that's right... I'm hanging up my Walk of Shame Shoes and I'm partnering with Paperless Post to send out my Christmas E-Cards this year.  I really can't praise Paperless Post enough!  For any other mommas out there who just can't physically add one more "to do" to your mental "to do list" capacity... this easy Christmas card option is brilliant!

Now, I'm not going to spoil the family Christmas card in a blog post, so the below card is an example of how Paperless Post has made paperless Christmas cards (among other things!), easy and classy.  Stay tuned for our actual paperless Christmas cards coming... soon (ish).  Ha. 

Step 1You choose your layout 

Paperless post has made it easy and fun to choose your Christmas card.  Scroll through literally hundreds of ideas as shown below and pick the card that fits your style best.  

Image Credit:
Step 2- Add Your Family Photo

Once you've chosen your layout, you can add a personalized photo that reflects your family!  In the case of the sample card below, I chose a favorite photo from our Milk & Cookie Mini Sessions.  You can also choose a different text font and size it however you see fit.

Step 3: Choose your envelope style.  

Again, paperless post has made this fun!  There are hundreds of envelope styles to choose from!  I chose the classic Santa & his reindeer because I thought it fit well with the kid's Christmas pajamas.  

 Step 4: Choose your stamp
Would you believe that you can even choose a stamp style for the envelopes?  Cutest finishing touch ever!

Step 5:  Create your address book
This is the part where you get to choose all of the lovely friends and family that will be receiving your card.  It's a quick and easy process of adding in the email addresses for Great Aunt Florence and Crazy Uncle Harry.  You wouldn't want to miss them because you would be sure to hear about that oversight for Christmases to come!

Step 6: Send your card & wait for the reply

This is definitely my favorite feature of the Paperless Post Christmas cards.  The chance for friends and family to respond.  Now, I'll be honest... I've sent e-cards before.  I think sometime circa 2004 when I was first learning the ropes of social media.  But there was never the option to receive fan mail in return.  I LOVE this feature.  My Grandma can open her email, see the sweet picture of my kids and send a reply back! I can't wait to read all of the responses we receive from friends & family.

And, there you have it!  An affordable, quick and simple way to have your Christmas cards send off to friends & family in no time.  You're saving the trees too!  I must also mention that Paperless Post offers much more than just the option to send holiday cards.  One of the options I'm most excited about is the option to customize paperless stationary for your business.  I plan on taking advantage of this as I follow up with clients who have used my photography business, Brooke Leigh Photography.  Looking forward to seeing some of your Paperless Post cards come through my email inbox!  I'll be sure to respond!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween friends! I'm not usually one who posts massive amounts of photos of my family but I figured, hey... why not?  This year we attended our first costume themed Halloween Party so we decided to have a little fun.  

Mackenzie wanted to go as a veterinarian (easy enough).  Levi, who wants to do EVERYthing just like his big sister, decided to forgo his Ninja Turtle dreams and be a puppy.  To which we said, "How about an injured puppy?" (To fit with the vet theme).  He was SOLD.  

Now, you would think that a puppy costume would be pretty straightforward.  Amazon prime.  
Bada-bing Bada-boom.  Yeah.... not so much.  Amazon prime failed me this time, guys.  The day before puppy was suppose to arrive in all of it's 2 day shipping glory (let's just forget about about the small detail that I waited until Halloween week to order), I got a notice in my email letting me know that puppy was canceled.  CANCELED.

AMAZON PRIME.  I would break up with you except that I love you way too much.  On Friday, Jeremy and I drove to every Target, Walmart, Party City known to man.  And our final solution?  A kid's Star Wars Chewbaca costume from the neck down and a sad looking puppy hat.  
Oh well, you can't win them all. #momfail

Evie went as a kitty.  She didn't really have much of a choice.  I shove her chubby thighs into anything I dang please.  That's the beauty of pushing a baby out of your hoo-hah.  You get to choose their halloween costumes for the first three years.  Yes?  Her flamingo costume is already hanging in her closest for next year. #momwin

And as for our adult costumes, Jeremy went as a dog catcher and I went as a crazy cat lady.  
It was perrrrfect.  

On Sunday, we braved the 80 degree late October temps for a yearly trip to Anderson Farms.  We continued with our tradition of bribing for photos in the pumpkin patch.  We'll make the trip back again next year for another round of, "SMILE LIKE YOU MEAN IT AND YOU GET TO PICK A PUMPKIN."

This year was also the first year that I had ever heard of Trunk Or Treat.  I've clearly been hiding under a rock for the past 8 years of parenting.  Low and behold, in all of it's Pinterest glory, there are pages and pages dedicated to this idea of decorating your trunk for Halloween.  

I, in true fashion, went a bit overboard.  "Camping in The Pumpkin Patch" was the theme.  I shoved a giant tent into the back of the SUV and we passed out s'mores.  I may have been trying to make up for the failed puppy costume. 

Tonight, for Halloween, we will continue our tradition of Papa Murphy's Jack O Lantern Pizza and trick or treating for the first time in our new neighborhood.  After the kid's go to bed, we will steal all of their Halloween candy and blame it on the  Candy Fairy.  I think it's safe to say that after a week of packing in all of the traditions and festive Halloween activities, this momma needs a week long nap!  Just in time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas Season.
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why Perfect Parenting Is For The Birds

Last week I got a call from my 8-year-old daughter's elementary school principal.  The conversation went something like this:

Principal- "I'm sorry to be calling you but we uhhh...had an incident today at school.  I have M here in the office with me.  She's here because a boy in her class poured paint on her boots.  Then she ...well... she... she kicked him in the private parts."


Today, as I arrived to my son's preschool for pickup (already late I must add), his teachers asked me to step into his classroom.  My heart immediately sunk.

"We need to talk.  Is something going on at home?  We're concerned about L.  He keeps falling asleep in class.  He seems very out of it.  He can't seem to follow simple instructions without his eyes glazing over.  Is everything okay?"


In all seriousness, here's what I wanted to say:

"NO.  No. No. No.  Everything is NOT okay.  My oldest is kicking classmates in the MANLY PARTS.  My middle little has become the preschool narcoleptic.  The baby doesn't sleep at all.  But, don't worry... SHE'S not falling asleep with her face in the dog food bowl.  Which, by the way is her favorite place to be...eating the dog food, that is.

Last week while nursing the baby, I pulled a piece of scrap metal out of her mouth.  Yes, metal.  I have a laundry pile so large that it could rival one of Colorado's 14ers.  We don't even bother to fold clothes anymore.  My second grader goes to school daily with two different socks on because who even has time for matching socks???

Guys.  I don't even know anymore.  I'm frazzled.  I'm exhausted.  I look it.  I feel it.  I spend much of my nights lying in bed between feedings wondering just how many hours of therapy all of my mistakes and missteps as a parent are going to take to "fix" my kids.

Today at the playground after school, as I was wracking my brain for answers to all of life's hardest "mom questions"... it dawned on me: Never before have I needed Jesus like I do as a parent.  Never have I been so humbled and so aware of my dysfunction.  I've always been a wreck.  It's just taking these daily parenting shenanigans for me to see just how much of a wreck I truly am.

So today,  I sat plopped down on the cement sidewalk of the playground while my baby attempted to shovel handfuls of leaves and wood chips into her mouth.   As I sat there, head hanging and heart low,  I realized something.  Perfect parenting is for the birds.  I found myself waving the figurative white flag of defeat.

Or was it a flag of victory?

You see, maybe coming to this place of surrender truly is a "mom win".

No amount of hustling or striving for perfectionism as a parent is ever going to "fix" my children.  

It's not a matter of IF my kids are going to need therapy.  It's just a matter of if they will choose to go. My children are going to grow up with baggage and dysfunction and probably a bit of a trauma.

You want to know why?

Because my kids are sinners.  Because my husband and I... we are sinners.  Because we come from a very long line of sinners.  We are broken big people trying to raise broken tiny people.  

And every day that I still don't get this parenting thing "right", I get to point my kids to Jesus.  I get to ask for forgiveness.  I get to plead for grace and mercy and wisdom.  All of which are things that I probably wouldn't be asking for if I didn't have tiny humans looking at me to make all of their huge life decisions.

It is exhausting and scary and many days I feel so overwhelmed that I wonder if today is the day I end up in the psych ward of our local mental hospital.

But maybe, just maybe, this is exactly the place that the Lord desires for us to be.  Maybe, it is here in this place of humble parenting, head hanging and arms raised in total surrender of our understanding and will, that God does his holiest and best heart work.
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

These Are My Confessions

I feel like I'm about to confess to a murder.  I promise you, I'm not.  That would really make this post interesting though, wouldn't it?  In "mommy world", I sure feel like this confession puts me right up there with jailbird Martha Stewart.  Only, I haven't committed tax fraud either.

For the past 7 years on this blog I have shared DIY projects, baking debacles, elaborate holiday celebrations.  I even once shared a post with feline shaped cookies where we forced a party hat on our less-than-thrilled cat and celebrated his 1st birthday.  Poor Belmont.  May he rest in peace.

Almost every one of these posts has revolved around my children in some one form or another.  I think for the most part, I do a pretty good job of enjoying my children. I do love my children. Most days I even really like them.  I find them funny and charming.  I have three of them and I chose to have them so... that says something positive, right?

But guys, here it is... here is the honest to God truth...

I hate, loathe, despise and want to murder Summer break.  Can you murder Summer break?  Is that even a thing? 

Because I totally want to do it

I am less than 24 hours into Summer Break and I have chosen to vacation at the nearest Whole Foods. I strategically chose this spot because I can be in a setting that makes me feel "semi" more adultish, they provide new and interesting toys for my child and an abundance of coffee and overpriced cake for myself.

Yes, cake for breakfast.  This is how I self soothe.  Go ahead, judge away. 

As I type this I find myself methodically pushing a stroller with one foot, sleeping baby in tow, while plastic play food is shoved at my face every 12 seconds by my now graduated pre-schooler who wants me to pretend to eat plastic bell peppers. 

This is going to sound incredibly pathetic. But this morning I cried.

Summer break has been quickly approaching. Coming like a hurricane, swirling and whirling as it looms ominously in the sky, threatening destruction.

And I cried at this thought. 

I don't know what this says about me, guys.

I cried at the thought of 16 hour days where I am forced to answer hundreds of repetitive questions like, "Do Ninja Turtles have penises?" and "Can you make Barbie Big Boobs talk?"

The endless bickering, the whiney proclamations of, "I'm borrred..." And, quite possibly the worst...

The look.  The one where their eyes get big and wide and they stare blankly at me as if every ounce of creativity has left their little bodies.

The look they give as if to ask, "How are you going to entertain us today, mom?" 

It's like the look of death

When Mackenzie started Kindergarten several years ago I discovered something.  I am a better mom when she is in school.  And now, I've discovered it yet again. I am a better mom when BOTH of my kids are in school. And I have zero ounces of shame in admitting this.  Zero.  I like my kids better when someone else is caring for them.

I get a chance to miss them.  When they come around again, I'm actually excited to see their squishy faces.  I hug them, I slobber kisses all over them and I realize -- wow, I generally like these kids again!

But Summer Break, you destroy all notions of me missing my children.  You stick me in a tiny, humid house and make me want to hide in a closet with allll the Sangria, while my tiny humans parent the heck out of themselves. 

Ohhh, that thought alone almost, AMOST makes me smile.

Today is officially Day 1.  And I feel like the first step to recovering from Summer Breakitis is to admit that I have a problem. 

So here I sit, foot officially numb from the back and forth of the stroller, confessing to you my dirty secret. 

My preschooler just shoved a pear at my eye and said, "Mom!  You wanna look inside of it?!?" 


No, Levi.  I actually do not want to look inside of the plastic pear. 

But I'm a mom.  I'm a good mom.  So that's what I'll do.  I look inside of the plastic pear and pretend to be remotely interested. 

And that's what I'm going to do the rest of the whole dang Summer.  I'm going to pretend I'm remotely interested. 

I'm going to don my mom bathing suit and suck in my postpartum jiggly belly while I chase my kids around swimming pools and splash pads.

I'm going to serve popsicles loaded with sugar and red food coloring (or is it green?) and then watch as they bounce like hooligans off the walls of my home and get their sticky hands on my furniture.

I will plaster on a giant smile.  I might even adjust my attitude sometime around mid July after the fireworks have been lit and the garden veggies have started to sprout. 

You might even see photos of me enjoying summer break with my three tiny humans, eating the popsicles with them and traipsing around Colorado together.

But please know... when August 23rd rolls around and it's time to start spending exorbitant amounts of money on school supplies and tacky backpacks...

I, my friends, will be in my happy place.
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Sunday, May 14, 2017

The World Spins Madly On

One of my favorite authors Mandy Arioto once said, "Words have heart beats". Isn't it so true that often in life, a song, a poem or a line from a book can just reach out and shake us to the core? Often times we think incredulously, "Why didn't I write that?"

Each Mother's Day and on hard days when I'm thinking of the babies we will never meet this side of heaven, I turn on the song "World Spins Madly On" by the Weepies. I take some time alone and I allow myself to grieve what has been lost.

For those of us who have healthy living babies, rainbow babies and hope babies, there are still parts of the heart that ache.

A momma never forgets.

"I let the day go by, I always say goodbye.

I watch the stars from my window sill, the whole world is moving and I'm still standing still.

I thought of you and where you'd gone and the world spins madly on."

"The world spins madly on."

This is how I felt in the days after our losses when grief was most intense. It's how I felt month after month while trying to conceive again. It's how I feel now in moments when I wonder what my babies would have looked like, when their due dates pass or when I think about the birthdays they should be celebrating.

The hardest part of grieving for me was to know that life was moving on around me while I just couldn't seem to move. Friends and family members naturally heal, they keep walking forward and many forget. And truly, that's okay.

But for the momma who has experienced the loss of a pregnancy or a child, the world really just seems to stop in it's tracks. Grief can feel so paralyzing.

So today sweet momma, if this is you, I hope you let yourself remember. I hope you'll turn on the song that gets the tears flowing and allows you to grieve.

Let your grief be holy. Let it be an act of worship to the one who created your little one. He does nothing whimsically. He has not forgotten.

The world may be spinning madly on around you, but on this day, on Mother's Day, for a moment, for an hour or for many, just let the world stand still.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Reindeer Pajamas & Giant Lattes

I’m sitting here, hiding.  I’m in my husband’s reindeer Christmas pajama pants and a Grande Starbucks Vanilla Latte in my hands.  I woke up to kitchen counters piled high with yesterday’s dishes and a dining room still in-swept and un-mopped.  My daughter’s school projects invading the space of our kitchen table. 

I pick up my phone as I am wading through all of the early morning mess.  A text message lights up my phone, signifying that it has come through sometime during the night from a friend.

“Perhaps Jesus will return tonight. Gooood Laaaawd.  We have walked and bounced and driven and rocked and swayed and begged.  Four hours and counting.”

I read these words and sleepily shuffled my way back through the kitchen.  My eyes, once again scanning yesterday’s chaos.

And suddenly, it all just seems to be too much. 

In that moment, tears well up in my eyes.  My throat tightens and I begin to feel an almost frantic sense coming over me.  I need air. A space to breathe and think.  I grab my keys and sneak out the front door to my car.  The six o’clock morning sun is just beginning to rise east of the Denver skyline.  I begin to drive.

In my head, I am justifying my eclectic choice of clothing.

“What if you get pulled over, Brittany?  What if, God Forbid, you have to get out of the car?  You are wearing a baggy t-shirt, no bra and your husband’s red flannel Christmas pajamas.  With reindeer on them for heaven’s sake.  What if someone sees you?"

“Who are you kidding?  No one sees you.”

And there it is.  That sneaky little lie that I’ve been working so hard to fight against. 

No one sees you. 

No one sees you as you are packing lunches and taking care to make sure all the food groups are represented.

No one sees you as you are digging through that giant pile of socks, searching for the lost prodigal.  

No one sees you as you are on your knees scrubbing filth and the smell of urine from around the toilet from your potty training little man.    

No one sees you as are rocking your feverish, inconsolable babe at 3 a.m.

No one sees you while you are on the phone making dentist appointments and negotiating medical bills. 

No one sees as you are signing kids up for summer camp.

Buying flowers for teacher appreciation week.

Scouring the internet for the best prices on vitamins.

Cutting up veggies for dinner (that no one will likely eat).

Stripping bedsheets to be washed.

Feeding the bunnies. (Yes, we have three and I still don’t know why).

Boiling the family toothbrushes.

            Ransacking the home for the lost toy that caused the morning’s preschooler meltdown…

No one sees me holed up in my car, in an empty parking lot wearing goofy pajamas and inhaling coffee like an addict.

I’m sure you could add your own “No one sees me…” to this long list.  Am I right?

This bold faced lie.  It’s been one I’ve been challenging for some time now.  If I could stand face to face with Satan, I would spit in his face.  Because this lie is one that is pervading the hearts of women everywhere and he’s so darn proud of himself. 

This lie is what paralyzes us.  It makes us feel less than. 
While our husbands are out making an income (seemingly doing something more important), we spend our days negotiating with tiny humans over whether they should wear pants into the grocery store.  Yes, I have actually had this argument with my preschooler. 
But, I digress...

The truth is, this lie against our identity didn’t just start the second the lines on the stick turned pink.  This lie that tells us we aren’t seen, heard or really known isn’t actually a lie just for mommas.  It is a lie for all of humanity.

It started as a whisper when you were a child.  And the lie continued to grow.  You began to hide your flaws and shame while learning to overcompensate through perfectionism.  Now, even as an adult, this lie crosses the sacred boundaries of marriage, families and friendships. 

I single out mommas, because I believe that often times, it is motherhood that shines the light on the lies we’ve been believing our whole lives.  At least that is what it has done for me.

It is through our children that we often realize the inconsistencies and the healing that must take place for us to return to the whole and unbroken identity that God truly desires for us to find in Him.  We look at our children and we see a wholeness and a purity that hasn’t been marred yet.    

And then we bravely begin to dream that we can believe this truth for ourselves.

What is this truth?  God sees. 
It's so simple and yet so incredibly complicated.  Because God sees.  But we don't believe it.
If you want proof, go open your Bible to Genesis 16.  You'll read of Hagar who was Abram and Sarai's slave girl.  She has been essentially forced into an affair so that Sarai can finally have a child.  She's been abused for years.  To all who know her, Hagar's life is worthless and insignificant.  So she runs away and finds herself lost and desperate in the middle of a desert.  Then, the miracle happens.  When all looks hopeless and desolate, God shows up.  He meets her in the desert at a well of water and it is here that Hagar does something unprecedented. 
It is the only place in the Bible that anyone ever gives God a name. 

She names Him, "El Roi, the God who sees me."

Hagar, a lowly, Egyptian slave girl who is pregnant and essentially homeless, has the audacity to name the God of the Universe and to claim that He sees her. 

The first time I heard this story, I sobbed uncontrollably-- one of those embarrassing ugly cries that you really and truly do wish that no one else sees.  How is it possible that as a 30-year-old, I had never been told that God sees me? 

This same God who met Hagar in her most broken state, loves me in all of my shame and brokenness. 

He loves the little girl parts of Brittany that still hide behind insecurity.  He loves momma Brittany who hides in her pantry and devours chocolate and wine on the hardest days of parenting. 

And so, sweet friends, if you are still reading this post...

I want to share with you something that has been on my heart for the past year.  It's not something I have shared with many because sometimes I can still hardly believe it myself. 
I am writing a book.  I am writing a book!
And, I'm finally feeling brave enough to share this news with you.
The book is called "Seen" and it is about all of the truths God has been revealing about my identity since becoming a momma.  
"Seen" is based off of the passage from Genesis 16 and Hagar's story but it will delve into how God desires for each of us to recognize that we  are seen in more specific areas like our childhoods, friendships, marriages, motherhood and grief. 
Friends, I am so incredibly excited to share this news with you.  It's been something I've been keeping (mostly) to myself for the past year and I believe it's finally time for me to start sharing pieces of my story. 
This book began one day last year, while sitting in an empty parking lot, wearing my husband's reindeer Christmas pajamas.  And now, I'm finally ready to share some of the healing God has been doing in my life. 
I am daring to believe that He has healing in store for you too! I hope you will join me on this journey of learning to believe that you are know, loved and truly seen.
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

And Then There Were Five

Our precious girl is here! arriving February 1st at 40 weeks and 4 days! Yes, I know that this news is a bit late but we've been busy with lots of newborn snuggles and trying to figure out this whole crazy life with three kids thing.  And yes... it HAS been a bit crazy. 

One of the things I love about birth is how unique each baby's birth story is. 

Our oldest Mackenzie was a scheduled C-section at 39 weeks because she was our "upside down" baby. 

Levi was born 2 weeks late and after 54 hours of labor. 

And, sweet miss Evie was born after 9 hours of labor and boy did she give us quite the scare towards the end. 

The last hour of labor her heart rate plummeted out of nowhere.  Just as I thought I was about to get a reprieve from some intense contractions & a nap, multiple nurses flew into our room placing oxygen on me, a fetal heart rate monitor was inserted and put on Evie's head and a newborn warming cart was rolled quickly into our delivery room.  Evie came fast after just three pushes! 

At 7 lbs 9 oz and a cute little blonde mullet just like her big sister was born with, Evelyn was named to honor great, great grandma Evelyn Carlson. 

At 8 weeks old now, Evie has been my quickest baby to master breastfeeding and she's sleeping like a champ with most nights giving us 5-7 hr stretches of sleep. 

{If blogging had emojis, here's where I would insert the praise hands!}

Evie is truly the most darling baby.  She is already giving us the biggest smiles.  She loves to snuggle and would be content sleeping on my chest all day and all night if I let her... & I do try to let her as much as possible.  These days are flying way too fast and I'm just not ready to let this sweet girl grow up too soon! 

Here's a peek at our lifestyle newborn photography session with Chesney Louie photography -- taken when Evie was 10 days old. Friends, if you are in the Denver area I just can't praise Chesney enough!  She is a friend from the second you meet her and my goodness she has such a gift!

Thank you Chesney for capturing these moments for our family! What a gift!
To read more about Evie's story, head on over to I Am Fruitful!
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