Planning multigenerational family photos

20 October 2016

For my baby shower, my friend Nancy graciously gifted me a photo session. It’s hard to think of a more generous or lovely offer, and I’m so grateful! Since we had wonderful Graham already taking newborn photos, I opted to save Nancy’s session for a few months, since I knew June would grow so much so quickly.

As we emailed back and forth trying to find a date this fall, Nancy suggested the weekend in November when June will be baptized. Both sets of our parents will be visiting then, and my first thought was, ooh, that would be too crazy. My second thought? How could we pass up that opportunity?? I asked Nancy what she thought and she gave it the thumbs up, so it’s on! I’ve been collecting inspiration for multigenerational family photos and thought I’d share some here, if you’d like to see.


Out of all the ones I’ve collected, the photo above is what’s inspiring me most. Back when my Mom was a teenager, an aspiring photographer asked to take some test shots of her extended family, and the photo above is my favorite from the session (she’s in the bottom right!). I love the casual, warm, lived-in style, and it’s what we’re hoping to emulate next month! Here are a few others I’m loving, for the photos with grandparents as well as the ones with just our family of three:

family photos

Jonathan Canlas

family photos

Elizabeth Clark via 100 Layer Cake

family photos

Jonathan Canlas (left), Jill Thomas (right)


Elizabeth Clark via 100 Layer Cake


Jen Huang (left), Elizabeth Clark (right)


via Buzzfeed


Lacie Hansen via 100 Layer Cakelet


Maple + Elm Photography via 100 Layer Cakelet


This Modern Romance via 100 Layer Cakelet


Jill Thomas


Anna Routh




Jill Thomas


Tanja Lippert


Jill Thomas

Now to decide on our outfits… and hopefully reserve Sam again for makeup!!

P.S. Planning our newborn session

Calligraphy vows prints in our master bedroom

17 October 2016

No one would ever accuse me of being the hare in the home decorating race. We take it slow around here, by choice and by necessity, and that’s okay. In the last year, we have made a lot of progress – new art over the mantel, new dining room chairs, a new rug in the living room, a nursery! – but there’s one room that always seems to fall lowest on the list of priorities: our master bedroom.

After upgrading to an (amazingly comfortable!!) king mattress a few years ago and buying sheets to fit it, we pretty much called it a day in our room. (I largely skipped over it in last year’s house tour.) But recently, it was decided that we needed to shoot something for work in – you guessed it! — our bedroom, and though I was a bit panicked at first, I’m so glad I finally had the kick in the pants to make some improvements!


For the project, we hung two large (16×20) prints of our wedding vows over our bed. Simply Jessica Marie did the watercoloring, and I absolutely LOVE how they came out! The softness of the technique means that the pieces read more as art and less as bold typography, which I think is appropriate — they are, after all, some of the tenderest and most personal words we’ve ever spoken. The prints were framed by Framebridge, and you can get a discount code in the Southern Weddings post!

calligraphy wedding vows

To spruce up our shooting angle, I first added three velvet Euro pillows from Pottery Barn. (I hate to say it doesn’t look like they have our indigo color online anymore – but you might be able to try in store?) The total for the three pillow covers and feather fills was $150. Not cheap, but they are a far less expensive way to add definition than a $1,000+ wooden headboard! (I’m still hoping to get that bed eventually, but it will probably have to wait a few more years!)


The gold lumbar pillow is from Anthropologie. (The bedroom in this home tour helped me visualize the mix of pillows I wanted.)


I also added two brass task lamps from Target (on sale right now!). A little light styling and one adorable tuxedo cat later, and we were in business.


I think the best home decor improvements change how you live in your space for the better, and these, though simple, definitely fall in that category. We make our bed every day now, since it looks so nice all done up, and it’s way more comfortable to read in bed at night! (Plus, June loves climbing all over the pillows.) For years I felt like I had to wait for that dream bed to make any improvements in here, but I’m so glad I finally took the first step!!

All photos by the wonderful Callie of Nancy Ray Photography!

How to slow down time, part two

13 October 2016

If you read my first post about time and thought, “I’d really like to feel time isn’t flying by, but unfortunately I do,” then this post is for you! In addition to injecting novelty into my life, there are a few other habits and behaviors that have helped me feel less busy and less helpless about the passing of time. I came across an article while researching this topic that perfectly put into words several of them, so I’m going to rely on it to help me explain — but definitely read the whole thing for yourself, too!

how to slow down time

Flip the script. Try your darndest not to reply with “busy, but good” when people ask how you’ve been. (Instead, get specific and tell them about something you have going on!) Words have power, and can become self-fulfilling prophecies. If you’re constantly saying you’re busy (out loud, or, equally importantly, in your own head), of course you’re going to feel busy! From the article: “We can choose how we think about our time. Talking about how crazed and busy we feel can reinforce the feeling that time is scarce, but to what end? Says Duenckel: ‘Everyone is stressed. Everyone is busy, and there is no point competing because that is silly, and we never really gain anything anyway.'”

Determine your priorities. When I feel overwhelmed and like I don’t have enough time, I try to stop, get out a piece of paper, and write down all the to dos that are swimming in my mind. Even that initial step is helpful, because I eventually get to the end of the list and realize it’s not endless, even if it feels that way! :) Then, I look through the whole list and star the things that actually have to get done THAT day or THAT evening, and just start plowing through them. Knowing that there are only a few things that HAVE to get done seems more doable and gives me the confidence to get started, and the focus and determination I gain as I check things off means I usually have enough momentum to check off even a few “extras,” too.

Start from abundance. From the article: “Learn to embrace a paradox: Time is precious and plentiful. To have as much time as you need for the things you want, you need to be ruthless about not filling time with things you don’t care about.” YES! So true, but so difficult sometimes. It’s a lot easier to scroll through Instagram or watch TV (because those things are habits or easily accessible) than pull out a book, work on a project, call a friend, or take a bath. So often, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we have the time — we just don’t use it well. This is probably the habit I struggle with the most, and one reason why I love camping. Again, from the article: “If you want to feel like you have all the time in the world, try not turning on the TV, phone, or computer some night. See how slowly the time passes if you just go outside to stare at the stars.” SO TRUE.

A final thought, and then we’ll move on to another topic for now :) Sarah asked on my first post whether I had any good responses to the “time is flying” comments. My favorite is the most honest: “Actually, I don’t really feel like time is flying – the pace has felt really nice to me recently!” This usually takes the questioner back a bit, and leads to a more interesting conversation than we might have had if we had just stayed on the surface of the routine back-and-forth.

I’d love to hear if y’all use any of these strategies, or if you have a different one that works for you!!

Rituals, traditions, and the perception of time

10 October 2016

Thanks for all of your thoughts last week, friends! I always love hearing when a post resonates with you.

Something I bumped up against when I started to think about purposefully injecting novelty into my life was how to handle rituals and traditions. If you’re like me, you think a lot about them. It seems like my friends, my family members, and really, my whole generation, is hyper-focused on creating meaningful celebrations, meaningful holidays, meaningful Saturday mornings, meaningful bedtimes, meaningful birthdays, meaningful first days of school, etc., etc., etc. We want our lives to be meaningful and purposeful and joyful and memorable, and one of the best ways we’ve found to do this is through creating and upholding rituals and traditions.

And from what I’ve heard and seen and experienced, kids love this! They love boundaries and knowing what to expect and festivities of all stripes and eagerly anticipating things. (Ahem, Christmas.)


But, even good things like traditions can be taken to an extreme. It’s not that traditions or rituals are bad (most definitely not!), it’s just that I think a maxim I adhere to throughout my life is appropriate here, too: everything in moderation. Instead of worrying that my family hasn’t established a special meal for Halloween night or bought the birthday banner that will reappear with every trip around the sun, I want to embrace the fun of thinking up new ways to celebrate! I never want to lose the margin for new holiday activities, new after-school snacks, and new Easter dinners that we haven’t yet dreamed up.

One example we wrestle with: vacations. Here’s how it goes: A non-negotiable for me is going to Maine every summer. Absolutely has-to-happen, can’t-miss, no way, no how. Got it. We’ve also grown to love going to Asheville in the fall. Okay, we can make that work. Our trip to Bald Head Island over Memorial Day was amazing – we should make that a tradition, too! Okayyy, we can maybe do that. Isn’t Charleston in the spring magical? We’re within driving distance, so let’s do that every year!

Charleston-Bald Head Island-Maine-Asheville would be an amazing year of vacations, and I wouldn’t complain about it! But if we actually wanted to do those four trips every single year, we’d have very few vacation days (and dollars!) to do anything else. Over a lifetime, we’d miss out on so many other amazing destinations!

To bring it back to the perception of time we’ve been talking about: If your entire day, week, and year is already assembled for you from blocks of tradition before you even flip the page on the calendar, might your brain respond the same way it does when it meets with any boring stimuli? Shut off, say “nothing to see here?” In the pursuit of meaningful lives, I don’t want us (and by us, I really mean me) to lose the joy and importance of spontaneity. I don’t want every year to feel like a repeat of the one before, and therefore glide by almost unnoticed.

Tradition and rituals satisfy a deep craving for me, and I’m guessing for you, too. But I think it’s worth trying to strike a balance between margin for novelty and tradition, and at the same time, take the pressure off all of us to make every single moment special and meaningful. Because in the end, I think what really makes life meaningful is the people with whom we spend it, no matter what we’re doing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, friends! Have you ever wrestled with this? Does your life lean more heavily toward tradition or novelty?

How to slow down time, part one

6 October 2016

Since having a baby, there’s a conversation people love to have with me, and it goes something like this: Wow, isn’t time flying by? How is she so big? Where has the time gone?! Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday that she was born? Soon she’ll be one!

I’m sure even if you haven’t recently had a baby you regularly have a version of this conversation, so you’ll know that the socially-acceptable response is: Yes! I know! Time IS flying by! It seems like the last few months have gone by in the blink of an eye! Can you believe it’s already October?

Two years ago, however, I declared a moratorium on this kind of talk, and I’ve stuck to it ever since. I purposefully try not to let the passing of time be a topic of conversation, especially in reference to its speed. I just refuse to let that be the way I see my life.


It’s more than that, though. It’s not just that I refuse to admit that time is whizzing by; it’s that I really don’t feel like it is. January 7 feels just about exactly as far away as it should at this point, no more, no less. And the trick to that, I think, is something I learned from a very random Art of Manliness article I somehow stumbled on a few years ago. The article is absolutely worth reading in full, but here were my biggest a-has:

Number one: Because our perception of time is intricately tied up with our emotions and memories, our minds filter the info before presenting it to us. When confronted with a scary or novel experience, our brains go into overdrive, recording much more detail than normal. Because the brain lays down such rich, dense memories of those moments, when we later look back on the experience, there’s a lot more “footage” than normal to run through, making the experience seem like it lasted longer than it actually did. On the other hand, when the brain encounters something familiar over and over, it doesn’t have to expend as much time and energy recognizing or recording it.


Number two: There are two types of time perception: prospective and retrospective. Prospective time occurs when you’re in the moment. When you’re busy and a lot is happening, it seems like time is going by quickly. If you’re in a boring meeting, however, you have nothing else to do besides watch the minutes tick by, which makes time seem to slow way down. Retrospective time is how you think on these episodes after the fact. If you’ve been doing something boring, your brain won’t have recorded much “footage,” so it will seem like a quick episode – nothingness – in your memory. If you look back on that boring meeting, it barely registers as a happening in your brain. But when you reflect on a novel experience, your mind has plenty of detailed footage for you to peruse.

Based on this info, one of the best ways to slow down time, and the one I feel has had the biggest effect on my year, is to inject novelty into every day. I have a baby who’s always growing and learning and trying new things, so change hasn’t been hard to come by for the last few months! Being present and experiencing everything alongside her has made time seem to stretch out in the most wonderful way. But I’ve noticed that even little things, like taking a different route on our evening walk, eating dinner on the front porch instead of inside, or doing a crossword puzzle instead of scrolling the internet at night also stretch out my perception of time. Same with going out to a new restaurant on Friday night instead of watching TV on the sofa – the weekend seems so much longer!!


It’s not an overstatement to say that these realizations and small adjustments have changed my life (and my perception of my life!), so I hope they’re equally enlightening to y’all!

Rituals, traditions, and the perception of time
How to slow down time, part two