Sunshine and Lemonade, Birthday Party Invitation and Party Photos

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sunshine and lemonade birthday party invitation processIf I haven’t said it a thousand times already, Jess and I make a great team! So when she came to me with the idea of a vintage summer birthday party for her son’s second birthday, back in probably November haha, I had many months to get excited to get started on the project. This time, she left it fully in my hands on what to do. She just gave me a photo of a lemonade stand that she wanted to make and then said go. I thought about it for a month or two—seriously, she always gives me plenty of time—and came up with using watercolor as a way of coloring in the invitation. And since her colors started as being yellow, gray and white, I thought a simple line art illustration would work perfectly.

sunshine and lemonade birthday party watercolor invitation processJust to show Jess the layout I wanted to go with, I sketched out a rough idea. Once she saw it, she suggested adding the pendant banners. Love! And then we also decided to add the blue and green to add some more color and make it more kid like. It was for a 2 year old’s birthday party after all.

I then traced the photo she had given me of the lemonade stand, added a kid’s big wheel bike and voila! The invite was almost done.

Then came the fun part… I first tested water coloring straight on the invitation. We ended up not going that route for two reasons: 1. who has time to paint each invitation? and 2. the paper just got too warped from the water.

So instead, I painted on a blank page with the general idea of what I needed. I then scanned that in and added it the drawing. I really am happy with doing that, it allowed us to have the lemonade stand wood in solid white rather than having the green grass show through.

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But to still give it that tactile feel, we printed all the invites on watercolor paper from our home printer.

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Then my part was pretty much done. Except for a few more graphics for the party, the rest was up to Jess’ magical party planning hands (see her Pinterest board here).

It’s always fun to hear about all the planning that goes into such an event and then get to just show up and see it all brought to life!

I took a few hundred photos of the party… the day couldn’t have been more perfect for a sunshine filled party celebrating little Grayson! Hope you enjoy…

And thanks Jess for sharing some of your photos with me too… hers are marked below. Read her post on the party here, and then invitation here.

Since this was a lemonade party, the focal point of the decorations was this amazing lemonade stand that Jess and her hubby Scott made!

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Then Jess took a few old bicycle tires, found at a garage sale, spray painted them white and adding dozens of photos of G through the years. Such a cute idea!

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Then she had the treat table…

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Along with the “guest book,” a sun I designed based off the invitation that was filled with fingerprints of all the guests (like last year’s caterpillar!).

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And then of course, a party couldn’t be complete with cake!

Grayson seriously makes the sweetest faces! Here’s just a few as he was so adorably admiring his cake…

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And any good 2 year old’s party includes lots of kiddos running around… so let’s end this post on the cutest of notes!

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You remember baby Parker?

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Grayson had the sweetest reactions to his presents… especially his new Toy Story pajamas.

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Little Grayson,

Hope you know how much you are loved… how much you have been prayed for. I love your sweet demeanor, those sparkly eyes, and your flirty show-off side… may you never lose that sparkle and precious little smile that shows us all that dear heart of yours.

Love, Auntie Sam

Loving Life thru My Lens

This past week was just so fun… from Disneyland trips to the birthday celebrations over the weekend… I spent a lot of time behind my camera capturing the moments. I feel so incredible blessed to call these people friends who are really more like family.

I just wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from this last week, just a glimpse of the joy I saw thru my lens.

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Molly’s first trip to Disneyland.

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Just the cutest little profile of an almost 2 year old on a break from playing with the ducks.

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Eli runs home at his weekly baseball game.

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Trying to capture all my last moments [for awhile]  of the Happiest Place on Earth.

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Amelia’s happy grin in her mama’s arms.

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Eli’s first pinata experience.

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And a dad’s extreme joy and getting to pull the pinata out of reach. 🙂

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How cute are two 2-year olds!? I mean really, is there anything cuter??

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And then spa splashing fun!

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Eli’s fun with his new bubble machine from Auntie Yoyo.

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Hudson’s backward binoculars experience.

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The big boys playing ball games.

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And to end the weekend, our new two year old Owen being so happily embarrassed during his happy birthday song.

Hope you enjoyed loving life thru my lens!

13 Ways to Make Each Trip to Disneyland Memorable

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In Southern California, it seems like everyone—at one time or another—has had a Disneyland annual pass. And I have had a Disneyland pass for a solid 9 years now. But the plan right now, is when my pass expires in May, to not renew it. We just aren’t able to go nearly as often as we used to… And as my time at the Happiest on Earth comes to a halt pause, I’ve been reminiscing like crazy of this place that I love so much. And as I’ve been looking through 10 years worth of Disneyland trips I’m reminded of a question I get asked all the time is…

How do I keep going without getting bored?

And to answer this age old question, I’ve written up a list of ideas for you that can truly enrich your Disneyland experience. And please pardon me as I get sappy and sentimental with a post full of photos from the past. 🙂

1. Rainy Days

Go on a rainy day. This is one of my favorite “secret” tips. It’s a widely known fact that the residents of southern California are ever fearful of water falling from the sky and scatter at the first raindrop—making these days the best Disneyland days. No lines, no crowds, no heat… just a few raindrops and breaking records on quantity of rides! Better yet, go on all the water rides, especially Splash Mountain and River Rapids, more than likely you won’t have to wait in any lines. And if you really don’t want to get totally soaked, stop by the store on the way for some $1 ponchos!

Rachel and Me before Grizzly Rapids, 2010

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2. Monorail Ride

Start your day off right with a ride into the park in style, up front with the Monorail conductor.

Riding up front with Joyce, 2006

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3. Dress Up!

Disneyland has a few unofficial dress up days like last weekend’s Dapper Day, but one of my favorites was when my girlfriends and I dressed in matching shirts with our favorite Disney characters for my bachelorette party.

Bachelorette party, 2007

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4. Iconic but Unique Photos

Speaking of photos in front of the castle… Whenever you go to Disneyland, you pretty much have to take a picture right smack in front of the castle. But now that that spot’s practically a mob scene, I would totally recommend branching off to the sides of the castle to get your favorite family photo. Plus, your family moment will be much more intimate than fighting for space in front of the castle.

Rachel’s Disneyland maternity photos, 2013 (link)

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5. Holi-Days

Enjoy the different seasons. From Halloween to Christmas. Not only is the parked decked out in its finest, but there’s extra shows to see and ride overlays to experience. My favorite Christmas time show is the Candlelight Processional—my favorite—usually held the first weekend of December. And of course starting in the fall, Haunted Mansion turns into Jack Skellington’s stomping grounds until the new year. As well as Small World decking the halls with bells of holly.

Candlelight Processional, 2009

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6. Take the Train

Take the train all around the park. Ask to sit up by the engineer (2 people max) or better yet, get there early enough to reserve a trip in the Lilly Belle—the parlor car decorate by Lillian Disney herself—and the caboose to the C.K. Holiday train.

Lilly Belle ride, 2008

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7. Scavenger Hunt

Go on a scavenger hunt. Find Hidden Mickeys (great Hidden Mickey book here) or use the Wishing Stars app.

Joey finds a Hidden Mickey on Mulholland Madness, 2006

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8. Show Time

Don’t go on any rides, just enjoy the shows. From the 3D shows to the parades to stage productions like Aladdin, just spending the day at shows can really take up the whole day. And a great way to enjoy the parks in the summer, away from the crowds and in the air conditioning! My favorite 3D show is Muppet Vision in California Adventure. But of course my all time favorite show would be the Fantasmic production on the Rivers of America. Favorite by far!

The Ryan family before It’s Tough to Be A Bug, 2014

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9. Ride Photo Poses

Diversify your “ride photos” with different poses and reactions. The sleepers always crack me up.

Korey, Kory, Lauren, Ashley, Gaby, and me on Space Mountain, 2008

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10. Birthday Celebrations!

I love celebrating birthdays at Disneyland. Wearing your birthday pin always gains the affections of all the cast members and ensures that your day will be a happy one.

Rachel’s first trip to Disneyland, 2009

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11. Free Snack Food

Take advantage of the only free stuff Disney offers: Ghiradelli chocolates and sourdough bread in California Adventure’s Pacific Wharf. Actually, this isn’t really a way to mix up your trips, but something to enjoy every trip. (RIP Tortilla Factory 🙁 )

First trip to Ghiradelli’s Chocolate Shop, 2012

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Fine Dining

Speaking of food, another fun way to make a few trips feel extra special is to dine in at the nicer restaurants the park offers. Whether its Blue Bayou, the restaurant within the Pirates of the Caribbean… or its neighbor: Club 33.

Andy and I have dined at Blue Bayou quite a few times, usually celebrating our anniversaries or during our honeymoon. Here’s a photo from our one year “dating anniversary,” 2006.

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And I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since our first ever experience at Club 33. Read more on that trip here, and a full photo tour here.

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Friends & Family

By far, the best way to diversify your trips to Disneyland is to go with different groups—from friends to family. I can’t tell you how many friendships were formed within these park gates… But specifically, go with different ages. From usually going with adults the first half of having a pass… it’s such a different experience (obviously haha) going with kids. You see the park in a whole new eye opening, jaw dropped-in-awe experience. This may seem oh-so-very obvious to most… but it’s only been in the last 5 years that I started going with kids (thanks Eli!). And for this Disney-fanatic, I love sharing the joy and wonder in the parks with these little kiddos. I think my heart grows in size every single trip.

Eli watching the Pixar Play Parade, 2010

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Okay, I need to stop this post now even though I can go on and on… plus I’ve made myself cry like 6 times just writing it and going through all these old photos.

For a few more ideas check out these posts on Mice Chat

Do you have any special Disneyland adventures to share? Comment below! I only have a few trips left and I want to get it all in!

Photo A Day, October—Week 4

The big wedding day is finally here… today is full of pedis, manis, luncheons, and rehearsing… all in preparation for the “I Do’s” tomorrow afternoon. I. Can. Not. Wait.

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24/dark, 26/depth of field, 27/peaceful, 28/just for you, 29/hair, 30/wet, 31/treat

And since I wasn’t planning on blogging these photos, I just had to share a close up of this one from the above’s “peaceful” photo… as these little boys have stolen my heart. Love them so…

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And since it’s now November… join me and follow Fat Mum Slim’s blog for the Photo A Day prompts, join us for the month of November!

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Another Year of Babies, Brides, and BBQ (September & October)

I can’t believe this crazy year is coming to a close! With this update, a brand new friend was born (Baby Molly, another girl thankfully!!) and with the next update I will be posting about the Pankratz wedding day, with a photo of my best friend in that glorious wedding dress of hers! I can’t believe the big day is almost here, like literally its just 3 days away! And then its Thanksgiving and then Christmas and New Years and hello 2014!

Babies!

My little baby section is just growing and growing and growing!!

Owen (and Eli)

I seriously can’t say it enough, I love having this adorable family as nearby neighbors! Getting the chance to see these boys growing up on the week to week basis is such a huge blessing for both Andy and myself. They even stopped by on the morning of my birthday with a card, cupcake and a balloon. Along with Owen giving me a hand picked flower and Eli giving me a drawing he made. My heart is full, that’s for sure.

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Okay I just have to share one more photo of Owen, and his whole family all dressed up in their Halloween costumes, from this past weekend… how stinking cute are they?! When Jamie first sent us a photo of Owen’s Halloween costume, we all “ooo’d” and “awww’d” over how cute he was going to be, and he did not disappoint. 🙂

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Parker

I rarely get to see this little rolly polly, Parker… but I was so excited to spend the afternoon with him and his family a couple weeks ago. And got to snap this photo of him in honor of his 6 month birthday. Can’t believe he’s already half way to 1, doesn’t seem like he was born that long! Time flies!!

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Amelia

I am quite thankful Rachel has made it a point for me to see Amelia every few weeks, she will drive out just to sit with me as I work at home, catching me up on life. I love it… and then just this past week (the day after I posted her 3 month photos) she came by and we made up a “bed in the woods” photo shoot, just for fun. Here’s just a sneak peek, but oh. my. goodness…. I love so many of them. I can’t wait to post more in a few weeks!

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Molly

Molly is here!!! She has made her sweet precious arrival into this world, blessing her mommy and daddy beyond belief!! I got to be there with friends and family waiting… and waiting for her Tuesday night, but just after we left for the night, Trisha delivered at 2:55 a.m., Wednesday, September 18.

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I have gotten to have a few cuddle sessions with the little miss… but this photo is from that first day, at just about 8 hours old. 🙂

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Brides

Amie

I can definitely say that the months of September and October were full of nonstop wedding activities (hence the shortage on the quantity of baby photos above) from crafting days, to engagement photo sessions and of course, the bachelorette party! There were so many fun events to choose from but I have to share a favorite from their engagement session with me…. because its just so sweet. This day marked a turning point in the wedding planning as from that day forward, with just over a month to go, its been full time wedding crafting/scheming around this house. I left their place after our session with a long list of duties… and I must say I am kinda sad its almost here. It’s just been so much fun! It really has! But in just a few days (!!!) time, my best friend will be the Mrs. to her Mr. and that is just going to be the first page in a whole new chapter of our lives and that I must say is something I am most looking forward to!

P.S. The rest of their engagement session will be posted next week… and I must say it was extremely hard to narrow down which photos to post!

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Caitlin

For Cait’s wedding, I “coordinated” the wedding ceremony, which was a first for me—and we definitely we were just winging it! It was funny how many people asked if that was my new job and when finding out that was my first attempt at it, they then asked if I would do it again. And I totally would, even if it was just for friends and for the sake of seeing this moment… the moment before the miss became the Mrs., the moment where the bride takes that last deep breath holding onto her daddy’s arm, before she says “I do.”

She was just gorgeous and the wedding itself was beautiful!  You can see a photo I snapped during the ceremony here…

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BBQ

The boys have been doing so SO GOOD at their competitions. It’s pretty amazing to witness their triumphs at each and every comp. Over Labor Day weekend, they placed 4th among some of the top teams in the nation—over most of the guys on the BBQ Pitmaster shows. Everyone thought they were going to win 1st and the $10,000 prize for Grand Champion, but with a bad score in brisket, it brought them down to 4th place. Either way, just knowing that they have that ability, is pretty neat! Read more about that comp here.

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And then just one month later, at the Dana Point BBQ competition, out of a California record breaking 101 teams, they placed 4th again! So proud of our boys!

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And last, but not least, Andy’s episode of Supermarket Superstars aired on September 12 on Lifetime! He swears he spoke up quite a bit, but all of his lines were cut! But I still got to see my hubby on TV so it was still exciting!! He’s in the red jersey, #12 in this clip of their focus group.

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Follow past and upcoming Babies, Brides and BBQ here!

Evernotes Every Friday

While I continue to play catch up every evening on all my various freelance projects, I thought giving another glimpse into a couple of my last 2 weeks’ projects would be fun!

1. Nautical Baby Shower Invite

Last week, I designed a baby shower invite for a friend of a friend… hoping to get this final design up in my Etsy shop within the next month. I just love how it came out!

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2. Etsy Stamp Sales

Speaking of Etsy, I could possibly say that my Etsy sales have quadrupled this month, but if you knew how they were doing last month… then that’s not really saying much. I just get so excited with every sale though! And then sending out each order, feels like sending a small piece of my heart right along. Anyway… I got 2 similar requests though this past week for a somewhat customized order of my return address stamp. Hoping to make this a regular product soon!

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3. Glow

Working on a logo with a  neon light treatment for church….

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4. Superman Birthday Party

A very special someone is turning 5 this month, here’s just a little peek into the festivities to come. Can you guess the game?

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5. Miss Kaelea’s 2 Year Photoshoot

Earlier this week, I spent an evening photographing this little wiggly dancing blonde 2 year old! I have only just begun digging through the hundreds of photos, but I thought I’d share a rare glimpse of the little miss laying still. So so much fun. I can’t wait to show you more!

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A Moment: 4 Year Old Eli at Disneyland

Each and every moment with all these little children are so precious to me. But each time they learn something new and take those big steps to growing up, my heart breaks a little knowing those moments are gone.

Eli’s wonderful mommy, Jamie, said something so profound a few weeks ago… She said that she was getting so caught up in being sad that those moments have past, she was missing out on the moments now. So instead she would take each one for its worth and celebrate each new moment.

I took this to heart when we took Eli to Disneyland at the beginning of the month. The last time I went with Eli was when he was 2… he loved going on all the rides but did not like getting off, he didn’t understand that getting off one ride just meant going to another. This time, Eli told us which rides he wanted to go on, which was just so cool! This led to us really getting to go through the parks through 4 year old eyes. And that was just so much fun!

Okay okay, I am getting to “a moment!”

Eli wanted to go on the Jumpin’ Jellyfish ride in Disney California Adventure and as we waited in line, he watched the attraction as it went up… and down… up… and down. And as I snapped photos of the awed look in his face, I was struck with remembering a similar photo taken just 2 years before…

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All this to say, going forward I am going to keep trying living in each moment with all these little ones—and the big ones! Because really, Disneyland with a 4 year old, really is that much more fun! Especially when they start asking to ride the roller coasters!

Eli’s 4th Birthday Video with iMovie

If you are friends with me on Facebook then you’ve probably already seen this video, but if not this little video is from our day in Oceanside last week celebrating our favorite [now] 4 year old, Eli! It was such a fun fun day!!

Anyway, about the video… I took pretty short clips throughout the day (4-10 seconds each). On the drive back, while Andy was driving of course, I created this video using the iPhone app, iMovie. It is seriously the best! And it is SO EASY! Like really really easy to combine and edit the video clips and add the music. I was going to make a little tutorial on how to use it but then I checked Apple’s website and they have some really awesome tutorial videos to help you out! Thanks Apple!

Anyway, onto the film!

P.S. If you’re viewing this from a mobile phone then the video link won’t work. Something to do with copyrights. Must view from the computer or from Facebook.

Hope you enjoyed it… and to close, one more photo of another growing boy, Hudson who just turned a year old on June 1! Love my growing group of friends!

A Moment: Mr. Eli the Photographer

I think one of my favorite activities to do with our friend’s son, Eli, is to share what I love with him whether it’s watching Disney movies or dancing to the music during the end credits. Or now taking pictures.

One evening at our friend’s Joey and Jamie’s house, Eli and I sat at the counter as they prepared dinner. With the camera strapped around my neck, Eli held my camera in his little hands and took a few hundred pictures. So if any one of you have heard of this renowned mashed potato casserole of Jamie’s, Eli has the whole process documented! It was just so fun to see how excited he got, not only in taking the pictures, but viewing them right after—he had to check each one before moving on to the next. He had to check his work of course! He’s just such a happy guy!

A Moment: Eli & the Rabbits

Eli is my absolutely favorite two year old who has just stolen my heart from the first moment I ever saw him! He has an everlasting joy that is infectious and the moment he goes home, I miss him. This particular photo is from an afternoon spent at the park a few months ago. Now while it looks like he isn’t a very happy kid, I must explain why. There are tons (and tons) of rabbits at this park in Menifee. When we first get there, they are all out on the grass, seemingly, just within reach. Eli just runs to them immediately and they all scamper away and he is heartbroken. So here he is so very sad that the rabbits don’t want to play. And how does this illustrate the joy within this child? He just wants to love on everyone and share happiness with them! Including rabbits! And he is so discouraged when they don’t reciprocate! But once the bunnies have gone into hiding, he moves on to the next adventure. The second photo is happy Eli, want to know why he’s happy? He’s about to throw those woodchips all over Lauren and me! Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into my time with little Eli, there will be plenty more to come!

P.S. Thanks to Eli’s parents, Joey and Jamie, for allowing me so much time with your little love!