a family day


IMG_3730 Thank you for all the well wishes for our special weekend of Johanna's baptism.  It was a wonderful, beautiful baptism.  I sure love that girl, her quiet nature and inquisitive mind.


{Helping Johanna fill out her awesome Baptism Day Memory Book that her Grandma gave her.}


{Glad my mom got a few photos of our family--sun in our eyes + a lion for a son, so it seems!}

Today I'm enjoying our "family omelettes" after working out, cleaning the basement (I have help today!), and looking forward to a church Labor Day picnic.  It's going to be a nice day.

Hope you have a wonderful day today!

the sleepy time gal

the bridal shower...


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{My Ole Miss little brother and his dear Meghan.}


 {My Granny's pound cake recipe that I turned gluten free.  Made 30 of these cute loaves for the party favors.}


 {Some southern family recipes graced the table: our Granny's cream cheese mints + chipped beef cheese ball that my sister made.  Aren't the mints beautiful?  They go fast when family is in town.}


{A flare of paper flowers.  I tried a few versions of these pom pom flowers.  I definitely prefer this tutorial because it makes fuller flowers.  Biggest complaint: the big flowers fall easily.}


 {Team work with the "matrimonial" game that my mother-in-law, the game queen, created.}

IMG_3314 {Flowers, flowers, and more flowers.  I used Meghan's wedding invitation for my direction in choosing colors for the flowers.} IMG_3287


{My twins picked wild flowers from the nearby meadow before the shower to go into little vases for tiny corners of the house and, yes, the bathroom.}


 {My older girls and their older cousins were invited to be a part of the special shower.  Their first shower!  They loved experiencing every part of it!}


{My baker sister-in-law's mini dessert cups.  I loved throwing this shower alongside my mother and sisters.}


 {And it wouldn't be a southern Dirle bridal shower (although held in the north) without the traditional bow bouquet hat-- made to be worn during the rehearsal dinner by the bride.  And Meghan learned right away that for every ribbon broken while opening gifts meant that many kids to grace their family. ;) ) 


I loved having aunts come up to join us for the day.  Sisters working hard in the kitchen to prepare special foods.  Seeing many handmade gifts opened by the couple from both sides of their families.  And having my home overflowing with many people that love Travis and Meghan.

Such a good day.  And the remnants of hanging flowers remain on my walls for a bit longer just to keep the magic in our home longer.


the sleepy time gal



IMG_3135 Tomorrow's the day.


Yes, I've thrown many a showers and gatherings in my home but tomorrow is different.  It's the last bridal shower for anyone on my side of the family.  The last sibling is to be married and these are special times.

Thus, the month-long house overhaul (which I am now so glad to have used tomorrow as a deadline).   Scuff marks and jelly stain no longer bring character to the walls of this house but crisp white paint.  And the unmentionable dinnertime stains all on the dining room carpet (who puts carpet in dining rooms??) has been very aggressively washed out.  The feelings that I never want us to eat in that room again will fade, I'm hoping. ;)


IMG_3141 Many things are in order for our new and improved "tidied house"--at least on this main level--that now only holds a 1/3 of the "stuff" it used to.  And many things are to be completed today and tomorrow.

Paintings to hang.

More paper flowers to make.

A special family recipe to make.

The art room.  Always the art room.

And on and on actually.  (This is always the scary/exciting part of celebration preparation: the ever encroaching deadline.)


With my carefully prepared to-do list for this Friday I have some exciting tasks for each of the girls so they can be involved in the preparations. (My two oldest will be at the shower which is pretty exciting for them!)

The girls get to help weed, clean off fingerprints from the front and back doors (truly something I never think to do!), help wrap our party favors, make a lime water ice ring, and get cobwebs.


These are fun times for sure.  Nothing is better than family and family celebrations are best!


Have an awesome weekend friends.

the sleepy time gal

friends + japanese calligraphy


IMG_2847 Yesterday we enjoyed friends we haven't seen for a while and practiced a new art: Japanese calligraphy.

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I was in charge of keeping my toddler and my friend's toddler at bay while my friend guided and directed each of my girls with calligraphy.

I love the beauty of Japanese calligraphy and always have since taking a Japanese Art class in college. (I was an Art History major.)  There is something about the contrast of simple, intentional strokes of the black ink on crisp white rice paper that is absolutely beautiful in its simplicity.



By the time both little toddler boys had had enough of sharing with each other and naps were approaching, we had an amazing pile of calligraphy covering my table.


Goodbyes were said and the very content feeling of friendship lingered in my home the rest of the day.  There's nothing better than feeling loved by someone gently teaching and inspiring your children.


the sleepy time gal

"springtime in the park" birthday party


IMG_2142 I love simple celebrations.  This weekend we celebrated the twins' sixth birthday with family and friends at a beautiful green park in the crisp, springtime air.



There was little prep before the party.  A few paper wrapped aluminum cans to fill with some dandelions + wildflowers for the table would be a simple touch for a springtime tablescape.  The girls did a beautiful job wrapping the cans.



Ainsleigh and Annabelle requested homemade hummus (to go along with their favorite chips), deviled eggs "without the red or green stuff"--paprika or relish, and our homemade ranch + veggies.

Gaummie's favorite chipped beef cheese ball and Grandma + PaPa's awesome fruit salad joined the party table to complete the most awesome birthday snacks ever.



And cake.

The two petite four-layer cakes were the most time consuming part of the party prep but I know it gets my girls excited.  They turned out much prettier than they were tasty.  (I made gluten-free chocolate cake (with coconut sugar) with lemon curd between each layer-- turned out to be an odd combination especially with my refined sugar free buttercream icing I kinda made up as I went.  Oops.  Better luck with my August birthday girls.)



The party was so enjoyable and relaxing.  Honestly.  No games to run, timelines to follow or tidying of my house/yard.

Kids (and some adults!) ran and played for hours.




And ate...

IMG_2124 And tried out Caroline's nature scavenger hunt...


IMG_2171 And stopped to sing for a bit.  Two Happy Birthday songs, of course.


IMG_2157 I love these two girls.  They are such happy and content girls.  They loved the attention from those that love them on their special day and, quite as I expected, I found them throughout the party off on their own, totally happy just being with each other.


the sleepy time gal

real mothers: from day one


 {Real Mothers is an ongoing series that celebrates the incredible, unique role of motherhood.  }


When I hold a newborn in my arms, a flood of memories come to my mind.



Recently I spend some special hours with a real mother.  A new mother--for the fourth time.

I loved the raw, unfiltered contrasts that were all around me being in her home.  There was the radiant and beautiful wedding-day photos carefully displayed on her dresser.  I loved that this beautiful woman was now donning the roomiest t-shirt she owned, hair pulled back into a functional ponytail, and wearing the all-too-familiar look of nursing days and sleepless nights.

Comfort and ease, healing, and peace are all that matter in this special, sensitive season.




And that beautiful and noisy and frustrating process of getting itty bitty clothes on itty bitty babies.

I wonder how many times a mother carefully snaps, unsnaps, swaddles, reswaddles, changes diapers and a minute later, changes whole outfits in one day??


IMG_1194 Those exciting, exhausting, and emotional early days are so intense.  These days demand everything within the mama.  They are some of the most sacrificial days of mothering, some of the sweetest and most impressionable.


I love how strong mothers are.  And how strong they are made to be from day one.  There are no books to prepare a mother for their own unique experiences they will encounter in those early months.  We are tested and prove ourselves over and over again.  And beautifully, that little child innately is drawn to us, need us, and somehow replenish our needs and emotions.

What an incredible, perfectly designed relationship that begins between a mother and her child from that very first day...


 Real Mothers series:

real mothers


the sleepy time gal

real mothers: the series



I've always wanted to start a series about the incredible role of motherhood.  I've wanted to celebrate the beauties, unique challenges, deepest desires, daily decisions, mundane tasks, personal triumphs, and the essence of the whole experience happening within the home that a mother creates.

I'm so excited to begin the series of Real Mothers today.

One of my favorite experiences being a photographer is doing in-home photoshoots.  I love capturing real, raw, family life with everything that makes up the family: order + chaos, laughs + cries, crayon scribbled art hung by a proud mom + crayon scribbled on the wall, and everything in between.  Essentially the feeling of the home has been carefully created by the mother, her prioritizes, and greatest goals for her family.

When I photograph in an home I want to capture what the mother will miss twenty years from that day.  The bare piggy toes.  The carefully placed art that a special uncle created for that child.  Siblings silently playing alongside each other.  Piles of clean laundry.  The newborn crying while getting dressed.  And all of the details that aren't fancy or necessarily staged but real and authentic.  

Here's to real mothers making the most important impact on the future.  I hope this series empowers you and your authenticity as a mother.  You are inspiring the next generation in your own unique way.


Real mothers learn from regular difficult moments to treasure the simple, beautiful moments with their children.


Real mothers love when there's peace in their home and need it regularly to keep going.


From the very beginning, real mothers have dreams and visions of being the best mother possible.  And they consciously push themselves every single day to become that personal vision they've built up in their mind.


Real mothers are unstoppable.  Hard days, vomiting kids in the night, toddler tantrums when the mom has used up all of her good ideas, and another potty-training accident out and about simply means the mother keeps going.  They keep finding solutions, cleaning up, forcing a smile, and pushing through with some unseen force of energy and love.



Real mothers love both the nurturing bedtime routine with their child on some days and are seriously counting down the minutes until their child's bedtime on other days.



Real mothers use up their reserves of emotion by the first half of the day from kissing boo-boos to resolving siblings disputes to putting the contents in the tupperware drawer away for the tenth time.  The remainder of the day they rely on their God-given "mother reserves" that come from deep, deep within their heart.  Seriously a God-given gift they rely on regularly.

IMG_4203 Real mothers want their home to be beautiful and organized because they have dominion over their homes and feel it is a reflection of them.  They try really, really hard.  And yet they soften as their children grow and, little by little, watch their children leave their personal imprint on the home. It feels more real and becomes a natural reflection of who their particular family really is and values.


{Thank you Jill for letting me share the photographic experience in your home.}


the sleepy time gal






yellow + gray






IMG_1360 I was pretty excited to help throw a baby shower for a friend using her preferred baby colors that were baby Rowan's colors: yellow + gray.

Using up the last scraps of my favorite fabric I used for Rowan's basket liners, I made a simple fleece-lined bib + matching wash cloth for the baby's first mealtime.

I've left the beautiful paper flowers hanging over the weekend.   I'm dying to learn how to make them for my to-be sister-in-law's bridal shower here this summer--think reds + burnt oranges.  (Yes--my little brother is getting married this fall!)  My friend makes these colorful paper flowers for every gathering and they never lose their classy touch.

The subtle yellows seem quite fitting for the first day of spring coming this week.  And boy, are we ready.  


Have a great start to this week.  Go out + live boldly!


the sleepy time gal

our fall harvest party....


IMG_3297 Good morning.

I hope you all had a fun + festive weekend with your families and friends.

I'm happy to report that my injury is getting better every day.  And that our Fall Harvest Party was so enjoyable.  Ironically, our party always starts right before it is totally dark outside.  With more tiki lights and the addition of one string of white lights on the food table, kids played, adults talked, and we were able to keep the romantic appeal of a night under the stars.

Come see our Fall Harvest Party (and some of the background stories that go along with every gathering)...



{I wanted a little more sophisticated tabletop from last year with white (painted pumpkins), gold (glittered pumpkin + jar), marigolds, and natural fibers (burlap + our log rounds I love to entertain with).  

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 {Our centerpiece pumpkin.  It's first life was as a lollipop holder (decorated by my friend!) for our church Fall Carnival.  Then she donated it to our Fall Harvest Party.  A little white paint, glitter, and those garden marigolds...}


{What would I do without mindful friends?  My friend thankfully texted me the morning of the party to check in to see if I needed anything.  Oh how I needed some help from being less mobile and not driving!  She picked up fruit and turned it into the cutest addition to my log round tiers.} 


{Grandma Shiffler organized a project with my girls to make these beautiful fall leaf candle jars.  Of course they would take center stage for the party!}



 {And simple little favors for families with kids: currently our favorite fall activity shaped as pumpkins.}



{The kids helped come up with games.  There was Caroline and Johanna's Bean Bag Toss + Bobbing for Apples down at the bottom of our yard. } 

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{And a little fall craft station of our tried and true paper pumpkins.  Kids taped and gabbed here throughout the night...}

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 {And last but not least... our fall photo corner.  Annabelle did the scarecrow and Ainsleigh did the pumpkins.  And I sat on ice and added details as we made this the morning of the party. :)  It's been hanging in our living room since then because I love it so much. }

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The night was crisp and exciting, kids running around while adults talked and warmed by the fire.


IMG_3485 Costumes stayed intact for the first hour until most of my kids asked to take them off.  Apparently "getting in the way" of play.  Fine by me.

So many adorable costumes , lively games, soaken wet kids from "bobbing", and so many memories made that night...

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It was a magical, fall night indeed.  Thanks to good food (thanks to all of the delicious food everyone brought!), folk music in the background, kids being kids, and wonderful friends and family coming together for these last moments of autumnal bliss.  


the sleepy time gal