“The time is coming, leaves are turning, fireplaces are roaring, crafts are being made in an abundance, and families are trying to find the perfect matching outfits for photos. Yep. It’s the holidays!
I have partnered with JCPenney to give y’all a look into how we capture our family photos.
First off, take a deep breath. I know, it may sound simple but really, if you are taking the photos yourself, it is especially important to go into it with the right outlook. If you are stressed or annoyed things will just spiral, but if you go into it knowing there are going to be hiccups along the way, you will be better prepared to smile through it. I absolutely love that I can shop for my entire family on the Peyton & Parker line. It makes coordinating so easy and all of their pieces are so affordable.
Second, when you are picking out clothing, make sure that it is something your kids will feel confident in! My kids have a very unique style. For our holiday photo shoot, instead of forcing them to wear exactly what I wanted them to wear, I selected a few options from the new Peyton and Parker line at JCPenney for them to choose from. I can tell this made a difference in their mood when we were getting ready for the photoshoot. As a bonus, they were so obsessed with their clothing that they didn’t want to take them off! There were so many options that each of the kids were able to get something that really helped their personalities shine!
Third, find your happy place! I know we are all wanting to get that perfect shot with the perfect colors and everything, but, I’d like to suggest that instead, you find a place that feels like home. For us that is outside. We chose our favorite field and brought some of our favorite pieces from the Peyton and Parker home goods line to make our shoot feel even more like home.
My girls are always wanting to do picnics so I was so excited to bring our adorable Peyton and Parker holiday plates and mugs to our shoot and set up a cute little tea party for them. They felt so special and I was able to get some adorable natural photos of them in the process.
Holiday photos are some of my favorites, they have a unique magic to them and capture such a beautiful, family-centered time in our lives. To create your own beautiful photoshoot head on over to JCPenney and check out their new Peyton and Parker lifestyle line. They have everything you need, from the perfect family outfits to festive home decor.
So, you wanna know about babies huh? It makes sense, isn’t that something we are all curious about all the time? Babes are so dang cute and there are some families that you wish would just have like 20 kids.
Then there is the other aspect of wondering how many kids someone is having. The comparing aspect. The side that wonders if you are having enough kids. Wondering if you are somehow less of a mom because your friend down the street is pregnant with their 5th and you have less and don’t think you want any more. The wondering if you will ever feel like you are done having kids, or if you do feel like you are done having kids you can be left to wonder if it is a REAL feeling or a temporary feeling because babies are cute but SO HARD.
There is also the comparing of how each of us handle pregnancy. Sally from instagram looks so cute pregnant but you feel like a beached whale. Maybe you aren’t doing enough and maybe the next time you get pregnant it will be better. Maybe the next time you are pregnant you will work out the whole time.
Surely you will, surely you will do all the things right and when you compare your pregnancy to Sally’s you wont feel like a slacker just trying to get by.
And dont even get my started on the comparing of who is a more loving, patient, happy, crafty, cloth diaper, co sleeping, all eco friendly, never an ounce of tired, always smiling mom. Surely if you have just one more kid you will be able to get it right next time.
Or maybe you can’t relate to these thoughts, but I can, because they are all mine.
I am not here saying that I had 4 kids because I was desperately trying to “get it right”. That is not the case at all. BUT these are thoughts that ran through my mind after Wyatt. Maybe if we had a 5th child I would be the perfect Insta mom that some how doesn’t get drepression during pregnancy. Maybe I would have a rocking pregnant body and bounce back in weeks like I am “supposed to”.
But maybe I wouldn’t.
I stressed about whether or not to have another kids from about day 2 of Wyatt’s life. Which is silly because all through my pregnancy I had a feeling like we were done. I knew that he would be my last pregnancy. Then he was born. And he was prefect. And I wanted 20 more. But I also didn’t want 20 more. So I stressed, and stressed, and stressed. There were days it consumed me. I cried to friends and family because I felt so confused and distracted.
Then all the sudden I got sick and I stayed sick for about 3 months straight. During that time my husband and I had the most reassuring confirmation that we were done. We weren’t feeling overwhelmed with how many kids we had or how young our kids were, we just had a quiet confirmation that all the sweet little spirits that were waiting to come to our family had finally made it.
I can’t tell you how amazing that feeling was. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I knew that I wasn’t going to have to deal with pregnancy depression any more. I wasn’t going to have to deal with trips to the hospital because my body can’t handle supporting me and another person at the same time.
Now I am in a new, weird phase of my life. For the past 7 years I have either been pregnant or nursing, but now I am neither. My kids are only getting older. We are only moving forward. Once Wyatt starts walking we will never again have a baby crawling through our house. Once he starts talking I will no longer have babbling in my house. Once he is running we will never look back. It is scary and so exciting. Some times it makes me cry to think about all that we are saying good bye to but more often than not I am overwhelmed with excitement for our future. Our future with our 4.
Saying it out loud is kind of weird, but here you have it folks...
We are not having anymore babies. Our Murdock clan is 6 strong and not changing anytime soon.
Hi, my name is Sarah and my kids are more trendy than me.
I think we can all agree on what our kids’ favorite part of back to school is... THE CLOTHES! Thinking back to my childhood I was all about back to school shopping. It was so great getting to pick out all new clothing and a new style. We could start fresh and be whoever we wanted to be! Now fast forward 20 years and my kids are getting to do the same thing. They are not going to public school but I still thought it would be fun for them to pick out some new clothes to ring in the school year. We were so excited to partner with Gymboree and shop their all new styles. Just like my kids, Gymboree got a fresh new look and I have to say I am completely in love!! I kind of wish they had clothing in my size! One of my favorite things is that their clothes are very versatile so whatever my kids pick out for the day will look good together. We know we have all been in the situation of seeing what our kids come up with and just cringing. Luckily that wont happen anymore! It’s really a win win.
Something else that Gymboree has launched is their Made You Smile app. It can connect to their Made You Smile line of graphic tees and make them come to life through augmented reality. My kids couldn’t stop laughing when playing with this app. Best of all though is through the app you are enter the Surprize Surprize Sweepstakes and each time you chose at their store you are guaranteed to win a prize! I’m not the only one that gets pumped about this stuff right?! In school I was never the kid that won BINGO (that was totally rigged right?!) so I love that they have given each person a win with every purchase!
So now the big question is, each year when school started and you were able to go back to school shopping did you like to reinvent yourself or did your style stay pretty much the same? Secondly, what style do you remember most from school?? I remember choker necklaces and the first time I saw someone wear holes in their jeans. Oh! And the messy bun, how was it that some people just knew how to pull off the most perfect messy bun? Well, jokes on you 15 year old cool girl at school, I rock the messy bun every day like it’s my job
Camping is one of my girls’ favorite things to do but, in the past, when it came to bed time, we struggled. Thanks to Coleman we have a completely new outlook on camping. So many of their products are amazing but I cannot rave enough about their SunDome 6 person tent. It really is a game changer! In Alaska the sun hardly sets in the summer which means endless fun but also endless light to try and sleep through. When we first got this tent and read that it blocks out 90% of light I was hesitant to believe it. We popped it up in our backyard, in the middle of the day, to test it out and holy cow was I shocked!! It was DARK inside!! I am not talking “wow, that pretty dark for a tent” I’m talking “dark as my kids’ rooms with blackout curtains” dark! It’s a little weird to admit but I was instantly as giddy as the kids and couldn’t stop thinking about all the places we were going to travel because of this tent. Not only that but we will be able to go on longer caping trip because we wont get burned out from exhaustion! It’s a huge blessing!! The girls and I slept out in the yard the first night we received the tent and, no kidding, we slept until 8:00 am!!! The only reason we woke up then was because our neighbor was using a chainsaw to cut some trees down. Convenient huh?? Haha.
After trying out the tent in the back yard we couldn’t wait to take it out on a real trip! I had to laugh, one of my favorite things to do when we are camping is lay in the tent and read books, when we had the tent completely zipped up it was too dark to read. I have never had that issue before! Luckily there are multiple windows you can open to let some light in.
I have to admit, this was by far the fanciest camping trip I have been on. We not only had a tent that let us sleep peacefully but we have a huge cooler, and a stand up grill to cook our meals on. I think this is the closest to Glamping I have ever been and I was more than okay with it!! We are typically roughing it more or less when we go camping. All our meals are simple and shelf stable. Having a big cooler on the trip was such a great bonus! We were able to bring tons of fresh fruit and veggies. Wyatt’s favorite by far was the watermelon!
Our family has been planning on doing a big road trip around Alaska and camping in a few different towns but we kind of put that goal on hold this summer because Wyatt wasn’t doing the best sleeping in light conditions. We were scared that the whole trip would just kind of explode. I can’t even express how excited I am that these products from Coleman have put up back on track. It is going to be so wonderful to show our girls as much of Alaska as possible but even more wonderful to be able to do it in a really comfortable way! The 85 QT Supper Cooler can hold ice for 7 days and is plenty big to hold a good about of groceries. This means that we will be able to bring all the fruits and veggies our heart desires! I also think having the RoadTrip Grill will help the girls get less burned out on camping food. Haha. I mean, I love foil dinners but it gets a little old after the first couple nights. I really cant wait to update y’all once that trip happens!!
Below I have added easy to find links for each of the products we use so y’all can grab them for yourselves! I really hope this helps give ‘all the push you might be needing to get out and camp with your kids!!
“Back to school”. It is a phrase we have all heard our entire lives. When I was a kid I remember it being filled with both excitement and nerves. Now as a mom it is filled with a different kind of excitement and nerves. For some it means sending their little kids out the door bright and early and wishing them luck for the rest of the day. Not only hoping they had a wonderful day at school but also hoping that they got to their bus or carpool safe and sound.
As moms we get that there are a million plates we are trying to spin at once, I am so grateful that Logitech is taking over one of those plates. Thanks to the Circle 2 I can have eyes and ears on the girls and they go to and from our house even if I am in the middle of doing dishes, putting Wyatt down for a nap, or helping my 3 year old find that toy she just has to have right that minute. The Circle 2 easily connects to my phone so all I have to do is open an app and I can virtually make sure they get out of the house safely and wait for them to get home from school.
As a lot of you know I am going to be homeschooling so my back to school routine looks a little different. I am not only using my Circle 2 as eyes and ears on my front door but I am also using one downstairs in our “school room” I just love how versatile it is and I’m so excited to be able to have peace of mind both inside and outside my house!
To top it off in the most Alaskan way I know how, we just got word that we have a pack of wolves living close to our house so this will just be another level of wonderful protection from all the wildlife that surrounds us.
Thank you so much Logitech for helping us get Beck to School safe and sound.
There is a hike close to our house called Mount Baldy. It is a pretty frequently hiked trail and one that our family really loves. We normally hike the back side of the mountain because it is not as steep, but this time our kids had other plans. We got to this little pond where we normally turn right and make our way up the switch backs but this time my girls looked across the pond at a neighboring moutain and said they wanted to go straight up there. Honestly, for a second my husband and I just stared at each other trying to decide if it would be a good idea but then we just went for it. I kind of feel like if they are excited about it (and it isn’t dangerous) than we might as well go for it!
Luckily enough there was a little trail that is probably only used in berry picking season for part of the way up. It led us by watermelon berries, crow berries, blueberries, and all the fireweed we could ever imagine. Seriously it was a harvesters paradise!! We will have to go back with tubs to fill!! I couldn’t stop laughing because Kate was shorter than a lot of the vegetation around her but it didn’t freak her out of crush her spirits. She just kept hiking upwards like a champ! I was a little nervous that she was going to have to be held the whole way which would have been really difficult! I only had to hold her on my shoulders a couple times to get though really steep parts. (And yeah, my legs were screaming!)
Once we got above the tree line it was easier in the fact that there wasn’t a narrow trail to follows. It was still incredibly steep but we could go wherever we wanted. An added perk of this hike that was literally every time we stopped to rest we could reach down and gather a handful of blueberries. I am not sure I have ever been anywhere that was this covered in berries, it was so wonderful! I really hope little things like this the girls can remember when they are older. Or at least remember when they see pictures of it. I am trying my best to document life in Alaska through photos and videos but I am sure that I am lacking in some departments! The higher we went the better the views got and the more excited the girls became. I think it was a mix of being able to see how far they had come and seeing how close the top was. Although, if you have hiked a mountain before you know that the summit is ever changing and constantly seeming to get father and father away! Haha!
I can’t lie and say it was all rainbows and butterflies, quite honestly this hike almost didn’t even happen. There was so.much.whining before the hike even started! We almost threw the towel in. Then again before we were even out of the parking area Kate was complaining about her legs being tired. I knew it was going to happen, she is by far the least seasoned hiker and doesn’t even like walking around the neighborhood haha. There was a LOT of coaxing and bribing with food but you know what, she made it and that is all that counts! There were a lot of talks about how it’s not a bad thing to have tired legs, it just means your legs are getting stronger, and conversations about how the next time we go hiking it will feel even easier because she is working so hard this time. Then of course she road on our shoulders some of the times and that’s okay. She doesn’t have to be a pro hiker, she just has to give it her best effort!
Once we got to the top we stopped to have food and just relax for a bit before wandering around more then heading back down. This is one of my favorite parts of our hikes. I love sitting there with the kids after they have worked so hard to get to the top, and looking out on what we accomplished. Talk about immediate gratification!!!
So, what do you get when you mix 4 little kids and a hike straight up a moutain?
You get one of the most challenging, rewarding, growth invoking, awe inspiring days you can imagine! It is days like this that make my heart sing and my soul rejoice. I couldn’t love my family more and I am so grateful I get to share this beautiful world with them!!
If you have any questions about the gear we used, what we packed, or games we played along the way to keep their spirits up when they got tired leave a comment below and I will answer as soon as I can! ◡̈
I had to laugh the other day when the kids and I went on a picnic. Everything was set up so nicely, the girls had their snacks they packed themselves, the weather was perfect, there was a sailboat on the lake to watch, a float plane took off right in front of us, the girls had their awesome Regalo cots, and I... sat on the ground. How?! How in all my planning did I forget about myself. Isn’t that how it normally goes for us parents? A mom with 4 kids was sitting near us and we both just laughed at the kids’ comfort while I sat on the rocks. Honestly though, I am sure we have all been there and would agree that it is better that than forgetting something of the kids. We complain less, or at least we keep out complaining in our heads
Normally when I think about cots I picture camping or going to hotels but when we were packing up for this picnic my oldest suggested bringing them and she couldn’t have had a better idea! I mean really, it is pretty genius. They are portable beds so why not take then to the beach with you, it definitely beats laying a blanket out on the rocks! Now to just find an adult sized one. Haha.
Something that I absolutely love about these Regalo My Cot Portable Toddler Beds, is how easy they are to put up. Even my 3 year old is able to get her cot out of the bag, open it up and put the sheet on by herself! Not only is that wonderful for me but that has to feel so good for her! And lets face it, if there is one less thing for us as parents to do it a win for everyone.
A few weeks ago, okay, by now it was probably over a month ago, we went camping with them and I don’t think we have ever slept better! They have gone with us on a couple camping trips and I am sure they are the only way our girls are going to want to sleep now.
If you have been camping with kids you know that there normally isn’t really much sleeping, BUT, because they were up off the ground my girls some how slept longer than they do at home!! Maybe I just need to set up the tent and these Regalo cots in our backyard for the rest of summer...
Another game changer from Regalo was the My Play Yard we received for Wyatt! I have seen these in the past and kind of thought it was more for you to have ease from the craziness of a baby but after using it with Wyatt the first time I instantly saw how much safer HE was because of it! At home it keeps him from eating Legos and when we are out it keeps him safe from the water, or any other hazards that might be around. I am not totally sure why it took my so long to get on board with these but I am so glad that Regalo saved the day for us!!
Okay, so I know a few days ago I posted about this dream that I have been having. It isn’t an amazingly unique dream I don’t think but it is something that has been burning in my heart!
I really long to have more freedom to center our lives on each other. I want to travel and surround our lives in the best parts of living. I guess I don’t really have a tangible dream but I have a dream of what I want our lives to feel like. I want to be each other’s world, experience new things, be a unbreakable unit. Some ways I would love to do this are through travel, but not just flying to beautiful places, I want to have a small RV or camper and find hidden lakes and hike gorgeous mountains.
another big part of this though is our daily life. I don’t want to be full time traveling so I want our daily lives to reflect this less is more, unified feeling. I day dream about living in a small simple house on 5+ acres so my kids can roam free. I want to be stuck with each other. I want the kids to be best friends and embrace as much nature as I can. I want exploration to run through our veins. When I am 90 years old I want to be so full of precious memories that I know without a doubt nothing was left on the table.
To me there are few things that are truly precious in this life so I want to make sure that my life is filled to the brim with those things.
So what do I do about this dream of mine?
Honestly I don’t really know. Right now David has a really great job with people he enjoys being around. They have been so good to our family it is hard to think about actually moving on past that job. I am going to start small. I think naturally we start collecting things that we don’t need. There seems to be more toys in the house than what should ever actually be played with, clothing coming out of my ears, and spending money on stuff that is not lasting or fulfilling. Another big thing that will help get us in the right direction is watching our spending on going out to eat and other activities we do as a family. I think if we start really weighing the long term joy that things will bring us we will not only spend less but the things we spend money on will add to our life instead of detract from the end game.
We don’t have the ability to go out and buy an RV right now but we can take small weekend trips as often as possible. Something I am so bad about is not preparing. All week long I know I want to do something big on the weekend but I don’t get myself organized, then come Saturday morning my husband and I are left scratching our heads or completely rushing to get things together. We have all been there right?!
To be quite honest this is a big motivator in Homeschooling. This year was crazy with Jane in school. I knew life would change once kids went into school but I didn’t know just now consuming those changes would be. We would hurry to get her out the door in the morning then by the time she got home she was so cranky we were left with one emotional explosion after another. Every day she would come home telling me that just just wanted to be with our family. I am sure all of us parents get that to at least some extent with our kids but it was different with her, anyways, I guess some of those details should be saved for another day. I pray that with homeschooling we will not only be able to build up our family harmony again but we will have time to do stuff that is truly fulfilling.
It is kind of hard to put my dreams into words because so much of my dreams are about the feeling I want our lives to have. I guess I just really want to take back the reins to our life. Do you ever feel like you have just been going along down this path that everyone tells you is right, but in he back of your mind there is a nagging telling you that there is more out there, a more fulfilling path? There is so much good in this world, I feel like it is up to us to find our passions and goal for our family then do whatever we can to work towards that goal.
What do you get when you mix 4 little kids, snacks, and 8 hours in the car? A migraine.
To top it off we made a total rookie move and somehow forgot that Jane gets car sick. Don’t worry though, we drove on the most windy mountain road every built. Haha. Luckily there is a general store in McCarthy that had one pack of medicine for the drive home!
In all honestly bough it was such an incredible trip! The drive is constant beauty and wilderness. If we could somehow find a way to make a living out there I would move to Kenny Lake in a heartbeat. It was so amazing out here. We also got to see the Alyeska pipeline, Copper River, 100 beautiful lakes and about 1,000,000 Arctic Hares on the drive to McCarthy. If you are going to make this drive allow enough time to stop frequently along the way so that you can enjoy every bit of Alaska.
Kids are funny creatures though, my husband and I were in awe the entire time but my kids kept asking when we were going to get to the cabin. They could not stop talking about it and planning what they were going to do when we got there. I have to admit though, the cabin was much more than I was expecting. The cabin itself was fulling functioning (read: I can make all the meals at home instead of suffering through restaurants with crazy kids), had an awesome porch with mountain views an the kids favorite, a trampoline! We were in the middle of bush Alaska but thanks to Andy at Currant Ridge we felt like we were home sweet home.
It was so nice to be able to come back to the cabin and unwind after a long day exploring. I really can’t say enough good things about the owner Andy as well. He was so patient with the kids made sure they were happy and comfortable. He has chicken on his property and told the girls they could go out to watch them and check for eggs. Oh man, the look on their face when they saw an egg in the coop was one of the cutest things in the world. They were so pumped.
On each of the windows he has these pink strips hanging down to help the birds see them and because my kids are so young they were not able to just leave them alone. We had Abby take it to him and apologize for breaking one and not only was he so understanding but he took the time explain to her why they were there and why birds fly into windows. It’s the little things like this that really mean a lot to me.
Honestly I can’t say enough about Currant Ridge, everything about our stay was amazing and we can’t want to go back. If you are planning a trip to Alaska you have to add Kennicott Mine to your list with a stay at Currant Ridge! You will not be disappointed.
The other day I was looking through my old Instagram and Blog posts, they were full of beautiful scenery, amazing adventures, puddle splashing, and running free. To be honest for the past year I have been kind of living in the shadows, living in fear. I’d like to say my hesitation to get out was driven by my children, but in all reality it has all been me. I am the one that just hasn’t quiet gotten over what happened. I am the one that has been holding us back. I am the one that is keeping us in the shadows.
This blast from the past was a wonderful kick in the pants. It got me ready to take my life back. I want to run free, I want to see and do and be full of life again. I know that I will always be a little more guarded and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I want to gain the confidence again to get out with my children.
I decided to start small, we went to the Nature Center down the road from our house. It is not packed with people but I knew that I would see someone every 10 minutes or so. This used to be my happy place but I haven’t been for months because of my fear and anxiety.
I am SO glad we went! The weather was decent, mountains beautiful and most importantly the kids, and I, had such a great time! It as so nice to get out, hear the birds chirping and smell the fresh air.
My advice to you is if you are starting small like me, no matter the reason, don’t give up. Find your Learning Zone and take it one step at a time. I am so grateful to all of my old posts and experiences, I am grateful for the push they gave me to get back out with my kids. I pray that we continue to stay safe but that we also are able to build many more wonderful memories.