A Mom’s Guide to Photo Storage in the 21st Century

I have seen it all in terms of how to display, save, and share photos. As a child of the 80s and 90s we took pictures using film and printed out every single one, most of which ended up in a big tub in the attic.

When I became a mom in 2007 digital photography was still fairly new. Our phones could take really low-quality photos and digital cameras were just breaking double digits in terms of megapixels. There was no handbook on how to sort or backup all of these photos made up of ones and zeros behind the screen. Sadly, due to a computer crash (or two), I lost a lot of precious photos that weren’t backup up.

Here we are in 2020 with photos being pretty much exclusively digital and the average American snapping billions of photos every year.

It’s crazy! How do the moms of today organize and preserve all of their favorite photos? We can’t just keep our photos on our phones! While photo storage in the 21st century is a lot more complicated then it was back in the day of film, it’s not hopeless. I have learned my lessons the hard way about backing up photos and I’ve done a lot of research through the years. So I’m pretty confident in my current system that I use and today I am going to share it with you!

The thing about 21st century photo storage is that you can’t keep all of your eggs in one basket. I have my photos stored in three places at all times and NONE of those include my computer or phone. Every mobile phone, laptop, and personal computer stores your photos, documents, and other data on either a small memory chip or a spinning hard drive and none of them are built to last long term. So when I download photos onto my computer I also add them to an external hard drive, a high resolution online storage site, and lastly I have my favorites printed.

Let’s break this down because I know it can sound really overwhelming.


You can get an external hard drive from any electronics store or Amazon of course. My husband and I have multiple WD My Book for Mac. The reason you need an external hard drive is not so that you can photos that last forever because as we already established, hard drives fail, but if your computer crashes you will lose everything! It’s devastating. So for an immediate emergency backup plan, you have to have a copy of everything! Please take it from me External hard drives are crucial. These days more and more people are moving to a solid state drive because there are no moving parts and they will last longer. They are also smaller and can hold more. My goal would be to consolidate all of our external hard drives onto one solid state drive as technology improves and the prices continue to go down.



It is important that one of your three backup options is offsite. This way if something horrible happened like a natural disaster that destroyed your belongings you would still have your priceless photos. Some examples of online storage options are Amazon Prime, Google Photos, Flickr, Adobe Portfolio, and iCloud. Some of them cost money and others are free depending on your needs. Online storage is great, but it isn’t a no-fail solution. While you are the one who controls the items in your home you have no way of guaranteeing that you can have complete control over an online storage site. If the site shuts down or is hacked you are out of luck. I don’t say that to be pessimistic, but I want to stress that you need multiple copies of your most prized memories. For me, I use Google Photos. I love that it’s free and it’s so easy to search for a photo and to share photos with others.



I think we all know what a photo album is. They have been around since the 1800s. While it may sound old fashioned compared to the cloud and hard drives, do not discount this form of archiving your photos! Not only is it a beautiful option to display the photographs outside of an LCD screen, but it is also another viable method of backing up your photos. Actually, that’s an understatement. Printed photos are still the MOST RELIABLE form of archiving today. We don’t have a ton of research on how long these other methods will last, but we do for print. Think about how quickly technology has already changed. I used to save all of my backups on CDs and now computers with CD drives are becoming obsolete.

For this reason, I was reluctant to switch from traditional 4×6 photo prints to a photo book where multiple photos are printed on each page.

What if I needed to scan and copy a photo (which I have done many times in the past). However, for this year I finally bit the bullet and ordered a Shutterfly album of our latest family photos. It’s cheaper, easier, and takes up less space. I still don’t love that it would be difficult to use as backup if I needed to reprint or share an old photo. However, I will still be printing the most important photos on standard photo paper and be extra diligent with my other two methods of backups. As far as longevity of photobooks (which is important to me) I found an article from Your Digital Life.com about How long Will Photo Books Last and it was very helpful for my decision.

Even with all that information, this is still just the tip of the iceberg. I would like to do some follow up articles about the specifics of storing and organizing your digital images. For now though, I think the most important thing you can do is take a small step to be proactive about your photo storage. Maybe you just go through and add all of your phone photo downloads to Amazon Photos. Or maybe this year will be the year you print out some photo albums. It does not have to perfect and there is no one size fits all. Perfectionism is what holds so many people back from taking a step.

For me, I like to think about history and legacy as a motivator. It’s not about me being able to look at cute baby photos or a favorite vacation. Well, it is definitely about that, but it’s also about having something to pass on to the next generation. I love looking at old photos from before I was born.


It is important to look back. Which is why my husband and I have also made it a priority to get copies of photos from our parents and have them added to our digital backup archives as well.

It’s still definitely a work in progress, but like I said, baby steps.

By | February 6th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Going From Having Three Kids to Four


For some reason I had this misconception that once you have three kids you can add any number of children to the chaos and you don’t even notice.

There is a difference between three and four kids though. Comedian Jim Gaffigan says about having a fourth child-

“After the third kid people stop congratulating you. Then they just treat you like you’re Amish. If you want to know what it’s like having a fourth just imagine you are drowning and then someone hands you a baby”

I am now four years into this four kids gig and somehow I have managed to keep my head above water. So, I want to help other moms do the same.

Ten things you may need when  adding a fourth baby to your family

 1. Bigger vehicle

For us this meant going from an SUV to a minivan. Maybe you already have a minivan. Go ahead and upgrade anyway. Once you realize that your kids have friends or the grandparents want to ride along for some outings, or you have a pet or a science fair display you might as well get a 15 passenger van.

2. Warehouse Store Membership

Even before the baby comes you will spend more on groceries because if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding that is equal to feeding a family of seven. Also, those other three kids are getting older and they’re eating more. What once was weeks worth of eggs or grapes suddenly only lasts for one day. I remember when a loaf of bread looked like the slices went on forever. Now I just dump the bag out and start the PB&J assembly line. That should hold us over while we are at the zoo.

3.  A Second Fridge or Deep Freezer

When you have four kids you will want to file a complaint wherever you got your refrigerator. You will swear that they sold you a mini fridge but it turns out it’s a regular size refrigerator.  For a family of six you will come home from the grocery store and have no way to store all of the food. It’s time to get on Craig’s List and make space in the garage for a second fridge.

4. A Universal Name

You need a whistle or a clever thing to shout when you want all of your kids to come to you. I am not super creative in this area. I just scream “BUSCH KIDS!!!” like it’s a dinner bell. Or better yet, you could combine all for their names into one. For example, if their names are Boston, Claire, Olivia, and Trenton it could be Bo-Clair-Liv-Tren because that’s what is going to be coming out of your mouth anyway. You will always call the child by the wrong name or combo names. If you have a dog they will probably end up in the mix too.

5. Get a Second Job

It may not start out seeming like this baby is going to cost you hardly any money. If insurance covered the birth and you’re breastfeeding and you already have hand-me-downs then you are all set, right? Eventually it starts accumulating though. Trust me. Just getting teachers gifts and birthday party gifts for their friends is enough to have you scrambling under the couch cushions for the loose change.

6. Quit Your Second Job.

Forget what I said about number 5 because between sick days, parent-teacher meetings and everything else, you have to be available way more often than you thought. Also, you realize that child care workers get paid more than you do.

7. More silverware

This might seem logical because you have more mouths to feed, but it actually has nothing to do with the number of people in your household. You will need more silverware because yours will end up in the trash or chewed up by the garbage disposal or used as a shovel in the backyard. With four kids you always need more silverware.

8. Good Insurance

You will be at the doctor all the time. I know essential oil people think they are exempt because they can make special potions that ward off all the illnesses of the world, but even if your child isn’t sick you’ve got 6 people in the family so that’s 12 dentists appointments. Then you’ve got your ob-gyn checkups, baby checkups, annual well-child checkups etc. Then if you have any children that need glasses or sports exams or stitches or braces you are probably going to feel like you are always making and going to appointments. You will know what is inside the issue of People Magazine every week because you are a waiting room regular.

9. A Brave Babysitter

Remember when you had one adorable baby cooing and smiling at every passing onlooker? Back then people were competing against one another to get a chance to babysit. Pick me! Pick me! I want to cuddle the baby for hours. Call me anytime! These days the onlookers have more of the expression you would see on people witnessing someone take out the trash and have the bag split wide open spilling garbage everywhere. Your friends and family are no longer begging to babysit. Even if they were, my criteria for a sitter is a lot more stringent than it was with three. I want everyone to survive. This job is not for the faint of heart.

10. New Coffee Maker 

We used to have a cute little french press until the fourth baby came along. That’s when we upgraded to a coffee maker. Keurig’s not going to cut it. You need a 12 cup pot that you can brew to the tippy top first thing in the morning and then let the liquid flow all day long. A full night’s rest is ideal, but it’s not happening… ever again. So caffeine is your friend.

If you do all of these things you will be totally ready to go from three kids to four! I know it sounds like a lot of work, but the cool thing about having four kids is that they each have a buddy to play with and keep them entertained so that you can go take a bubble bath and read a good book. Just kidding. Do not believe this myth.

Seriously though, I love my four kids and wouldn’t trade them for the world. Four kids is a lot but the world would be an even bigger responsibility. 

By | January 30th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Goodness of God

The other day I found this photo of when I was pregnant with Ezie.

That’s the Ohio River behind us. I had to stop and think of how long we’ve been in Cincinnati. Ezie will be 8 this year, so that’s the answer. We left Texas in January of 2012. It’s truly remarkable how far we’ve come since this photo was taken. At that time we were unemployed, living with my parents, pregnant, and had just found out that our daughter was deaf. Despite the smile on my face, this was rock bottom. It has been an uphill battle since then to get back to a place of stability.

I describe welfare as a pit that you can fall into suddenly but climb out of very slowly and strategically. I will never forget going into a government assistance office and getting on Medicaid and food stamps. I remember the shame I would sometimes feel, especially if I bought something unnecessary (like gum). I always went to the same grocery store back then and there was a very nice cashier that would circle my remaining EBT balance at the bottom of my receipt. She was trying to be kind. She would even do it with a knowing sympathetic smile, but this was not something any other cashier would do. For me, it was a reminder in ink that we were in a desperate situation. So I just started avoiding her checkout lane when going to the store.

Then one day that changed. It was the Holiday season of 2015. J had finally graduated from college and landed a new job. We had just moved out of the tiny apartment into a little rental home and we no longer qualified for that level of benefits. I will never forget that moment I went to the grocery store and walked right up to that friendly cashier’s lane and I paid with our own money. It was such a silent triumph for me.

Gradually there were more and more moments like this. Granted, every time we no longer qualified for free lunches or SSI or whatever it was, it was a big adjustment. Often times these budget adjustments were painful and seemed impossible, but God ALWAYS made a way. Little by little, He brought us out of the miry clay.

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:2 NLT

J recently got a new job and as of this month, we are all six officially off of Medicaid and insured.  Praise God.

I feel like I should mention that as much as I didn’t love the situation we were in during that season, these government programs were a blessing. I know so many reading this are in a position to need that support right now and there is no reason to be ashamed. God is with you and He has the perfect plan in place for all of us. That includes my family because we’ve come along way, but finances are still a major struggle that I am believing for complete and total freedom for.

His faithfulness has not run out on us. Just a couple of days ago I went to a parent panel at SJ’s former school for the deaf. I have been to these meetings before. It’s where parents of alumni students come and answer questions of parents whose children are about to transition into mainstream schooling. This was the first time I have ever gone to a meeting and been on the side where I was the one answering questions instead of asking them. For so long I wondered what my daughter’s voice would sound like beyond uttering vowel sounds. Would she ever talk? Would she ever be able to read? Will she have friends? Now I can stand on the other end, out of the pit and onto the rock. I can declare with confidence that she has overcome these enormous obstacles and is blowing us all away with her abilities and tremendous personality.

I feel like I share this story a lot on my blog. I’ve typed it out dozens of times. How long will I rehearse the same ol’ lines about how hard it was and how God miraculously brought us through with our faith and family intact! I asked myself this question and felt the Lord impressed on my heart to keep sharing unless He tells me not to. So that’s what I am going to do. I will declare the goodness of the Lord.

At church, we sing a song called “The Goodness of God” by Jenn Johnson.

The chorus says

“And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God”

Sometimes these words feel untrue in terms of a whole lifetime when I think about painful things I’ve been through. I think about the tragedies of those around me singing these verses or those in other countries who don’t feel like His goodness is running after them. That’s the enemy planting those seeds though. Another part of the song sort of addresses this when it says,

“I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
In the darkest night
You are close like no other”

So the lines of this song are not saying all of my life I have never known darkness or never walked through fire. What it is saying is that in the midst of that, God is sovereign and he is with us and for us. As I look back at the past 8 years I can say that in confidence. He is always faithful. He is always good.

By | January 16th, 2020|Uncategorized|1 Comment

End of Year Evaluation and One Word

2019 did not go anything like I expected it to and I don’t really even want to look back.


I know that sounds bitter but I still have some stuff to work through about last year. The fact of the matter is I did not reach hardly any of my new year’s goals except for the one about the 12 dates. I am really glad that at least that one I did stick with. That time alone together was refreshing and fun. It helped us to remember to value each other and tend to our relationship even in the midst of a stormy season.

An interesting thing happened while I was preparing for the 12 dates blog post. I scanned through all of my phone photos from January-December and I started to evaluate the year we had. I photograph almost everything so as I scrolled through the images I would have feelings of gratitude and joy while some photos triggered little pockets of anxiety. I decided to take inventory of how many times we intentionally spent together with us and the kids. I typed them all out as I went along and it was actually really encouraging.

I literally labeled the list “Fun stuff we did as a family in 2019” and ended up with exactly 24 things on my list. It turned out to be a fun packed year with things like…

Memorial day adventures.

Fall break excursion

Small beach vacay

Trip to Texas

Multiple hikes and campouts. 

Getting donuts and going sledding on a snow day. 

Going to Chick-Fil-A in our Reds gear on opening day. 

Picnic and icecream together. 

Cookout and boys vs girls water balloon fight.

Summer reading kickoff event for the library.


The list of 24 things isn’t the only time we spent together. There were lots of birthday parties, church activities, meals and projects that we did together too.

After reviewing the list I felt a peace about a year that seemed very restless and downright scary. I was so giddy about this spontaneous evaluation that I had to share it with J.

I took my notes to him and explained how even though it might feel sometimes like we are failing as parents or that we don’t do enough together I looked through the year and learned that we actually had some really great times.

We reminisced together about the activities and shared what our favorites were. We also talked about what we could plan out for the upcoming year. On top of that, there were some areas that we reflected on that felt a little TOO busy, or some trips and parties that didn’t go as planned. For the parts that could have been preventable, we made note of how to possibly tweak things for this year. Some struggles or dark times are unavoidable though and that’s okay. We trust Jesus with it all. He is our rock and we give Him thanks for all of the many blessings we have in life and he gives us grace for the times we don’t handle the obstacles well.

As far as this year’s goals, commitments, or resolutions I don’t have any. I am not anti-New Year’s List. I actually LOVE them. I just need to cut myself some slack this year and try to focus one simple thing. That one thing for me right now is family. Assuming Elle goes to Kindergarten (which is definitely the plan) she will start in the fall of 2021. I know that’s a long ways away, but what that means is this is the LAST year that I have a little one at home 24/7. So that’s why this year is all about home. I guess that’s my word for the year.

By | January 8th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Christmas 2019

I am behind on blogging because we’ve been busy with the Holidays and travel. We’re back now though and it’s a new year! So here is a short and sweet account of Christmas 2019.

  1. Star Wars

This year was all about Star Wars. We got Disney+ as a Christmas present for the kids and they LOVE the Mandalorian. Then on December 19th Z and J went to see the latest Star Wars movie in the theater for my brother’s 40th birthday celebration.

2. Christmas with my side of the Family

We celebrated Christmas early with my parents and all the siblings and nieces and nephews. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen our weekly “Busch Brunch” that we do every Saturday. This year we had a mega Busch brunch with all 16 of us. My mom even made Sticky Pecan Rolls which have been a tradition in our family since I was a little girl.

After brunch the kids piled on the couch and started chanting for presents.

The gifts ranged from fashionable earings to games to jewelry box heirlooms to a new Bible (teen edition for Z); there were so many wonderful surprises!

3. Deck the Halls at Church

Even though we didn’t decorate at our house for Christmas we had a blast helping decorate the church. Everyone wore Christmas PJs and sweaters and we all enjoyed a yummy hot chocolate bar and Christmas cookie contest while we were busy putting up trees and decor.

4. Puzzles

I love doing puzzles during the holidays!   This one with the marbles is something I bought at a yard sale in Michigan a couple of years ago. I took a gamble on a used 1,000 piece puzzle and it turned out to have all of the pieces! My mom brought another  1,000 piece for Christmas that I didn’t quite finish before leaving for Texas but I’ll have that completed soon. Then Jeremy’s sister in Texas got him a 2,000 piece puzzle that we all worked on while we were there.

5. Breakfast with Santa

One of my absolute favorite traditions was the annual Palmyr’s Playhouse Breakfast with Santa. I got to be the photographer again and the kids participated for the fourth year in a row. 

6. Polar Express

The kids had a blast at their school’s Polar Express Day. They got to wear their PJs to school, ride a train and play in a giant snow globe!

7. Christmas Program at Church

The kids participated in a small Christmas program at church the day that we left for Texas. This was such a special way to end things back at home.



8. Christmas in Texas

The next 10 days were spent with family. We played lots of games, opened plenty of gifts, and ate tons of yummy food.


We also got to visit our old church and go to the coffee shop. Even though it was surreal to see what was left after the tornado it was encouraging to know that everyone is doing well and what really matters is still standing.

So that’s our Christmas in a nutshell. I am not gonna lie, the holidays wore me out this year. I’m still very well aware of how blessed we are to be able to celebrate the birth of our Savior with so many amazing friends and family members. It was a very Merry Christmas.

By | January 3rd, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Nordgreen Watches

This review is sponsored by Nordgreen.


I recently photographed another wedding (I have done over a hundred in the past 15 years). The thing about weddings is you have to keep track of the time! Whether you are on a tight schedule where everything is planned down to the minute or you are at an event where everyone is running behind. The time is always important. The thing is, I like to avoid things that could be distracting during a ceremony like a light-up watch or a phone. This leaves me in a real predicament wondering what time it is! Thank goodness I found something that works perfectly for me on wedding days and every day! That solution is my new Nordgreen watch.  It is a simple analog watch with a sleek and chic design that is very versatile. It’s instantly become my favorite accessory!

The Nordgreen watch is a watch company with minimalist Scandinavian designs.

There are several things I love about these watches. The website describes how the Danish culture and tradition is integrated into these stylish watches. Under the title “Danish Design with Integrity” it explains

“As Danes, we were raised with the values of simplicity and balance. To us, this means that people always come first… Our watches were meticulously designed to be able to be worn every day, regardless of what clothes you have on, where you’re going, or how you’re feeling, allowing you to focus on the little moments that make life worth living. Our watches don’t just tell the time: they remind you to treasure it.”


Nordgreen is all about giving back and even better you get to choose if you want to give back to health, education, or the environment.

“We believe the right to good health, a clean environment, and a full education are rights for all. The harsh reality, however, is that much of the world does not experience them. Motivated by our Danish values, when we founded Nordgreen, we knew we had to do our part to help to change this in every way we could. There was no excuse not to give back.”   -PAS & VAS

You can read more about their giveback program on Nordgreen.com. Right now they are even running a special Christmas campaign  when you use code SOCIALBITE at check a meal will be donated to the homeless. As a thank you for participating in the Christmas cause you will receive an extra watch strap at no additional cost. That’s another one of the things I love about Nordgreen their straps are completely interchangeable so that one watch can have multiple looks.

The watch that I have is from the Native collection.

I really love the timeless classic look of it.  They have multiple men’s and women’s styles to choose from though so I encourage you to go take a look for yourself.

I am just smitten with the new watch. It’s great for Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, or don’t hesitate to just buy one for yourself! Check out more Nordgreen.com for more details.

By | December 20th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

12 Dates of 2019

Every year I make it a new year’s resolution to go on monthly dates with my husband. Not once after over a decade of earnest attempts have we ever come close to meeting this goal… until this year. I can’t believe we actually did it! January through December we took one night out together, just the two of us. I know this post will have an overwhelming number of selfies, food, and coffee shots, but I thought it would be neat to make a list of what we did each month. Most of them are the same old same old but you never know, we might have an outing that spurs on a practical date night idea for someone else.



At the beginning of the year we went to a worship retreat in Georgia. While the cabins were cozy we didn’t even stay in the same room so the event itself was far from romantic. However, we did manage to sneak a date in on the way home. We toured a little bit of Knoxville Tennessee and I must say we both really enjoyed the vibe of that city.

We had some very decadent desserts at the French Creperie

Yummy comfort food at Tupelo Honey

Then coffee and artisan donuts at  Status Dough







Okay, this was my favorite of all the outings we went on this year and if you are in Cincinnati I highly recommend each one of these stops.

We went to Urbana Cafe for coffee and treats.


We also checked out the Mercantile library which was a delightfully fascinating discovery. It was established in 1835 and they definitely have maintained a lot of the orginal attributes of the library without giving it a museum feel. I could have spent hours there. 

and I can’t say enough good things about Mazunte Taqueria if you are in the mood for Mexican food.




This was also a really fun date night. We did a free class at our local library about suburban micro-farming.

Afterward we went to a nearby restaurant that all our friends rave about but we had never been to despite driving past it hundreds of times. The Bite is great for organic homemade eats.


I have no photos of our date in April. In fact, I didn’t even have a good time. I’m just keeping it real. We squeezed a date night in the midst of a packed schedule just so that I could claim success for one date each month. We were paying for a baby sitter so we argued about how late we should stay out and how much we were spending. The whole thing was a bust. I was telling one of my friends and she said, “Well if you have 12 dates in a year there is a good chance that one will not go smoothly but at least you have all the others.” She was so right and that completely relieved the pressure I was putting on myself to have these unrealistic Bachelor status date nights.


This was a really simple daytime date.

We went shopping and had lunch. I talked Jeremy into getting white sneakers. It was out of his comfort zone but they look really good on him and you’ll see them in the July date night photos. Oh yeah, and we also found this neat little coffee shop called Kala.


For my birthday date we went to The Birch which is a restaurant my sister in law had recommended.

We walked around afterward and got some coffee we even almost got tattoos spontaneously, but they were closed.

For the record neither one of us have tattoos but we want to get permanent wedding rings.  


In July we saw the movie “Yesterday”. We never go to the movies and hadn’t seen anything together in YEARS, but this was really cute. We enjoyed it.  


We had a gift card for the Olive Garden but I worked there for several years and don’t really like their food anymore so I researched other places this Darden gift card might be valid. It turns out the Yard House is one of those places.

The food and dessert were good and we were right in the heart of the city. We could see the Ferris wheel right outside our window.

After dinner we did a little walking around downtown.

This date was another favorite of mine.


This month was also tricky to squeeze in a date. I have a wonderful friend that I  bartered with and she watched Elle while Jeremy and I checked out The Main Cup. It’s a local cafe that I heard good things about. It was a quick date, but we had fun.  


In this month Jeremy landed a new job which was a huge answer to prayer.


We celebrated by going to a tapas restaurant called e+o.

I realize almost all we do is go out to eat and take pictures of food, but what can I say? We like to eat.




For our anniversary date we went Quan Hapa  ( a Ramen restaurant that we had been to before).

Then we had coffee and dessert at Coffee Emporium when a panhandler hit us up (not uncommon for that area). No matter how hard we tried to get her groceries or a warm meal you could tell she was only interested in money so sadly all we were able to do was get her a cup of black coffee and off she went.


Our final date night of the year we tried out a place called Amol that was new to us. We had Indian food and mango lassis which we both love.

We also went shopping at the Gap clearance center. I know a lot of men hate shopping and their wives have to drag them along. I’m thankful that Jeremy actually likes to shop and we are a great pair when it comes to finding good deals and being honest about what does and doesn’t look good.

So that’s all of our dates for 2019. Nothing over the top romantic or adventurous, but that was never the point. When you have four kids any minute alone is priceless. Here’s to the next 12 dates.

By | December 11th, 2019|Uncategorized|2 Comments

2019 Christmas Card Reveal

I am not a Christmas fanatic. I love Christmas, but not like some of my friends who really loooove Christmas. For example, I have several red and green tubs out in our garage full of Christmas decorations, many of them penguin theme. This year however I didn’t even bother getting any of it out. We have stuff going on every weekend and we will be out of state the entire winter break. So we decorated at church which was fun and we will do all the Christmas festivities, but no Christmas tree at our house this year.

On the other hand I managed to get cards out the day after Black Friday. We took the photos in October while camping in Michigan. I made sure the design was finished and ordered in early November. We went with postcards this year. It cuts down on the cost (the prints and the postage) and since we are spending a lot of extra money on travel this Christmas we have a very limited gift and card budget. Enough of me rambling. What was our theme this year???

TA-DA! Camping Christmas Cards.

Originally I had this completely staged idea of a tent with a pennant banner and lots of props like a canoe and lanterns. In the end it was way more natural. We were four days into camping in the woods. We were all scruffy in our matted hair, clunky boots, and ragtag clothes, but that’s what we look like when we camp so I just went with it. Photo credit to my friend Mels who snapped the pics with my camera for us. For the record the Merry Christmas banner is photoshopped in, but the smoke that you can barely see in the background to the left of the tent is real campfire smoke. I can almost smell it now. Good ol’ camp life.

Christmas cards are one of my absolute favorite traditions and I like to keep it fun. This one was definitely fun! I’ve been dying to  share some of these hilarious outtakes, like this one where we are “mean muggin”


I liked this one, but it didn’t leave much room for text and SJ has her spaced out look.



Another mean muggin’ shot. I love how Elle can’t not smile. She is trying!


This one is funny but also very disturbing. It wasn’t supposed to look like a reenactment of Abraham sacrificing Elijah (*ahem* Jeremy and SJ)! Please don’t call CPS. 


I can’s stop laughing at how podunk redneck we look. Is Elle smoking a cigarette here?


There are so many things that I can’t help but laugh at in this situation. I am wearing an American flag hat, an army-style jacket with a Navajo print on the back and a clashing Navajo print backpack. At least you can’t accuse us of being too matchy-matchy.


On the back of the postcard, we had Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” We chose this verse because it encourages a wild and adventurous spirit like the photo on our card. Also because 2019 was a very difficult year for us. I haven’t really opened up about it on the blog other than the car wreck. This verse is such a great reminder that even when things don’t go as planned we can stand on the promises of God. We don’t need to be fearful for we know that God is with us.


So that’s our card for Christmas 2019. Happy Holidays everybody!

By | December 5th, 2019|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Inspiring Mom Marci Wease

This month’s Inspiring Mom is self-professed “Junk Artist” Marci Wease.

While she is a forensic DNA analyst by day she is also a picker on the side. What she does with what most would consider junk is nothing short of amazing.

Before I get into the interview let me start by explaining how we met in the first place. 

Back in August my family and I were camping in Indiana. While hanging out near the playground area with the kids I spotted a little boy driving a miniature VW bus pulling a tiny trailer.

This boy and his bus couldn’t have been any cuter. Being totally enamored with the whole setup I started up a conversation with the boy’s grandpa as my kids enthusiastically checked out the sweet ride. 

The grandpa said they were in town for the vintage camper rally and told me all about their vintage campers and old VW buses. “You should meet my daughter! She’s the one who crafted all of these things and she would love to talk with you.” 

The next day I wandered over to their lot on the campgrounds. It’s easy to find. Just look for the Volkswagen Beetles and buses!


As soon as I stepped foot into their temporary space I was in awe. Everywhere I looked there were handcrafted pieces. It was like a entering a whimsical world where every single detail of the colorful rusty art had a story of its own.

That’s when I met the artist behind all the “Junk”, Marci Wease. 

Marci grew up with creative and resourceful parents so it is no wonder that she has such a knack for renovation. In her home, you used what you had. Why replace when you can recreate? Marci watched her mom who could make fabulous creations out of what seemed worthless. Whether it was a meal, or clothing, or making the house looke great, she could always pull it off using what was available to her. Her dad on the other hand, could make anything that was broken down run. Marci says “With the combination of the two of them my brother and I didn’t stand a chance. We were sure to become junk collectors and pickers” It was thanks to her parents that Marci and her brother had so much access to the materials and machines that allowed them to make creations of their own. Marci has heartwarming memories of long weekends working in the shop. Every Sunday the routine was go to church, followed by a nap, dinner, and somewhere in there was always family time building! They even literally built a home together.

It wasn’t separated into boys in the garage and women in the kitchen either. Both of them were welcome to observe and get their hands dirty whatever the task may be. 
At one point Marci’s uncle who had been in the military was stationed in Germany and was a Volkswagen mechanic. When he came back he opened a shop and that’s when it became a family affair. Marci and her brother got their first Volkswagens to work on before they were even old enough to drive. She has owned several since then and is currently working on a 1958 pressed bumper panel VW bus. 

While always interested in the craft of tinkering. Marci took it up a notch 8 years ago when she learned to weld. Her work has since caught the attention of many locals and even people around the world thanks to her Youtube channel “marcijunebug” 

She travels a little doing art festivals and trade shows. Marci said there are always men coming up to her asking who did your welding? She loves seeing their priceless expressions when she tells them she did it herself. 

Marci is grateful to her parents for the values and direction her parents gave her. She said they never once said “that’s a stupid idea”. Instead if you showed up where they were tinkering they would instruct. Marci and her husband are trying to incorporate that same parenting style with their four year old son.

Her little boy came to her with a set of plans the other day saying he wanted to build a house. It looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Marci admits it’s a challenge to finding the balance between work, and having time to yourself, and family time, but she is intentional about trying to include her son in whatever she is doing when it’s possible. 

With such a creative heritage it will be really neat to see what their sweet boy comes up with as he is growing and finding his path. 

As I look through some of Marci’s creations like this

and this 

and all of this

my mind is enchanted by the textures and layers of the things she comes up with. She attributes all that she does to God and thanks him for giving this gift to her. Her faith is evident in what she does as she takes these broken discarded pieces and turns into a valued and cherished work of art. 

There is so much more that I can’t load all the photos and videos on here, but I strongly encourage you to see for yourself.

You can find more of her work on Instagram at  junkinthistruck

Facebook at Junebug’s


and Youtube

Be sure to follow so that you can also this cool little family does next.

I’m sure whatever it is will be INSPIRING! 

By | November 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Holiday Gift Idea

Who has already started Christmas shopping?

I haven’t, but I need to because Christmas with my side of the family is November 30th! Most of us will be traveling during the Holidays and between work schedules and other commitments, it was the only weekend available.

Hopefully I caught you in time because if you are shopping for a parent, grandparent, or even a college student then I have the perfect gift idea.

Cades and Birch sent me this family phone lock up box and I am in love!

First of all, the fact that it has our name on it is so special and makes it truly one of a kind.

I love that it’s got that classic rustic look and the fonts and details are just beautiful. The name font even reminds me of my MessyMom.Com Logo. I might be biased but I think it’s perfect!

In this digital era with smart phones, tablets, and handheld gaming devices it’s hard to have bounderies. This phone lock box makes it a little bit easier to be intentional about family time.  The idea is to lock up your phones and gadgets so that you can focus and be present. Isn’t that great? Speaking from experience it even works for tablet time out. Just sayin.

Another cool feature is that it has a hole in the back to put your chargers through.

The box measures 9” x 12” by 3” tall, and features an the charging cable hole in the back is 1”. Each box is engraved with the ”Unplug” design and you get to customize it by choosing your stain and the customized text. You could have one that says Unplug “at Grandmas” or unplug “In the mountains” for a cabin or something. Check out the Cades and Birch website to be inspired by the ideas on there. If you like the phone station but don’t want to go full blown lock up they Cades and Birch also has really cute planter boxes.
I truly love this box and what it represents for our family. It’s all about connecting with eachother and have uninterupted time together (or even time alone is important too!)
I love the unplugged boxes but I guarentee you I will be ordering other items from Cades and Birch as well. There are way too many to list but I was really excited about the Holiday collection and the wedding decor and gift ideas
The prices are so resonable too, especially for something that is handcrafted and made in the US. I am so happy to have discovered Cades and Birch and I know you will be too.



By | November 18th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments