The Cutest Easter Egg Hunt You Ever Did See

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As you might be able to tell from the plethora of pictures ^ above ^ , we had a fantastic Easter weekend over here. The weather was mid-70s, Elias was feeling better after another virus go around from the week before, and we had lots of sunshine and friends to play with (more pictures of our adventures to come!).

On Saturday I convinced Jeff, my sister Jenn, and Mara and her son Alder, to get together for a wee Easter egg hunt. I figured it could either be an epic failure or huge success with two 1 1/2 year olds– and success won!!

Funny thing– the boys were so different in their egg-hunting techniques… Once Elias figured out there were treats inside the eggs, he was a much slower hunter than Alder was. With every egg he found he would stop to examine the contents of it and demanded to eat the treat inside immediately. So, um, he ended up eating a TON of chocolate along the way. Oops. You can see his chocolate smudged face in a few of the pics above. :-) So while Elias was all about quality, Alder was in it for quantity. That little guy took off racing to get as many eggs in his basket as he could. We had to take several out at the end just to give Elias a chance to catch up.

At the end of the hunt we sat in a field to play with the booty of eggs, while Jeff mostly napped. It was the most perfect first-egg hunting experience as a parent I could have ever asked for.

Hope everyone’s Easter was as glorious as ours!

Mademoiselle you Must Meet // Shailey Murphy


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To say that my friend Shailey is beautiful doesn’t quite cut it. She obviously is a very attractive person (can I say I love these pictures of her too!?! She is rocking her spring dress and beautiful smile), but there is a certain friendliness about her that really makes me at ease when I am around her, and that is a beautiful quality that comes from within.

Shailey and I met years ago when I was a Young Life leader and she was in high school– um, I think. Or actually we maybe never really met at all. I’ll explain–  About a year or so ago I started to see Shailey’s name pop up on my Instagram feed, so one day I got out my phone, pointed her out to my sister and realized that I knew her. That day I messaged her… only I mistook her for a former classmate from my high school, a total mistake and a very embarrassing one at that.  I think I wrote something about being sorry for acting like a jerk in high school or something (which I was at times), and it very much confused her. She was gracious, of course. She corrected me and we decided to meet up for coffee anyway. We’ve been continuously hanging out ever since. The girl makes me continuously laugh, smile, and overall I feel just more positive when I get the chance to hang out with her.

I’ll also say these two things: 1) Her house is awesome. I think I want to hire her to decorate someday. Everything she wears or owns has a little bit of her funky-design touch to it and I love that. 2) Her job is pretty cool. She actually works a lot with my husband, Jeff, putting together content for the Assemblies of God. Its fun having that extra connection. Oh, and I love her name.

Without further adieu- Shailey…


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QUESTIONS FOR SHAILEY:

Favorite international spot. Ever.  

It is a tie between Egypt, Georgia (the country, not state) and India.  I know that’s 3…but they are all so different it is impossible to choose!

 

Do you like tea? What is your favorite kind? 

Yes I do!  I like “Sleepy time tea” and Chai.  I also love the tea that the nationals bring you when you are in a foreign country and visit their home…it always seems more special that way.

 

Tell me about your job– what do you do day to day? 

My husband and I own a video production company where we get to do everything from travel and film internationally, (they just got back from India and Morocco!), work on documentaries, or do promotional videos for non-profits.  It sounds more glamorous than it is I’m sure.  My day to day usually consists of working out of my home office and returning emails…working on bids…video editing, etc.

 

What is your morning routine? 

As much as I would love to say that I get up 2 hours before the rest of the world and read/reflect, clean the house, have a slow cup of coffee and all that good stuff… I am skilled at rolling out of bed and being ready to leave the house in about 8 minutes.  It’s a craft I’ve perfected over the years.  If I’m not rushing off to a meeting or shoot – Jonathan and I will usually both make coffee for each other (whoever gets there first makes it for the other), then feed the dogs and start looking through emails at our desks….exciting I know :)

 

What is the last TV show you watched? 

We are Netflix junkies.  “The American’s” is the show we are binge watching at the moment.

 

What are the top 3 websites you visit the most frequently? 

I would have to say Gmail, Instagram, and Quickbooks online.  After writing this all out…I really need to “get out”!

 

What is one big-world topic that gets you riled up or you find yourself interested in? 

One major “big-world” problem that really gets me interested is the huge orphan population we have.  We did a documentary that touched on the topic a couple years ago an we have traveled all over to many countries effected heavily by the issue.  At the end of the day, what gets me the most is that my dogs (an English and French bulldog that we love so much) have their own room in our house…with sheets for their bed, two meals a day and all the love and attention they need.  That’s way more than most children who have no families in this world get, and that’s just not right.

 

Favorite clothing store– or where do you shop the most for your clothes, accessories, etc.? 

Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie are my favorites…but I mostly “purchase” items at Target and Forever 21 locally :)

 

What is something you are looking forward to? 

I’m really looking forward to a vacation Jonathan and I are planning for this Fall we are calling our “pre-baby-cation”.  We want one last hoorah before we start our family and have no idea where we are going as of yet. Top contenders are Thailand, New Zealand, or all over Europe.

 

What is something that drives you crazy about yourself? 

I like to talk…a lot.  I can feel myself filling in awkward gaps of conversation with meaningless words all the time…I literally can feel myself being annoying… but still can’t stop talking.  It’s a problem.

 

Is there anything you regret from your days in high school or college? 

My whole life I’ve been a pretty good kid.  I can honestly say there isn’t anything major I regret from high school or college that I can think of off the top of my head.  I’m sure there were times I was rude to my parents or siblings that I would take back.  Overall I really loved high school and I was married by my senior year of college.

 

Where is your happy place? 

I really am a homebody.  I love nothing more than curling up on our couch with my grandma’s quilt with a cup of coffee…with the windows open, while it’s raining outside.

 

Describe your perfect-day scenario. 

My perfect day would be camping in our 1963 Canned Ham trailer “Jewel” in Eureka Springs, AR with Jonathan…on a slightly cool day.  We would walk around and look at quilts, old-lady jewelry, Mars rocks and other things we don’t want to buy…sip coffee from the “Daily Grind”, then walk up to the top of the Crescent Hotel and look off the top floor… and it would be perfect.

 

Spring Trip // Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Riddle me this folks: What happens when a bunch of girls with giant cameras get together to go to an Heirloom seed festival?

You guessed it…

Blog posts & fancy pictures!

Oh wait, you were guessing something like gardens or planting seeds? That’s secondary, folks. The pictures are where its at.

Nah, I’m kidding. I think we all went for the seeds, because they are fantastic, I mean– PURPLE STRIPED TOMATOES!?! Come on. But we also went to spend time together and take pictures because Baker Creek is one awesomely picturesque place. They have a festival the first Sunday of every month and its worth the 50 minute drive just for the giant cinnamon rolls. There are ladies and girls walking around barefoot in bonnets, an Opry with bluegrass music, rare chickens, and prairie dresses galore. If you live around our area and care about gardening in the slightest I highly recommend a visit.

You may have already seen some pictures if you follow Skunkboy, Katie Day, Jenn Fortner, or  MaraDawn about our little jaunt. Here are some pictures I snapped too.

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^ As Katie Day put it:  Katie Shelton is a VISUAL TREAT! (So true!) ^

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^ I only wish my cabinets looked like that ^

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^ I can’t take credit for that one– Katie Day is a PROFESSIONAL. ^

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“A portrait of my son once a week, every week, in 2014″

Elias is suddenly really into Sesame Street. A few times a week I’ll let him watch an episode while I get dinner ready, take a shower, or try to knock a project off my to-do list that has been sitting there for far too long (hellllllooooo giant mound of laundry sitting in my room for over a week straight)…

I love this picture because it sums up where things have been lately with Elias. He’s a toddler focused enough to watch an entire TV show and love it, yet still so small that he is swallowed up by our couch and the pillows on it.

So I took this photo right after he woke up on Sunday. He had unzipped his jammies while waiting for his bleary eyed mama to get out of bed and had requested”Eh-mo” right out of the gate. I obliged, because who wouldn’t want to squat their kid down in front of the TV after waking up for the first time ever to an entire bag of Intelligentisa coffee (thanks Jenn) waiting in your house that is just screaming to be brewed?

By the way, it was delish.

This was Elias’ expression about 5 minutes later, after I had started the coffee:

 

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Classic. He’s already a TV zombie. Such good parenting skills happening over here.

So lets talk about Netflix’s selection of Sesame Street while we’re at it. Anyone else notice that its straight out of the 80′s? I got to watch an entire song today by a lady in a puffy leather baseball hat complete with rhinestones on the bill while she sang to farm animals about how they are all earthlings. Yes. Before that there was a long montage about bananas with children dancing in front of a green screen where the difference between the “graphics” in the background of the bananas and the children was very pixilated. Don’t get me wrong, I like Sesame Street, buuuuuuuuuut it lacks any sort of resemblance of the 21st century. Maybe the episodes Elias has been watching are old (like, really old) but maybe that’s all they have to offer? Anyone a Sesame Street guru who can answer?

 

13/52 // Diaper Woes

Elias hates getting his diaper changed. Its been that way ever since he was mentally able to realize what was going on. You know, it really is quite traumatizing, if you think about it. Someone wipes off your bum and unmentionables every time you go number two… no thank you.

I like to call this one diaper woes, because well, its woeful.

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Its sharing time // What God wants us to learn from Children // Storyline blog

Oh, weekday mornings. Often I get into the office a little blurry-eyed, always after rushing in the door, I admit, and head straight for the Kuerig machine. I walk back to my office and usually a student follows me in wanting to catch me up on the latest in his/her life, or just talk about nothing at all. There are some mornings though that I get to peacefully sit at my computer for a few minutes before anyone comes in, and I get the opportunity to check up on a few of my favorite websites.

(Which, and I’m going to go on a severe detour here, I’m always very interested in what other people first go to when they log onto the Internet. CNN? Gmail? Twitter? Instagram? A blog reader? Funny or Die? Youtube? My husband immediately goes to Facebook, while I rarely even check my account..,)

So this morning I’ve had a few of those zen-like moments of peacefulness to check in on places for inspiration, and I came across this wonderful post from the Storyline Blog that I thought I’d share. I hope you get to enjoy it over a cup of joe as well. Very good thoughts first thing in the morning.


 

What God Wants Us To Learn From Kids

Recently I asked a group of young parents to describe kids. We got the the easy adjectives out of the way first: fun, curious, innocent, sweet, full of life, and so on. But as a parent myself, I knew that was only half the truth, so I gave the group permission to tell the other side of the story too. Quickly we agreed kids can be exhausting, expensive, myopic, and sticky.

I asked if anyone had more disposable income, more free time, or less grey hair now than they did before they had kids, but no hands went up.

No one could make those claims, of course, because the truth is kids come at a cost to their parents. At the same time, none of the parents in the group wanted to go back to live without kids because they loved them and knew their life was better with the kids around.

Kids are great and hard. That’s okay. And that’s where I think God wants us to learn something.

Psalm 127 says children are a gift from God. Sit with that idea for a moment. If that’s true (and I believe it is) and if all the words we used to describe children are accurate (and I think they are) then we’re onto something really important.

*photo: Andrew Fysh, Creative Commons

Try as we might to resist shallow, binary thinking in matters of life and faith, we all fall into the trap now and then. Personally, I developed a habit of thinking of people and situations as either a gift or difficult and messy. Until a few years ago, it never even occurred to me something could be both, but I think that’s what God is showing us through these little bright-eyed object lessons we call kids.

In children we encounter gifts as both precious and persnickety, tender and trying, exhilarating and exasperating. In them, God is hinting to us that we’ve been tricked into thinking about gifts all wrong.

Contrary to what we’ve been taught in fairy tales and luxury car commercials, gifts aren’t golden tickets, magic potions, or easy streets.

Gifts are deeper, truer, and more transformative.

The best things in life are sometimes exhausting, costly, demanding of our attention, and sticky, but they’re still the best things.

About this time last year, my head was spinning. I’d started a new job in a new organization, and it was a struggle to keep up. I was dropping balls, forgetting names, and hoping no one noticed. Since that time I’ve found my footing, but this position still stretches me week after week. I’m still making mistakes and being pushed out of my comfort zone. It has been hard. And great. And exhausting. And life-giving.

The trick is I never found myself waiting for the job to stop being a challenge and start being a gift, in the same way I’m not waiting for my kids to stop being insane and start being gifts.

A few weeks ago, when a friend and I sat down to lunch, he asked how the first year in my new job had gone. “It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t easy,” I said. “But it has been a gift.”

God is telling me the same thing over and over again. In so many ways he gives beautiful, challenging gifts in the form of people and experiences. And I’m starting to listen.

Scott McClellan

Scott McClellan

This is a post by Scott McClellan, one of the Storyline Contributors. Scott is the Communications Pastor at Irving Bible Church and the author of Tell Me a Story: Finding God (and Ourselves) Through Narrative. Scott writes about and teaches on topics such as communication strategy, social media, and living a better story. He lives in the Dallas area with his wife, Annie, and their two daughters, Elise and Maggie. You can find out more about him on his website and make sure to follow along on Twitter (@ScottMcClellan) for regular updates.