How Losing My Watch Made Me a Better Mom (& Daughter, Sister, Friend)

Hi, my name is Jessica, and I am a recovering watch-addict. I didn't realize I had such a problem until I accidentally left my watch on the beach during a vacation. And then decided not to buy a replacement right away. I mean, you don't need a watch on vacation.       Well come to find out, I don't need a watch for real life either. In fact, I am better off without it! Until the watch was gone, I didn't realize how often I looked at the time... how often I stressed about "what time it was" and the fact that "we needed to hurry up and do this and that" before "that time". I also didn't realize how much of my day to day stress was based on the fact that I was running behind this imaginary demonic schedule that I hadn't really created intentionally. But it was there. And it bugged me. And I wanted to be "on time". Always. Even for silly things like dinner time and bedtime. (5:30 and 7pm SHARP thankyouverymuch)     So losing

Why You Need a Fancy Salad Bowl

Last year I spent some time living with a dear friend who is a few decades my senior. I really loved taking long walks with her and chatting about life... also chatting about life as we lingered over dinner or sipped our morning coffee or watched the sun set on her back balcony in Germany. We did a lot of chatting ;-)  She had a lot of wisdom and a lot of love for life.     And I will always think of her when I whip up a quick salad. Because a favorite little tidbit of life wisdom she shared was to get a collection of pretty salad bowls. She said, "Even the most boring side salad looks more appetizing in a pretty bowl!"      So, got a boring salad? No problem! Dress it up with a lovely bowl! Please pin this on your lifehack board to share my friend's neat trick with the rest of the

5 Reasons You Should Shop at Imagine That this Christmas

Some of the very organized among us are already thinking of their holiday shopping. I happen to be thinking of holiday shopping mainly because I have two little girls who have birthdays right before Christmas... so that helps get me thinking of the holidays a little early ;-) I'm pretty pumped about some of the awesome stuff Imagine That has in stock right now. So I wanted to encourage everyone to check out the local toy store scene this fall! And here are five reasons why...     1. The many benefits of speaking to a real person.  I love going into Imagine That to talk toys. Ginny and her staff are so amazingly friendly! Plus they know what cool stuff you need to check out for whatever age kid or occasion you're buying for. I am always amazed at the level of customer service and I certainly can report high customer satisfaction. Sometimes you just get into a present-buying-rut and Imagine That is the best way I know to find out what's hot in toys,

Lessons Learned from Little Fashionistas

I've never called myself fashionable. I have my own sense of "style" I suppose, but you'd certainly be stretching it to call it fashion. Sometimes I pay attention to what the cool kids are wearing, and sometimes I wear too many colors. Or too many patterns. Or just something weird. But that's pretty much always been me. It's especially helpful that I'm an artist so I can pass off any questionable fashion choices on my "artistic flair." ;-)  I bet everyone, no matter how confident they seem, has doubts about their sense of fashion. I know I do.     I think we could all learn a lot from watching a kid who dresses themselves.  It's always been a conscious parenting choice for me to allow my girls to dress themselves for most days.     But generally speaking, my kids have pretty free access to whatever is in their drawers and closets. Sometimes the results are hilarious and I have to stifle my

Why a BIRTH Photographer should Enunciate Clearly

"So what do you do?" (question from a stranger) "I'm a birth photographer!" (my excited answer) "Oh cool, a bird photographer." (response from a stranger, usually a man.) "Whew, cause I thought you said BIRTH." (another response from another stranger, also a man.) "I did. Say birth." (me) Awkward pause ;-) (usually with a quiet "gross" under their breath haha)     Technically speaking, I do take pictures of birds. But birth and babies... that's my THING!      Hey, birth photography definitely isn't for everyone. But if it's for you, BOOK NOW! I'm already starting to fill up for end of fall and early

September “New Year” Resolutions

It's back to school y'all! I've got that "fresh start" optimism that comes from the return to the good old routines of fall.      The smell of a fresh box of crayons is usually what does it for me. It always makes me want to overhaul all my messy closets and sloppy habits. I left the closets alone, but I did take some me-time to journal and dream big for this school year. I know I know... Jessica, YOU'RE not the one starting school again, it's your kids!  Yeah yeah yeah but when they're in school, it reminds me of when I was in school, and it makes me want to buy some crayons and sniff them start some new habits! And I also recently finished reading and discussing The Power of Habit (affiliate link) in book club so I wanted to push myself a little in the application department.     It almost feels like September is a good time for some "New Year's Resolutions" so to speak.  My usual problem given my type-A

An Apology to Susan B. Anthony

  Lovely Warren wrote a beautiful letter to Susan B. and it was so inspiring I thought I'd write one of my own...     Dear Susan B, I'm sorry that I take my right to vote for granted. I'm sorry that I forget it hasn't even been a hundred years since women had that right.     I'm sorry for the naiveté of thinking the fight for women's rights is a thing of the distant past... that I sometimes don't take these matters seriously, even today. I'm sorry for being lazy.     I'm sorry for the elections I could have, but chose not to vote in... for no real reason other than apathy. I'm sorry for not paying attention to local politics, where it can be argued that my vote matters even more.     I'm sorry for neglecting to discuss these matters with my daughters. I'm working on it now, I promise. I'm so thankful to have been able to visit your grave and cry a little bit over

Just Be Okay | The Tension Between Summer and Stillness

  Sarah Kay's poem The Paradox pretty aptly describes my feelings about how summer has gone... When I am inside writing, all I can think about is how I should be outside living. When I am outside living, all I can do is notice all there is to write about. Ohmygosh that has never been so true for me! There have been so many things I want to write about... so many pictures that have gone unedited... so many stories unshared. But that is the beauty of a busy summer, is it not? I've been at camp, I've done photos for a brand new baby and an excited senior and a mother in labor. I've gone on mini trips with Elsa and Anna. I've checked out museums and historic sites. I've gone hiking and camping with friends. Soon there will be a week with my sisters at Acadia National Park and then a week with the rest of the Rawleigh clan in the Adirondacks. WHEW! I struggle with that ironic guilt of how I'm not home and the house is a mess and I haven't been blogging or

If You Need Me I’ll be in the Woods.

I can tell I've been at camp because... I was just a little sad to wash the smell of campfire out of my clothes earlier this week I was smiling whenever I scratched at one of my 8 million bug bites The first night back home, in my half-asleep state, I thought the light on my bedroom smoke detector was a firefly ;-) About two seconds after I left, I was scheming for ways to get back!     I had a heart full of ALL the feels last week cause I got to spend the end of the week creeping on my baby-turned-big-girl who was spending her first week at the camp I grew up at. [Check out Camp Cherith of Western New York here!  We're celebrating camp's 70th birthday this year! It's just an hour from Corning.)     So my Elsa took swim lessons at the pool I took swim lessons at, with some of the same amazing women who taught me as a kid! She learned camp songs I've known my whole life and helped with dishes in the dining hall. She

How Hiking a Mountain is like Giving Birth

  By the end of July, two of my siblings and our bonus sibling will have added their names to the list of crazy awesome people who have hiked all 46 high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate NY. They get to call themselves 46ers and brag about that for the rest of their lives!      Four summers ago I had the opportunity to climb my first mountain with them. So they took me up a mountain and it was crazy hard but super amazing and rewarding. Since Elsa was only 2 and 1/2 and Anna was 18ish months old, a certain poignant analogy kept popping into my head...     Hiking my first mountain was totally like giving birth to a baby!  1.  No matter how many stories you hear about how hard it is you still underestimate how hard it's going to be.  Labor & Delivery: when the real contractions started happening during labor with my first I was like "This is NOTHING like the book said it would be! oh crap.