A Caleigh Bird Portrait + Giveaway

After coming up for air from the Black Friday deals, the Small Shop Saturday spending, and the food and shopping hangover Sunday, I felt today was the perfect time to share something that will hold a lot more sentiment for a lot longer than the hottest deals running this week. (Though, if you stick around till the end, I do have a pretty solid Cyber Monday deal...) 

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to work with Caleigh Bird Art for a custom pencil drawn portrait of Marcus and Julia. While I have stacks of books filled with photos of kids, a few canvas prints, and a handful of actual photos, a hand-drawn portrait is something that wasn't in our collection. I wasn't sure what to expect of a pencil drawn portrait. I mean, I can draw a good stick figure with the best of them. But, anyone willing to add  detail, dimension, depth... I'm all about that.

Caleigh was so sweet and held my hand through the process. She browsed my Instagram photos and noticed that most of my pictures of the kids are full body, and usually from a distance. She recommended doing a little searching through my photos for a closer shot of the kids. After digging, and sending a handful of photos over to Caleigh, this was ultimately the photo from which she worked:
Less than a week after sending my photo over Caleigh emailed and said to be on the lookout for my portrait. Before I knew it, I was anxiously opening a package I knew held my very first custom portrait. When I pulled the portrait out I audibly gasped.

Everything I had hoped the portrait would be, it was. And more. The details of Marcus' eyelashes, the wisps of Julia's hair, the tenderness of one very fleeting moment, it was all there. It was real, and raw, and gave me goosebumps.

After doing a little reading up on Caleigh I quickly learned why I was blown away by her work: a Bachelors Degree in Studio Art from the College of Charleston; a Masters in Studio Arts at USC in Columbia, SC; time spent studying painting at the Istituto Michelangelo in Florence, Italy, and Studio Escalier in Argenton-Chateau, France. Caleigh is the real deal, and her work speaks volumes to her training.

I fell in love with her work so much that I almost immediately placed my portrait in a frame, and promptly commissioned her to do a few more pieces for me. Those should be arriving in the mail any day. And knowing what I know now, I cannot wait to see the finished products.

Do yourself a favor today. Pull out your favorite portrait, head on over to Caleigh's Custom Fine Art Portraits, send that favorite photo to Caleigh, and see what magic she can do. I promise you'll get goosebumps, too.

Back to the Cyber Monday deal I mentioned earlier...
TODAY ONLY: Caleigh is offering 20% off your total purchase until 12 Midnight (Hawaiian time). 
Use code: TGIVE17 at checkout
Be sure to get your orders in by December 12th so Caleigh can ensure the portraits get to you in time for the holidays!

AND! Because Caleigh is the best, she is giving one lucky winner a free 9x13 custom portrait of 1-2 people. To enter, be sure to head over to Instagram to enter


An Airshow

Popping in real quick to let the masses (hi, Mom!) know we're still alive and kicking, and do a round of "What We Did One Weekend."

Two weeks ago we had a single Saturday afternoon where our calendar was blank. There had been promos floating around social media for an airshow not far from us. I suggested we pile in the car and give it a go. Full disclosure: I had no idea what to expect of this thing, and typically these type of events don't exactly peg our family's excitement meter.

That said...

We were all blown away by how cool this event actually turned out to be. Scott was perhaps the most excited of us all.

There were aircrafts of all sorts and sizes. The most impressive of all was this C-17, which we were able to tour. If you've never been inside one, spoiler alert, it's massive, and gray, and used to transport big military things. Don't ask me specifics, because #civilian. What I do know is it was a beast, and I'm pretty sure complimentary snacks aren't served inflight.
Naturally, there were smaller military aircraft we were able to check out, as well.
Let's take a moment to breakdown Marcus' outfit.
The farm hat paired with rain boots. Where I'm from those boots are oh-so reminiscent of what we lovingly refer to as sh!t kickers.
Marcus looks like I plucked him right out of a corn field and plopped him on an airstrip.  #midwestisbest #iowanforlife
A few planes allowed cockpit entry, which Marcus found to be pretty awesome.
There were a few not-so-traditional forms of flight to view as well.
Hang-glider? Thanks, but no thanks. I need something with proper landing gear. And heat. And engines. And a licensed pilot.

All throughout the day fly overs happened with frequency, which constantly had us looking to the sky to see what formation or craft was above.

Food trucks were out in full force. The fat kid in me was sooooo tempted to just plant roots at the truck selling baked goods. I fought the forces and went with a seaweed sushi wrap (it's basically a sushi burrito).

And then there was this cute little truck that had nothing to do with planes, but made for a nice seat and an obvious photo op.

But, the highlight of the afternoon was the opportunity to PAINT an airplane.
A small donation allowed kids an opportunity to paint a portion of a plane.
There is an entire mission behind painting this Cessna called SafeLaunch. I'm not at all versed on SafeLaunch, so I won't go into specifics, but it was a really cool experience for everyone (to read more about the mission, as well as see if the plane will be at an event near you, click on the link above), and if there's ever an airshow near us with a plane to paint, we'll most certainly be there.

Even though Julia isn't pictured much, that little hellion had a grand old time, too. With each and every plane we passed she would exclaim, "WOAH! That's a HUGE one!" And, desperately tried to keep up with Marcus as he ran from plane to plane.

Till next year's airshow. Maybe by then we can convince Marcus that the helicopter rides being offered is something we must do.


Family Photos + Holiday Cards With Minted

I received product free in exchange for my review. This post contains affiliate links. However, all opinions are honest and my own.

For the first time, possibly ever, I feel like I am genuinely ahead of the Holiday Season game. Do not, for one second, get me wrong. I have not purchased a single gift. Not a single pine needle or fleck of glitter has surfaced from the depths of storage. And, I am still trying to map out a solid game plan to convince Scott that we do, indeed, need a real, live Christmas tree to spruce up our living room this year (see what I did there?). He is hung up on an incident that happened to him 25ish (???) years ago that involved a real tree containing thousands of bugs... I have reminded Scott only a million times that it's 2017 and surely there are new preventative measures made by the tree farms to make sure our house is not infested with bugs.

But, I digress...

All of that aside, by mid-September I *had* managed to stuff my loved ones into clothes that they maybe, probably, very likely did not love. I was able to convince my photographer that a stop in Los Angeles in *September* (typically the hottest time of the year) was a good idea. And, we got our family photos d.o.n.e.

Might I also toot my own horn in the fact that during our hour session both the kids had fun. There was not a single complaint from either adult in our party. And, aside from that one unfavorable encounter with a "trail steward," who clearly did not appreciate family photos being taken on her trail (that is a whole other story for another day), it was one of the smoothest sessions we have ever had. I did not even break out into the usual stress-sweat that, without fail, happens during these things.

Naturally, I had to share a few photos. Translation: I am going to share all the photos I wanted to put on the Christmas card (our entire session), but just could not fit on to the Christmas card.
I had a really tough time deciding which photo would make the final cut. This one was certainly at the top of the contender list.
The best way to get your kids into a photo session? Take them some place that totally captivates them. So much of our session was candid, which I loved.

Along with a stream and a hiking trail, we did what any sane people do in their Sunday clothes. We climbed trees. Who doesn't do that?
It's all in the name of the holiday card game. AmIright??
I made a special request to have a few shots of just this guy and me. I'm kind of glad I asked.
Another shot list request: just the kids and me. It's not too often I'm on the flip side of the camera lens, so I'm pretty thankful to have this one of the babes and me.
Oh look, Julia lost her shoes. Zero shock there.
A massive shout-out to our photographer Sarah Sloboda for capturing all these amazing moments, and helping to make our holiday cards as beautiful as I had hoped.

So, photos are in the books. And that can only mean one thing. Our holiday cards are done, too!! (This is where I claim to be ahead of the Holiday Season game.)

For Christmas cards this year I could not stop swooning over all the gorgeous card options Minted has to offer. I naturally gravitated towards the foil stamped cards, I just could not help myself. The selection seemed limitless. The options did not just end at foil stamped. Letterpress, ornament cards, holiday booklette cards, and even an option to completely customize cards, are all there. There is also the option to have Minted do all the tedious work of addressing your envelopes, AND, customized stamps can be included, too. Talk about fan-cy.

I was forever thankful for the ability to save my favorite cards. It was so nice to have all my favorites in one spot and refer to them often, rather than try to continuously scroll each time I wanted to revert back to a card style.  And, uploading several photos at a time, and then plugging said favorite photos into each card to see the final product was beyond helpful. That feature quickly allowed me to narrow down my options and select "the one" for this year.

Just for fun, I wanted to share a few options Minted has available this year. These caught my eye and made their way into my "favorites" category. Our Christmas card may or may not be in the mix. (It is totally there, but I am waiting for those puppies to hit the mailboxes before I give the full reveal.)
Golden Christmas Card
Shimmer Holiday Card

Merry Christmas Swirls
Naturally, I couldn't go on about all the great options without giving a tiny little sneak peek of our cards.
This year's cards might just be my favorite. I cannot wait for the full reveal once cards have hit the mailboxes. Which, leads to an important question... When is the right time to send out holiday cards? Is the week before Thanksgiving too soon??

I am curious, thoughts on our family photos? And, which Minted card do you love? Drop me a comment and let me know!

Be sure to order your cards by November 28 for 25% off your purchase, use code CM2017 at checkout!