Friday, August 22, 2014

Backyard forestry

hiking in big bear
hiking in big bear
hiking in big bear
family picture in big bear
hiking in big bear
hiking in big bear
family picture in big bear
Having a forest for a backyard for a few days was grand. We hiked through pockets of it during our last day in Big Bear (see previous posts here and here), after which I became further convinced that woodlands are the natural landscape I admire most. Our hike lasted a whole twenty minutes, stroller detours and picture-taking included. Kudos to our friend for snapping some family photos for us in the woods. It takes so many attempts to procure one decent family picture, particularly since Alex or I can't be behind the camera to coax Serene into grinning. When I looked through the shots, I noticed that Serene waved or clapped in thorough solemnity in them all, which speaks to her favorite pastimes these days. They made me laugh and realize that these little quirks embody the stage she's in at this moment in time, more than her usual smile can.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The cabin in the woods

big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
big bear trip 2014
We made the most of our little cabin in the woods during our stint up in Big Bear two weeks ago. With four families (14 people!) in a 2-bedroom cabin, we had a most cozy time. We talked, played, ate, and thoroughly R&Red together. So thankful to share life with these fine folks who are a dear part of our community. They are a gift from our gracious God as we strive, by His grace, to love Him, one another, and others through the daily up and down rhythms of life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I thought we weren't going to live to tell the tale

big bear lake
big bear lake
big bear lake
big bear lake
barrett and travis girls at big bear lake
big bear lake
big bear lake
big bear lake
big bear lake
serene and me at big bear lake
big bear lake
We've been reflecting on the blessing to be able to live in California, where we could drive one hour in any direction and experience varied topography that speaks to our Maker's breathtaking creativity. On our drive up to Big Bear a couple of weeks ago for a mini vacation with our dear community group, we marveled at majestic, evergreen-dotted mountains; pristine, tranquil lakes; and jagged rock formations. Every time a body of water came into sight, Alex's kayaking itch grew stronger. It spread to the rest of us like a contagion, so one afternoon, our group of eight adults and six kiddos rented two kayaks to explore the great, wide, watery somewhere. Not only had I never kayaked before, but I also don't know how to swim. Naturally, I was terrified of drowning and leaving Serene without her mama ;) After much coaxing and gentle peer pressure from everyone, I went. I thought we weren't going to live to tell the tale, but thankfully, Alex was a great protector who coached and reassured me the entire time we were paddling (which he ended up doing solo half the time). We had a blast, and even brought Serene with us at the end. She was way more courageous than I was; she kept attempting to stand and babble at the gentle breeze on the moving kayak. In fact, all the kiddos had so much fun. Their audacity really encouraged me not to be that stuffy, boring grown-up who prefers to sit on the sidelines and not join in on the fun. Thankful to the Lord for using kiddos, especially my own, to teach me ongoing simple yet valuable lessons.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Animal menagerie

la zoo
la zoo
serene at la zoo
la zoo
la zoo
serene at la zoo
la zoo
la zoo
la zoo
We are not ones to pass up free offers. When our friend invited us to the zoo since she has free guest passes with her annual membership, off to the LA Zoo we went to join them last week. I haven't been to the zoo since I went on a kindergarten field trip, where all I remember is eating a ham sandwich my mama made me during lunchtime. What a world of difference to experience it with grown-up eyes and my own daughter this time around! It was a sweltering summer afternoon, and I noticed so many families with young kiddos there; the zoo could have served as a stroller convention. I daresay all the kids were as thrilled to receive free sunglasses at the entrance as they were to see the animals. I'm pretty sure that was Serene's favorite part. Seeing them on her is mine. We stayed for about an hour since it was the day before we would leave for our mini vacation up to Big Bear, and there was too much left to prep and pack. Thankful for a fun outing with our dear community, even if I have mixed feelings about going to the zoo or places like Sea World (especially since watching Blackfish!), particularly when animal care ethics are in question. Not sure how to reconcile them yet, but I have to admit that we aren't opposed to taking Serene to the zoo again when she is a bit older, when she might actually remember beholding all the animals and squealing in wonder as all the other kids were. Childhood really is so magical. :)

P.S. Want to win a pair of Freshly Picked moccs like the ones Serene's wearing in the photos above for your little love? Enter my giveaway here!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Freshly Picked moccasins giveaway

serene in freshly picked moccs
I'm a sucker for baby shoes. Serene boasts a closet full of brand-new and hand-me-down shoes that will probably last her until she begins grade school. Whenever we're shopping, I always gravitate toward the baby shoes. But oftentimes, I find that they're either cute, easy to put on, durable, or comfortable. Very rarely do I find that they're all four. Freshly Picked sent us a pair of baby moccasins to review, and now I'm further convinced they've fine-tuned all the qualities of a wonderful baby shoe.freshly picked moccs in radiant orchid
freshly picked moccs in radiant orchid
They are adorable. What could be cuter than a wee one sporting moccasins? I love the sweet fringe aesthetics, and best of all, they come in a variety of gorgeous colors. It was so difficult to select just one color because I wish Serene could have them all, but I ended up getting Radiant Orchid to review. I feel it adds a cheery pop of color to any of Serene's clothes. Yes, they really go with everything! Plus, it is a lovely color that will transition well into fall and winter, for she'll be walking by then. serene in freshly picked moccs
They are easy to slip on. Baby shoes are notorious for being a nightmare to put on little feet. Especially when baby is wiggly and determined to pull off her shoes to chew. Freshly Picked moccs are so simple to slip on Serene's feet quickly. They're cleverly crafted with elastic hidden in the opening, so they stay snug on baby's feet. Serene claps her hands in the pictures above at the ingenuity of it all.freshly picked moccs in radiant orchid
freshly picked moccs in radiant orchid
They are long-lasting. Freshly Picked moccasins are incredibly well-made in the USA. Mompreneur Susan Petersen began her business in 2009, handmaking moccasins out of soft, genuine leather that endures years of wear. I can attest to this because before Freshly Picked sent us moccs to review, Serene donned a pair of hand-me-down FP Platinum moccs in size 2. She wears them all the time (see here and here) since they fit her perfectly. Her Radiant Orchid moccs are a size bigger so that she can grow into them. In fact, I feel she will be wearing FP moccs for a long time; they're made up to a toddler size 10. Many may balk at the $60 price, which may seem steep for baby shoes. I can completely relate since I'm a stay-at-home mama now and my husband is in pastoral ministry, but FP moccs are so resilient and perfect for everyday wear that they're well worth the investment. Serene pretty much wears her moccs all the time.serene in freshly picked moccs
They are comfortable. Ten-month-old Serene is an adventurous mover and groover. She crawls, pulls up, and cruises like a champ. Pretty soon, she'll be walking. Freshly Picked moccs are the ideal shoe for this stage of her life since they are light, cozy, and flexible on her growing feet. Because they're made entirely of durable leather, they contour to her feet and provide better balance for crawlers and new walkers than hard-soled shoes. freshly picked moccs in radiant orchid
Obviously, I am a huge fan of these sweet baby moccs. I'm sure you will be too, whether you are a mama to a baby or toddler, a mama-to-be, or whether you know a mama with a baby or toddler who'd love a pair of Freshly Picked moccs. Freshly Picked has kindly donated a pair of moccs in the size and color of your choice for this giveaway, so see below to enter!

Fine print: You must be 18+ years old and a U.S. or international resident. If you are an international resident, you must be willing to pay your own shipping if you win. You are not eligible to enter if you've won a pair of Freshly Picked moccs in the last 60 days.

To enter this giveaway:
Follow Ah, that's love via Bloglovin', Google Friend Connect, or email. Comment below to indicate how you are following, and what color moccs you'd like if you win. View all colors here.
You must enter via the first step above to qualify. To enter extra entries:
  1. Follow me on Instagram. Leave an additional comment to let me know.
  2. Share this post on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Leave an additional comment for each social media channel you share this post to let me know. Provide the link to the shared post if applicable. A share on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter will each count as an entry. However, sharing on the same social media channel across multiple days will not be counted for additional entries.
As you can see, you get to enter up to five times - hooray! Please note that you need to leave a comment for each way you enter the giveaway. Each comment equals one entry. If you enter five ways, you must leave five comments. The giveaway closes on Wednesday, August 27th at 11:59 p.m. PST. The winner will be randomly selected then and announced at the end of this post. Happy entering!

Disclosure: I received a pair of moccs to facilitate my review. No other compensation was provided and all views and opinions stated on this post are my own.