Snow Days & 3am Prayers by T.J. Mousetis


There is definitely something more magical about the snow when you have kids. Actually, most things in life become more magical when you have kids. You get to see things with fresh eyes, and experience everything all over again with them.

It's been snowing the past two days here in our little town and June has asked to go outside both days! I was so surprised the first day that she wanted to go out that I happily obliged and grabbed my camera without even putting my own coat on! June ran up and down our sidewalk, stomping in the puddles, trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue and did it all with such excitement and joy.

Genuine joy.

That is something I've been praying for lately. In fact, I've been praying for a lot of things lately. Because, I'll tell ya something --- having a newborn who cries wayyyyy more than your first kid ever did makes you question a lot of things about life at 3am.

If I'm totally honest, there was a stretch of time in the last two months where my prayers sounded like "God make her stop crying." "Jesus please let her sleep all night long, so I can sleep." "Please make June be miraculously well behaved today and potty train herself." I was praying to my "genie-Jesus" begging for everyone else to make adjustments, and change, and wear their big girl pants (literally), but not asking for actual help, joy, or strength for myself. "Hey everyone else! Feelings update: you change, cause I'm too tired too. Ok? Cool thanks bye."

On the little bookshelf next to the chair where I nurse Sunny, there is a devotional book my friend Heather recently gave me called "5-Word Prayers, Where to start when you don't know what to say to God." I picked it up one day while sitting there, not because I was feeling desperate, but simply because I wanted to read something while nursing. And wouldn't you know, the prayer I read for that day was these five words, "Please give me strength now."

And that's all it took. That's when it hit me. I don't think I've ever prayed that in my life. Maybe once, while in unmedicated labor with June (ha ha!), but I'm certain I didn't have the word "now" on the end of it. How simple that prayer sounded and how powerful I was certain it would be over my life. And so I prayed it. All day... and all night... for a few weeks.

And before long, my fears and bitterness about the season of life I am in were lifted. I find that my thoughts and heart are in better place throughout my day when my prayers, even when short and desperate, are about gratitude for my little family and a request for genuine joy and strength through this season.

That same little devotional went on to say this...

"Many days a desperate, searching heart has prayed to God, please give me strength now. We need God's strength to withstand the winds of life that threaten to blow us into a place of skepticism and despair. We've prayed it in the quiet of night, lying on a pillow that never feels soft enough to grant us rest. We've prayed it in our car, driving numbly down this street and that, sitting in the tall grass, watching children play and wishing we could be so carefree, clutching our memories beside fresh graves, begging for our hearts to stop breaking the whole way through. Only the strength of God can console our weeping souls. ..... The Word of God promises, over and over, to give us the strength we do not have in everyday life and great times of struggle." - Lisa Whittle, 5 Word Prayers

So now, I ask for help --- and my 3am prayers sound much more like "Help me to be patient in all circumstances." "Help me speak more gracefully to my girls." "Thank you for this little life." "Give me energy for tomorrow." "Please give me strength now."

And, "Thank you for snow days."

Pear + Avocado Spring Salad by Brooke Courtney


Happy first day of Spring friends! What perfect timing for this Pear + Avocado Spring Salad that I made for lunch yesterday! In fact, this salad has a funny story behind it. If you're only here for the recipe, go ahead and scroll on down to the goodness. But if you like stories about Target and crazy toddlers and the rollercoaster that is motherhood - keep reading.

Yesterday morning was madness of the best kind. My sister-in-law Kelsey and I had decided that we were going to β€œgo to a park on Monday because it’s going to be warm out and let's be amazing Moms and do something with our kids outside!” But after a night of waking up with Sunny, I was feeling like coffee was higher on my list than sunshine, which is rare. So, I text Kels and said β€œWe could do the park. Or the sandbox at my house? Or the new Target. πŸ˜‚β€

She replied almost immediately β€œWell, I do need things at Target. πŸ˜‚” To which I replied β€œYes, me too. And honestly that new Target is bigger than a park. And those new carts are basically like a ride. Oh and COFFEE.”

And by 10:30am we’d met up with our four kids, slammed our Starbucks and were standing in the aisles of Target going β€œI should have made a list. Did you make a list? I forgot to make a list. What’s even in tacos? I can’t wrap my brain around what I need to buy.” <Fills cart with Oreos and snacks and diapers.>

By the time we'd made it up to the registers, all the kids were starting to feel the feels. My sweet, sweet niece Pearl (age 2) starting unwrapping a chocolate egg, to which I said "Kels did you pay for this?" She had not paid for it, so naturally I took if from Pearl. Which sent her into a total meltdown. Poor thing. She just had to have the chocolate. We've all been there my sweet Pearl... all of us. πŸ˜‚

Eventually we made it into our cars, packed up our groceries, and Pearl had promised to "have a happy heart" by the time she got back to my house. And she did, bless her. Upon arriving home, Sunny was screaming to be fed. June and Pearl had both pooped. The entire house smelled awful. Gray (9 months) needed fed and changed. Everyone was hungry. The groceries were still in the car and our suitcases and bags from our Pittsburgh trip were still open and all over our living room.

So we sent the girls out back to play with the bubble machine and in the sandbox while I made them lunch. Meanwhile Gray was eating old dried corn off my rug and Sunny was having a hard time falling asleep, so I was going upstairs every eight seconds to push her pacifier back in. When the time came for June and Pearl to come inside for lunch, Pearl melted down again and June was so concerned about it she was trying to share all the things with her and didn't eat much of her lunch. Eventually, I let both girls eat tubes of Chobani yogurt, and didn't even care that they were upstairs sprinting around while Sunny was sleeping. And I made this salad for Kelsey and I to eat.

When I slid the salad across the counter for Kelsey to eat, she said "Well you pulled this out of your butt." And yes, I did. πŸ˜‚And THAT my friends is how motherhood feels somedays, because by 2pm there was sand in my sheets, yogurt on June's bed, frozen corn thawing in my trunk, and an explosion of laundry everywhere. BUT WE ATE SALADS FOR LUNCH, GOSH DARNIT, AND I CONSIDER THAT A SUCCESSFUL DAY.

Toddler Tip: See how I plated the same food for my 3 year old, June, so she could eat lunch with me!



  • Spring Salad Mix
  • Avocado
  • Walnuts
  • Pear
  • Dried Cherries (or Craisins)
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing


Brown chicken over medium heat in skillet and season with salt and pepper. Place two big handfuls of salad mix in your bowl. Top with thinly sliced pear, avocado, walnuts, cherries and warm chicken. Season salad with sea salt and black pepper, and a light drizzle of your favorite balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Assuming you need to feed your kids too, serve them the chicken, avocado, pear, and a mixture of cherries and walnuts. Boom. LUNCH MADE.


Welcome Sunny Grace! by Brooke Courtney

Meet our newest family member, Sunny Grace. 🌞 She was born on the morning of January 17th, 7lb 2oz, 21 inches long... crying so loudly that no one could miss it! It felt very much like Sunny was saying "I'M HERE AND I'M AMAZING SO DEAL WITH IT!!!!"

It seems quite appropriate to me that this post is, in theory, six weeks "late"... because she is after all our second kid. Although, to be fair, I tried several times to take her "newborn photos" and each time she would just cry, or spit up on her outfit, or be too tired to look cute. But, third times a charm I guess, because the other day I got her dressed in a cute outfit, calmed her down and then had seven minutes - literally - to shoot these photos before she was over it. I shot my first image at 1:58pm and my last at 2:05pm. I know this because I checked the metadata on my images! Ha ha! πŸ˜‚

Sunny is such a delight. She's looking more and more like June everyday, yet the two of them are almost nothing a like as babies. June slept a lot, and Sunny is often wide-eyed and crazy looking. Sunny eats like a champ (hallelujah!), where June had much more trouble in that area. June loved to be swaddled and Sunny is, well.... learning to like it. Sunny loves to be held and snuggled, where June often didn't want to be touched. Actually, June's still this way. πŸ˜‚ Just today I tried to play with her hair while she was sitting in my lap to read a book and she said "Don't do that! No thank you" and ducked away from my hands. Sorry Junie, you got that trait from me!

Unless you are a close friend of mine, or were buddies with me on AIM when my screen name was sunnymorrow, you might not know that my childhood nick name was Sunny Morrow. (In fact, T.J. and my family still call me Sunny!) And that's why we've named our girls June Morrow and Sunny Grace.

My recovery after June's birth was very difficult and complicated, which lead to years of dreading getting and being pregnant again, crippling fear at just the thought of delivering another baby, dreams about the trauma of it all, and then guilt over feeling any of those things because babies are wonderful and "of course I want to have more kids!" And so, from the moment I even started thinking about trying to get pregnant again, I knew I needed grace. Over all of it, the whole time. I prayed endlessly for this time to be different, and redemptive. I proclaimed Grace, Grace! over Sunny from day one, and that's why I chose Grace for her middle name.

Side note: if you weren't buddies with me on AIM back in the day.. man, you were missing out. I had some super cryptic lyric inspired away messages that made me seem super cool. πŸ˜‚

In the last few weeks I've had to cut all dairy from my diet, and it's made a world of difference for Sunny. So now I just eat sleeves of Oreos to make up for the lack of cheese in my life. I actually had a dream just last night about eating this beautiful Pinterest-worthy yogurt and berry parfait, and half way through eating it I was like "Oh no! This is dairyyyyy, what am I thinkinnnnnng!?!?!" and yet continued to eat it. I honestly never thought I'd dream about a yogurt parfait in my entire life. At least not in a stressful way!

T.J., June and I are so happy to have a healthy little girl in our family. We love you Sunny Grace!




Beach Vacation | Stone Harbor by Brooke Courtney


You guys, I did it. I'm only four months "late" with this post, but here it is. This past September, we spent the first week of the month in Stone Harbor, NJ, enjoying our last "beach week" as family of three. We stayed with my parents who'd rented a house (thanks Mom & Dad!) for the week, within walking distance of the little town and ocean.

Once we'd settled into our room the first day, I said to T.J. "Let's just walk down to the beach so she can see the ocean, so she knows where we are." To which he laughed and replied "Yea okay, and NOT get in... right? She's gonna run straight for it." Annnnnnnd she did. Clothes and all. πŸ˜‚

T.J. and I had decided before we even left for our trip that we were really going to make an effort to stay off of our phones during our vacation, so for me that looked like taking my "real" camera with me most places. It really worked for us, too! We got to the end of the week and I'd taken mayyyybe 5 photos on my phone and I don't even know if T.J. had taken any!

Now I guess we did have to wait like four months to really see the photos, ha ha, but oh well! It was worth it.

Note the last image in the set below where June is clearly negotiating with T.J. for "one more time" of running into the ocean with her clothes on.

Watching your kid enjoy the beach and all that comes with it is so much fun, minus sand in ALL the places of course. It was our first vacation where June really played in the water, collected shells, "helped" T.J. dig holes and chased the seagulls. I am always grateful for how active and involved T.J. is with June, but I was especially grateful for it at the beach. Splashing around in the ocean at 20 weeks pregnant just didn't sound like the most fun thing to me.

We went to the boardwalk one evening to get molasses paddles from Douglass Candies and crab fries from Chickies & Petes. June spent a lot of the night twirling around in her beloved pink dress, and asking every three minutes if she could have more "sprinkles"... aka, sucking the sprinkles off a $4 chocolate covered pretzel. 

Most of our mornings started off slow with breakfast at the house or walks downtown to get coffees and doughnuts and play on the playgrounds. We spent one day at the local Cape May Zoo, which I just love. It's free to the public, although you can give a donation to the cute old man who hands out the maps when you drive into the park. I feel like I barely got any photos of Junie at the zoo because she literally just sprinted from one place to the next until we got to the very end. I was having a hard time keeping up, let alone getting out in front of her to take a photo. πŸ˜‚

After the zoo, we came back to the house so June could nap, and then went to the beach for the afternoon once she woke up. I think she and T.J. ran to and from the waves about a thousand times, while I sat in my chair and ate cheese and veggie straws. #livingthatmomlife

I love how windy it looks in the photos below and that June's hair looks so light in color and salty. It's definitely gotten darker the last few months and seeing these images from September makes that super obvious. Also, SUNSHINE. Just look at the warm sunshine in these photos! There is HOPE!

Our last day on the beach was a little bit colder than earlier in the week, but that didn't stop June from wanting to run full speed towards the water and then be chased back onto the beach by myself, T.J. or my parents. The joy on her face, mixed with the blue sky and puffy clouds, just makes my photo-loving-heart so happy. 

So, there you have it. A little glimpse into our beach vacation from this past September. Editing these photos realllllly makes me want to travel somewhere, or start planning this year's vacation! Crazy to think that we'll also have a 6-9 month old in tow (depending on when we go to the beach) for our vacation this year.

What are you favorite, family friendly, beach towns? I've grown up going to Stone Harbor, which is why we love it, but I'd be interested in trying somewhere new, too! Let me know in the comments!

Tiny Town for Pearl's 2nd Birthday! by T.J. Mousetis


June and I got to tag along to Tiny Town for my niece Pearl's 2nd Birthday last week, and although I'd seen pictures of Tiny Town online, we'd never been! So, both June and I were excited to go when Aunt KiKi invited us!

As you can tell, it's exactly what it sounds like! A tiny town for kids to play in, with a doctor's office, mechanic's garage, grocery store, diner, hair dressed, library and more! June just kept walking around pointing at things and saying "It's so little!"

Other than both Pearl and June having a few meltdowns due to having to share certain rooms with other kids πŸ˜‚, it was a super fun time and they both loved it! We will definitely go back again. 

Happy 2nd Birthday Pearl! We love you!