Monday, December 3, 2018

Christmas Cards with Minted

Sending (and receiving!) Christmas cards is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. Snail mail from friends and family that you may not see often is always a special way to keep in touch.
I knew I wanted to order cards this year from Minted, and I was absolutely thrilled when I saw their new booklet cards! 

Since I haven't been blogging often, I wanted to send a card that would share with friends and family all that we have been up to the past year (our lives look very different from a year ago!), but wanted something a bit more special (with photos and nice presentation) than a traditional written letter... the booklet cards were just what I was looking for!

The great thing about the booklet cards is that you are able to customize what each page of the booklet looks like - perfectly meeting my Christmas card vision! There were several templates to choose from, but the "Greenery" was exactly what I was looking for... this year was beyond busy, but so much joy, indeed!

In our card I shared a short update on Jack and Emma. Given how young they are, they change so quickly, so it's fun to give a little personalized detail on the hooligans individually.

Also, since I haven't been blogging as often (hello, two under two!), I have a (very) large backlog of photos that I have been wanting to share. So a photo collage was exactly what I was looking for... an easy way to show people what we've been up to. From Halloween costumes, to apple orchards, and endless trips to the park - we've been having a lot of fun over here.

I also shared our "2018 Top Three." This year has truly been a blessing - we grew from a family of three to a family of four, spent our first year in Minnesota after our move from Texas, and explored our new state with two kiddos under two in tow. Our lives certainly aren't perfect, and we had our share of tough times - death, job changes, many sleepless nights - but the Lord has been so good to us this year... there is no question about that.

We are so excited for this holiday season... Emma's first Christmas and every year that Jack gets older the holidays get even more special! Amidst all of the holiday buzz, we pray that our family and friends also celebrate the true meaning of Christmas - the birth of our Savior and the ultimate mission of His life here on earth. Now that's a reason to celebrate! :)

As the back of our Christmas card says, "We wish you and your family a very merry Christmas!"

Love, the Prays
John, Lisa, Jack and Emma


You can view our past Christmas cards below!


Thank you, Minted for the beautiful platform to share our lives with friends and family! 
Minted provided a credit towards the purchase of these Christmas cards; however, all opinions expressed are my own!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Family Photos

Over Fourth of July, all of my extended family was in town, and to memorialize the occasion, we organized family photos with everyone in them. I think the last time we had a full family picture was at my wedding in 2011 - and so much has changed in the last 7 years... including four sweet babies!

My parents live in downtown Minneapolis, and my mom wanted to get photos on the Stone Arch Bridge. The day was raining, but the photos turned out beautiful nonetheless. Audrey from Audrey Nicole Photography did such a good job and these photos will be treasured forever!

Here is a peek at our family photos!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Hiking Mt. Rainier

John recently took a trip to Washington state to hike Mt. Rainier, and although I didn't join him, it was too cool of a trip not to blog about for future memories! So thankfully John was willing to write a post to share with y'all! ;)


While not a huge fan of social media, I'm a big fan of Lisa and her blog, and I think it is both incredible and more than a little bit frightening that what she posts here will be preserved on the internet for posterity - the upside of this, of course, is that our two wonderful kiddos will be able to look back on her posts (minus those she has deleted - RIP slow-cooker beef stroganoff recipe) and gain insight into the people their parents were while they were still cool.

With that lofty goal in mind, Lisa asked me to write a short post about my recent trip to Mt. Rainier. Here it goes:

The seed of the idea to climb Mt. Rainier was almost certainly planted during the four years I spent living in Auburn, Washington, where "the Mountain" both literally and figuratively overshadowed my daily life as a little boy who, left largely to his own devices, quickly became enamored with the natural world around him - an easy thing to do in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. That seed likely germinated during law school, when, as an escape from the oppressive burden of my daily case readings, I turned to fly fishing, bird hunting, and, after graduating law school and moving to the American Southwest, long day hikes to the summits of mountain peaks in the southern Rockies and other nearby mountain ranges.

Having kiddos curtailed my free time but not my desire to spend time outside, so I started thinking about what sort of things I could do to make the most of my limited opportunities for outdoor adventure. Alpine mountaineering, in its sheer scale, grandiosity and undeniable romanticism, was the obvious answer, and, given my boyhood familiarity, Mt. Rainier was the clear target. So obvious to me, in fact, that I booked the trip and made a deposit without even mentioning it to Lisa - a minor detail that resulted in a not insignificant amount of consternation in my household.

In any case, I showed up in Seattle nine months later, in fairly good shape but without having prepared physically the way I should have (occupational hazard of being a new dad for the second time, as well as a private equity mergers and acquisitions lawyer by day - and, frequently, night - I guess). Mentally, however, I was all there.

Of the three days my team would spend on the Mountain, two and a half were in whiteout conditions, which means there were no pictures to be had. The first leg, a six- hour slog up the Muir Snowfield for roughly six thousand feet of elevation gain, all while wearing double mountaineering boots and hauling a forty pound pack, was grueling but not entirely disheartening.

The second day was spent acclimatizing and learning how traverse glaciers by working as a rope team, which is a system of attaching yourself to the two other members of a three-person team via a climbing harness and thirty feet of rope, so that if one member of a team falls into a crevasse (essentially a giant crack in the ice, up to around 60 feet deep), the others, in theory, will be able to haul the fallen person out and all can continue onward as planned. After becoming sufficiently proficient in glacier travel technique, my team roped up, strapped on crampons, and climbed another few thousand feet to "high camp," where we then rested up for the next several hours prior to our attempt at the summit of Mt. Rainier.

The third day, "summit day" (which began at 12am - the infamous "alpine start") did not go as planned. The blizzard conditions that persisted over the prior three days contributed to what our lead guide (who I'm inclined to take seriously, since he was standing on the top of Everest two weeks prior) determined to be an unreasonably high risk of avalanche danger. As a result, my team (and every other team on the Mountain during the time I was there) did not go for the summit of Rainier.

While failing to attempt the summit left me feeling incredibly disappointed in the moment, by morning my emotions had cooled and I was able to appreciate the value of all of the things I had learned on my trip. The fact that the weather cleared up must have helped (along with the fact that we were able to look further up on the mountain and see that avalanches had actually occurred during the night), and we were finally able to take a few pictures:

Friday, July 13, 2018

Jack and Emma Embroidery

I absolutely love a monogram - it doesn't even matter what it is on; seriously, I feel like you could embroider my initials on a paper bag, and I would instantly be obsessed with it! And since I've run out of things to monogram, I've decided to turn my love for embroidered items into a little side hustle!  

Jack and Emma Embroidery offers monogrammed baby and toddler clothing at affordable prices... basically, if I want it for my kiddos, I want it for your kiddos! Since little ones grow so quickly, it doesn't make much sense to pay a large amount of money on monogrammed clothes since they can only wear them a handful of time before they no longer fit and the clothes can't be handed down to siblings - unless they have the same initials, of course... wish I would have thought of that when naming Emma - just kiddinggg (kind of!). 

So if you're anything like me, I am not interested in breaking the bank on clothes that only get worn a handful of times!

I offer the cutest bubbles for girls (which are already only available in certain sizes!), hair bows, little boy jon jons, seersucker shorts, and the sweetest embroidered hooded bath towels... ALL of which make the best baby shower gifts, by the way! In addition to those items, I have been doing several custom orders on kid clothes or blankets that the customer picks out; so if you don't see the sizes, colors, or items you're looking for, just let me know and I will order it, monogram, and ship it to you!

So follow me on Instagram for the most swoon-worthy monograms! :)

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