to the mom who never got to hold her baby...

To the mom who never got to hold her baby,

To the hurting mama heart longing for her child,

To the baby I didn’t get to know, this is for you.



Life is just so incredibly beautiful isn’t it 

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Easily the top two favorite and beautiful moments of my life: 

The days I found out I was pregnant.



Most people don’t know, but Clint and I had our share of worry and stress over conceiving Jade. It took us almost a year to have her—which may seem like forever for you fertile ones or like no time at all for you mothers-in-waiting, still hanging on for an answer or a baby to call your own.



You better believe pinterest was my best and worst friend during that time, filling my head with products to buy and things to do; from throwing those legs skyhigh to eating and drinking certain things, to sneezing and doing a dance, no wives tale seems too ridiculous not to try when your mind is obsessed with pregnancy. 



As usual, this was a silent battle. People pester with questions and while you don’t want them to do that incessantly, you also don’t want to be looked at weirdly or sometimes even to be checkup up on in the front lines of the negative pregnancy tests. I prayed a prayer frequently that I just wanted one baby, just one and I’ll never ask for another or anything else again. There was a raw and needed moment at church where I surrendered (as much as you can) that pregnancy & motherhood desire. I told God I would be okay either way and was done playing tug of war.


And then it finally happened—those lines on the test making my dreams come true.

 

Fast-forward four years: 

I have a full life—my beautiful Jade, Clint, a booming business, and the most incredible friends a girl could ask for. Everyone I see, at seemingly every time I see them, asks me when my next one is coming. Or, my favorite question “what are you waiting for?”. It isn’t but a month after you’ve had your first one that people start their pestering questions once more, demanding a sibling!



I always shrugged these comments off as not ready, so busy, or any other excuse I could find.  In reality, we just don’t get pregnant very easily.



And then finally, finally! that positive pregnancy test. 

The thrill of that new life, whether it be in your womb or the promise of adoption, is such a sweet, sweet time. I immediately started planning!



I decided on this waterfall mini-session,that was originally planned to be a family session, to tell Clint. I found myself at Atlar’d State right before closing gathering supplies for this casual session. Jade’s sign says ‘I’m going to be a big sister’ – she thought it said ‘I want to be a ballerina when I grow up.’ We were taking photographs and Jade turned with her sign to show her dad, thrilling him and filling me with such excitement and pride. 

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Another sweet baby, a brand new dream. 


We were so happy. As a person with anxiety I efficiently totaled up my due date and before you know it I’d happily planned out the next two years! My early May due date was perfect, Clint would be out of school soon after, and we would have a summer together as a family of four, and so on & so on. 



Soon after, in the middle of the night, I woke up with pain. My fluttering anxiety had me thinking the worst but I tried to press on. Spotting is normal and pain is normal and everything is normal!  Then came large amounts of blood and I started to panic. In true Melissa fashion, I had to get up that morning and shoot a wedding so I pulled myself together, and went to work. 



The morning after photographing the wedding, I moved from one thing to the next like a robot, and finally made an appointment. It was a mixture of shock and nerves that got me in to that appointment. I wasn’t crying or anything yet, I was holding tightly to my dream, imagining all the things it could be other than what I thought it could be. 



Quickly, the ultrasound confirmed that I was miscarrying. As if miscarrying wasn’t enough to handle, I had to sit in the waiting room with lots of happy and adorable pregnant women. That was hard, so hard.


I hung on to all those irrational, self-reassuring thoughts that you have like, “maybe it was twins and they couldn’t see my healthy baby” or “maybe they are wrong” or “doctors are wrong all the time!” I went to brueggers and had bagels & hot tea with my grandma and just sat there, still in shock of what was happening. 


I was emotionally & mentally drained and devastated but my body and physical pain was another constant reminder. Even if I could have talked my mind out of what was happening, my body was waving a flag in my face. A flag of deafeat. My self-will to try and block it out wasn’t helpful, no relief to ease the pain. 




That pregnancy test declared the life of my new little one. My second baby. The baby that would make my sweet Jade a big sister. A new dream began and ended just as abruptly. A lost dream, a life over. 

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In the aftermath, I’ve had a lot of perspective shifts. 

It used to seem right to wait to tell people until that ‘safe’ 13 week mark. Now that I’ve celebrated and am grieving in isolation, I wish more people had been able to celebrate with us and then be there for us during this part. I’ve learned you need your people in the great, positive, wonderful times and you really need them in the wrong, grieving, and confusing times. 




I know the statistic of 1 in 3 pregnancies ending in miscarriage, so I’m sure more people than I can imagine need to hear it now. Whether it was 1 hour, 5 weeks, 3 months, 9 months—a life is a life. Your baby was here and now isn’t. If no one knew about your precious life, got to celebrate or grieve with you, then you can tell someone. You can reach out. Take strength from others and grieve and keep living without a piece of yourself. It doesn’t have to be a post or a blog or anything eloquent at all. It can just be the whisper to a friend over bagels and tea, a hug to help you try to feel whole again.





Looking at these pictures is painful and beautiful at the same time. One day I can show and explain it to Jade, that she too celebrated her siblings life. 

That it was real. That it mattered. That we can celebrate and grieve. 





If you need anything, please don’t wait. Lean on your friends, find new friends, join something worthy, go to church, go to the gym, go BACK to church, eat food, smash something—anything you need, I hope you gain the strength to get it. For you and your children and the children you’ll only know apart from this world. 

lastly, I would like to say that the most comforting thing to me is that I was the only one to hold my sweet baby and now that baby is in the arms of Jesus <3

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the masters <3

Hey There Gorgeous!

 

Recently I had the privilege to attend a highly sought after event—The Masters.

 

8 things that are only ‘things’ at the masters:

 

What: The Masters

Setting: August Georgia

When: April 2018

 

You are greeted at the bathroom like a celebrity (is that a thing)? 

There are ‘chick-fil-a-esque’ employees waiting to refresh your bathroom stall with smells and cleaners. “It’s my pleasure” was said to me multiple times. 

Side note: the man to woman ratio was so off that the men’s bathroom line wrapped around the building while the women could walk right in—in what world amiright? 

 

2. The food is cheap

At any sporting event or concert, a beer & a hotdog would be upwards to $15. Beer at the masters is $3 and their delicious pimento cheese sandwich is $1.50.

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3. Georgia Peach ice-cream sandwich 

Peach ice-cream sandwiched between two soft sugar cookies (only $2)! Need I say more? This was love in my mouth. I may or may not have had more than one.

 

4. Cell phones are banned

Signs are posted that you will be kicked out for life if you bring your cell phone onto the premises at all (leave yo phone in the car). It had been a while since I had unplugged completely. It was like I heard the birds chirp for the first time in longer than I can remember. I felt so relaxed and I know that was why. Clint commented that he had never seen me so calm—it reminded me that regardless of what I do on my phone, almost everything will work again if you unplug for a few minutes—including you and me.

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5. Wall of free payphones 

As to keep the masters a stress free and traditional atmosphere with no distraction, there are phones available for you to check up on your little ones and the rest of the world if need be.

 

6. Rich people collect cheap plastic cups for souvenirs 

You see people who flew in on private jets holding stacks of free cups like weirdos—best believe they will get their free souvenir cups! 

 

7. Beauty Abounds

The simple elegance of the scenery takes your breath away—maybe it does in other places, I just need to put that phone down. Azaleas bloom, green pops out at you everywhere and there are clean white buildings and older signs direct you to wherever you need to go.

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8. Be Quiet

I may or may not have—but definitely did—get into trouble based off of my noise level. Those who know me well wont be shocked by that. There are many times that you have to tone it down or turn it off completely (ex. When they tee off, when they are putting, basically whenever there is golfing happening, hush your mouth). 

 

All in all, my masters experience was a relaxing, unforgettable day (hubby has said that it was the best trip of his life). If you ever get the chance to go, you should. Put it on your bucket list. 

Stay out of the gift shop because the t-shirts and pullovers are $50 (kids clothes as well… how would I know)?! I returned home to North Carolina with a desire and a plan to start learning golf—we’ll see how well the follow through on that goes. 

easter at disney

Hey there Gorgeous!

 

As you all know, my family does Disney any chance we can (and I make sure that’s a lot) but going at Easter was a first for us. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge—another first for us—and found that this is the perfect location if you’re obsessed with magic kingdom. You can take a bus ride (five minutes), walk down to the dock and take a precious boat ride (ten minutes), or just watch the fireworks from the lake.  

 

Fast-forward to Easter Sunday where our resort had a special character meet and greet.  These are my favorite because they are really unusual and special on holidays. We got to see and take pictures with Mickey & Minnie in their pastel purple Easter best. 

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After our time with Mickey & Minnie, we headed over to the boardwalk where we attended the Bon Voyage breakfast (Trattoria Al Forno). If you want to know more about this breakfast check out the original bon voyage breakfast blog.

After breakfast, Easter activities were set up on the lawn: 

Bubbles

Free face painting (even daddy got his face painted because if something is free at Disney, we allllllll doing it)

Games with prizes

& general merriment

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In case you are wondering, Jades ears came from one of my favorite Etsy shops called ‘the posh society’ (http://www.etsy.com/theposhsociety). 

 

Sasha is a hand beading, tulle perfecting, sequin-ing master of bows & Disney ears. I wanted to follow my tradition of being obsessed with Disney ears but I also wanted to incorporate Easter so I messaged Sasha about it and she made all my dreams come true!

sparkle hustle grow <3

Hey There Gorgeous

 

Fun fact about me: I’m a huge sucker for subscription boxes & pretty things. 

 

So my latest craze—a fun, creativity-sparking entrepreneur box – had my name written all over it from the second I learned what it was. 

 

Sparkle,

Hustle, 

Grow. 

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This bangin’ box includes four to six items to inspire you and your business toward growth. Some things included are a book, a cute frame-worthy thing for your office, fun supplies, and encouraging totems.  Included in this is an add to an exclusive community of subscribers—so you can check networking off your list! The box is 39.95 per month or you can pick a few pay-ahead options (3 month, 6 month, or a year) and get a discount. 

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When I first saw the box and fell in love with it, I did some facebook stalking. In my searching, I realized that the CEO and founder, Julie Ball, lives in the quaint town of Black Mountain, North Carolina—the same town as me! Since I was already creeping on her, I decided to be a true fangirl and message her. I told her about myself and asked if we could get together to talk business and the rest is history. We hit it off in 30 seconds and talked until there was literally no more time to spare. There is nothing quite like meeting other boss babes and hearing about their dreams-turned-businesses.

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We decided to an entrepreneur team up so if your wanting to try the product, click here:

 

http://www.sparklehustlegrow.com/?aff=7

 

 

Check it out & get some inspiration—I  promise you won’t be disappointed!

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top ten tips for doing disney with a toddler

 

 

1. Flights

So you want to save a day and your sanity? What you’re looking for are the words ‘Allegiant Air’ (out of Asheville) or ‘Frontier’ (out of Charlotte). Both airlines average a $150 cost. The other differences in these two airlines is that Frontier flies into MCO airport, which has Disney magical express pick you up from the airport and take you to your resort –price included with your Disney trip. Allegiant flies into the Sanford airport only which is about an hour away from the resorts. From there you can get a $60 uber—always uber! Taxis are much more pricey. The downside to these airlines in that they upcharge for everything –seats together, bags, food and drinks while in-flight. Even with all their price points, they are much cheaper than a regular airline. They also only fly certain days a week, so I always plan my trip around the days they fly. 

 

2. Strollers

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT take your child under five to Disney without a stroller. I don’t care if every other time they don’t need one or use one or are super-heros or have ADHD—none of that matters at Disney. The whining is simply not worth it. You can pack your own stroller if you’re driving or pay extra to take it on a flight. Another option (and what we do) is rent a stroller. You rent online and it is waiting for you at the concierge desk when you arrive. It comes with a cooler bag and a rain cover. We rent ours from kingdomstrollers.com. To rent a BOB single for 3 nights is $50 and 7 days its $70. One of the reasons I did this is travelling with a stroller at an airport is such drama, and the one time I did it my fancy stroller got broken.

{proof below that strollers are life. I think disney should invent a stroller for parents. maybe I should work on that!}

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3. Snacks

a.k.a my favorite thing. Hangry is a real condition, and you don’t want it to happen to you or your loved ones at Disney. I know this because I suffer from it daily. You can pack and bring outside food and drink into all the parks. If you go to a snack stand they will give you a cup of water for free—everything else is going to be $10+ and not worth it. 

{I am pretty sure that muffin was like $8. Don't fall victim to being hangry at disney, and over paying for alllll the snacks like the McElraths have} 

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{ However, you should create a small budget for mickey shaped food because mickey shaped food is the best kind of food. OBVIOUSLY. }

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4. Plan your meals

You can make reservations for any meal at disney 180 days out. All meals are expensive so go ahead and plan a character lunch to entertain your toddler and be able to enjoy your food. This also saves you waiting in line and wandering around for a place to sit and eat—all of which make hangry way worse.

 

{these photos are from our princess breakfast in the castle <3  This is a reservation that you need to make at the 180 day mark, and worth every penny to see your little girl snuggle the princesses}

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5. Naptime

Save yourself and plan for naptime. We like to take ours in the hottest part of the day (around 2:30 or 3) which also allows us to stay later when all other kids are passed out in their strollers or having meltdowns during the fireworks. 

 

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6. Fastpasses 

If you’re staying at a Disney resort you can set up your fastpasses 60 days in advance – if you are not staying at a Disney resort, you can do 30 days in advance. First, download the My Disney experience app from the appstore. Here are the rules: you get three per day automatically and they have to be in the same park. My tip- make them for as early in the day as possible because once you complete your third one, you can get on your app and add one at a time for the rest of the day. So if you are in magic kingdom but you want to book ‘Soarin’ at Epcott in two hours, you could book your time ahead after completing your initial three.

 

7. Extras

Toys! Buy cool extras online before you go and pull them out at the parks.

Mickey ears, glow sticks, princess prizes, and balloons will be super pricey at Disney but not so much on amazon or target or even the dollar store. Order it, pack it, bring it. Your toddler won't know where you purchased it from. You’re Welcome! 

 

 

8. Amazon Prime

Amazon prime your snacks and things you need a few days before you go and have it sent and delivered to your resort. THIS IS A THING. Disney is starting to catch on, and charging a delivery fee.  Its still so much easier for pouches, snacks, and water bottles. Example: we will be there for Easter and are getting all Easter basket paraphernalia sent there. This is so I don’t have to use room in my suitcase packing a bunch of stuff that may melt and/or explode or not make it through airport security. I did a little research for you and Disney Easter baskets are ballpark $90. Prime is cheaper and deliveries are fun.

 

9.Parks

You want to get as much bang for your buck with your little ones. Magic kingdom is where it’s at when it comes to toddlers. There are so many rides, so many characters, and so many shows/parades. I recommend spending the majority of your time with toddlers at magic kingdom. Epcot is more grown up—usually the best thing to do there is meet princesses and see Frozen territory. Animal kingdom's safari is amazing—it is super fun and longer than your basic ride. You also get to sit in a covered truck while your little is entertained. Hollywood studios has a great Disney Junior section where you can meet Doc Mcstuffins, Jake, Pluto, and sofia the first. There are also great shows for kids and adults (not to mention toystory land opens June 30th 2018, so thats where you will catch me)! 

 

 

10. Balloons

You know those giant balloons on main street with the ears in them? The ones your child screams for? The $20 ones? Get one of those directly upon entry. If you buy one at the beginning of the trip and by some act of terror the balloon pops, Disney will give you another one for free (save receipt).  Come to mention it, any toy you buy there that might break will be replaced. Rip your princess dress? Get a new one! Drop your light up toy in a puddle? Getcha a new one! Your toddler bites the balloon and it dies? Go get another one!

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10. Splurge on Memory Maker even if you aren’t a photographer, you know how important pictures are and if you are spending a ton of money on a dream vacation you may as well save some extra for great pictures. While your iphone might suffice and you can try to grab a stranger to take a family photo—you can opt for being present & in the moment! You don’t have to pause to figure out where & how you’ll get a picture! Luckily, Disney has a photo service! Anywhere you see a photographer, pose for a picture and scan your magic band and it will be uploaded onto your ‘mydisneyexperience’ app. This includes character meals, unlimited digital downloads, and select attraction photo & videos (ahead of time purchase is $160). See ya last-minute selfies & hello dream photographs!

 

Jades first trip to disney at 17 months old. People thought we were crazy, but we had an amazing trip <3 

aint no party like a senegence party!!

Hey There Gorgeous

 

Aint no party like a senegence party! Need some proof? 

Two words for yall: 

COSTA RICA 

Not enough? How about these two words: 

FREE TRIP 

 

Anyone who knows me knows that there aren’t many things I love more than travelling and what I’ve recently discovered is that I really love travel that is free

You may be asking yourself, ‘how did she get to this place?’ 

I’ve been doing my side-gig with senegence for a year and three months—but because I busted it from the start, I qualified for this trip in just four months. This was an all-inclusive, all expenses paid, trip for a guest and myself. This included our flights, stay, drinks, food, parties, and excursions. You qualify for the Costa Rica trip based on your recruits and how much their sales equal out to. This trip happens every January, which means that each year you can always be working towards the goal of free travel (a pretty awesome incentive). My next goal is the lips trip to Australia in 2019.

I’ll never forget when I first signed up with senegence and read that I could qualify for a free trip—it seemed impossible to me. How could I ever get to that point in my business? In just four short months of believing in our products and reaching out to others, I reached my goal. In fact, I reached out to one of my leaders because I was confused about my numbers and thought there must be a mistake. It was such confirmation for me that hard work and senegence can make things happen. Truly, a dream come true! 

The first night in CR we were cordially invited to attend the welcome party. The theme of the party (oh man am I a sucker for themes) was ‘Mythical Forest.’  

Having the obsession with themes that I do, I was totally down for any excuse to wear flower crown and pretend to be a fairy. 

The setting was incredible– almost like attending a wedding. There were string lights, tables beautifully set and decorated, and mythical creatures roamed the party for photo ops and entertainment.

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We ate. We drank. We danced. 

Sene-sisters & bright lipstick were everywhere you looked.

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There was a ‘flower market’ at the party, with any and all kinds of gorgeous flowers to choose from and arrange into something lovely. Once you arranged, your bouquet was sent to your room for you to enjoy the rest of the trip.  (this photo describe my friends and I pretty well ha)

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There was also glitter face paint, which completed our flower-crown and fairy look. Speaking of glitter, Joni (CEO and founder) carried glitter in her purse everywhere with her like the queen fairy of the party. She glittered ladies and even created glitter beards everywhere she went. 

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If you look at this blog and these pictures and think this will never be you—you are wrong. It absolutely could be and it’s completely up to you. Think about the hard things that you have done in your life—all the risks you have taken and where you came from. The start of something is always scary but the rewards with Senegence are huge. I am so thankful for my team and want you on it! We are just getting started <3 

 

new year, same me, BIGGER goals <3

Hey there gorgeous & welcome to 2018

As you reflect on 2017, what are you thinking? Maybe you’re thinking, ‘I want to do more.’ Maybe you’re thinking, ‘I want to set more goals?’ Maybe you’re thinking, ‘I want to do this year differently.’ A few years ago, this could have been a description of my thoughts. I just felt… stuck. 

Have you ever felt “stuck” and knew you were meant for more—felt like you were just going through the motions over and over again? When I look back at certain years, I remember working jobs that weren’t fulfilling and that left me feeling depressed and miserable. 

All those things began to change after I had my baby. I knew I was meant to be a mom, and I love being a mom. I also knew that I wanted to do more than what I was doing and my photography business ended up being the perfect balance for my family. I spent my days with my girl, only leaving for a short amount of time for photo shoots and then all of my editing could be done with a little one climbing all over me.

Fast forward to when I found Senegence—or should I say when Senegence found me?  I think its pretty cool to see God's plan unfold.  My parents had always told me that I was a natural born leader (aka, a strong personality that likes to be in charge). Senegence catapulted me into the leader role that I was made for—the role that changed my life. I didn’t know that I had such a desire in my heart to help other women and become an entrepreneur until Senegence. 

When I look back on 2017, I can celebrate the changes that have made me the best version of myself. Hands down, this has been one of the most incredible years of my life; not only did I find a business that helped me find myself again, but I paid off loads of debt, helped other women do the same, and gained friendships that I didn’t know I needed. I was inspired by women all over the United States—Australia & Canada too!—and I learned that I was capable of everything I had dreamed. I am ending the year as a wife, a friend, a leader, a financial provider, a business woman, and a mother. I have never been so excited and motivated about starting a new year. 

I’ve been praying for God to help me find a word to base my year around.  My prayer is to make a mindset for myself that will propel me to complete all my goals in 2018. The word I have chosen is “unafraid.” 

I want to be unafraid to set huge goals

I want to be unafraid to crush them

I want to be unafraid to lead 

I want to be unafraid to be a better wife

I want to be unafraid to show my girl that she can, and should, dream big 

I want to be unafraid to encourage women to be fearless, because God has huge plans for them

and, I want to be unafraid to go to make time to go to Disney with my family as many times as I possibly can ;) 

Here is to 2018! 

{new year, same me, BIGGER goals)

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Trattoria Al Forno

Hey There Gorgeous!

Put on your crowns and start playing ‘When You Wish Upon a Star,’ ‘Part of Your World,’ or any other classic melody because today is a great day to discuss Disney!

We will be looking into & chatting about one of the newest breakfast’s at Disney; the ‘Bon Voyage Breakfast’ at Trattoria Al Forno on Disney’s Boardwalk.

 

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We were super excited about this breakfast because, duh—Princesses— but my girl Jade is also very interested in Princes. She just so happens to have a mild infatuation with Flynn Rider—did I say mild? I mean, lets go ahead and mark Flynn as her first real crush. When Flynn Rider hit us with ‘the smolder’ even my mommy heart started crushing on him! no shame.The Bon Voyage breakfast includes Princess Rapunzel & Prince Flynn and Mermaid Princess Ariel & Prince Eric.

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When you arrive, you are seated at your table and immediately order your beverages. When they come back with your drinks, they also come bearing lovely and delicious pastries and breads, in an iron skillet, that are all themed from ‘Tangled’ and ‘The Little Mermaid.’ One by one, each character gets announced and then proceeds to make their way around to each table. Oh and parents, be prepared to buy that $10 cup that has a light up Pascal on it because—of course—your child NEEDS that.

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Jade absolutely had to check out Rapunzel’s hair up close. Inspection: passed with flying colors!

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Family Wardrobe Check:

 

 

  • Jades dress: from the Etsy Shop, ‘I finally had a girl!’

  • My shirt  (you know you’re dying to know) says, ‘Life’s the Bubbles’ and is a champagne bottle with Ariel in it and is from “The Lost Bros.”

  • Clint’s shirt says, ‘Here Comes the Smolder’ and is from my sweet friend at Hon-E-Bee designs