Grant’s Newborn Photos

Hi friends. I’m slowly getting back to blogging. Thanks for continuing to drop by my little corner of the web, even when I wasn’t here.

Today, I want to share a few of Grant’s newborn photos with you, taken by Gray Benko.


If you’ve worked with Gray, I imagine the story that follows will be familiar to you. If not, let’s talk about what a newborn session with her is like.

Gray is as much baby whisperer as she is photographer, and even though I’m an experienced mom of three, I did exactly what she said that morning. I cranked up the heat in our house. I let her turn the sound machine up to fill the room with ambient white noise.  I swaddled Grant carefully, making sure to smooth his blanket, because babies don’t like a lumpy or folded blanket under their backs, explained Gray.

As I was rocking him and shushing him to sleep for pictures, Gray started snapping a few shots, “to test the light” she said.


But she continued to snap, and then she asked me to smile just a little bit, and that’s when I realized she really was taking pictures of me. That’s also when I became awkward and uncomfortable, but I didn’t want to seem like it, so I just kept going with it, doing what she said. And I’m so glad I did. (I’m also glad that I had not only taken a shower that morning, but that I had also washed my hair. I’m glad I got dressed, even if I am wearing a sweater that was a dress pre-baby. And I’m glad I took a few minutes to apply make up to conceal the dark circles already forming under my eyes.)



I’m so glad I just “went with it”, because the moments she captured of us together brought tears to my eyes. And “capture” doesn’t seem to be the right word. I’m not convinced that she doesn’t actually draw these moments out of me.

Without taking anything away from the craft, and admitting that I know very little about photography, in some ways getting good photos is a numbers game. Right? The more pictures you snap, the higher the odds of getting a good one, say one with the two-year-old looking at the camera and smiling. Many good photographers are able to get these images and edit them to perfection.

But Gray is able to do something more. I feel like she is able to see something more raw and more real, something closer to the soul, and then she is magically able to preserve that with her lens.

Her pictures are not always perfect in the traditional sense. There are photos of tiny babies with big green pacifiers in their mouths.


Gray takes pictures of messy faces, messy houses, silly looks, and mommies wearing pajamas (even though baby is dressed impeccably) because “it’s real life”. I’ll admit, part of me fights this style in my mind; the traditional, OCD, organized parts of my brain push against these unpredictable “real moment in time” photographs. There’s a very large part of me that wants to see three little boys sitting in a row with their hair combed and their faces clean and their shirts monogrammed smiling in coordinating outfits.

But then I get an email from Gray with a picture of my baby looking up at me with fresh eyes, a picture of him yawning, of another picture me stroking his soft, downy head, and I just go to pieces.




I cry because the moments are so beautiful. I cry because I also know I can’t remember those moments with my other boys.

There are moments when I’m sure I’ve thought to myself “I want to remember this forever,” and there many times I’ve intentionally tried to burn a moment into my brain. But, when I try to conjure those memories up, I can only find blurry glimpses of most of them in my memory.

I’d love to be able to look over, just one more time, and see a tiny baby Harrison peacefully sleeping in bed beside me. How I wish I could remember exactly what Whitt looked like when he was content in my arms after nursing. I can almost see that little dribble of milk in the corner of his lip, but I can’t quite call up a clear image of it. What I wouldn’t give to have pictures of these moments, even if it meant I had dirty hair and puffy eyes.

And so, I am eternally grateful that Gray, knowing me better, took pictures of me when I didn’t want her to, and lied to me so I didn’t realize she was doing it at first, and then sent them to me anyway. 

Thank you, Gray.

And to Grant – you’re my third boy. I hope a future you can forgive me for the bows, and gowns, and bonnets, and diaper covers you will wear. Maybe, even one day, you will even appreciate the timelessness of them. I have a picture of my grandpa, your great-grandpa, wearing a gown as a baby. It is one of my most prized possessions.  Perhaps, one day, your grandchildren will cherish one of these photos of you. I love you, sweet boy.



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Meet Grant Reynolds

Oh friends, sweet friends, Baby G3 is finally here. Grant Reynolds arrived at 9:32 pm on Monday, October 13.

First selfie in the hospital

First selfie in the hospital

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in a while, but his impending arrival was occupying my every thought. I’ll be back up and running over here at the Maypop soon, and I have lots in store for you.

But in the meantime, all I can do is hold Grant, and kiss him, and snuggle him, and just breathe him in. Even his poop smells sweet to me (or at least like buttered popcorn, according to my husband). I feel like this newborn stage flies by so quickly, so I am doing my best to soak it all in.

His big brothers are smitten with him too…well, Harrison is…Whitt vacillates between wanting to squeeze him to death (out of love) or poking his eyes out while he points to and names each body part, “ears, mouf, nose, “honk”, eyes”.



More pictures and baby posts coming soon – you can count on that.

New Kilim Throw Pillow and a Giveaway

Lovely watercolor available at A Pair of Pears

Lovely watercolor available at A Pair of Pears

I’ve always wanted the things in my home to be beautiful. Even as a little girl, I would study magazines and try to arrange my bedroom like the rooms in the JC Penney catalog. In particular, I remember saving my money, and I was only in elementary school, to purchase one of those round top decorator tables with the particle board tops and screw in legs. Then, I ordered (with mom’s help) a dusty pink tablecloth with a ruffle bottom.

Ever practical, I also believe things should be useful. I’m not a fan of clutter, and I tend to be an over-purger. So, I don’t have a problem getting rid of items that are not useful.

Beautiful, useful things…it is an almost perfect guide to decorating.

Almost, but not quite.

You see, the older I get, and the more I grow my family, the more I want the things that surround us to be beautiful, useful, and also meaningful.

I want to be able to look at the things in our house, big and small, and connect them with a memory or a story. I want my boys to know those stories, and I want the items to be tangible ways for them to cherish our family stories.

For months, I’ve been on the hunt for new throw pillows. I wanted something classic and timeless, but I didn’t want Greek key trimmed pillows (even though I love them). I wanted something casual, but I didn’t want chevron or Ikat or trellis prints either.

I needed something that would work with the colors in my favorite rug, which are a bit unusual and not the trendiest of colors right now. And, I needed a pattern that would complement the rug design but not compete with it.

Turkish Rug | the Maypop


Finally, I stumbled across this lovely pillow cover on the Beautiwool Etsy shop.

Beautiwool Pillow, vintage Turkish Kilim, giveaway | the Maypop

The pattern was casual and unique, and the colors would complement my rug. I loved the kilim design on this pillow. And, I especially loved that it was handmade in Turkey.

You see, my parents were in the Air Force, and we were stationed in Turkey when I was a little girl. The rug in my living room was purchased thirty years ago while we were there, so this Turkish kilim pillow seemed like the perfect nod to the rug and to that era in our life.

Turkish kilim pillow, giveaway | the Maypop


Turkish kilim pillow, giveaway | the Maypop

I look forward to telling our family stories with this pillow. I look forward to pointing out Turkey on a map to my boys and to telling them that mommy lived there when she was their age. I want them to know that their grandparents served our country overseas, and that my mom almost had to do it by herself, leaving her two young children and husband behind until my dad was able to also get orders in the eleventh hour. I want to tell them about the few things I remember – wearing my hair in a scarf like the local women, Turkish tea, cigarette burek, and about the pair of camel saddles that my brother and I sat on in our living room.

The pillow cover arrived quickly, even from Turkey. It was packaged beautifully but simply, tucked in a blue fabric pouch and sealed with a protective hand-painted Nazar boncuk eye bead. (I loved this detail; my mom has several small pieces of jewelry and amulets from Turkey with the protective eye).

The quality is wonderful; the backcloth is heavy, the kilim is in perfect condition, and it has a hidden zipper.

Turkish kilim pillow, giveaway | the Maypop

Here is a wider view of it on my couch. The linen covers are 20×20 and on clearance at Pottery Barn, but the kilim is only a 16×16, so I still need a couple more 18×18 pillows to round things out.

Turkish kilim pillow, giveaway | the Maypop


Below are a few more of my favorites from their shop. They have thousands (not an exaggeration) of beautiful things to choose from. And, Beautiwool was generous enough to send a second lovely pillow cover (16 x 16) for one of you dear readers!


Beautwool Turkish Kilim Pillows, giveaway | the Maypop


Register below to win. Giveaway ends Friday, August 29 at midnight. Good luck!

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The Kissing Hand: the Perfect First Day of School Book

The Kissing Hand | First day of school book, easing transitions | the Maypop

When I was working full time, before I had my second baby, Harrison went to school every day. And, Harrison cried every single morning when we dropped him off. Daddy normally did drop offs, mostly to spare me from this agony. I loved his school, and I know Harrison did too, but he hated leaving Mommy and Daddy. He also hated any sort of transition – picking him up from school was just as difficult.

To ease his transitions, I looked to my friend and Conscious Discipline certified expert, Jessica Flowers.

Jessica spent some time teaching me how to prepare him for what we were going to do next. He still struggles with any sort of transition, and I still make a point to try to talk about what we will be doing next. Right now, I start off by singing When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do. Does anyone else think Daniel Tiger is an amazing parenting resource?

And, Jessica introduced me to the sweetest little story, The Kissing Hand.

If you’re not familiar with it, The Kissing Hand tells the story of Chester Raccoon and his first day of school. It tells of Chester’s fears about leaving his mommy and all that is familiar to him. And, in this story, Chester’s mother reveals a secret family tradition, passed to her from her mother, who learned it from hers: The Kissing Hand. (A tradition passed from her grandmother to her mother to her? Of course, sappy, sentimental, lives-for-tradition, memory-maker me adores this book!)

The Kissing Hand | First day of school book, easing transitions | the Maypop

Harrison didn’t just love listening to this story. It resonated with him. He got it. He understood it. It comforted him. He could relate to Chester Raccoon.

So after reading it together, when I would drop Harrison off at school, I would kiss his sweet, chubby, open hand, press his palm to his cheek, and remind him to think, “Mommy loves you.”

My niece is starting kindergarten this year. When they were visiting with us a couple of weeks ago, I selected The Kissing Hand from our growing  library to read to to the cousins at bedtime, in honor of Chloe’s first day of school.

The Kissing Hand | First day of school book, easing transitions, gutter bookshelves | the Maypop

She had never heard the story, and she and her little brother both loved it as much as Harrison. So, I couldn’t resist sending them a copy of their own.

I loved passing along another tradition. I know my sister in law will kiss Chloe’s palm and press it to her cheek on her first day next week, and I hope this sweet gesture provides both of them a little comfort on this big day and on hard days in the future.

What are your favorite back to school stories and traditions? I hope you’ll share in the comments.

PS – Mrs. Raccoon is full of wisdom. I also often quote her when I remind Harrison (and myself), that “Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do.”


Love the place you live: A Very Little Bookstore

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend! I guest-posted on Shara’s blog, Palmettos and Pigtails, a couple weeks ago. Just popping in on Sunday to share this post, in case you missed it. 


Lately, I’ve written a few posts about loving the place we live, which, to be fair, is not hard to do when you live in Charleston. So today, I thought we’d venture a little farther out of town, to quaint, downtown Summerville. On picturesque Main Street sits one of my own favorite places to go with my boys, and I’d love to share it with you.

But first, indulge me in a little reminiscing. I’m the sappy, sentimental type.

My mom read to my brother and me when we were younger, and she really encouraged us to read too. She would let me check out piles of books at the library, and she took me to the bookstore, no matter how tight our budget must have been, especially back then. I can even remember visiting a bookstore as early as 3, maybe 4. We lived in Turkey at the time, and were only there for a couple of years, so I can be confident that I was that young. I remember that this bookstore carried the Mr. Men & Little Miss books, a personal favorite. And, I loved Dr. Seuss at this age.

Naturally, reading is one of my most favorite things to do with my own boys. I want them to remember reading with me, just as I remember doing with my own mother.

So, just as my mother did with my brother and me, I take my boys to the library and let them check out the 25 book maximum. I try to select a few books while we’re here, but for the most part, I let Harrison pick the books that he wants. Sometimes, that means that I have to settle for a series of character books I’d rather pass on, but lately, it’s meant that I’m learning new things about dinosaurs. Did you know that the Brontosaurus is now called Apatosaurus? Or, that there is no such thing as a Pterodactyl? There is a Pterodactylus, but technically, it’s a Pterosaur and not a Dinosaur.

And, again as my mom did with us, we go to the bookstore. Here, I do make an effort to guide their selections, but I always let Harrison make the final decision. I’ve enjoyed slowly curating the boys’ library. Right now, we’re in a wonderful stage of picture story books, of books I loved from Reading Rainbow and books I remember my own librarian reading to us from her rocking chair each week in the school library. In the past, and out of convenience, I’ve picked up books at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon. More recently, though, I’ve discovered a little gem in an independent children’s bookshop.

A few weeks ago, Harrison and I made a trip to A Very Little Bookstore. We’ve been several times before, but always with baby Whitt, who has more fun pulling books off the shelf and making a general ruckus than he enjoys reading. I think it’s important to take my little one, but I wanted some one on one time with my oldest.


The owner, Natalie, is  passionate about children’s literature and about children, and her enthusiasm is apparent in every aspect of her shop. She’s incredibly knowledgeable about the various authors and illustrators. So, her recommendations are always exactly what we need. She doesn’t recommend books in a “one size fits all” manner either, meaning she doesn’t simply recommend her own favorites and assume your child will love them too. She gets to know you and your child, and then she suggests books you’ll like. For example, her suggestions for my little boy are always very different than her recommendations for his bestie, Farris, even though they are both four. The more often you venture in, the better her recommendations. And, she hosts a children’s book club for older children. So cool, right?

A Very Little Bookstore | the Maypop

Not only is Natalie wonderful, but the shop itself is a special, magical place too. The walls are lined with individual and unique book shelves that look collected, rather than matching book cases you typically see in chain stores or libraries. And, her own children are often at the shop, which I love. It feels cozy and homey and very family-friendly. It’s the kind of place one can comfortably grab a book of the shelf and read on the carpet or at one of the low kids tables. It’s truly a place a mom can feel comfortable letting her kids be kids and dive into books (sometimes literally). And, that’s what makes this store so unique. It is truly a children’s bookstore – designed for children.

A Very Little Bookstore | the Maypop

This store may be little, but it is the gateway to a big, wide world. If you’re local to Summerville and haven’t been, it’s a must. And, if you’re in Charleston or Mt. Pleasant, it’s worth the drive. I promise. While you’re downtown, I suggest you finish your bookish afternoon off with a root beer float from Guerin’s Pharmacy or a hot cocoa from Single Smile Cafe.

Root beer float at Guerin's Pharmacy, Summerville, SC | the Maypop


Hot Cocoa from Single Smile Cafe, Summerville, SC | the Maypop


Photos by Gray Benko taken at the quaint A Very Little Bookstore (with the exception of the last two).

PS – Be sure to pop over to Palmettos and Pigtails if you haven’t already. You’ll find lots of craft ideas, great posts on meal planning (freezer meals for Baby G3!), and ideas for things to do with children from Disney World to the Lowcountry Children’s Museum.

Maypop Moments: what we’ve been up to

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in more than a week. Yikes! I suppose we’ve just been caught up in summer fun. Here’s a little peek at what we’ve been up too.

The boys hit a few golf balls.

Maypop Moments | the Maypop

Maypop Moments | the Maypop


I hit the 29 week mark.

Baby bump at 29 weeks | the Maypop

And the kids had a wonderful visit with their cousins, including a trip to the Fire Museum. I only wish we lived closer and that they could see each other more often.

Sweet snuggly cousins | the Maypop

Cousins in Fire Hats | the Maypop


I have lots in store for you this week, including a new recipe and an update on my goals. I hope you’ll stop back by.


Babiators Rocket Packs

My last post on learning to love where we live and getting outside with our boys made me think of the new Babiators back packs. Have you seen them?

When I think of a children’s brand that embraces the idea of getting outside and exploring, it is Babiators. Their “living the Babiators life” philosophy is spot on, and their products are legit too. (You may remember this post about their Submariners Goggles).

If you’re looking for a bag for your own little explorer, look no further than the Rocket Pack.

Babiators Rocket Pack | the Maypop

I’ve mentioned it before, but Harrison is really into dinosaurs. I’ve also explained that he takes his passions very seriously. And, his latest passion is finding a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. Last week, he decided that we were going to find one in the neighborhood. He was convinced we would find a skeleton, and he knew we had to do it asap, before the construction trucks in the neighborhood moved the dirt he had his eye on.

We didn’t find a skeleton that day in the neighborhood, but we did have a great time making memories together. We were outside. We were dirty. We were happy. And, our lack of success was certainly not due to a lack of preparation on the part of my junior paleontologist.

Harrison packed up his bag with the necessary tools – specifically something to hammer the bones from the hard dirt and a paint brush to sweep away the loose sand. These tools were both from a science kit I’d bought him, and I’ll tell you more about that later, but the point is he packed his essentials in his backpack. I love how he obsesses over the right gear, over making sure the tools are real and not toys, and I adore how seriously he takes himself. He has the sweetest little seersucker monogrammed book bag now. It is perfect for taking his toys to Mimi’s house, but it is not exactly right for hunting for dinosaur bones. And that’s why I am so excited about the new Babiators bags – they are exactly the right bags for exploring outside. Perfect for toting dinosaur bones, pirate treasure maps, ropes, rocks, and other adventurer essentials!

Babiators Rocket Packs

After an evening of modeling, Harrison cried when he had to give his pre-production Rocket Pack back. That is how much he loved this bag. In his mind, it looked just like an explorer’s pack should look. He told me how he’d fill each pocket and strap with his tools and important things.

I can’t wait to surprise him with a new Babiators Rocket Pack now that they are available.

Of course, they’re perfect for back-to-school too.

Babiators Rocket Pack | the Maypop | Gray Benko photography
Babiators Rocket Pack | the Maypop | Gray Benko photography

Babiators Rocket Pack | the Maypop | Gray Benko photography

Finally, and speaking of loving the place we live, the last photos were shot at the historic Timrod Library, which opened in 1915. I had driven by this charming building several times and had been curious about it, but I hadn’t made a point to stop in yet. When Gray and Molly with Babiators were looking for a “bookish” location for these photos, I knew the quaint, historic library would be the ideal setting. I’m so thankful we had time to check it out (no pun intended) and capture these sweet photos of the kids.

What gear have you found to be essential for exploring with your children? Tell me in the comments.

Photos courtesy of Babiators; shot by Gray Benko.

On wide open spaces and loving the place we live

Around this time last year, we decided to buy a new house. We looked and looked in our current area, but nothing seemed right.

We debated (and still occasionally toss around) the idea of moving back to one of our hometowns, either to Bradenton, Florida or Hawkinsville, Georgia. Eric’s family is still in the Bradenton area and mine is still in Hawkinsville. We love the idea of our boys growing up near cousins and grandparents. The appeal of Bradenton is, of course, the beaches, the white, sugar sand beaches. Here we picture boys with brown skin and hair bleached in the sun. Eric dreams of teaching the boys to surf, and I dream of a stucco home with a Spanish tile roof, of a garden with lush tropical plants, and of visiting the Ca’ d’Zan whenever I want.

For Hawkinsville, it’s the wide open spaces that we are attracted to most. When we think of moving back there, I’m sure Eric dreams of buying lots of acreage and riding his four wheeler. I dream of restoring an old historic home on said acreage and having my morning coffee on the back porch. I picture watching hummingbirds zooming to sip nectar from a feeder and deer eating corn in the distance, just as I watch them do at my own parents’ house.

When I imagine this life, I can see my boys doing the things I did as a girl – fishing in creeks and ponds, jumping from hay bales, learning to drive down dirt roads and in fields, and of course, going to the hometown football games on Friday nights. I imagine them spending hours in the woods, just like they do at Mimi and Papa’s house. Harrison fills his little John Deere Gator up with tools for the day and off he rides to do “his work”. I never know what he has in mind, but he rifles through Papa’s shop and finds what he needs – work gloves, bungee cords, ropes, large clips, and a few toys. He picks up sticks and loads them in the back, feeling very important and accomplished. He confidently hooks up a rope to tow things, like his little brother’s stroller (I saved that one in the nick of time). And, now that Whitt is a little older, he’s right beside him for the day’s adventure.


They rarely venture into the house; Papa has everything they need to survive in his shop. In addition to the tools and lawnmower and four wheeler, there is a small refrigerator with drinks, a television to stay current on the Georgia game, and, ahem, a “bathroom” too. I’m sure part of Eric’s dream includes a large shop with similar essentials.

The allure of living close to family was, and still is, very strong. But for now, and for practical reasons, like work, it doesn’t make sense for us to leave the Charleston area. I’m okay with that too. We have beaches, and the part of me that loves old homes and buildings can’t think of a more rich setting. Most importantly, we are blessed by such a tight group of friends that we have created a little family here.

Long story short, since we couldn’t find a house in our current suburb and since moving back home didn’t make sense, we broadened our search. In the process, we found the perfect neighborhood with the exception that it is 45 minutes from most of our friends, from our sweet family away from family, and from our favorite restaurants and shops. While I still see my friends often, it’s the last-minute moments I miss out on. I’m not able to grab a quick coffee, or meet up for a glass of wine in the evening, or go for a walk after the kids are in bed.

Sometimes, being “way” up here feels like such a sacrifice. Like most things in life, though, I guess it’s more of a compromise than a sacrifice.

You see, while moving back home didn’t make sense, we were still craving the wide open spaces for our little boys to explore. And, included with our neighborhood are hundreds of wooded acres them to roam, miles of trails for them to get lost on, and ponds to canoe and fish in.

When the boys and I are having a picnic lunch in the treehouse in the ancient oak trees, I am happy.


When I bring them home, covered in mud from an afternoon of exploring, I feel like I’m doing the right thing for their little bodies and minds.


When I witness their firsts – Whitt learning to skip stones and Harrison catching a fish, for example, my mother’s heart knows this is what is good for them.


And, when we’re all piled in the Ranger for an evening trail ride, I know we are where we are supposed to be.


(It’s hard to spot him, but Whitt is in the carseat.)

Slowly, but surely, we are learning to love the new place we call home.


PS – Have you read Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder? It’s on my list. If so, please tell me what you thought of it in the comments.


Elf on the Shelf Gets His Own Door

One of my goals this year has been to keep Christmas all year. Mostly, I set this intention with the idea that “random acts of kindness” would happen more often, that we would give more generously, help more often, and forgive more easily, in the way that we all do “because it’s Christmas”. It was the essence of the Christmas spirit that I was (and am still) hoping to capture all year long.

Many of my own childhood memories of Christmas are wrapped up in the magic and fun of the season. My parents always made a really big deal of Santa and of encouraging us to Believe. For example, I have a distinct memory of my Dad calling my brother and me to the front door one Christmas Eve. “Hurry,” he said. “Look! See that flashing red light? It’s Rudolph, flying across the sky! Listen. Can you hear Santa’s sleigh bells?” Another time, I remember Santa Claus calling us on the phone at home to make sure we were being good. I can remember asking him about Rudolph and Mrs. Claus. My Dad has continued that tradition, making certain Santa Claus calls my own little boys.

So, in addition to keeping the Christmas spirit all year, it was (and is) important for me to capture some of the magic and fun of the season too. And friends, that’s just what we did Sunday night.

Our little Elf of the Shelf, Seymour, made an impromptu mid-year return visit. The boys quickly and excitedly spotted him perched on top of the table on Daddy’s Yeti.

Elf on the Shelf | Christmas in July | the Maypop


After carefully removing him from the cooler with kitchen tongs (so as not to touch him), the boys were excited to see that Seymour had delivered a treasure of CapriSuns and popsicles. I let the kids drink and eat this stuff at parties, but I have never bought either for the house. So trust me, this was an exciting moment and very in line with Christmas magic and fun. (Plus CapriSuns were $.79/box at Publix this week!)

Elf on the Shelf | Christmas in July | the Maypop


Then, the kids immediately noticed the new door. Harrison, ever sharp, immediately knew that “Seymour had built his own door!”

Elf on the Shelf Door | Christmas in July | the Maypop


With this post from Modern Mrs. Darcy as my inspiration, I picked up two of these little MDF doors at Michaels for under $3/each. They measure ten inches tall; the perfect Elf size.

Unfinished MDF Craft Door for Elf on the Shelf, from Michaels | the Maypop

I painted them white to match the trim in our house (which clearly also needs to be repainted. And, I’d like to paint our walls something other than this manila envelope shade the builder chose, but we’re digressing deeply into not-in-the-Christmas-spirit territory.).

Back to the Elf doors – I then added an old large faux-pearl stud earring to each door for doorknobs. Eric pre-drilled tiny holes in the doors for the earring studs, and then we used super glue to attach the earrings. I’d planned to paint the doorknobs too, but I didn’t mind the pearl color once they were attached. Using 3M strips, we hung one door inside and the other door on the outside of the house. I don’t like that you can see the little 3M tabs, though, so I may end up cutting these off and just chance a little peeling paint when we remove them.

Here’s another shot of Seymour, our Elf on the Shelf, with his door. I think he likes it.


Elf on the Shelf Door | the Maypop

He even came back this morning! This time we found him indulging in a little frozen treat of his own. (Cue Olaf with “What Frozen Things Do in Summer”).

Elf on the Shelf Ideas |Christmas in July |the Maypop

My boys have been so excited to have Seymour return, especially unexpectedly and out of season. Magic and fun are in the air around here, for sure, and that’s really what I wanted. I hope they look back and remember these sweet summer days.

Friends, bring your elves back too! Let’s make the rest of July as magical and fun as Christmastime. Tag me on Instagram (@mrsmaypop) or post a link to your blog in the comments. Facebook is great, but it is harder to look back on it for inspiration. And, that’s what I want – to inspire and to be inspired by you.

So, please help me make this post an amazing resource by sharing your Elf on the Shelf ideas in the comments. I will do a round up of Seymour’s visit at the end of the month and link back here too.

Merry Christmas, in July!

PS – When I asked Eric to get in the attic to get our elf, he admitted that he was so relieved to see my labels and said finding him was a snap. He thought it was ridiculous when I was labeling each box at the end of the season, and he didn’t hesitate to roll his eyes at every label. My OCD feels so redeemed!

Inspiration: a Carnival Themed Birthday Party

Meet Farris.

photo by Gray Benko

photo by Gray Benko

My little muse had just turned 3 in this picture. Her mommy is an amazing photographer, and one of my best friends. This picture sits in their foyer, on top of an heirloom table that I love. (You know I’m a sucker for an heirloom). Anyway, I’ve always been inspired by this photograph. Let’s have a carnival party, shall we?

Carnival, Circus, Fair Party Inspiration and Ideas | the Maypop

Clockwise from the upper left: Candy apples / Popcorn / Cotton candy / Fair food photo / Goldfish game (cute read; the source post author is actually boycotting them) / Goldfish soap (as an alternative) / Pony rides! / Facepainting / Carnival masks / facepainting kit / Dart and balloon game / neon gorilla prizes / Vintage food baskets (I saw some at Hobby Lobby in turquoise and melon too) / Felt corn dog and snowcone (how fun are these? don’t miss her green eggs and ham too) / Lemonade stand banner / Invitation (center photo)

Funny thing is, I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts folder for months, collage and everything ready to go. I suppose I was hesitating to post it, just in case I could share this idea with a friend first. I’m so glad I waited too, because just this weekend, a friend contacted me for help planning her daughter’s 4th birthday party. Serendipity!

She emailed me saying she was wanted “pony rides for the kids” and “something adorable and non-commercialized”. Plus, she mentioned she is a self-professed “sucker for Hawaii and all things luau-ish without being cheesy”.

So I suggested a carnival, Hawaiian style! That’s right – we’re going to put a tropical island twist on this Carnival. I think it will be the perfect way for her to blend the pony rides and backyard games with her passion for Hawaii.

To keep it from being too cheesy, I suggested a sophisticated color scheme, steering clear of red, yellow, and blue. Maybe melon and aqua?

Obviously, we’ll use some of the same things from the carnival inspiration board above, such as the food baskets and face painting. But, we’ll put a twist on things – think pineapple snow cones, rainbow cotton candy, coconut-covered candy apples, and maybe a tropical Betta fish instead of goldfish?

Here is another Carnival inspiration board, this time with a Hawaiian twist.

Carnival, Fair, Circus, Hawaiian Party Inspiration and Ideas | the Maypop

Clockwise from left: rainbow cotton candy / ticket invitation / hibiscus leis (of course!) / bean bag toss game /tropical snowcones, (pineapple flavoring is a must for this party) / hibiscus print* / color inspiration / Alba Botanica sunscreen (the birthday girl’s name is Alba; tell me these aren’t perfect for favors or in a basket on a table) / pony rides / goldfish soap for games or as favors

*(For the hibiscus print, I envision it striped like a circus tent as an accent or backdrop for invitations. I added the stripes. I’m not a graphic designer, but I think you get the idea.)

We’re just starting to plan this event. I can’t wait to see how this little backyard soiree unfolds! I promise to keep you posted.

PS – this party is in Washington state, where the weather is “beautiful in August” according to my friend. I’m super jealous. August in Charleston is just hot and humid, so hot and humid you almost don’t want to move at all, much less have a party in the backyard. Did I mention I”ll be 8 months pregnant then? :)