Winter Water Factory + Giveaway

The boys and I just got back from our 2 week vacation to Portland. I grew in a small town just outside of Portland so I consider the North West my stomping grounds. We go back often to visit family and friends. I love it there. I love it there so much I often wonder why we don't live there!? The first week we were there it was absolutely beautiful! After living in Dallas for the past year I am always surprised at how the beauty of a place can really take my breath away. Literally, it will catch me so off guard that I feel like I might cry. (Dear Dallas, you are so good to us but you aren't the prettiest place we have ever lived. Sorry. I love you for other reasons.) Then, the second week we were there it rained. Constantly. And then I remembered why I don't live there. I love the sun. I often think of myself as someone who follows the sun wherever it goes. I am drawn to it, hence the move to Hawaii the minute I graduated from high school. (and Dallas, that is why I like you most, you are nothing if not sunny!)

I love that in Dallas I can take my kids to the park everyday. Or play in the back yard while our funny little chickens cluck around us. Yesterday we stayed at the park all afternoon. I just let Henry run around with his little friends while I lay on a blanket with some other mommy friends talking about our day. When we got home I put Wayne in his crib and got Henry a few books to look at while I made dinner. The sun shining in their window was perfect so I decided to snap a few pictures.  I want to remember days like this forever. I spend a lot of time wondering why I am in the place I am - physically, emotionally, spiritually. How did I get here? What am I supposed to learn from this? But yesterday afternoon I didn't wonder at all. The warm sun beaming in the window, the grass stains on Henry's little gray pants and the smell of my warm baby content in his crib reassured me I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

The boys are wearing Winter Water Factory clothing in these photos. Have you heard of them? Their cute little spring line is out and has the cutest prints and patterns for girls and boys. To celebrate their new line we are giving away a $100 gift card to their store. To enter the giveaway like their Facebook page or their Instagram feed and then leave a comment here letting me know which item (or item(s)) you would buy with the gift card! Only one entry per person. The winner will be chosen at random and announced here on Friday the 11th by the end of the day.



I was incredibly ecxited to see the feature story that VSCO did on the Weaver House. Read the enitre feature here. The Weaver House girls put together the Emily Dickinson photo shoot for our June/July issue. These photos were really fun to work with and layout for the magazine so I was really excited when I saw them being featured over on VSCO blog.Being the art director for a print magazine was an incredible experience for me. Once these photos were recieved, I worked with the style editor to narrow down our final selections for the magazine (not an easy task because they were all so beautiful) and then I got to work laying out the images for print. I also worked with fellow design friend Eva Black to create a beautifully hand drawn title page and quotes that wove in and out of the elements in the photos.


CH CH CH Changes

I still exist! We have had a lot going on over here lately and I just haven't had time to blog. Not a bit. A lot of changes, traveling, working and adjusting have been happening. I'm excited to announce that another website I designed will be launching soon! A very editorial/magazine type site with inspiration for women JUST LIKE ME!! It's a site that I am going to probably be checking everyday! So stay tuned for that! The project was so much fun to work on and of course the group of women that I have been designing for are phenomenal! I love creating mood boards with my clients! (See above) 

There have been some major changes going on over at Verily as well. With the editorial team deciding that it would be best for the magazine to become an online only platform I have taken a huge step back. I loved working with print and editorial/layout design. Working with Verily on a print magazine was definitely a great experience and world changing as far as being inspired by intelligent, creative women! I will still be involved in the overall art direction of Verily but I am now focusing more of my time and attention on my freelance work/business. Working for yourself can be tricky so I am eager/excited/nervous about investing a lot more energy in to Jane Reaction! This year I am taking on more clients than ever before but still keeping my studio small enough to provide that personal, unique, one on one design experience. 

And finally, after encouraging Conor to quit his (really nice, awesome, flexible) job at his real estate investment firm - he finally did it! Now he is crossing off real estate goals of his own! I'm proud of him but adjusting to the new schedule of him being gone a LOT more. Every time I start to feel discouraged with all of the change and chaos going on I start singing David Bowie's Changes! and I feel like I can handle it all over again! 


Changes by David Bowie on Grooveshark


Chicken Scratch // Eating Dallas

One of our favorite places to eat in Dallas is Chicken Scratch. We like to take any visitors we get there to try their amazing chicken and waffles. It is always a nice place to go with kids too because it has a little outdoor play area where kids can climb on tires, and hang on monkey bars and throw gravel at each other. The play area isn't terribly big but it is enough space to let your kid act like a kid and not worry too much about them getting hurt or getting in anyone's way. Right next door is The Foundry where you can get strong drinks. The Foundry and Chicken Scratch open up to the same seating area with large couches, a stage, and huge picnic tables. In the summer they have large fans blowing and big umbrellas up to keep you cool, in the winter - wear a coat. This is a place I highly recommend trying if you are ever in Dallas. Happy Friday!


2014 Goals + Winner Announced

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Every year I like to put together a little post about my new years goals using some of my favorite pins from Pinterest from the last year. It is just my way of getting my goals out there and creating something beautiful that I can look at that will hopefully remind and inspire me to work towards my goals. I have to admit I don't think I accomplished half of my goals from last year... This year I decided to take a different approach. I only set 3 really big goals and then the rest are just fun/easy to achieve goals - things like sign Henry up for swimming lessons and make more ice cream! Duh! of course!

I also heard recently that instead of setting a bunch of goals and working towards them and trying to achieve them no matter what - we should first really consider how we want to feel about ourselves and then set goals accordingly. So instead of setting goals to earn a lot of money  we should set a goal to feel successful or financially stable. Then really examine what that means to us. I personally struggle with anxiety and worry a lot. More than I'd like.  This year I want to FEEL peaceful, and calm. For all of 2013 I was cynical and scrutinized my religion and my beliefs to death. It was exhausting. At the end of the day all I felt was doubt and fear. This year I just simply want to be still and know. I don't want to be perfect or overly zealous about religion but I do want to feel peace - and for me that means trusting that a higher power is guiding my path. I want my children to also feel peace and comfort and know that even when things aren't going right they can always find love and acceptance at home. I just want to trust that things work out the way they are supposed to. It seems really scary to me but I am going to work on it. 

And (drum roll please) I am really excited to announce the winner of the 4moms RockaRoo swing! I let Conor do the honors of randomly selecting a number ... and the winner is!! MICHELE RODOCKER. You will be emailed and notified soon! 4moms will be sending you a brand new RockaRoo swing in the mail! Congrats! 


Recent Work: Bleubird Blog

I recently had the chance to work with James from the blog Bleubird on her blog re-brand. It was a really fun project to work on as you can imagine. James and I came up with the mood board (directly) above together and then I went to work on creating all of her brand elements and blog design. She knew she wanted the site to be clean and minimalist with some hand drawn elements to make it more alive. I spent a few hours one day painting Bleubird over and over and over trying to get it perfect but after a while I decided to just quickly paint it out in my normal handwriting and let it be imperfect. It ended up being both of our favorite versions of the logo and we stuck with it. James is a really fun person to work with and we really took our time on this project to make it perfect. I am so glad I got to know her and so excited to work with her more on some upcoming projects! 

This project practically went off without a hitch until the very end! We encountered some technical difficulties as we started to export her blog from Typepad to Wordpress. Because her blog is so huge it crashed both Typepad's export server and Wordpress' import service repeatedly! It had James and I both at home before 10 o'clock on new year's eve trying to figure out how to fix it! In the end her blog just ended up going up a bit late. It was a pretty frustrating lesson to learn the hard way: leave plenty (and I mean plenty) of time for technical errors towards the end of your projects. Just a word to the wise. ;)

On a personal note: I knew I wanted to start working again after having Wayne but I wasn't sure how fast I should jump back in to work or how much I should take on. Back in September I decided to take this project on. We would start once Wayne turned 4 weeks old and I would have it be the only thing on my plate - just to see how I would do. It was a great transition for me and has totally inspired me to take on MORE! Yeah, I really thought I was going to slow down a lot too but these 2 kids just push me harder! I'm not going crazy working all of the time but I don't feel like quitting either (like I really thought I would). I'm trying to take it easy but I have projects booked out until April right now and I am pretty excited about it. 


Family Photos 2014

We recently had a very quick mini photo session with friend Heather Hawkins (who is amazing if you are in Dallas and looking for a photographer!) It was pretty fun to just quickly capture our little family on a sunny Tuesday morning. I will treasure these photos of me with my little boys forever! For our holiday card I had the top photo printed on heavy paper with "Happy New Year!" written across the top. I filled each envelope with large confetti and mailed them out a few days after Christmas. It was quick, easy and so much less stressful than trying to send out a Christmas card. New Years cards are the new Christmas card. Happy new year everyone! I hope you are all enjoying the first MONDAY of the year!! 


Freelance Mama V + RockaRoo Giveaway

Now that the new year has begun and Wayne is starting to sleep longer through the night I am diving back in to work. My plan for the year is to work smarter not harder. I plan on only taking on projects that I am excited about. As a freelancer it is easy to get stuck in the habit of working more, more and more. Anytime you think of something "extra" you want to buy you just take on an "extra" project. But when you have kids you can't really do that anymore. Time is a hot commodity. So saving money, and being selective about projects is how you survive...

As I planned out my next year as a working mama of two I decided I would share a few of my working mama tips. This is how I balance work and life (if you can call it balancing... I like to just think of it as life with kids, things are messy and unbalanced) I work from home and have 2 really young kids so this stuff might not apply to everyone but I think a lot of it is pretty universal and it has saved me quite a bit of time and money in the last couple of years. 

1. Meal Plan - I know this one sounds boring and trivial but it has been a game changer in our house. Every week I sit down and write out a dinner menu. We usually eat out once a week and have leftovers one night a week so I really only have to plan 5 meals. I take stock of what I already have and then only buy things for those meals (I also stock up on lots of eggs for breakfast and fruits and veggies for lunches). Then I try my hardest to not go to the store for the entire week. I sorta make a game out of it. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose. But we save a ton of money this way and there is less stress at that time of night when everyone just goes bonkers. You know, your kid has that switch that automatically flips at 5 in the evening? And they start screaming about everything and nothing? and going wild for no apparent reason? Mine too! It's so convenient because it's right at dinner time when you need to get food on the table. Having a plan usually helps this time of night go a lot smoother.

2. Scale Down - This was/is a hard one for me. We decided as a couple to live well within our means a long time ago. I hate feeling like I can never buy anything I "want" because all of my money is going towards stuff that I "need". I want to be able to take my kids to get ice cream and buy myself a new shirt every once in a while and not feel like I am breaking the bank. So we scaled down. We don't have overly expensive "needs". I used to drive a new Honda Element that I absolutely loved. Now, I drive an old Volvo wagon (she's a boxy little thing but I think she's pretty) that we don't have to make payments on. Instead of furnishing our house all at once we shop around at thrift stores and buy things on sale. In order to make our lives less stressful we scaled down our expenses. Now I don't have to worry about taking some time off of working here and there to spend more time with my kids. I know I will be able to pay my bills because I have scaled down.

3. Child Care - This is probably the most important one for me. It is absolutely impossible to work with children pulling you in several different directions. It's even harder when they are in someone's care that you don't really trust. Or at a daycare facility that you feel uneasy about. I have extreme anxiety about my children's well-being. I'm not just exaggerating either. I mean I really have panic attacks over my children's health and safety. I tried taking Henry to a day care while I worked for a while and I would go pick him up really early every single time because I couldn't breathe thinking about all of the things that could possibly happen to him there. I know that might sound a little nuts but I am pretty nuts when it comes to my kids. I think most people are. You have got to be able to find something that works for you. I finally found a nanny that I love. I love her so much. She is more money than a day care but that is why I drive an old Volvo wagon. Because knowing that my kids are safe and well taken care of is more important than a nice new car. And without our nanny I am not able to work at all - so she seems really worth every penny. If child care solutions are hard for you don't worry! It's hard for everyone! Don't give up if a child care situation doesn't feel right. Try something else until you feel secure. I don't know why I felt like I needed to say that? Maybe because I really was about to give up on ever trying to work again when my mom encouraged me to keep trying different solutions. Working has helped me feel fulfilled and sane. It helps me be a better mom. So it was kind of a big deal to be able to find something that helped me do what I love and still feel like a good mom.

4. Get your partner on board - I don't know how single parents do it. They are amazing. I know I can't do it without my other half. Ever since I read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg I have had a way easier time asking Conor to do specific things around the house to help take care of the kids. I am able to express to him what exactly it is that will help me each day. For example Conor gets Henry dressed and ready for the day before he leaves for work. This simple thing helps me get myself and Wayne ready so much faster and there is less drama when we head for the door. It is amazing how that simple little act makes my day go a lot smoother. Without him putting in time and energy I would not be able to get anything done. 

5. Let go of the Type A personality - I am still working on this one. Those who know me well know that I am a closet perfectionist. I like to pretend like I can fly by the seat of my pants but really I am constantly planning, plotting and cleaning. With two kids, a job and myself to take care of I don't have a lot of time for relaxing, painting my nails... just sitting and talking with my husband about anything...let alone cleaning and organizing. But those things are sooo important. I have learned the hard way that sacrificing relaxation or one on one time with my husband for a totally spotless house does not make me happier. It makes me grumpier. So I have had to learn to overlook messes. I walk out of my house with dirty dishes in the sink quite often. More times in the past 2 months than I ever have in my entire life actually! I have a "good mom" mental checklist that I go over every night in my head: did I feed the kids good healthy meals? Did I take Henry to do something fun or exciting or to the park? Did I give him enough time and attention? Did I tell them that I love them and make them feel important? If I can answer yes to those questions I feel good about myself. I've stopped asking myself if the house is clean or if there is clean clothes left in the dryer... that stuff can just WAIT!

Anyway, I hope this was helpful to someone out there! If not, at least you can enter the RockaRoo giveaway! I've teamed up with 4moms to do a fun little giveaway. One lucky Mama out there will win one of these new RockaRoo infant swings. I'm a huge fan of all of the 4moms products but this is by far my favorite! It is super light so it is easy to relocate to different rooms around the house. I think it looks super comfortable - Wayne slips right in that seat and just hangs out while I eat (with two hands!) or play with Henry. I love the rocking motion and you can really crank it up for those babies that need MORE motion in their ocean (this would have been so nice to have 2 years ago with Henry who was a very very difficult sleeper). To enter LIKE 4moms on Facebook and leave a comment below letting me know you "liked" them and that you want to win the brand new RockaRoo swing by 4moms! Also check out the 4moms 31 days of RockaRoo on Facebook - they are giving away a RockaRoo swing everyday for the entire month of January so if you don't win one here, you still have 30 more chances!! Ready Go!

This giveaway will be closed on Friday January 10th and a winner will be announced right here on JaneReaction. This giveaway is only open to US residents. 


Hello 2014

So I know this photo op might be a bit over done but I'm still not over writing out the new year with sparklers on a slow timer. In fact I didn't feel like the new year had really begun until I did it. So, sorry, I'm not sorry.

So now here we are in 2014. I've been thinking a lot about the start to this new year. I've been thinking about it since November actually - planning my New Year's resolutions and getting really determined to accomplish just about anything. I thought a lot about what a really successful year looks like - lots of money is earned and saved, huge trips are planned and taken, less time is spent stressing over the little things and on and on... and as I planned my New Year's goals I couldn't get that beautifully designed quote that I saw a million times on Pinterest out of my head. You know the one about doing something "amazing" with your "one wild and precious life"... and I started to feel overwhelmed. I felt as though I somehow need to make 2014 the most exciting and astonishing year ever. And just as soon as I thought I might have figured out how I am going to do that I saw another quote (again on Pinterest) about not only living the "length of your life" but also "the width".... WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? I mean I know what it is supposed to mean, but what does it really look like? Do you start the feel the pressure too? Like you might be wasting your life if you're not flitting off to some new country every day and buying your dream home and working to the point of exhaustion? Are those the things I need to do to feel like I have successfully lived a full life?

And then I take stock of everything good in my life - and at the center of it all, the thing I am most proud of is my home. It's a comfortable home I created with my best friend. And we filled it with two of the most amazing little boys you have ever seen in your life. Their smile's take my breath away every single day. And I think that that has got to be the "width". If loving them like crazy is what I spend every last second of my one wild and precious life doing it will be a success. And I will say at the end of it all that I have really lived. 

I do have a few new year's resolutions for 2014. Goals that I can actually cross of my list at the end of the year if I have accomplished them. But my real goal this year is to just love. Love the people in my life the length and the width and back again. 


Uh... Bobots!

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Hope you are all preparing to have the best Thanksgiving ever! I know I sure am. Henry's birthday falls on the first of December so we have a lot to celebrate over here. I am getting ready to throw him a tiny little robot party at our house after Thanksgiving is over. He came up with the theme himself. Bobots of course. He is obsessed.

There are a few things that can throw a toddler for a loop: daylight savings time, a new sibling, being ridiculously sick for a week straight... And oh yeah! All three of those things happened to Henry in the same week. Poor kid. He is having the hardest time sleeping after that evil tri-fecta hit him square in the face. He has never (and I mean NEVER NEVER NEVER) been a good sleeper but that just really did a number on him. 

I've tried everything. Singing to him for hours, rocking him, laying by him, begging him... and some other tactics that I'm not so proud of (yelling, threatening time out...etc. all of those fool moves that never really get you anywhere and just make you feel like a crappy person). Nothing works. Sometimes he naps but usually he doesn't. Sometimes he sleeps at night but usually he gets up at 4 in the morning and wants to play. It's been rough.

But... what I wanted to say about his birthday and stuff is that in the moments when I remember to just breathe and try to just love the crap out of him sans nap - we end up laying next to each other in his bed cheek to cheek and I ask him serious questions and listen to his answers - 

Me: "Henry, what is your favorite thing?"

Him: pauses for a long time while licking his lips... "Bobots!"

Me: "Oh really?! Why do you love Robots so much?"

Him: pauses again for a long time... "Uh... buts!"

Me: "You love their buttons?"

Him: "Yeah!" 

Me: "What else is your favorite?"

Him: he takes forever to think of his answers... "izza"

Me: "You love Pizza? Do you want a bobot izza party this year?"

Him: "Yeeeeaaaahhh!!"

The conversation continues and we end up talking about all sorts of things: elephants, babies, daddy, hats, motorcycles... and he is particularly fond of "gurrrs" aka monsters. The conversations make me laugh and melt my heart. He really is just trying to be the best little 2 year old there ever was but he just doesn't know how to sleep. And I have to forgive him for that. Sleep eludes the best of us sometimes, especially when there is so much in the world to discover and be curious about. So this year I am so excited to celebrate my little guy's birthday! Especially because I think his mind is going to be blown by the robot cookies, huge balloons and lots and lots and lots of cheese pizza... oh and I may or may not be attempting to make a life-size Henry-Bot. He's going to flip out! I can't wait! I hope he always stays this curious and passionate about life. It's what makes him so great! and although I could seriously use a nap I wouldn't have him any other way! 

Happy Birthday! Love you, my little Henny!!