Vegas 2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

Mandalay Bay Aquarium | Vegas vacation | Meg Marie Wallace Blog |2017

mini golf | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

mini golf | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

mini golf | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

mini golf | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

mini golf | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

mini golf | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

mini golf | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

mini golf | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Mandalay Bay pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Mandalay Bay pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Mandalay Bay pool time | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Medieval Times Show | excalibur resort and casino | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Medieval Times Show | excalibur resort and casino | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Medieval Times Show | excalibur resort and casino | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Medieval Times Show | excalibur resort and casino | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Medieval Times Show | excalibur resort and casino | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Medieval Times Show | excalibur resort and casino | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Medieval Times Show | excalibur resort and casino | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Medieval Times Show | excalibur resort and casino | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Medieval Times Show | excalibur resort and casino | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Medieval Times Show | excalibur resort and casino | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Medieval Times Show | excalibur resort and casino | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017


Ya know…this blog is has a number of difference facets to it…on one hand it’s a place where I can open up and share thoughts, it’s a place where I can tell stories, it’s a space where I can serve others and come alongside people who have questions, it’s a corner where I can talk about Jesus and just be real about what life looks like following Him, and it’s a spot where I can simply share the things I love, products, places or whatever is on my mind…but it’s also a space for sharing life. Just normal everyday life. This past month on our family Vegas vacation we had the best time together. We had lazy mornings eating huge homemade breakfasts, played duck duck goose around the hotel coffee table, visited the Mandalay aquarium (which I’d highly recommend), ate way too much at Steak N Shake, played in the pools for hours on end, went out to eat…and spent a ton of time going up and down escalators and swinging our kids in circles in the extremely large hotel lobbies!!! (which is SO FUN and FREE by the way!!!)

A few more of my favorite memories are man cub #4 eating too many M&M’s and throwing up…which is now the second time he has puked in a hotel room in Vegas (we are NOT off to a good start with that one….), aaaaalmost beating my brother in poker (he won it all on the last hand…but up until then I was killin’ it), late night couples date nights with my brother/sister and their spouses…with NO kids, swimming in circles for hours in the lazy river, snagging cushioned seats with umbrellas after some sweet people left and offered them to us (they paid a high dollar for those seats and then just left them for us!), learning how much my family all hates eating chicken off the bone as much as I do (except for one kid who started grunting like a caveman as he ripped the meat from the drumstick….ewwww….no utensils are given at the Excalibur show dinner/meal), Matt’s amazing facial expressions as he threw the kids in the pool, the kids facial expressions being throw into the pool, endless hours playing round after round of mini-golf, the kids drawing pictures and leaving notes for all of the extended family there with us, repeatedly running the stairs right next to the kids going up/down the escalators because I know how poorly I ate and I made working out into a game of trying to beat them up to the top, kiddo #5’s sweet snuggles when he dreamed he was being chased by a bumble bee, the princess asking me every morning to braid her hair, watching late night TV eating Oreos with all of us in one foldout hide-a-bed…

I do hope you enjoy the photos and can smile along with us at the fun memories made this summer!  I’d love to hear what everyone else did! School starts for us next week and I cannot WAIT to tell the kids about their incredible first day of school surprise…….I’ll be posting about it here too….so stay tuned!!!!! #gonnabeagoodyear

open back grey romper & family update

Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017  Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017  Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017  Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017  Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017  Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017  Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017

Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017
Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017  Mandalay Bay | open back grey romper | vegas vacation | meg marie and family | 2017


 ROMPER: Revolve  || BRA: Free People || BACKPACK: Nordstrom  || SHOES: Superga  ||

HAT: Cruzy & Lulu


The past few weeks have been a little bit of a whirlwind, but in a good way! Last month we closed our church plant down (that part was really sad though) and we are now praying about where God would have us go next. It’s very possible that we stay in California, but I also know that when it comes to long term planning it is tough to imagine living here. Cali is so expensive and although I would completely consider myself a California girl, and our family LOVES it here, I also am having to come to terms that it might make a lot more sense for us to move.

Last week Matt flew to Nashville to check out a church that might be wanting to hire him. While he was there I asked on my Facebook page what people thought of Nashville and there was not one negative comment. That really tugs on my heart. If I’m going to have to leave Cali, a place I love so much, then it might be a bit easier or take some of the sting off if we end up somewhere that other people love so much.

Next weekend he’ll fly to San Antonio to check out another church. Now, when I mention San Antonio to people there seems to be mixed reviews. Some think it’s amazing and others just give a blank stare….I think the jury is still out on that one, but honestly I just don’t know much about it. I’ve only been there once, and it was a LONG time ago….I have very few memories to draw from about the actual city itself. I’ll put it out there now just in case but if any of you have feedback about living in TX, more specifically the San Antonio area I’d love to hear your perspective.

This season of travel and exploring new possibilities has a lot of exciting things to it. We are taking it one thing at a time, one opportunity at a time and are enjoying talking through where Matt is at, what he sees himself doing, where he could thrive and how he might use the gifts he has in preaching, leading and serving the church.

But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough at times too. If I’m honest I wonder if he’ll find an amazing position somewhere that’ll be a struggle (as far as location) for me/the family to move to. Or worse still…we’ll pick a location based on where the family would love but Matt won’t thrive in the role/job/position. We are praying that one of these options will begin to rise above the others as a good fit for the whole family. Thankfully we aren’t in a hurry and we are really waiting on the Lord to direct and lead us.

On a side note, this little romper I wore in Vegas has turned out to be one of the most worn, most versatile outfits I’ve bought in a long time! I wore it on a date night with some tall wedges, to the pool as a swim coverup, here in these photos with a hat for our last day wanderings around Mandalay Bay and also in the car for our road trip back home from Vegas to CA. It’s unbelievably comfortable, doesn’t fall off my shoulders and the fit is perfect. Mine is a size XS and I’m 5’4 in case you needed help with what to order…I get that sometimes the pics online make it tough to gauge.

And these shoes. I’d never heard of Superga before oh my word I love them! I normally live in running shoes (or flip flops) but sometimes an outfit like this needs something a little less clunky. I added my own insoles in the bottom and they were perfect for how much we walked around that day. Not one blister!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend! And if you have any info/feedback on the San Antonio area and whether or not you feel our family would enjoy living there please let me know!

xo MM Meg Marie initials

P.S. Homeschooling mamas….if you’re out there and you happen to read this…I’ve got books on the way and extra curriculars all planned out…but I’m curious if you all have tips for giving kids their lessons each day? I’ve got some planners that I purchased for each child, but how far out do you give them their lesson plans? Meaning, should I set them up each night for the following day or plan out a week in advance? Any further than that and I’m afraid it’ll all be messed up when we have a day that doesn’t go as planned. Would love your thoughts. This year has to go better than last year!!! 😉

 

vegas | blue denim ruffle dress

Vegas | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace

Vegas | Excalibur | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace

Vegas | Excalibur | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace

Vegas | Excalibur | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace

Vegas | Excalibur | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace

Vegas | Excalibur | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace

Vegas | Excalibur | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace

Vegas | Excalibur | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace

Vegas | Excalibur | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace

Vegas | Excalibur | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace

Vegas | Excalibur | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace

Vegas | blue ruffle dress | meg marie wallace


letter M logo   Last week I flew to Houston, TX for the Lee Labrada Classic and then drove to Austin for a massive jam-packed photo shoot with Jamie Eason and the two other Lean Body For Her teammates. We were pampered and spoiled and over the course of 4 days wore no less than 100 different outfits! I never in my life would have dreamed I could have been a model for anything.  I’m only 5’4 and I kept pinching myself the entire weekend that I was even there! The Lean Body team wants to promote fitness with class…meaning not the normal kind of booty showin’, bare bodied, sex appeal that most fitness companies do. I’ve been a part of the Lean Body team for 2 years now and have picked up on some of the values here and there…but being there, meeting everyone face to face and hearing the goals and the heart of the company in person was absolutely amazing. I’m sure I’ll be sharing a ton more as the weeks and months go on…but I just wanted to say I’m so honored to be a part of the Labrada family.

.

After Austin I flew to Vegas and met up with my fam for a vacation. Matt drove ALL of the kids from Cali to Vegas by himself! I couldn’t believe he offered to do that but he really wanted me to get to be in TX. He and the kids so great! My mom booked a time share and my sister & her husband and my brother & his fam all joined us. I loved getting to sleep in the same place with sleeping bags on the floor and stuffed animals everywhere…seriously, I think we had about 50 stuffed animals with us!

.

Our kids are notorious for losing their swim goggles, which meant everyone was sharing and a few of the boys ended up wearing pink goggles and borrowing adult goggles that were far too big for their faces. Crew finally feels more comfortable with swimming and seeing him jump in and literally scream his head off with excitement had us all giggling.

.

Matt and I went to a night club for a date night out. As in a legit night club. When we first got married he told me he hated dancing, so we really just never did, aside from our wedding dance that is. But for whatever reason (maybe making the solo drive to Vegas gave him an added boost of bravery) he actually agreed to go with me and my brother/sister in law to this club. It was probably the most unlikely place you would have guessed we would be in…but once we got on the packed dance floor it was as if no one else was there. We had the best time and keep talking about how thankful we are that we are married and don’t have to date anymore! It was so obvious that every single person was on the prowl…and we loved being reminded that we don’t have to question who it is we want to spend our lives with. We were also joking that if this club only knew I was a pastor’s wife, mom of five, homeschooler, Christian blogger that they’d never have let us in! 🙂 But thanks to “Romeo” who got us all on the guest list and never asked any of those questions.

.

We took the kids to the Excalibur for the Medieval Times show. We sat in the Austria section and they served the food during the show. But to keep with the “theme” they serve food without any utensils. One kiddo, out of the five, really got into it and ate his chicken right off the bone while grunting like caveman. 🙂 But the others just looked at me funny and refused to touch it…and it was then that I knew we’d be giving them cereal for dinner after the show was over! The show was amazing though! The sword fights and horses, the explosions, and the lights! The kids loved it all! Especially when a horse pooped right in front of the kids and they spent the remainder of the show trying to guess which performer was going to accidentally step in it.

.

We made so many memories playing 14 rounds of mini golf, trying sodas from all over the world, playing family games until 2 am, eating far too much at Steak ‘n Shake, the lazy river at Mandalay, the frequent Starbucks runs to keep us going, playing duck duck goose every morning around the breakfast table, seeing the sharks at the aquarium and riding escalators a gazillion times over in every hotel! (more pics of all our adventures coming later this week!) signature xo meg

_________

 

This dress I have on was from Marshalls. The name on the tag is Style Envy and it’s a size S. I’ve tried to find it for you online but I haven’t been able to yet.  I’ll update here if I do come across the exact one, but I’ve also linked a few super cute similar options below as well.

Niagara, Canada

My oldest son, Kai and I got to go on a mommy son trip this past weekend to Niagara Falls. My sister and her husband, my mom and my aunt all met us there. We had the absolute best time together exploring the falls and doing every sort of tourist activity we possibly could! Besides me completely and entirely forgetting my passport (yikes, right?!?!) and a little bit of rain, the trip was perfect. I was able to get across the border without difficulty…probably in part because of our pathetic puppydog faces and the maybe because of the other forms of identification I had on me…but regardless of how I got into Canada, we were so thankful I didn’t have to miss out!!!

I thought I’d put together a round up of our favorite things that we did and give ideas for anyone else who may want to visit. I was suprirsingly shocked at how much there was to do for kids, how many places were amazing for photographs and how everything was within walking distance.

Niagara, Canada To-do’s

  1. Journey Behind the Falls– At dinner together the last night we were there we went to a crazy nice restaurant. As we ate we went around the table asking one another what our favorite activity was and this was my number 1. If you visit Niagara this is a MUST SEE. To walk underneath that waterfall, to see the history, and to feel the rumble of the water pouring over the cliff as amazing. There are photos on the walls of the tunnels showing when/how they were first built, and as a history nerd I loved getting to read through each of them. You can get extremely close to the edge of the falls and I loved seeing it so close. And the photo ops are unreal.

Journey Behind the Falls- niagara falls instgram worthy attractions

niagara falls; tourist guide

niagara falls; tourist guide

niagara falls; tourist guide

Journey Behind the Falls- niagara falls instgram worthy attractions

 

2. View From the Zip Line At first I thought the zip line was going to take us across the falls…which kinda gave me a pit in my stomach to think of sending my 8 year old on a wire over that much water…but thankfully it was over to the side of the falls (whew, panic attack over). This was a super fun ride because it was such an incredibly beautiful view and a ton of fun with our little group. #makingmemoriestogetherniagara falls | tourist guide | most instagrammable locations

niagara falls | tourist guide | most instagrammable locations

 

niagara falls | tourist guide | most instagrammable locations

niagara falls | tourist guide | most instagrammable locationsniagara falls | tourist guide | most instagrammable locations

 

niagara falls | tourist guide | most instagrammable locations

3. The Maid of the Mist Boat This boat ride takes you riiiight up to the falls. And the name of the boat is extremely fitting—it’s so “misty” when you get that close that you have to wear a poncho (which is provided) and you’d better take every precaution to protect your camera (I didn’t and totally regretted it!) Don’t bother fixing your hair for this one…and mascara really may not be worth it either! But its a great way to get as close as you possibly can to the water!!! And it’s definitely worth it!  (sorry! pics are blurry because my camera lens got wet!!)

maid of the mist boat ride | niagara falls | most instagrammable locations

maid of the mist boat ride | niagara falls | most instagrammable locations

maid of the mist boat ride | niagara falls | most instagrammable locations

4. Table Rock Visitor Center This visitor center is located right at the edge of the Horseshoe Falls. It’s a stunning view from there being so close to the edge…and there’s a gift shop with a ginormous moose! How fun is that?! (you’d better tag me if you take a pic by that moose!!!!)table rock center | horseshoe falls | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations

table rock center | horseshoe falls | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations

table rock center | horseshoe falls | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations

table rock center | horseshoe falls | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations

table rock center | horseshoe falls | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations

4. The 5. 5. 5.Skylon Tower Revolving Restaurant– This is the place we had dinner the first night we were there. The view was breathtaking from that high up and to get to revolve around to see the entire area was a night we’ll never forget. Kai loved getting to watch the floor move. Just be careful if you leave to use the restroom! Make sure you know which section your table is in because it’ll have moved by the time you return! (just sayin’ from experience ya know)

The elevator ride takes you up and there is a coffee shop and some gift shops at the base. The food was great and there is a free dessert if it’s your birthday! The falls are lit up at night and it’s just stunning. It was hard to peel ourselves away from the view.Skylon Revolving Restaurant | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations

Skylon Revolving Restaurant | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations

Skylon Revolving Restaurant | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations

Skylon Revolving Restaurant | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations

Skylon Revolving Restaurant | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations

6. Queen Victoria Park (by the Sheraton Hotel, Canada)-This park is stunning and it is referred to as the “heart” of Niagara Parks. It’s absolultely stunning. From the Welcome Center continue walking down the sidewalk and you’ll eventually walk right by it. The flowers, the view, the trees, the walkways, the little ponds, the architecture, the gates…you just cannot get a bad picture here…Park by Sheraton Hotel | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations

fancy at the falls

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls

6. American Falls-If you go to Niagara I would highly recommend seeing them from the Canadian side, however, the American side has some great views as well. The pathways and trees are beautiful. And there are some amazing spots for photos from the visitor center. You can get extremely close to the rushing water too.

american falls | niagara falls | things to do in niagara | best instagram worthy locations

american falls | niagara falls | things to do in niagara | best instagram worthy locations

american falls | niagara falls | things to do in niagara | best instagram worthy locations

american falls | niagara falls | things to do in niagara | best instagram worthy locations

american falls | niagara falls | things to do in niagara | best instagram worthy locations

Great Spots for Kids:

1. Dinosaur Mini Golf– This place looks super fun for kids. It was too cold for us to want to stay out in to play but this would be such a fun place in warmer weather. There is a gift shop just across the street from the mini golf course that we went into about 4 times to pick out presents for people at home…and maybe a few souvenirs for Kai too! 🙂 That little stuffed pterodactyl he has there is one of the things he picked. His name is Henry. 🙂

niagara falls; things to do with kids in niagara falls

 

niagara falls; things to do with kids in niagara falls

niagara falls; things to do with kids in niagara falls

niagara falls; things to do with kids in niagara falls

niagara falls; things to do with kids in niagara falls

2. Rainforest Cafe- This was the place Kai picked for his birthday dinner. Of course there are probably a thousand local places we would have loved to have tried before Rainforest but we couldn’t say no to that sweet face! And it was packed, which means it is definitely a hot spot for a lot of families that travel there as well.

niagara falls; things to do with kids in niagara falls

3. Ripley’s Museum-The day we visited here was our last day and it was raining. A huge storm had rolled in and we had a number of hours to kill before catching our plane. And this was the MOST fun we could have possibly had for that time!

ripley's believe it or not | canada | activities for kids in niagara

ripley's believe it or not | canada | activities for kids in niagara

4. Hershey Chocolate World-Apparently if it’s your birthday the workers bring you back behind the counter to let you pose for a few pics with the candy bar the size of a car! 🙂 This place was so fun to get to walk around and see all of the different candy. We ended up with a large Hershey Bar, 2 cookies, and some fudge…(clearly this was a total cheat week for me!!!)

niagara falls; things to do with kids in niagara falls

niagara falls; things to do with kids in niagara falls

niagara falls; things to do with kids in niagara falls

niagara falls; things to do with kids in niagara falls

niagara falls; things to do with kids in niagara falls

 

MORE GREAT ATTRACTIONS:  

Great Canadian Midway

Niagara IMAX Theater

Bird Kingdom

Indoor Waterpark

Tim Hortons

(The Nutella filled donuts are so good! And if you want

to order “donut holes” make sure you ask for “Timbits” 🙂

RECOMMENDED HOTELS: 

Embassy Suites: This hotel is right by the falls and the views from it are just the best. The con is that its a bit further from the rest of the main thoroughfare and restaurants so if you’re walking it might be something to consider.

Sheraton On The Falls: This is where we stayed and the views were incredible from here too. Slightly further away but a great view of both falls. Be sure to request a room with a view of the falls and make sure to go visit the spa!  The view from up there is just the best!

sheraton on the falls | canada | niagara falls

sheraton on the falls | canada | niagara falls

 

Park by Sheraton Hotel | niagara tourist guide | top instagram worthy locations | niagara falls | canada | new york | top instagram worthy locations

 

bliss tulle in niagara and 7 tips on how to get better photos

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi; bliss tulle; meg marie wallace

fancy at the falls

fancy at the falls

fancy at the falls; pink tulle skirt, tulle maxi

fancy at the falls

fancy at the falls

fancy at the falls

fancy at the falls

fancy at the falls


 SKIRT: BlissTulle |  SWEATER: old, similar here | SHOES: Jessica Simpson, similar here


SQUARE HEART

 This photo shoot was one of the most fun shoots I’ve ever done. The setting in Niagara, Canada was just unreal. The views were breathtaking and finding a spot for a good pic was faaaar too easy–there were so many to choose from. And it surely helped that the second I put on this skirt I felt like a fairy princess. (I’ll be writing more posts to share all of the photos in the next week or so, but getting home to the kids and homeschooling, cleaning, unpacking, grocery shopping and the laundry has me beyond busy!)

But more than the setting and the amazingly beautiful skirt what made this shoot so fun is that I taught my mom how to be a photographer in one afternoon! Normally my sweet hubby takes my pics for me, but he wasn’t on this trip so I had to improvise. Kai has also taken a ton of pics for me too, but since he wanted to play with Legos and my mom wanted to learn I took her out with me.

We started off in the lobby of the hotel looking at different objects through the lens. I shared with her some tips on how to get the camera to focus and how to adjust a few settings on the fly…and then we went out to give it a shot.

She’d be the first to tell you that round one was rough…almost every photo was blurry…but we made a few adjustments and I offered a few more tips and in no time she was catching on and learning fast!

She began noticing different angles and different settings that would be great for pics. And I had to tell her that learning to photograph well is a blessing and a curse: On one hand you begin to see your surroundings in a whole new way, noticing the little things that didn’t used to stand out, like tiny flowers or small details on buildings. It creates a sense of awe as you begin to see what is ordinary as lovely in a whole new way imagining how it might turn out through a lens.

But it can be a curse too…sometimes when your brain begins to notice all of those things you begin to think only of the camera and not what is right there in front of you in the moment. We loved getting to point out what kind of outfit might look good in what setting, but also had to just stop and appreciate it without the plan to document it.

I thought I’d pass along some of the little tips I shared with her in case you’d like to take better photos too!

  1. The lens matters. I purchased this lens and it has dramatically changed the quality of my pics. To a professional it’s more than likely a joke because there are sooooo many options for good cameras/lenses out there. But for the normal, average person taking photos this is my BEST tip for improving pics fast.
  2. Shoot in manual. Learn your camera and how the settings all work. I set it up for my mom because I didn’t have time to tell her everything that fast, but I would definitely advise that you learn to use the settings yourself instead of the automatic setting. There’s info in the user manual that comes with your camera and there’s a bajillion tutorials online. Getting the lighting correct is crucial.
  3. Focus. Focus. Focus. If you have blurry pics there’s really nothing you can do to improve it later. Make sure when you look through the camera you see the little guide dots to help you point it exactly where you need it to focus. I’d say we ended up with about 15 blurry pics for every 1 that was clear. My mom needed to learn to not be afraid to overshoot, meaning take a ton of pics because you can always just delete the bad ones later.
  4. Colors. Pay attention to what colors there are in the setting. Since I was wearing something soft and pink we tried to avoid anything that had more of a bright or bold background. I love wearing colors that match the setting. Since the trees were pink and green it made my outfit look like it belonged there. When you’re planning your own photo shoots think through what colors will already be there and plan around that.
  5. Model Movement. There’s nothing worse than someone looking stiff in a photo. How do I know this?! Because I often am. I can be so awkward when a camera is shooting me!!!  Long gone are the days of sorority girl posing with one arm on the hip and the side turned cheek! 🙂 It’s taken a ton of practice, a great deal of feeling really uncomfortable, and a whole lot of failures to learn to move more fluidly in front of the camera. (Honestly, having my kids take my pics has been the best thing because they love it the most when I’m silly.)
  6. Photographer Movement. My mom had to learn pretty quickly that SHE also needed to move. Some angles might look good with the naked eye, but once you start shooting through the lens you see things a bit differently. Getting the same shot but from different angles can really help with getting good pics. She began to move more and adjust her placement based on what angle or setting she wanted to include.
  7. Editing. Once my mom got a good, clear photo with decent lighting I was able to edit and sharpen the images on my own afterward. I use Lightroom and Photoshop and have created my own preset to use on (almost) all of my pics. I’ll plan to share more about this another time, but editing can really streamline your pics as well as perfect any of the colors, shadows, tones etc…

Please let me know if you are trying to improve your photography and need some more pointers! I literally would sit there and watch YouTube video tutorials while folding all of my laundry each week! So if I can help please let me know. Either comment below or shoot me an email, I’ll be happy to help!!!

love Meg Marie signature

 

central coast getaway & learning to ask

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbara

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbara

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbra courthouse

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbra courthouse

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbra courthouse

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbra courthouse

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbara

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbra courthouse

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbra courthouse

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbra courthouse

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbra courthouse

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace;

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace;

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; santa barbara

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace

 

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace;

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace\

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace

 

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace;

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; elephant seal viewing point

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace;

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

 

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace; heurst castle

central coast getaway; meg marie wallace


This past Christmas some of our closest friends offered to watch our kids for us so that we could have the opportunity to get away together. Sweet right??? I know what you’re thinking…we have amazing friends to take on 5 kids….and you’re sooooo right! We owe them BIG TIME!!!!

A few weekends ago Matt and I took them up on their sweet offer and decided to drive up the coast. We’ve lived in CA for almost 5 years now and still have so much to see!

Prior to the getaway a lot had recenly changed concerning people, circumstances and financial support for our little church plant. Church planting is a scary thing sometimes…especially when you consider how temporary it can be. We weren’t sure if what we are doing now would continue to be a viable option anymore and had planned to use the time away to discuss all that had happened and and talk through the possibilities.

But before we could leave town Matt and I had go to a meeting together. Matt had been attending a church planter’s conference that week and the final day (which was the day we were supposed to leave) ended with a private interview/assessment of us. The results of that assessment, in many ways, would play a critical part in us determining how we would move forward with our conversations during the weekend, help us discern where God might be leading us, and give us some direction on praying through what to do next.

first stop: los alamitos (assessment location)

We’ve been through assessments before so it’s not that I am unfamiliar with this process, but each format is different and the people that fill the room are different every time. I found myself getting more and more nervous not knowing what to expect.

But it went far better than I ever could have imagined. We left the meeting and sat in car in the parking lot and just stared at each other in amazement.

The men that filled that room were unbelievably encouraging. They see in my sweet husband what I see: They see a man that loves Jeus and is a strong leader, a gifted preacher, and one that’s been through some very difficult trials. They see a man whose heart breaks over lost people, for the Church and for the people in his city. They see a father and a husband who cares more about his family than his dream of a successful church plant and they took every opportunity to encourage him, build him up, give him their full support, and let him know they are in this with him.

We sat there together and thanked God for His grace, those men, their encouragement and the clear direction He has given us to stick this out and not give up…

manhattan beach:

After we left the assessment we stopped at a little restaurant called Fish Bar. We ordered the mesquite grilled artichoke, pan sauteed crab cakes, and the chicken club quesadilla. I won’t do a food/restuarant review here but I will say that I highly recommend this place if you are ever near the area.

on the road to santa barbara:

We had a hotel booked in santa barbara for the night but the drive up the coast was brutal.  By the time we got on the road it was late, very dark and there was a huge rain storm that had rolled in.

But the conversation all along the way was some of the sweetest ever. We talked through the meeting, homeschooling, kids, some challenging extended family struggles…and all of the many built up topics that have been saved on lists in our phones.

Somehow, toward the end, we got on the topic of “wants” and “desires”. What is it we really want? As a couple? As individuals? As a family? What do we desire? What are we passionate about? What should we be praying for? Loaded questions, right?

And for me, deep down, in those tender places where I’m most vulnerable…I desperately long for a home. I’m not just talking about a house, or a bigger space….I’m talking about a place where we can settle down, create a home, and have some stabilty. My heart wants a place that’s ours and a place where I can truly make it our own. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine and a lot that goes into this desire, but I’ll write more about this in another post… someday….

Matt asked me why I haven’t been willing to pray about it….

“Well,” I answered, “I guess it just sounds selfish. I know we don’t “need” a home, because I surely know the difference between needs and wants… and there’s plenty of other things that deserve our time in prayer…and I know that the Bible tells us that this world is not our home and we are pilgrims in a foreign land…and Jesus, the second member of the trinity didn’t have a home when he was on earth….and ultimately I don’t ever want my longing for a home to supercede the way my heart longs for Jesus…but…I guess if I’m really honest….I’m just scared to ask…

I’m afraid……….that He will say……no.”

“Meg,” he said, “He is a good Father who loves you. You are His child. You need to talk to the Lord as a Father, a perfect one, one who cares about you, just like you would want our kids to come talk to us….”

We drove in silence for a long, long time.

Can I trust the Lord with something so fragile to me? Am I willing to hold my desires with an open hand to let Him do with it what He would wish? Can I wait on the Lord? And can I accept His answer no matter the outcome?

As the rain continued to beat down on the windsheild I finally closed my eyes. Tears began streaming down my face as I began to pray out loud. I confessed my fear and repented of my lack of trust and…I finally began asking the Lord for a home.

I’m learning that prayer is not selfishly asking for the things I want, although yes, I did in fact ask for what I want….but it’s actually the opposite. Prayer is giving up control and is putting it where it belongs…which is not in my hands. I want my desires to be in line with what Jesus would want so asking Him for those things I desire will either redirect me or keep me trusting Him…or both….and both are good things.

It doesn’t mean that asking isn’t still scary sometimes. It is a real possibility that I may never get the home I am hoping for. But prayer is taking those longings, those most sincere and vulnerable parts and entrusting them to the creator of all of heaven and earth. Prayer is saying “here is what I truly want,” and humbly holding it up with an open palm to the perfect Father who says He’ll never leave and never forsake.

santa barbara:

We arrived at the hotel late that night. We got checked in and went to bed right away. We woke up late the next morning, had coffee and breakfast in bed while watching the fire and listening to the rain storm all around us.

After checking out of that hotel we decided to walk around downtown Santa Barbara. This little town is ohhhhhh so lovely! The shopping is amazing and after buying an umbrella we walked all until we were too cold to go any further. We found a warm coffee shop and sat on cozy couches next to a fireplace. When the rain cleared just a bit we walked over to the court house…which is stunning! The architecture and grounds are so beautiful!

Then we shopped some more, found a hot chocolate bar, then spontaneously went to see a La La Land and just loved it! If you haven’t seen it yet you totally should!  After the movie we had happy hour appetizers at Finch & Fork, then grabbed dessert at the Lilac Patisserie….both are definite go-to’s as well! (Seriously, the food on this trip was incredible!)

That night we got back on the road again and drove to….

cambria:

We stayed at Cambria Beach Lodge which was small, quiet, newly updated and right on the water! We got some rest and the next morning woke up to MORE rain, but also a rainbow in the sky.  The wind was strong and the waves in the ocean were huge and the scenery in that part of CA is just unreal. It is hard to even take it all in. I think we said about a bazillion times over how beautiful we thought it was. After watching the waves all morning we grabbed the camera and drove again to…

san simeon:

This was our exploring day! We had lunch at Sebesations, which is a tiny little hole in the wall spot that is connected to the Heurst Winery and has amazing burgers. The pic of the little chapel was right by that winery and after we ate we walked over to see the pier.

Next we went to Elephant Seal Beach where all of the mama seals had just given birth to their new little baby seals. It was absolutely incredible!!!! Apparently we came at just the right time of year when the beach is jam packed with all of these new seal families. It was breathtaking to watch them all interact and to hear the noises and grunts and the barking…the males apparently fight one another for the attention of the females….reminds me a lot of the gym sometimes…. 🙂 …and the females lose over half their body weight in 3 months time.

We had a tour booked to see the Hearst Castle, which is most definitely something to put on your bucket list. There is a short movie and multiple tours…they have got the tourism experience down to the tee that’s for sure. The Castle is simply amazing. There would be so much to share but for hte sake of brevity I’ll just say that Mr. Hearst clearly had immaculate taste and style. I love how they described him…that his joy came from designing and building, not necessarily in the finished product. I couldn’t help but think that’s sort of how life is….anyway, the castle is another definite must see attraction.

That night we were so tired from our busy day. We ate tomato bisque soup and bread with  Olallieberry Jam at Linn’s Restaurant and had dessert at the French Corner Bakery

The next day was spent driving back in more insane rain, but we stopped off along the way in…

san luis obisbo:

Once again we were not disappointed one bit in looking for good food. We grabbed coffee from one of the cutest coffee shops I’ve ever been to called Scout Coffee and breakfast burritos from Splash Cafe.


Our trip was so much fun. The time was refreshing, the scenery and food were incredible, and the conversation couldn’t have been better. It’s one of those trips that goes into the “favorites” list.

As far as wanting me still asking for a home, I haven’t stopped praying for that since we’ve gotten back. And I’ll keep praying for it until God makes it clear one way or the other. One of the sweetest things I’ve been learning these past few years is that our Heavenly Father is not like our earthly fathers. Our heavenly Father is perfect. He is honorable and trustworthy, warm, tenderhearted, and involved in our everyday. He listens and is concerned and cares deeply about even the tiniest parts of our lives-which includes the things we long to see happen. He can be trusted with those parts of our souls we often like to hide. And ultimately I can trust that whatever the outcome is will be for my good and His glory.

Have a wonderful day everyone! And if I might be so bold….don’t be afraid to ask Him for what’s in your heart today…..He sees you and loves you too.

love Meg Marie signature