My Everyday featuring ... Tiffany Gray


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[#1] Share a snippet of your story.

“If the sky falls, hold up your hands.” ~A Spanish Proverb

My story really began to take flight at the moment that God decided to throw me a curve ball and that pitch…well…it changed everything. I was a young 28 who was living by the simple shifts in the winds as a kindergarten teacher at a renowned Catholic School in Portland, Oregon. I lived to work hard and play harder. I was as egocentric & self-seeking as they came; the world rotated on my schedule and I felt almost boastful of that. All of my friends were married and many of them ‘miserably married’. I had no real plans of settling down & had given up all hope of finding “happily ever after”. It was the bitter bleak winter of 2006; I had just verbally accepted a teaching position at a private school located in Midtown Manhattan for the following year. A new beginning. I felt ready to fly-the-coop as I was trying to digest my latest breakup along with feelings of failure & loneliness. Well, a new beginning was ready to greet me around the bend…just not the one I expected. I met this handsome hunk-of-a-man at a local Wells Fargo ATM on the corner of 11th & NW Hoyt one cold evening while making a cash withdrawal. Started chatting. Chemistry ignited. Exchanged emails. Started dating. Then BAM! +++++A positive pregnancy test! We had only been dating less than three months. This was not part of the plan. My plan. I was so content being a free bird. Flying my own solo flight. And I immediately knew that a baby was going put me on a landing strip.  And put me there fast. But I understand that my only choice was to surrender. To let go. To be still. To trust in God’s blueprint. My poor conservative parents were disappointed & desolate. My core group of friends remained suspicious & skeptical. I felt a huge sense of brokenness but, deep within that space, God began to rebuild me. Like the game of Jenga. Putting together all my mismatched pieces to make one magical masterpiece. During the course of my pregnancy, the hunk and I fell in love. Both with each other & with this baby who was now our destiny - the baby who wrote the first chapter of our story. Our daughter, Memphis Ella Meritt, arrived on the 14th of October 2007. And we got married six weeks later on Thanksgiving Weekend in our friends’ living room while I held my handwritten vows in one hand & my dreamy newborn in the other. Our journey has been a beautiful mess. We are now a tribe of six. SIX! We continued on to play our crazy cards and had four babies in five years. Odessa Daisy Odell arrived a year-minus-a-day after her sister on the 13th of October 2008. Then we were gifted two golden boys – Raleigh Asa Rankyne landed on the 5th of May 2011 and Justice Utah Jubilee debuted on the 17th of March 2013. Most days I am buried thick in the trenches – just trying to stay afloat, create a nest that is saturated in love, & find magic in the mundane. But this is my “happily ever after”; the one that God gave back to me. Motherhood is my calling. It is a privilege. An honor. And should be treated it as such. I wish to live this life over and over and over again.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?

My favorite part of my day with my children is usually takes place on Saturday mornings. We take a long stroll through our neighborhood down to this little French bakery. We order the exact same thing every time. My husband and I hold hands while trying to push the double stroller and guzzle our hot lattes. From May thru October, our little town’s Famers Market takes place so we stock up there on what we will need for the week ahead. My daughters proudly dance in their sundresses while carry their straw baskets & are responsible for collecting the produce. We always bump into a handful of people whom we love. We grab veggie gyros & cinnamon rolls then let everyone eat them on the grass with their shoes off. It sounds so simple but it sets my heart on fire. I think that the key to unlocking happiness in every day living is to collect little bits of life and declare them precious.

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[#3] Name three Instagram MOM'S that inspire you.

I have been blessed be connected to a bright rainbow of mothers who constantly lift me higher. I tend to gravitate towards the more weathered mamas here in IG land– ones with bigger tribes who have been there & done that. The ones who are not afraid to live bold and proud. Please let me double that & pick 6! Pretty please with a cherry on top. Those who inspire me in the Category of Mothering are @angimartin & @beeandbabes. Those who inspire me in the Category of Style are @bonjourmoon & @blondemamalove. And those who inspire me in the Category of Faith are @sunshineinateacup & @woodsermom.

 

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 [#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?

My challenges with balancing motherhood & my passion for creativity has been a serious juggling act. I am learning how to lower by expectations by a considerable degree. Before having children, I would take hours to create intricate letter-pressed thank you cards to friends. Now I feel lucky, if I am able to throw my generic one that I purchased on a whim from Target in the mail on time. Creating has always been one of my love languages and, since having children, it has changed shape. Creating now means busting out a painting project with my daughters, or baking up a sugar storm in the kitchen, or chalk art on the sidewalk in the pouring rain while wearing nothing but our swimsuits & wellies. Our home is full of temporary pieces and furniture that has a short shelf life because it was important for our children to feel free to express. Often people act pleasantly surprised when they come over for the first time as we have a loveseat on our front porch that is covered in paint, our master bedroom is one giant chalkboard wall, their art work lines the hallways in $2 Ikeas frames and the kitchen nook table has been turned into a large dry erase board so the kids can eat & draw at the same time. I encountered a strict up-bringing where everything was valuable heirloom or simply off-limits. My own mother shied away from letting me create because she found messes overwhelming & lived in constant fear of something getting ruined or broken. I vowed to do things differently when it became my turn. To embrace the notions that “Messes Are Beautiful” has been so liberating; it has allowed me to parent with a new sense of awareness. To simply be in the moment. For the NOW is all we really have to hold onto.

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 [#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids

We have numerous of small gestures that have slowly turned into traditions. My husband and I have piggy bank which we routinely throw loose change into; when it is full, we cash it in for dinner at our favorite restaurant. We do something called Fashion Friday; it is where the kids put on a fashion show for us after dinner on the first Friday of every month. We also have Wednesday Watch (which currently is limited to “just us girls”) it consists of painting each other’s nails, making caramel popcorn, and watch a movie of their choice. We tend to celebrate occasions big & small with donuts; it is just our thing. I am not big into holidays but tend to leave a small gift under their pillow with a love letter for those special days. I also smudge our home with sage, fasting, & prayer with each season change. Lastly, my husband has his own quirky little things that he does like getting a tattoo when each child was born or buying a lottery ticket on their birthdays. Traditions are important; they add color to your family’s fabric.

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 [#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home, what image would you share and why?

I would probably share this one of all four of them squished together in the tub. I know this is one I will cherish for years to come. They know no boundaries or laws of privacy at this age. It is so second nature for all of them to hop in the bath together after a day’s work and wash each other’s hair while singing loudly off-tune. I know there are many things about this season that I will not miss, like the kind of sleepless nights where the sun burns your eyes or the terrible tantrum in aisle 9 at the grocery store where everyone just stops & stares or where you spend 45 minutes with a raging headache trying to make a honest & healthy meal for your picky little people and no one eats it  - but, this right here. The four of them still small (and shameless) enough to fit in our old vintage tub. THIS I will miss. It has been borderline painful to watch my babies grow older because there is a certain innocence is lost with time and that alone makes my heart ache.

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 [#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.

When I first started documenting on IG, I kept my images pretty & purposeful and then one day, I said “Screw This” and made a conscience decision to start exposing more of the behind-the-scenes. Especially photos that showed what my home looked like during our typical “Witching Hour”; half-dressed kids climbing the walls with buckets of toys littered all over the floor. I was shocked on how it resonated with so many mamas. Moms who were struggling, like myself, to keep up with a certain image – both here on social media and in real life. When we reveal our sticky floors, our unkempt yards, our loads of laundry, our under eye circles – we are sending a valuable message. The message is You Are Not Alone; that we are all riding the tide together. We are a village trying to navigate through this journey. And it is hard. And it is full of heartache. But there is so much beauty within the layers of Mothering. The everyday grind of raising & rearing children does not look at something out of the pristine pages of Pottery Barn Kids…and if it does, you might want to consider changing directions.

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Be sure and follow @TheGrayGang on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms