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5 Mommy Must-Haves | Tulsa Lifestyle Blog

I’ve been a mom of four for six weeks now (so a total expert, right?) and there are a few things that have made my job so much easier. I’m sharing them with you today!


1. My Ergo carrier. I own many kinds of wraps, slings, and carriers, and the Ergo is my favorite. I wore Story on my back until she was almost three, and we now have two Ergos that Ty & I are both constantly wearing babies in.

With Harbor we use the newborn insert. So cozy.


2. The Fisher Price Rock & Play Sleeper. This thing is magic. It’s kind of v-shaped which makes baby feel cozy and snug, and it’s slightly inclined which is awesome for babes with acid reflux. It also vibrates and rocks. Nolan & Harbor have both absolutely loved this thing. I know it’s ugly, but sleep is hard to come by and I don’t let anyone in my hoarder bedroom anyway so it’s been fine for us.


3. The City Select stroller. If you are drowning in kids like me, you will probably need the second seat attachment, toddler glider board, and parent console. We love this stroller. It turns on a dime, folds teeny tiny, fits through all doors, and it’s got staggered seating so the kid in the back can still see what’s up : ) The sun shades and storage basket are on point also. You know… all those things you’d never think you’d care about until you’re a mom.


4. Petunia Picklebottom Boxy Backpack. This thing is legit. It’s waterproof, first of all, unlike the Coach diaper bag I had with my first born which got a bowl of Chinese food knocked into it the day I got it and was never the same afterwards. (It’s okay Cade, I’m just about ready to let that go.) It also has a roll-out changing pad which comes in handy all. the. time. I’m able to do it all one handed no matter where we are. I also have free hands while I’m wearing it, thanks to the backpack style. Mine has lasted me through three babies. Props to you, Petunia. You thought of everything.


5. Young Living essential oils. If you haven’t read this post and this post, I highly recommend you peek. These things are changing the way we treat our family when it comes to allergies, sleep, tummy aches, fevers, headaches, and so many other things. I love feeling empowered and knowing exactly what is going into my little ones’ bodies. The best!


There you have it! 5 things I couldn’t live without. (Well, and a 6th thing: #ALLTHESTARBUCKS)

Happy shopping, mamas!


Madison Vining

Owner at Madison Vining Photography
Hi, I’m Madison Vining.
Photographers: to receive free tips, tutorials, videos and exciting news, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

Latest posts by Madison Vining (see all)

Angie Hepp - October 31, 2014 - 12:39 am

Lol, before I even read this, I knew YLEOs and the ergo would be on it. We can’t live without those, either!

Summer Chittum Ratzlaff - October 31, 2014 - 4:11 pm

You are so funny! Love people who fluently write as they thinketh! Love thatvyou’re a sharer too!

Harbor’s Adoption Story

This has taken me so long to write. I feel like I can never do this story justice, but if I wait until it’s perfect then I don’t know that I’ll ever get it out… so here it is. Long, messy, vulnerable, and filled to the brim with incredible love. Please be gentle in your reading. If you’re new, you can read big brother Nolan’s adoption story here.

Five weeks ago I got a phone call from one of my best friends. She had just found out that her little sister was 38 weeks pregnant and was scared, and wanted to know, if push came to shove, if we’d be willing to open our home to her niece.

I put the phone on speaker and looked over at Ty, who said something along the lines of “Absolutely. If it’s God’s plan for her to be ours, then she will be, and if not, then the door will close.”

I can’t explain the love I have for that man and his steadfastness.

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There’s a lot more to the story… a lot. But I will suffice it to say that, if nothing else, I knew I was called to be an advocate for V (birth mom) in the situation that was unfolding. I met with her as a friend, mama to mama, and I fell in love with her. And apparently it was mutual, because a day or two later she was standing in my kitchen, wrapped in my goodbye hug, whispering in my ear that she was choosing me to be her little girl’s mommy.

My keyboard is soaked in tears as I recall the miraculous-ness of it all. Thank you Jesus for guiding each of our steps to lead us here. Right here.

Moment of vulnerability: That night after V left, I became overwhelmed with fear. I sobbed. What had I gotten us into? We have a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and a 10 month old we adopted not even 7 months ago. We were up to our eyeballs in adoption-related expenses already, and I was afraid. Was I mom enough for this?

I went to bed terrified and I woke up at peace. A favorite worship song comes to mind: “There may be fear in the night, but joy comes in the morning.” God is so good. When has joy ever not come?

That Friday, we were in the delivery room as our daughter was born. I held her birth mom’s hand and told her over and over how beautiful and brave she was. Ty cut the cord, and our beautiful Harbor was placed immediately onto my bare chest. As Tyler cradled us in his arms, I looked over at V who was watching us, and in her face I saw complete joy. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. Never have I been in a room so filled to the brim with love.

We were taken into our own room — Tyler, Harbor & I.  A couple hours later, Ty had to go home to be with our other three and I was left alone for the night with our sweet new princess.

By 4am, she still hadn’t slept. She was jittering, sucking fervently on her pacifier, vomiting excessively, and crying a high-pitched cry. I called in two nurses and they confirmed what my heart knew: she was withdrawing from drugs. They told me they would score her and that we didn’t want her to be an 8 or higher. I found out at our first pediatrician visit a week later that she scored a 30 that night.

I cried. I cried deep, dark, gut-wrenching sobs. I broke down right there in the hospital bed and those angel nurses hugged me and smoothed my hair and promised to love my girl and to fight this fight with us. I called one of my dear friends who has walked this journey with her own adopted daughter, and she sobbed with me and promised to be at my side the whole way. I can’t explain how thankful I am for the words she said that night and for her friendship. Thank you Melissa.

Again I went to bed terrified and I woke up filled with peace.


5 hard days later (a miracle!) we brought her home to finally join our family.



Our house is so loud and so messy and we’re so broke, and you guys: we’re so, so, over-the-moon happy.


In regards to what we went through in the hospital: this is where a lot of people misunderstand where my heart might be, and there is SO much I could say, but I want to at least say this:

Was I angry that my daughter had to suffer? Yes. I was angry. I was angry at Satan for the lies he told her birth mom: that nobody cared about her, that she was worthless, that there was no reason to even bother and that drugs were the answer. I was angry that the world was so overcome with sin & darkness and that so many people were hurting. I was angry for every baby who had to go through this alone… that more families don’t step up and be the hands & feet of Jesus through foster care & adoption. I was angry! So angry. But not at V.


I love Harbor’s birth mom. I love her for pulling herself up by her bootstraps and getting Harbor to safety when she couldn’t even get herself there. For not taking an easier way out. For giving her the gift of life and then searching for a way to give her life more abundantly than what she could provide. When people ask me “Do you still have to see her?” “How could you even look at her?” “What is wrong with her?” those words break my heart.

Jesus called us to be a light to the world, and we can’t do that if we’re not willing to venture into the darkness where that light is needed most. I don’t feel that God has called us to a comfortable, pretty lifestyle, where the biggest advocating we do for His Kingdom is to sprinkle a bible verse on our Facebook status every now and again. As we do for the LEAST of these… so we do for Him. And at some point or another, we’ve all been “the least of these.”

Please know that this is where my heart is and that our children’s’ birth moms are called “super heroes” in our home.







One of the reasons I felt called to share the more intimate parts of our story is for those who are reading that may be considering adopting. It is funny to think back to this time last year. We had two children and we were just about to start the process of adding to our family through adoption. We were nervous, excited, and anxious. If you had asked me what my fears were, I could have named them easily. Here we are, just a handful of months later, and we have 4 children, and two or three of the scariest things we thought might happen… totally happened.

I am here to tell you that the things we were afraid of happened. And God was with us the whole time. And we’d do it again a million times over. This journey of following God into the unknown has shaped us and stretched us and we will never be the same. And we are so thankful for that.

We’d do it a million times over.

If adoption is on your heart, I can tell you that I don’t know all the answers by any means, but I would be happy to talk with you.


This post is all over the place. It’s like a teeny peek into my heart right now. A jumbled mess : )

In closing, I wish I could personally hug everyone who has reached out to us over the last month. Social media is so cool and I just love that us mamas get to connect from near & far to support each other. So many of your comments have been exactly what I needed at exactly the moment I needed them. In those dark, painful NICU hours… We felt like we had a huddle of love around us… so thank you.

Thank you to those who have donated to the fund that Kari set up. (If you feel called to do that, you can do so here)

Thank you for not thinking we’re crazy. Or if you do, thanks for not saying it to our face : )

Thank you for praying for us.

Just thank you.



Welcome home, Harbor!

Madison Vining

Owner at Madison Vining Photography
Hi, I’m Madison Vining.
Photographers: to receive free tips, tutorials, videos and exciting news, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

Latest posts by Madison Vining (see all)

Katherine Hickmanbell - October 20, 2014 - 9:35 pm

Dear Jody, What a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing! God has a plan for your family and what a precious family you have. I have 2 chosen children also. We have been so blessed to have them as our children. I cannot imagine our lives without them. May God continue to bless your family always:)

Morgan Mathews - October 20, 2014 - 10:07 pm

Madison, I am in awe of you and your heart. I am so emotional reading your sweet story and where your love and devotion lie. If we could all learn to be a little more loving, a little less judgmental, and a whole lot more faithful we would be so much better. Thank you for sharing your story and for being such a huge example of what Christlike love really is about.

Shannon Espinoza - October 20, 2014 - 10:21 pm

It has been amazing to see you and your family grow over the last 6 years Madison. The struggles of pregnancy with our now almost 6 year old children (!) is just a drop in the bucket to some of these hardships, but I love to see how close it has drawn you to God. I am so happy to see you an Ty feeling the blessings and grace of God! The love certainly shines through your writing; I really enjoy reading it.

Jennifer Ames - October 20, 2014 - 10:43 pm

This is such a beautiful story, Madison! You have a lovely family and an amazing journey! Thank you so much for writing this.

Jessica Afeld - October 20, 2014 - 11:16 pm

Loves reading this so much! Your heart for God and your steadfast love for His kids is astounding! Xoxo

Brooke Roundy - October 20, 2014 - 11:18 pm

I so love this Madison. You are an amazing strength, inspiration and light to me and to this world and I feel blessed to call you my friend, if only via social media (thus far! I do hope to get to meet you in person some day sooner rather than later! ;) ). Love your guts and I am SO proud of you for being the person you are and for the great faith you have to follow Him in his plans. :) LOVE YOU!!!

Katie Cercy Harney - October 21, 2014 - 12:51 am

This is a remarkable story!! Thank you so much for sharing :) May God continue to bless your sweet family! We are praying for you continuously and for the sweet, giving, courageous birth mom! Again, THANK you :)

Reaj Roberts - October 21, 2014 - 1:45 am

I’m so happy for your family Madison. When I met you over a year ago I knew there was something postively special about you. You have an amazing sense of humor, you’re so full of happiness and life and it’s so abundantly obvious in the smiles on your children’s faces.

Kimberly Easter - October 21, 2014 - 1:54 am

I love this! I work at south in mother/baby, I don’t know how I missed you guys! Im praying for your family :-)

Holly Taylor Hunt - October 21, 2014 - 3:14 am

What a beautiful story!! I love what you said about her birth mother. It is so easy to judge others when we don’t understand the situation, but thats no excuse and definitely not Christ-like. I admire your God-given strength!! And your family is absolutely GORGEOUS by the way! :)

Kristin Rowley Daugherty - October 21, 2014 - 4:39 am

Oh my goodness. That post. Eloquence in it’s finest describing your love for your daughter, for her birth mom, for adoption as a whole and for trusting in God that if He brings you to it, He will bring you through it. Following your amazing site to keep my mind in a trusting place through our own adoption journey. After almost 3 years of waiting with our agency, this morning I was crying tears of sweet joy as I was listening to my baby’s heartbeat, and setting eyes on our child for the first time. Our expectant mom is due mid-December and we were just matched 2 weeks ago! Thank you for helping me today, in this moment, and giving me hope.

Emma Holton - October 21, 2014 - 4:46 am

“Jesus called us to be a light to the world, and we can’t do that if we’re not willing to venture into the darkness where that light is needed most. I don’t feel that God has called us to a comfortable, pretty lifestyle, where the biggest advocating we do for His Kingdom is to sprinkle a bible verse on our Facebook status every now and again. As we do for the LEAST of these… so we do for Him. And at some point or another, we’ve all been “the least of these.””

^This right here is what fills me with so much joy and respect for you and your beautiful and growing family. You aren’t just doing ‘the bare minimum’ as we all see so many do. You are becoming a changing and everlasting force this world so desperately needs. I teared up reading this blog, but these are tears of joy and happiness. You are an inspiration for all of us. Thank you for allowing us to peek inside such a personal chapter of your lives.

Christina Adam - October 21, 2014 - 5:04 am

Crying at this, Madison Vining. I love every single word! Still praying for you guys. <3

Judy Marshall - October 21, 2014 - 6:28 am

The birth mother had a immense love for her daughter! She knew herself and wanted her daughter to have the best chance in life. You and Ty have beautiful, loving hearts and so thankful to all the other loving foster and adopting couples opening their homes and hearts to the helpless!

Carrie Jennings Ryan - October 22, 2014 - 3:41 am

I have anxiously been awaiting this post. This is absolutely incredible and just so heart warming to see how much Jesus is making His way on this earth to further His kingdom through you and Tyler. I don’t think you are crazy at all, not that anyone’s opinion on that should matter at all, you are following the Lord’s guidance and answering His call to your lives and that is always a beauty and blessing we are meant to live out. Praise Jesus for people like you and Tyler who are willing to be His hands and feet, to be His light in a dark world. This may be one child (or two so far in your case) in a big world full of darkness, but for those babies you are a big deal and a huge ray of light. And not just them, but their birth mom’s, and their families and friends and anyone else touched by the circumstances. Praise Jesus for all this.

Tanya Shaw Adams - October 22, 2014 - 4:03 am

Madison, I loved reading your story! It was not long ago that I was bringing the mamaroo to you with your last adoption and so happy for you then! How blessed your sweet family has been with all your darling children! I love how open you and your husband are to God’s plan for your life! Enjoy your time with your newest baby girl!

Jodi Hunt Conneely - October 22, 2014 - 2:04 pm

How precious this is and I love being able to hear the story of how you all were blessed with another angel. You all are so amazing and this world needs more people JUST like you, HUGE hearts to HELP Hurting PEOPLE! Bless your family!

Jenny Miller Photography - October 22, 2014 - 5:15 pm

Oh my gosh I just adore this…so so so much!

Beth Storey-Wyble - October 22, 2014 - 6:16 pm

This is just beautiful.

Erica Seifert - October 23, 2014 - 3:33 am

So much emotion reading your story. You guys sound like an amazingly, giving family and we need more people like you on this earth! My heart is filled with so much joy after reading this. Blessings to all 6 of you!

Sally Salerno - October 24, 2014 - 3:16 pm

OMG so cute!! Great story!

Cami Anne Maxwell - October 25, 2014 - 6:57 pm

I have gained SO much respect for you and your husband in reading this. My husband and I are beginning a possible adoption journey…and I don’t know that I can ever be as gracious and understanding as you. My prayers are with you, your husband, your children, and your entire family. I pray that God continues to be ever gracious TO you and THROUGH you.

Much love!!

Casey Rucinski - October 27, 2014 - 12:41 am

This is tremendously beautiful – your story, your photos, your voice in your writing. I admire everything that is here and believe THIS is what photography SHOULD be about. Thank you for being vulnerable – this is amazing. YOU are amazing.

Julia Gulia - October 27, 2014 - 4:03 pm

She is beautiful as is the rest of your family. We adopted our son in March. I have so much respect and love for birth parents and the tough decisions they have to make. I pray we get to say “YES” again one day God willing. It has been the hardest yet most amazing journey. Thank you for sharing your heart!

Kylene Sherer - October 27, 2014 - 4:48 pm

I was near tears reading this, so beautifully written. And your perspective on the birth mother’s journey is so amazing, the world needs more people like you.

Bethany | Tulsa Oklahoma Engagement Bridal & Wedding Photographer

Now that Bethany is a married woman, I can post some peeks of her bridal session!





You are beautiful Bethany, and it was an absolute privilege to be at your wedding. Sneak peeks of that gorgeousness to come!

Madison Vining

Owner at Madison Vining Photography
Hi, I’m Madison Vining.
Photographers: to receive free tips, tutorials, videos and exciting news, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

Latest posts by Madison Vining (see all)

Maureen Vahue - October 2, 2014 - 11:28 am


3 Pre-Session Tips!

1. Don’t stress. Seriously, I gotcha covered. You won’t look silly, and you won’t be left to your own what-do-I-do-with-my-arms devices when it comes to posing. I will walk you through literally everything. You’ll have a good time — we all will! : )




2. Have your hair & makeup done by experts. Tulsa’s two best experts give you discounts just for being an MVP client, which makes it even more of a no brainer. Their info will come to you in your welcome packet upon booking and I suggest taking advantage of their services. You deserve a glam squad!




3. Don’t forget about accessories & layers. If you have favorite blankets, fun jewelry, a hat for the baby… bring them all and we’ll have fun mixing and matching!





Madison Vining

Owner at Madison Vining Photography
Hi, I’m Madison Vining.
Photographers: to receive free tips, tutorials, videos and exciting news, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

Latest posts by Madison Vining (see all)


A little serenity for you on a Monday morning.

My hubby & oldest son are paddle board junkies. We adored our time in Lake Tahoe this summer! So much so that we booked a trip to Portland (more mountains and lakes, pretty please!) for next month. Hooray for spending time in God’s creation with phones turned off and souls awakened.


May your Monday morning bring you peace & happiness.

Madison Vining

Owner at Madison Vining Photography
Hi, I’m Madison Vining.
Photographers: to receive free tips, tutorials, videos and exciting news, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

Latest posts by Madison Vining (see all)