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Choosing Joy as we get through this crisis together

Hi sweet Cotton family! You are the reason we are able to do what we love and we are SO grateful for you. I pray you’re home safe, snuggled up with your family, staying as healthy as possible!

This has been a wild few weeks, to say the least. I think every single one of us has been affected by the Coronavirus crisis. We are rescheduling photo sessions. Everyone’s working from home. Weddings are rescheduling. Schools are shut down. Restaurants are only offering takeout. These unprecedented times can be overwhelming.

In our current world of uncertainty, we are praying hard for all those affected by COVID19, especially those losing loved ones. My heart just breaks hearing the stories in Italy and all over the world! I know this is going to be tough for so many but I pray our social distancing will #flattenthecurve we need to see in the U.S.

I just want to remind you of a few things:

  • YOU are so loved!
  • God is most definitely here with us all!
  • We will pull through this together!


I’ll be honest, last week I wasn’t the best version of myself.

The fear and anxiety surrounding the world consumed me.

Kinsey being home from school meant no work was getting done, which stressed me out even more.

I don’t consider myself a control freak but geez, everything just felt so out of my control! 

After a heart to heart with some of my besties, I remembered the importance of focusing on what we can control.

The two things in life we can control are our attitude and our effort.

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So let’s choose JOY as we get through this together, okay? And put in the effort to stop the spread of this virus and lift our community up in the process!

How to choose joy during COVID19

After the initial panic set in, I stocked our pantry with all the essentials and started thinking about how to best use this time. We are all in a bit of survival mode, especially when so many of us have little ones at home to entertain now.

With intentionality, we can go from surviving to thriving (as best as we can with the circumstance) with our families. So here are 10 ways we are choosing joy as we get through this crisis together! I know I’ll need these EVERY SINGLE DAY to help get me through this so I hope and pray they are helpful for you too, friends!

10 ways to choose joy as we get through crisis together.


Take this time to reconnect with your family. I don’t mean just turn on Netflix and chill for the next month (while I know that might be fun, ahem, necessary at times!) I mean turn off your WiFi, put your phone on airplane mode and just play with your kids/spouse.

I’ve been trying really hard to just keep my phone tucked away in the kitchen for phone calls only while Kinsey and Emery are awake. It’s been helping me to stay present with them and not get distracted by Instagram or every email that comes through.

Kinsey and I have been jumping on the trampoline every day and it feels so good! Soaking up the warm sun and sweet toddler giggles make all my (adult) worries disappear!

Houston Family photographer

2. Find Fun Things to do with your Kids/Spouse

Aside from the trampoline, which we all love around here, Kellan has been playing guitar for Kinsey and learning the Frozen songs that she loves so dearly! Haha!

Kellan and I are also in a mean match of Gin Rummy right now. When we first met, he actually didn’t have internet at his house at all so we would always just cook together and play cards. It was a simpler time! Ha! We are trying to get back to those days to help us destress during this time.

Maybe you used to play an instrument or sing or play video games, find something that you love and do that for YOU! Maybe if we all thought about this time as we did our childhood summers, we find the joy a little easier.

3. Pray (or Meditate)

Kinsey has started to fold her little toddler hands and ask us to pray at random moments throughout the day. It melts my heart and reminds me of how important it is to lean on God through all of this.

It takes just as much energy to be afraid as it does to have faith right now. Choose faith, friends! Choose goodness! God is good and this pandemic doesn’t change that! He is still very much here with us.

If you aren’t a believer, take this time to meditate and reflect on the goodness in the world.

What we focus on truly becomes our reality.

Canyonwood Ridge Wedding

4. Create Positive Affirmations

I’ll be honest before everything shut down, I was watching the news and stressing out about all the ramifications of our current crisis. I called my bestie and she reminded me to stay focused on the GOOD.

Your mind is a powerhouse and it’s so important to keep your thoughts positive. We need positive affirmations more than ever right now!

Instead of repeating something like “gosh, I hope I don’t get sick” or “I don’t want to get sick”, etc, lets instead use the positive version of that. “I am healthy and strong!” It might seem like a silly change but it makes a big difference!

Here are the 5 positive affirmations I have on my mirror right now to help me through this:

  • We are all doing the best that we can. 
  • I am healthy, strong and resilient. 
  • I am a brave dream-chaser here to help others. 
  • I am a kind, loving wife and patient, attentive mom. 
  • I choose to see the good in the world. 


What are yours? Let me know in the comments!

5. Eat Healthily // Eat Less Sugar!

I know this is a bit weird coming from me, the cookie queen, but it’s so important that our immune systems are strong right now. With this last pregnancy and current postpartum life, I haven’t been nearly as healthy as usual. This incredible holistic pediatrician I follow shared the #1 thing to avoid during this pandemic: SUGAR, y’all!  She wrote:

“Did you know that within 20 minutes of consumption, sugar decreases the ability of your white blood cells (called macrophages) to “eat up” viruses and bacteria that are trying to invade by 50%? And that effect lasts up to 5 hours! So while we’re sheltering-at-home and doing all the things we can to keep our children and ourselves healthy, don’t sabotage our immune system by loading up on sugary treats.” – Elisa Song, MD – Healthy Kids Happy Kids

This is a tough one for me because I love baking cookies. 😛  But if I can at least reduce my sugar intake, I’ll take that as a win!

I always struggle with ideas for Kinsey since feeding a picky toddler is the worst thing about parenthood that I never saw coming! But I just found Yummytoddlerfood.com and it’s a game-changer! I used her healthy cake recipe for Kinsey’s birthday recently.


Houston family photographer

6. Create a new normal

Maybe that new normal is a strict schedule for you and your little ones so you can have control over something in life right now! Or maybe it’s just surviving one day at a time treating this time like summer vaca! Either way, don’t stress yourself out trying to do something you feel like you have because someone else is doing it that way.

For me, now that we are into week two of operation “stay home”, I’m really trying to find a good rhythm with these two little ones. It’s tough with the baby because she’s not even 3 months yet but we are finding our new normal.  Having a routine is helping a lot with this.

Every day the timing is a bit different but we generally stick to this routine:

7:00 – Wake up // Feed the baby

7:30 – Breakfast

8:30 – Walk around the neighborhood // Pack a sneak for Kinsey so she’ll actually sit in the stroller while I walk/jog.

10:00 – Feed the baby // Play learning songs with Kinsey

Her school started sending the weekly lesson plan which is incredible! I can’t keep up with all of it since the baby demands so much of my attention but it helps to give me ideas for our day.

11:00 – Make lunch // Kinsey plays independently

11:30 – Lunch // Feed the baby

12:00 – Naptime (Sometimes Kinsey boycotts nap…but, either way, she stays in her crib playing or sleeping!)

2:00 – Play with toys // lessons from school // Feed the baby

3:00 – Sensory activity or Movie time ; P so I can get some work done

4:30 – Trampoline with Daddy // Feed the baby

5:00 – Dinner

6:00 – Feed the baby then Bath for both girls

7:00 – Books & Bedtime // Feed the baby

I’m not a big schedule person but having a general plan laid out like this helps me to break the day up. It feels less daunting to me when I can see there are really only two sections of the day that I need to find learning activities for Kinsey to do.

7. Give Yourself Grace!

This time is insanely stressful for all of us. The uncertainty, the stress of jobs, the nation pretty much being shut down for the first time ever, the stress of kids being home. All of it can be absolutely overwhelming so please please please give yourself some grace.

If you need to take an Epsom salt bath every night to relax, do it!

If homeschooling isn’t for you, don’t stress about it. Your kiddos will be just fine when this ends!

If you need to sleep in a little later, don’t feel bad about it! Your body needs rest more than ever right now.

If you need an extra glass of wine, go for it. I promise you won’t be alone in that feeling!

We are all doing the best that we can right now, just remember that.

You are doing the BEST that you can!

Houston Christmas Mini Session

8. Move Your Body!

So many awesome apps are free right now, y’all! Peloton is offering free classes (that work even without a Pelaton) and Downdog App (for yoga classes) is free too during this crisis. Youtube has a ton of great workouts too!

I love the Obé fitness app! I love their short (28 min) yet fierce workouts!  I’m trying to get back into it and hopefully, this time will allow me to do that.

I do go on a big walk every day and I try to squeeze in as many squats as I can while holding the baby! Every little bit counts. Just keep your heart rate up and those endorphins pumping!

9. Stay Connected

Stay connected with your friends! In a time when we can’t see our friends IRL, Facetiming is awesome and helps me feel more connected than just texting.

Social media is a great way to feel connected but only if you are using it in a way that actually promotes your mental health. Make sure you follow accounts that bring you joy and build you up!

I’ve always loved following accounts like The Good News Movement but now it’s even more inspiring and uplifting!

Lately, I’ve been trying to limit my Instagram/Facebook time to just one time a day for no more than 15 minutes. Some days I don’t even check it and honestly, it feels so nice to just live my life and not feel the need to do anything else!

Do what makes you feel good and let go of the rest! 

10. Helps Others Around You

We all know one of the best ways to bring joy to yourself & others is to help others!

3 ways to show up for your community:

  1. Check out Facebook groups/next door and offer help when neighbors run out of TP, jk but really! Offer a helping hand (with a 3 ft distance of course), bake cookies, etc.
  2. Donate to local causes like the food bank, Kids Meals Houston, your church, etc!
  3. Order take out/delivery from restaurants or buy gift cards if possible. Small businesses rely on us to come in and I’d be heartbroken if our favorite go-to restaurants don’t make it through this!


BONUS if you have a business: Keep paying people if you can! Our new school for Kinsey is the absolute sweetest. They are still paying their teachers out of their own pockets even though they aren’t charging us tuition. Angels, y’all!

houston family photographers

Well, this might be the longest blog post I’ve ever written but I truly hope it helps in some small way.

Even before all of this started, almost every single person I can think of was exhausted from running life at 100 miles per hour. As awful as this situation is, maybe just maybe this was the only thing that could get the whole world to just slow down for a few weeks…

It truly does remind us what is REALLY important in life. Our health, our safety, our neighbors and the ones we love so much.

We are praying constantly for all of you and our incredible doctors and nurses on the front line day in and day out.

I love you all and we are all in this together!


Michelle & Kellan

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HoUSTON Newborn photographer
Lifestyle family & baby photographer
based in houston, Tx | travels worldwide
website design by Alyssa Renee Made
contact us





Cocktails, baby giggles, best friends
& one big family hug!

in love & engaged, let's elope (!)
from the ring to the first kiss


cotton lifestyles

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Cocktails, baby giggles, best friends
& one big family hug!

in love & engaged, let's elope (!)
from the ring to the first kiss

wedding photography

Lifestyle Photography

secrets to sun-soaked portraits, happy clients & a heart-centered business

Cotton coaching

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contact us

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