What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag // Preparing for Baby’s Arrival

A month or so back I did a post on some of my top recommendations for what new parents should buy for baby. To follow up for those friends that are still expecting their precious bundle, I racked my brain for what to pack in your hospital bag. Preparing for your baby’s arrival can get stressful, so stick around and learn what to pack and how to make it easy to prepare!


  1. Birth Plan. Remember to pack your birth plan! We typed up a simple plan that allowed the doctor and nurses to know what our wishes were. We handed them out right when we got to the hospital and didn’t have to worry about it from there. Make sure to have lots of copies!

2. Comfy Clothes. You’re not going to want to wear the hospital gown the whole time! Make sure you pack clothes that are comfy, but also help you feel put together and human again! I packed some yoga pants, but if I were packing again, I would totally want these At Ease Bottoms from Albion!

3. Nursing Bra. If you’re going to be breastfeeding, make sure you pack a comfy nursing bra. These bras are a great price, comfortable, and cute!


4. Chap stick. Just pack it! Dry lips should be your last worry!

5. Snacks. I would recommend you smuggle in some snacks! They aren’t going to want to give you solid food just in case you would have to go in for surgery last minute, but if you’re shooting for a natural birth, you’re going to need energy!

6. Camera. Don’t forget to pack your camera to capture all those precious memories!



7. Toiletries. You’re going to want to shower…and smell decent…and brush your teeth. Pack them!

8. Essential Oils. You may want to pack a few to set the mood. Maybe peppermint to perk you up? Peace and Calming…for obvious reasons!?

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9. Music. We didn’t actually put together a playlist, but I know that lots of people put together a special birth playlist. Maybe you want some music to pump you up, or maybe something soothing?

10. Baby outfit. Make sure you remember to pack a going home outfit! It’s so much fun to pick out that first outfit you’re going to put your new precious bundle in and then see them wear it!

Was there anything I missed that you considered a must have? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment and help all those expecting mamas out there!


When All You Want to Do is Nothing // Mama Shares Monday

These days my brain space may not be taken up by the most stimulating conversation ever, but I can tell you it’s still working hard! Focusing on paying attention to the words of your children and simultaneously ensuring that one or all of them are not in direct danger can take a lot of brain power! At the end of the day, the one thing I often want to do is nothing at all! I want my brain to totally zone out in front the computer and not have to do any thinking! But I’ve noticed something. If I let myself do this for too many days or nights in a row, it’s not as healthy for me. Do we need times to totally zone out and relax without having to think!? I give a firm YES to that! But I also think that there are good options that let my mind relax or be rejuvenated and also allow my soul and heart to be filled up. Here are some options that I’ve come up with, and hope to turn to a bit more than the marathon TV shows…after I finish the marathon of Parks and Recs, because, Parks and Recs, people!


  1. Podcasts. Pick a podcast that you enjoy listening to, prop up your feet and relax. Keep your hands busy with a craft or if you absolutely NEED to, do something like dishes or folding laundry. Allow your mind to be recharged and refreshed while listening to something you enjoy. I have been enjoying listening to The Influence Network podcasts and always come away from a podcast gaining new insights and feeling mentally and spiritually refreshed.
  2. Work on something you’ve been putting off and THEN pick a TV show to watch or another activity you want to zone out to. I know that if I first get something done I’ve been wanting to, I feel more refreshed, relaxed and able to enjoy my reward activity!
  3. Yoga. I know Yoga isn’t for everyone, and there are lots of times when I don’t actually FEEL like doing it, but when I do, my body feels refreshed and relaxed. I’ve really enjoyed trying some Holy Yoga workouts or Yoga Fusion from Revelation  Wellness TV. They infuse the yoga experience with the truth of the Gospel and speak the love of Jesus and His Word through out each session. So good!
  4. Read your Bible. Guys, I forget this one so much! I mindlessly scroll through my Facebook feed instead of choosing to be filled up with so much more goodness! I’m not saying you’re never allowed to scroll through your Facebook feed, but how about opening up your Bible FIRST! Reminder to myself for sure! When you open His Word there is so much to learn and so much goodness to let your heart be refreshed and renewed in.
  5. Connect. Take a little time to reach out to someone else. With all the technology and social media sites we use today, it’s easier than ever. Take a few minutes to check in with someone, call a friend, send a Facebook message, or write a letter or e-mail. Good vibes all around!

So next time when all you feel like doing is nothing-. when all you want to do is turn off your brain and plop down for a marathon TV show for the next few hours, pick one of the above tips first! I have a feeling that in choosing the above options you’ll come away feeling more refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated than if you just watch the TV show! Now all I need to do is hold myself accountable to this! I know how easy it is to do nothing, so let’s do something together!

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Currently // 9/25/15


Eating / A good mix of more traditional African meals and good ol’ American comfort food…insert carbs and cheese.

Drinking / We don’t drink a lot of pop (it’s pop if you’re from Ohio, people) but we have discovered a few good pops you can’t get in the U.S. Novida is one of them and has wonderful super fizzy, pineapply flavor.

Practicing / The whole keeping THREE tiny human beings alive, fed, and mostly happy thing. If you missed why there are now THREE, we are fostering a little four month old girl from the Smile Africa Ministries. Let’s just say I am SUPER thankful, Jia is here to lend a helping hand!

Mastering / Making chocolate pudding with avocados. That’s right, AVOCADOS! ok, Jia made the last few batches, but I’ve totally mastered eating it!

Playing / Ever played Monopoly Deal? I just recently learned how to play and finally won a round for the first time the other night. I know, big news, right!?

Finishing / Normally if we were back in Ohio we would be finishing up Summer and heading into Fall. Here in Uganda, the warm weather just keeps coming!

Reading/ Continuing Just RISE UPA big thank you to The Influence Network for this free read! It’s a good one and I’m really enjoying working through the book and the journaling questions.

Remembering / Relationships are important. Sometimes as a big introvert I want to just clam up and stay in my own little world. We all have those days, right? But I always feel better if I let Jesus lead me and take the risks to step out of my comfort zone when I know it’s right and build a needed relationship.

Wearing/ I’m a little behind in my capsule wardrobe plan due to feeling a little under the weather recently. I didn’t think you necessarily wanted fabulously styled pics in my shorts or yoga pants, so I’ll work on that. And who knows, maybe you will get a yoga pants pic just to keep it real!

Cooking / Grace recently taught us the secret to making fluffy, awesome bread! Add more water! Seriously, that was about it, and it has been soooo much better. If you think your bread is soft when you are kneading it, you’re wrong! Add more water, keep kneading until super soft. It will rise so quickly and then be super fluffy when you bake!

Working / I’ve been continuing to work with the women’s group at Smile and hope to soon start working more with the woman that runs the Smile Africa shop. I hope to have some exciting things to share with you all in the next month or two!

Traveling / We’re taking another trip to Mbale today. We usually like to go every two or three weeks. It’s only 45 minutes away and you can usually find a lot more things in the stores than in Tororo. And of course, there’s the amazing cafe with super delicious Mzungu (white people) food!

Wanting / A morning to sleep in and let my body naturally wake me up. Then get up, workout, do devotions, sip coffee quietly and read. I’ll let you know in about twenty years when that happens! For now the three children three and under are NEVER gonna let that one happen!

Thanks for stopping by and seeing what we have been up to this last week. What is happening currently in your life!?


Mothering for Introverts // Mama Shares Monday

I love my kids. I’ll say it again. I love my kids A LOT! They consume my thoughts and my time 9 out of 10 seconds of every day. Maybe I exaggerate, and maybe it shouldn’t always be like that, but it often seems to be. I love my kids, but sometimes I need a break from them! Sometimes that break comes in going to the bathroom and taking five extra minutes to just not talk to anyone! Can I get an AMEN, mamas!? I find that as an introvert, if I have not had some time alone to think, to focus, to be able to hear my own thoughts, I’m not as good of a mom. Sometimes I need that break to love them better. I’m sure this applies to extroverts in many cases as well, but as an introvert, I crave that time to process. To be alone and connect to my thoughts and feelings. To have time with the Lord alone and be at peace without the constant interruptions. Let me say it again, I love my kids! But sometimes this mama just needs to be alone.

Thankfully, I have a support system. I have a loving husband who is willing to give me that alone time when I voice that I need it. I have an amazing sister in law who generously offers to watch the girls while I go and have some quiet time. Right now, I sit in her apartment (next door to our own apartment) free of children and interruptions while she entertains them. I am blessed! I’m not sure how those single mamas out there do it!  Also, let me just say, yes I want more kids! If God chooses to bless us with more I would love that. I usually throw out the number six to Dustin…call me crazy! But like I said, I love my kids. I love mothering them, I love watching them grow and learn and they bring so much joy to my life that it’s absolutely ridiculous! But sometimes this introverted mama needs a break, but then again, don’t we all? Here are some things I am learning as I navigate mothering as an introvert.


  1. Carve out time for yourself. Self care y’all! Kind of seems like a no brainer, right? But depending on what season you are in, this is easier said than done. Even if you are crazy busy and consumed with the care of a newborn, take a little time for yourself mama! Get someone to hold the baby or watch the kids for a while. Even if it’s just five minutes to go take a shower and feel like a human again, do it! You’ll feel better and be a better mom for it!
  2. Choose an activity you enjoy doing alone, and do it! For me, I enjoy having time to blog, so this is an alone activity that I make time for at least a few times a week. Time to think, time to process, time to arrange my thoughts in solitude. Gold for this introvert!
  3. Have quiet time with your children. Sometimes the noise level and constant jumping and climbing all over you gets to be a  little much. There are times when I love having cuddly little bodies all over me, squeezing me, loving on me, and in general adding to the natural chaos of life. Sometimes, I just need a little peace and quiet! You can still enjoy quiet time with your children. When the noise level gets too high, or you think someone touching you one more time is gonna make you snap, switch it over to quiet time. Maybe sit and read books together, or have the kids choose a quiet activity that they can do alongside you, but doesn’t necessarily need your intervention. Even though the kids are still with you, having that time to rest in a quieter atmosphere can do wonders for the introverted mama!
  4. Dig in deep and choose joy! Chaos is a part of mothering…at least for this mama it is! There are many days when I won’t get as much alone time as I crave. Even if I wake up at 5:30 it’s inevitable that one of the littles will very soon be joining me. But you know what makes the day so much harder? Choosing to be upset about it. Choosing to throw a pity party because i didn’t get the time I thought I should have. But you know what makes the day a whole lot better? I think you know where I’m going here! Choosing joy! Choosing to find the goodness and the gifts in the early morning riser and pitter patter of feet following me down the hall. Choosing to see the blessings in the chaos instead of the annoyances. Choosing joy and digging deep into Jesus’ s grace and goodness always gets me farther than any amount of solitude can.
  5. Find community. You may think this sounds counter productive to meeting the needs of an introvert, but I beg to differ. This can be found through online communities and in person communities, but even the introvert needs to be filled up and encouraged by like minded women and friends. Find your people. Reach out for support when you need it. It’s going to look different for everyone, but find what works for you and try to spend some time connecting with people that bring you joy and build you up!

How about you? Any other introverts out there? How did you meet your introverted needs amongst the chaos of everyday life? I’d love to hear!

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Oh Tiny Gifts Joys // Gift List

I’ve been faithfully plodding away each Friday with updates on life here in Uganda and what I’ve been up to lately. Today I want to switch it up a little bit. To get back to the very heart of this blog and update you on my gift list. The list of things I’ve remembered to record and give thanks to God for. The small and big joys that are counted joy because of Him! Because of Him I give thanks and because of Him I am filled with joy! As always, there are many more gifts than those I have recorded, but these are my Oh Tiny Gifts joys and another small glimpse into our lives.

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Lillie “reading” out loud/ Gracie playing with kid’s at orphanage/chocolate chips/going to market alone with Gracie/widow’s group/Gracie singing at smile and kids gathered around repeating/8 year anniversary/Karen babysitting/Anniversary date/Lillie singing/ Lillie saying “coming!”/Dustin’s birthday/safe travel to Kampala/Jia’s arrival/Matoke Inn/Gracie mother Lillie and babies at Smile/Gracie singing to Lillie in bed/Gracie and Lillie sleeping together/ Lillie asking “why?”/the way Lillie say “k!” (ok)/tumbles on the dirt road/essential oils for boo boos and sickness/shop planning with Elly and Jia/friend’s new baby/Gracie asking if I’m thankful for bunnies hopping in the meadow/Dustin’s steadfastness/brushing Gracie and Lillie’s long hair/flowering trees/baby laundry to wash/blogging/God’s word/Helen/am able moving body/fresh fruit/warm shower/a heavy shoe to kill a cockroach/pig tail french braids/revelation TV/dancing/birds singing early in the morning/that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God/Helen sleeping through night/nursing Lillie/Lillie wanting to hold Helen/devotions in bed/sister arguments/ Lillie talk/electricity/a new day/forgiveness/ grace and peace/diapers/cool mornings/food/Grace/free ballet/new friends/Helen rolling over from back to front/dinner outside/practicing yoga hand stands/Lillie’s long hair/Helen’s screeches/Jia’s help/movie night with friends/honey popcorn/3 girls in a bed/having Dustin to do life with/smallness/rubbing Lillie’s back/Helen’s smile/Gracie chatter/early morning book reading/hot coffee/shower prayers/early morning devotion and workout buddies (aka Gracie and Lillie)


Oh Tiny Gifts Style // Fruit of the Spirit

Last week was the grand re-opening of my shop, Oh Tiny Gifts. Along with the previous scripture based shirts I had on sale, I released a new print that I’m so excited about! This new design was hand drawn by my amazing sister-in-law, Jia. The new Fruit of the Spirit Pineapple print is inspired by Galatians 5:22-23.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

I’ve been working with my awesome screen printer friend back in the U.S. to keep being able to offer these shirts to you all.Kerry and her daughter graciously modeled for me to show you just how amazing these shirts look! And seriously, don’t they look adorable!?

Thanks to all those that have bought a shirt or plan to! It means the world to me when one of you buys one! It helps keep my creative passions and dreams alive, and also gives us a little income to help support us as we continue our journey in Uganda.








Lessons on Diversity and Looking at the Heart // Tot Home School

A few weeks ago I really wanted to focus more on diversity and teaching Gracie that we shouldn’t judge others because of how they look. Now that we are living in Uganda, I feel like Gracie has a lot of opportunities to learn how to look beyond color and see that we are all created equal. There are also lots of instances though where color is used as an innocent distinguishing factor. Sometimes Gracie may have two friends with the same name, but they happen to have different skin color. Skin color simply becomes her way to distinguish between them.
The lessons we did were pretty simple and I tried to present them in a fun way. I found a few ideas on Pinterest to help me out and make the concept more concrete for her.  I first took two small containers. In one I put rocks, and in the other I put m & m’s. I then wrapped each of them. The container with rocks I wrapped up in nice pink felt. The container with m & m’s I wrapped with a black trash bag.
 So you can probably see where this is going. On the outside the pink covered container looked more appealing, and this was the container that Gracie chose. Once we opened each though, she realized that the pretty pink container only held rocks and the not so pretty trash bag covered container actually held the good stuff!  We talked about how you can’t judge what is inside a person’s heart by how they look on the outside. Just because someone might be wearing beautiful clothes, it doesn’t always mean that their heart is beautiful. We need to look on the inside and notice how someone acts and treats others. We have already talked some about how when she does good things, like help someone, her heart is beautiful and she is sharing Jesus’ love. This is what is most important-not outward beauty.
Of course she loved this…since she got to eat candy. We also observed that each m & m looked different on the outside, but inside, they were all the same-chocolate! We may each look different outwardly, but each of us is equal in God’s eyes and we each have a heart full of feelings that can be easily hurt by unkind words. We have to work to fill our heart with Jesus, making it beautiful and kind, and then share that love with EVERYONE!
I wasn’t sure if this would be too far a stretch for a 3 and a half year old to understand. But I think it’s important to talk about. This provided a fun way to do that. Even more important though, is to live it. To lead by example and show Gracie and Lillie how to treat others with kindness and respect, not based on outward appearance. To show them that just because someone isn’t dressed nice, or doesn’t look like us, inside they may have the most beautiful heart!
Teaching our children these lessons can be a hard and daunting task. M & m’s are a good start, but prayer is a better continuance! I continue to pray for my girl’s hearts that they would know Jesus and make Him first in their lives. In building a strong relationship with Christ, this in turn will affect all their relationships and ensure they are covered in the love and grace of Christ.
How about you? What important lessons are you working to teach your children? Are there hard things you have been addressing? How do you do it? I’d love to hear!

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Currently // 9/11/15


Eating / Even though we won’t be having Fall anytime soon over here in Uganda, we must still be set to Fall mode internally. This week we had chili and cornbread. No sunny and warm weather can keep us from that!

Drinking / The kombucha we made actually turned out pretty good! We flavored it with ginger and even though it didn’t get as carbonated as I had hoped, we all agreed that it tasted good.

Practicing / How about I just list patience and flexibility every week, k?

Mastering / I’m feeling pretty good about driving the car in Tororo. Don’t ask me to go anywhere else though. I’ve mastered which side of the road I should stay on and also being extra aware of everything going on around me. Road rules seem to be non-existent so I’m not exactly sure if mastered would be the right term!

Playing / We have been listening to a lot of Trent Wagler and the Steel Wheels this last week and it makes me miss being in Virginia during college.

Finishing / All new products are officially listed in the Oh Tiny Gifts shop! The Fruit of the Spirit Pineapple print is up for sale and I’m so excited!

Reading/ Continuing Just RISE UPA big thank you to The Influence Network for this free read! It’s a good one and I’m really enjoying working through the book and the journaling questions.

Remembering / Everything has it’s season. Some seasons may seem harder/easier, more exciting/boring, slower/faster than others, but there is a season for everything. Enjoy each season as it, knowing that this too will pass and the Lord is beside you no matter what the season looks like.

Wearing/ Check out my third post on putting together a capsule wardrobe here in Uganda.

Cooking / The electricity has been out quite a lot this week , so we have been trying to use up more of the perishable items in our fridge. One night pizza to use up the cheese, and yesterday we had BLTs to use up the bacon. I’m not complaining…except a little about the electricity being out!

Working / Besides the usual tot home schooling, Oh Tiny Gifts running,  blogging, and working some with the woman’s group and kids at Smile Africa, fostering a baby girl has been added to the list! We are so happy to have her in our home (Dustin is getting very out numbered!) and hopefully we will be able to posts some pics for you all soon!

Traveling / This last Wednesday, Gracie and I traveled with some friends to Mbale (about 45 minutes away) for her first ballet lesson. There was a detour that tacked on an extra half hour, but we made it!

Wanting / Still dreaming of making some pallet couches for our home. The fake leather is getting a little too sticky in the heat for my taste!

What have you been up to currently?


Wear // Capsule Wardrobe {3}

This week it’s all about the classic white and navy striped shirt. It pairs so well with anything and you can dress it up or down. Anything classic, neutral, and that has a good fit for my body will be staying in the capsule wardrobe! Also, enjoy the pictures with Lillie in them. She had just woken up from nap, was a bit clingy, and just wasn’t feeling the whole get your picture taken with mama thing. Bed head and all, the girl made those pics!











What staples would you pick for your capsule wardrobe? The navy striped shirts makes it in for me!


Online Resources for Teaching Tots // Mama Shares Monday

When teaching tots, I feel play is very important. Structure to activities is good, but it is also helpful to let them explore and learn things on their own. I recently  started using a few online resources that I feel enhance the experiences of play of structure. While I don’t think all your learning time should be spent in front of a screen, I do think some great things can come from online learning. Technology is a part of our world. Our kids are already bombarded by so many different kinds of it! It is important to show them how to use it in a positive way and with guidance early on.


ABC Mouse


I have really enjoyed going through the lessons on ABC Mouse with Gracie. I set her up at Kindergarten level 5 and she has been doing great. She has learned to use the computer mouse well (turning down the mouse speed helps!) and can even go through some of the lessons on her own while I  sit and play or do an activity with Lillie.  I also go through some of the lessons with Lillie. I set her at the beginning Preschool level, and even though some things are beyond her current ability, she still enjoys it. The videos and books are great, and the puzzles, color by number, and games help Gracie focus and figure out things on her own. Gracie has also recently discovered that she can use the tickets she gets after each activity for “buying” things for her room. So far her virtual room has a lot of dolls! There are also other elements to ABC Mouse that we haven’t gone through yet, but so far we have enjoyed it. Right now you can pay for a whole year for $79 dollars (2 months free) and add up to three kids for the price of one.

Reading Rainbow


We recently started a free trial for Reading Rainbow and have been loving it! You have access to soooo many books, games and videos. I always loved watching Reading Rainbow, and Gracie has really enjoyed picking books and having them read to her. The program has something called a Skybrary where you can create your own personal hot air balloon and travel to seven different islands with books and videos.There are tons of books and video field trips. You can choose to have the books read to your child or you can read them yourself. There are also interactive animations that you can click on in each book. This has been so much fun as we don’t have a library to go to here in Uganda like we did back home in Ohio. A year’s subscriptions is $49.99 and something I think we will be investing in.

What do you think? Do you invest in online teaching resources? Have you found helpful free resources? I’d love to hear!

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