Easy Halloween Costume DIY

With Halloween right around the corner, you may be one of those people that has had their kid’s costume planned since last Halloween! Or perhaps you are one of those people that hasn’t given it a second thought and likes to scramble last minute to put together an outfit and deem it as creative!  In the past I haven’t put much thought into costumes. When Gracie was younger we never took her anywhere for trick or treating, so there wasn’t much need to come up with a costume idea! Then we discovered Boo at the Zoo a few years ago. The last time we went we threw together a princess outfit for Gracie and Lillie went as a giraffe in an adorable hand me down get up that someone had given us to use for play. It was great! Last minute costumes can still be totally awesome, and chances are, your kid is more concerned about the goodies they are getting anyways!

This year, I found myself wanting to put together something fun for the girls…because we all know how Pinterest can easily sway you into that frame of mind! I happened upon some awesome DIY costumes that I knew the girls would love. If you have a girl…or perhaps a boy that’s really into tulle…you can make just about any costume using this idea! All you need is a crochet tutu top, tulle, the ability to make a knot, and you are good to go! You can find exact instructions for the sleeping beauty costume here, but you could really alter this to any princess, super hero, or animal costume you could think of! It really is as simple as cutting the length of tulle you want for your skirt and then knotting it into the bottom of the crochet tutu top!

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Gracie loves Princess Aurora, aka, Sleeping Beauty. She is all about the pink, and the minute I mentioned making an Aurora costume, she was sold! Lillie doesn’t have quite as strong of a preference as her big sis, but I thought she’d make a pretty cute Snow White, and she seemed to like the idea!

Enjoy these pictures of our little princesses in their attire as we attended Boo at the Zoo this last weekend. If you’re still in need of a costume for your little princess, go get yourself a tutu top and tulle, and start knotting!

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Ohio Fall Weather Fun

With the change of seasons comes excitement…especially after making the recent move back from Uganda to Ohio. Uganda is beautiful and mostly sunny and hot. And while this may make me look like a glass half full kind of person, sunny and hot can get old! I appreciate sunny, hot days, but I’ve always been a person that is fully in love with mild Spring and Fall days, so to me, this recent weather has been a small taste of Heaven!

On a recently gorgeous day, we decided to take the girls to Ramseyer Farms. We have always enjoyed being able to go there each Fall when we are able. They continue to add more and more fun Fall activities each year and the girls love exploring and trying everything!

Fall is such a stimulating season. It seems to intensify each of our senses with exploding colors as leaves change, the touch of cozy sweaters as the air turns crisp, the smell and taste of pumpkin flavored everything, and crunchy leaves under our feet.

We enjoyed getting to spend a lovely day outdoors using all of our senses and appreciated some of the wonderful things that Fall has to offer!

What are some of your favorite things to do in the Fall? Do you have a favorite place to visit or a favorite pumpkin flavored food? Comment below and enjoy the pictures of our day!

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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The Beauty of a Poor Night’s Sleep

Sleep. I vaguely remember what that feels like. A good night’s rest. Plenty of room to sprawl out. Room to roll over when you feel the need. The ability to go to bed when you choose and wake up at a decent hour after a night of uninterrupted sleep. That kind of sleep has long eluded me. I will admit that I brought this lack of sleep on myself though. Approximately 4.5 years ago when our first child was born, a restful night’s sleep became a thing of the past.

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I can remember when Gracie, our first born, entered this world. You know that you’re going to get less sleep with a newborn, but somehow you can never quite be prepared for the extreme amount of sleep deprivation you are about to encounter. Gracie was the greatest gift and miracle my husband and I had every received, but at times we also wished that she came with an off switch, or at the very least, a dial to turn down the volume of incessant night time (and day time for that matter) crying.

You know how before you have children it’s way too easy to judge people’s choices with their children? Like, for a random example, you say you will never let your kids sleep in your bed. And then said child is born. This child happens to be a horrible sleeper and by four months the only way anyone is going to get any sleep is if this child is beside you in bed…all night. You do what you gotta do. You let that child sleep in your bed every night for close night time nursing and now at least you don’t have to get out of bed. Lesson learned. Don’t judge.

Then we had baby number two. Gracie was just turning two years old. She stayed in her bed partially through the night, but would usually still end up sleeping with us. It’s beautiful and frustrating all at the same time. It’s ridiculous how sweet and innocent your baby can look sleeping next to you. It’s also ridiculous how much space a tiny, sweet child can take up.

“Hey, Mom, and Dad! You guys have this king size bed so I can lay between you guys horizontal and form the letter ‘H’, right? Because I really want to use the maximum amount of space this bed allows. I want to help you get your money’s worth, k?”

So with baby number two, we eventually learned our bed would now have four occupants, but two of those occupants didn’t know how to stay on their side of the bed. They also enjoyed frequent potty trips, tossing and turning, crying, and eating, and also waking up really, REALLY early…even on Saturday.

At some point my husband and I realized that while not ideal, we could function, mostly normally, on pretty low levels of sleep. Somewhere along the way our bodies adjusted to frequent night awakenings, early mornings, and managing to sleep with a little body pressed tightly up against or directly on top of us.

For about the last year we have all been sleeping in the same bedroom, though the girls have a separate bed. Sleep has become less of a peaceful experience, but in some ways a more beautiful one. We’re still not able to crawl into bed, lights on, chat in a normal tone, and then know we can go to sleep and wake up when are bodies are fully rested. Our nights involve sneaking into a dark room, guided only by the light of our phones, whispering to one another and quietly saying prayers together, which include asking for the angelic favor of a full night’s sleep! We know one of us will most likely have to get up in the middle of night and that it will be a miracle if everyone sleeps in till 8 am, scratch that, it will be a miracle if everyone sleeps in until 7 am! Then there are times when one of the girls ends up sleeping snuggled up against me, and while I should be sleeping, all I can do is stare at them. Stare at the wonder of this child that truly is a gift from God, sleep deprivation and all. This is a beauty that can only be found in a poor night’s sleep.

Now, after approximately 4.5 years of poor sleep, I’ve learned not to judge, do what you gotta do, and treasure those tiny snuggles. Someday, yes someday, you’ll sleep again. Though for us I don’t see that time coming anytime soon. Hello January 2017 baby, and good bye sleep. See you in another 10-20 years.

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Foster Care // Forever a Family

Our foster care experience in Uganda has come to a close. Last week we took the baby girl we’ve been caring for,  who’s really not so much a baby anymore, back to live with her family. Hellen has been in our home for the last year, and even while we were back in the States over the Christmas season, Jia (my sis in law) lovingly cared for her. Hellen has been the baby of our family, the littlest sis. We’ve gotten to know all her little quirks. What she likes, what she doesn’t like, and how stubborn this girl truly is. She is smart and curious and has an appetite like none I’ve ever seen. Seriously though, this girl will eat raw onions…and sign for more!

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So this last week when we took her to her family to say goodbye, it was, of course, hard and emotional. Foster care is definitely not easy, and saying goodbye is not fun! But here’s the good part! She is with her Ugandan family that absolutely loves her! She gets to grow up among her siblings and cousins, father, step mother, and aunt and uncles. She will learn her local language and all the cultural practices that tie her village together.

We will be able to help support her as she grows and hopefully stay a small part of her story. With this girl’s stubbornness and determination to get what she wants, she will go far with a gentle hand of guidance.

She is so loved by many. She is home with her family, and forever a part of ours.

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Intentional Time With the Lord

The first few months of pregnancy can really throw you for a loop. I’m usually a morning person, but as growing a little human became my body’s number one priority, sleep and rest became a necessity. Waking up early to get in prayer and devotion time, as well as working out, was out of the question!

There are seasons of rest where it is ok to put rest as your number one priority. the problem is that I often found I was not getting in my prayer and devotion time if I didn’t do it first thing in the morning. I’m a morning person through and through. I love to start my day off with time with the Lord, and also get my body moving a little bit.It helps start my day off on the right foot.

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Pregnancy is an important season of rest. Those first few months of sleeping in when I could and resting more in general were very much needed.Now that I’m out of the first trimester and well into the second, my energy has returned! Hallelujah and Amen! I’ve slowly been getting back into the routine of waking up early before the girls, though that can be a challenge when at least one of them likes to regularly wake up at 6:30 am!

Finding time with the Lord, no matter what time of day is important in any season, and one that I’m learning I need in both seasons of rest and otherwise. Though I was out of my normal morning routine, I still benefited from finding at least small pockets of time during the day to sit with the Lord.

I’m happy to be back to my mornings of waking up early in the calm of the day. Even though interruptions tend to follow, I’m always glad I’ve made the time. One great resource that I love to use for my devotions each day is She Reads Truth. Their devotional series are always spot on and encourage me to dive into scripture in a new way.

How about you? How do you spend time with the Lord in your day? Do you carve out a certain time for devotions? Are you a morning or evening devotion kind of person?

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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I See You, Mama // Encouragement for Mamas

Hey there Mama, I see you. I’m right there with you. Stay at home mama to littles. Trying to love well, maintain balance, find my own personal passions, and seek God’s grace daily. You are in the trenches, mama. You are doing the hard work of raising littles and I want to encourage you on your journey!

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I recently had the privilege to have a few different pieces published with Her View From Home. They’ve both been pieces to encourage mamas just like you and come right from the heart of another mama.

I hope that if you are able to take time out of your busy day and take a minute for yourself to sit down and read these, that you are encouraged and blessed. I pray that you can connect with what I have written and know that you are never alone.

You may not feel like it, but there are many other mamas out there just like you. And you may not always remember it, but Jesus walks with you daily, hand in hand.

I see you, Mama. I’m right there with you. Be encouraged. You are not alone.

Here are the links to the articles that I hope you’ll be able to have the chance to read. Rest in His grace today sweet mamas!

Leaning Into Christ in Motherhood & When You Are Enough

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Shake It Up // Have Fun and Get Moving With Your Kids

You know how your kids can be absolutely adorable and hilarious and drive you crazy all at the same time? I feel like that makes up a good portion of my day! The balancing act of setting boundaries and disciplining, all while trying not to smile and laugh at something outrageously cute that just took place happens quite often in our house.

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There are days that I realize that I just need to give them the space to be ridiculous, wild, and somewhat chaotic. Dance parties are definitely our number one go to choice to shake the wild out a bit. And then there are days where you just want peace and quiet and all you want to do is dial the crazy down a notch or two.

It’s ok to have the days where quiet and calm is needed. Maybe you can enlist your husband, mom, or a friend to give you that coveted quiet time. But there are also days where we need to embrace the chaos. Relish the messes. Get down with our kids on the floor and follow wherever the crazy may lead.

Sometimes embracing the wild may mean actually planning to embrace it! Planning activities with the kids that you know they’ll love and give them a chance to explore and move. This might mean setting aside the dishes until later, or as often happens in our household, letting them wash the dishes with you, aka washing all the dishes you already cleaned and getting them dirty again!

Check out my Pinterest board here, created for when you need a little time for being ridiculous and having fun with each other! Shake it up, get moving and have fun!

What are some ways you and your kids like to have fun and enjoy time just being silly together?

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Gender Reveal Announcement // He or She?

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Our family is expecting another baby this coming January! With little sis’s birthday January 25th and big sis’s birthday February 1st, we have managed to ensure that we’ll always be busy that time of year!

With Gracie we found out as soon as we could whether we would be having a boy or girl and shared it with the world right away! We called parents and friends and posted it on facebook the minute we were able. We couldn’t contain our excitement! We did manage to keep her name a surprise! With Lillian, we decided that we would wait to find out whether we were having a boy or girl until the birth. I for some reason expected a boy, but out came sweet Lillian, another girl! With this next baby we thought it would be fun to find out the gender. The girls will be close to turning three and five when the baby arrives, and we knew it would be fun for them to be able to plan for whatever gender this baby would be. They have actually been rooting for a baby brother. They figure that we already have girls, so we must need a boy!

To get them in on the gender reveal I gave them each a sucker, smartly ensuring success with the whole cooperation in the picture taking department! I told them to hide them in their mouths for a few pictures and then finally hold them out and show me the color! Psst…I’ll let you in on a little secret…I didn’t actually have the right color of sucker, so I had to do a little editing!

Enjoy our gender reveal photos!

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And the verdict is a….wait for it…

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BOY!!!

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I also made them some “books” so they could study up on having a little brother in the house come January.

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It’s an intense read, but I think they’ll make it!

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So there you have it, our gender reveal photos. What do you think about gender reveals? Love ’em, hate ’em? Do you like to wait until the baby is born, or are you too impatient like I have been 2/3 times! Whichever route you choose, I hope you enjoyed following along with our reveal!

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Back to School // Capturing Memories

After an unintentional school break thanks to trimester #1 with baby #3, (that thankfully could be called summer break), the home school year has officially started up again! To start of the school year I like to write a little bit about the girls, take a picture, and then be able to compare that to the year before. It’s crazy to see how much the girls have each grown! Here are this year’s first day of school photos and facts.

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Here are last years photos and facts!

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So mamas, do you take first day of school pictures? Are you always shocked by how much they have grown and changed in the last year? Does this get easier!?

I’d encourage you to keep snapping those pictures on the first day of school. It doesn’t have to be perfect, mine aren’t! But it will show you how much they have grown and create wonderful memories to treasure. Write down a few facts about your child and make sure to save it some place you can remember to look at and compare each year.

As you’re starting your new school year wherever that may be, here’s a reminder to lean into Christ. I recently had a post published on Her View From Home. If you could check it out, read, and share if you feel led, I would be so grateful!

Wishing you a happy start to the school year, mamas!

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Thoughts on My Anniversary // Tips on Doing Life Together

This week marks nine years of marriage for Dustin and I. That’s right, our nine year anniversary. Getting married at nineteen makes those anniversaries get close to the double digits before you know it! Nine years has brought a lot of change, growth, good memories, and of course the normal difficulties that come with doing life beside your best friend day in and day out. We’ve finished college, moved back to Ohio, bought a house, found jobs, had two adorable girls, moved to Africa, fostered another sweet girl and so much more in the in between moments of daily life.

The day to day moments seem to be the time where we learn the most. Those are the moments where we dig in deep and choose love and patience in our home. Where we work to always be honest with one another and apologize when we know we’ve made a mistake. Trust me, I make a lot of mistakes. But in nine years of marriage, I think I’ve gained a little wisdom along the way as well.

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  1. Keep God number one- You can’t have a strong marriage if you are trying to put your spouse or something else above God. It is important that you both turn to God together and look to Him to lead and guide you. It can be all too easy to place your faith and trust in the person you love and who is physically right there beside you, but in putting God number one you place your marriage and your spouse in His hands and let Him take the lead.
  2. Keep communicating honestly and openly-This is something we feel has always been a strong point in our marriage and helps us avoid a lot of unwanted and unnecessary strife. It’s important to let each other know how you are feeling. Of course it’s also important to do this in a respectful and loving way! If you keep the doors of communication open instead of holding everything in side, it won’t unexpectedly come out all at once over something not even that important! Communication is key!
  3. Make time for each other-Once kids come into the picture this one can be hard. Even if you are together in your home in the evening, are you actually spending time with each other? Or are you each doing your own thing trying to get things done while the kids are in bed? Of course you need time to yourself and time to get things done, but it’s also important to set aside time for each other. Time to connect, talk, plan and dream. Just talking together can inspire things you both want to work on or achieve in your marriage and your family.
  4. Encourage and support each other-It means a lot to have your spouse encourage you and support you. To have your best friend in your corner can help give you a greater confidence and allow you to step out of your comfort zone.
  5. Parent as a united front-Having kiddos definitely adds a whole new element, or several elements, to marriage! It’s important that you are both on the same page when it comes to parenting, for your kid’s sake, and for your marriage’s sake. Make sure you talk about things ahead of time and stick together when it comes to parenting, especially on issues surrounding discipline and boundaries.

So as we approach our nine year anniversary, these are a few grains of wisdom I’ve gathered over the years. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but we know that if we continue to pursue God’s heart and will, we can lovingly pursue each other and strengthening our marriage year by year. 

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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