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The Snowy Day

It is amazing how the first snow of the year is once again magical when you have a child! I mean it has always been pretty, but nothing beats the absolute joy on Aiden's face when he sees it has finally snowed enough to cover the yard! So the first snow also always means grabbing the camera to capture some of that joy...



Home for the Holidays Blog Hop | Gifts

This year I have been doing the 4 Gifts blog series with a group of fabulous bloggers. Today I thought I would share the posts to date, as well as give you a sneak peek at this week's post! (That post will be up on Thursday as usual, but I have a little insta-giveaway related to it that is happening right now!)

So the idea of 4 gifts is that you give one gift for each of 4 different categories: WANT, NEED, WEAR and READ. 

For WANT I shared 1 of our family's favorite games to play together. We try to add one new game to our collection each year, so I shared some ideas in this post.

For NEED I shared a gift guide for essential oil fans... because I neeeeeed my oils, ha! You can get ideas for accessories and holiday oils in this post.

For WEAR I shared a style guide for my 5-year-old (although what he will probably get from us is socks because there are never socks when we need them! Ha!)

This Thursday I will post my READ guide, and I will give you a little hint about what it will contain. Your hint is the fun giveaway I am running over on Instagram! Come enter to win a copy of the Arch Books Treasury | Vintage Collection





Aiden LOVES his Arch Books, and this treasury contains the original 12 Arch Books from 1964-1965. But I will talk more about that on Thursday, as well as some other favorite reads! Check back for that later this week. 

Now it is YOUR turn to share a post about gifts for the #HFTHBlogHop!! 

With the holidays just around the corner, we want to share our favorite Traditions, Gifts, Decor, Food & more and we want to know YOURS! Join your hosts Neely, Branson, Lauren, Julia and Natasha the first week of December as we link up and step into your home for the holidays! 

The days for this blog party will be themed... link up as many posts as you like each day, as long as they fit the theme for the day! 

  • Monday - Gifts 
  • Tuesday - Recipes/Crafts 
  • Wednesday - Traditions/Activities
  • Thursday - Decor
  • Friday - Free for All! (Link up any holiday-related post, or make up for any of the days you missed!)

Make sure to link up with us every day and use the hashtag #HFTHbloghop to share photos and posts on social media. We will be retweeting and reposting your posts throughout the week... and on through the holidays! We will also pin our favorites to the Home for the Holidays pinterest board! Come join the fun - find some new blogs and get your blog out there while spreading cheer throughout the blogosphere! 

It would be lovely if you would follow each of your hosts in some way! Feel free to give a shout out when you do so we can follow you as well!




Natasha @ Natasha Byrd

Julia @ The Quiet Grove 


Click to tweet and help us spread the word! 

Tweet: Join the #HTFHbloghop and spread holiday cheer throughout the blogosphere! http://bit.ly/1j84im9 @neelykins @bransonmerrill @talkofthetrains

Grab a button! 

Home for the Holidays Blog Hop
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Baby It's Cold Outside! {Winter Maternity Photos}

This weekend I got to take some maternity photos for my darling niece! I am so excited to be a great-aunt, and she is going to make a wonderful mother! It was so, so cold out when we took these... I am pretty sure my fingers were frozen by the end, ha! We didn't spend too much time outside, but I was thrilled with what I was able to get! (And please forgive the big blackout spots on the ultrasound pics for internet purposes!)


#ParentTeacherMeetUp - Week 12



I have been sitting here struggling to come up with a post again this week. I have to admit that both my brain and my heart are in holiday mode already. So... how about a quick list of randoms instead of answering questions. You don't mind, right?

  • Aiden is in love with a new-to-us math game that Erin mentioned in one of her posts! It is called prodigy game. It is definitely challenging him in some areas, and that is giving us a chance to work on dealing with his perfectionist tendencies. Really I could write a whole post about just this topic. I am seeing his emotional intensity differently the more I take time to really learn about it and that is good, but I also feel overwhelmed as a parent sometimes. 
  • Waffles are delicious, and we were happy I remembered I had a waffle maker this week.
  • The weather has been MUCH colder... much more typical Nebraska winter. This is forcing me to rethink some things because I can't just chase Aiden outside as easily. 
  • I finally remembered to work with A on scissor skills a bit. We need more work.
  • Google is awesome. This week's topic was negative infinity. Aiden continues to be fixated on all things infinity related. 
  • We read some great books this week. I love that Aiden can read his Arch books to me now. They are definitely not easy readers, and I help him with some of the big words, but he told me the other day "I can read all the books in the world now!" Ha! 
  • Being indoors more has led to him using a greater variety of his toys... often ones I have forgotten he owns. The other day he pulled out lincoln logs and I hadn't seen those in ages. He is still all about creating things. 
  • Mannheim Steamroller is Aiden's new music of choice. It is not my favorite (Matt has always loved it and laughs that now I have to listen to it again) but I do enjoy watching Aiden create crazy dances to the songs he loves. He has great rhythm. I need to get a video. 
  • Charlie Brown continues to be a new favorite. Aiden has been working on learning to draw snoopy, and again I love google because printing coloring pages is helpful sometimes. Aiden rarely likes to color like just in coloring books, but if he has a certain character he is interested in he will sometimes color those pages. He still mostly prefers to create his own pictures. 
  • Probably the coolest thing in the world right now is listening to Aiden pray. He has a really precious faith vocabulary (I can't think of any other way to explain it) and for a five-year-old to pray that God would help us feel His presence and things like that is just beautiful. I just can't even put into words how much this little boy's faith touches my heart and sustains me. God is at work through him already for sure! 

Before I get to the linkup part, a quick note for our fabulous linkers! During the month of December there will be no Parent Teacher Meet-Up. We will be taking the month off to focus on Christmas, and we will regroup and resume the first week of January!! Our plan is to share two special posts for those first two weeks: 

January 2nd - Home Educator Lessons Learned in 2015
January 9th - Home Educator Goals for 2016

We hope you will join us!! I still would love to read and share your home education posts during December, and you can always tweet them to me or share them with me on facebook or google+! Have a wonderful Christmas season, and we will see you back here next year! :) 


If you would like an email reminder when we start up again, leave me a comment with your email address! :) 


Okay... are you ready to link up with us?

Help us spread the word about this linkup by clicking here to tweet about it! The more people who know about it, the more traffic we can send your way!


Join us for this homeschool blogger linkup each Saturday to share what has been happening in your homeschool and connect with others who know what it is like to be both parent and teacher.

Before linking up, it would be lovely if you would follow all 3 of us in whatever social media avenues you frequent:

Branson 
Nicolette
Maggie



Meet Amanda! {Give Her Grace}

I love getting to meet amazing new women and develop friendships through blogging. During the month of November I was paired up with someone I know I am going to have that friendship with going forward. We met through a fun little project called Solidarity Sisters, and spent the month (well, what time we could commit to it!) looking at each other's blogs and chatting about all things bloggy. Today, I want to introduce her to my readers as well, because I think you are going to enjoy her blog.

Amanda is the writer behind Give Her Grace, a blog that's devoted to encouraging women in their various seasons of life. She writes about motherhood, women's ministry and all the messy everyday life in between. She is a wife to Brian and mother to two precious girls, Brooke and Georgia.

Here are a few posts you may want to start with when you visit her blog:



One of the things I love about both Amanda and her blog is that she has a heart for ministry outside the home as well. As women with young children, we both have a desire to serve and lead, but we also both have a calling to make our homes a priority. So I can connect with her on this level. While my ministry efforts are primarily geared toward teens right now, Amanda works with Women's Ministry (another area that tugs at my heart, but that is for another season!). I loved the post below, and wish that she lived next door so we could sit down with a cup of tea (no coffee for me!) and talk about all these things and join forces! That is one of the things about blogging... you connect with amazing people but they are usually far away. One of my dearest online friends likes to say that she is convinced our mansions will be next door to each other in heaven. It always makes me smile. While I often have a love-hate relationship with technology, I am so very grateful for the blessing of these long-distance sisters in Christ.



This is the second time I have participated in Solidarity Sisters, and it really is a lot of fun. If you are a blogger who is looking for support and new genuine connections I encourage you to check it out.


Simple Moments Stick




If you enjoyed this post, I would love it if you would sign up for my weekly email newsletter! I look forward to sharing more with you through this little bit of happiness sent to your inbox each week!


4 Gifts: Wear {style guide for a 5-year-old boy + a giveaway!}

Okay so, honestly? This is the post of this series I was the least excited about. Because we are consignment store and hand-me-downs all the way. But, I decided that just in case a long-distance relative wanted to send a gift of clothing I would go ahead and share some ideas. When it comes to what Aiden will get from us for this category, though, it will most likely be socks. Because every pair he owns right now is too small. Little bigfoot! Ha! Anyhow... at the top of my wishlist for him would be sweaters. These are all from Kohls:



He doesn't need jeans, thanks to some awesome friends, but he could surely use some comfy pants and some winter shirts wouldn't hurt. The items below are all from Old Navy:

So when he came to lean on me while I worked on the computer (like he always does) he spotted the sweater below and said it was his favorite. This is why I still choose his clothes, haha! And of course hats are always big with Aiden! This Star Wars hat from Target would be perfect!


For the record, he is currently in a size 6 for both pants and shirts, but pants must be adjustable or elastic waist and slim is best. Shoes he wears a size 13.



Now for the GIVEAWAY!

 4 Gifts Christmas Giveaway! Target Gift Card, World Market Gift Card, and More!
$130 Target Gift Card  ||  $25 World Market Gift Card  ||  Lace Arm Warmers - Forgotten Cotton  ||  Personalized Cutting Board (9x12") - Laserworkz  ||  Gypsy Dreamcatcher Necklace - Gypsies Box Jewelry  ||  $30 Credit for Keep Collective with Kassie  ||  Adult Coloring Book - This Girl's Doodles

"Pumpkin Pie" Cookies

"Pumpkin Pie" cookies are made with a box cake mix, and surprisingly enough... no pumpkin! Yet they have that flavor of the season in a soft cookie that people can't get enough of! This recipe is one that is super versatile and so fast and easy that you will want to experiment with other variations for sure!


"Pumpkin Pie" Cookies 

I am a firm believer in having some simple recipes up my sleeve. Even better are simple recipes that taste like they are something special. This is one of those! Technically, these are gooey butter cookies. However, when you use spice cake mix instead of yellow, you get cookies that taste amazingly like pumpkin pie!! Soooo yummy! Here is the simple recipe for these tasty little morsels...

Ingredients
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18.25 ounce) package spice cake mix
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

 Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Add cake mix, and stir until well blended. Roll into 1inch balls and roll the balls in the confectioners' sugar. Place 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks. 

Enjoy!

Linking up with: Dream. Create. Inspire.

If you enjoyed this post, I would love it if you would sign up for my weekly email newsletter! I look forward to sharing more with you through this little bit of happiness sent to your inbox each week!


Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional

Disclosure: I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I also get to give away an autographed paperback copy to one of my readers (in the continental United States) so be sure to enter to win at the bottom of this post!

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is an Advent devotional for women who want more from the season than holiday parties, hors d'oeuvres, and a new leather purse. You want a deeper walk with Jesus. You want to know Him and touch Him. You want to find rest in Him and talk with Him.

God Doesn't Make a List (Nor Does He Check It Twice)


You know when you aren't even done reading the introduction and already want to start highlighting in a book? Well, the line above was in the introduction of the Advent Devotional titled "Unwrapping the Names of Jesus" and when I read them I found myself reaching for a highlighter. Because I am the kind of person who starts something like an Advent devotional with the pure intention to prepare my heart for Jesus... but then I miss a day, or even just consider missing a day, and I get all legalistic. So kicking things off with this reminder that taking this time to prepare my heart is not about trying to prove my devotion or earn God's favor is so important.

After the introduction and a lovely prayer for her readers, author Asheritah Ciuciu provides the first of the weekly topical family devotionals. I love that there is some sense of ceremony to these devotionals. They follow the traditional themes of Advent, and include a suggested hymn for the family to sing together. 

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is an Advent devotional for women who want more from the season than holiday parties, hors d'oeuvres, and a new leather purse. You want a deeper walk with Jesus. You want to know Him and touch Him. You want to find rest in Him and talk with Him.

Unwrap Jesus' names one at a time, enjoying many beautiful gifts leading to the Greatest Gift. 


Next up in this study is a daily devotion for each weekday, focusing on one name of Jesus each day. Again, right off the bat I was ready to start highlighting. The first name covered in the daily devotions is the name "Jesus" and the author explains that Jesus, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Joshua, was not an uncommon name. Here is where she got me pondering:
"It was not an uncommon name, just like Jesus Himself didn't appear out-of-the-ordinary to those who grew up with him."  
Over and over God shows that He does not choose people of great power and stature to do His greatest work, but instead chooses the meek and lowly. So the fact that when He sent His Son to earth and chose a common name to give Him that just adds something I had never considered to this name I assume I would know all about already.



This Christmas, grow in your understanding and love for Jesus. 


So, we have had a Sunday family devotional covering the traditional Advent focus for the week, followed by 5 days of studying individual names. On Saturday, this study urges families to choose an activity to do together to put what they have read into action. I love that about this book. The suggested activities vary from family traditions to service-oriented projects.

Here is a word from the author herself about this book:
I wrote this book for you, friend.
By the end of the devotional, you will…
  • Grow in your love and understanding of who Jesus is
  • Cherish lots of fun memories as you put your faith in action with your family
  • Wake up on Christmas morning with the awe and wonder you felt as a child
And best of all, you’ll have the experience of quiet pockets of time with Jesus throughout the hectic holiday season.
I don't know about you, but "quiet pockets of time with Jesus throughout the hectic holiday season" are exactly what I need.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is an Advent devotional for women who want more from the season than holiday parties, hors d'oeuvres, and a new leather purse. You want a deeper walk with Jesus. You want to know Him and touch Him. You want to find rest in Him and talk with Him.

So, where do you find this excellent resource for your family this Advent season? Well, it is available in both kindle and paperback format on Amazon. I am also excited to share that I am giving away one signed paperback copy of this book as well!


Unwrapping the Names of Jesus - Advent Devotional Giveaway


WIN a copy of this wonderful Advent devotional for families! Perfect for the Christmas season to get to know Jesus better as we prepare our hearts to celebrate His birth! #giveaway #unwrappingJesus


For more information, visit Unwrapping the Names of Jesus on Asheritah's page.


Linking up with: Titus 2 Tuesday

In Search of a Faith Family... a flashback and an update

I love looking back to see how God has used different seasons in my life to bring me to where I am now in my relationship with Him. Below is a blog post I wrote back in 2011. It was actually kind of a follow-up to a post I had written on a friend's blog that you can read here. I loved reading that one after all this time as well. I find it interesting in some way that the church in this photo below is no longer there. It has been torn down since I took this photo and wrote these words. That seems symbolic in some way. Things are always changing... 

This morning I am preparing for a meeting of our High School Small Group ministry leaders. Matt and I have served as leaders for 3, almost 3 1/2, years now, and it is amazing to look back on what I had written just before that and see how quickly things changed. Shortly after I wrote this, we met with the pastors at our current congregation. The following fall we began working with youth again, and then this year I took on the role of coordinator for the program as well. We have definitely spent a good amount of time now as members of this church body, and there are many things we have grow to love about it. 

And yet...

It still doesn't fill that deep desire for a faith family that I remember when I read the post below. I still long for that ability to walk into the church and feel at home. Maybe that just isn't something we will find again. After all, this world is not our home, right? Yet shouldn't stepping into God's house be the closest thing I find here on earth? I find myself thinking that I need to talk to my Heavenly Father about this more. But for now there are sloppy joes to prepare, cookies to bake, and a meeting to finish getting ready for. This church we attend now may not be what I imagined when I wrote about our future church family, but it is a place God has given us to serve for right now. So, we will do that with gladness! 

I recently shared in a post over at Amber's Articles that we are still without a church home. This is something that has been weighing heavily on me lately. I miss our church family from Missouri, and I know that we need to find that here... not only for us, but for our son.

I always pictured us having children when we lived in Missouri. I wanted ours to be one of the little ones that bounced from pew to pew, being loved by a whole congregation. I wanted a child who could grow up in Miss Jan's Sunday School classroom, and be one of those cute little shepherds at Christmas. At the time we were the youth leaders and were always at the church. I imagined having a little shadow as I moved around the church preparing events and working on our ministry. Mostly, I wanted to raise our little one in an environment where I knew that they would grow to love Sundays and enjoy worship.

God, of course had other plans as far as when and where we would become parents. I don't doubt for a minute that He has a church family waiting for us here as well! The exciting news, is that Matt will finally have Sundays off again very soon. He bids on a new shift on Tuesday, and then in October we will be able to once again start searching for a church. We won't be constrained to Saturday evening worship, and can find a congregation that actually makes us feel welcome and loved. I can't wait.

Now, I know that a physical church is not the only way to worship. I love this quote: "The Church is not a physical building, but a group of believers; not a denomination, sect, or association, but a spiritual body. The Church is not an organization, but a communion, a fellowship of one body, and it includes all believers." (The Church - The Body of Christ, John MacArthur). However, I think we have to be careful not to confuse the definition of the word church with a "get out of Sunday service free" card. Yes, we can (and we should!) worship at all times and in all places. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." This should not take the place of fellowship, though. The Bible reminds us of the importance of fellowship:
  • Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
And provides us with a model for true fellowship:
  • They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
That passage from Acts has always been a favorite of mine. What an incredible example for us! Of course I also see it as a pretty convicting show of how watered down our fellowship has become in many instances. I know I have failed to live like these early believers! How many small churches are having to close their doors now, because they cannot afford to serve their members? How many ministries are suffering because of lack of support? How many of us go to church only on Sundays... or not at all?

Just some of the things that have been on my mind as we anxiously await Matt's change in schedule! We could use some prayers this week that he can find a shift with Sundays off and hours that will work for our family. We are making Sundays off our only criteria in his bid, and trusting God to find the right shift for him.



#ParentTeacherMeetUp - Week 11


Y'all... I went a little blogging crazy this week, ha! So I kind of don't have it in me to come up with a proper post today. However, I did blog earlier in the week some more thoughts about where we are at as a family who is identifying the best way to handle both educational and emotional needs. You can read that here:



Can we call that good for this week? I will focus on reading YOUR fabulous posts instead! 

Okay... are you ready to link up with us?

Help us spread the word about this linkup by clicking here to tweet about it! The more people who know about it, the more traffic we can send your way!


Join us for this homeschool blogger linkup each Saturday to share what has been happening in your homeschool and connect with others who know what it is like to be both parent and teacher.

Before linking up, it would be lovely if you would follow all 3 of us in whatever social media avenues you frequent:

Branson 
Nicolette
Maggie



From Winter Weather to Happy Mail {10 things that made me happy this week}



I didn't get around to doing my 10 things post last week, and again I really missed it. I have gotten used to taking some time to reflect on the best parts of the week. Overall, this was a good week! Here are some reasons why:

  1. The weather is getting cooler all the time, and while I will miss the warmth I also enjoy the excuse to curl up inside and slow down. People talk about the lazy days of summer, but I feel like when the weather is warm we feel like we have to be enjoying it all the time. When it is yucky outside it is easier to enjoy staying home. 
  2. Family game night on Sunday was a lot of fun. We were kind of on hiatus for a while for various reasons, so it was good to gather again and enjoy a good meal and great games
  3. Lots of projects to work on for my part time virtual assistant job. I enjoy having the opportunity to use my brain, and the upcoming extra income ill be helpful in a big way. Things have been tighter than ever with some low work at Matt's job. 
  4. Getting a free humidifier from Influenster when I hadn't even thought to budget for one but was clearly going to need one for the winter. Those little surprising ways things work out are fun. You can read about it here. 
  5. An afternoon playdate for Aiden and chance for me to catch up with a dear friend. 
  6. Comfortable friendship that lets me just be my flawed self and not worry about that.
  7. Getting to meet a friend's newborn baby girl for the first time. So sweet!!
  8. A little happy mail from a lovely blogging friend and also my homeschool mom secret pal. 
  9. Slow but steady progress toward being organized in my work-at-home life.
  10. A new diffuser!!! My best friend gave me my Christmas present early and I am sooooo excited! I have been missing my happy smells, ha! It is the diffuser from this post and it is on a crazy good sale on Amazon right now, btw! You know... in case you need one too!
Linking Up With: 

What made YOU happy this week? I would love to hear about it in the comments! Or link to your own post if you have one!


Other posts you might want to check out while you are here:




If you enjoyed this post, I would love it if you would sign up for my weekly email newsletter! I look forward to sharing more with you through this little bit of happiness sent to your inbox each week!


A Bedtime Update | #VicksSweetDreams

The Vicks Sweet Dreams Cool Mist Humidifier is helping to make bedtime a little sweeter in our home! #VicksSweetDreams


It is no secret that sleep has not been Aiden's strong point since... well, ever. As a baby he slept well, just not usually when we wanted him too. Which was fine. We found very quickly that our style of parenting was to led Aiden show us his needs as an infant. We tried sleep training for one night and it just didn't sit well with us. Every kid is different, and there is no one right answer.


The Vicks Sweet Dreams Cool Mist Humidifier is helping to make bedtime a little sweeter in our home! #VicksSweetDreams


We kind of assumed that by age five we would be more settled into a nighttime routine. However, any short periods of success we have had have always quickly given way to the same old night owl tendencies. I guess that is one reason it is good that we are homeschooling... no need to be up and out of the house early in the morning! Yet Matt and I still wish we could have a little more time to ourselves in the evening. So, the quest for balance in the area of sleep continues.


The Vicks Sweet Dreams Cool Mist Humidifier is helping to make bedtime a little sweeter in our home! #VicksSweetDreams


One thing that used to be helpful for bedtime was our humidifier. We have gone through 2 since Aiden was born, and by the end of last winter that second one had been at the end of it's lifespan as well. With the humidity here in the summer you can't run one anyhow, so I hadn't even considered what we would do this year until Influenster offered to send us the #VicksSweetDreams VoxBox. They provided us with the Vicks Sweet Dreams Cool Mist Humidifier free of charge for us to test and provide feedback.


The Vicks Sweet Dreams Cool Mist Humidifier is helping to make bedtime a little sweeter in our home! #VicksSweetDreams


Here is the honest review I shared with them:

I received the #VicksSweetDreams voxbox and am very pleased with it! This is a fantastic product! It is bigger than I expected, and I wish that the spout on the top could be turned to control the direction of the mist. However, neither of those factors would deter me from purchasing this product for my home. The unit is very quiet, and the projections of animals, aquarium scenes and stars are a big hit with my 5-year-old. I love that you are able to add the scent pads when needed. It gets very dry in the winter months where we live, and a good humidifier is a must! I would recommend this to my friends and family without hesitation!



The Vicks Sweet Dreams Cool Mist Humidifier is helping to make bedtime a little sweeter in our home! #VicksSweetDreams


I should also mention that bedtime has gone smoother each night since we set it up. Now maybe this is because it is new, but I am hopeful that it is a more lasting effect! Aiden enjoys helping us get it set up before bed, and then he chooses the scene for the night from the three options. He enjoys pretending that they are his dreams projected up on the ceiling, and I think that glow really helps him settle down. The Sweet Dreams humidifier is very quiet, but there is still a gentle white noise to it that is soothing. He also regularly suffers from sinus issues, so the moisture is important for us during dry Nebraska winters. 


The Vicks Sweet Dreams Cool Mist Humidifier is helping to make bedtime a little sweeter in our home! #VicksSweetDreams


What are your best tips for making bedtime a peaceful time for both kids and parents?

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. This in no way influenced the ideas and opinions expressed in this post. This is my honest review after testing the product in my home. 


If you enjoyed this post, I would love it if you would sign up for my weekly email newsletter! I look forward to sharing more with you through this little bit of happiness sent to your inbox each week!


For the Essential Oil Lover in Your Life! {a 4 gifts holiday gift guide}

Just joining us for the 4 gifts series? See last week's gift guide for family games here. 

So I will say that this is the category in the 4 gifts method of gifting that throws me off a bit. I keep trying to think of what we really need that could be given for Christmas. So, maybe I am slightly off track here, but I decided that for this post I would focus on Essential Oils. While we can certainly live without them, I have grown pretty attached to them. They are as close to a need as I could come up with!

A holiday gift guide for the essential oil love in your life, including a diffuser, EO accessories, oil suggestions, holiday bleands & more!


First, there are some EO accessories I am hoping for this Christmas! While the oils themselves are the most fun, there are other things that are needed to use them in a variety of way! My diffuser died recently, so I am excited about the one below that was suggested by a friend. I am definitely in need of new roller bottles, and want to share a word of caution to make sure the ones you order are suitable for light-sensitive oils and have a metal roller ball. I accidentally got some with plastic roller balls... worst thing ever! This coconut oil is my favorite carrier, and while I am still searching for the perfect storage solution I think putting these racks in the bathroom closet might be just the ticket!

A holiday gift guide for the essential oil love in your life, including a diffuser, EO accessories, oil suggestions, holiday bleands & more!


Then there are the new Holiday Synergies. I guess I should mention that I typically prefer Plant Therapy oils. They call their blends synergies. So, imagine my delight when I logged on to put some things in my wishlist and saw the holiday collection! I definitely need these!

A holiday gift guide for the essential oil love in your life, including a diffuser, EO accessories, oil suggestions, holiday bleands & more!


Finally, there are some oils that I have been wanting to order but haven't made it into my online shopping cart. I try to buy a new oil when I order the ones I need to restock, but it just hasn't been a priority in the budget lately. However, I will say that Plant Therapy oils are very affordable, and my collection has grown a lot more since discovering them!

A holiday gift guide for the essential oil love in your life, including a diffuser, EO accessories, oil suggestions, holiday bleands & more!


Gifts People Really NEED...

Now, I love oils, and I admit that it is a lot of fun to think about the perfect gifts to give. However... do any of us really NEED these gifts? Probably not very often. There are organizations that urge us to consider a different kind of giving. We can give a gift that will truly change lives on behalf of our loved ones. One such organization is Heifer International

I have heard of them before, and each time I have thought "Oh! What a neat idea!" and then quickly forgotten about it (just keeping it real here...). This year, though, I plan to really do it. I can think of a couple people who would genuinely be touched to receive that card saying that a flock of chicks was purchased on their behalf. Or that they have a share in a goat for a family who needs it. In fact, I am so passionate about this that I considered wiping this oil post clean to focus only on this. I am going to go ahead and leave that oily goodness up there, because I know people still love to give traditional gifts, but I hope you will watch the video below and really think about what you can give to those around the world who need it this year.





Now for the GIVEAWAY!


 4 Gifts Christmas Giveaway! Target Gift Card, World Market Gift Card, and More!
$130 Target Gift Card  ||  $25 World Market Gift Card  ||  Lace Arm Warmers - Forgotten Cotton  ||  Personalized Cutting Board (9x12") - Laserworkz  ||  Gypsy Dreamcatcher Necklace - Gypsies Box Jewelry  ||  $30 Credit for Keep Collective with Kassie  ||  Adult Coloring Book - This Girl's Doodles

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Thankful - #TheCircleLinkUp for November

I have never participated in #TheCircleLinkUp before, but I saw it on a couple of blogs recently (Like Susannah's) and thought I would join in this month. There is a new theme each month, and this time it is a Thankful Acrostic Poem. How fun!


T - ten tiny toes -  Don't ask me why that is what popped into my head for "T" along with a flash of the picture above. These toes are not so tiny any more! I am so blessed to be a mama. It think perhaps the fact that we waited so long for Aiden... that we were convinced we would never be parents by the time he arrived... makes it even more amazing to be living this life as a mama. I am so blessed.
H - handsome, helpful hubby - I am definitely one lucky girls to have a husband who helps out so much. He is a wonderful provider and a dad who makes life fun for Aiden. Matt is my best friend, and there is no one else I would rather be living this life with every day.
A - awesome sibling adventures - It is never boring when I get together with my siblings. I am thankful for each of them, as well as my mom who gave us all a place in this wacky family. While I won't get to see all of my brothers and sisters this thanksgiving, I do look forward to the times we can gather in one place.
N - nieces and nephews - Before I became a mama I had years of being an Aunt to enjoy. Now I get to have the best of both worlds! I am especially thankful for my sweet niece who will soon make me a great-Aunt when she becomes a mother herself! Amazing!
K - koinonia - The greek word for fellowship found in Acts 2:42 and also the name of my instagram Bible study group that has blessed me so! Being able to connect with sweet sisters in Christ and also have fellowship with our church family locally is wonderful.
F - faithful friends - I truly have amazing friends! I wish more of them lived nearby, but I have also been blessed with some truly dear local friends as well. I am thankful for the technology that allows me to keep in touch with those friends near and far.
U - undeserved mercy and grace - The greatest gift of all is the gift of grace, freely given by my amazing Savior. There are no words to express the depth of my gratitude for this gift, but I pray my life could be an offering that brings glory to Him.
L - learning opportunities with our teens - Working as youth ministry volunteers is an adventure for sure. We love our teens, and it has been amazing to watch them grow and mature. I am thankful for this final year with them before they go out into the world as young adults!



Other posts you might want to check out while you are here:





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