Fall Favorites for the Girls | Fashion and Style

I’ve been trying to create a smaller, mix and match wardrobe for the girls this year. Because Ensley is taller/bigger than Emmy was, we hardly have any hand-me-downs that worked for her in the right seasons. I’ve had to start from scratch for BOTH girls this year! Because we buy everything in doubles (I like to dress them the same), I am trying to find good versatile pieces. Here’s our favorites for fall:

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 6.25.33 PM.pngThese little red flats from Target are the cutest! I loved them, and they’re  under $20. They zip up the back but have real ties on the front. Adorable with skinny jeans, leggings, and dresses for church! Find them here.

I also snagged these long sleeve swing dresses for the girls at Target, too. They were simple, neutral and really cute with the red flats! Target also had my favorite felt hats for them, and some green utility vests that look like miniatures of my own! The little vests were under $16…can’t beat that!

Old Navy didn’t have as much as I usually love there, but they did have these little knee-high boot socks! They are $3, you guys! Adorable with little knee-high boots and skirts. They go up to a 5T.  The only other thing I found at Old Navy was this little gauze, pink skirt. It matched a few things they already have, including their little chambray  button downs (#allthehearteyes for chambray shirts on toddlers!!!). 

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 6.35.06 PMI got a few other things at Gymboree, my usual go-to, but mostly basics and church dresses. My final splurge and favorite part of their fall clothes were these gold Converse! They were so adorable and they will match a bunch of their clothes.  

I love, love dressing up the girls, but with the abundance of girl’s clothes in our house (CLOTHES COMING OUT OUR EARS), I’m trying to pare down their stuff going forward!

Where the Light Floods In.

I haven’t written many personal posts here on the blog lately, but perhaps it’s because we are in a new season. That’s just fine with me, honestly. God tore up quite a bit in 2015, tilling away at our hearts and lives, especially mine. I think it’s taken this year to really process the loss and heartache and joy that mingled together the last 5 years. That’s not to say we haven’t had days of joy, even lengthy months when we were truly in an easier season. If you looked at my Instagram feed, you’d assume we had a pretty smooth five and a half years, and though our marriage has been strong, the loss of my nursing career, followed by numerous health problems took it’s toll on me personally. Drew and I had to fight health problems since we got married and three months after, I was rushed into emergency eye surgery after going blind while at work. My pregnancy with Emmersyn was a nightmare, then Ensley followed with an even more difficult labor and delivery. I alway say I’d give my life for my girls, but in reality, I almost did. Then a miscarriage of our third baby, followed by an even harder six months of health problems. I’m not sure anyone even realized how hard those years were, even me. Only this year, free from surgery and health problems, have I realized how difficult in comparison those times were. This year has been a year of redemption, physical healing, and renewed joy.

It’s been two years since I last took my NCLEX exam, and the sting of hurt is faded. I never thought I’d say that; at the time, it was the most painful, haunting loss I’d ever faced. I still don’t understand that bit of my story, and am not sure that I ever will. I also have realized it’s okay if I don’t ever understand why God both opened, closed, and orchestrated that event. There aren’t easy answers, and I have learned that God is big enough for the hard questions. God has been shaking up my whole heart and life the past few years, challenging all I ever thought I knew, and showing me that it’s okay if faith doesn’t look like what you always thought it would. Part of that has happened through my work with Love Stripped, a local organization that works with women who work in the sex industry. I’ve always felt pulled to women who have been through abuse/trafficking (let me be clear, not every woman in the sex industry has been through trauma or abuse, so it is not to be aligned DIRECTLY with trafficking, even though some of the women have been abused). I always thought that God would use my nursing degree to accomplish this, but turns out, He can use me in other ways I never imagined. I had my first outreach this last month, where our team heads into the strip club and simply reaches out to the women there. It wrecked me, and I mean that in the best way possible. Meeting, talking with, and being among women who are just like me…it turns upside down every bit of “church walls” you can imagine. If I believe Jesus is in the walls of my church, then I must believe that He is also in the walls of the strip club, nudging the hearts of the women. I know that probably sounds a bit sacrilegious, and as someone who has grown up in the church, it sounds a bit odd, even to my own ears. But, I will tell you if you were there, in a building there the air truly feels thick with evil, you’d see the light flooding in. I met women, priceless women, some barely out of their teens, some moms, some older. Each with a hollow sadness in their eyes. One had a daughter who wants to be a ballerina. My daughter also wants to be a ballerina. We are not that different after all, see. And when you start seeing “them” as “us” and “her” as “ME”, you can no longer put up the sterile walls of your home and your church. You can’t. You are wrecked. And your heart understands that there is SO MUCH MORE going on in the world than just you. And that is beautiful, because when your walls begin to crack, the light begins to flood in. 

Beautiful Princess Bible | And A Giveaway!

Our oldest daughter recently made the decision to accept Jesus as her personal savior! We were overjoyed when she shared that she wanted to take this important step. She is always eager to attend her AWANA class and sunday school, and we knew it was past time to get her a bible that was suited for her age. She has been asking for awhile, and when I got the opportunity to review my shopping experience at Family Christian Stores (online), I knew it would be the perfect time to get her a bible.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 7.06.17 PMI searched through their large selection of children’s bibles, and found the site to be super easy to use, which was helpful! Because everything lately is all about the princesses, Emmy loved the look of the Beautiful Princess Bible, which came in the New Living Translation. While our church uses the ESV, the NLT is easy to read and I loved that this bible included “princess” themed extras. It also includes highlighted memory verses and devotionals from Sheri Rose Shepherd, author of the book “His Princess”, which I read and enjoyed years ago, in high school.

Other products I looked at included their large, impressive variety of Melissa and Doug products, one of our favorites brands. The wooden stamp set and finger puppets will probably make their way into our Christmas stockings this year! Right now, Family Christian is running a BOGO 50% sale on tons of great products for your family, including the Adventures in Odyssey sets (we own tons of these and the girls love them in the car while we are driving around town). Check out the whole website hereScreen Shot 2016-08-17 at 7.13.07 PM

I’m GIVING AWAY a $25 gift code to Family Christian Stores with the winner announced August 25th! To ENTER, comment here below, or on the Facebook post with your favorite product on the website! 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Book Review: The Life We Never Expected | And a GIVEAWAY!

I’ve been reading quite a bit of non-fiction these days, and I love books on a variety of 9781433550997topics. When the opportunity arose for me to review this book, The Life We Never Expected, I was curious and anticipated it’s arrival. As a member of a church heavily centered around caring for families with members with special needs, and as an aunt to two little one with special needs/autism, I was hoping this would be a great resource for families I knew.

This is a touching, encouraging and hopeful book by two young parents. Their two children, a boy and a girl, both have autism (including regressive autism), and they actually wrote the book while still in the midst of the raising of their children. Mom (Rachel) notes that this was intentional, as they hoped to encourage families in the middle of their journeys, rather than imparting wisdom at the end. I enjoyed their short chapters, scripture saturated thoughts, and a peek into what life looks like day-to-day as a family with special needs children. Best of all, they encourage anyone going through suffering to continually hope in the “future grace” that awaits. In the back of the book, there is a list of great resources as well.

 I’d love to give a copy of this book away to one of my readers, especially if you are a parent or know a parent of a child with special needs. I think you or they will find it encouraging and helpful! To enter, please comment below or click follow on the right hand side of the blog. I’ll select a winner at random on July 8, 2016.

To purchase the book yourself, click here.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Trunk Club | Second Trunk and My Experience So Far

My second Trunk from Trunk Club arrived today (hooray!)…I started using Trunk Club a few months ago, to replace my disappointment in the lower quality items I kept getting _11436025.jpgfrom Stitch Fix. I loved that TC offered me Nordstrom brands, and didn’t charge me the $20 fee! My stylist is great, and he seems to be listening to my likes/dislikes. I received less items in the trunk this time, which was a bit disappointing, but I rejected some of what was initially chosen for me, so that could have been why. I kept five things, all of which I loved and will use. My absolute favorite item were these cute ivory sandals (right). They are by Sam Edelman, and I had been eyeing them for awhile, which my stylist had no idea about! It was great to get the _12600989ivory in my trunk, which is now sold out online. I also got some very cute simple jewelry, including these Bauble Bar studs (left), which are totally my style.  I sent back a really cute fitted knit dress which I loved but it looked a little maternity-ish on because it was SO fitted. I also kept a simple work blouse, a long black and gold necklace, and this tank top (below). I liked the fit of it a lot and though it was way more than I’d typically spend, I earned referral credit from a few friends who signed up! _12695345

So far, Trunk Club has exceeded my expectations and I’ve enjoyed almost all of what got sent to me. There have been a few hit and misses: a few free people pieces that fit me horribly, and two dresses that were not an appropriate length for a mom of two who is almost thirty years old! LOL! Overall, I love it because of the VARIETY: I get more pieces than Stitch Fix’s five, and I don’t have the pressure of having to pick something just to use my $20 each time. And I love the QUALITY…these pieces are brands I have purchased before, rather than cheaper brands I can find at TJ maxx (which became the case with my SF boxes).

Want to give it a try? If you use my referral link HERE, you will get MY same stylist!

How to use EBates to Earn Money | Frugal Living

I love EBates…I use it almost every week, and earn tons of cash back on all my online shopping. Since we don’t have many shopping options here, I am able to earn extra cash back and often, free shipping using the website. Here’s how I make almost $75 every three months:

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-I made EBates my home page. Every time I open a window, it’s right there, so I begin my shopping every time from the page, which helps me not forget.

-Use EBates for extra discounts. Often, there are codes or promotions available through the site too. I find this most often with Old Navy, Gap, and Gymboree, and sometimes, Target. Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 8.12.37 PM

-Using EBates TRULY is that easy to use: You just search for the store you are looking for, and click “shop now. The MAIN KEY IS THIS: do not, I repeat, do NOT ever exit a browser window when you are using Ebates. You MUST complete the whole transaction from start to finish in one window once you click “shop now”, or you will not earn cash back. When in doubt, start over from the Ebates home page just to be sure. The checkout and everything is 100% normal after you click shop now! You do not have to enter a number or anything.

-Check to see if your favorite retailers are available for cash back: Like I said, I use it often for Gap, LOFT,  and Old Navy, but Amazon offers cash back in limited categories, and I even score cash back on smaller retailers like ModCloth. True, it’s usually only 2-6% cash back, but that’s free money you’re getting if you already planned on making a purchase. I wait till Nordstrom offers their awesome 6% or 10% cash  back to make my purchases on there. To get even more bang for your buck, purchase a gift card at Fred Meyer or Safeway to get the fuel rewards, then make your online purchase. Double the rewards! There are also retailers that won’t offer cash back, and then when you check back later on, they do. Always check first.

-Ebates has no fishy business: I get my checks on time, every three months, and cash them right away. They do not ask for your bank account or debit card numbers, and you can even choose Paypal as your payment method.

To try it out, you can sign up here (thanks for using my link!) and you’ll get a $10 gift card with your first purchase!

April Books 2016 | What I’m Reading

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I’m trying to keep up with reading this month, and I actually read a ton in April! Here are my favorites and why:

6837103-The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom: A beautiful, sweeping book about slavery, family, and what the meaning of friendship is. Very moving, I couldn’t put it down. Written in lovely prose, though the content is often raw/graphic depictions of slavery.

-Beyond Belief: Recommended by a friend, not necessarily one I would have picked up myself. I never knew much about Scientology, but this memoir is honest and informative, while also being a good read. I found it fascinating, and while the ending wasn’t what I had envisioned, it was a solid read.

-Missoula: Rape and the Justice System by John Krakauer I minored in criminal justice in college, so crime novels are always a fascinating choice for me. I’ve read John’s other famous book, Into Thin Air, and this one was hard to read due to the topic, but also eye opening. Gave me insight as a woman, into how to help victims of sexual assault and how to protect our two daughters in the future. (Descriptions of rapes/sexual assaults are part of the crime reports in this book).Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 3.31.57 PM

-Forgiven: This book is about the amish schoolhouse shootings that happened a few years ago, and is the moving account written by the mom of the shooter. Though it has a few cheesy moments and isn’t very “literary” in the sense of the prose, the story is true and so, so moving. I was definitely wiping away tears by the end.


-A Man Called Ove
: My VERY FAVORITE book this year. It’s a fiction about a grumpy old neighbor who begrudgingly gets to know a young family who moves in next door. I BAWLED MY EYES out at the end, which doesn’t take much for me (hah), but it’s the sweetest story about loving people who are unlovable, in tangible ways.