What I Want My Daughter to Know About Beauty

To my precious Calla Grace,

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I am writing to you today, on my 31st birthday, as you are sleeping soundly in your bed.  You are not even a year-old yet and I already worry for your future.  Your Daddy would say that this isn’t anything new, I worry about you and your brothers all the time.  But this is different.  I worry about the world you are growing up in.  I worry what this world is trying to teach you about the way that you look.


You are the most breathtaking baby I have ever laid eyes on.  I love the way that you smile with your whole face–especially with your gorgeous blue eyes.  I love your soft thin brown hair and your angelic, unblemished skin.  You are beautiful in every sense of the word.


But what I want you to know, sweet girl, is that beauty is so much deeper than what we can see.  True beauty comes from within.


There is so much that surrounds us that screams for attention to our outward appearance.  You can’t open up a computer or turn on the television without some tainted and distorted view of beauty:  As much bare skin as possible, cleavage for all to see, and a perfect body to boot.  I worry about the effect these over-sexualized images have on your brothers and do everything I can to guard their innocent eyes.  Now I also worry about the effects these images will have on you too–but in a different way.  I worry that they will make you feel like the way God made you isn’t good enough–and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.


God knit you together in my womb and has already numbered all of your days (Psalm 139).  He knows how tall you are going to be when you grow up, he knows what your body shape will be, and what color your hair will be.  He knows when you will start getting gray hairs and the number of lines that will crease your face when you are ninety.  He knows because He made you.  And He says that you are wonderfully made.  That’s what your Daddy and I say too.


When I was young, my mom and dad (your Papa and Lola) would lovingly tell me that I was beautiful inside and out.  But for some reason, I don’t think that I ever really felt beautiful.  In fact, I had this twisted notion that the phrase “beautiful inside and out” was some type of consolation for not being outwardly beautiful enough.  Sweet one, that is the opposite of how I want you to see beauty.


Being told that you are beautiful on the inside is the most wonderful compliment you can ever be given.  Don’t discount these words, precious girl.  A girl who radiates beauty from the inside will ALWAYS be the most beautiful.  Not because of the size of clothes she wears or how perfect her complexion is, but because she has the love of God within her–and NOTHING is more beautiful than that.


“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  -1 Peter 3:3-4


I would love to say that it gets easier as you get older, that you become more confident and content with the way that God has made you, but unfortunately that just wouldn’t be the truth.  The same insecurities that have plagued women my age when we were young continue to rear their ugly heads even as we get older and supposedly wiser.  As I look in the mirror these days and see the toll carrying three babies has taken on my body and the lines that have found their permanent place along my eyes and around my mouth, it makes me sad that I don’t look how I looked 10 years ago or 15 years ago–when I still thought I wasn’t pretty enough.


God tells us that outward beauty is fleeting (Proverbs 31), which means that is how he designed it all along.  He didn’t intend for women to look the same in their thirties and forties as they did in their teens or twenties, despite what Hollywood wants us to believe.  There is a difference between taking care of our bodies and making them idols that we worship with our time and money.  Don’t fall into this trap as you get older, my sweet girl, and I will try not to either.  Treat your body with respect and take care of it, but do not let the pursuit of the perfect body consume your thoughts.  It’s not worth it in the end.


Most of all, sweet girl, I want you to look for the beauty in others.  Surround yourself with people who are gentle and treat others with kindness and respect, who love God and let the Holy Spirit guide their steps.  When we love God, we love others well.  It might be difficult to see the beauty in people who are unkind to you, but continue to look for it.  Show kindness even when a sharp answer is warranted.  Be a joyful peacemaker to all those around you.  Honor others above yourself.


For this, my darling girl, is true beauty.


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Best Gifts for Boys Ages 5-7

Awesome gift ideas for boys This list also has some great handmade gift ideas 500x923 Best Gifts for Boys Ages 5 7

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My boys are HARD on toys.  My mom still has all of my brother’s Star Wars and Ninja Turtle toys from when they were little–they are in pristine shape.  But I honestly don’t think I will have much to salvage from the wreckage that is their toys.  If it comes into our house, it’s gotta be TOUGH (or engaging enough that they want to be careful with it).

I’ve compiled this list of some of our favorite gift ideas for boys.  Scroll down to the bottom of the post to see some handmade ideas as well!

And please know that I am by no means stereotyping these toys as only for boys…but as I currently have only boys of these ages, this is simply from our personal experience.  These are great ideas for girls as well!  :)


Here are some of our favorite toys for boys ages 5-7:



Snap Circuits Best Gifts for Boys Ages 5 7

Snap Circuits:

We got Big Brother his first set for his 6th birthday and both the boys are crazy about them.  It isn’t a toy we keep out, because I don’t want the parts getting lost, but when we do pull it out from the closet it is played with nonstop for at least a couple hours.  Get them here.

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Plasma Car:

Little Brother got one of these for his 4th birthday last year and it is perfect for our laminate flooring all over the main level of our house (and great for smooth concrete outside)!!  Find them here.

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Razor Scooter:

This is what we are getting both of our boys for Christmas!  Our neighbors have some and they love them.  I know they will be thrilled to have their own!  See all the colors available here.

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Our boys are currently obsessed with LEGO Star Wars, but LEGO has all sorts of sets for various interests:  Ninjago, Minecraft, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, LEGO City, and Super Heroes.

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Stomp Rocket:

These things are just the coolest.  Set it up, stomp on the launch pad, and watch the rocket shoot up to 100 feet in the air!  What kid wouldn’t love that?!?!

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NERF Weapons:

We used to have family NERF Gun Wars when I was growing up.  Up until now, our boys haven’t had the fine motor ability to manipulate the Nerf guns very easily, but they are just now getting into them!  Check out all the variations here.

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We don’t currently have a slackline for our boys, but we are planning on purchasing one for either Christmas or one of their birthdays.  I have heard so many good things about slacklining and we are excited to have one for our backyard!

hover ball Best Gifts for Boys Ages 5 7

Hover Ball:

This cool toy is like having a soccer ball on an air hockey table.  It is really neat and our boys have enjoyed playing with ours, especially during the long winter days indoors.  It says it can go on carpet, but we have found that it only “hovers” well on smooth floors (like laminate or wood).

Homemade Ideas for Boys Ages 5-7

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DIY Science Kit (with free printable experiment book)

The perfect gift for a science-lover!

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Kids Tinkering Kit

I love this idea for creating a kids tinkering kit from Katydid and Kid!

Beanbag Stomp Catch 500x750 Best Gifts for Boys Ages 5 7

Stomp and Catch Board

This was originally created for preschoolers, but bigger kids love it too!

Tic Tac Toe 500x750 Best Gifts for Boys Ages 5 7

Tic Tac Toe Game in a Bag

What is your son’s favorite gift that he has received?

Best Toys for Babies: Holiday Gift Guide

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With Little Sister being our third child, we have been around the block when it comes to toys, going through just about every toy imaginable in our nearly 7 years of parenting.  I can tell you one thing:  a lot of the toys are just plain not worth it.  They are plastic junk that eat batteries and don’t hold the attention of our kids longer than the entirety of the musical diddy incessantly playing…that, for the life of us, we can’t find the “off” button to.

In honor of this, we’ve compiled our list of best toys for babies.  These baby toys are simple and as natural as possible.  Below are some of my favorite “toys” for babies…some we have, some others we know have (and love), and some we want.  :)


sensory ball Best Toys for Babies:  Holiday Gift Guide


CaaOcho Baby – Natural Rubber Sensory Ball

 This awesome sensory ball is made with all-natural rubber and food-grade paint, which means it is 100% safe for your baby to put his/her mouth all over!  When the ball twirls, the colors make for a fun sight for baby as well.


bead maze Best Toys for Babies:  Holiday Gift Guide

Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze

This toy has been played with all 3 of our kids and most recently has saved dinnertime for our family.  Little Sister (8 months) is not crazy about sitting in her highchair unless she has food being shoveled into her mouth.  This keeps her occupied while the rest of us eat and chat…and the suction cups keep it from being thrown on the ground (like every other toy we have tried to give her).  Not to mention, the beads are great for hand-eye coordination and fine motor development!

sophie the giraffe Best Toys for Babies:  Holiday Gift Guide

Sophie the Giraffe

Sophie wasn’t around when our older two were babies, but she has become a beloved member of our family since Little Sister’s birth!  She is great to chew on (especially with teething) and her neck is easy to hold.

Haba clutching toy Best Toys for Babies:  Holiday Gift Guide

HABA Clutching Toy

This simple toy is great for keeping little hands busy (hello church or doctor’s office) and it can also be helpful for teething babies.  If you have a baby who loves to grasp your necklace or bracelets, this is a great toy for him/her!

Melissa and Doug Farm Puzzle Best Toys for Babies:  Holiday Gift Guide

Melissa & Doug Jumbo Peg Farm Puzzle

This puzzle has (miraculously) survived all three kids and is one of our favorites!  I love this puzzle (more than the other few varieties) because it helps reinforce animal sounds, which I think helps a great deal with language development.

Stack and Smile photo blocks Best Toys for Babies:  Holiday Gift Guide

Stacking Photo Blocks

These are just the coolest things ever and they are on my list for Little Sister this Christmas!  Research has shown that babies prefer to look at the human face more than anything else…so why not let them play with faces!  :)  The great thing about this toy is that you can easily adapt it for the age of your child!  Once he/she has outgrown looking at photographs, put alphabet letters or numbers in there and use them to make a game.  The possibilities really are endless!

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Hape Wonder Walker

This toy would be great for babies approaching their first birthday.  It is wooden, so it won’t fall apart, but offers fun activities on its side for stationary babies as well!  The little storage shelf in the front makes it fun for babies to take items around the house with them.  :)

Are there any toys you would add to this list?  What was/is your baby’s favorite toy?

Freezer-Friendly Crock Pot Turkey Curry Chili

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I am just dipping my toes into the world of curry, thanks to this recipe from my mom.  It is delicious, can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd, and is only 185 calories per serving!!!!  Oh, and did I mention it is freezer-friendly and it goes in the crock pot?  THIS. IS. A. WINNER.


Crock Pot Turkey Curry Chili

Serves 4-6

1 lb. ground turkey
1 cup grated/shredded carrots
1 can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 can tomato soup
1/4 cup lite coconut milk (canned)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
2 1/2- 3 tablespoons curry powder
Shredded coconut for a garnish.

*You can add garbanzo beans and/or chickpeas as well

Serve over coconut rice and/or with naan bread.  I think these sautéed sugar snap peas go well with it also!

(print the recipe here)


IMG 1951 Freezer Friendly Crock Pot Turkey Curry Chili

1.  Brown the ground turkey over medium heat until cooked through.


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2.  Grate 1 cup’s worth of carrots.


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3.  Add your diced tomatoes and tomato soup (I didn’t have any tomato soup on hand, so I used tomato sauce and it turned out just fine–tomato soup is just slightly sweeter).


IMG 1959 Freezer Friendly Crock Pot Turkey Curry Chili

4.  Add your curry powder.  If you are making it for your family with young children, I would err on the side of less spice (1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons, perhaps).  You can always add a little more at the end if it isn’t spicy enough.


IMG 1962 Freezer Friendly Crock Pot Turkey Curry Chili

 5.  Add 1/4 cup of coconut milk (save the rest to make coconut rice to serve it with).



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6.  Now that everything is in your crockpot, stir it all together.


IMG 1969 Freezer Friendly Crock Pot Turkey Curry Chili

7.  Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.


IMG 1985 Freezer Friendly Crock Pot Turkey Curry Chili

Spoon over a bed of coconut rice, sprinkle with a little coconut, and prepare for the deliciousness!  One of my children accidentally switched my crock pot to “boil” at some point during the cooking time (which I didn’t even know it could do)…so it turned out slightly thicker than it normally would.


To freeze:  Brown ground turkey until cooked through.  Add remaining ingredients and mix in a gallon size freezer bag.  Freeze.  When ready to cook, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then toss in the crockpot in the  morning!  


Check out more of our favorite recipes here and on our Pinterest board.

A Solution for Organizing Headbands and Bows

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Last week I asked for tips on the best ways to go about organizing headbands and bows for girls.  There were so many great responses (you can read them all here) and I think I figured out a method of organizing all the bows we have coming out of our ears.  :)

First of all, I decided it would work best if I separated the headbands and alligator clip bows.  I really liked this headband holder, but unfortunately we already had too many headbands to all fit on here (I know, I know…it’s crazy).  :)

So I reverted back to my trusty over-the-door shoe organizer (that we also use for school supplies and scarves/hats in other areas of the house).  I color-coordinated the headbands so the will be easy to find.


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Obviously, if you have accordion-style closet doors, this won’t work for you.  Be sure to check out all the other suggestions from our Facebook friends!


Next, I needed a solution for the alligator clip bows.  We don’t have very many of these yet because Baby Girl’s hair isn’t long enough to hold them in place.  But I found a birdcage similar to this one at Hobby Lobby and spray painted it with some pink spray paint I already had on hand (it was a teal color to begin with).

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Want to see more of our nursery?  Check it out here.  

IMG 0982 500x333 A Solution for Organizing Headbands and Bows

I put felt pads on the bottom to keep it from scratching the dresser.



How do you organize your daughter’s bows and headbands???