You had me at Apple Fritter Monkey Bread:D Partnering with ALDI to make some delicious fall goodness!

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If you have been following us for awhile, you know we love to bake together as a family! You also probably know then, that we like to purchase things as inexpensively as possible. After shopping in our little Kansas town for awhile, we have learned that we can get some of the best quality foods for the lowest prices at our local ALDI store!

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We have learned that we can literally double our regular shopping list without doubling the price once we started shopping at ALDI!  For a growing family of 6, this is wonderful! We can get all of our favorite foods, all of our baking ingredients, fun seasonal items and delicious organic produce all in one place and at incredible prices!

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ALDI also offers a slightly different shopping experience that our family has grown to love! You bring your own reusable bags, which cuts down on having to spend extra money just to collect plastic bags that you’ll keep forgetting to recycle and is way better for the environment!

You also rent your cart!  You put a quarter in and get it back when you return the cart. This was new to me but has actually become a beautiful opportunity to teach our daughters about generosity, kindness and blessing others.  When our shopping is done and unloaded, we just leave that quarter in the slot for someone else to have, walk our cart to somebody else going to get one or give a quarter to someone going to get a cart. It’s just a quarter, but it is the act of doing something to bless someone else that we want the girls to enjoy and grow to do more and more selflessly every day!

 

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With Fall right around the corner, I have been craving one of our favorite easy-to-make together breakfast treats!  So, with that, I give you one of our favorite fall breakfast recipes.

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APPLE FRITTER MONKEY BREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 (12-oz.) cans of refrigerated Bake House Creations Buttermilk Biscuits or Bake House Creations Crescent Rolls. My husband maybe accidentally got crescent rolls this time, so we learned both will work great! 😀
  • 6 tbsp. Countryside Creamery Butter, melted
  • 1 apple of your choice. We used delicious organic Fiji apples from ALDI!! Peel, core & finely chop those bad boys!
  • 4 tbsp. Baker’s Corner Brown Sugar
  • 4 tbsp.Baker’s Corner Granulated Sugar
  • 4 tbsp. Stonemill Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp. milk- Friendly Farms Organic Whole Milk. We use Almond sometimes as well when making the glaze.
  • Extra Cinnamon & Sugar incase your dough needs a little more love

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 8×3” round cake pan with coconut oil or butter.
  2. Tear, or let your toddlers tear the biscuits, or cut each biscuit into little 1-inch pieces.  Dunk the little pieces in the melted butter then toss them in cinnamon-sugar until evenly coated. Lay your lovely biscuit babies in an even layer in your pan.  Sometimes we’ll add more cinnamon and sugar if it looks like some of the biscuits are too naked.
  3. Toss apples with brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Scatter as much or as little of them apples on top of the biscuit babies.
  4. Drizzle the rest of the melted butter over the biscuits and apples.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until the biscuits are a deep golden and the apple mixture is bubbling. Cook a bit longer if the dough in the center is still too gooey. Let cool for about 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, make that magic morning glaze! Whisk together powdered sugar and milk until nice and smooth.  You could substitute this step with a butter & brown sugar glaze or honey, but we chose this scrummy glaze this time!

Remove from oven, allow to cool for about 15 minutes, then drizzle that glaze on top of the bread. Spoon out generous servings & serve warm.

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There are lots of ways you can mix this recipe up, but we hope you make this and enjoy this on a beautiful Fall morning! And, if you’ve never been to your local ALDI go check it out!  You’re in for a treat!

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It has truly been a pleasure to partner with ALDI to share some of our favorite items and a recipe containing ingredients that can all be purchased from ALDI. Check out https://www.aldi.us/ to see your local weekly specials and gain some mealtime inspiration!

 

(Disclaimer:  We have been sponsored by ALDI for this partnership, but all opinions expressed here are my own, personal and honest opinions.)

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An Interview with Vitruvi

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With three little girls in tow and a fourth on the way, Amanda Pahls recognizes that spare time is becoming an increasingly rare commodity in her home. To make sure that she and her little ones stay happy and healthy, she’s chosen to simplify her daily routines by incorporating natural products into everything from bathtime to bedtime. Below, we chatted with Amanda about the challenges of motherhood, which are well worth it when she watches her daughters show kindness and love to others. She also shared her go-to dinner with us, and, based on the sounds of her perfected-over-7-years guac, you’d be lucky to snag a seat at Amanda’s dining room table any night of the week.


What are the daily rituals that keep you grounded when things get chaotic?
My most special ritual: coffee, but for real, it’s spending time with our daughters, watching them play with one another, and spending the evenings with my husband—these are the little things that keep me sane. I enjoy wearing and diffusing essential oils in our home throughout the day and using them to help with everything from needing a little grounding to an energy boost.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetTea or coffee?
I actually love both! I enjoy homemade iced americanos most days, but my husband makes THE BEST honey and earl grey tea lattes!!

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How has becoming a mom changed your outlook on the products you use for your children, your home and yourself?
Before I had children, I didn’t really think about the quality of the products I used. I got whatever was cheap and easy, but after getting pregnant with our first daughter, I became a lot more conscious about what I was putting on my body. This lead to not only wanting to use products that were better for me physically, but I started wanting to use products that supported companies I could really stand behind as well. We have 3 daughters under the age of 5 and are expecting our 4th daughter any day now. That being said, spare time is becoming much less spare :)️ I want to use products that are high quality, crafted with care, convenient and not very time-consuming.

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Go-to dinner?
Homemade street tacos are basically a love language in our home! Grilled veggies, slow cooked high quality meats, vegetable slaws, my husband’s delicious homemade tortilla chips and a guacamole that I’ve spent the last 7 years perfecting! Our family loves this meal and it’s one of the best ways to get our daughters to consume lots of delicious vegetables and spices!

What object/space in your home is most special to you?
Our dining room table is probably my most-loved object in our home. We spend so much of our time in our dining room. Baking with my daughters, making essential oil play dohs, making arts and crafts, home-education, eating meals with dear friends and as a family, coffee and great conversation with my husband…all of these things take place sitting at our dining room table. These moments I will truly cherish forever.

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Hardest part of being a mom?
Man, the challenges of motherhood continue to surprise me. The emotional challenges are probably more difficult than the physical demands of motherhood for me. Mom-guilt, fear, feeling unqualified…these are a few things I battle constantly as a mother. Sometimes I stay up at night going over our day and thinking of all of the better ways I could have reacted to my daughters and different situations or more productive ways I could have spent my time with them and taking care of our home. Then I remember how much I love our daughters and how much they love me and I tell myself I will do better then next day. And some days I do, and some days I don’t. You need a lot of grace and forgiveness as a mother, but it is truly the most wonderful thing I have ever known.

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Best part of being a mom?
So many things I truly cherish about motherhood. Watching our daughters learn something new, seeing them show kindness to others, hearing them say, “I love you”, and knowing they’re learning these things from my husband and I. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced. Sometimes I just watch them play and wonder how I got so lucky to get to mother these sweet little ladies!

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Favourite essential oil and why?
Do I have to choose just one?! I love so many for so many reasons! If I could only have one oil it would probably be lavender for its versatility. However, I love citrus oils, peppermint, bergamot, cedarwood, and so many delicious blends made up of these oils!

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How do you weave essential oil products into your day?
We’ve started using essential oils from morning to night. Frankincense in my facial moisturizers, diffusing oils throughout our home, using them in homemade play dohs, using them on myself and our daughters for energizing, calming and grounding purposes. I use essential oils in our baths, as perfume, in specialized rollerballs, in homemade cleaners, homemade toothpaste, homemade hair and beard oils, chapsticks, body balms and other homemade things my husband and I make and use in our home.

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Favorite quote?
It’s not a famous quote, but more of a philosophy or a conviction a friend shared with me: ending our ‘to do’ lists with “and do these things with a happy heart.” So often we do things because we have to with a frustrated or ungrateful attitude. I’m trying to remember, from laundry and dishes to errands and deadlines, to accomplish the tasks I have before me with a happy and grateful heart. I don’t always succeed at this, but I’m trying to be much more intentional about it as we go about our days. I want to model gratefulness and joy to our daughters, and reminding myself to do the little things with a happy heart is a way to model just that.

 

Learn more about Vitruvi and check out other interviews here: http://basenotes.vitruvi.com/.

Real Moms, Real Talk: Interview with Bundles of Health

Looking back on the pregnancy and birth of your first child, was there anything about the postpartum period that you thought would be different?

I had no idea the range of emotions I was going to experience after welcoming our first daughter. I had imagined joy and happiness but along with that came an insane fear, so many tears, and many emotions I didn’t even know existed. Everything I ever wanted or had worked towards at the point in my life, changed in a matter of seconds. I never imagined that happening. I also grieved the birth I had wanted and planned for. I cried every day for months over having medical choices made for me during our birth that I begged not to have. As strange as it may sound, I felt violated and robbed of an experience I had been anticipating so much. While this was definitely overshadowed by the excitement and love I had towards our daughter, it was very unexpected and took some time to process.

When you prepared for your second and third children, did you do anything different from preparing for the first?

We did A LOT differently. We went a holistic route with our last 3 pregnancies, had a much stricter diet, saw a midwife and had and will have home water births. We researched and educated ourselves much better and our pregnancies and birth experiences have been incredible! Going this route gave us everything we wanted and so much more. With our second birth, my husband and I became advocates for things we didn’t even know existed with our first birth!  We have incredible relationships with our midwife and her family, felt so much love, support and empowerment and had birth experiences that involved almost no pain, recovery periods and experienced so much joy! My body responded so much better physically and emotionally to going a holistic route!

What was your biggest challenge as a first time mom?

Probably processing through my emotions and separating myself from my daughter. I had absolutely no desire to ever put her down. I held her, wore her in various baby wraps, slept with her…  I just didn’t know how to put her down. I was a full time graduate student and also went back to work part time after Norah was 3 months old and I remember how painful it was to separate myself from her for even a few hours…  I didn’t experience any postpartum depression with our first daughter, but very surprisingly did with our second. I had a full year where I felt a bit foggish and in a funk and it wasn’t until I was coming out of it a year later that I realized what I was experiencing. Although mine was not as intense as some mothers experience, it was a strange challenge that I was not expecting…

What is your biggest challenge to a mom of 3 going on 4?

This was so unexpected. We planned for one baby and are about to welcome our fourth! So unexpected, but so amazing!!  Probably my biggest challenge is battling the thought of going back to work. I finished my masters in counseling and love being a therapist but now motherhood has consumed so much more of me than I have ever imagined. If I didn’t have student loans to pay back, I probably would not go back to work, for a long time, as I love being at home with my daughters so much. We’re educating them at home and I guess my biggest challenge is the thought and fear of not having this time with them but also understanding we have a heavy financial burden to take care of now. When I started grad school we didn’t have any babies… by the time I finished, we had 3 and my heart had changed so much. So if you know of anyone looking to pay off someone’s loans, send them our way please😂😂😂 The emotions that come with wanting to be with your children and fearing not being able to has been very challenging for me.

0-18How did you overcome those challenges?

I’m working through them right now. My husband is amazing and supports us so well in so many areas but I feel I will have to work eventually. We’ve gotten creative with side jobs, providing some child care, collaborating with various companies and trying to make a little income through our passions while we are in this transitional period. I’m really hopeful that somehow we will make a way where I won’t have to work for some time but also a realist in the sense that I understand this is something I may have to do and will do so with a grateful heart because I’m supporting my family.

How did your self care routine change over time?

I have always been pretty laid back and never really had much of a self care routine aside from the normal wake up, shower, brush your teeth go about your day and repeat before bed… but now, some days all of those things feel like a luxury😂 I’m a big believer in dry shampoo, easy make up and long showers these days! I think I’m lucky in the sense that I’m pretty low maintenance but it still is a challenge to make sure I’m taking care of myself even in the little things. Self care really is so important! I try to get out with friends for coffee, good conversation and a little thrifting as this refreshes me big time. My husband and I also try to spend every evening together and that is so awesome to have that to look forward to and to help us unwind! Netflix and chilling involves a lot more Netflix and chilling than it once did before almost 4 babes!

What did your family and friends do to support you after having a baby?

We are blessed with some awesome friends! My best friend and I attend each others home births and are very like minded and she’s been so helpful and supportive the last 3 years! She understands the physical and emotional aspects of child birth and parenting and sometimes just having that person who understands what you are feeling and is open to listening and sharing can be so helpful in the time after welcoming a baby. Definitely helps me feel less lonely.  People bringing meals, encouraging us through kind words & listening to us… oh, and surprising us with coffee are always some of the ways we feel most loved and taken care of most after welcoming a baby!

What have been some of the most memorable ways that they have shown their support?

I mentioned my best friend Olivia. She was there for the birth of our third daughter, will be at my next birth and I was blessed to be at her two previous home births. Having her there to hold my hand, speak affirming things to me and just love me meant so much to me. I’ve never had a friend like this. Having friends stop by with an unexpected lattes makes me feel so loved and cared about! Honestly, people letting us share our birth experience helps me, especially, process through the experience and is therapeutic for me. Really, as cliche as it sounds, our friends & family just assuring us that they are here for us after having a baby helps us so much. Even if we don’t ever take them up on their offers, knowing that we have a community around us who loves us and wants to help us extremely helpful to us.

What is one piece of advice you would give to other moms who are expecting?

First, remember to enjoy your pregnancy. Pregnancy can come with difficult emotions, physical pain and discomforts but we are truly lucky to experience it. I have friends who struggle with infertility and it’s so painful to watch the way they long for pregnancy and a child. Whenever I’m finding myself thinking negatively during pregnancy, I remind myself how blessed I am. You won’t be pregnant forever no matter how much it feels that way… Second, research the birth choices you have… Research the choices you will be making for your baby when they’re born. If you have a partner/spouse, research these things together and discuss these things while you’re pregnant so that you are in confident agreement about the choices you will be making together before and after your child arrives! And be kind to yourself. Your body changes, your heart changes, your desires and priorities change and all of those things are ok. Don’t try to compare yourself to other moms or to what you imagined you would be like pregnant or as a mother but just embrace the new you and try to be the healthiest person and mother to that baby or babies as you can be. And if you find you’re struggling emotionally in ways you weren’t expecting, seek out and talk to somebody you can trust to help you walk through it all!!

3 little monkeys jumping on the bed

You know how sometimes you just have those days where you’re emotional and grateful and looking at your family and wondering how you got to where you are in life?  My Grammy texted me this morning just to share that she was proud of Chris and I and I just wanted to cry because this is the life that I prayed I could have one day but genuinely didn’t think I could have… I don’t deserve it, but I grow more and more thankful for it. Even when I’m tired or stressed or as I listen to our 3 & 4 year arguing over the ideal spot to have their picnic right now… I am just so grateful. The word Redeemed rings in my ears often and when I look at Chris and our daughters, the ring feels more like a shout!

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I’m just feeling extra grateful for that shout today…

My friend Robyn was so kind to do a little extra shoot and capture something we love just as much as baking around this house! Bed Jumping!!! I just had to share these sweet images! Thank you so much Robyn! These are truly the moments I know I will think back on, smile and cry about when they are grown. I hope they will be mothers who will love their children fiercely, that kindness will flow from their hearts and homes and that they will be filled with the joy that comes from watching their babes jump on the bed…and maybe jumping with them when they’re a little less pregnant:D

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Products Featured:

Pajamas: G. Nancy from Baby Donkie 

Momma’s Top: LoveWinnieJames

Photography by RobynBunch

Baking with my babes!

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Hey friends! So, if you have been following me for awhile, you know one of our absolute favorite things to do as a family, is bake together!  When we homeschooled last year, every week we baked/cooked something that coordinated with the letter we were learning that week. It was so fun and it’s so amazing getting to teach them baking skills and introducing them to new foods and such a fun way to incorporate learning into our week!  Some things we made were healthy, some not so much, but all so fun to make together! Cooking as a family is my favorite!  When Dad gets involved I love it that much more!  Chris is an insane cook and these girls don’t know yet just how lucky they are to have a Dad with such amazing culinary skills! #happywife!

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Having a house full of daughters is kind of like a dream come true!  I don’t know that I necessarily ever imagined this, but it is truly incredible!  We joke that we’re going to need to remodel our kitchen soon because our house is full of people who love to cook, including my husband who is the best of the best!  But, we probably really will have to… So, if you want to come help remodel our space, let me know:D

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It is so wonderful watching each of our daughters’ personalities develop, and you can see it so much when we bake.  Norah takes baking pretty seriously and wants to get the recipe right.  Charlie pretty much spends the whole time taste testing anything that falls onto the table and Ada just likes to bang spoons and make messes!

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It’s so fun watching them pick out their aprons, their whisk of choice, choosing which ingredients who gets to put in first and probably most of our recipes get extra eggs because egg cracking is their favorite part, next to dough tasting of course!

When my sweet friend Robyn told me she was flying into town from Phoenix and asked if we would want to do some photos, I knew right away that I wanted her to capture us doing one of our favorite things and do a little baking session! Guys, if you live in the Phoenix area, hit her up for photos!  She does it all and her work is so good! But seriously, she does such a great job at simply capturing what’s happening and makes you feel totally comfortable. So, please check her out if you’re in her neck of the woods! I maybe ugly face cried when looking at these because she did such an amazing job capturing the girls’ personalities and the little moments that make up our time spent baking with one another!

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We usually only get family photos done when we have a baby, so like once a year:D But, seriously, this was such a blessing!  Robyn did a little home session for us after we welcomed Ada and I cherish those moments so much! I knew I wanted to do something to remember this special season with these 3 little ladies before their 4th sister arrives, and this was absolutely perfect!  I am so excited to have those moments as our family of 6 beginning, but this was so very special!

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I imagine what life will be like when they’re in their teens and I get so excited! People make lots of negative comments about how terrible it will be, and I just smile because I know it doesn’t have to be!  I am so thankful to get to mother these ladies and when I imagine those years I imagine more coffee dates, more movie nights, more conversations in our kitchen… I know there will be rough moments, but I know none of those will compare to how wonderful the good ones will be!

A little alliteration for you!  Cooking Chocolate Chip Cookies wearing Comfy Clogs with the Cutest Crew!  See, education, education, education! IMG_6269

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Robyn, Thank you so much for the gift of these photos!  We are truly so grateful!  Check Robyn out at RobynRena.comInstagram and Facebook!

Featured Items

Norah’s Dress: RemieGirl

Charlie’s Dress, which she basically lives in: RyleeandCru

Charlie’s Hair Bows: TheLittleDesignCo

Ada’s Romper: ShopTheRabbitandFern

Momma’s top: LoveWinnieJames

Momma’s Clogs: SandgrenClogs

Some thoughts about Father’s Day & an Interview with my Love On Fatherhood

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Recently, BabyMori reached out to my super hunk of a husband, Chris, and asked him the question, What does Fatherhood mean to you?”  I was excited to read what he wrote because I am constantly amazed at what an incredible Father he is.  We talked in our dating days about wanting two daughters, and now that we’re about to have four daughters, I would have 100 more babies with this man!  On that note, want to have at least 5 more, husband? Just saying… think about it:D

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Father’s Day is one of those days that is bittersweet to me.  This will be the 8th Father’s Day that I mourn the loss of my Father and sister.  While I miss my dad tremendously, I can only imagine how much joy it would bring him to see the way my husband loves me and the way he fathers our daughters.  I know this is what he prayed for me when he first held me.  I imagine him rocking me to sleep and praying for me to have a husband who would love me and our children the way he loved my mother and me. I know that when he dreamt of having grandchildren, he dreamt of them being fathered by a man like Chris.  While I mourn the fact that my dad didn’t get to walk me down the aisle and give me away to Chris and mourn that he did not live to meet his grandchildren (he is about to have 9 now!) or embrace us as we welcomed our daughters and became parents, I know that the things he prayed over me were answered, and in more ways than I think he ever imagined.

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I miss my dad so much, especially on this day… But the joy that I feel when I see the smiles on the girls’ faces when they model a new dress for their father, or the way the girls soak up the way Chris teaches them how to play a new game or the way they hide and jump out to surprise him when Chris gets home for work… That joy and thankfulness trumps the pain that comes with not seeing my father today.  Chris preached at Church today, so he got there before we did.  When we walked into the sanctuary, the first thing they did was look around for their dad and then took off running for him as soon as they found him in the crowd.  That love they have for one another, that excitement they have as they run to their father and then watching the way he picks them up and embraces them, feeling that same excitement… It’s just so rich!

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So, with that, here is an interview with Chris on what Fatherhood means to him.  Happy Father’s Day to all of you Father’s out there, and for all of you may be mourning any kind of loss of a Father, a spouse or a child, I pray you feel more joy than pain today and that you are overwhelmed with love and peace each and every day you mourn those losses.

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An Interview with BabyMori- What does Fatherhood mean to you?

“Fatherhood is, to me, a gift, a responsibility and a blessing all rolled into one. I get to experience what it is like to have my hands involved in molding and shaping a life, but am also being molded and shaped by my daughters. My eyes are constantly opened to new things around me, in my daughters and in myself.  Fatherhood has shown and is showing me just how compassionate I can be, but at the same time, has shown me and shows me just how truly selfish I am and can be all at the same time. Fatherhood is one of the most fun things I have ever done while also exhausting and frustrating. I think Fatherhood is amazing, but also a weighty responsibility that I want to continue to grow in and handle correctly.  My understanding of what it means to be created in the image and likeness of my Creator has been broadened beyond what I ever thought it would be.

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On a related note, as a father to daughters, I will say that fatherhood has made me keenly aware of the way we, often unintentionally, belittle our female population. As we enter into the last stretch of pregnancy with our 4thdaughter, I am met with many comments about my lack of sons that are increasingly frustrating to me.  Many times the conversation goes this way:

Person – “Wow, your 4th child.  Do you know if it’s a boy or girl yet?”

Me – “It’s my 4th girl”

Person – “Wow, I’m sorry” or “You must have more patience than me” or “Still don’t have that boy yet?” or “Will try until you get a boy?”

IMG_7078Now, I understand where the line of questioning comes from, but this is often in front of or within earshot of my daughters.  I would love to take this opportunity to say that I absolutely love raising these little girls and in no way feel as though I was left out of something simply because I do not have a son, or that in some crazy way, these girls are of less value to me than having a son. I thank God for these 4 precious girls that I have been entrusted with and cherish the fact that I’m able to be part of their lives, and they a part of mine.  Sure, the novelty of raising a little boy is alluring and I enjoy entertaining the thought of having a little mini-me running around.  That novelty, however, pales in comparison to the blessing of this house that is filled with estrogen.  I want to see the gifts set before me and be diligent to raise strong, productive, useful, and joy filled women. I am planning a small bunker for myself for the future, though, and will be practicing my most intimidating facial expressions and death threats for the boys that will be knocking on my door.” -Chris Pahls.

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To read more inspiring stories about Fatherhood, head over BabyMori and read more in their Journal Series.

Photos By Robyn Bunch, Courtney Unruh & Stephanie Pollock

 

International Family Day: An Interview With BabyMori – Inspiring Lives 14: The Importance of Family, Kindness and Accepting Loss


  • How did you and your husband, Chris, first meet? 

Chris and I will never stop laughing about how we met!  I’ll try and set up the scene. It’s 2004, we’re college freshman, I’m maybe hung over (because #college and I was into poor choices at this stage in my life:D) and I was dressed in what we will call ‘not my best look’. We were in our University Cafeteria, and I’m standing in front of a TV & and literally shoveling ranch dressing smothered cottage cheese into my mouth using a chicken strip as my utensil of choice when my friend came over and introduced Chris and I 😀 I knew him after that as Hot Art Student Chris and he knew me as That Weird Chicken Strip Girl 😀 We didn’t begin dating until two years later, and have been inseparable since, but to this day Chris will joke, “I can’t believe I married the chicken strip girl”. So, maybe not a love at first sight story but it makes for a good story and we will never stop laughing about it. Oh, and I’ve been working on my table manners and Hot Art Chris has only continued to get hotter and hotter:D

  • Life isn’t always kind to everyone. How do you both approach life with such positivity and love?

Chris and I both understand that you can’t take life too seriously.  We have learned to really value the good moments, as we understand it is these moments that will help get us through the more difficult times.  We both value kindness and try to remember that the person honking their horn at us maybe just found out they have cancer, or the mean lady in line at the coffee shop is maybe grieving the loss of her best friend.  We understand that people are hurting all around us and believe we are called to be kind and loving to all people at all times. We both share the belief that everybody has a story to tell, everyone’s story is very valuable and sometimes these stories really just need to be shared and listened to. 2016-04-20 09.17.39.jpg

  • You’ve both lost family in the past, something that can be so difficult to cope with. How has family helped you to find the light at the end of the tunnel?

Chris and I were dating when my father and 17-year-old sister were killed in a tragic car accident.  I kind of lost myself for a while.  I hurt in a way I didn’t know was possible and I was hurting even more deeply for my family, watching them grieve.  I know watching my family and I hurt the way we did was difficult for Chris. I remember Chris not really giving me advice when I was really hurting, but just trying to be there and listen to me when I needed it. He still tries to do this. Please do this for your friends experiencing loss. Just be there for them. Just listen to them. Just cry with them…

Chris lost both his grandparents in the same week and my water actually broke with our first daughter the morning of their funeral so we were unable to attend.  As strange as this sounds, we gained such interesting perspective through this.  Although we will all experience extreme sorrow on this earth, there is still immeasurable joy that happens alongside this sorrow as well. However, sometimes you have to choose which thing you’re going to give more attention to, the sorrow or the joy.

All of us will experience loss and difficulty but we also all get to choose how we respond and react to these difficult times and painful emotions.  After the loss of my dad and sister, I reacted in many ways. Some reactions were good, some were damaging, but in the end, with Chris’ love and support, I went back to school and became a therapist so I could walk alongside people who were going through their most difficult times and be a part of their healing process.  We have learned, though, that you don’t need any kind of special degree to walk alongside people and help; we can all do this every day.

We can take the time to visit with the person checking us out at our your local grocers, we can be kind and buy someone’s coffee behind us in line at the local coffee shop or simply compliment and encourage that sleep deprived mother trying to convince her toddlers why they don’t need that candy that they’re letting the world know they need… You’ll be amazed at the connections and relationships that will form around you if you take the time to do these simple things daily.  Listening to people’s stories and sharing ours can have so much power and impact on the world around us. Chris and I believe we were made for connection and community and these are ways we have learned to join together as a family and connect with others around us no matter what season of life we may be in.

  • Moments are so rare because they come and go so quickly. For you, what family moments will you always hold close?

When it pertains to loss, I will never forget the moment I held my father’s hands or touched my sister’s beautiful face and said goodbye to them for the last time as they laid in their caskets. I can’t help but cry and breathing sometimes becomes difficult when I think of this moment, knowing I wouldn’t see them or touch them in this life again.

However, when I think of this moment, I also begin to think of the many unforgettable memories that made saying goodbye to them so difficult.  I remember the first time I held Bethany in the hospital when she was born and being so excited to have another little sister.  She was such a spunky, compassionate and genuinely unforgettable person. I remember my dad sharing with me, shortly before he passed, the regrets he had as a father and asking me for his forgiveness while expressing his deep love for me as his first-born daughter. My mind is flooded with memories of family game nights, road trips across the country and so many of my dad’s corny jokes that I will forever be grateful for!

I have learned so much from my family and so much more in having to say goodbye to them. Their loss made me realize I will say goodbye to other loved ones before I’m ready to, so I am trying to be more aware of this and hold tightly to the happy moments, especially as a wife and mother.

When it pertains to my family, there are so many memories that will stay with me.  The moment Chris asked me to be his wife, the moment we promised to love one another even through the hardest of times, the moment we became parents and every moment we met each one of our daughters for the first time. Every time we welcome a baby, I look at him and feel the deepest emotion that I don’t even know how to describe.  It’s like, WE did this! You did this! I did this! This is our baby, this is our family.  I think about this feeling and treasure it deeply.

IMG_6767.jpgThere are so many moments, which might be considered mundane, that have become so precious and almost sacred to me because I have learned that forever is a lot shorter than it sounds. Making pancakes in the morning, singing songs in the bathtub, the girls crawling into our bed after they’ve peed in theirs:D  I know these moments are fleeting and I want to hold onto them as long as I can!

  • What does family mean to you and how do you enjoy the little moments?

To me, family is a gift.  I don’t necessarily deserve my family or this life of ours, and yet they have been given to me and I to them… And for that, I am so thankful. There are some days I almost can’t believe how blessed I am! Before we had children, I was such an extrovert.  Now, I’m happiest at home hanging out with our family! I love and look forward to the days where our calendars are empty and all we have to do is to hang out with one another! Movie nights, dance parties, baking and making meals together, playing outside, watching the girls play together… Even cleaning the house is so much more fun as a family! I know my family is a gift and I am so thankful and continue to grow more and more thankful!  I think the best way to embrace family is to understand that it truly is a gift and to try my best to act in a manner that reflects this gratitude.

  • Finally, what does motherhood mean to you?

Motherhood.  So much can be found wrapped up into the word Motherhood. Motherhood is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given.  Motherhood is a huge responsibility, a new identity, a constant dance of evolving and adjusting. Motherhood brought with it new insecurities, new challenges, new opinions, new fears, new convictions, new emotions, new abilities, new passions, new hopes and aspirations, new relationships, new priorities… To me, there was almost my life before motherhood and my life after motherhood.  Motherhood is not the only thing that defines me, but it is a confounding element that has completely redefined me.

 

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Read more inspiring stories @ https://babymori.com/blogs/journal . Thank you for letting me share my heart @BabyMori!
 Photos by StephPollock & RobynBunch

 

 

Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister: Sisterly Love

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Motherhood is more amazing than I could have ever imagined. There are so many aspects that I never knew existed or never even thought about before having our own children.  One of those things I never really thought about when we were dreaming of children, was what it would be like to get to watch their relationships with one another form and change as they grew.  We planned to have one baby, and now, 5 years later, our 4th girl is due in October:D  Watching these little ladies is such a gift! I can think back to when they were so little and just learning how to use words and communicate with one another…And now they’re best friends, most of the time, and doing just about everything they do with one another!

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I am the oldest of 4, with 2 younger sisters and a brother whom I love dearly.  I also gained 2 brothers and an amazing sister-in-law when I married my husband.  Our youngest sister, Bethany went to be with the Lord 8 years ago when she was 17 and I miss her more than I can express.  Losing Bethany strengthened the bond I have with my sister Heather and has taught me so much about how incredible the gift of siblings can be.

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I have a lot of regret as a sibling. I feel like I missed getting to know my siblings or pouring into them the way I should have… mostly because of my own selfishness… One thing I really want my daughters to understand is that they are precious gifts to one another and their job as a sister is to be selfless, compassionate and a best friend to one another…  I want to model that they are to be understanding and gentle with one another; to hold one another accountable yet give one another lots of grace. It’s easy to get frustrated and judgy with the ones you love most.  I am guilty of this and wish I would have shown my love to my siblings better.  I pray that through what I have learned, these daughters will love and protect one another in such a way that when they look back on life, they can smile and know they always were there for one another and that they will never feel alone in the many stages of life they go through.

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When it comes to the girls’ personalities and interests, all of our girls all pretty ‘girly girly’ but some of their favorite interests include learning, reading, baking, playing with dolls & barbies, playing dress up in princess dresses and momma’s clothes, lots and lots of make believe, playing midwives, doing make-up, building forts, dance parties, making & playing with play dough, painting, coloring, playing tag and hide-and-seek, playing outside and really just doing anything together! Norah wants everything Disney Princess Ariel, Charlie wants all things Princess Rapunzel and Ada likes anything she can throw or chew on:D

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It is truly so interesting how different they are from one another…. Chris and I started talking last night about what it might be like welcoming our fourth little lady, and we couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of four daughters but more so, about Ada becoming a big sister! She is so funny and wild and is going to be so in love!

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To describe them each briefly, Norah wakes up in the mornings like Disney Princess happy! Charlie always wakes up a bit grumpy and hungry and Ada always wakes up way too early and ready to wrestle and play.  Whenever Ada sees her two big sisters in the morning, she squeals with joy and instantly tries to wrestle with them!  It’s amazing watching how much she loves them, how much they love her and how much they all just love one another! My heart swoons thinking about the 3, soon to be 4 of them, growing up together and all the memories they will make together! Norah is our social butterfly, Charlie is our super creative artist and Ada kind of acts like she’s been raised by wolves 😀 I’m so excited to see what baby girl #4 will be like?! Also excited to giver her a name!

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Our two oldest have recently entered the ‘fighting’ stage and they are, surprisingly, very good at it.  One minute, they will be playing barbies, the next minute they’re fighting over who said what and then act as if the world is ending.  Chris and I are working on trying to learn what works best for each of them and that’s an interesting process as well. They fight over who gets to wear what outfit and they almost always ask to be “matchy matchy” which just means dress similarly, so I’m getting smarter about getting them “matchy matchy” coordinating outfits

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Even in the more difficult times, I am so grateful to be their mother and feel so blessed to call these daughters ours! Sometimes I just watch them and smile and take 1,000 photos so I never forget how these moments felt… When they hug and tell one another they love each other, or compliment and encourage one another… all the hard stuff seems to melt away…well, most of the time:D Motherhood is simply amazing and I am so grateful for our little girl party!”

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We are very thankful to have partnered with LittleCottonClothes and their Sisterly Love campaign for this piece.  Thank you LittleCottonClothes!

Heidi Skirts and Sidonie Sailor Shirts by LittleCotton Clothes

Knee Socks by RedRoverKids & AtHomeWithAveryGrace

More than just a Chalkboard

I get a lot of questions regarding our chalkboard and where we purchased it or if we made it how we did it, so I thought it would be a good idea to write a little tutorial and share a little about it!

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When we started educating at home a little more, I knew I wanted a chalkboard to incorporate into our lessons, but wasn’t sure where to get one or where to put it.  Then my handsome and brilliant husband had the idea to make our own! We were new to our home and had a big empty space on our dining room wall that we knew we wanted to fill with something and a chalkboard felt perfect! Also, our 1935 home has plaster and lath walls so hanging heavy stuff can be quite tricky, so we try to avoid drilling into and hanging anything heavy as much as possible in these bad boys. This method was easy and kind on our walls!

We only had to get 2 things! Black chalkboard paint and Pine 1×2’s!  We got both from our local hardware store for less than $20!!! Chris measured and taped off the wall and rolled on about 3 coats of the chalkboard paint. We had an idea of how big we wanted it so we knew what length of 1×2’s to get before we purchased them.  Then he just cut the sides to fit. Once the paint dried, he simply nailed the 1×2’s to the wall!

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We’ve had friends stain their wood dark, use pallet wood or larger planks, use dark green chalkboard paint, paint the entire wall without framing it, make smaller chalkboards, etc.  It’s a super simple and affordable project that can easily be altered to fit your space and personal aesthetic!

 

 

We have used this chalkboard as a centerpiece for Birthday’s, Home Births, Baby Gender Announcements, Going Away Parties for friends, home education, Holiday’s and even recently for an intimate Wedding we hosted for some dear friends…Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

I feel like I can’t call this ‘just a chalkboard’  because it has been incorporated into so many special memories and holds so many dear moments for us in our home!

So many meals, special events, laughter and valuable conversations shared with friends, so many teachable moments we shared with our children and things we learned ourselves as parents, even our oldest’s first portrait of me and our family was a chalkboard piece!

So, I hope this was helpful and that you’re inspired to create a special place in your home to be used for all kinds of memory-making moments and events!

 

The Girls Get Bunk Beds & a Little Room Tour

As soon as we found out we were pregnant with baby #4, we realized we would have to expedite our plans for the girls’ bedrooms.  Norah and Charlie were still in their toddler beds that Chris built them but Norah was definitely ready for an upgrade and Charlie would be soon.  We thought about it and decided bunk beds would be the best choice for the space and as soon as Norah heard her best friend Aubrie had recently transitioned in to a bunkbed, she was all about it!

We looked around and found a super sweet simple white wooden set from WalkerEdison.  We could have the beds side by side if they turned out to not be ready for the bunk beds or bunk them!  When the bunk beds arrived, the girls were way more excited than I thought they even would be! I imagine their reactions will be similar to this when we get them tickets to their first teeny bopper concert one day…. If they’re into that kind of thing:D Anyway, they LOVE them! They were so excited to sleep in their new girl beds and I am so happy for that because that means they’re not in our bed! So thank you WalkerEdison for giving our daughters a little more independence and mom and dad a lot more alone time! Also, did I mention we’re pregnant again:D

Then we needed mattresses, which we didn’t even think twice about. Chris and I recently upgraded to a King Size Tuft&Needle and it was basically life changing!  I’ve never actually had a new mattress and always had hand me down mattresses which I have always been thankful for but none of them have compared to our Tuft&Needle!  I have had so many people ask me for my “honest opinion” and I’m telling you guys, I LOVE OUR MATTRESS!!Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I had terrible sciatic pain after having Norah, so bad to the point that I couldn’t walk sometimes after a long day.  I would literally have to put my weight on my right foot and hobble along with the help of my walls.  When I’m pregnant, It’s even worse because of breaking my tailbone 3 different times and now the said little backwards Z shape that now makes up my tailbone actually makes contact with my sciatic nerve when I’m pregnant… So…That’s fun. BUT, no joke! It hardly ever hurts since we changed beds!  I have seen a chiropractor regularly and even after being adjusted, having special therapy, electro therapy and acupuncture, the pain would always come back within a few days… Until now! And I definitely believe I can contribute that to ur mattress. My husband used to complain of a lot of back and shoulder pain and we were just talking and we realized he doesn’t really have that either since we switched mattresses… so thank you Tuft&Needle!  When we opened the mattresses to put them on their bunks they screamed, “It’s the same as you and Daddy’s!” They were so happy that we could all be “matchy matchy”!

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Then bedding! Oh, how I had dreams of white fluffy down comforters and beautiful linen bedding but… That all went out the window when walking around at Target one evening. We walked down the bedding aisle for fun and there went all my bedding dreams for them:D Norah saw the mermaid + unicorn sheets, Charlie saw her Llama sheets and Chris pointed out to them their Mermaid Colored (Seafoam Green) Quilts.  After that, there was no way to convince them otherwise… They found the bedding of their dreams:D And as loud and colorful as they are,  I love how much they love them! However, they still needed one more pillowcase, so I won and got to use my favorite Linen company’s gorgeous Pink & Purple Linen Pillow Covers.. Thank you NotPerfect Linen!  And the girls loved them, so I was super happy!

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One of my favorite things about adding the bunk beds is we only had to relocate their teepee! It didn’t affect their Kitchen/Midwive’s station, their Ballet Barre their Dad made them, or their little reading nook!

Thank you SO much Tuft&Needle, WalkerEdison & NotPerfectLinen for being apart of the girls’ ‘big girl beds’ transition!

(Disclosure: I sometimes receive product for personal review purposes and all opinions stated above are my own honest opinions. You can click links in post to be directed to these websites and to learn more about the products featured in this blog.)