December was a blast this year. All I could think about all month was how sick I was last year & how hard everything was because of that & it just made me so grateful to really be able to enjoy it this year. Our Elf on the Shelf came the day after Thanksgiving & kept the kids on their toes (& best behavior) all month long. I think I only threatened to call Santa one time, which is most definitely a record in our home! Noah was beyond excited about the elf this year. He pretended to be an elf & wore an elf hat for probably 20 days straight & was always coming up with various elf costumes throughout the day. And I spent most of the month pretending to be Santa or Mrs. Clause because, "Elves don't talk to humans, mom". I think the highlight of Christmas Break for Ruby & Noah was having their cousins here visiting from Washington. They played nonstop & loved every minute together - we were all sad to see them go! With Tyler having several weeks off of work, & the kids both having a few weeks off from school - it was such a great break from reality. 

More Family Pictures

A while back we took some pictures for some good friends of ours who are trying to sell their house. The kids had a blast playing in their house & amazing backyard & here are a few of my favorites: 


Our Thanksgiving decorations have all been put away & replaced with Christmas decorations. Our Elf on the Shelf has made his big return & the excitement of Christmas & all the fun it brings has filled our home. But before November slips by, I wanted to write about the gratitude that I've felt this month. Because gratitude expressed is always better than gratitude that is simply felt & then often forgotten. My family is always at the top of my list for things that I'm thankful for. This month especially, I've been thinking about 2 women in my life that I'm so grateful for, that have blessed my life with the beautiful children that I love so much it hurts. Cassie & Aubrey, my children's birth mothers, have been such an incredible gift to me & my family. Adoption looks so different for each family, but I feel like one of our greatest blessings is that we are able to have open adoptions that are healthy & happy. I admire & love Cassie & Aubrey so much. I'm so grateful that they are such wonderful examples to my children & I'm so proud of them & the lives they're living. They gave my children the most incredible gift & then second only to that is the example that they've set for my children about how people can change & reach their full potential. I'm so proud to be able to talk to my children about them & tell them how good & loving & kind they are. We all love them deeply. 

Sometimes I think the greatest blessings in life are the unexpected ones. The ones where our lives take a different turn then we had planned. And while these unexpected turns often bring hurt & loss initially, when we try our best & turn to the Lord, it somehow becomes something beautiful & even wonderful. I'm really proud of these relationships - not because they've always been perfect, but because everyone involved has been fully committed to making them what they are today. We worked really hard at this & at the center of it all were 2 children that we loved with all our hearts. It's an incredible thing to have someone in your life who loves your child like you do. And maybe that's why this all means so much to me - because these relationships represent a selfless love & have also brought 2 friendships into my life that I value so much. And that is truly something to be thankful for.  

Halloween Party

Tyler & I have missed dressing up for Halloween the past couple years so when my friend Brianna asked me to co-host a Halloween Party with her, I decided to go for it. We had so much fun (and stress) planning this & really loved the way it came together. We're thinking about making it an annual party & are already coming up with ideas for next year. I really wish I had taken pictures of all our guests & took pictures on my camera instead of just my phone. Tyler & I dressed up as Day of the Dead skeletons & all of our guests were good sports & came in great costumes. We had everyone enter in through the side yard where Tyler & Brian had created a totally enclosed Haunted House complete w/ scary music, fog machines, strobe lights, & two teenage boys we had hired to wear masks & scare everyone. It was hilarious - we always knew when guests were arriving because of the screams coming from the Haunted House. It was actually a pretty scary one - success!

Brian & Brianna - Zombie Bride & Groom

Aubrey (Noah's birth mom), was nice enough to do my makeup for me. She did such an amazing job & spent so much time making it just right. 

The Hostesses

This was such a fun night. I love Halloween!


The weather changed just in time for it to be a perfect Halloween night. We've gone trick-or-treating with one of our favorite families every year since the kids were tiny, & it's been so fun to see them growing up & the change each year as their excitement increases now that they fully get what it's all about. We used to have to lead them up to the doors with a lot of prodding & now we mostly just try to keep up with them. This year Ruby wanted to be a butterfly & Noah got an astronaut costume that he was so excited about. "I love it so much, mom!", he said in the store as I had him try it on & tried to make my 4-year-old understand that he was committing to the costume. And then I bought him some skeleton jammies a week before Halloween & he never wanted to take them off. As I went to change him into his astronaut costume an hour before we were trick-or-treating, he insisted that he wanted to be a skeleton. He felt passionately about it like only a 4-year-old can, & after some back & forth I decided to grant his Halloween wish. And I feel like that describes Halloween with young kids in a nutshell. Mom trying to get them to commit to a costume, & kids coming up with a new costume every week just to keep us in a bit of a panic (note to self: leave tags on till the very last minute). So, I painted 2 faces instead of one & in all of the rush I forgot to paint his nose black. It's not a big deal, right?!? I'm trying really hard to not let it bug me every time I look at these pictures. And while I still long to have Ruby & Noah in coordinating costumes that I pick, I do love to see them in something they love & are excited about. Ruby was convinced she could actually fly, "Like, for real life, mom!". And Noah thought he was so spooky & wanted us to call him Bony Legs instead of Noah. Ahhh, I love these two! Happy Halloween!