The Simple Farm Botanicals and my friend Lylah

Telling you about my friends is so fun. Surprising them with a little shout out makes me giddy.

I’ve shared my friend Jenna and my friend Cindy. Now, please allow me to tell you about my friend Lylah.

If you’ve known me for a while, you know that I’m in love with The Simple Farm.

About two minutes away is my magical place. It is my encouragement when I am anxious. It is my beauty when I need a muse. I love it there. A tree grows in their garden in honor of Grandma Wendy. They make the most amazing caramels from the goat milk.

I was feeling anxious one morning when I was 39 weeks pregnant with Sebastian. I drove up and she and Michael prayed over me. Sebastian was born that night, and although his cord was wrapped around his neck (just like Mary Alice), he was delivered by cesarean and all is well. I am so thankful for their prayers for safety and peace that day.

I stopped by a few weeks ago during their market and I was so excited to learn that Lylah and her beautiful daughter have launched a skincare line! It is called TSF Botanicals.

The packaging is absolutely darling. I love it. I came home with three of the soaps to try, just for you. First of all, my husband is not a big soap person. As long as there is some in the shower, we are good. He asked me last week about the soap! He couldn’t believe how long it has lasted. (Winner!)

I am in love with the canyon pink clay + citrus scent. I may have hidden it on the top shelf. Maybe.

I’m so thrilled for Lylah. Watching her farm evolve and be so successful is a joy!

And Aubrey is her name…

My dearest Riley, your story continues to piece together into this beautiful quilt and I want to write it all down for you, so that someday, you will know in black and white how very, very loved you have been from the beginning. 

This past Easter, your birth mother’s best friend reached out to me. She had been following your journey as part of our family and wanted us to know how happy she was. She had a little more of your story and pictures from the day you were born. She asked if she could share them with me. We met at a nearby McDonald’s. She and her husband brought their daughter, Aubrey. As soon as you saw her, you recognized her. You played with her and cared for her like she was a sister.

We know without a doubt that knowing more of your story is so healing and healthy. But, at the same time, that moment you draw the circle wider can be frightening. Anytime you dip your toe into the unknown, I think it is natural to wonder and hope for a positive outcome. We prayed that the meeting would be full of joy. It went so well, we invited their family over for Easter dinner.

Courtney Ann, your birth mother’s best friend, brought a photo album. There are pictures of the day you were born, your first walk around the neighborhood, and your first camping trip. Courtney Ann cared for you so dearly. She loved you like her own son and was so very happy to see you again. When you were little, you called her Nee-Nee. She asked if it was okay to call her that again. She was so respectful of what was best for you, as part of our family.

We treasure that book. You ask to look at it all the time and we giggle about what a cutie you are.

Courtney Ann and her husband, Colton, with you on your first day home from the hospital.

But as the beautiful orange and purple colors set in the west in this valley every day, Courtney Ann left this world a friend of Christ last month.

She was so young. She was so loved. She was so full of joy. The church was full of faces ready to share how she brought joy into everyone’s world. At her funeral, the pastor shared that she loved Jesus with all of her heart. She wanted everyone to know that.

Before time slips away from me and too many details fade into sweet sighs of remembrance, I want you to know that she loved you so much. Whenever I would post about you, she would message me on Facebook and thank me for the updates. She told me that she would pick up her phone in the morning and check the blog just to see how you were doing. To be loved that dearly is a treasure, and you, Riley, are so very loved.

Dearest Courtney, thank you for loving my son before I knew him. You are so missed. We will see you again, dear friend. 

Eternal rest grant unto Courtney, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.

4 Perfect Stocking Stuffers for Children under 10

This conversation is sponsored by Zuru. It is my honor to share news with you from a company that I enjoy and support! 

A list of the perfect stocking stuffers for little hands on Christmas morning!

It’s here,  it’s here and I can’t stop smiling! Julia is 17, Nate is 14, Riley is 5, Mary is 2, and this will be Sebastian’s first Christmas! December is here and I think it’s gonna be a really good one. I haven’t started decorating, but I’m okay with that. I’m just excited to see family and to have everyone together over the holiday!

One of the most common questions I get is around what stocking stuffers to get the little ones. It can be overwhelming when you are standing in the toy section trying to figure out what little hands would love.

I’ve put together a short list of what I know my little ones would love to find in their stocking!

Riley opened the Tangle last week and hasn’t put it down yet! He loves it. Tangle is a puzzle to play with, a means to relieve stress, and a tool for creativity that you can combine endlessly.

He did a little FB Live video of opening it for the first time, so feel free to take a peek! Of course, he mentions that he wants the gold one, so I’ll have to find that before Christmas!


What are you top stocking stuffer choices?! I’d love to hear in the comments! - Oh I’m so glad! You are welcome!

Suzann Kinsall - Thank you for this service. It is very helpful for those of us who have problems getting around the store. I love it.

Alina - Thanks for the list. I think my son would enjoy the TANGLE as well. HAHAHHA!

Thoughts on Striving

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.

I heard that quote last year. I can’t remember who said it. I wish I could so that I could give them credit. It has rolled around in my head for months, and now I get it.

This is the season. The lists of things we should do. The lists of things that would be fun to do. The noise of these lists drowns out the calm and the bright.

We find ourselves looking over our shoulder at what everyone else is doing and then we wonder why we are so very tired.

I’ll tell you a little secret. My tree isn’t up. I haven’t even taken Christmas card photos yet, much less ordered them. But I’m okay.

These are both wonderful things. I love doing them. I want to do them! But, I’m not gonna end up in tears over this.

I am promising myself (and my family)  that I will go slowly and enjoy doing these things. I will not rush to get these done just because I will be the last person in Arizona to do them.  I will savor each moment that Riley’s eyes light up as we put another ornament on the tree. I will smile when Nate holds Mary Alice up so that she can touch the angel at the top of the tree. I will be calm when another ornament bites the dust in the grips of little fingers.

I will wait for a time when everyone has a fairly good hair day and I’ll ask them for a 3 minute photo shoot.

That might be defined as ‘doing it poorly’. It probably won’t be on time and it probably won’t be pinterest worthy, but it will be done well in my heart. So join with me this season and remember – if it is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly.

Background music…

I love this season. Watching the kids get so excited to go on after dinner walks so that we can ‘see Christmas’ is the best! We leave the dishes on the table, grab our scooters, and take a walk around the neighborhood. (Thank you awesome neighbors for decorating! You make our kids very, very happy!). I watch their faces glow as they stare in wonder at the lights, reindeer, hello kitty, mickey mouse, snowflakes, penguins, snoopy, and candles. They don’t even question the random gathering of characters in our neighborhood. They are just really glad to see them. (We could learn something from them, huh?)

Right after Thanksgiving, I always vow to stay calm. I have a tendency to bark orders at everyone when I feel like the schedule is slipping – you know – is the tree up? are the photos taken? are the cards sent? We don’t have lights up yet? Are we the last ones in the world to do this? In my head, my voice starts to sound like a terrible SNL parody.

The list goes on and I whisper a prayer to take these thoughts far away.

In this sweet season, we are the music playing in the background of our children’s childhood. More than anything, I want to be their dance music when they are  happy and their lullaby when they need a safe place. 

Now where did I put those stockings?