if you have some @freshlypicked on your christmas list then you will be pleased as festive punch to know that they are having a “black tuesday” sale TODAY and select styles will be 25% OFF with even bigger discounts on apparel!!!

if you want a preview of the styles that are included in the sale, head over here: http://freshlypicked.com/collections/black-tuesday-preview

so, make your list and check it twice.

set your alarm for 10am and grab your wallet…the sale of the year kicks off in just a few hours!


random thoughts with rachel


hello and welcome to random thoughts with rachel. a post that is all about a smattering of pictures and brainwaves and concepts and stories and such which neither relate to each other nor form a cohesive post…other than the fact that they are all from my life.

i guess you can say there is a lot happening around here. and there are too many activities and thoughts and images for me to share in a “one-post-per” manner (unless you want me to schedule out posts into 2016 which might be a bit too anachronistic).

you’ve been warned. buckle up, folks. get ready for some bunny trails and bouncing around.

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so last week, we took a trip to the farm at agritopia for some food truck goodness and sweater-scarf-jacket-wearing. the weather was cool. there were strands of twinkle lights. the sunset was like cotton candy. and uprooted kitchen was serving a vegan thanksgiving cheese crisp that i want to eat forever. oh, and trail mix cookies too! it was a perfect evening.


there has been major eggnog latte consumption going on over here. and open windows with piles of fuzzy blankets. and our #12DatesofChristmas tradition is in full swing. but, more on that later…


we have been doing a few things in the backyard and i keep thinking about the necessary pain of pruning. it seems like haphazard hacking, at times. but pruning is purposeful and good. sometimes it is removing lifeless branches to make room for new life. and sometimes, it is about the act cutting back healthy sections to promote increased growth. it isn’t always pretty, but pollarded trees yield more green and fruit.

hebrews 12:11 | no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

oh, and in a random conversation in the car moment last week (as we were talking about life stuff and stress and decisions and other such nonsense), i told ben, “okay, there’s grit. there’s pressure. now, where’s the pearl?” and ben has decided that if i ever write a bible study or motivational/inspirational/psychological book, the title must be: where’s the pearl?


ben has been making soup and bread for us on the weekend and it is my very favorite. i love that he loves to do that for us.

also, we are currently “aging” a boule of said bread for the thanksgiving stuffing. anyone else kind of freaking out that thanksgiving is THIS WEEK?

and in other news…i have been batting around the idea of pursuing my masters. at some point. maybe. i don’t know when or how. but, i have been thinking about it for quite some time. not sure of the field of study just yet or when everything will line up for it to happen…but, it is in my mind. i know it will be tough to do on top of everything else, but i also know that it will be so rewarding. i loved school. i loved college. i just love education. and i miss that stuff. it would be incredible to challenge myself in that way again. to expand my understanding and widen my knowledge base and add to my skill set. i dunno.

and perhaps, in another life, in a parallel universe where i have piles of time and cash lying around, i will then pursue my doctorate. we need another doctor in the family.


we have a family advent book (that i made back when i was a newlywed and all kinds of artsy-craftsy) that i put out every year and this year, i placed it on the side table next to our gilded skull. i think it looks nice there but ben seems to think it is a tad jarring to have a pretty festive christmas book next to a human skull. he asked if i meant to put it there or just didn’t notice the juxtaposition. i riposted that it serves as a nice reminder that the holy infant came to die. i think it’s a valid point, actually. but ben remains unconvinced that it is an appropriate vignette.

we had the most ridiculous series of unfortunate events / comedy of errors day on saturday. just one mess after another. i really think i might need to expand upon a recent theory of mine that “the devil’s in the dumb stuff”. he was really hitting us with all kinds of silly stuff on saturday. and by about the fourth thing, i just broke down in helpless laughter. and i think i actually uttered the words: get behind me, satan.

all i wanted to do was have a nice day. with lots of festive things and holly-jolly-ness as we put up the tree. but man, somebody (i am talking about you, satan) did not want that tree to go up. no joke. it was a full-blown spiritual battle.

i really wanted to complain. but really, they were the most absurd microcomplaints. petty, petulant kvetches about the quotidian. you know, spilled milk. (no seriously, that was one of the things). but these everyday vexations were not going to get the better of me. oh how i wanted to moan publicly about my trifling personal ordeals. but again, these are first-world problems. non problems, really. irritations that i did not want to allow to become the straw that broke this camel’s back nor prompt extemporaneous belly-aching.

so, in the end, i chose joy. and i am so glad that i did because we were rewarded with the sweetest evening together as a family. singing and dancing and gazing at the tree and playing with elinor’s nativity scene toy (and teaching ridley not to nibble on baby jesus…)

so, choose joy. it is worth it.

dear little prince | five months


dear little prince,

five months, ridley man. you will be crawling any day now. and eating solid foods in a few short months. you are growing up so fast! and already losing some of your baby-ness. you are longer and leaner and stronger with every week. sometimes i stare at you in disbelief…you can look like such a teenager sometimes. i have flashes of what you will look like when you are three and thirteen and thirty. and i can’t wait to see what God has in store for the years of your life. i pray that you are used mightily for the kingdom.

and speaking of mighty…my, are you strong. you have the cutest little man muscles. you sit up tall and straight (almost unassisted now). and the only reason i have to keep both hands on you when i hold you is to make sure you don’t leap out of my arms with one of your wild head jerks. you spend most of your waking hours on your tummy, swiveling and turning and pivoting. you are on the move, for sure. you tuck your feet under your body and launch forward off of your toes. you grab the carpet or the blanket or whatever you can and either pull it toward yourself or pull yourself toward it. you are figuring it all out and learning how to use your body, objects around you, and even, your parents as means to reach your goal. you are determined.

you are in a major developmental leap, at the moment. it is incredible to watch your wheels spin as you grasp new concepts and understand your relationship to the world around you. you are grabbing EVERYTHING. (which has earned you the moniker, grabby mcgee.) you swat at everything. you smack the ground with remarkable force. you kick with such energy. you are a little microburst. waiting quietly as you observe and prepare and then…boom! an explosion of movement and sound. you get so excited about everything. you smile constantly. you squawk. you coo. you howl. all the sounds. you have your own voice but you also find it delightful to copy the sounds that you hear. you stare, and quietly, at first, mimic the tones. and once you are confident that you’ve got it, you go for it. and elinor thinks it is hilarious to match your sounds. so, as you can imagine, things can get pretty loud around here.

you are also firmly in the middle of the pre-teething phase. that fabulous time when everything is a soggy mess thanks to buckets of drool. saliva city, over here. outrageous strands of drool and saliva bubbles and all kinds of neat tricks. and since the world is your teething ring, everything in a one foot radius of your mouth ends up being sucked on our nibbled on…and thus, soaked. you are taking it all in stride, for the most part. you do have moments of frustration when you just yell. not really a cry. just a yell. like you are angry to be made uncomfortable or inconvenienced by things as unimpressive as teeth. and then, back to chewing and smiling. and speaking of everything ending up in your mouth: your chimpanzee-like dexterity and yogi-spine have allowed you to discover how tasty your toes can be. so, that is pretty amazing. sometimes i will find you happily sucking away on your big toe. a habit that i hope we can break before it becomes too unseemly.

you are a creature of habit. absolutely. and such a homebody. you love your routine. and you love your sleep. and can be quiet persnickety about that. i have to make sure that i swoop in and get you to your room and down for your nap before you become too overstimulated because you are not a happy camper when that happens. and it is such a fine line. you play hard. and then you give us a little window when your body starts to calm and prepare to sleep. that is the best time because you get extra cuddly and sweet. you melt into a sleepy little bundle and sigh contentedly as we go through the nap routine, which ends in your flirting with me after i set your burrito-ed body down in your crib. you coo and smirk and twinkle your eyes and then, sleeeeeeep.

it is such fun to get to know you better. your personality is really starting to shine through. and from what we can tell, you are all things wonderful. you are determined and strong-willed and confident. you are content and sweet and kind. you sure do love your big sister. you are such a charmer. and you get so jazzed when papa is around.

i pray that we will be able to match your energy and channel it properly, productively. that you will maintain a curious and bold spirit. that i will be able to engage you firmly and with grace. that the battles of the will to come will result in softer spirits and molded hearts. that your papa and i will teach you to discern and navigate this world carefully and thoughtfully. that we can instruct and model generosity of spirit and kindness and good manners. we pray that you will be a respectful gentlemen. that you would be a loyal friend. that you would be a diligent worker. that you would be a tough competitor. that you would be humble.

you are such fun, ridley. we thank God for your life and are honored to be your parents. it keeps getting better and better…

all our love,

mama + papa

there are a few more pics of our little prince, after the jump. some serious-faced outtakes from his five month “photoshoot” and other random shots from the past few weeks. and p.s. the first one you will see is all kinds of amazing: ridley with his staring eyes…totally flipping me the bird.

Continue reading

gratitude, currently

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amazing grace and daily mercies
ben’s bread to dip in soup
green grass and baby lemons on our tree
chocolate covered sea salt cashews
bible reading with a side of coffee
furry blankets
warm slippers
elinor’s random acts of kindness
elinor’s sense of humor
ridley’s demeanor and giggles and “hi”sounds
open windows
morning runs
God’s great provision
pretty pieces of family silver and china
the sounds of the violin(s) in our home
rich hand lotion
sparkling water
our church family and community
whole foods market
michael bublé christmas music
evening walks
my savior, who is christ the lord
family gatherings
secret santa
my dedicated husband
pre-bedtime dance parties
hope for the future
a big table to fill with food and surround with loved ones

three things

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un | elinor working on her faux napping skills.

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deux | relaxing and snuggling and sipping cappuccinos and macchiatos + enjoying lots of family time while ben practices violin.


trois | sunday sunrise practice with my man. poses du jour: bakasana, pigeon, and headstands into funky wheels.