Monday, October 22, 2018


My family has been eating basically all-organic since 2013. It's expensive but we feel it's worth it, especially for our children.

I don't dye my hair or wear very much makeup and I've been super intentional about our household and body/beauty products for a few years now too. We even have organic pillows!

But I haven't thought much about clothes. I actually did buy an organic hoodie for Baby A and an organic onesie for Baby B but haven't thought much about clothes since then. I recently fell into an online rabbit hole reading so many different things about how toxic most clothing is (especially anything yellow). Hormone disrupters! Known carcinogens! Toxic plastic (polyester) fibers released into the water with every wash which are therefore released into our food!

I'm officially buying only organic clothing for our family. Yes, this will be insanely expensive... but it'll also make my life easier since we won't be able to afford to own far too many clothing items. I love having a smaller house since it means I have less to clean, and I've always had the same philosophy for clothes. Now I'll just have to truly practice what I believe about clothing minimalism!

The kids and I got Ryan an organic flannel shirt for his birthday and my mom always gets the kids a pair of Christmas pajamas so she'll be kicking off their switch with these cute organic jammies (or something similar) this year. I've found a few other goodies I'll be slowly switching to now too...

 t-shirts for me // t-shirt dresses for my girls // training underwear // four-pack of pants for the baby// rompers (union suits) for the baby// jacket

Sunday, October 21, 2018


I thought I would be spending a lot more time online this week. I still spent way more time than I would have liked but for the most part, I just jumped on for an hour or so at naptime and did a few weird wanderings while I scheduled blog posts for the future. But I still found some pretty fun things so I thought I'd share them now...

Book character Halloween costumes... so cute! Madeline, Strega Nona, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and Where the Wild Things Are were my favorites =]

This is the YouTube channel of a mom who uses our same homeschool curriculum, The Good and the Beautiful. I only watched one video (My morning basket) but if you're interested in seeing more of a video version of what we use, I've heard great things about this gal.

If you're looking for Christmas ideas for a bookish friend, consider Literarybookgifts. There are men's shirts, women's shirts, and tote bags... all with super cute bookish designs. If you get something, use the promo code SKBellBlog20 for 20% off. =]

I'm a huge fan of cloth dolls for kids and always put a doll in my girl Operation Christmas Child boxes, and often a boy doll in my boy boxes too. How sweet is this one?

I've been searching everywhere for two prints I'd like to hang up in our new bedroom. The first is from Song of Solomon 3:4, I have found the one my soul loves. The second is from Emily Bronte: Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same. Can't you just see those together? I love them. I've been searching for both for about a year now and I finally found a version of the Emily Bronte quote I love! I can't bring myself to spend that much on a sign but now I think I'll buy two matching chalkboards and paint the quotes on them.

I was so excited to make this pumpkin pie smoothie this October but I still haven't had access to my blender yet. Hopefully I get a chance before the month is over! =]

Pretty confident I have this =[

A great friend got me Ellie Holcomb's CD, Red Sea Road, when Barbara died. I have truly fallen in love with that album and all the awesome words in it but I never thought to see if she has a blog. She does! And I love the writing! So I am definitely going to get my kids a copy of her sweet children's book this Christmas.

I know I can sound paranoid and strange sometimes but this article on the dangers of 5G is so incredibly worth the read!

Saturday, October 20, 2018


I'm very interested in personality differences.

When Ryan and I first got married we had taken that great personality profile for our pre-marital counseling class and we'd often marvel over how much we learned and didn't learn from it. "How can we be so alike and so different?" one of us would often laugh.

I loved The 5 Love Languages, and then The 5 Love Languages of Children. I was a huge fan of MotherStyles and now I am a huge fan of Reading People.

I'm so utterly fascinated with the specific, intentional way God designed us. I love that we are all so unique, yet all have the same basic life desires (to feel safe and loved and purposed) and follow a few different set frameworks (with all kinds of unique branches off of them) that allow us to fit together so seamlessly.

The more I learn about personality, the more I understand the people I love (and the people I maybe don't love) and I can't stop talking about it! In fact, Ryan and my dear friend Nicole are probably rolling their eyes right now if they've even manage to make themselves continue reading this post ;]

My favorite personality framework is Myers-Briggs, although I also adore the 5 Love Languages and just never considered it a personality framework all these years. My Myers-Briggs personality profile is INFJ, which is apparently pretty rare. I've spent my whole life feeling weird and like I don't fit in so reading that was already insanely confidence-boosting. There's nothing wrong with me! I'm just ultra unique and sometimes people struggle to be accepting of things they don't understand.

So a breakdown for you... and remember that I am just someone who is super interested in all this and am not a certified administrator or anything. There are four letters in each of the 16 MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) personality profiles.

You start with an I for introvert or E for extravert. This has nothing to do with how shy/gregarious you are. I'm a gregarious Introvert. I am not shy (although I can be) and I think I might at times alienate people because I might appear to be energetic and bubbly, then take a month to want to hang out again. Introverted means not that I am anti-social (although... again, I can be) but simply that I am focused more on the internal world than the external world. I am energized more by being alone with my thoughts and ideas than I am by being around other people. I'm always late to the party and I always sneak out early, and I often hang out in the corner while I'm there. I feel super stressed out when I leave an event or get-together and don't get to immediately move into naptime or bedtime so I can have some quiet time to recharge my batteries.

The second letter is N for intuitive (iNtuitive, just so there's no confusion with I in introvert) or S for sensing. Sensing people are focused on the physical world around them. On the world perceived with the five senses. Intuitives are focused on their intuitions about the world, on reading between the lines. I think understanding this difference was HUGE for me in terms of my parenting/my friends' and family members' parenting styles. I am focused on the spirituality of the world around me, on values and beliefs and impressions. I am awesome at teaching my children morals and values, discussing things like that... but I am dreadful at physical things like making sure my little girls' hair looks cute or at bathing my children every day. To me, the most important parts of our bedtime routine are me whispering to my children to ask about their days, our prayers, and a cuddly bedtime book session. To some of my friends, the most important parts are a lavender bath and massage in dim lights with soft music playing. I cannot imagine that much "work" every day... but I will happily drag that whispery bedtime routine out for over an hour. A 30 minute bath routine is miserable to me but a two-hour-long bedtime routine of words, no big deal. I'm also very easily overwhelmed by too much noise or chaos and details stress me out. Making a packing list for a trip is fine, actually packing is miserable. Figuring out dinner each night is so stressful I just set up a set list... taco Tuesday, Leftover Thursday, Pizza Friday, etc.

The third letter is F for feelings or T for thinking. I am a feeler. I cry every. single. day. I cry from sadness, joy, anger/frustration, fear, shock, excitement, nostalgia. I cry when I read or when I watch a TV show/movie, when my kids are sweet, when my kids are not sweet, when Ryan smiles a certain way or plays a certain song... I almost never go an entire day without at least tearing up a little bit. This is partly from the N side of me too, but mostly it's the F. I make my decisions based on feelings and not logic. As a teenager/young adult this got me into a lot of trouble because I made many decisions either to protect my feelings or to attempt to create feelings for me in other people and I have many, many regrets now that I know how to handle myself better. Sometimes I feel bad about this trait even though I don't use it for evil anymore, but Ryan has reminded me many times that it's actually a great strength when it comes to our children, our marriage, any relationship-based thing. But he's a T so we just both know that there are some decisions he's just going to have to make because I can't separate my feelings. Like, actually can't. I have been told my whole life that I need to separate myself from my feelings and I've never once been able to achieve that. Now I understand why--God intentionally designed me to be extremely feelings-oriented. It's a great thing! It makes me compassionate, sympathetic, tender, passionate... but it also means I sometimes need a T to help me make a logic-based decision and I think it's amazing to see where God so intentionally created these two opposing sides in Ryan and me so we hit all the bases.

The last letter is a little confusing... it's J for judgment or P for perceiving. I wish the letters were different because although you might have been able to tell from the first three descriptions which category you fall into, you definitely probably picked P for this last one simply because not one of us wants to say we are judgemental. But it has nothing to do with that.
So to put it simply, Js crave structure and routine, Ps are spontaneous and adventurous. (But none of us are 100% one or the other, right? I'm a major, major J but it was my idea to sell everything and move into a travel trailer to explore the country)
In high school, I used to create a monthly schedule for my hairstyles and clothing. Oh, man, I just snorted my tea laughing so hard. I was very serious and intentional about this. I'd get out my calendar and determine what I was going to wear, down to the purse and earrings, based on my work schedule, any events going on, the weather... it is hilarious to me now but I was so serious about it that I would wear a thick sweater even though the weather was 10 degrees hotter than I'd expected because, after all, it was already on the schedule. There was nothing I could do about it now.
I like to follow a general routine. I like my relatively set meal plan, my Excel sheet budget. I adore my day planner. I make lists and feel stressed out if someone tries to change the day, shows up unannounced, calls while I'm in the middle of something...
I am very organized intuitively (dates, plans, homeschool lessons, family activities)  but not physically (laundry, dishes, cute home organization systems) (except for books. I love alphabetizing). This was also very helpful because it helped me to realize that I am just as organized as I feel, despite the state of my vehicle at times or my pretty much constantly overflowing laundry basket. (In my defense... laundry for six people is no joke, y'all)

Learning about these things has helped me understand so many people in my life so much better. Especially the T/F!

The coolest thing to me is seeing how it all plays out in my marriage. I am an INFJ and Ryan is an INTJ. The first fun thing to note is that Ryan and my mom are both INTJs... but those who know them both will definitely not initially think they have a lot in common. Ryan is kind of an alpha male. He is very Type A. My mom is not, or at least seemingly not.
Her personality doesn't reflect the same as Ryan's for a few possible reasons. First, because they are God-designed human beings and not robots. They have lived different lives and carry different experiences and memories with them. Second, because Ryan married a major Type B and my mom married a fellow Type A. Something's gotta give in all cases so my mom turned into a Type B in her marriage but still reflects her natural INTJ personality at work. Finally, there's a chance that my mom is wrong about her results and is answering with what she wants to be/feels she is expected to be rather than what she actually is. That is a very common mistake, which is why they recommend you have an actual professional administer your test and results. (If this last one is the case, which I COULD see possible since I have almost as many memories of my mom that conflict with these results as I do that agree with them, I do think it would be my mom's whose are wrong and not Ryan's. I spend a lot of time with him so I feel really confident that his results are accurate)

According to MotherStyles, every relationship needs all eight letters represented. In my marriage, I have become the E. I am still very much an I while Ryan is at work but when he comes home I am the one who is more likely to ask if he wants to go to our friends' kid's birthday party or to bring up an event I think the kids will love. I won't feel any less drained than him afterward (in fact, I really strongly suspect I feel even more drained!) but I still naturally move into that role when he's around. We're both Ns but he becomes the S, especially where the children are involved. He wants all the same things I want for them, but he is far less likely to implement it and is far more likely to ask our son if he'd like a haircut since his hair is getting into his eyes ("No, remember? I'm growing it out to become stronger than you, like Samson"), to rub an owie, or to remove an itchy tag. We're both major Js and Ryan is a J to be reckoned with at work but he comes home and plays the P. Every Friday we sit down at the table for Pizza-Smoothie Night (because the N in me didn't like us watching a movie every single Friday), me with my planner beside me, and every Friday I ask everyone what their weekend plans are. I start to write things down so we can make them happen. "I want to go to the park!" "I want to play a family board game!" I write them down. And every Friday, without fail, I look at my husband and he says, "Let's just see what happens." "I can't," I say. "I'll die." So he laughs and he throws me a bone by telling me about a few of the things he plans to do. But when I try to organize and schedule all those plans, he balks. For a long time I thought it was because he had his own secret schedule he wasn't willing to share with me but the reality is that he drops that J when he walks through the door of our house. My J is overbearing, even over his Type A personality. This is probably a shock to no one who has ever seen the innards of my planner.

Another thing I find interesting is seeing how much of my stress in my earlier years came from trying to be "what I was supposed to be" instead of what I actually am. It is hard to be an I and work in customer service, retail, or the medical/dental field. My favorite job at the dentists' offices was to sit in the tiny dental lab and scrape the impression goop out of the impression trays. Everyone hated that job but I loved it and would so cheerfully trade my filling or root canal with everyone's favorite patient for an hour sitting quietly in that room and cleaning out trays. I also loved developing x-rays, filing, scanning a fat stack of images into digital charts... see where I'm going with this? All the jobs the fellow dental assistants hated, I adored. I loved doing all the weird private (boring/lonely) jobs but was so anxious about dealing with patients! I liked lesson planning more than teaching the actual lessons when I was teaching (though it is interestingly the opposite with my own children), and I preferred the grease burns of making chicken (my least favorite food!) to cashiering at Chick Fil A. I was very stressed about my appearance in high school and I see now that it's because I am not an S. I am not a physical or visual person. I could care less whether or not my purse matches my shoes... but I "had to" care back then so I instinctively pre-planned it so I could manage without feeling too stressed about it. College is built for Ts, not Fs. All those critical thinking assignments made my head spin and now it's easy to see why. And I think we have all seen all those movies about the rigid J who gets dumped and then turns into a fun, free-spirited P he desperately wants back, right? Everyone wants to be a P. Doesn't it look so fun? I'm sure there are times I'm extremely un-fun to be around, like during Pizza Smoothie Night. But I've come to accept and even love the Jness in me. First, because somebody's got to keep their eyes on the road, right? And second, because some of my children already seem like obvious Js. They need this from me. And I'm sure there are aspects of me that my P children really need, too! Third, because come Monday morning you can smile and say you got to do everything you had hoped for this weekend, all because I wrote it down and scheduled it for us ;]

If you've made it this far, I adore you. Now go take your unofficial, uncertified MBTI test and let me know what you are! I would be happy to share your MotherStyles profile and parenting strengths with you. And then have fun googling all kinds of things that will make your life easier. For example, last night I googled "best jobs for INFJ" and you know what I discovered? I should be a writer =D

Friday, October 19, 2018

Gathering of Sisters

I recently read and adored Gathering of Sisters, Old Order Mennonite Darla Weaver's account of Tuesdays spent with her sisters and mother.

My brother barely talks to me and lives far away and I don't have any sisters. This life Darla Weaver lives is very far removed from the life I live in that way, in the way that she spends every Tuesday with her mother, four sisters, and many nieces and nephews. But it's only the communal aspect that differs. Outside of that, this Old Order Mennonite way of life is very similar to my own and I am utterly fascinated by that.

She reads, writes, colors in adult coloring books, has lots of kitchen flops, marvels over the things her little boy says. We're not so different, she and I.

Although I definitely enjoyed seeing a snippet of her family life, I even more enjoyed reading her prosey thoughts on life.

In March, she was guiding her son his bike and telling him to keep moving, pay attention to the road, don't turn around when you hear this car coming up behind us... Then she likened that moment to the way God shepherds us through life and I actually laughed outloud. I can just picture that. "No, no, Sara. Put that down. Focus on the path."

In November I adored this one- "The seasons keep swinging, and the years keep passing, and time is like a relentless tide that never hurries, never waits, never stops. It takes us all along, whether we notice or not, whether we like it or not."

If you're at all interested in Amish fiction, I definitely recommend this offering as a nonfiction counterpart... and if you're interested in essays on family and life, I do think you'll enjoy this book.

*I received a free copy of Gather of Sisters from the I Read with Audra program in exchange for a completely honest review.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Right now

Sunlight streaming in between the branches of an evergreen, a calm moment perfect for journaling.

Baby, so snuggly in her warm winter bear suit, watching us with curious eyes. Eleven months old tomorrow.

My son--my sweet five-year-old son--plotting out a detailed game. Three-year-old B, so beautiful and so sensitive, falling so naturally into a deeply nurturing role even when she plays. My two-year-old, so easily lumped in with "the big kids," stumbling around with her blonde hair up in an adorably thin ponytail and her feet in too-tall toddler rain boots.

One gold leaf gently fluttering down, then an orange. Then a third, a fourth. "Did you see that, Mommy? Autumn!"

Three sweet kids pretending to pick marshmallows from the ferns in our yard for their imaginary s'mores.

Pink hoodies, pink boots, a dinosaur shirt. Baby reaching for the bears on the feet of her coat suit. Blonde hair turned white in the sun, giggles, just-right temperatures.

Life. Beautiful, precious, fleeting, magical, blessed life. Right now.