i somehow let a year pass by without writing a single thing.
it wasn't because i didn't have anything to say.
it was mostly because i had a lot to say, but for the first time in my life i didn't have the words to say it. 

2016 was the hardest year i can remember. 
harder than postpartum depression.
harder than trying to get pregnant.
harder than our church falling apart.
harder than pregnancy.
harder than transitioning to 2 kids.
i mean it when i say it might just be the hardest year of my life.

Sure, there was lots of beauty.
lots of growth.
lots of provision.
lots of blessings.
lots of joyful moments.
although, mostly it was marked with a cruel darkness, a blanket of anxiety, depression, panic and obsessive thoughts. 
a darkness i never asked for, but that fell upon me like the heaviest fog you can imagine. fog so thick you can not see anything except maybe a little in front of you and a little right behind you. the kind of fog you have to just keep slowly walking through to try and find your way out, but everywhere you turn you just end up deeper into the mist. 

i have a lot to say about last year, a lot of words need to come out because i need to process what happened and what is ahead. im not the same Ally i was when i wrote here last. i am marked now by the scars of the last year, and my writing will reflect that. its going to reflect a woman who is trying to trade in being a worrier for a warrior, a woman who is trying to tend to the unruly weeds that have shot up from the broken earth beneath her, a woman who doesnt have complete sentences or thoughts, whose theology isnt as strong as it once was - a woman who is trying to stand up and make sense of what happened in the storm. 

i want to be real and write from my heart, and sometimes thats going to look messy. its sometimes going to be sad, and its sometimes going to seem like im oversharing, but its what i need to do to process the last year, and to make sense of where we are now. 

my fingers feel clunky on these keys. a place that used to feel so natural now feels a bit awkward, but i know i will be glad i came back to write here. i'll look back and not regret sharing this story. i longed for this so much during my hardest days, and i feel ready to pick it back up - not healed, but more sturdy than i was. 

a lot has changed, and im hoping to get this space fixed up to reflect that change. im picking up the pieces of who i was and it feels so good to do this again. 


Last week I kind of abruptly had to quit my job. It's a long messy story, not worth getting into, but it's been feeling a little mor of a burden than a blessing today. My Naturopath wants to do another round of expensive tests, I need a good hair cut in the worst way, the girls are growing out of their clothes and of course Molly ran out of wipes AND diapers in the same week. Our food budget has been so awful with not buying gluten or dairy (and I'm still a month later, hardcore struggling with quick easy and filling meals) last night I had the most intense panic attack after a pretty rotten migraine and friends, I just feel worn out. Tired all the time, ready to cry at the drop of a hat, worn out. BUT I've been learning a lot about Jesus and the way he cares for us when we are struggling, and guess what? He's not looking down on me disappointed that I haven't figured this all out yet. No, in fact he is grieving that I'm struggling. He calls us his, "little flock" because he truly cares so deeply for us, he's not judging me, he's loving me and wants to comfort as I struggle to trust and struggle to breathe. He says he will take care of the details, and he loves us more than the sparrows and I'm learning to listen and believe that as truth.


Beauty Counter / / review and giveaway

Since having kids, the amount of time that I have to get ready in the morning is limited, and I sometimes only have time to throw on tinted moisturizer a little blush and mascara. finding the perfect mascara that lengthens my lashes, adds a good color and doesn't get clumpy or sticky during the day has been really hard. usually I fluctuate between drugstore mascaras that do a few of those things but not all of them at once, and that usually leaves me with clumpy, stubby short lashes, which is not anyone's favorite. 

my friend, Rachel, who I met through instagram (social media is my favorite!) asked me if i would be interested in sharing about Beautycounter and trying out their new mascara, and I was so excited to say yes. Have you heard about Beautycounter? the first time I heard about it was a little over a year ago when I connected with Rachel online and saw that she was a consultant. Over the last year I have had a handful of friends become consultants and or users of beautycounter products because of their 'switch to safer' approach to skincare and makeup. 
There are so many things that we are putting in and on our bodies that are not made to go in our bodies, and I have recently been trying to switch as many things as I can afford in our lives to a safer alternative. The more I am learning about the harmful chemicals that are in many of our everyday products, the more conscious I have become about what I use or don't use. Beautycounter has committed to never have the following ingredients in their product, which is so reassuring and they are standing by this promise.
theneverlistbw  8x10

  This short video shares more about Beautycounter and what they do.

I'll be really honest, safer products tend to be more costly than what we are used too, and I have felt very convicted that I can not afford to change everything all at once. This has been a real struggle for me because its really tough to find a good balance between what you can change and what you can not. The cool thing about beautycounter is that if you just want to start small and change the way you wash your face, or what you put on your lips, you can. For me, investing in products that I love or use daily first makes the most sense to me, which is why I was so excited to try out this mascara. 
I was skeptical that this would be a mascara that I loved. Mostly because I have never really loved a mascara before. I have read so much about how anticipated this mascara was, how hard the company worked to create this product and to create it safely, and I was hopeful that I would love it. 

The wand is much skinnier than the ones that I am used to, and that worried me at first, but as soon as I swiped it on my lashes and saw how it lengthened them and just enhanced the natural look of my lashes without needing to be plumpy, I got over the skinny wand. I have been wearing the mascara everyday for nearly a week, and it has not been clumpy one time, it goes on smoothly and lengthens well without an eyelash curler, but when i do use a curler I find it gives me a more dramatic look and I love it! 
The first day that i wore it, I put it on before heading out to the lake in the crazy Seattle heat wave we had last week. Usually my lashes clump in the heat and get stuck together, and they didnt, even withstanding some stressed out mama tears after Molly decided to choke on some snacks she was eating.  I have cried multiple times while wearing this mascara actually (what can I say, its been an emotional week) and I haven't experienced the black streaks running down my face that I typically have with other mascaras. Not only does this safer mascara work well beyond what I expected, I can feel great knowing that its not harmful to me in anyway, which makes it a beauty staple in my book! 
Rachel has been so sweet and generous to give away a  $50 beautycounter shop credit to one of you readers, over on my instagram account. All you have to do is like the giveaway post, follow both Rachel and myself and tag a friend - so easy! I'll pick the winner on Monday, May 23. If you are interested in purchasing any Beautycounter products, Rachel has set up a beautycounter social under my name ( here is the link! http://www.beautycounter.com/rachelfaunce/social/93243-Ally's+Social/ ) and I would love if you placed an order under it. 
 Rachel started as a consultant 2 years ago while looking for safe and quality products for herself and then quickly became a consultant because she wanted to share her passion with others, I know she would love to talk  more to any of you about how to become a consultant or any other questions you might have about Beautycounter and their products. You can reach out to her on instagram or through my social site by clicking on the "email me" tab. 

I am so glad I was able to share my new favorite mascara with you, and it feels great knowing that there are safe products out there that actually work. 

As always, the lovely photos and makeup application in this post were taken by the crazy talented Elizabeth Rolf. She can sure make anything look pretty, am I right?! 


some thoughts this mothers day.

2016 was supposed to be the year i was going to pour myself out for people, but so far its proven to be my most exhausted year yet. i dont know how to do anything anymore it seems and i just feel a constant feeling of failure and weariness. this mothers day i have just struggled with thoughts of not being good enough of a mom and being too much of a person for my girls. i wrote them this letter, and i know they wont understand it for years to come, but i wanted them to know what motherhood has been like for me so far, and how mothering them has been the hardest, but best thing i have ever done, a letter from a mama who struggles with anxiety, and being overwhelmed, and a mama who doesnt ever have her garbage together but is trying to make the best with what she can.

Dear girls, 
every single day when i hear your early morning cries, or hear your bunk bed squeak as you climb down to wake me up i feel equal parts anxious and so in love. you both love to wake up well before the rest of the world and its probably the one thing that drives me the most insane. i used to be a morning person, but the older i get the less i enjoy the hours between 3 and 7 am. you are met every morning by a tired, exhausted mom who can sometimes barely feed you a banana and bowl of oatmeal without raising her voice about something that is really not that big of a deal. you are usually met with a mom who is struggling with some form of being afraid of the day in front of her and not at all ready for the tasks at hand. oh how i long to be that mama who wakes before her children and prepares her heart and mind for the day alongside a very filling and healthy breakfast, but i cant muster up the energy to be that mom and im too scared to try. by the time i have had my first cup of coffee im a little more awake and able to see things through a lens that is not clouded by anxiety, fear and exhaustion. we laugh and giggle as we pull clothes out of the monstrous pile of clean clothes that i hate but cant seem to get a handle on, those giggles sometimes turn into an argument about what to wear because well, girls like to argue about clothes. the tv is usually on, but thats not because i dont love you, but its because sometimes i just need there to be a noise in our house to not feel so alone. you see, motherhood has not come easily to me. it might be the most daunting task i have ever done. i have been left in charge of other peoples children since i was 11 years old and i was pretty good at it, so i thought that motherhood would come so easily. i never thought it would be something that i was scared of, something that i failed at, something that would even be hard. i just imagined that i would birth you and we would live these beautiful lives together. i never expected to be afraid. being a mother has been the only thing i have ever desired to do with my life. i didnt want to go to school, or work, i just wanted to stay at home and be with my kids all the time, which you might think is a strange thing since a lot of the time i say, " i cant do this, i wish i wasnt alone with you all day." because the fear of failing you has become so great. while you play with eachother my heart swells with love for you. how could this two beautiful humans have come from my broken body? sometimes when i look at you both i get so engulfed in your beauty that i can hardly breathe. and sometimes its the beauty i see in you that makes me feel worried. its so hard to be a mother when you feel like you still need your mother to do things for you. i look at your precious faces and think, " but how can i do this? how can i raise you to be a woman when i dont even feel like one?" i wonder how will i ever show you Jesus when somedays i cant seem to find him for myself? when there was just one of you, i struggled to play the mom game. i would go to playdates and bible studies. i tried so hard to have mom friends, but i just ended up feeling like another one of the kids at the play date and that they saw me as another thing to mother, so i quit. i gave up because it was hard, and even though being a mama is hard, i'll never give up on you. but i see how my fear of other moms and my feelings of inadequacy have hurt you, because we never have people over or go anywhere and you guys are desperate for friends and scenery beyond our apartment, and this year i am trying to undo that mess i made.  motherhood for me has been like learning how to do the monkey bars. i stand, staring at all these bars that i have to climb over and i think i'll never be able to do it because i am not strong enough, i'll surely fall and break something, so instead i stand on the sidelines and wait. i keep waiting to jump but im not sure what to do if i fall. i dont want to fail you anymore. i want to be a mother to you that you see as strong and brave but i dont feel like i am either of those things. i push you to jump, to try to do new and hard things because i dont want you to be like me, scared and watching. i want you to live your life to the fullest and to know that you can try and do anything that you want, you both show me that i can be brave and do the hard and scary things right alongside you. was i ready for motherhood 6 years ago when i became one? i would say no. i had no idea what it meant to be a mother, other than keeping you alive. i had no idea how scared i would feel about failing you and raising girls who are not brave and strong, those are my biggest fears. i dont want you to look back and see that your mom was a failure. i want you to see a mother who is trying her best and who loves you more than she ever thought possible. this mothers day, i am not sure if i'll get a gift, or a nap, or anything, but what i know i will get is 2 little girls who push me to be the bravest ever and who make me want to stare my fear in the face and make it leave. you have given me all the gifts i have ever needed by just being you. please dont ever stop with your twirling and your singing, or your hugging and your laughter ( but you can cool it with the crying and the whining and the waking up early if you want...) we can do this together. i'll never be a pinterest mom. our house will likely always be a mess and i cant even promise that i'll always have homemade meals, but i'll never stop telling you that i love and i'll never stop showing you that im broken and needy of our savior.  thank you for giving me the chance to be brave and to trust others and to grow. i need you more than you will ever understand, at least until you are a mama yourself, and i pray when that day comes, you do it with more bravery and grace for yourself because i hope to have (by Gods grace) taught you well. 
Molly June 1st Birthday 070

if this mothers day finds you feeling overwhelmed and anxious, know that you are not alone. i think as mamas we put too much onto ourselves and think that we have to do all the things to be considered a real, worthwhile, mama. but i dont think thats what God wants for his daughters, because i know i dont want mine to strive for perfection, i just want them to try even though they might fail. i never realized how hard motherhood would be when i was just a young girl waiting for the day that i would get to be one, and every hard day and long night im grateful for the chance i get to see the gospel play out in this role (even when im angry and exhausted i am still so grateful) i dont know what motherhood will look like next year, or in 6 years, but i hope its just as real and raw and honest as it is for me now and that i never take it for granted. 


Not a fighter

Something is stirring up inside me. The day's blend together and I'm so exhausted I can't hardly keep my head above water. Two really needy kids, a part time job, and an anxiety/phobia that rules my life makes everything feel like I'll never be joyful again. That sounds dramatic, and it is, but it's also true. Maggie is playing at the park and I figured out how to blog on my phone while Molly sits peacefully in the stroller enjoying the cool breeze on her face. I love to watch it blow through her strawberry blonde hair and laugh to myself at how black her hair once was. Usually I would journal these thoughts, but today I feel like sharing. I don't feel scared about you reading my thoughts, a little insecure but that's not new. I start counseling tonight and I feel all kinds of fragile and free. I've been anxious for weeks, months actually, but the last 2 weeks have felt like I was training for a panic attack marathon that I didn't want to run. Can you relate to waking each morning with crying kids who didn't sleep well and a mind that couldn't think of anything but the things you are so fearful of? Or going to bed with a stomach ache from spending the entire day engulfed in fear and panic? It's as if I've been riding a horrible roller coaster and no one will let me off. 

My chiropractor, who adjusts my heart more often than he adjusts my spine , keeps telling me to journal and to get outside each day, and I've been trying. The journaling part is hard to find time for, so I try to get little notes on my phone as often as I can, and to be honest getting outside has been tough because I never have a place to go, but deeper than that it's been tough because today I learned that I'm a hider not a fighter, and it's easier to close the blinds and drink cup after cup of hot coffee than it is to get out of my comfort zone. 

I am a hider. When life gets hard I retreat. I run away, grab all the cute bandages I can find to cover up the mess and I desperately try to keep my distance from people because it's so much easier than accidentally unpacking my mess. I'm a hider because I don't want to fight hard for my health or my joy. If it doesn't come easily to me, I just curl up into a ball instead of getting brave and fighting. I don't try hard for anything because I'm so certain I'll fails d be awkward that nothing is worth feeling those negative,shameful feelings. I don't interact with people because I'm so deeply afraid of looking silly, I feel like everyone who looks at me can see how weak and unwilling to fight I am. I'm scared to do almost anything and I'm pretty sure when God said he hasn't given us a spirit of fear he was talking about this. He surely doesn't want me to be a hider. He told me I could've strong and fight. Stand firm and be courageous because he is with me wherever I go. Today I don't feel like hiding, but fighting. 
I'm fighting for my health, fighting for my joy, for my kids, for my husband and
 for myself. I feel expectant and hopeful at the work Jesus is going to do in me, and I feel ready to stop hiding it and hopefully share it in case you are in this space too. Today, I'm going to start fighting and start living and if I forget and fall back, I'll have these words to reflect on as I push to be more brave, because I think that's what He wants when He says to live life abundantly. 


Mama and Little review and giveaway!

I always always wanted a teething necklace when Maggie was little, but they didn't match my 'style' at the time and i just thought it would be a wasteful piece of rainbow colored jewelry that i would never wear because it felt like it screamed "I AM A MOM! CAN YOU TELL I AM A MOM?!" and i was not excited about looking like what i was, a mom. ha.

fast forward 5 years and one kid later and i'm all, "hey i am a mom but i want to look like a cute mom so give me all the functional, fashionable mom clothes." a lot of things have changed for me the second time around.

{photo by elizabeth rolf}

around Christmas i had pinned a teething necklace made by Mama and Little, that was all of my favorite things - geometric shapes, unexpected color combinations, and made by a hard-working, mama. my super smart husband saw that pin and followed the link and surprised me with the necklace that i wanted. it was the best Christmas gift, a stylish necklace for me, but i didn't have to constantly tell Molly June to stop putting it in her mouth. i was so impressed with the quality of the necklace, and the ease of being able to just toss it in the dishwasher when it got dirty. i even found myself wearing it to work because it was so cute - even without a baby on my hip. i am obsessed with geometric shapes, and the silicone beads on my necklace are just the cutest hexagon in the best colors. it really helps make my mom uniform seem so much more put together.

{photo by elizabeth rolf}

Mama and Little was launched in 2014 and was designed and founded by a first-time mama, who wanted to introduce a fresh approach to silicone teething jewelry, by offering on trend colors and wearable designs at affordable prices. they are the original creators of the silicone hexagon bead (my favorite!) and it quickly has become their trademark style. if you are not as obsessed with hexagons as i am, they have tons of other beautiful options as well. i was given the chance to pick out 2 more teething necklaces to review and it was so tough for me to pick, but i ended up with 2 more with hexagon beads because i just love them so much! they just introduced their new spring collection, Rose Luxe, and i just think the marbled beads are gorgeous and really on-trend for spring. 

lately, my diaper bag is full of these things and i can't leave the house without them. i've been wearing the Jess Silicone Teething Necklace a ton lately because the colors are so fun and Molly really loves the different textured beads to chew. if this necklace is not already in my diaper bag, then it's usually right by the door ready for me to grab as i walk out the door. it makes baby wearing more entertaining for Molly, since she doesn't use a pacifier and pinches like it's her job, this helps distract her for a good amount of time. the new Teresa Necklace in Marble is just a little bit more edgy and i love how it stands out with the marble, rose gold and black beads, i wear it a lot with a plain white tee.


the Teresa Necklace in Mermaid was the first Mama and Little i had received and it's my very favorite. i love how you can pair it with a solid top and it just looks so pretty. I probably wear this one  'dressed up' the most and it makes keeping a babe quiet during church a little bit easier. i also love that these necklaces come in a reusable bag, so i can toss them in the bag and keep them clean from the germs that i hate so much.


now the really fun part - Mama and Little was so sweet to give me a $50 shop credit to giveaway to one of you!! i am seriously so excited about this because when i find something i just love, i can't wait to share! all you have to do to enter is head over to Instagram to enter and follow me and Mama and Little, then on my post tag a friend who might also be interested in the giveaway and i will pick a random winner on Tuesday, April 5! you can see the entire collection at on Mama and Little's website.

i hope you have a great weekend and go tag some mamas to win!


Motherhood 5 years in

this saturday marks 5 years of motherhood.
half a decade.
5 years.

i cant believe that maggie pearl will be 5, but more than that, i cant believe that i have been a mom for that long. this week has been gloomy and hard. the weather has been grey and cloudy and my heart has been heavy. i made the mistake of listening to taylor swift yesterday and that sent me into a cry fest. I've been sitting back and just watching maggie, and thinking about motherhood, and i get all these feelings that just sit inside of me and fester. good feelings, sad feelings, happy and joyful feelings, anger and fear, basically a little bit of everything. 

last week we watched inside out again. 
if i really allowed myself to tune into the whole movie, i would (as sadness says) "cry until i cant breathe" 
i sometimes forget how this little person that i have been given, how she is made up of things that uniquely define her. that as a mom, i have helped her develop and become who God created her to be. often times i am completely overwhelmed by the task of raising children.

i have been a mom for 5 years. 
i dont feel like i know anything. i still feel as clueless as i did on that first day of motherhood.
i still feel as scared and alone.
i still feel like im not grown up enough for this job, and i see all these other moms who seemingly have it all together, and i think " how in the world did they get like that?"

i wish i was the mom who had tons of parenting tips and tons of cool kids art and lunches and discipline routines. but i am not. im the mom who still googles everything, who asks for advice on facebook and who cries in the shower because sometimes it all seems to hard. im the mom who forgets lunchtime and library books. the mom who cant communicate with her 5 year old without yelling sometimes, the mom who slams the car door when the kids were screeching through target, even though i bribed the big kid with youtube and goldfish crackers. 
and every single night before i go to bed i wonder if i am good enough, if i am doing a good job. 
if i could go back 5 years to that hospital room, and see that 22 year old girl, so pale and incredibly puffy from a really hard birth (which i would find out years later, was a lot harder than it needed to be) that mom, who was just a girl herself still, and look her in the face while she held that tiny tiny girl, there is so much i would tell her. 
i would look at her straight in the eyes and tell her about the struggles of postpartum depression. i would tell her that these dark heavy lonely feelings she has when she looks at her baby, were not how it would always be. i would tell her that that little girl who wasn't gaining weight, just needed to eat on more of a schedule and that the amount of breast milk you were making wasn't enough and that it would be ok to give her formula. i would tell her about how she was walking into the hardest season of her life and that asking for help would be a must. i would tell her to enjoy that little baby more - dont rush her into growing up. because someday she will turn 5 and you wont have those baby cheeks to hold. i would tell her to hold that baby closer and snuggle her tightly because someday soon she wont feel like a soft baby in your arms - in fact, she wont fit in your arms very well. She wont always wake up in the middle of the night to snuggle you. she will grow so quickly on her own, there is no need to push her into it. i would hold that 22 year old me, and tell her its going to be hard and lonely, but its going to be so so worth it, because one day that tiny baby will grow up and say things like " mama, i want to be just like you when i grow up" and you'll think "oh please dont be. please be just like YOU" one day that tiny baby in your arms will make her first soccer goal and look for you on the sidelines and a tear will roll down her face because shes so proud of herself. one day that tiny baby will be a big sister and your heart will grow and swell again.  that baby girl in your arms is going to change your world. shes going to slam doors in your face and embarrass the heck out of you in public - and there is NOTHING you can do to change that. 

Motherhood has been a strange journey for me. its a role that i thought i would take to so naturally, seeing it was the only thing i ever wanted to be in the whole world. but it hasnt been like that. i still cant figure out where i fit. i used to think that motherhood looked like easy and peaceful, with perfectly curled hair and a clean house, with smiling kids and joy dripping out of every pore in my body, and then i realized, that is actually just an instagram filter. real motherhood is hard. its painful and beautiful and full of frizzy hair, mismatched things, and sometimes the opposite of joy coming out of my heart. its not black and white and dreamy. its sharp and out of focus and then suddenly out of no where there is a day that feels exactly like i imagined, but that is for sure not normal.

and it makes sense, the journey into motherhood isnt an easy road either. its laborious and hard. its painful and i think is pretty accurate portrayal of what being a mom is like. in the moment it seems like its taking so long, but if you take a step back you see its actually happening so incredibly quick. suddenly you have been called "mama" for 5 and then 10 and then 30 years. its the hardest most beautiful and rewarding thing i have ever done. i dont take any of it for granted. even on the days that i want to jump off a building if one more person disobeys or asks for a snack, or screams at the top of their lungs just for fun. (which happens every single day.)
i cant believe ive been a mom for 5 years. this year my prayer is to be comfortable in my motherhood. to wear my jeans proudly, and not spend all day trying to suck in my saggy belly. to wear the dried food and the messy mom bun with joy because i know someday i'll have time to blow dry my hair every day and i'll miss these days. my prayer is to learn to be a more loving and patient mama, one who doesnt jump straight to frustration, but first to understanding and love. a mama who is comfortable in her own skin - comfortable with her family's way of parenting. a mama who encourages and loves on other moms, a mama who is supportive of other moms, one who encourages ladies to do what they do and be contented in that. i want to grow into motherhood just like my babies are growing. i dont ever want to stay this scared, fearful, unsure mom. i need to (We all need to) remember that we were created for this. God gave us this job because He knew that with him, we would do great things. He is for me, and cheering me on in the trenches of this calling. 

five years ago i had no idea that i would be sitting at this computer, still so unsure, so exhilarated and so overwhelmed in the best (and worst) ways with motherhood, but im grateful for it all. for all the work and the selflessness. grateful to always have these babies by my side, and i am excited to see what is coming. excited to keep learning and growing into motherhood. 
5 years in, and i am not a pro. i dont have answers, i dont have tips and tricks. just a lot of words and heart and feelings. if you are a new mama, and you are just starting motherhood, dont give up, dont stop snuggling and holding that baby. dont expect to have it all together or to be put together. just enjoy the ride, memorize every line on your babies face, soak it up, its so good now, and it keeps getting better and better. i promise.