the standard of beauty

carroll family


Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future.

Proverbs 31:25

These boys of mine? They don’t know the words that I know. The ones that swarm around in my head. The ones I’ve battled since I was in the third grade and was first aware of body image.

Words like fat.

And ugly.

And flabby.

And frizzy.

Chubby and awkward and any other word that we’ve all told ourselves at some point in our lives.

And it’s likely that some guy said it to us along the way, too.

I am so lucky to be married to a man who praises me and calls me beautiful. He loves what’s on the outside, and he especially loves what’s on the inside. (Though there is plenty to not love on the inside.)

And while my darling husband has a responsibility to teach my boys how to talk to girls and how to talk about girls, I set the example.

By loving myself, and refraining from putting myself down in front of them, I am saving them from the idea that women are to be critiqued and judged and picked apart.

The truth is, I do pick myself apart. I do want to lose the last bit of baby weight and get back into my old clothes. I want to feel like the version of me that I can’t forget. The physical pre-baby version. And maybe I’ll work hard enough to do that for myself.

But that’s my issue. I never want to give my boys permission to do that. By loving myself right where I am, and allowing my husband to love me right where I am without making excuses about my post-baby body, or two-day hair, I am showing Hudson and Hayes to look deeper. To love people for more than what they see on the outside.

That just because their friends think it’s fun to compare and critique women, it’s okay if they don’t play along.

I want them to see a mom who works hard, who is comfortable with herself, and most importantly, let the smile on my face and the joy in my life define the way people see me on the outside. The presence of Jesus Christ in my heart and in my life and in my actions.

Moms, how are you talking to your boys and girls about beauty? What are you showing them?

*This post was originally published on


summer clothes for boys!

One of the most frequently asked questions I get in emails and blog comments is, “Where do you shop for your boys?”

I have to admit that when I first found out that I was expecting a boy when I was pregnant with Hudson, I didn’t really know where to start. I’ve written before about shopping for a baby boy, which is really oh so much fun! You can read that post here. Most of my choices for baby boys have stayed the same over the last four years. (Four years! How did that happen?)

So I just thought I’d share some of my favorite brands and places to shop for my little guys. Now that Hayes is a full blown toddler (wearing a size 2T and 3T) and Hudson is a preschooler, my shopping choices have changed a little bit.

The most wonderful thing about when boys start to wear separates in the summer (as opposed to John Johns and bubbles), is that they can wear them for at least two seasons. Hudson is even wearing some clothes this summer that I bought for him when he turned 2! (When they lose that baby belly, the shirts can be worn longer and the shorts start below the knee and end up slightly above the knee, which I think is so cute!)

boys swimwear


For swimwear, I have found some really cute things. Hayes wears Hudson’s hand-me-downs, of course. But Hudson has some suits this year from Vineyard Vines, Ragsland, and Shrimp & Grits Kids. I also found a pair of matching swim trunks from Zulily that I purchased with credits. Another great brand is Funtasia Too! They usually have really cute appliqué tees that go with the swim trunks.

I prefer shorter trunks for little boys, as opposed to board shorts or trunks that come past the knee. Just my personal preference.

kelly's kids boys


Another one of my absolute favorite resources for shopping for my boys is Kelly’s Kids. I wore Kelly’s Kids when I was little and my boys wear it, too. I think the quality is absolutely fantastic. It’s a little bit pricey, but like I said before, when they’re wearing separates, they can wear them for at least two summers. And then Hayes gets Hudson’s hand-me-downs.

I love these matching brother outfits! Hayes still wears John Johns and shortalls for Sundays, but I mostly keep him in separates during the week.

kelly's kids boys 2


Another couple of adorable Kelly’s Kids outfits for this summer. Those white shorts are one of my favorite things. You can cinch up the waist and let it out so they can wear it for a couple of years. And I love that I can mix and match the shorts with different color polos.

mini boden choices for boys


We just love Mini Boden. I love the big appliqué tees, the soft pullovers, the comfortable polos, and even the cute little soft shorts. (I like shorter shorts on little boys just because their legs are so short and Mini Boden does have a few options for shorter shorts for boys.)

ragsland boys

I always joke that my boys wear a little uniform of white appliqué tees and gingham seersucker shorts. I also love little smocked tee shirts. It’s says “little boy” without being too stuffy and it’s easy for them to play. Ragsland has a fantastic selection of separates and absolutely adorable clothes.

honey bee tees boy clothes

Perhaps my absolute favorite place to shop for summer play clothes for my boys is Honey Bee Tees. Darby’s blog, Fly Through Our Window, is one of my all time favorites, and her shop is also a favorite. The t-shirts are so soft and I just love the sweet, simple designs. And that red crab hat has hardly left Hudson’s head so far this summer!

vineyard vines boys


One of my favorites for Hudson has been Vineyard Vines. It is definitely pricey, but we got him a couple of button down shirts, a couple pair of chinos, and he just alternates those for Sunday mornings. I also love pairing the button down shirt with those awesome white shorts from Kelly’s Kids. And that Vineyard Vines Shep pullover is the absolute cutest thing! Hudson loves his VV t-shirts to wear to the pool and just around the yard on Saturdays.


Other Great Resources

I also love to shop through my friend, Ashley’s shop, She She Made. She makes the most adorable custom outfits for boys and girls, but I have especially loved the separates she has done for Hayes over the last year. So cute! (She also has a Facebook page where she hosts sales and you can follow her on Instagram @sheshemade.)

Another couple of great resources for basic polos, solid tees, and solid shorts (that aren’t too long) are GAP and Old Navy. I’m really particular about pants, but every boy needs a pair of comfortable khaki shorts and just some basic tee shirts.

I go to a lot of trunk shows in the spring and fall and that’s where we get most of our boys’ clothes. My favorites are Hannah Kate, Kelly’s Kids, Shrimp & Grits Kids, Blessed Be The Name, and Orient Expressed.

So I think I’ve successfully shared my favorites for shopping for boys. I’m super thankful that we have two boys and all the boys clothes make their way through two little guys!


Happy 4th birthday, Hudson!

My Dearest Hudson,

At 4:39 a.m. on June 5, 2009, the most wonderful thing in the world happened. You, my precious boy, were born. You came into this world after a 25-hour labor and made your presence known with your loud voice. And then you just looked at me. When I looked at you on that first day of your life, and everyone left the room so I could be alone with you, I looked into your eyes and said to you then, “We’re going to learn so much together. It’s you and me.”


Yesterday morning when you woke up, you ran in to jump in bed with your Daddy and me. While I was snuggling with you, I looked at you and whispered, “You’re not allowed to be 4. You have to stay 3 forever.”


You didn’t really like that idea because you’ve been looking forward to turning 4 since a month after you turned 3. I can remember what it was like to always be wishing to be a little bit older. But my precious, precious boy, I am going to do everything I can for you to help slow that time down.

Every single day with you is the greatest gift. I could write a book about the ways that you have changed my heart and forced me to see every little thing with a little more detail and with more appreciation.


Hudson, you are the sweetest little soul. Your compassion for others always amazes me. You always want to know what’s wrong and how you can help.

You’re also so very observant. If anyone changes their hair or their shirt , you’re the first one to tell them that they look nice or ask why they changed. Your compliments mean the world to me. I love being your mommy! Especially when you tell me first thing in the morning that my bed head looks pretty.


Hudson, you just amaze us. You see things differently than we do. You look at ordinary things and you see shapes. You say, “That roof looks like a trapezoid. That window looks like a square.” You notice words that you can recognize and are often sounding out words and how to spell them. The things you associate together just blow us away. Nothing gets past you, and your Daddy and I know that you are watching every little thing we do.

You love to spell, love to write, and love to learn. You still know all your letters, states, and numbers. And you’ve been learning the Presidents this year. And this isn’t because we’ve forced it on you. You just like it. You love playing new games and you soak everything up like a little sponge. I’m so excited to see how much you blossom in this next year.


You are absolutely hilarious. You make the funniest jokes, and you’re like me in that you love making word and vocabulary jokes. You make up funny songs to be serious and to be funny.

You adore your grandparents and this just thrills us to no end. Your Daddy and I absolutely love to be around RC, PC, KK, and Poppie because it makes us happy, but even more so because it makes you so happy, Hudson. You adore them and they adore you, and we realize what a precious gift that is.


Hayes looks at you with such admiration. He is constantly watching you. For better or for worse, I know he’ll learn so much from you, and I pray that you always look out for him, too. Giving you each other is one of the greatest things your Daddy and I have done, but watching that relationship grow this year has been so much fun.

The two of you love to chase each other, and every once in a while you’ll say, “Hayes! Come get me! You’re my best friend.” And I have to tell you, anytime I hear you say those words, I could cry. Such a happy sound.


You take everything very literally. You’re not the most imaginative player, and things are very black and white to you. You see things exactly for what they are and can figure out a puzzle in twenty seconds. But it’s also so funny when we try to make some kind of joke or use some kind of cliche, and you always take it literally and act so confused. It cracks us up.

Another highlight of this year has been watching your friendships develop. You are always talking about your best friends and get so excited at the possibility of seeing them. You can still be very shy, but you love your friends and you are such a loyal friend. We’ve also seen the effects of too much “togetherness” with your best friends as there is the occasional preschool spat. And that’s okay. I love that even after a little spat, you can pick up where you left off being a good friend.


You get a little more mature every single day. You still have your very strong-willed moments, absolutely. And when those moments get mixed with the preschool-age moments, it’s a recipe for a meltdown. But your meltdowns are rare and are much less frequent as you have gotten closer to 4 years old.

These next couple of years are going to big for you. People are going to expect you to grow up a lot as you prepare to go to school. But, my sweet sweet boy, I’m holding on tight to every single day. Not in a mournful way, but because I know it does get better each day. I love you more each day. And we both learn something new each day.


When I look into your bright, deep brown eyes, I can see my journey through motherhood. And you, my precious Hudson, have been there every step of the way.


I adore you. I pray that God blesses you abundantly this year as you learn more about who He is and the kind of boy He would have you to be. And your Daddy and I pray that we can be that example for you.


I hope you always know that my arms and my heart are always open to you. Whenever you need me, I’ll come running to pick you up.

I love you,






because when he’s ready, I’m there to listen

On the way home from church last week, Hudson started talking to us about Sunday school.

Sunday mornings in the car usually involve lots of voices talking over each other. We turn down the music so we can try to pick up on at least one thought from one of the boys. And it’s rare that Hudson just starts telling us a story spontaneously.

I’ve heard from other boy moms that the day will come when my boys will stop talking to me. They won’t open up anymore. The day will likely come when they’ll come back around, but between now and then, there will be a day when they start keeping things to themselves.

We’ve learned with Hudson that it usually will take us doing something with him to get him to talk about his day or to tell us what is bothering him. We’ll work puzzles and he’ll open up. Or we’ll be throwing the ball and he’ll talk about his day. He has used these opportunities to tell us when someone did something funny or when someone hurt his feelings.

On this particular day in the car, Hudson started telling us about his friends in Sunday school. I’d ask him about someone and he’d say, “He’s a nice boy” or “she’s a nice girl.” Very simple.

I asked him about another child in his class that day and he said, “No, she’s not a nice girl.” And I said, “Oh no. Why not?”

And very matter-of-factly, Hudson said, “Because she said I was ugly.”

My heart sank. How could we possibly have a child who is old enough to deal with something like this?

Todd and I locked eyes, and Todd said to Hudson, “Well, what did you say to her?”

Hudson smiled and very innocently said, “I told her that I’m not ugly. I’m a nice boy.”

It was so simple. And in Hudson’s mind, “ugly” means “not nice.” Because that’s how we use the word at home.

I know that I can’t protect him from everything, but when his sweet little voice insisted that he was a nice boy, I started to cry. My heart broke. I was wearing my sunglasses and Hudson couldn’t see my tears, but Todd reached over and grabbed my hand. I’m sure he was wondering what in the world was wrong with me.

I don’t want my boy to have hurt feelings. But I loved his sweet, quiet confidence.

We know that kids say all kinds of things to hurt each other’s feelings, and I know that Hudson will do the same to someone someday, if he hasn’t already.

We’re praying that we will raise brave kids who can face the day and face their peers with confidence.

In that moment, we didn’t get all deep with Hudson. We told him that we were sorry that his feelings had been hurt, but we were proud of him for not fighting with her and for telling her that he was, indeed, a nice boy.

And just as quickly as it started, our conversation ended. Hudson started talking in his funny made-up language that he uses to try to make Hayes laugh, and all the loud noise in the car started up again.

Maybe that day will come when he stops opening up to me. Or maybe it will be just like it was that day, where Hudson runs in to tell me something really important, really quickly, and then he runs out to do more “important” things.

No matter what happens, I’ll always be there to listen.


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