A Christmas Evening at Home...

We spent last night celebrating our own Christmas.  It was relaxing, chill, and exactly what we needed before a busy next few weeks.  Enjoy your own holiday time with family or traveling or whatever you do!

Christmas 2012 from Leah Rife on Vimeo.


Merry Christmas!

I have been so bad about posting regularly...life gets crazy in December.  (New Year's resolution...be a consistent blogger.)

Well we are bustling and hustling around here to get ready to leave tomorrow.  We are headed back to Landon's parents' house to enjoy the next week and a half celebrating the holidays.  I am planning on making some Christmas treats to take, we have almost all the gifts wrapped, and I am searching for a book to check out of the library to take...I'm thinking a good mystery.

Landon will work in their Columbus office for a couple days after Christmas, so I get to tag a long and stay in the hotel and go out with him in the evenings.  We'll leave Finn with his grandparents and they'll have a great time.  We treasure those times when we get to spend alone time without our sweet baby boy.

I must admit, there have been a lot of things lately that have gotten me feeling blue despite all the holiday cheer.  The tragedy of lost lives, the mad materialistic dash I see every day, some decisions that are popping up for Landon and I to make very soon...it's all a little overwhelming.  But then, I looked closer and I saw and heard things that inspired me and completely blew all the sad or anxious things out the window.

I heard about how my boss and her husband sacrificed their entire Christmas to adopt two families in need...and gave generously to them without thought or care about themselves.

I saw my dad lead a group of people from our old church back home to spend their entire day ministering to the elderly and shut-ins and bringing cheer to those that don't have family or can't get out anymore.

I heard about how my mom has taken the time to listen and hurt with a fellow student in her study group who has experienced loss these last few months, and makes time in her busy schedule to be available to just listen.

I heard about how my sister made a small (but big) gesture of giving, and paid for someone's coffee...and she didn't even know them.

I witnessed my husband excitedly give away a huge chunk of his bonus, and all of his birthday money to a cause that brings clean water to those without.

And I was concerned about finding the right outfit to wear to Christmas Eve, or if we'll be where we want in a couple months, or if I have enough chocolate to make truffles.....

See, even though this world is full of hatred and loss and evil, I still see a glimmer of light and kindness and self-sacrifice.  The little things that I get anxious about each day don't really matter.  I see how I am loved by an amazing group of people, and how I am loved by an even Greater love than those.  This season isn't about Santa or elves or cookies; it's about sacrificial giving, self-less-ness, and unconditional love.  I am so inspired and humbled when I think back and reflect on all I've seen this season.  I hope that you are inspired by things you see in your day to day tasks, and that you would also take some time to reflect on if you've been able to give freely to someone as others have done before.

Merry Christmas to you all, and the happiest of New Year's!!


the guys...



I love watching Landon and Finn interact.  Yesterday after Landon got home from work, we had a play time in our driveway.  Finn loves the open space to push his toy around.  It's so nice to breathe in the cool air and feel toasty warm when we go back inside.  The cold won't stop us from having a good time outdoors!

Also, just got a sweet tip from my sis that Starbucks is doing a BOGO on their holiday drinks today through Sunday during the afternoons!  Well, now I know what Landon and I will be doing this weekend.  Thanks for the tip, Hannah!


mama style: coconut oil uses...


I have been using organic coconut oil for about a year now, and love it for its many uses in beauty, health, and the kitchen.  After reading an article about coconut oil, I went to Whole Foods and picked up my first jar.  Now, a year later, I'm still finding new ways to incorporate it into my beauty routine and everyday diet.
Here is a good article on the benefits of using this amazing oil.  Top on the list for me is heart health, and boosting metabolism...things I'm sure I will care more about (and should) as I get older.

Some of my favorite uses for coconut oil are:

*Skin - I use it on my lips and face as a moisturizer, and it also works great on pregnant bellies to prevent or control stretch marks.

*Teeth - Have you ever heard of oil pulling?  Neither had I until a few months ago.  Here's the video I watched, and now I regularly practice oil pulling.  A nice side effect of this practice is natural teeth whitening.  After only one time, I noticed my teeth were brilliantly white, similar to using the whitening strips.  Now, I have a perfect way to rid my body of toxins, and get a great smile at the same time.

*Diet - After learning of the many health benefits of using coconut oil in my diet, I now try to incorporate it into our meals at least once a day.  It's a great fat to put into Finn's oatmeal in the morning, and I also love to add it to my eggs or toast instead of butter.  It has a slightly sweet taste, but it's very pleasant, and not overpowering.  Here's a good blog post on ways to use coconut oil in your home.

Things I'm wanting to try with coconut oil but haven't yet:

*Hair - I've been reading on how you can use coconut oil to condition and repair hair, and I'm hoping to try it soon!

*Natural Diaper cream - I am still doing some reading, but I think I can use coconut oil as a cloth diaper safe cream.  Finn has very sensitive skin, so it would be a great way to keep him comfy and not ruin our cloth diapers in the process.

*Homemade natural sunscreen - I found a recipe, now I just need to make it!

Needless to say, there are so many uses for coconut oil, and I just love that I can buy one product instead of 10.  Better for my health and body, and better for my wallet.

What about you, do you use coconut oil?  And what's your favorite way to use it?


mama style: lips...




I have only bought lipstick twice since being married, and I was looking for something new and fun for the holiday season.  My sister-in-law told me about lip stain, and I found this one at Target recently.  It's lip stain with balm, so it doesn't dry out my lips, and the color stays vivid all day.  I normally don't wear lipstick, as it tends to leave my lips dry, but I am loving this stain!

Landon is taking me to his work Christmas party in a couple weeks, and it's a fancy affair this year, so I'm putting on a dress and heels, and this lip stain will complete the look perfectly.

I will be posting some other fun beauty tips this week that I've learned in the past year or two, so stay tuned!


things i relish...

*authenticity and openness

*seeing my breath in the winter

*watching my son's face when he sees his dad come home in the evening

*licking the brownie batter out of the bowl

*warm fires and cozy blankets

*seeing someone help another person when I'm out and about

*listening to someone's life story

*good books and long naps

*a beautiful wedding photo

*the wind in my face

*peanut butter on bananas

*cafe string lights lit up in our bedroom

*getting hugged by my good friends

*watching my niece smile

*avocados with cheddar cheese

*stories of sacrifice and redemption

*hot drinks

*seeing a breathtaking landscape for the first time


*being alone after a day filled with busy things

*singing softly to my son as he cuddles against my chest

*playing my violin

*sitting with my husband and talking about life, dreams, and everything else


i'd eat these...


Don't these cookies look absolutely delicious?  I am getting over being sick, and am trying to stay away from sugar and sweets until I'm better.  So naturally I am craving anything chocolate or peanut butter-y or dessert-y.  Maybe I will try this recipe for the holiday season.  Speaking of, our tree is decorated and our banister is too.  I'm so loving this cozy time of year.


1 year...

DSC04564 copy



Has it really been a whole year?!  Our baby boy turned 1 last week, surrounded by both of our families.  I made a healthy smash cake, and he didn't even touch it, I helped him blow out his candle too. :)

This little man has completely changed our lives, in every good way.  Landon and I are better people because of Finn, and we learn so much from him as the days go on.

It's hard to believe that a little over a year ago, I started labor and gave birth to the most precious baby boy, while Landon stayed by my side the whole time.  Landon has been such an amazing dad to Finn, as I knew he would.

Here are some stats on Finn now that he's a big boy:

*Eats like a 5 year old every day with fav foods being: oatmeal, natural applesauce, peas, greek yogurt, meat of any kind, cheese of any kind, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash risotto, or pretty much anything I put in front of him.

*Still nurses a few times a day, and I'm not really sure what weaning will look like.  I don't know but we'll probably talk to the Dr. and La Leche this week to get some good advice.  But we made it past a year and I'm so glad we did it!

*Sleeps (normally) for 10-12 hours at night unless he's been up late.  Gets up at 7:30 almost every morning.

*Takes two, 2 hour naps each day (normally.)

*Crawls like a mad man with one foot flat on the ground and the other normal.

*Pulls up and walks along furniture.  Stands alone for a few seconds, but not walking yet...whew!

*Loves climbing stairs and can climb our entire staircase alone, though we stay close.

*Has only been sick twice, once with a fever, once some bad chili I made...sorry baby boy. :(

*We're taking him for his 1 year check up today, but we think he's pushing 20lbs.

*He has 6 teeth.  Two front bottom ones and the front four on the top.  He got three of the top ones all at once, poor guy, but his teething necklace has done wonders!!  I highly recommend them.

*Loves playing outside, I mean, loves it! We were in the Poconos last week, and he was having a ball.  We went on a lot of hikes and went outside every day.  He is mesmerized by the outdoors.

*We try not to let him watch t.v. but we make exceptions occasionally.  Fortunately, he's really not interested in it anyway.

*We don't give him any processed sugar, and try to feed him as many whole foods as possible....it's harder than it seems!

*Get's adjusted at the chiropractor once a month with Landon and I.

*Still loves bath time with dad...almost every night he gets one.

*Says "mama," "dada," "more," "light," "ball," and "nana," (nurse.)

*Signs "all done," "more," and "milk."

*Has been really good at listening and obeying so far, and stays off things like our fireplace and t.v. stand.  It's been more of me learning to be consistent when I tell him to do something or not do something.

*Starting to get a little tantrum and likes to scream when he's upset.  Haha, we are working on that.

*Sucks his thumb when he's tired and cuddles into me before I lay him down for sleep.

*Has proven to be the sweetest little boy I could have ever hoped for.  We love him so very much!


mama style: boots...

I have been on the hunt for a good pair of brown boots for awhile now.  I probably wouldn't have a hard time finding some, except for one thing...I wear size 12 shoes.  (womp, womp.)

While this was a struggle for me growing up as a gawky teenager trying to find fashionable shoes, it's actually become a blessing.  If I had smaller feet, you can bet your buttons my closet would be jam packed with unnecessary pairs of shoes bought on a whim.  There have been many times I see a pair of cute shoes and really really want them, and alas, they are size 9, 10, or 11.  Size 11s are like a tease....

So, this time for boots, as I have two pairs of old size 11s that I crammed my toes into, I was determined to find some that actually fit correctly.  I have seriously been checking around online for over a month now, and couldn't find anything that I liked or that was in my price range.  I got so desperate (over boots, no less) that I found some Sperry Top Siders that I convinced myself I loved, even though they were Sperry Top Siders - and over $100.  If you know me at all, you'd know I had gone a little mad at this point.  Thank goodness for a husband and a sister who wisely talk sense into me when I need it.

As I looked once more online, I stumbled across these boots from Wet Seal...in size 12!  They were exactly what I was looking for: in brown, somewhat military/combat style, and foldable.  I couldn't believe I hadn't seen them before.  Bonus, they were on sale, and under $40!

So the moral of the story for me has been to not give up, to not settle, and more importantly, embrace my unique self.  There are no other feet like mine, and I'm proud of it.  I'm so excited to wear my new mama style boots this winter, and feel satisfied knowing I worked so hard to find them.  Now, to find some good outfit ideas incorporating boots and/or leggings!  Pinterest, you best be watching your back.



I say welcome it.
I say, embrace it.
I say, relish in it's arrival.


Simple ways to start the day off right...

If you're like me at all, you have every good intention of starting the day right.  You make a list, you knock a couple things off, then you get distracted, the hours fly by, and before you know it, the day is ending and you are rushing around to get things done.  It is so easy to miss a good jumpstart to the day, and it really sets the tone for how the rest of the day will go....for me at least.  So here are some goals and aspirations I have been working on to make sure my starts off well:

* Get out of bed with the intention of having a good day.  So many things come up in life, and a lot of times they can be annoying or unexpected.  If I let these situations that are out of my control determine my attitude, it will almost always be a bad one.  If, however, I consciously make a decision to be positive, smile, and carry on with my day, it's amazing to see the difference.  The days I choose to be positive are usually the best ones of the week...even though the same unexpected things happen.  This has been especially helpful with caring for a baby.

*Make time for a few moments to yourself.  This one is a work in progress for me.  Finn usually gets up at the same each day, and if I would just set my alarm for half an hour earlier, I could calmly start the day completely on my own.  What this looks like can be different for everyone.  Right now, my goal is to get up and practice one yoga pose, or read my bible, or have a cup of tea.  As you can see, none of these include an electronic.  Usually the first thing I do in the morning is check my email, or my facebook, and usually that leads me to something else online that steals my time away.

*Have a good breakfast.  You have heard this over and over, but it's so true!  Having a good, healthy breakfast in the morning will get your metabolism going, and give you the energy to get your work done.  My favorites are oatmeal with honey and cinnamon, scrambled eggs and cheese, and raspberry noosa yogurt.

*Get the house picked up the evening before.  For me, if I walk downstairs in the morning to get breakfast going and there are dishes in the sink, or the living room is cluttered, my motivation to be productive takes a hit.  But if I take 15 minutes in the evening to do the dishes, pick things up, and organize any clutter, I know the next morning will be better.  Some people enjoy working in the morning on dishes, but I would rather do them in the evening.

*Get outside.  If the morning is nice, Finn and I will try to get out.  He is the happiest in the morning, and so we love going out and even just sitting on our front porch.  In the winter, this may pose more of a challenge, but I know it's good for us, so we'll try to just bundle up and get out there.  The fresh air and sunshine is good for the body and soul.

*Be honest with yourself.  You know your limits and what you're capable of accomplishing.  Don't push it!  Enjoy each day because they go by fast.  Don't make a huge list of things to get done.  Focus on a few little things or one big one.  And if you just aren't making it happen, that's fine.  Some days I have so many things I want to get done, then I just don't feel like it or Finn is needing me a lot more.  I am learning to be flexible and go with those moments.  My son is way more important than dusting, and enjoying the day is more important to me than the laundry.  Being honest with yourself and saying "It's ok" is huge.  Tomorrow is always a new day.

I'm off to enjoy this awesome day, get work done, and start packing for our trip next week.  Hope you will enjoy yourself this day too!



To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than 
almost anything else in the world.  
~Charles Dudley Warner

I could really go for a good campfire right about now.  Soon, we'll be building fires in our fireplace and snuggling on the couch with some hot chocolate in our mugs.  I am so looking forward to those evenings this winter.  We seem to fill our evenings with a whole lot of nothing sometimes, and I really want to change that.  I want to look back and remember these nights with a warm, cozy feeling, and with no regrets or should haves.

I just love this little man so much!  Also, I wish I could eat little chunks of cheese every day for lunch.  I can't believe he is going to be a whole year old next week!








The cool air and approaching holidays are getting me in the mood to cook and bake a lot more.  There's nothing quite like a simple recipe made in a warm and cozy kitchen.


Yesterday was Landon's birthday, so we had a nice quiet celebration.  Of course Finn was our new addition this year, and he made it extra special.

After Landon got home from work, we went out to our favorite coffeehouse.  I got a hot chocolate, Landon got a mocha, and Finn had greek yogurt.  Hot drinks are perfect these days.  It's so nice to get out as a little family and spend time together.  Finn is so very inquisitive right now, and anything is new and fun to him...like the fireplace, the lights, and other people that he loves to stare at.

After Finn went to bed, we had one of Landon's favorite meals of calzones.  I made them the Rife style way, although I'm sure Landon's mom makes them even better!  We watched the Love Bug and had hot fudge pudding cake, and I gave my gift to Landon....indoor rock climbing sessions!  I'm so excited since we are going to be doing it together.  I wanted to get him an experience for his birthday instead of a gift, and he loved it.

Today, we went and voted.  Fortunately we didn't have a long wait like some of our friends did.  This was the first election that I really walked away feeling good about my choice.  Although my vote may not look like it counts, I'm hopeful that when my children are grown and have children of their own, our country will be different in a better way because of our choices today.  At the end of the day, what really matters is people getting out and exercising their freedom to have a say in our country, and I'm so encouraged by all those that have done just so today.



I can't believe how fast this year has gone by, and how it's November already!  These last two months of the year are always packed full of gatherings and things to do, which makes them so much fun.  Soon, we will be surrounded by family, enjoying homemade traditional dishes, and talking and laughing and joking with one another.

We are very excited for a week long trip with some of my family and Landon's whole family to the Poconos during Thanksgiving week.  It just seems right to be in a wooded, cool, mountainous area to celebrate with family during the fall.  We are anticipating a lot of hiking and possibly some snow.  Finn will be turning a year old that week, and I'm so thankful he will be surrounded by those who love him on his big day.

He is getting bigger every day it seems.  He is now crawling all over the place, pulling up, and today I let him stand alone and he lasted for a few seconds.  Walking is in the near future I feel.  He is also signing and communicating a lot more.  Oh, and eating like a 5 year old. Seriously, this kid can put away more than me at some meals.  Today for his snack, he ate an entire ripe banana, and a 1/2 cup of greek yogurt....for his snack.  I don't know where he's putting it all.

I started taking some yoga classes and they are intense!  I went last week and the hour and a half class nearly did me in.  And I thought I was flexible....
But it's a great class, very relaxing and challenging, and something I'd like to keep doing.

This time last year, I had all of my Christmas shopping done, wrapped, and put in bags.  I was anticipating Finn's arrival and wanted everything in place.  This year, I have exactly one gift purchased.   Oh well, we aren't doing very many this year, so it shouldn't be too bad.  Landon and I will probably make a date out of the shopping we have left.

Landon is still very busy at work.  He is also a great dad to Finn and gives him his bath every night.  I love listening to them during that time.  Guys' time for sure.  Landon's birthday is next week, and I got him something special this year...an experience!  I can't say yet in case he reads this, but I'm super excited to give it to him!

For now, we are enjoying this beautiful weather.  Landon made hot spiced cider last night and it really topped off the evening.  Hope your evenings are just as nice!




I haven't done a thankful post in quite some time, and I thought it would be a good reminder to myself to do one again.  So today, I am thankful for.....

*My husband.  He is a huge encouragement in my life.  We are a team, and we are for each other.  I need to constantly remind myself of this...especially when I am frustrated and have a tendency to shut him off.  Every day of our marriage, we are trying to grow closer together in some small way.  Marriage is hard, but I believe it's worth fighting for, and fighting for intensely.

*My son.  He is becoming so much more communicative.  The other day, I taught him the sign for milk, and he immediately picked up on it.  It's amazing, and weird, to see this happening.  My son is growing so fast!  I love him, and what he has taught me.

*My heavenly Father.  I don't post a lot about my faith on here, but it is a deep part of my life.  I can see God working in every day things, and I look back on my life and see how He has been caring for me and directing my steps.  I see how the place where Landon and I are right now...our life, our home, our church, even the people we have met...have all been directed by God, and it's the perfect place for us at this time.  Because of my relationship with God, I have a hope and a joy that nothing in this world can compare to.

*My friends.  In our small group, we have been talking a lot about community.  Community is what causes you to grow even further than you ever could on your own.  Friends that can be open and vulnerable with each other are the rubbing together that polishes off the rough spots in our lives.  I am so very thankful for a group of close friends that are just that in my own life.

*My job.  It is amazing to me how much beauty is in this world, and how someone can capture that so accurately through a simple lens.  I have been brought to tears looking through photos I edit, and it's so encouraging to see couple after couple in love and committing themselves to each other.

*Being real.  I have been having the chance to be real and open with people in my life lately, and it is so refreshing.  Our culture is so bent on keeping up appearances, and we are taught this from a young age through media, and social peers.  But being real and genuine with another person is something amazing and wonderful.  Admitting faults, and accepting others where they are at, while encouraging growth, is a freeing experience.  Gaining the trust from real relationships that go even deeper can be such an impact on one's life.  Landon and I are working at being more genuine with each other, and with those we meet.

These have been on my heart lately.  I post a lot about happy things, and simple things that I love to do, but sometimes it's nice to go a little further than that.

What about you, what are you thankful for today?


a weekend away...

We just got back from a whirlwind weekend away to the Turks and Caicos.  Let me just say, that is a beautiful area of the world, and we enjoyed it so much.

-got a late start to drop Finn off, but managed to finally get on the road in the early evening
-had to make two detours due to construction
-got Finn to my dad's house around 8pm, fed him supper, and cried a little as I put him to bed (I may have kissed his little face 20 times before leaving the room.)
-left my dad's and headed for Landon's parents' place to drop off some info
-on the road again!
-stopped by Ballard's around 10:45pm to share a Flying Cupcake with her and some coffee she made for us.  Also picked up some tunes for the trip since my cd for our car failed on us.  Love this girl!
-made it to our hotel in Columbus at 12:30am and fell into bed

-dragged myself out of bed at 4:15am for a shower before leaving for the airport at 5
-busy airport, got yelled at by security for having too big of a baggie for my liquids.  (Note to self, gallon is bigger than a quart.)
-made it to our gate, find out our flight is "Delayed until further notice."  Do some writing and watch some shows for 2 hours.
-flight leaves at 9:30am instead of 6:30, but we'll take it!
-get to sunny Miami, Florida around 11:30
-get a sweet little rental car and head out for the city
-drive around checking out the beautiful architecture and tree-covered streets
-drive past a cute little restaurant, think "maybe we should stop there for lunch," then keep on driving
-30 minutes later, end up back at cute little restaurant for lunch
-find out, it's a local place, and the locals in this area all speak spanish.  Look dumb as our server speaks rapidly to us something we can't understand.
-it's all good.
-have the most amazing pork and mojito sauce, congri, and fried plantains while it proceeds to rain like a hurricane outside
-after more exploring, drive back to airport for our flight to the Island!
-get to Turks and Caicos around 8:30pm, take a taxi to our hotel, grab some delicious burgers from the restaurant, and drink some great beer while waiting for our food.
-talk with a couple workers that are done for the day and hanging at the bar.  find out one is from GB and has the cutest two year old son you ever saw.  Hear a funny story about how his son used the toilet for the first time like a big boy.
-eat our food and watch National Lampoon's Vacation in our room.
-hit the sack for our big day on Saturday

-slept in until 9am....whaaat!
-rode bikes to a grocery to pick up some food
-rode to the bride's resort, found the bride and her mom having breakfast and joined them.
-checked out the bride's room (amazing!) and met up with some of Landon's cousins
-got a ride over to another cousin's villa and went snorkeling
-saw some amazing fish and coral, got my souvenir of a scrape on the foot from some rocks.
-got ready for a wedding, read some stories to the bride's adorable nieces and nephew
-beach wedding. beautiful bride, handsome groom, perfect backdrop.
-cocktail hour. good drinks and great company.  Rum is better on an island, hands down.
-had the best time at the reception with amazing food, lots of great music, and some hilarious entertainment....all I can say is the groom is not afraid to put himself out there, and he can sing!
-ate some delicious wedding cake, said goodbye to the bride and groom, and headed back to our hotel
-hit the hay early for our early travel day on Sunday

-flight left at 8:30am for Miami
-flight left at 12pm for New York
-saw the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline from the air...awesome!
-ate some pizza and hung out in the terminal waiting for our flight to Columbus
-sat by 6 Canadian ladies who were on their way home from a girls' weekend in the city....they were still having a great time.  Also, apparently there's a comedy show host somewhere downtown named Andre who is extremely good looking.  They wouldn't stop talking about him.
-took our last flight for the day
-got into Columbus at 8:30pm, and drove to Landon's parents' house to crash for the night...I wanted to wake my baby boy up, but I waited until the morning.

Had a crazy, amazing, awesome, weekend with my husband.  Travel is something we love to do, and hope to do more of in the future.  Congratulations to Jennifer and Geoff!!



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