13 Picture books for Halloween

Ali Middleton

My fellow bookworm friend, Ali Middleton, is a children’s book guru, a homeschooler, and one of those rare, wholehearted moms whose amazingness never leaves you feeling worse about yourself—only inspired to be better and live more mindfully. She’s also a gifted photographer with a magic touch for capturing those one-of-a-kind moments you never want to forget. Ali ALWAYS has the best book recommendations, so I was smiling ear-to-ear when she agreed to put together a list of her favorite Halloween picture books for you guys. Enjoy!

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Our favorite family hikes in Utah

Hiking is one of our favorite things to do as a family. Sometimes, it’s a magical, nature-communing experience. Other times, it’s a whiny disaster and my kids claim they can’t take one more step.

Things that (sometimes) save us from mid-hike meltdowns: Kid-sized Camelbaks, plenty of snacks, a good Spotify playlist, and a treat or reward for finishing the hike.

The more we hike, the more the kids realize they’re stronger than they think and the more they get into it. We went a lot this summer, about once a week, and we plan to keep it up so our kids grow up thinking hiking is just a part of life!

For reference, our kids are 7, 5, and 2. We carry our baby in a hiking backpack.

Here are some of our favorite family-friendly Utah trails, in no particular order:

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Getting (and not getting) answers


We got another negative pregnancy test today, and I found it easy to feel negativity about it.

We went to the temple in hopes of finding some clarity and peace.

Although I didn’t get a loud-and-clear answer that yes, there’s one more! And he’s comin’ soon!

Maybe I felt a soft whisper version of that.

And I realized something.

Sometimes, answers don’t come as clarity or confirmation.

Sometimes, the answer itself doesn’t come at all.

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Should I have another baby?

I originally wrote this in August, 2017, just shy of my third child’s 1st birthday.


Should I have another baby?

I don’t know why I feel like I have to know right now.

Can’t I just enjoy my baby for a couple more years before I answer the big question?

She has been such a joy to have in our family.

And if our family is just the five of us, I’d be the luckiest girl in the world.

But what if?

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30 reasons I love my 30s

I remember when 30 sounded old.

When it was my turn to turn the big 3-0 , I was a little sad to leave those 20s in my past.

But now that I’ve been in the Land of the 30-Somethings for a few years, I’ve decided I really like it here.

Like, more than any other decade of ages I’ve dwelt in.

30s are the new 20s, I say.

A few things that have me thinking I’ll stick around for awhile (or at least for, I don’t know, seven more years or so):

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A letter to my children

A letter to my children:

Maybe when you get a little older, you’ll start noticing my imperfections.

Maybe you’ll wonder why I get so impatient with you sometimes.

Why sometimes I’m too tired to make a fancy meal or read one more book.

Maybe you’ll start to see where I fall short as a mother, as a wife, as a sister, friend, a would-be follower of Christ.

But maybe you’ll also see me trying.

Trying to show you my love for each of you, individually—a love that is so expansive that it overwhelms me sometimes. And gives me anxiety. Fear that something should ever happen to you.

Maybe you’ll see me trying to feed you wholesome foods and saying no to the sucker because you already had an ice cream cone that day. Maybe you’ll thank me for it someday?

Maybe you’ll look back and realize that all those chores and all that homework I made you do was to help you learn to work and to progress.

Maybe, when you have a child of your own, you’ll realize how tired I was waking up with you night after night, tending to your needs day after day.

Maybe you’ll feel that overwhelming love for your own child and cry as you realize that’s how I love you, too. How I’ll always love you.

Maybe then, you’ll forgive me for the mistakes I’ve made and continue to make as your mother.