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What’s in my TWELVElittle Diaper Bag & A Cute Top for Fall!


It’s officially fall y’all! That time of year where we bust out all the leggings, sweaters and cute scarves. Unless you live in the south of course. It’s still hitting 90 degrees here some days. UGH!!! I have been on the hunt for cute clothes that look fall-ish, but won’t make me sweat to death either. This outfit totally fits the bill!

I also have the added layer of trying to dress this postpartum body. The struggle is REAL. I’m 6 weeks post babies, and nowhere close to my pre-pregnancy size. This top is great because it’s flattering to the areas I want to hide and long enough to cover the bum, so I can wear it with my leggings. They happen to be basically the only pants I can wear right now (cough, cough)

The top comes in 24 colors and I am wearing a medium. ( I’m 5’8″ for size reference)

Wanna know the crazy part? It’s from AMAZON!!! I’ve just started dipping my toe into the waters of Amazon clothes shopping, and if this top is any indication, the water is just fine…come on in 🙂

Alright, now we can jump into this killer diaper bag I found! It’s the Carry Love tote bag by TWELVElittle. You can see my full video review of the bag below, but here are some up close shots of inside and a peek at what I like to carry in my bag.

You may need less or more items than me, mine is packed for my twin 2 month old daughters. My other kids are all old enough that I really don’t need to pack much of anything for them.


And here is a look at what I carry in my little “mommy” bag as well… some days I wish I could fit a bottle of wine in there 😉 Just sayin’….


It’s all pretty basic stuff; over the almost 11 years I’ve been a mom, I think I’ve figured out what I really need to carry and what is just weighing down my bag. Hoepfully you found this helpful, especially you new mama’s who may be trying to fit your whole nursery into your bag 🙂 But like I always say, you do YOU! If you want to pack everything but the dog in your bag, do it. Unless you ask me to carry it for you 😉

You can shop everything in this post via the links above! I hope y’all enjoyed this peek into my diaper bag, and you can totally thank me later about this top. It’s the bees knees.


Give Back Lifestyle Motherhood

Lift Them Up!

We have a goal this year to bless the socks off an organization that is doing some really amazing work, but they need help! Like so many small ministries, they rely on donors to keep their work going. Ekubo ministries is the organization we have chosen this year and with your help, we are hoping to bless them financially at a time where they really need it.about

This is something we hope we can continue to do year after year, each time picking a new ministry to support!

You can read more about Ekubo here

There are a few ways you can support them!

  1. Go directly to their site and make a donation
  2. Purchase a product from their Etsy Shop
  3. Purchase one of the T-shirts we designed below

We knew we wanted a unique and fun shirt to sell for this fundraiser, as many of you know if you watch our YouTube channel, Rosie’s favorite thing to say is “Bob, Shui?”

Which is her way of asking us for water. It’s really funny because she has shortened Baba (which means Dad in Mandarin) to Bob. People ask us all the time if CR’s name is Bob… or why she calls him Bob. We know in time she will don’t that anymore, and it’s pretty hilarious! The back of the shirt just says #thisgatherednest



The shirt are  amazing quality American Apparel shirts, SUPER soft! There are multiple color options as well as a Hoody sweatshirt too!


Thank you so much to those of you who have purchased one already! They are available until Dec 15th.

Once you receive yours we’d love for you to tag us in a photo of you wearing the shirt or use #bobshui

Your kindness and generosity has blown us away this year with all the children you have sponsored through ICC and we are hoping to bless Ekubo just the same!

Thank you again, for loving and supporting us, and this new “Lift Them Up” campaign as well.



Homeschool Motherhood

A Day in Our Life… (Mom of 5, Homeschooling)


People have so many questions when they find out we have 5 kids and homeschool, plus work and blogging/vlogging etc. I know I am always curious about how others find time to do certain things, so I thought I’d lift the veil and give you a peek into our day!

This is a pretty normal day for us, other than the fact that my husband was out of town and had been for a couple days… I was a little run down at this point in the week! LOL!

Anyways… here is an average day in our life 🙂

Adoption Kid Stuff Motherhood Rosie Ru

Rosie’s Airport Homecoming!

Oh man, it has taken me way longer to post this than I planned. I guess that is life with 5 kids! Nothing really happens on my time frame anymore 🙂

After almost 24 hours of travel, I was SO happy to be HOME!!!! It was overwhelming seeing all our friends and family, in a good way! Well, Rosie was kind of in shock, which is to be expected!

Thank you again to everyone who joined us to celebrate her homecoming, and a HUGE thank you to Erika from ELM Fotographie for taking this photos for us, they are such a treasure to us!DSC_5087 DSC_5091 DSC_5098 DSC_5103 DSC_5107 DSC_5112 DSC_5114 DSC_5118 DSC_5119 DSC_5125 DSC_5130 DSC_5133 DSC_5138 DSC_5143  DSC_5147 DSC_5153  DSC_5157 DSC_5162 DSC_5166 DSC_5170 DSC_5177 DSC_5217  DSC_5257 DSC_5282 DSC_5293 DSC_5331 DSC_5337 DSC_5353 DSC_5358

Adoption Motherhood Rosie Ru

Rosie’s Winter Wonderland | This Gathered Nest

It’s snowing here, well, it’s icing here with some snow on top 😉 I kept Rosie inside yesterday since she seemed to show no interest in going outside to play in the white fluff. She was content to hang with mom by the fire, which was totally okay with me!

But today we got even more snow and it really looked so beautiful outside, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bust out my camera. Snow makes the most beautiful natural reflector!  I figured it would be the perfect time to get some nice pictures of Miss Rosie Ru!




I just love her joyful smile 🙂


And then the snow touched her…. HA! She did NOT care for it anymore!



It’s funny, sometimes she looks more like a 2 year old. Then other times, like the photo below, she looks like a little girl. I can’t wait to watch this girl blossom and grow. CR and I are pretty lucky to have front row seats <3 Welcome home Rosie Ru!


Adoption China Trip Motherhood

China Day 7&8 – Shamian Island/Lazy Day

On Thursday we met up with our guide and another family to go to the famous Shamian Island. It is beautiful place! Not really an island, it’s kind of surrounded by a moat. There is such incredible architecture and a ton of fun shops, restaurants and little statues to check out.

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I was feeling pretty awful that day, my vertigo and motion sickness was in full swing! I tried to enjoy our time there, but to be honest, I felt like I was on a boat the whole time. Rosie and Ashleigh had a great time though!

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We did find some really fun souvenirs for the kids, and I found a super cute t-shirt for Rosie that says “Made in China” 🙂

I went to bed extra early that night since I was still feeling queasy…


The next day we were supposed to go to the Chinese Cultural Center, however I was feeling awful when I woke up! We decided to lay low in our hotel room all day. I took some Dramamine to see if it would help with my seasick feeling. I’m pretty sure Rosie thinks Ash and I are the most boring people on the whole planet, lol!


We still had fun though, and basically watched super hero movies all day!

Adoption China Trip Motherhood

China Day 6 – Medical Appointment

As I suspected, we both felt better the next morning! We had to be up and out early to head to the Clinic for Rosie’s Medical exam that is required to get her Visa.

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We had breakfast and then took a taxi to meet the guide and other families. As soon as we got in the car, Rosie started to get nervous again. She slammed her head on my chest and passed out again. I knew it was going to take time for her to feel safe and secure.


We arrived at the Garden hotel, which was beautiful, and took a bus over to the clinic.


The appointment was pretty quick. I got to stay with her for all of it except the TB blood test. This is a required test, and they take the kids back alone to do the blood draw. She was back there for maybe 5 minutes, they opened the door and she came running out crying and jumped into my arms. This was the first time I had seen her cry. It was so pitiful!!! She let me comfort her quickly and was back to playing in no time! She did cry again when we went back for they physical exam and the doctor made her undress, I think she thought she was getting another poke! I was able to quickly explain it wouldn’t hurt and she was fine after that.


Once we were all done with the appointments, we stopped at a store called Aeon, which had basically everything! We grabbed a few grocery items and then headed back to our hotel.

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We went to bed early, like we do every night, lol! I swear none of us can stay up past 8:30pm. We wake up between 4-5am, so I guess that is why!

It was definitely a better day!

Adoption China Trip Motherhood

China – Day 5 – Visit to Orphanage

Well friends, this is a post I have been dreading. Honestly, I’ve avoided blogging because I didn’t want to write about this day. It was a hard day on so many levels. I still haven’t processed everything really. So I decided to go ahead an give a brief overview and then I can tackle a more in depth post later….


There is a fine line in adoption, you want to share the experiences, high and lows, details of the journey etc. However we also must be respectful of our kids. Their past, their traumas, their stories. It really is theirs to tell. I’ll share what I can, but know that there is so much more to this day than I could ever really share here.

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We started early, had breakfast, and met our guide in the hotel lobby. We caught the 8:00am train from Changsha to Hengyang. The train was MUCH faster than I expected, I think our max speed was 300 km/hr! We saw a lot of the countryside, farms and rice fields. It was really beautiful! I wish we traveled more by train in the US, it was affordable and efficient!


When we arrived in Hengyang, I began to feel nervous. I didn’t know how Rosie would handle going back to her orphanage, especially since it was just the day before that she left there. I was concerned she would think we were taking her back. I asked our guide to please explain to her that we were just going to visit and that she was still going home with mommy. The guide starting speaking to her in Mandarin, and her little face just dropped. I have never seen her look so sad. She immediately buried her face in my chest and fell asleep. It was clearly a coping mechanism. I felt awful.

We arrived at ICC and Rosie did pretty well while we were there. I kept her in the baby carrier so no one could take her from me. She got a little agitated at times, wanted to get down etc.

I just held her tight and tried to soak in all that I could from this place she has called home for over 4 years.

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That’s all I can process for now.

We drove to her finding spot on our way to the train station. I haven’t even started to process that either. Standing there where her first mama abandoned her, for reasons we may never know…. it was humbling and just hard. Imaging her walking away from that gate without her baby… it’s gut-wrenching.



We boarded a train in Hengyang to head to Guangzhou, and by now, I was feeling awful. I was feverish and had terrible body aches. As soon as my butt hit the seat on the train I burst into tears. I tried to talk it through with Ashleigh, but my emotions were all over the place. Rosie was feeling it too. She slept on and off all day that day. She had a hard time coping too.


By the time we arrived in Guangzhou, I was a hot mess, so was Rosie. Our guide picked us up and drove us to our hotel. All of that time is a blur to me. My fever was climbing and Rosie was shutting down. We checked into our room and crawled into bed. I tried to comfort her, but she was rejecting me. She seemed angry at me. Confused. I took some medication and tried to calm down.


After an hour or two, I crawled (literally) out of bed and tried to find some dinner for Rosie. I made her some oatmeal and a snacks. Once we were both up and out of bed, we started to feel a tad better. She slowly began to smile again, so did I. We just laid low, face-timed with daddy and went to bed early! I knew if we could just sleep, that the morning would bring new mercies for us both…


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Adoption China Trip Motherhood

China- Day 4 (Rosie Day!)

The day I have been waiting 8 months for…

We were up at 7am, after being up half the night! The jet lag has been rough and we are not sleeping well at all! I was feeling pretty calm, but by the time we got down to breakfast, I couldn’t really eat. Ashleigh, on the other hand, had waffles and fried rice (an odd combination if you ask me!) We met our guide Wendy in the lobby at 9:45 and took our very first Uber ride to the civil affairs office!


I was starting to feel anxious, as we didn’t know if we would get there before Rosie, or not. When we got off the elevator, the room was empty. Wendy asked us to sit and wait while she went to do paperwork. We knew Rosie could arrive at any minute so we were both watching the elevator like hawks! Ashleigh went over and looked out the window just as the orphanage director and Rosie were entering the building! When we heard the elevator ding, we knew it was her!!!

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The director carried her in, he was trying to find a tissue to wipe her nose before he handed her to me (Chinese are very particular about that sort of thing) but our guide Wendy was quick to tell him “don’t bother, give her to her mama”. She seemed to know who I was, although I could see she was nervous. She came right to me, and I quickly gave her a sucker, a peace offering 🙂

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She started to squirm a bit, so we went to sit down. She played with toys and showed me her albums of us, pointing out Baba, and her sisters/brothers. She was so active, getting into everything and chatting up a storm! It really went so well! After a bit of paperwork and chit chat about her schedule, food preferences etc, we headed back to our hotel for a bit.

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We had about two hours to hang out until it was time to go back to civil affairs to complete the adoption paperwork. We just played and ate snacks, but her personality was really coming out! She was being goofy and mischievous, if I left her sight for even a second, she would chase me down calling, “mama?”. She really seemed to immediately understand that I am Mama and Ashleigh is Ayi (auntie).

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It seemed like a blink and it was time to go back! We took another Uber over and I couldn’t help but notice some fancy stores along the way… Coach, Louis Vuitton and Vivianne Westood, it felt kinda like being New York city!

The paperwork part seemed to take along time! But we did finally get to the official part where they ask me some questions, and then I do the famous red fingerprint and Rosie does her red hand print. It felt a little ceremonious, which was kind of fun 🙂 We were there a couple of hours and Rosie was getting a tad bored, as was I, but we played and ate some snacks to pass the time.

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Then it was time to say Goodbye to the orphanage director and I was a little worried about how she would do. I had no reason to be worried though, she waved to him and said “Bye- Bye”! Then looked at me like, lets go mom!

Back at the hotel we all ate some dinner,  then I gave Rosie a bath. I was worried she might be afraid, but nope, she loved it! She splashed and laughed so hard! I had to make it a quick one because she was totally soaking me, ha! I love the first bath out of the orphanage, it’s a cleansing and renewing thing. Washing away the old label of Orphan, and rejoicing in the new identity of daughter.

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Now came bedtime. I was bracing myself for her to freak out. Often, kids will be happy all day, but when it’s time to sleep they want familiarity and safety. I gave her a bottle and we snuggled up in my bed. I could see a fear wash over her face as we laid down, but after a few minutes she seemed to settle in. It took her about 20 minutes to fall asleep, but she slept all night! She moves a TON in her sleep! She is all over the bed, as you can see, she didn’t mind using me as a prop for her feet either 🙂

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Once she was out, Ash and I got up to repack everything. We had to be done with breakfast and ready to leave at 7am the following morning to catch our train to Hengyang!

The night proved to be another of cruddy sleep for us both.

*** I still am surprised by how well Rosie did that first day, she blew all my expectations out of the water! She is so smart, and understands so much more than she can articulate back to you. ICC did an amazing job of preparing her, and I know that made such a huge difference for her! ***

Adoption China Trip Motherhood

China – Day 3


We both kind of had a rough night of sleep, we got moving around 7:30am. We made some coffee and oatmeal in our hotel room, it was nice to eat something warm! We then packed up and headed down to the lobby to wait for a shuttle to the airport. It was so fun to see that it was snowing just a little when we left Beijing!

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See those bags, you can’t buy eye bags that good, these were earned 😉


The Lobby of our hotel was gorgeous! As is almost everything we’ve seen in China so far!


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We were both really looking forward to getting into Changsha and rearranging our bags! These heavy backpacks are for the birds, man! My shoulders feel bruised! 🙁

We did finally make it to the airport, got our boarding passes, made it through security and even had a little time to spare! The airport wasn’t too hard to navigate, we did have a moment of panic when we discovered Ashleigh left her wallet at the ticket counter. Thank goodness it was still there when we went back!

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This was our plane, ready to take us to Changsha!


We got settled on our flight, it was a huge plane and wasn’t nearly full! They allowed NO electronics what so ever, so we played Phase 10 🙂 Then, they brought us a hot meal!!! No airline in the US does that free of charge! The chicken and rice really hit the spot, our energy was renewed!


Once we landed in Changsha, we made our way down to the baggage claim and found our bags. We realized then, that we were the only white people anywhere to be seen. And that hasn’t changed so far. I saw a middle eastern man on the elevator, but otherwise, everyone we’ve seen has been Asian. Many people stare at us, I don’t mind really. You can see that they are curious. They have all been kind and welcoming to us so far. We both are really loving our time here!


Anyway, our guide picked us up and drove us to our hotel about an hour from the Airport. The drive was nice, we got to see some farms and then the hustle and bustle of the city! They building here are SO TALL, like nothing I’ve ever seen! From what I can tell, most of them are apartments. Changsha has a population of 7 million!!! No wonder the traffic is so crazy here! (Still nothing compared to African traffic)


Once we checked in to our hotel, our guide helped us cross the street (run and pray you don’t get hit) to the market! We grabbed some snacks for Rosie, noodles for us and bottled water. Ashleigh got cabbage leaves, the guide thought she was nuts ( nursing moms know what these were for )


Our guide and I walking around the market!


We also hit up the Starbucks before heading back to our hotel! Ash and I are trying hard to reset our internal clocks. This jet lag stuff is HARD!!! I feel sleepy ALL.THE.TIME.


We went down and exchanged some money, we will need to exchange more tomorrow to pay the fees in province. I really like Chinese money, it’s quite pretty, I must remember to bring some home too!

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More pictures of the lobby…. just stunning!!!!


My only complaint about our room is the bathroom. There is a HUGE mirror in the shower…. ummmm no thank you! I don’t need to see all that while I shower! LOL!

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Another busy and awesome day in the books! We have everything ready to go for the morning, we will meet the guide at 9:45am to head to the civil affairs office to pick up Rosie! I can’t believe it’s finally here, the day I’ve waited 8 months for! I’ve been told by Orphanage staff that she is ready for me too, I’m not sure exactly what that means, but hopefully she’ll do okay tomorrow. Her whole world is changing, please keep praying for her!

That’s all for now folks….. Tomorrow is ROSIE DAY!