The Friday Five

5 Things Making My Life Easier

Hi guys!  TGIF!  We have a busy few days coming up, but before that kicks off,  I wanted to share with you some things that are making my life better/easier/happier.friday five edited

  1.  This double stroller by Kolcraft seriously saved our life (and my back) in Australia and at home.  It’s light and steers very well.  We even pushed Jackson in it (he’s 6) and that didn’t make it seem heavy or awkward.  I would really recommend this one for moms of littles.
  2.  I was late getting on to the “Toms train”, but these lace-up Del Ray sneakers have been the perfect casual mom/traveler shoe.  I’ve also been complimented on them about 1000 times, and I’ve been told that they make my feet look smaller than they are (wait, is that a compliment or not)?  If you have a narrow foot like mine, they will fit much better than the more popular slip-on Toms.
  3. You know when you buy a book and then put it in on the shelf only to find it a few months later?  Guilty.  Nonetheless, I picked this one up just last night and I’ve been devouring it.  I’ve always had mixed feelings about Kevin Leman, but so-far-so-good on this book.  A must-read for stressed out mommas (even if we wouldn’t admit to it).
  4. Let’s do a rundown of the devices in our family of five: 2 laptops, 3 tablets, 2 phones, 1 DSLR camera… so what do we need? A place to plug them all in!  We bought this set for international travel but it’s been plugged in in our kitchen when we’re home.  I mean, seriously, we can have our Keurig plugged into it and still have room for 3 other items. Oh, happy day!
  5. I’m one of those people that reads a book and earmarks and underlines and then shoves an old receipt or a business card in place to mark my page.  Then my 2-yr-old walks by my book and deposits my “bookmark” on the floor.  This is probably so 1998 but I just discovered magnetic bookmarks.  WHERE HAVE THESE BEEN ALL MY LIFE?  I found mine at Hobby Lobby, but these are similar and adorable.

What’s making your life easier/happier/better right now? I’d love to hear!

Best of the Web- April 2

Hi friends, THIS is how my day started!  At Urgent Care!  Ahhh.


We’re home now and C is fine, a broken collar bone should heal in just a few weeks!  Nonetheless, as I was waiting for the doctor, I thought about how blessed I am to live in the USA and have quick access to medical care.  Reading Kristen’s God Help Me to Remember This on My Worst Mothering Days is an even better reminder on perspective.



Why We Say No to Gifts via Living Well, Spending Less.  I want to do this- but it would be HARD.



{Trip Report} Jackson Hole via Hi Sugarplum!

Packing light for spring international travel via The Pleated Poppy

Where to Stay on the Big Island via Flashpacker Family-  Who’s ready to escape to Hawaii?

In case you missed it, I was over at 10x Travel this week talking about how we have saved so00 much money using travel hacking!


Any favorite blogs?  Any travel hacking tips?  Past broken bones?  (That should cover it all)!

Stop the mom guilt for taking care of yourself

Last night we spent $56 and some hotel points and snuck away to the local Doubletree.  I brought a coupon for the adjoining restaurant and after a dinner where I didn’t have to clean up C’s war-like spaghetti remnants, we retreated to our down bedding and I watched a Nicholas Sparks crappy movie.

The Mr. is already off for his day of work so I’m sitting in a hotel room.  Alone.  At 9 am in the morning.

It’s the stuff dreams are made of.



I knew my breaking point was coming after a few busy weeks with the husband traveling a lot.  Tuesday night he came home to find me face down on the bed, half- asleep.  We ate the kids’ marshmallow cereal for our dinner at 9 pm.  I was spent.  I’d hope to shake off some of the weariness, but I couldn’t.


I don’t know what season you’re in, maybe it’s one filled with football games and band practice and late teenage hours.  Maybe it’s one with nursing at 3 am and getting up with a teething toddler.  Maybe it’s homeschool or public school or your own college courses.  I don’t know.

Here’s what we all need.  A dose of grace.

Oh, hi, GRACE:

Oh, you fed your kids mac n cheese three times this week because you couldn’t bear the thought of meal-planning?  That’s great!  You fed them!

Oh, so you skipped playdate/preschool/PTA this week because you were feeling a little overwhelmed?  Fantastic!  I bet the kids really enjoyed that time at home without all the running around.

Grace!  Oh, you haven’t slept through the night in 3 nights (for whatever reason) so you didn’t get up this morning and do morning devotions followed by 3 loads of laundry?  Perfect- I bet you’ll be a better mom today because you’re rested!

A few weeks ago I asked a elderly lady if she struggled with mom-guilt when her kids were growing up?  She balked at the question- like maybe the kids should feel guilty instead for all the put her through.  I laughed.

Sometimes grace is dressed as a $56 dollar night at the hotel.  Sometimes it’s dressed as an 89-year-old woman.  Let’s all do better at giving it to ourselves and offering it to others.

Grace > Guilt. 


Best of the Web- March 26

Happy Easter weekend! He is risen!


Here are my favorite links from the past week:


For When Chaos Makes You Crazy via the Lazy Genius Collective

How do I raise an independent child when I am a control freak via Organized Mom


A Tale of Two Vacationers via Enjoying the Small Things


Barbara Corcoran’s Biggest Piece of Advice for Millennials via Inc. – I love watching Shark Tank, and this is advice that Dave Ramsey would approve of, too!


Any favorites?

Best of the Web- March 5

Hi guys!  It’s March!  Hallelujah!  It’s no joke that I’m not a fan of winter-  I can hardly function.  I’m ready for you, out-like-a-lamb March.  I have windows to open. 🙂

I’m a little late to the party, but here are my favorite links from the past week:



4 Things that Helped Astronaut Scott Kelly Tough out a Year in Space–  I’ve been really intrigued by all the coverage of Scott Kelly’s return to earth. Did you know he grew 2 inches? What?

6 Ways to Do Math without a Math Book– I know this is a homeschooling article, but it can be helpful for anyone who thinks their children need additional math skills (and kudos for all the real-life skills mentioned).


Taking a Caribbean Cruise?  Here’s what you need to know– The Traveling Canucks really spared no detail on how to take a Carnival cruise with two small kids.  This is one you’ll want to check out.

7 tips to plan your Iceland roadtrip– Because I’m still obsessed with Iceland.  And Norway.  (in summertime, of course).


Why I won’t pay $15 an Hour for a Babysitter–  I thought this was interesting!  I definitely had sticker shock at the cost of babysitting, considering 15 years ago as a teenage babysitter I made between $1-$4/ hour!!  We typically pay $10-$12 an hour depending on the experience and age of the sitter.  What’s the cost where you are?


Any favorites?  What are you up to this weekend?

Best of the Web- Feb 27

Hi everyone!  How are ya?  Here’s my favorite links from this week:


Top 10 Things to do in New York with Kids–  Anyone going to New York City this summer?   We haven’t been there with the kids yet, but I know enough to know these are great tips.

An Airbus vision for the future of plane seating-  So the idea of a bench with kids seems appealing, I suppose. Although a hard bench for 17 hours? No.  Click through if just to see the odd face on the child Fig. 6.  Haha!



Why You Should Stop Spending Money to Impress People – Read this.  Hang it on your fridge.  Write it on Post-it Notes in your car.  I wrote a similar piece HERE.

Are you wasting $300,000 on lunch?



Establishing Family Traditions for the Spring Season– I adore these ideas from The Better Mom.


Any favorites?  What are you up to this weekend?

The end result of just an average mom

Today I showed up at preschool without a Valentine’s party box.

Sure, the preschool said we only needed to bring valentine cards for the kids to distribute.  I did what I was told.  And I failed.

I walked to the van and my eyes welled with tears.  I should have known better.  How did all the other moms just know to make a box?  Maybe the newsletters we missed while in Australia said to make a box but the Facebook announcement was different?  My mind raced.

I knew that Olen did not care one bit.  He thought he was attending a birthday party and had no idea what his clearanced Ninja Turtle cards were all about.  He skipped into his classroom hoping for cake and punch, with no inkling that his mom was carrying a bag full mommy guilt.  I smiled thinking about the fact that my blondey would not be hard on his mom (thank goodness this wasn’t a party for the detail-oriented firstborn- oye!).

As I processed the emotions I was feeling, I thought, “Why can’t I just be happy that he’s happy?”  That I’m a good enough mom to feed him breakfast and put on his shoes and make sure he has clean clothes and signed Valentine’s Day cards.  The expectation is never from the children, it’s from me.

If your struggle is against perfectionism, Motherhood will often feel like a cruel joke.

The house will never be fully clean or organized and tufts of cat hair will blow across the living room like tumbleweed.

The kids will demand every.single.toy. they see during a 60 second commercial break.

Some one will have to pee when you’re already 20 minutes late.

Your jeans may never fit correctly..and you’ll find a bill that you missed under a pile of permission slips, coupons and overdue library books.

Then, you’ll show up at the Valentine’s Party without a shoebox decorated in construction paper and glitter stickers.


I used to think that these were the things the older generation should have warned us about, but they didn’t.  The guilt.  The battle.  The struggle.

I’ve determined why they didn’t:


The kids get raised and the years pass by and we all make it out in one piece (including many pieces of gray hair).

The hard stuff is over and we rest in the fact that we gave them full tummies and Bible stories and love.

We move on from wanting a clean house to a dirty one.  To kids that call us on every single drama, to kids that call us once a week.

Perfectionism is the beast of motherhood.  And we’ll either beat her or she’ll squash our days and our dreams and our children.  We can’t make our children live under a battle of our own.

So here’s to average motherhood.  To remembering that we can’t do it all and be it all.  That little kids sometimes need disappointment to build character.  That moms need grace.  That it will all get done someday.  And that, if the preschool says “no need to make a Valentine box,” don’t make one.  No need to make the other moms feel bad. 😉



Best of the Web – Feb 20

Hi everyone!  Did everyone had a good week?  We’re finally back on Ohio time , sleeping-in is over (but not over-rated, ha).   We had a nice blanket of wet snow on Wednesday morning, so we enjoyed some snow time- especially our own Princess Yea-ya.


Here are my favorite links from this week


Book a Fall Trip- Southwest Schedule Now Open – If you’re hoping to fly over Labor Day or the Columbus Day holiday, it may not be a bad time to secure a flight.

How much does it cost to RV? – For those interested in long term travel.


What are Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and do they work?  – Well of course they work!  Dave Ramsey has changed our life!  You can read more here, here, and here.


How to find inspiration when you’re uninspired – Helpful

Love is a verb. – I nodded my head through this entire post.  I’ve lived this the past two years.  MUST, must read if you’re in the knee deep of trying to have a marriage while raising babies.

Screen-Free Play Time Poster

Sad but true, oftentimes this month of the year our TV turns into a holy grail.  Today at 9 am, Bubba asked me, “Is it getting dark?”  Um, no, it’s morning.  I’m really bad about relying in the screen to get ANYTHING done.  Kids don’t fight over Paw Patrol, people.  They fight over toys and Play-doh and snacks.  When it’s difficult to play outside and the neighbors are all in school, we need back up.  CUE THE LIST!

Last year I made this “screen-free play” list to help me navigate winter in Ohio.  I just made it a little prettier and thought I would share — in case ya’ll could use it, too:

What’s your go-to indoor activity when cabin fever has set in?

P.S.  The box of rocks is literally that.  Pinterest is your friend– and it’s a total cost of $3 at the Dollar Tree.


Screen-Free Play

Best of the Web- November 7

I have been MIA since Monday thanks to a fun strep throat bug making it’s way through our house!  I did get a little reading done, though, and I still want to share my favorite links.


To the mom of littles I was 7 years ago via Steady Mom — Such an encouraging read for me!


If you have an AMEX card, these offers are so helpful!  Save $50+ on Airbnb through Amex offers via One Miles at a Time

The best things to buy in November via Frugally Blonde


Sell everything and hit the road with Crazy Family Adventure  I think this sounds fun and ideal, but then I think of living in such a small space.  I don’t know.  What do you think?!  I’m excited to follow along with their family’s blog!

If everyone can stay on the mend, we’re headed to Fort Myers Beach in 24 hours. I’m not sure I’ve ever “needed” a vacation this badly!


Thanks for stopping by!  Have a fabulous weekend!