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!

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. 


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. 😉



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

Seasons (of motherhood) are circular

When Motherhood Takes All

Oh friends, I have two half-written posts, scrap paper with blog ideas overflowing, and social media shares still residing safely in my bookmarks.  Everything is just there.  Waiting for me.

It’s funny how every week I set out to do things and every week I’m buried somehow between loads of laundry, a crockpot soaking in the sink, and homeschool and shopping and well, LIFE.  Short of having a Jessie Spano meltdown (THERE’S NO TIME, THERE’S NEVER ANY TIME), I muster through until back-up arrives (i.e. Daddy) and then get 30 minutes to myself before bedtime rituals and I’m sunk.

Seasons header

I’m not saying this to complain.  Oh, no.  I know that many people dream of having little babies under foot!  I’m a blessed lady.

However, when having little ones you’ll often hear the adage, “This is a season…”  You know what, it is.  It is definitely a season.  Then there are 3 weeks maybe where life seems easy and everyone is fit-free and happy and then we’ll hit a plague of the stomach flu.  Cue a week of chaos.

But while we think of the seasons of babies and diapers and exhaustion, there is probably a new season on the horizon and it may involve bullies or girlfriends or (gulp) the driver’s license.  I was texting with one of my dearest about her teenagers and the new season she has entered that doesn’t seem easier (she’s a baby whisperer, though, which I am not.  Arguing, now THAT I can handle).  I digress.  I think at that point when we’re past 8 pm bedtimes and wiping their own butt, there will be new challenges that will pull me from the all the things I hope and aspire to do.  This conversation also kept me up at night- realizing I’d have an 18,16, and 15 year old some day- FOR THE LOVE.

Here are my options:

  1. Hire a babysitter to help more. At $10-$12 dollars an hour, this is an investment I have to consider.
  2. Bemoan my life and cry myself to sleep
  3. Roll with the Seasons, knowing that I’m confident in what my life looks like as long as my value system is in place (God, family, schooling my kids, 284750 other things).

You know when I get most off track?  When I take off my blinders and look what everyone else is doing.  I discuss that here.

So all this mumbling– since I’ve hit the aforementioned sunk-– is to say this.  THIS IS A SEASON.  And before long, there will be another season of motherhood.  And then another.  And by God’s grace I’m going to give myself some grace.  

My self-examination this week has led to the following thoughts:

  1.  I’m not sure I will ever enjoy cooking mostly because cooking makes a giant mess.  If my family eats 1 pizza a week, NO ONE IS GOING TO DIE.
  2. Sleep is important.  When I do not sleep enough I am crabby.  I would rather be crappy at life (you know, as in failing at some things) than crabby in life!  My kids (and husband) remember crabbiness.  The most toxic people I’ve been around just weren’t joyful.  Now we don’t have to run around like Buddy the Elf all of the time, but I choose joy (and this is why again, that newborn stage is sooo hard).

I’m happy to end the mom guilt.  This season will turn into the next one and there is no way I’ll ever feel like I’m doing enough.  Moms, let’s all show each other the grace that we want.  Let’s bask in it.  And let’s be less crabby and more crappy! Ha!! (<- And 5 people just stopped reading my blog forever).


Why we’re all taking life too seriously and how it pays to play hooky

A sermonette to myself

First, I’d like to thank my Dad for letting me play hooky approximately 1-2 times per school year from about 9th grade onward.  He knew my rebellion was strong when I would ask him to call me off for the day.  The year he was not in charge of me, whilst spent on exchange Down Under, I missed 23 days.  I can’t clearly remember what many of these absences were for- some were days traveling throughout the red dust, a few were spent at the mall, and a few more because one of my host mums just didn’t make it out of bed!

Still wet behind the ears, I was the only girl I knew who got married IN college.  Much to the dismay of many around me who swore I’d end up pregnant and eating bon-bons in History 401, I graduated summa cum laude with a BA in History and Love and managed to only miss 1-2 classes a week due to “illness” and “life.”

This lengthy opening is all to prove the point:  Some times we skip out on things and life doesn’t end.

I missed 23 days of school and learned more about life than ever before.  I missed 2 years of “college life” and gained a faithful husband.



We live in a time where we sign our three-year-olds up for the soccer team and chart how many letters our children can identify before age 4.   Frankly, I’m trying to keep my three year old from pooping his pants, I don’t have the capacity to worry if he can score against Declan and Logan.  This week I explained to another mom that we only have the boys in swimming because because I don’t want to get in the water with C  (under 3s must have a parent at our Y) and I FELT GUILTY.  GUILTY BECAUSE MY CHILD WHO IS NOT 2 IS NOT YET MICHAEL PHELPS.  What kind of world is this?

We all (myself included) need the daily or weekly gut check to remind ourselves that we are all taking this little life too seriously.

Not as in, we aren’t compassionate about orphans and widows and refugees and sick mothers and broken neighbors…

but the American life that we lead, the first world, wealthy, MY 21-MONTH OLD NEEDS SWIMMING LESSONS- world.  That is the one we need to step back from and consider the hours, consider the commitments, consider the cost of not loving and living well.

Playing hooky from the extras hurts no one.

Your 3-year-old does not need teamwork.  He needs parents who love him and tuck him in at night and discipline his wrongs and teach him to peddle his bike.

I’m so torn about hurting others feelings or expectations for what my life should look like that I don’t step back and look at my own life and make those decisions for our family that WORK FOR US.

My husband and I started dating the weekend I turned 16 and so a few nights ago I was emotional (and tired) and felt the candle was burnt at both ends and I had the little meltdown….the exact one I remember having on his shoulder the week before the high school musical Guys and Dolls was about to start and Miss Adelaide not only had to sing about having a cold but I had come DOWN with a cold.  Its weird to have a deja vu moment like that, but it came and it revealed something that I understand but much of the outside world may not-   I despise being busy and burn out easily.  I’m an HSP with an emphasis on the HS.  (<- btw when I found this stuff it was like my ENTIRE LIFE WAS EXPLAINED).

But when I get around others, whether in the physical sense or the social media world, I have the expectation for MYSELF that I should be able to do the crazybusy American dream. I’m not sure what that dream entails but I doubt it includes the consistent ugly cry on my husband’s flannel.

I think it was Jen Hatmaker (theology aside) who said, “We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise.”

You know what helps me to be an awesome mother and wife?  Sleep.  I may want to be the world’s best writer but if I write instead of taking that 20-minute rest while C sleeps, you can count me in as the “I’m making dinner and threatening the livelihood of my children” category.  I can have evenings busy with dinner dates and sporting events, but I’ll snap at my husband more and want to collapse into a dark room by 6pm Thursday.

Wisdom, to me, is going through life slowly.  Adding small things on my plate that I enjoy, like travel and girls’ nights, and ignoring most other things except the non-negotiables:  loving my husband, raising my kids, and homeschooling.  Outside of that circle, I can play hooky.  I can shrug off the seriousness.  Jen goes on, “The choices you make today may completely change in five years or even next year.  Operate in the right now.”  I’ve spent the years since Olen came along just completely at war with that statement.  But ohmygosh.  Yes, this is a season.  And maybe when one child can wipe their own butt or tie their own shoes we’ll work on joining a sports league or buying an investment property.  For now, we’re playing hooky from those things and THAT’S OK.

I want to stop worrying about whether I’m doing it all right and just do what works now.  

My family unit is more important than my social media status.

My health is more important than my checking account.

Finding God in the quiet is more important than amoeba soccer.

But goodness, some little boy DOES need to learn to wipe his butt. 😉


What do think?   Have you had to step back from things for your own sanity?  Do you think we moms push too much for our kids to be successful when we should be pushing more for sane mothers?  I’d love to hear. 

My happiness doesn’t depend on others

A hard lesson for all of us (and one I’m still learning)

It seems just like yesterday, but it’s been over 3 months since my mom and I vacationed with the kiddos in Ottawa, Canada.

Ottawa had amazing architecture, a world-class tulip festival, but most important to my children was – THE WIGGLES WERE BROADCAST ON LOCAL TV (preschoolers are cultural nuts)!

We had literally planned our day around the 3:30 pm showing of the Wiggles.  We’d walk across the Alexandra Bridge for views of the Parliament, then we would visit the markets, and we’d still make it back to the hotel in time for rest and The Wiggles.

The time was asked every 5-7 minutes once we got to 2 pm.  The excitement was building and impatience was brewing.  When the theme song began, Wiggly followers started twisting and standing like a statue and all the other things that die-hard Wiggles fans do.  And then Olen became tired.  And stopped.  By 3:40 he had moved on to more exciting things (as all 3 yr olds do).  Jackson would not have this!  “Mommy, he’s not dancing! He’s not being Lachy!  Bubba, come here and be Lachy!”  We were close to weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It did not matter what I said to defuse the situation, Jackson was pulling on Bubba to force him into cooperation.  Finally, I looked at Jackson and spoke those fateful 6 words:



“It doesn’t matter what Bubba wants to do.  If he doesn’t want to dance, you don’t stop dancing.  If he doesn’t want to sing, you can still sing.  Your happiness does not depend on his actions.”


Then I realized that I’d been living my life like this 10 minutes of turmoil.  I’d spent so much time comparing that I’d forgot that it was okay to dance to my own music.  That when others don’t understand your passion, it isn’t personal- they just don’t understand your passion!

happiness header

We live in a world where others are tired.  They seep negativity because of the life situations they have been dealt.  I can go there.  I can hole-up in my head and be the most anti-happiness person that ever existed.  It is a battle.

I can stew and pout and be frustrated like my 5- year-old OR I can pull on my big girl pants and remove myself from the toxic.  I can do what I need to take care of my family or I can be worried about how others are refusing to dance.

Somedays are better than others.


I can try to teach the difficult lessons to my children, but most of the time I learn more from my little sermons.  Sometimes I need the hard lessons more than my kids.


Have you preached something to your kids that you really needed to hear yourself?  Maybe you also struggle with allowing others to control your state of happiness?  Let’s commiserate. 🙂


Parenting little ones and flying on airplanes- two great analogies

It’s no big secret that I have struggled to adjust to having three children.  I adore my little people, but each day has challenges and perplexities that I could not have imagined pre-kids.    I’ve actually never been so thankful for the years of basketball I played because it’s made me appreciate zone defense! When it comes to the likes of making sure everyone’s needs are met and bellies are fed, it is one v. three in this house.

I’m thankful for wise women who have spoke truth to me about the daily trials of parenting little ones.  Unfortunately, I think in many Christian circles it is looked down upon to share with others about the emotional and physical work that parenting requires.  I disagree with this, because although we shouldn’t have a complaining spirit, it’s worthwhile to be honest with our brothers and sisters and ask for their prayer and support as we push through long days (but short years).

One such woman who has grown children (and only knows me through her grown daughter) told me last summer after she watched me struggle to get the kiddos in and out of the van:

“You know, parenting these ages is like flying on an airplane.  When they do the safety procedures, they always tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, otherwise you won’t be able to take care of  others.  Make sure you take care of your needs, mama.”

((Lightbulb moment)).  At the time I was struggling to muster up the bravery to hire a sitter and just leave my house once or twice a month to do errands and have some time to myself.  It was her analogy to being on a plane that made me realize that it’s ok to step back and “give myself a breather” so I can be ready to help my children when I need it.

Because our culture has created an idol out of children (and I’m first to confess this is a daily struggle for me- ahem, personal Facebook and Instagram feed), we think that moms can’t take a moment for themselves.  Or we judge the mom who is looking on her iPhone at the park, when it may well be the first time she has sat down all day!  It’s easy for us to make assumptions as to what a mom should or should not be doing, but unless you spend 12+ hours a day in the house with the family, it may be ill-suited to make such an accusation.

parenting airplaneJust a few weeks ago I found myself talking to another woman that had three now-grown children and she was telling me about the years when she was in my shoes and her husband worked long hours and she went on to say that someone once told her that,

“Mothering little ones is like being an air traffic controller and you have three planes all coming in to land at one time.  It’s your job to keep everyone safe and happily arriving at their destination.  It can be stressful!”

BINGO!  She literally summed up my life!  I’m not denying that my children are a beautiful blessing from God but many days it literally feels like I’m in the control tower and I’m fighting to keep everyone calm and happy and from killing each other.  One slip of the baby gate or bike helmet or sippy cup may send us all crashing into the runway and smoldering at the gate (ok, just a little dramatic).  We’re watching the board for delays and any delay of Daddy past 5:30 pm will send us all careening into a midday meltdown – Mommy included.

So as much as I hate flying, I will stand with these two analogies and the sweet women with whom I spoke.  And if nothing else, flying on a plane (or being an air traffic controller) means that you can only control how you behave.  I can control my actions as a mother, but I can’t control the behavior of my children (ok, with proper modeling I can in some respects but they are still young and are greatly affected by hungry, tiredness, and the like).  I can do all I can to keep everyone safe and healthy. but God is sovereign and probably the HARDEST part of parenting is saying, “Your will be done.”


Have you heard these analogies before?  Can you relate to them?  What’s your favorite parenting analogy?

How the Library Summer Reading Program nearly sent me to the Funny Farm

The guilt of motherhood circa 2015 is complex.  It’s not enough to have your 4-yr old in a Master’s Mini-musicians class, you have to feed them only organic rice krispies while sipping on a BPA-free-non-dairy-no-GMOS-from-the-fountain-of-youth Coconut Frappe Latte.  One scroll of my Facebook feed and I’m not thin enough, disciplined-enough, didn’t nurse long enough, and to top it off-  I just let my kids watch 4 episodes in a row of Lego Star Wars.  Oops.  (Although I do want 829 points for making them light-sabers out of some rolled up paper and different colored electrical tape- I digress).

So back at the beginning of June when the local library unveiled their “Summer Reading Program” I took one look at the list and headed straight for Mommy’s chocolate cabinet.  No joke.

library reading program
See that one I crossed off? That was just to make myself feel good. We didn’t even do it.


Are you for real?

The Summer Reading program used to be as easy as pie:  Read books.  Write ’em down.

Now we have to read books and make straws float and (gasp) a spider web out of tape and dental floss?

Do these people live in an alternative universe?

I’m so busy picking up Cheerios from breakfast, oh yes, now let me drape my house in dental floss and scotch tape. 

I need a bag to hyperventilate in.

A few weeks ago at the library one of the librarians almost yelled at me because Olen took C’s Elmo DVD away and she went into a melltttdown and it took me a minute to figure out what was happening…

I should have told said Librarian, “I’m so sorry for the inconvenience, WE WERE LOOKING FOR THE LARGEST BOOK IN THE LIBRARY SO WE COULD TAKE A PICTURE.”

I can’t even.

Listen, if you are up for this task, kudos to you, Mom.  You’ve got it together!  You’re way more disciplined than me! I’m trying to keep the locals from killing each other or me.

If I rub a balloon on my head for two minutes and end up in a dark room, I’m going to that room to TAKE A NAP.


I can’t even read that without laughing.

I’m disowning my parents because my mom didn’t rub a balloon on my head for two minutes and then touch a spoon to it in a dark room.  She was too busy using that spoon to whoop my sassy butt.  GOODFORHER.  I DESERVED IT.

What I didn’t deserve, and what our kids do NOT deserve is constant entertainment, educational schlupp and unreasonable expectations.  As I told Jackson yesterday, “Your legs aren’t broken, go get it if you want it (thanks mom, that’s one of my favorites).

I’m the first to want my kids to be top of the achievements list (and obviously they are tops in my heart), but I agree with Jen Hatmaker on this one, “It no more occurred to my mom to coddle us Precious Snowflakes than it did to quit drinking a case of Tab a day. If you told my mom to craft a yearly time capsule for each child to store until graduation, she would have cried tears of laughter all the way to Jazzercise.”

It’s ok, Local Library, it really is.  My kids don’t need your raffle tickets and plastic crap, but they do need sane Mommy.  They don’t need a barrage of science experiments for kindys, but they do need to play outside and get dirty and learn to entertain themselves.  You’re forgiven Mr. Library, the studies point in my favor.  And like I tell the kids, “Mom always wins.”


Best of the Web- July 11

I’m a day late here!  I’m not sure why I made this amazingly full to-do list on the weekend my husband was out of town!  I don’t think he is the one that chews up most of my time.  Lol.

Anyhow, here we go.


This one exercise could determine your success–  It’s not what I thought and I could definitely see this being helpful.  Why do you think I have a blog?

The iPhone is Ruining your Summer–  Whew, glad I have a Droid.  Just kidding.  Jessica has some seriously convicting points, and I was reminded about yesterday when what seemed like the absolute most exciting point of our week (and it may have been) was getting the kids a turtle sandbox.  Within minutes of having it set up I had posted on IG, Facebook, and Snapchat.  Um, why?  I don’t know.  I was thinking about this as I went to bed last night.  NO ONE CARES THAT WE HAVE A TURTLE SANDBOX.

turtle sandbox social media blitz

I digress.  But I really like Point #3:

“If I am bored for .45 seconds now, I GET VERY UNCOMFORTABLE. I find it really fascinating to daydream about My Life Before The Internet. What did I do, waiting at dentists’ offices? How did I fall asleep when the lights went off? What in the world happened in those eight-hour car rides? I know what happened. Life Happened.”


This is so good (and pretty funny) – My Thoughts on Children in First Class

I could have used some of these when my kids were smaller.  I may have to buy #6!  12 Coolest Space-Saving Products for Travel with Kids



Why there are no silver medals in motherhood



If you’re struggling to get control of your finances (or even if you need a refresher), this is really great:  The benefits of paying yourself first


What do you think?  Willing to put the iPhone away for a day?  Feel like motherhood has given you a bronze medal?  Or maybe you have a funny story of adults (on an airplane) behaving worse than children?  I’d love to hear!