Archives for February 2013

The Minivan Mom’s Guide to Awesome Hair

Forgive the oversized sweatshirt. It was cold outside (Florida cold...60 degrees...and I didn't feel like changing.)

Most of my days consist of multiple hours inside the belly of my minivan shuttling children to baseball, gymnastics, school or friend’s homes. If I’m super lucky, I might get to go to the grocery store sometimes or, as is the case today, I get to make a hefty drop at the local Goodwill thanks to one of my children who could easily occupy an entire episode of Hoarders single-handedly.

This hectic schedule leaves little time for hair care, which is one of the reasons I have so loved having my hair short. I have all but mastered the fashionable bed head and when I’m really on my game, I add the hot pink highlights to give my hair a little bit of edge.

Because I am sooooo edgy.




Alas, maintaining awesome hair is a greater challenge than most of us care to admit. I’ll be totally honest and tell you I have no idea what color my hair is anymore. If I had to guess, I’d label it dirty dishwater. It is neither blonde nor brown thanks to years of abuse and the hormones that come with birthing three children. So I pay someone to help a Mama out and give my hair some much needed TLC.

At least, that’s what I do when I have time. But if you’ll re-read paragraph one, you’ll understand that getting myself to a salon for three hours to have my hair loved on is not always easy or feasible. I haven’t had anyone sprinkle magic pixie dust (i.e. Redken Hair Dye) on my hair since before Christmas. Nor have I had it cut.

I’m in a bad place, friends. A bad, bad place.

So, what’s a busy Minivan Mom to do when life gets too busy to take care of her hair?

Buy. A. Headband.

Or four.

I’ve found that wide headbands worn high up on the head are an excellent way to mask those painful roots that give my hair the perpetual appearance of filth. I recently bought two headbands like the one I’m wearing in these pictures at Sam Moon in Dallas.

I love them.

I greet them in the morning with a chipper, “Hey there, lovlies.” And as a reward for my encouragement, they keep me from looking a hot mess.

The good news is I only have to wait one more day before having something done with the sad, pitiful mop on top of my head. Tomorrow, my hair lady will work her magic with scissors and a bit of color (Pink!). But my love of the headband will not waver.

In fact, yesterday I bought two new headbands from O Sweet Joy. I got The Collette in both sour apple and raspberry. Aren’t they the cutest little head wraps you’ve ever seen? (If you go to Kacia’s site, Coconut Robot, you can snag a discount code!)

(And after you snag the discount code, check out the giveaway Kacia is hosting today for Noonday, an AMAZING organization that works to advocate for the orphan by providing jobs so families can provide for their children, raising funds for adoption and so much more. I love what they’re doing and their jewelry is Gorgeous with a capital ‘G’!)

So, back to my original premise for the post: How does a Minivan Mom keep her hair looking awesome? By investing a little time into a good cut and color, of course. However, when time (and funds) do not permit such an investment, then the smart Minivan Mom fakes it. She invests in a few good headbands, puts on a little extra makeup and keeps things sassy until that next miraculous moment when she can sit her behind in a chair at the salon and let them work their magic.

And we all said together…


(PS – To the men who read my blog (and I know there are several of you out there…don’t try and hide it) – I apologize for what was likely a very boring read. I hate for you to feel left out, so please feel free to share with us any tips you have for maintaing your hip Minivan Dad edge. *wink*)

Miracles in the Pocket

Peering out the airplane window, all I could see was glaring, sear your eyes white. The morning sun stood high above miles and miles of clouds, completely obscuring the world below. With no real marker below to give away our speed, it felt as though we were floating. Were it not for the man crammed very snugly against my side, I think it would have been the most serene and peaceful I’ve felt in many months.

The bell chimed and the captain’s voice broke through the speakers. “Folks, we’re making our initial descent into New Orleans. We have a bit of weather ahead of us, so I’m going to ask that you return to your seats and put on your seatbelts as we make our way down.”

And still I watched, my forehead pressed tight against the cool glass, as we slowly drifted down, closer and closer to the white peaks below. The clouds were thick and full, a world of shapes dancing beneathe me, all waiting to be discovered. Just beyond the horizon of white stood the vibrant blue sky and a perfectly round sun beyond that. And still we dropped until…


Read the rest at Kelli

Not for the faint of heart

Photo by Jenni at Avodah

I walked in the door after a beautiful weekend away and kissed their sweet, sweaty faces. They’d been outside running, playing, relishing in all that is childhood. They looked like children who were having a grand old time.

In short, they were filthy. So I suggested a shower. Crazy, right? I know!!

Here’s the thing – generally we do not make our children shower every night. It’s a pain, they don’t like it and I can handle a little bit of dirt and slightly crusty hair for a few days in a row. However, when they play outside for hours without shoes on (yes, I am raising those kids) I generally think it entirely reasonable to have them jump under the running water long enough to bring their feet back to a normal peachy color and less…blackened by mud.

But I was unaware of the fact that showers were taken the night before and the night before that and oh you’d think I’d come home with a whip in hand and walked through the door cracking it. There was weeping, gnashing of teeth, glares that could easily turn one into a pillar of salt. The horror of suggesting a shower for a third night in a row.


Welcome to parenthood, right? You attend a conference established to encourage and refresh you in the journey, you come home armed with loved and gratefulness for the small ones lent to you for this lifetime and you prepare yourself for a sweet reunion complete with kisses, snuggles and giggles. It will be a beautiful time as they gather around you, sitting quietly with hands folded sweetly in their laps, their hair clean and slicked to the side.

“Tell us about your weekend, Mother,” they will say, all sugary and precious. “Tell us more about how truly wonderful you are going to be from here on out. Tell us how magical life will be now that you have been blessed with so much knowledge and wisdom.”

(Side note: You should read the above dialogue in a British accent because it sounds a lot cooler and gives a better dramatic punch. Just give a try…)

(See what I mean?)

You imagine that surely your job will be easier now, because you’ve just learned how to be a better mom. You’ve just learned how to love them more graciously. You have new tools in your arsenal to build them up and point them toward their full potential.

Unfortunately, the kids don’t get the memo about all of that. They go on acting like…kids. They haven’t become the perfect little robots that will make your job a walk in the proverbial park. It’s like a cruel, cruel joke.

Does this happen to anyone else? Is it just me? I hope not, because within fifteen minutes of being with my children last night I was already completely fed up.  It was all I had in me not to point my finger, grit my teeth and mutter, “Look, kid. I just learned how to be the best mom I can be and you’re in here making it difficult. Be nice so I can be AWESOME.”

I didn’t say that, of course.

Out loud.

We finally got them in bed (with only two actually showered and one with clean feet after we comprimised and wiped them down with a wet rag) and I collapsed on the couch and looked wide-eyed at Lee, my eyes conveying every emotion and frustration I felt. I’m home fifteen minutes and I already want to cuss? Hellooooo real life! Thanks for smacking me in the face.

Lee smiled, winked and patted me softly on the shoulder. “Welcome home,” he said with a grin and I could hear the chuckle in his voice.

Parenting. Not for the faint of heart. At all.

At. Freaking. All.

Can I get an amen?!

Courageous Living

Today I am headed to Texas for a rather impromptu girl’s weekend with some of the women who are dearest and sweetest to me. We are going to attend dotMom together and spend an entire weekend laughing, maybe crying a bit, and all around encouraging one another in this thing called life.

I’m learning new things every day right now. New things about who God is – His character and nature and innate longing for us to love Him. I’m seeking and watching and praying and I finally feel a true sense of…dare I say – HOPE?!

There’s a next step for us in this journey to defend the orphan. I’m probably not finished crying or mourning the end of my dream, though I do think/hope I had my final ugly cry over it this past weekend. And as I once again soaked the sleeve of my husband’s shirt, he reminded me of that thing that is so often easy to forget.

We have been called to live courageously.

Our adoption was not a failure. We are in this place because this is where God wants us to be. This place, this fire, is where we will learn more what is means to be a free lover of Him who created us to live without fear. He has called us – our family – to courageous living. And He’s given us a passion for adoption and orphan care. Oh the excitement that comes from trusting Him. The power that comes when you know that where you are is right where you should be…even if it hurts.

We aren’t done in this pursuit of defending the orphan. We are most certainly not done. Every day we release the fears a little more (at least I do. Apparently I had a lot more fear than I let myself believe). Each day I feel a renewed sense of awe at my husband and his willingness to seek what God would have for our family. I’m so grateful for his support in this time. He hasn’t once asked me to shove these feelings under a carpet. He’s listened, encouraged and pushed me – us – toward greater courage.

There is no real clarity yet and I don’t feel certainty in this path we’re on. But I feel hopeful and even a little excited for the future. God’s not done with us yet.

What a thrill.

Have a blessed and courageous weekend everyone!

What I Miss Most About Homeschooling

Books. I miss reading good books with my kids – those exciting stories that suck you in and leave you breathless for more. I love reading to my kids. Did you know I was a musical theater major before switching to Professional Writing? Trust me – this Mama knows how to bring a book to life.

There isn’t nearly enough time these days to read the really good books. With their required school reading, they are so busy trying to make their RP (or AR) reading goals that they don’t have time to get lost in the really good books. Especially because reading has not come easily for either of my older two. (Landon is proving to be a much better reader. He’s catching on faster than the other two did.) Because reading is tough, I like to read to them. I want them to see the world open up inside their imaginations.

Good books do that, don’t they? They introduce a life and a character that is so glorious and real that you feel as though you know them. I want my kids to feel a sense of loss when they lay a book down after finishing it. Right now, the best way to introduce that feeling to them is to read to them…when we have time.

We don’t have time to work on their Russian language anymore, either. I’m relegated to 20 minutes a day because it’s all I feel I can ask from them after a long day at school.

This makes me sad. This makes me miss homeschooling more than anything. Yes, there are things about school I have really enjoyed and there are areas where I can see they have thrived. And yes, there are things about homeschooling I have not missed even a little bit (Math, Science, the pressure).

But it doesn’t change the fact that I miss the freedom I had with my kids when I had them home. For now, they are in a good place, but it doesn’t make me miss it less.

Some parenting decision are made and they feel really right. Some are made and you immediately know they’re wrong. And others are made that are neither right nor wrong – they just are. Schooling feels like that for me – for our family. Putting the kids in school was neither right nor was it wrong. It was just the decision we felt like we needed to make. There are pros and cons to both scenarios and I think every year we will weigh all of our options. Because that’s what you do when you have these small ones to raise.

You make decisions that are hard then you move forward in confidence that it will all work out in the end.

Parenting…it’s not for the faint of heart, you know?

What’s a hard parenting decision you’ve made – one that didn’t necessarily feel right or wrong, but just a decision that needed to be made?

Fasion Diva Birthday Party…on a budget

I love budget blogs. I love women who have the fortitude and mental strength to really think through where and how they spend money and who can save a dollar at every turn. I admire those women.

Because I am not one of them.

I work really hard at spending wisely. I do not make frivolous purchases (all the time – I’m human) and I try not to spend my money on wasteful items. But when it comes to shopping on a budget, I’m not good at it. I don’t coupon, I don’t watch for sales (though I do take advantage of them and try not to pay full price for something if I don’t have to). I don’t garage sale or search for the cheapest price online. Partly because I’m lazy and partly because I feel like I can because I am wise in where and how often I spend.

That said, recently I took Tia to a birthday party at an adorable salon for girls. A group of teenagers fixed the girls hair into little diva buns, gave them fancy dresses to wear, sprayed glitter all over their heads and let them march down a catwalk to zippy tunes by Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.

It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and Tia bounced all the way home proclaiming her desire to have just such a birthday. The next day I called said salon to get pricing information on their parties.

Cheapest package? $269 for eight girls. This did not include cake or party favors. I almost had a heart attack. I told you not long ago my philosophy on kid birthday parties, remember? KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid Silly. So I used my thinker and I thinked up a rather grand idea.

We’d have our own fashion diva party right here at home.  For $5.99 I bought a can of glitter hair spray and $4.99 bought me a glittery heart stamp for their faces. I went to the dollar store and bought a bouquet of artifical flowers for three dollars and a one dollar tube of eye shadow.

I made a cake, dipped waffle bowls and pretzels into melted candy coating and sprinkles, dished out M&M’s and ice cream and by God I pulled it off.


One fancy pants fashion diva party for less than $60 (including all food and party favors)!


I pulled up the Taylor Swift music station on Pandora and blasted the likes of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, One Direction (OHEMGEE ONE DIRECTION! SQUEEEE!). They walked the “catwalk” around the pool, giggling and squealing as only little girls can. And when they were tired of acting fierce, we had ourselves a little dance party. We even busted out a little Gangnum Style.

I pulled each girl’s hair up into a high ponytail, stuck a flower in it, sprayed on an ample supply of glitter and stamped a heart and a little eye shadow on them and BAM! Twelve little diva’s strutted their way through the festivities. An added bonus is that my house now has a fine sheen of glitter all over it, which I kind of like. Makes it feels magical in here.


And this face?


Totally priceless and worth every bit of effort it took to pull this off myself.

So lookey there…turns out I can do things on a budget after all.


When your soul is not well

Necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs Necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs

I sat in the front of his tiny boat, my hands gripped to the slippery sides with all the strength I could muster. Huddled beneathe a plastic tarp, I looked at all their faces for some sign that told me it was okay to panic. We were all being brave, laughing nervously to stave off the terror as wave after wave crashed over the sides, the full wrath of the Carribbean falling upon us.

When we set off from Spanish Wells, Bahamas, the sea had been calm. The day was bright, perfect for a short three hour cruise to Nassau. I can’t remember our exact number, but there were a lot of us to pile onto the small boat that day. We were at the tail end of a week long family reunion. This was our Bon Voyage.

The storm came up quickly, as they tend to do over the ocean. Before we knew it, we were hunkered down in a rocking boat with only a few life jackets to go around and though I am almost always game for a grand adventure, on this particular day I wanted nothing more than to get off that boat.

Terrified and sick, I couldn’t see for the wind and the rain. The salty ocean water stung my eyes. And yet every time a wave hit our boat, I felt an odd sense of peace thanks to the man who stood at the helm of the ship, steering us through the storm.

As the boat rocked, he smiled broadly. When the waves crashed hard, he let out a roar of delighted laughter. He did not delight in our fear, but rather in the joy of the ride.

He knew where we were headed and he knew what stood on the other side of the storm.


Read more at Kelli

The End is Nigh…

If we were dating, I would tell you it’s not you, it’s me. I would hold your hand and tell you that we’re not breaking up – I just need a little space. I need some me-time.

That’s what I would say if we were dating.

Friends, I am *thisclose* to finishing my book. The first draft, that is. Serious edits loom before me like a massive thundercloud waiting to suck me into its vortex. I am slightly nervous, but mostly I am excited because I AM *THISCLOSE* TO FINISHING MY BOOK!

I wrapped up one character’s story a couple of weeks ago. Another character is on her way to redemption, a third character is approaching an impasse of faith and the fourth character needs only to fight to survive. I know where they’re going and, quite honestly, some days I just can’t get my fingers to type it all out fast enough.

I can’t really focus on writing well here and finishing over there so I will be writing less here until I have brought each character to where they need to go. I’ve read before of authors who grow attached to their characters as though they are real people. As crazy as it sounds, I get that. I owe it to these characters to finish their stories.

I owe it to the hundreds of World War II veterans who shared their very real stories with me both in person and through letters.

I owe it to the country that holds a large piece of my soul.

I owe it to my husband and children who have been encouraging me to accomplish this goal for a long, long, looooonnnngggg time.

I owe it to the numerous friends and family members who have cheered me on and who have waited patiently as I wade through this novel writing process like a slug in molasses.

I owe it to all of you who have read the sneak peeks and who now wait to read the missing pieces!

I owe it to the God who planted this idea and love in my heart and gave me the story to tell. Oh how I pray I do it justice.

I told you before I won’t be sharing anymore of the novel with you here. I was tempted today, but I resisted. I want you to read their stories in their entirety so you can love these characters with me. I want you to hope for redemption as I have hoped for it. I want you all to join me on this awesome journey.

I take a huge chance in putting all of this out here. Believe me, I feel the pressure of sharing this with you, because what if this book sucks? What if you all get it and start reading and end up tossing it aside in disgust and ultimately using it to balance a wobbly table? The thought makes me cringe.

I suppose every author feels this way at some point. Perhaps us first time novelists feel this pressure more, but I don’t think this fear is unique to me. There is a great risk in laying your heart out for the world to read. There is a great chance to be taken when you work as long as I have on a single work and you lay it before the public for scrutiny.

But I keep going back to the fact that this book has chosen me and I have poured all of my heart and emotion into it. I long to tell these stories in a true and authentic way and to be excellent in my portrayal of the people and history that hold my heart.

So I’m not breaking up with you. I’m really not. I’ll still be popping in and I’ve got more stories to share. But today – this week – this month – there are people who need my attention a little bit more.

Wait for me?

(This is the part where I’d give you an awkward but friendly hug to let you know that we’re all good and we will always be friends.)

I’m all out of awesome

I had two great posts rolling through my head today. Seriously, they were so good. They were sure to have you rolling on the floor in laughter (ROFL?)


You would definately laugh out loud. (LOL?)

(*groan* PLEASE NO!)

It’s just too bad I can’t remember what they were. No kidding. I had two entire posts almost completely composed in my head. All I had to do was get them from my brain to the computer, but something sucked them out into the void of nothingness before I could make that happen.

I blame the kids.

And the song Gangnum Style, which Sloan sings 24/7 right now. And the dog because she stares at me all day long with her ears pinned back and her eyes all big and cartooney, which she knows leaves me in a heap of guilt until I finally walk her.

I can literally walk from one room to the next these days and forget why I was headed there. Should I be worried?

Don’t answer that…

You know what’s awesome when you have fried mom brain? Third grade math home work. FRACTIONS! That’s what I need, folks. I need fractions to cure my inability to function in life.


Sloan brought home his homework today and was all, “Mom I don’t get it and I’m going to get a bad grade so heeelllllppppp meeeeee…”

I took one look at the paper and then my head exploded. Fractions?! I didn’t cover those until sixth grade and even then, I never really learned them. We moved from Wisconsin to St. Louis toward the end of sixth grade. The school I left was just starting fractions. The school I started had already covered them.

Guess who never quite got it?

Did you know that 5/8 is a fraction greater than 1? Well its not. I thought it was, but I’ve been informed in the comments that it isn’t, which was originally what I thought but then Sloan convinced me it WAS.

I am in math purgatory…I had to text a photo of the problem to Lee (who is out of town) and my dad with an SOS because Sloan was all “OMG (NONONO!!!) I’m going to get a bad grade.” And the math paper was all “Write a mixed number AND a fraction greater than one for the part shaded.”

And I was all “Where’s the liquor?”

Just kidding. I didn’t say that out loud…

It would be super duper if they would send home the books in cases like this. If I just had an explanation of all of this written down so I could see what exactly they mean when they say “mixed number” it would help immensely. When I homeschooled last year, I slept with the teacher’s math manual. We spooned at night. It was all that got me through the year.

Well that and wine.

I’m kidding!

(sort of…)

But now? Now they just send home obscure pieces of paper with problems meant to twist and turn this mom brain all to pieces and make me want to write in large red letters across the bottom of the page:


But I don’t write that. I simply write the teacher an email asking her to go over this a little more with Sloan at school and oh by the way, can you explain it to me? LOL…

(Just kidding. I didn’t write LOL. I just can’t bring myself to do it…)

And now I’m sitting here on the couch telling you a story about how I almost had an awesome post for you to read tonight. But I lost it because the truth is, I’m all out of awesome. There are only a few brain cells firing and they aren’t operating on all cylinders.

I think I need Lee to come back to town. 4COL

(For Crying Out Loud)

(I looked up texting acronymns for the purpose of writing this post.)

(You know what I learned? Text language is stupid.)

(Says the girl who can’t remember what she ate for lunch today.)

I think it’s time for bed, yo? AAK (Asleep At The Keyboard)

Okay seriously, I need to stop.

When God Says Dream Bigger

As the dust of a fallen dream begins to settle and my heartache quells a bit, I find myself at a crossroad. I look to my left and to my right and there are options. One of the roads is easier than others. It’s paved and smooth. This road is lined with vibrant green grass that is meticulously groomed and there isn’t a stop sign in sight.

It’s open. Safe. Secure.


Another road is dark. It’s a little gloomy and cloudy. I don’t really know what to expect on that road, but I think it’s backed up rather indefinitely with traffic. Bumper to bumper, no end in sight. Scary.

And there’s another road. It’s straight uphill and quite honestly, I don’t know what I’ll find when I get to the top. The road is gravel and full of potholes. There are stop lights hanging every few feet and it seems as though I may have to push my way to the top here and there.

But it could be exciting.

This is a metaphor…clearly. You knew that already, right?

Oh good.

The good news is, we have options. That is very good news. Option one is to take the safe road. Lee and I could easily chalk this adoption trial up as a failure. We could dust off our hands and turn to the left – the safe road. We could keep moving forward with our three beautiful, biological children. We could quit tucking extra funds aside and finally buy a smokin’ new minivan, that Mac laptop I’ve been coveting and maybe even take our children on a rockin’ vacation.

Safe. Secure.


We could continue to wait this adoption thing out or better yet, we could switch to a new country. We could step forward on the next road – the dark and scary one that is currently stalled with the longest red light in the history of ever. But as I’ve found these last few weeks – being stuck in the dark is gloomy and sad.

I need something to look forward to.

This isn’t to say we’ve completely given up on adoption, but for right now we are taking a step back and waiting for direction. It’s coming – slowly – in little tiny puzzle pieces that I think will eventually fit together.

So we turn toward the hard road. This is where we are right now. We’re standing at the crossroad and we’re looking up, waiting for instructions on when and how to move forward.

I’ve spent the better part of the last month asking God why. Why did He bring us to this point?  Two weeks ago, I was an emotional mess. It was the lowest I have ever felt. I could hardly drag myself from my bed and when I did, I was immediately overcome with fatigue and sadness. In my distress and confusion, I cried out to God. I poured out my why as a drink offering, laying my burden of grief at the alter and begging for some sign that He still had a plan.

I opened my Bible and the pages fluttered and fell to Isaiah chapter 1.

Isaiah 1:17 says “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.”

My initial reaction upon reading this verse was to throw my hands up in exasperation. “That’s what I’m trying to do!” I cried in frustration. But then I had to stop and sit still.

Remember when He told me to wait? How quick I am to forget such things.

And in the two weeks since I read that verse, He has provided sign after sign that He’s not done with us yet. I’m starting to get the feeling that God wants us to dream bigger. He wants us to defend the orphan, but this goes beyond simply adopting. (Hahaha! The phrase “simply adopting” made me laugh out loud. That’s an oxymoron…)

I don’t know what it is we’re supposed to do just yet. I’m waiting. Sometimes I wait patiently. Other times I tap my toe in impatient anticipation.

But this one thing I know without a doubt: We have never been called to live a life of fear and choosing the safe road benefits no one – not us, not our children and it certainly doesn’t help the orphans in distress. So we’re waiting and prying loose tightened fists so we can stand tall and move in freedom toward that which He has placed before us.

Will you pray with us, for both clarity and wisdom? And while we’re praying, can I pray for you? Is there something big and scary looming before you – a path that seems to be a little bit harder? How can I pray?