Archives for November 2013

Remember when I used to blog?

2013 will be marked down as the year I’d rather pretend never happened. The year in which I was mostly unimpressed. The year full of ridiculous, undeserved blessings. The year of very low, lows, and very high, highs. The unresolved year.

The year I killed my blog?


It got heavy around here this year, didn’t it?

Then it got all bookwormy.

Then I got a little tired.

There are some changes coming down the pipeline for 2014. There’s a plan that’s being very slowly set into motion as I draw the veil on this year. I hope that these changes will bring an added shimmer to 2014, a year into which I walk with much more peace, a remnant of sadness, and a lot of inspiration. I have ideas – lots of ideas – and I’m excited to begin implementing them.


In the meantime, I want you to know that I am thankful for you all. You have been a dear, sweet community not just this year, but over the last six years. We’ve laughed a lot, cried a little, traveled to Africa, and helped change the world.

I’m not finished as a blogger, but as we head into Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, I am focusing a little more time on being a writer. It’s very difficult to maintain this blogging bit when all of life feels like it’s taking off in a different direction and you can’t share it, and your brain is all YOU HAVE TO SHARE ALL THE THINGS OR PEOPLE WILL LEAVE, and your heart constricts and says SOME OF THE THINGS DON’T NEED TO BE SHARED!

Then your fingers quit working because your heart and your brain can’t agree, and instead you end up roaming the house talking to yourself because you need to say all the things out loud.

Then you try to write a post about it, and you confuse everyone.


I’m still living in the land of crazy, my friends. I have a few announcements to make in the coming weeks, and I’ll be posting less frequently as I ramp up for 2014. In the meantime, know that I’m thankful for all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Thanks for making cyber-land a little more fun.



Insta-Wednesday is BACK!

My dog ran off this morning and came home covered in crap – LITERALLY. She’s an old woman, but when she sees a pile of poo, the puppy in her comes out and she cannot resist. So I spent a solid fifteen minutes chasing her around the yard with the hose, and now I smell like a wet, crappy dog.

You’re jealous of my glamorous life…

Insta-Wednesday photos for you to view while I go clean up.


Tia’s cheering square at her meet Sunday. Sweetness.


We served a Thanksgiving meal to people in need at our church’s food pantry Saturday morning. 


You know…just monkeying around. And still loving’ our St. Louis Cardinals!


I just don’t even have words to describe this photo…


Lovin’ this Florida Fall Weather!

And last but not least – video evidence that my growing addiction and need for strong caffeine is warranted and justified. This was shot before 7:00 am, and before I’d completed my first cup of coffee. Their energy exceeds mine by miles….


Keeping Your Kids (and yourself) Humble in Sports

Like any parent, I am unendingly proud of my children. While I am privy to the very worst of who they are on a day by day basis, I am also privy to the very best of who they are. Lee and I know our children better than anyone else on this planet. We see what makes them tick, certain aspects of their personalities that need to be polished and refined, and we have a foreshadowing of their gifts and how they can best be used.

With Lee having been a collegiate athlete, and me spending most of my formative years in competitive sports, it’s no surprise that our children have mostly drifted toward athletics, and they are blessed with skills that allow them to compete well. I’m not going to hide the fact that my children are good at sports, but how do I keep them, and myself, humble as we travel this road of competitive sports?


First and foremost, it takes a load of perspective to simply stay realistic. Yesterday Tia had the best gymnastics meet of her season. She improved all of her scores, raised her All Around score by over a point and took home the 1st place All Around trophy. My daughter is a gifted athlete, and right now gymnastics is the sport that is showcasing her God-given abilities.

But she will not be an Olympian. Lee and I know this. Tia, of course, dreams of the Olympics like every little girl dreams of the Olympics, and I will never, ever squash that dream. As long as she wants to go for gold, I’ll be standing behind cheering her on. I just know, however, that she won’t go to the Olympics in gymnastics, and I am okay with that.

Photo courtesy of my mom who blesses us with awesome pictures so we can sit back and enjoy the competition!

Photo courtesy of my mom who blesses us with awesome pictures so we can sit back and enjoy the competition!

As she competes, we work hard to keep her head level by encouraging her to compete against herself. We don’t urge her to beat her teammates, we urge her to beat her last score. At her last meet she scored in the 9’s on two events – this time we told her to aim for scoring 9’s in three events. She took our challenge and upped it, scoring in the 9’s on all four events. That was her own goal for herself.

The cute is almost too much in this photo...

The cute is almost too much in this photo…

On equal measure, our boys have shown great propensity for sports. One loves to play simply for fun, without a huge care of winning or losing. The other lives, eats and breathes ball, and it will not surprise me one little bit if that one goes on to play college ball, or even play professionally someday. He may not do either of those things, of course, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he did because he’s got a winning spirit combined with natural ability.

No matter what our children choose to do with their extracurricular time, though, we want them to know that athletics are just a piece of who they were made to be. What matters more to me is the character behind the athletes. Are they kind? Do they support their teammates? Are they good sports? Are they genuinely excited to see someone else succeed, even if they don’t?

And what are they doing off the field, or outside the gym? Those are the things that truly matter. Life isn’t all about sports, and the second that it becomes so, then something must change.


These are lessons that will need to be learned, and they can only be learned if Lee and I model them. We will push them to be the best they can be, but not at the detriment of character. Ways that we work to model healthy competitive character in sports:

– We will never so build our children up that they believe themselves to be all that and a bag of chips (how’d you like that little phrase from the ’80’s?). Humility has to be taught, so as soon as they start thinking they are the bomb, we have to (lovingly) bring them down a notch or two.

We speak highly of our children’s teammates. We praise their abilities, congratulate their successes, and cheer them on with as much fervor as our own kids.

To the best of our ability, we try to become friends with the other parents. We have been blessed so far in our sporting endeavors in that we’ve been surrounded by very positive, kind parents. I know that’s not always the case, but thankfully it is our experience, which means it’s not that hard to become friends with the parents of our kid’s teammates!

We encourage our kids to be the best they can be not to beat their opponents, but to beat themselves. Yes, they want to win, and that’s okay. But do it for yourself, not for anyone else, and be gracious in winning, as well as in losing.

We simply don’t allow ourselves to get too wrapped up in it. As Lee says, “Never want it more than they do.” When you watch your child compete, it’s so easy to get completely absorbed in every detail of their sport, but we have to remind ourselves that this is not all that comprises a life. Athletics are a small part of who they are – but it’s not the only thing. Lee and I have to remember that ourselves so that we can remind them.


The world of athletics can be tricky to navigate, especially as a parent. We feel every success and every disappointment right alongside our children. But if we can maintain control and perspective over our own emotions, we will be much better equipped to teach our children to control their emotions, which in the long run will only set them up for success in all of life.

Are you a sports family? How do you keep your children (and yourself) humble?

Behind on Life

The end of the year has somehow been placed on hyper-speed, and I am entirely unprepared for it to come zipping by. Piles of laundry stand in nearly every corner of the house, dishes cannot seem to find their home, Halloween candy is still on top of the fridge, yet somehow I’m already thinking about Christmas. And through all of it I want to scream STOP THE MADNESS!

This morning, as I clapped my kids out of the house, I felt the panic start to settle tight in my chest. As I begged my middle to child for the 50th time to please hurry up – Please get dressed – Please stop dancing in your room to the invisible beat in your head and put on your shoes – Please brush your hair, I had to stop, take a deep breath…and then laugh.

Yesterday I plucked a white – WHITE! – hair from my eyebrows, and I blame it on getting children out the door on time. But this morning as I watched her grin in her bedroom, talking to herself, having a merry party without any thought of missing the bus, I wanted some of that. I wanted just an ounce of her zest for fun. It’s annoying as all get out, but it’s an awesome trait.

Life is more fun if you don’t sweat the small stuff.

There is a solid chance I’m going to stay two steps behind on life until January rolls around. If I just accept this as fact and roll with it, life should be much less stressful. Upcoming birthday parties, Christmas parties, Thanksgiving celebrations, visitors, holidays, gymnastics meets, and every other things that is coming up will come whether I’m prepared or not – I might as well just enjoy the ride.

So today, as I put away laundry, clean the kitchen yet again, exercise and do myriad of other errands that aren’t very fun, I’m going to think of her.



And maybe I’ll dance a little.


How are you doing, friends? Are you feeling behind on life? Join me in a virtual dance party!!!

Also, go watch this video because you’ll laugh, and all you parents will understand.

Christmastime is (basically) here

As a general rule of thumb, I try to save Christmas until December. I don’t want to be tired of it by the time Christmas morning rolls around, so I hold off on Christmas music and decorating until after Thanksgiving.

This isn’t always easy, though the warm November weather here in Florida definitely helps. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to buying a Christmas tree in flip flops.

There are a few Christmas activities, however, that simply cannot wait until after Thanksgiving. Buying gifts, I’ve found, is always less stressful if I start before December. And ordering Christmas cards to send to family and friends is also best done in November, because if I wait until December, then I will have no chance or hope of sending them out before the new year.

So I’m already beginning the process of searching for the perfect Christmas card. Last year, I used Minted to print my Christmas cards, and I LOVE how they turned out.


It twists my heart tight to view that card and remember how hopeful we were this time last year. We were at the tail end of paperwork, and we had visions of this year’s card including a fourth child. But the beauty of this card is that it well documents our 2012, and it provides a beautiful backdrop for the tapestry that would become 2013.

This has, by far, been the hardest, most grief-filled year of our lives, but how thankful I am for hope. I look back at last year’s Christmas card, and I remember what it felt like to hope. We have hope again as we head into this Christmas, and I plan on our holiday card showcasing that. This is why I love using Minted. I worked closely with their designers last year to create a card that perfectly encapsulated where we were in the year 2012.

I will work closely with them again this year to capture 2013, with all the grief and shadows, refinement and joys that came with it. Sometimes I get overwhelmed at the idea of sending out Christmas cards, and I wonder why I still put myself through it. Looking at this card, however, I’m grateful that I have kept up the tradition. Christmas cards showcase more than just a pretty picture – they capture all of life in a nutshell.

If you haven’t ordered Christmas cards yet, and you’re looking for a place that will help capture the place you’re in as a family, I would love for you to check out Minted’s site. Their cards are beautiful, easy to personalize, and their designers will help you create a card that befits your family and your year. They have a huge selection of holiday cards to choose from, and great features, like address printing for your envelopes. 

Because we all know that addressing the envelopes is the worst part of sending Christmas cards.

So if you’re looking for an easy way to kick off the Christmas season without completely steamrolling Thanksgiving, look into Minted and start creating the perfect Christmas card….and then send one of your cards to me, because the only think I love more than sending cards is receiving them!

Merry Christmas Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Disclaimer: I was asked by Minted to write a review of their site and promote their holiday collection of cards. I received credit in exchange for my work. I was not paid to write this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Kick off the season of giving by…giving!

frostyOne of the traditions that we’ve started with our kids, which has fast become our favorite tradition, is our annual Christmas party. Every time we do this, we get more and more excited about it, and I feel less and less intimidated.

The party is more than a simple gathering of neighbors, family and friends, though that is a lovely benefit. This is a chance to unite with the people around us in a way that makes an impact. While needs and hardships are a reality every day of the year, they are often magnified during the holidays. A child in the hospital is always traumatic, but especially so at Christmas when you long for nothing more than the comfort of sitting at home.

So what better way to bless a family in need than to bring Christmas to them?

I love throwing this Christmas party. It’s so fun to watch the kids get it. Children get a bad rap for being selfish, demanding and bratty at Christmas, but I can guarantee that if you give a child a chance to give to others, they will surprise you every single time.

For the past four years, Lee and I have used our Christmas party as a toy drive. Guests bring new, unwrapped toys to the party, which we then take and deliver to The Ronald McDonald House. These gifts are given to families who experience lengthy, expensive stays in the hospital with their children. It’s hard to describe the delight we see in our children, and our guests, as they place their gifts on the growing pile.

They love to know they’re making a difference.

This year, we’ve decided to up the ante on our annual Christmas party. We want to show our children that we can make a difference in the world, and we can having fun doing so!


We will not only be accepting gifts for the local Ronald McDonald House, but we’re also asking guests to bring an old pair of jeans, and a pair of scissors. Working alongside Sole Hope, we will be making shoes for children in Uganda out of our old, outgrown pairs of jeans.

I learned about Sole Hope a few weeks ago at Allume, and I was blown away by the simplicity of this organization. Following a simple pattern, you cut out your old jeans and mail the cut pieces back to the organization. They then send the patterns to Uganda where they have trained workers who use the rubber from old tires to turn the jeans into shoes.

Brilliant and so, so easy!


So not only will our little band of neighbors and friends be impacting our own city, we also have the privilege of blessing children half a world away. Changing the world isn’t nearly as difficult as it seems, and the earlier we can show that to our kids, the better they will understand that making a difference is as easy as having a party in the back yard.

What are ways that you celebrate giving during the holidays? 

If it isn’t posted on Facebook, did it really happen?


I hardly remember how life existed before Facebook. How did I survive the hilarious moments of the day or stressful World Series games without my funny friends laughing alongside me?! I love my little online community…but sometimes I love it a little too much. I need a break from the world of the internet.

Plus, I’m kind of curious to see what will happen if I stay off of Facebook for awhile. If I stop posting, will the world stop spinning? Will life go on?!

If I don’t take and post a photo a day, then did that day even exist, or will I get lost in some sort of Matrix of suspended life? WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!


I’m taking a week off of blogging and Facebook. I am a weak creature indeed, so I’ve deleted the Facebook app off of my phone, and I am turning off all notification so that I can stand firm on my resolve to stay away. I will still be checking email, working on my book and doing some editing work, but the vast majority of my days will be spent looking up and around instead of down at my screen. I’ll let you know next week if life truly does exist outside of the internet. 

In the meantime, if you didn’t have a chance to read my 31 Day series on becoming an author, I’d love for you to check it out. I loved writing this series. It was stimulating and exciting, and it reminded why I love this business of writing so very much.

So, friends – I’m off to take a walk, and I will leave my phone behind. What?! Walking without my phone?! What is that all about?!

I’ll see you all in a week! Wish me luck. *wink*

Another Typical Mom Blog Halloween Post

I’ve written a lot of words this last month, so today I’m sharing photos because yesterday was Halloween and this is still a Mom Blog! Capitalize Mom Blog to show respect, yo…

Have a G-R-E-A-T weekend, all! Go eat some candy!


Duck Dynasty


Rock Star Gymnast…of course!



These kids are awesome.

These kids are awesome.