Pictures speak a thousand words…

And that’s a good thing because after spending nearly three weeks at the beach, my brain is almost completely mush (in a relaxed sort of way).






Tia thought she was taking a sip of her water. Instead she accidentally took a sip of my Mojito. This was her reaction.

Tia thought she was taking a sip of her water. Instead she accidentally took a sip of my Mojito. This was her reaction.


Sloan and my dad had a guys night the other night. They went fishing off the end of the pier and Sloan caught a crab. They drank soda and stayed out until midnight. It is his best memory.

Sloan and my dad had a guys night the other night. They went fishing off the end of the pier and Sloan caught a crab. They drank soda and stayed out until midnight. It is his best memory.


Tia chose to go to The Sand Pearl at sunset for ice cream on her date with Boss.

This is tonight's sunset from the back porch of my parent's condo. Um, yeah...I never get tired of this.

This is tonight's sunset from the back porch of my parent's condo. Um, yeah...I never get tired of this.

Just two more days until we leave for Mobile, AL for a family wedding and one week until we’ll be home.  While I’m ready to get back into a routine, I must say I am sad to leave.  It always goes by too fast.

Lowry Park and Orlando

We’ve been here two weeks.  For the most part, it’s been a delight.  The last couple of days, however, have been a little dicey.  Maybe a full moon is coming.  I dunno.  All I know for sure is that we had to make an emergency call to daddy today for a little over-the-phone discipline.

Not. good.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow is a better day and they simmer down a bit!  We have had some fun in our two weeks stay.  We went to Orlando the few days before Lee arrived where we spent time with family, went to downtown Disney and ate at the world’s largest (and most obnoxiously loud) McDonalds. 

I also went shopping BY MYSELF at the outlet mall.  BY MYSELF PEOPLE!  CAMA! (Russian for ALONE)  It was the greatest day of my life.  I mean, outside of my wedding day and the day my children were born.  So it was, like, the fifth greatest day of my life. 

A few pictures for your viewing enjoyment.


Every other year when I grew up, my parents rented a condo on Clearwater beach for one month.  We’d pack up our (smokin’) minivan and trek from Wisconsin (when I was younger) or St. Louis (in my teen years) and drive down.  So this beach is as much home to me as any place else. 

While down here, my aunts and uncles would come over and stay with us in the condo.  Many of my favorite childhood memories are on this beach with my cousins.  I love recreating those memories for my kids.

My cousin Kristen came to see us in Orlando with her four children.  Her third born, Fiona, and Tia became fast friends.  It was such a blessing to be with them.



Landon and Kristen’s youngest, Miles, struck up a mean round of ping pong.  After which we ate lunch and Landon decided to take a snooze poolside.


After swimming with the cousins, we dried off and headed to Downtown Disney.  I’m not ready to pay the high prices for Disney World yet.  I want all of the kids to be old enough to remember it before we go.  But Downtown Disney was a fun place to visit, shop and eat.  The kids all had money to spend and had a great time searching for the perfect toy to bring home.  Even though it was 4,000 degrees, we still managed to have a good time.

My brother and his girlfriend, along with her little girl, joined us for a little hotel swimming and Downtown Disney.  The next night we got to play at their home for a bit.  It was so fun to connect with them.


This week we decided to take the kids to Lowry Park Zoo.  The original plan was to hit up Busch Gardens, but then we found out how much it cost and did a quick about face.  Lowry Park was significantly cheaper and the kids had a blast.  They got to ride ponies and camels, as well as a log flume and roller coaster (kiddie coaster).  And we got to feed goats and parakeets, as well as a giraffe, which was, for me at least, the highlight.

My favorite quote of the day was Landon on the roller coaster.  As we zipped around the first turn, he laughed and yelled, “Dis a fuuuun.”  Then we gained momentum and roared around the first turn and his eyes almost popped out of his head.  “I stared, I stared (scared)” he cried.  So cute.

I was all up in his grill (grille?) - Oh yes I was.

I was all up in his grill (grille?) - Oh yes I was.

His tongue stretched all the way to my hand.  Dang!  It was freaky.  Notice how the kids are not nearby.  They kept a safe distance.

His tongue stretched all the way to my hand. Dang! It was freaky. Notice how the kids are not nearby. They kept a safe distance.

This was a singular moment of fun for Tia.  Mostly, the flapping parakeet's freaked her and Landon out.  Those tiny, devilish little birds.

This was a singular moment of fun for Tia. Mostly, the flapping parakeet's freaked her and Landon out. Those tiny, devilish little birds.

Careful...they spit.

Careful...they spit.

Whew. We’re tired.  We are having a great time, but I will admit that the kids appear to be tiring of one another as is evident by their near constant bickering.  I’m trying to take them out one at a time for some one on one time and to keep them from killing each other.  We just have a few more days and as much as I’ll hate leaving this place, it will be nice to return to the routine of home.

Until then, we will continue to have fun in the sun!

The Photo Session

They’re so cute.  Seriously – I’m not sure how it is that I bore such adorable children.  But adorable they are. 



Oh wait, no…that’s not the right photo.  Hang on…


That’s more like it…

Or how about this shot?


Wait, wait, wait…

That’s not the photo I was looking for.


Much better.

Okay…so the photo shoot didn’t go exactly as planned.  I did, however, snap a couple of decent pictures of all three as well as a few individual shots.  I also fed them pancakes (yes, I bribe my children into letting me take their picture. I’m not ashamed) and I let them hunt for seashells. 

All this before 9 am.

Her hair is nearly white.  The cuteness is overwhelming...

Her hair is nearly white. The cuteness is overwhelming...

He's playing air guitar.  Of course...

He's playing air guitar. Of course...

OMG! Freckles!

OMG! Freckles!

Weekend Favorites

I am in total vacation mode.  I cannot think long enough to put together a coherent sentence most of the time (because I’m relaxed, though I have admittedly had a few Margaritas, an amazing Sweet Tea Mojito and some wine…not all today, of course…Sigh.  Never mind.)

My point is – blogging and writing are not on the top of my list.  That’s a good thing.  I needed the break.  But I feel bad – like I’m letting my readers down (all ten of you).  So I’m sorry.  Not so sorry that I will promise to regale you with witty tales of our beach days, of coures, but sorry nonetheless.


The weekend was fabulous, but went by far too quickly.  Lee arrived Wednesday night.  We celebrated our anniversary on Thursday with our kids.  We went to the beach, we swam in the pool, we ate dinner out with my parents where Sloan got to experience his first grouper sandwich (it was bigger than his head and he managed to finish almost all of it).  Later that night we snuck away to our favorite spot on Clearwater beach where we sat next to the firepit and watched the sun set whilst drinking the aforementioned Margaritas.


We took a boat ride this weekend, we swam a lot, we relaxed, we tried paddle boarding for the first time, we attempted to kayak on the paddle board together only to realize there was no way we were going to make it without becoming shark bait, we played games on my mom’s ipad and proceeded to fight over it because we all wanted to play something different, we took naps – we vacationed.

Then Lee went home and we all cried.  But the kids and I have another week and a half here and we have plenty of fun in store – including a trip to Busch Gardens.  For now I will leave you with a few photos because I’m so tired that my eyelids are waving the white flag and my brain is threatening to implode.

I hereby give you – The Weekend.

The kids played ball with my dad who they call "Boss."

The kids played ball with my dad who they call "Boss."

Lee and I played kissy face on our anniversary, thoroughly grossing Sloan out.

Lee and I played kissy face on our anniversary, thoroughly grossing Sloan out.


We've done a lot of jumping into the pool. They're starting to get crazy.

They are diving, flipping, twisting and turning into the pool. The only thing they haven't tried is a back flip. I'm okay with that.

They are diving, flipping, twisting and turning into the pool. The only thing they haven't tried is a back flip. I'm okay with that.

Lee spent a significant amount of time flinging them into the air.

Lee spent a significant amount of time flinging them into the air.

One of our favorite things to do with the kids is take them to The Sand Pearl at sunset.  Lee and I sit by the fire and the kids run around in the sand with glow sticks.  A massive lightening storm foiled our plans the other night, but after the storm was over we walked down to my parent’s dock to see this spectacular sunset.



Pardon my beach hair. When I'm down here I refuse to dry my hair or wear makeup.

Pardon my beach hair. When I'm down here I refuse to dry my hair or wear makeup.

Since Landon was so little the last time we came here, it’s been fun to watch him rediscover Florida.  He is a fish, refusing to get out of the water every time we swim.  He loves the sand and has found a particular fondness for chasing seagulls.  All around he’s having a blast.  The only glitch is bedtime.  He still sleeps in a crib at home.  Here, he’s on an air mattress in the same room as Sloan and Tia.  He seems to think that bedtime is party time every night.



We spent Lee’s last morning with us at the beach where we made new friends, swam and dove for Sand Dollars.  Sloan and Tia each collected five or six.  They are now sitting in a bucket of bleach so that we can paint them and turn them into Christmas ornaments.

Paddle Boarding.  This is good fun.

Paddle Boarding. This is good fun.


And finally – Lee found this on the ocean floor while diving for Sand Dollars.  It’s not exactly buried treasure, but it gave us all a good laugh.



One more thing – Clearwater is on the Gulf side of the state.  And there is not a drop of oil here.  But their economy is hurting.  It’s very sad.  So if any of you have a trip planned down here that you’re considering cancelling because of oil, please don’t!  It’s gorgeous down here and the water is perfectly clear.  Just wanted to throw that in.

Happy Monday.

Florida 2010















We’re having just a little bit of fun. 🙂

Lemonade for Haiti


“Mom! Can I clean the bathroom?”

“Uh…sure,” I reply, trying to keep my jaw from dropping to the floor.

“Will you pay me a dollar?”

Ah yes.  The catch.

“Why should I pay you a dollar?” I ask.  “The bathroom is dirty because you made it dirty.  Don’t you think you should clean it up for free?”

“But I want to raise money to send to children in Haiti!”

“Oh.  Well, I guess you can have a dollar then.”

“Great!  After that I’m going to go around the neighborhood and knock on people’s doors and see if I can walk their dogs to earn money for Haiti.  I want to get $111.00.”

I start calculating how many miles he’s going to have to walk to come up with that money. It doesn’t seem entirely realistic.  “Hey bud,” I call to my laboring son.  “Come here – I have an idea.”

And thus was birthed the idea for the lemonade stand for Haiti.

I haven’t put on a lemonade stand since I was a kid myself.  And it ended…poorly.  I was eleven-ish and we lived in a brand new St. Louis subdivision.  The neighbors across the street joined me and together we made up lemonade and situated ourselves on the street in front of some new construction.  We figured the builders would like to come buy our lemonade.

But they didn’t.  Despite our shrills screeches for LEMONAAAAAAAADE!!!!

So we put our heads together and came up with a solution to make more money.  My neighbor ran over to her house and raided her parents garage refridgerater.  She came out moments later dragging a cooler filled with…beer.

We commenced to shouting: LEMONAAAAADE…BEEEEEER!

And lo and behold, the builders flocked to us.  We sold several cans of beer and were racking in the dough when her dad came tearing acorss the yard.  The construction workers scattered.

“What are you doing?” he stammered.

“We’re selling lemonade and beer,” we said proudly.  “We’re making a lot of money.”

“Girls!” he cried.  “This is illegal.  You can’t sell beer.”

And that was the last time I worked a lemonade stand.

Despite the popularity of the beer, I refrained from suggesting to Sloan the illegal selling of alcohol.  Instead we kept it innocent – lemonade and chocolate chip cookies.  I also did the smart thing and put out the word on Facebook and Twitter.  Thank you to the sweet friends who came out and supported my tender hearted sons’ dream.  You helped him reach his goal and more. 


 The neighbor kids joined us in flagging down passing cars.  Unfortunately there was a competing stand down the road, but that didn’t hamper the spirits of the kids.  They waved, they jumped and flapped their arms like chickens, all the while screeching LEEEEEMONADE! 

And people, when they discovered that we were accepting donations for this organization, were extremely generous, paying five, ten and in one case forty, dollars for a glass of lemonade and a freshly baked cookie. 


 I was humbled as I watched Sloan work so hard to earn money.  Earlier that weekend, I had taken him to Target to use a gift card he got for his birthday.  He had his wallet with him and in his wallet was $20.  His gift card had $15 on it.  He saw several toys that he wanted that were more than $15.  I never said a word to him, I wanted to see how he would respond.

He refused to spend that $20.  “That’s the money for Haiti,” he told me.  And he picked out a smaller toy and a pack of gum instead.  Where did this child of mine come from?  It’s humbling to me.  There is often an ugliness in my heart that crops up when the need to give presents itself.  I get fearful that by giving away my money I may potentially not have what I need (or want) somewhere down the road.  So to see my seven year old give with reckless abandon, not caring about what he might be sacrificing, I was floored.

And honored.  Honored to be his mom.  Ashamed of my own ugliness.  Excited to help him work to earn $111.00. 


Who wouldn’t want to buy a glass of lemonade from a face like this?

We were out there about an hour and a half before the sky started to fall.  As the rain fell, we grabbed our stuff and rushed home where we counted our money.  $120.  He reached his goal.

“Oh wait!” Sloan cried as we sat on the floor with the money.  He rushed to his wallet and grabbed the money out of it.  “I want to put this in.”

Lee and I looked at each other and back at Sloan, his big blue eyes so sweet and big.  “You know what, buddy,” Lee said.  “Why don’t you keep it.”

We went on to explain how God blesses a cheerful giver and we thought that Sloan deserved to keep the money he had already earned as a blessing for his heart.

“Well, can I put some of it in for the children in Haiti?” Sloan asked.

“You can put all of it in, if you really want to,” Lee said.  “But if you want to keep it, you have our permission.”

He thought about it for a minute and took out five dollars.  “I want to give some of it to Haiti,” he said.


And then together as a family, we prayed a blessing over this jar of money – and over a certain seven year old who taught me quite a bit in the span of one day.


A Girly Girl, She is Not




She is sugar and spice and everything nice, but she also has a bit of frogs, snails and puppy dog tails in her.

Or, you know, night crawlers.


The Great Camping Trip of 2010

We did it!  We conquered the great outdoors.  We survived the big woods back woods of Missouri.  We lived off the land.  We were pioneers – FTW!

Actually, if we want to get technical, we lived off of Walmart brand boxed foods and our minivan served as our trusty wagon, faithfully toting our belongings into the very accomodating land of shaded camp grounds.  We are quite the mountaineers.

Aside from the obvious fact that we weren’t totally roughing, we did indeed sleep in the great outdoors, enduring the elements, cooking over a fire and exploring the natural wonders of the land around us.  And we had a blast!

First things first – we pitched the tent.  This was Landon’s first time to sleep in a tent.  Sloan and Tia slept outside several times last year in the back yard.  Landon was so excited to be included in this family excursion that he was literally bouncing off the walls before we left.  He wouldn’t even nap.



Sloan was a huge help.  He’s quite the outdoorsmen.


After the tent was up, we let the kids roll around for a bit before setting up the beds.  Sloan and Tia slept on the hard ground because they’re bones were made for that sort of adventure.  Lee and I slept on an air mattress as did Landon.  Because I know better than to think I would survive sleeping on the hard earth.


We were joined by four other families on our weekend trip.  Since we were the first to arrive we decided to explore a bit.  We hiked up a nearby trail.  The hike didn’t last long because my daughter was apparently created with the smallest bladder known to womankind and she’s yet to learn the art of squatting the the trees.  So we quickly found ourselves heading back down the path to the shower house where we would make frequent runs throughout the weekend.  Thank God it was fairly clean.


Before leaving on our trip, I worried most about the sleeping arangements.  Landon still sleeps in a crib so I was concerned about how he would do in the tent.  I didn’t need to worry.  He was so exhausted that he passed out the second his head hit the pillow both nights, as did the other two.

Lee and I on the other hand…we struggled.  We didn’t plan on it being quite so cold in July.  The weather could not have been more perfect for our weekend trip, but with a low Friday night of 60 degrees, Lee and I nearly froze under our tiny little blanket.  Couple that with a rowdy group of college kids next door and the first night was rough.  In fact, I made a hasty retreat to the minivan in the hopes of finding a little warmth.


Thank God for coffee and caffinated tea.


And a husband who is chipper despite a long, cold night of little sleep.


And a minivan that provided a safe haven for naps the next day when the kids couldn’t fall asleep in the tent.  Not only are minivans hot, but they are extremely functional.  Like a modern day covered wagon, they are.


We explored a local cave where our tour guide taught us all about dolomite and calcite and a bunch of other “mites.”  The quote of the weekend came when the guide was explaining the drastic decline in grey bats due to a rather unfortunate virus.  “We have only 35 bats who call this cave home,” she said to our group.  And bursting through the silence was Sloan who piped up, “Hey!  My dad’s 35!”  Isn’t it nice to know that kids will always be there to keep you humble?




Saturday night, the grown ups snuck away for a little zip line excursion.  Zooming off a platform 90 feet in the air at sunset and zipping over 1200 feet is a good time.  Just sayin’… 


And Sunday we all gathered together for a feast fit for kings.


We ate bacon (and lots of it), hash browns, eggs, donuts and so much more…


Because we forgot towels and because it was a little too involved for our taste, we did not bathe or shower all weekend.  Which means we brought home dirty, dirty children.  My bath tub has the largest, nastiest ring of dirt around it now.  The shower upon returning home was perhaps the most glorious moment of all my life.  I’ve never felt more clean.


In all, the weekend was a smashing success.  The kids did amazing – better than I could have imagined.  We were surrounded by sweet friends.  We laughed a lot, slept a little and made memories that will last for a lifetime.

Now, off to tackle the last three loads of approximately 452 loads of laundry that we brought home…

One Year

One year ago I was doing a bunch of this on the beaches of Turks and Caicos:


I’m not going to lie to you.  I wish I was back there right now…

Toy Story 3: Better Titled “Let’s Tear Mom’s Heart From Her Chest and Stomp On It”

Thank you, Pixar and Disney, for making me a blubbery, sobby mess.  Thank you for gently forcefully ripping my heart from my chest and using it to play ball for 109 minutes.  Thank you for making me so emotional that my husband, when asking what I thought about the movie, had to make a hasty retreat as tears shot out of the corners of my eyes like daggers. 

Thank you, Pixar and Disney, for Toy Story 3.

I took my kids yesterday to see the final installment of the Toy Story saga.  It’s been 15 years since I saw the first Toy Story.  I was a senior in high school.  Now I’m a mom of three.  And the message of this movie was not at all lost on me.  Especially given the fact that Tia sat on one side of me clutching her beloved Lovey Bear and Landon sat on the other, his Sock Monkey nestled snug beneath his arm.  I couldn’t help but look at those two little toys, both so loved and content at this moment.  What will it be like in fifteen years when they are cast off – no longer needed for comfort and companionship?

Excuse me for a moment while I go sob in the bathroom…


It didn’t even dawn on me when we left the house that they were carrying those toys with them to the theater to see a movie about the fate of beloved toys.  But looking at my babies as Andy drove away on the big screen with his faithful companions left to watch his tail lights fade in the distance, I got so terribly emotional.  It doesn’t help that I’m slightly hormonal, or that it’s been a tough week parenting.

As we drove home after the movie, I glanced in the rearview mirror at these children of mine – children who I love desperately.  Time goes by so quickly.  Yesterday (or so it seems) I married Lee.  And then I blinked and it’s suddenly ten years later.  If I weren’t such a prim and proper lady I’d let out an expletive.  Instead I’ll settle for a simple, WTHHow does it move so quickly?

I read this on Nicole’s blog yesterday:

“When you’re holding your baby and he’s falling asleep in your arms slowly and the evening is slipping away and your mind is racing through the thousand things at the top of your list, and you begin to feel – as all fathers and mothers inevitably feel from time to time – that you’re wasting your time taking care of this little kid, try to remember that next year you won’t be able to hold him in the same way, he won’t go to sleep in your arms, and after a few more years, you’ll be happy to get a hug on the run. Our children are here to stay, but our babies and toddlers and preschoolers are gone as fast as they can grow up – and we have only a short moment with each. When you see a grandfather take a baby in his arms, you see that the moment hasn’t always been long enough.” S. Adams Sullivan, The Father’s Almanac

This parenting thing is hard.  “Enjoy it,” everyone tells you, “Because it goes by so fast.”  Even a bunch of animated toys told me the very same thing yesterday.  What no one tells you, though, is that sometimes you have to work really, really hard to enjoy it.  And that is, perhaps, what had me most emotional.  I know it goes by fast, I know I need to enjoy it, I know I need to cherish the moments because they’re over in the blink of an eye – but to be quite honest, I don’t always enjoy being a mom.  I love my kids, of course.  They are so much a piece of me that I hardly remember life without them.  But raising them…it’s hard.

Of course, it’s supposed to be hard now.  “Put in the hard work when they’re young so that when they grow into teenagers you can reap the rewards of that hard work.”  This is another piece of sage advice I cling to.  On the days when it feels like all I do is battle, I remember that it’s better to battle them now when the environment is controlled than to battle them as teenagers when the battlefield is full of hidden mines and has a much larger scope.

But I would be lying if I said that I enjoy every moment of every day.  Because I don’t. 

I do, however, enjoy more than I don’t enjoy.  Stay with me…Yesterday, and the few days leading up to it, was a hard day.  There were many battles, many fights, many tears.  And I was battle weary.  Today, this morning, has been filled with sweetness.  The kids have played together this morning without argument (and when I say argument, I mean screaming bloody murder at one another – sorry to any neighbors who were awakened by Sloan and Tia’s death match on the front porch Sunday morning).  They’ve been pleasant and sweet, obedient even.  And it hasn’t been a stretch to enjoy them.  Yesterday, I had to search a couple of times for ways to like them.

So I was partly grateful to Toy Story for reminding me, yet again, that the time I have with my children when they’re young is fleeting.  Yesterday was one day.  There will be more days like it – days when loving my children is easy but liking them is hard.  But I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I dread this time in our lives coming to an end.  There are sweet days to come, moments to celebrate, birthdays to rejoice in, milestones to accomplish – but the days of them sitting in my lap, a stuffed animal tucked beneath their arms…those days won’t last forever.  And it’s those moments that I cherish the most.  I tuck each one away in the crevices of my heart.

And I will now commence to crying once more.  Dumb cartoon movie…