I Believe

I’ve got the memory of our amazing trip to Europe on my mind today. The beauty of God’s creation leaves me breathless and in awe. I can’t help but rejoice.

The song is Creation Calls by Brian Doerkson (yes that’s me singing it acapella. I love the song…). The images are all from our trip. Have a blessed weekend everyone.

Oh, and one more thing…GO CARDS!

My Fancy Pants Weekend: A Pictorial

Alternately titled: A million pictures of me.

I took a walk and was all “What’s up 90210?!”  Thank goodness no one was around.

I spent a lot of time here.

We may or may not have eaten free cupcakes at Sprinkles (thank you social media) and then headed down the street to Crumbs and had another free cupcake…at 10:00 in the morning.  Don’t judge.

Talking with Don Hahn, producer of The Lion King.  The photo is blurry, I know.  I am dying to get my good camera back from her stint at the spa.

Because I might be the biggest nerd ever, I thought Robert Neuman’s presentation on how they took the original 2D animation and made it 3D was incredibly fascinating.  He used terms like Stereoscopic and Depth algorithms.  When Sloan started complaining about math today, I told him about Newman and told him stick with it, because he might be able to make cartoons someday.

Who knew math could be fun?!

We got an hour long African Dance lesson.  It was so fun!

My favorite part of the whole weekend was meeting Tony Bancroft (Pumbaa’s Supervising Animator) and Mark Henn (Simba’s Supervising Animator).  They were funny, amazingly talented and have drawn many of the most beloved Disney characters of the past 20 years.  Mark Henn drew Ariel, Tiana and Belle just to name a few.

We each got a signed picture to take home.

Who needs Valentino when you can bust out this rockin’ dress that cost less than ten dollars?!


What's with the face? I just don't know...

Meeting Moira Kelly, the voice of adult Nala.  She was so lovely and friendly and down to Earth.

Walking the red carpet green astroturf and smiling like a Cheshire Cat.

Listening to an Organist inside the El Capitan theater play Disney hits.


Headed into the After Party

Rick Schroder. Because I am a proper child of the ’80’s.

With Melissa Joan Hart and Jen. Notice the ridiculous amount of swag in my hands.  I collected all that I could to bring home to the kids so I wouldn’t have to buy gifts.  Thrifty, I am…


I ended the party with the obligatory self photo in front of the Hollywood sign. You see it, right? And again, I don't know why with the face...

I finished my day relaxing poolside at the Beverly Wilshire.  Not bad for a minivan mom from the midwest, eh?

It really was a fun, wonderful weekend and I felt totally in awe of the opportunity.  I’m also so glad it was to cover The Lion King.  I had forgotten what a wonderful (epic?) film that was.  I have seen it so many times, but there was something magical about seeing it on the big screen again, particularly with the 3D effects.  I will definately be taking my kids to see it.

My official post on the film and the movie will be posting live over at 5 Minutes for Mom in a couple of days.  Happy Wednesday, friends!

Disclaimer: Disney and Click Communications paid for my travel, hotel and food expenses for the three days I was in LA.  I was not compensated for this or any other posts.  Any and all opinions expressed are my own.

On Eve, Valentino and that Juicy Red Apple

The heat of the day made the walk pleasant, the sun lighting my face and quickening my step.  An unexpected blessing of a weekend, added to my list of gifts, made my steps light – my heart full.  Life, when looking through the glasses of thankfulness, is no more than a series of gifts strung together.  Thank you, Ann Voskamp, for helping me to better see and understand that.

I walked Rodeo Drive with wide eyes, unaccustomed to strolling amidst such wealth.  I came upon the Coach store and stepped inside, the girl in me clapping her hands with excitement.  I don’t even carry a purse – never have.  But I appreciate them and have convinced myself that I could learn to love it if the purse was made of spun gold, as I imagine the Coach purses to be.

I strolled and oohed and aahed.  I touched, but only with one finger.  There were no prices on the shimmery bags, a clear sign that I was out of my league.  But the looking was all I needed.  I lowered my ten doller sunglasses back down over my eyes and continued my walk.  I stepped into the Yves Saint Laurent shop and a sales person walked up to me with a smile.

“Can I help you find anything in particular?” she asked, her white California teeth glistening in the golden California sun.

“No,” I replied.  “I’m just here to dream.”  I didn’t ask her to tell me exactly how to pronounce the name of the store.  Didn’t want to seem that much of a country bumpkin.  Yez Saint Laurent? Y’ Vez Saint Laurent?  Vez Saint Laurent?  Is there a silent Y?  I JUST DON’TO KNOW!

And she smiled knowingly.  I think a lot of people come into these stores to dream, and maybe touch with one finger.

I moved on.  Gucci.  I found an outfit for Tia and texted Lee.  “For one month’s mortgage, I can get Tia a spectacular outfit at Gucci.  Whatcha think?  Huh?  Huh?”  I finished it with a good old fashioned smiley face emoticon so he wouldn’t know I was serious.  Didn’t want to send the poor man into panic mode thinking the glitz and glam of tinseltown had gone to my head.

He, shockingly, responded with, “Nyet.  No.” Oooohhh…No in two languages.  He was serious.  Maybe he didn’t understand my emoticon?  I moved on.  I came to Valentino and stopped, sucking in my breath.  The gowns in the window were stunning.  Really, really stunning.  I stared for a long time, my heart racing, before finally pulling myself away.  From there I walked to the GAP and bought a pair of shorts for 50% off.

That’s how I roll.

As Lee and I drove home from church yesterday, me in a zombie-like stupor from lack of sleep (the red eye flight home was not my friend), I mentioned my momentary affair with Valentino’s gowns.

“What is it about those gowns that makes them any different from a dress you could buy at Banana Republic or Dillards?” Lee asked.  And then I cried in shame.  Naw…I kid.  But I do think my eyes spaced out for a minute.  “As a girl, when I see those gowns I immediately begin to dream,” I answered all mooney.

“About what?” my manly man asked.

“What it must be like to even have an occasion for such a dress.  What it must feel like to be a princess for a night.  How it would feel to slip one of those gowns on and walk out the door.  I just…dream.”

“And the Coach bags?”  Lee asked.  “What is it about them that makes them any better than a purse from K-Mart?  Is the functionality any different?”


“No.  The functionality is not that different, except that maybe a Coach bag will last forever and a K-Mart bag will last six months.  But that’s not the point,” I answered.

“So what’s the point?”  I could sense his consternation.

“The point is, Coach bags are so preeeetty.” And then I sighed.  They are pretty.

We drove in silence for a few minutes before Lee spoke again.  “This is why the serpant went after Eve in the garden, you know,” he said with a grin.  “He held that shiney red apple up and Eve immediately felt her heart grow mushy.”

I wanted to deny it, but I couldn’t.  He’s right.  Shiney things make us girls act…like girls.

“And Adam is like every other guy who loves his girl in the world.  She held it up and told him she wanted it and he just nodded his head.  I would have said yes, by the way, if you called me up from LA and told me you wanted to buy a Coach bag.  Because I want you to have that princess feeling and I want you to have nice things that make you happy.”

Go ahead.  I know you want to say it.  Aaaaawwwww…

It’s amazing what power we as women can have over our husbands, isn’t it?  Knowing that they do want good things for us.  The Prince wants to take his Princess to the ball, to show her off.  My point here, of course, is not whether or not purchasing a Coach bag or a Valentino gown is right or wrong.  I don’t have any problem with people doing either one of those things.  For me, at this phase of life we’re in, such purchases would not be wise.  It would place unnecessary financial burden on us.  But maybe someday…

The point is this: My husband (and probably yours) would do whatever it takes to make me feel like a princess because he wants to give me the Garden. He wants me to have the best and if I’m not careful, I could manipulate him in such a way that I got all the pretty things I ever wanted.  But…at what price?

“I don’t expect those things from you,” I told him quietly.  “I wouldn’t be comfortable in a $1,500 dress anyway.  But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to dream every once in awhile.”

The truth is, I’m not sure the apple is always worth it.  It sure wasn’t in the garden.  The apple was beautiful, a vibrant red shining in the warm afternoon sun.  A diamond.  Eve touched – with just one finger?  Unfortunately she didn’t stop there.  She plunged her teeth into the center and I have no doubt that apple tasted as good as it looked.

But the price was far greater than she imagined.

It’s a loose analogy, but the point is this – we ladies have more power than we realize over our husbands.  Your man wants to be your Prince – what is the price he must pay to do that?

Image Credit

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

I am sitting in the Tampa airport, sustanence in hand, on my way to Tinsletown for the premiere of The Lion King in 3D.  If you need me, have your people call my people and they can track me down by the pool at the Four Seasons…

Okay, I’m just kidding – I’m not that cool.  Just send me an email or a text, m’kay?  Or you can follow me on Twitter.  I’ll be posting updates there over the weekend.  If I remember.  I’m not a very good Twitter-er…Tweeter…Twitter person.  Whatever.

Buh-bye now!


Welcome to my new blog design!  I decided a couple of months ago that it was time to give this space a little more POP!  And Franchesca of Small Bird Designs was the perfect girl for the job.  Hasn’t she done a wonderful job?!  Hang on, hang on!  I need to introduce you to my favorite feature!!!

Watch the header for a minute.  Keep watching.  Keeeeep watching…

Did you see it?!

Fran sent me numerous templates with different color backgrounds and I just couldn’t make a decision on which color I liked best.  So I asked her if she could do all of them in a rolling header and POOF!  She did it.  She’s like my Fairy Godmother, she is.  She’s gotten all kinds of telepathic hugs and high fives from me for her magical design.

I’m still working out a couple of little details, but mostly I’m just desperately happy with these new changes.  And did you notice the picture of my van up top?  See how the sun just gleamed off of it?  It’s like the angels were smiling down on her hotness…

So I’m still in California.  It’s been just an absolutely amazing few days.  I can’t really describe how much my soul needed this break.  I have been loved and poured into and fed and graced and blessed.  I have written a lot – about 60 pages!  I have edited.  I have read and cried and laughed and slept.  It has just been so wonderful here in Clear Lake, California (which, incidentally is one of the most beautiful places in America…you should visit!).

Today we visited a local winery for a lavender festival.  Stunning is the only word I can use to describe it.  I didn’t bring my camera on this trip (what was I thinking?!) so all I have are a few cell phone photos.  But you’ll get the idea.  I am immensely grateful for these five days I’ve gotten away.  I will go home refreshed and ready to tackle next steps.

The Lavender field

Magic and Beauty

My friend Wendy has fed us like Princesses

The one where Calgon takes me away

I actually just had to consult with Professor Google on what exactly Calgon is.  It’s body fragrancewho knew?!  I always assumed it was some sort of lotion for muscle pain similar to IcyHot or Bengay.

I was way off.

Yesterday was a rough day.  I’ll mercifully spare you the details, but it was a knot in your stomach crazy kind of day.  I really want my house to be the house that all my children’s friends come to.  I like knowing who is here and what they’re saying and doing.  But on knot in your stomach crazy kind of days…it’s just harder.  The noise is louder.  The work feels like work. The kids weren’t bad ( not all of them, anyway – there’s always one trouble maker), but I was tired and didn’t feel well and overwhelmed and the day felt long.

But today?

Today I am on a plane to sunny Northern California where I have the privilege of sitting in the presence of my dear friend Wendy for five whole days.  Wendy and I met  when we were both newlyweds living in the Dallas, Texas area.  I will never forget our first phone conversation.  Lee had come home from a Bible study the night before and told me about this wonderful guy he met whose wife sounded very similar to me.

“She likes to drink tea!” Lee exclaimed.  My sweet new husband who was still baffled by my girly love of tea parties.

The next morning the phone rang.  “I hear you like to take tea,” she said, her voice all warm and buttery and laced with smile.  And that was the beginning of one of the dearest friendships of my life.

Wendy and I have only lived in the same town for just under two years but our hearts were knit tight together through God’s grace..and through our love for writing, tea and wifedom (that should totally be a word).  We spent countless hours those Dallas years talking about our passion for writing and teaching and speaking and learning and loving and growing.  And we drank a lot of tea.

I get to soak up my dear friend for almost an entire week and my soul soars at the thought.  I also get to spend some time alone, releasing the characters in my head.  They’re up there, churning and begging to get out.  Sometimes I’m afraid of it, though.  I’m scared of the story and of letting the characters down.  Because the story in my head is beautiful and what if I mess it up?  What if the trip from my head to my fingertips tarnishes the story and the people?

What if I fail?

These are my honest fears.  I love writing, but I’m sometimes unsure of whether or not I have the gift to pull off the massive story I long to tell.  Realistically, I know I’m not the best writer out there.  I think it’s my lack of inner angst that holds me back…

Whatever the case, I know I’m not the best, but I also know that I have a story to share and I know I have the ability to tell it.  I just really want to tell it well.  This desire is why it’s taken me ten years to complete this book.  I really don’t want to screw this up!

So I will write with full abandon this week.  I will let go and try really hard not to go back and judge my work along the way.  That’s a terrible, terrible habit.  One should never edit her own work before she’s even finished it.   Stephen King said so himself and given the fact that his book is the most inspirational book on writing I’ve ever read, I’m going to submit myself to Mr. King’s urgings and plow forward without looking back.  My soul will rest in friendship (have I mentioned that one of my very dearest friends from here in town is joining us on this writer’s weekend away?  How blessed am I!) and in solitude and in the joy that comes from allowing God to use my gifts and talents to His glory, because that is my deepest desire.

And when I return I will bid adieu to my home and embark on a new adventure.  It is exciting, this tiny little life I lead.

I’ll be back this week.  I have a something fun and special to share with you on Friday.  Stay tuned.


As I descended into Montreal, I craned my neck to get a view of the land through the low hanging clouds.  Streams of water danced across the window and visibility was low.  When we were finally in sight of the city my first thought was, “Oh, it looks like every other city in the world.”

But it wasn’t.

Montreal was wonderful.  From the air, it does look like every other city in the world.  It’s industrial and the drive from the airport to downtown could hardly be described as beautiful.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m met at the exit by a man holding a sign with my name on it.  My limo service driver.  At once I break out in a small grin.  I don’t often get met by cheuffer’s at the airport and secretly I hope I get to have this experience again someday.  I also secretly hope that I don’t ever get so used to this occurance that it loses it’s magic.

After meeting up with the other woman who has been flown in for this event, the lovely Stacy from Mom Central, we make our way to our downtown hotel.  When we arrive downtown, I notice that it looks quite similar to St. Louis in many ways.  The buildings are close, every other street is a one way (created to torture directionless yahoo’s like me, of course) and it feels a bit grey.

But there is more to the city.  I want to understand what it is.  It suddenly dawns on me that I don’t know a single thing about Canada’s history.  Why do they speak French in Quebec?  How did Montreal get established?  What mysteries lie behind the Notre Dame church that stands valiantly around the corner?  I wasn’t prepared for how foreign it would feel in Montreal.  For someone who adores international travel, this was icing on the cake. 

My two days in Montreal were a whirlwind.  I quickly realized that I should have spent less time mastering my “Eh” and more time learning some French.  Thankfully, mercifully, most people spoke English as well and I was able to meander my way through the crowd with the ignorance of an American who can’t be expected to know another man’s tongue.

Note to self: learn a few functional phrases in the native language of any place you ever visit.

We kicked the weekend off with a beautiful dinner at Le Latini, which was every bit as wonderful as the name makes it out to be.  Our waiters were both bald, with prominent eyebrows, laugh lines around their eyes and broad smiles.  Their accents were thick and sometimes difficult to understand, but they treated our group of five well.

It ended up feeling like a girls weekend away.  I so enjoyed the women I was with that I wished our time in Montreal could be a little longer.  They were funny, sweet, thoughtful and…did I mention funny?

The next morning, after a glorious breakfast where we met up with the final two bloggers of our crew, we headed to the set of Walmart/P&G’s newest installment of the Family friendly Family Movie Night movies.  Right now the working title of this film is “Passport,” but that is likely to change.

We are not allowed to bring cameras to the set, but are instead trailed by one of the cameramen, Francois, and the set photographer, Phillip.  Have I mentioned yet that Canadian men are handsome?  No?  Not sure how I overlooked that important point… Not only are their names romantic, but so is their language.  And yes, the men of Montreal are handsome.  And now we all know – the hot men of the world are hiding in Quebec.  That piece of information is brought to you free of charge.

We spoke first with Loren Dean, one of the principle characters.  I think he was a little nervous to speak with us blogger types.  He probably heard that we have fangs.

Actually, he was quite pleasant and spent about ten minutes chatting with us.  I remember him from his role in Apollo 13 as one of the flight controllers but from a bit of research it appears he has been in quite a few productions of greater notoriety.

We watch them film a chase scene and meet the child actors on the set, both of whom were terminally cute and extremely personable.  Then we are ushered inside the house they are using to film much of the movie.  Or maybe I should say mansion.  The house is spectacular. 

We watch a couple more scenes being filmed, then set up to interview the Executive Producer.  After that we each had the opportunity to interview Robin Lively who was lovely.  And who knows Zac Efron as her husband played the dad in the High School Musical franchise.  I tried to act cool upon hearing this information.  I may or may not have pulled that off.  I really enjoyed speaking with Robin.  She has three children, almost the same age as mine, a girl sandwiched between two boys.  But she doesn’t drive a minivan, something that I urged her to remedy quickly.  She agreed to consider it.  If I may have somehow managed to pull another mother out of the confines of “coolness” and into the freedom of the minivan, I will consider my time there well spent. 


We also had the opportunity to interview the amazing Christine Baransky who was absolutely delightful to talk to.  She was so nice and so personable and friendly.

And she told me I should get massages.  BOOM! Instant friendship.

This post is getting far too long so I’ll spare you too many more details.  In a couple of weeks I should receive the photos and video for my post regarding the movie.  I’ll share more then.  For now, though, I can honestly say that I had the best time on this trip.  Turns out I’m kind of a camera whore.  I loved when they said “Action.”

Who knew?

I will also say that Canadians are extremely friendly.  Even the people working in the airport!  Shocker, right?!  They smiled, they asked questions, they laughed.  They were all so pleasant.  And cute.  I’ve mentioned that the men were good looking, right?  Oh I have?  Oh, sorry.  My bad…

Au Revoir my bloggy friends.  I wonder how you say that in French?

Oh Canada

I’m working on my northern accent today.  I’m saying “Eh?” alot and I throw in “That’s what I’m talking aboot,” every now and then.


Because I’m going to Montreal tomorrow!

The lovely Janice of 5 Minutes for Mom sent me an email last week that said something to the effect of, “Hey, do you have a passport?  Would you like to go to Montreal next week to visit the set of a new family friendly movie that’s being filmed there?”

To which I promptly responded something to the effect of, H#*% yeah!

No I didn’t.  I don’t swear…hardly ever.  I promise I don’t!  I might’ve thought it, though…

So yes, I’m hopping on a plane tomorrow morning and flying to Montreal.  I won’t be there any time at all, honestly.  I probably won’t even get to see the city, but whatever.  It is an adventure and I love a good adventure, dontcha know.

I also adore my husband who takes these things in stride and gives me his full support.  I could not do this sort of thing without his awesome attitude.  I seriously have the greatest man on planet Earth.  Plus, well…he’s pretty dang good looking, too.  (He’s been working out – yowza)  And he makes me laugh.  And he’s all mine!  You can be jealous.  S’okay.

So I’m cleaning today and packing and doing laundry and making out lists and writing thank you notes to the lovely people who are helping out with the kiddos while I’m gone.  It’s amazing how much work has to be done when you are leaving for three days.

The next time I talk to you I’ll be in blustery Montreal!  Now that’s what I’m talking aboot, eh?

I should fit right in…

Digging Down Deep


Today is one of those days when I feel like I’m done.  I have nothing left.  I gave so much of myself last week and I used every bit of my reserve energy to survive and get through that I have little left this week.  Lee is home now, which helps, but unfortunately work is such that I’m still alone a lot, with sick children, a house to pack (we’re hoping to put it on the market in a few weeks) and a long list of other responsibilities staring me in the face.

And I am exhausted.  So tired that my eyes actually ache.  And given the fact that I have a three year old who refuses to nap, afternoon rest is likely not in my forecast.  *sad face* 

This is one of those days/weeks that I am going to need to dig down deep.  One of those days/weeks when I have nothing left of my own to offer.  One of those days/weeks when my time with my Bible is like lapping from the sweet stream waters after an arduous hike.

I’m digging down deep.  I am in survival mode.  In this fog I honestly don’t see an end in sight, but I know there is one.  In three weeks I’ll be in Florida.  The Beach is waiting for me.  And my mom will be there.  Ah!  Suddenly there is a small light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s called Spring Break.

What do you all do when you have to dig deep?  What gets you through those longs days/weeks/months/years when life is overwhelmingly full?

The one where we plan a trip

I wanted to go visit my parents in London, but logistically it just wasn’t coming together.  So when mom emailed me yesterday and said she was coming back in to the States in March during the kids Spring Break and asked if we’d like to join her in Florida at their condo I don’t even think a second passed before I said Yes!

After calling Lee to confirm that worked with him, we booked our tickets and BAM!  We’re getting out of here in 6 weeks.  This is just the pick me up I needed to get through this final push of winter.  We moved to St. Louis when I was 12.  We moved from Wisconsin, so I do know that winter can be worse other places.

But hands down, this has been the worst winter I have ever experienced here in St. Louis.  It’s just been nuts and I think everyone is feeling the effects.  The winter blues have settled in big time.  But alas, we now have something to look forward to.  Sunshine.  The beach.  Hours playing at the park.  Sunsets at the Sand Pearl.

In six weeks we will be doing this:


And this…


And this…


And we’ll probably watch a few of these…


There may not be a cure for the Summertime Blues, but this is definately my cure for the wintertime blues!