Even Gymnasts Have a Disney Side

One of the great privileges this blog has brought me has been the opportunity to work with great brands that I love. I have been very, very, VERY picky and selective over the years in who I work with, what kinds of posts I write for companies, and how often I write a promotional post. I’m glad that one of my final posts on this website will be for a brand that I know and love.

Disney Side1

Disney. Who doesn’t love Disney, right?!

Living in Florida has a lot of perks, one of them being our proximity to the Disney parks. The truth is, I can only take so much of a theme park in one day. After a few hours, I’m usually done feeling magical, which means living nearby is nice because we can pop in for a quick visit, hit up the attractions we enjoy the most, and leave before major melt downs occur.

That is what we call “Winning.”

Last year I had the honor of being invited to the Disney Social Media Moms event, where I learned so much more than I thought I would. I went to the event with a little bit of trepidation because I thought it would be all MAGIC and FAIRIES and LOOK AT DISNEY FROM EVERY ANGLE!

Even grown ups (especially grown ups?) enjoy showing off their Disney Side.

Even grown ups (especially grown ups?) enjoy showing off their Disney Side.

It was none of that. I left encouraged, inspired, and with the germ of an idea to start a new website. Fast forward ten months, and that germ of an idea is about to take root.

A few months ago, I was selected to take part in Disney’s new at home Disney Side Celebrations. I didn’t really know what this meant until a large box showed up at my door with a beautiful plum-colored American Tourister suitcase filled to the brim with Disney product.

Nobody does magic like Disney, eh?

A friend made Tia this super cute Frozen-inspired leotard with snowflakes all over it and "Let It Go" across the top. It is her new favorite.

A friend made Tia this super cute Frozen-inspired leotard with snowflakes all over it and “Let It Go” across the top. It is her new favorite.

The idea was to have a party in my home in which I, along with my kids and their friends, could show off my Disney Side. This posed a slight problem in that we had already hosted several home parties over the last few months, and I wasn’t really prepared for another one. I did, however, have Tia’s 8th birthday party planned at her gym, so I took my one stone and flung it at both birds.

(Do you love how I used that totally cliche’ figure of speech? Wasn’t that fun?)DisneySide4

I brought the Disney cups, and plates, the tattoos and games and spread them out on the table, and laughed when not only the kids, but also the adults started ooh’ing and aah’ing over the goodies. Disney brings magic in so many ways.

For the kids, the magic is in the now. The songs, the colors, the lights and characters that come to life.

For the adults, it’s in the nostalgia. Everything is new, and yet it is just as it was when we were young, and the early versions of ourselves get to fly again through the power of imagination.

As commercial as Disney may seem to some, for me it holds just the right amount of nostalgia and magic to bring out my own Disney Side. It must be all the fairy dust they sprinkle around the parks.


Disclaimer: I was asked to be a part of the Disney Side at home celebrations, and Disney provided me with all the product necessary to throw a party. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

The One Where I Brag on My Kids

Last night Lee and I took a little time to debrief. We haven’t really had time to talk this last month, to process all that was happening. It was sort of survival of the fittest around here, and since he went down hard with the flu, we’ve just passed each other in the house this past week with little more than a few mental high fives, and withered looks of fatigue.

2013 was a big year for us. Now that we’re on the other side of it and can look back and take stock, I’m amazed to see at all that happened in those 12 months. They were undoubtably the hardest months of our lives, and at the same time, with hind sight providing some clarity, I can see just how blessed last year really was.


And my kids? You guys, they were just amazing.



My kids saw and experienced more in the last year than they ever have before. They witnessed abject poverty when we went to Dominican Republic in June. They served many Saturdays at our church’s food pantry, and they helped serve Thanksgiving dinner to those in desperate need of assistance. They helped make shoes for children in Africa, and they delivered a car full of toys to children in the hospital.

And then, to top it off, we asked them to make the biggest sacrifice of all – we asked them to open their hearts to love a 17 year old girl from half way around the world, and they did it without hesitation.

roomSloan gave up his bedroom for a month, letting me turn it into a pink and grey girl room. He never complained, never asked why. He didn’t whine, and he didn’t once make us feel bad about the decision to put her in there. I could not be more grateful for his attitude. 

Tia sacrificed being the only princess girl in the house. She gave up a bit of her autonomy as the coveted female, and she willingly shared her daddy with K for four weeks. We had less time to spend watching her do gymnastics, and when it was time to play with makeup or paint nails, it was always three of us participating in the activities. She didn’t complain or react in jealousy, but freely gave up her coveted one on one time with us. I’m so, so proud of her.

Landon did what Landon always does. Pulled out a ball and asked K to play. The language barrier didn’t matter to him, and he willingly and daily asked her to play with him. Most days she said yes to his inquiries, but sometimes she said no, and when she did he moved on without complaint. He was so gracious and loving toward her. What a precious boy he is.

I’m bragging on my kids today because they deserve it. They aren’t perfect kids, and they have their moments, as any child does. But they gave up a lot this past year. We asked them to make sacrifices of comfort and time and material things to the benefit of others, and every time we placed a challenge in front of them, they met it.

When we began the adoption process a year and a half ago, we were warned more than once to be careful that our children weren’t sacrificed in the quest to bring someone new into our home. While such warnings are wise, and should be considered, the fact is this: our children (mine and yours) are a heckuva lot stronger than we often give them credit. Kids love to know they’re being helpfulthat they’re being used to make someone else’s life better.


I saw this not only in my own children, but also in their friends while K was here. So many of their friends wanted to be a part of blessing K, and they really, really did! They gave her rainbow loom bracelets and 1 Direction cards. They laughed with her, and shared smiles and waves that communicated so much love. K went home blessed by more than just my kids, without doubt.

If you’re looking at stepping outside your comfort zone this year and trying something different – something that might be hard – I encourage you to let your kids take the journey with you. And as you do, watch and observe how they respond.

I can almost guarantee they will surprise you.

The Story of Goodbye

Tonight was hard.


There were a lot of tears shed, puddles of salty grief washing soft cheeks, all dotted with freckles. As I held them close, all four of them, I couldn’t help but feel like I caused all of this. I know it’s not true – that such a feeling is a lie from the pit of hell meant to bring about the unholy guilt that stops one from taking action against the injustices of this world. But it didn’t diminish the pain I felt as I watched them cry.

This saying goodbye thing is not a fun ride.


It’s interesting, though, to watch my children embrace this act of sacrifice, even in the very worst moments. It’s a chance to share with them what we all must learn at some point in our lives – serving others requires sacrifice, and sacrifice is rarely easy.

We sacrificed time and energy this last month. We sacrificed funds, and sleep. I don’t say any of those things to publicly pat myself on the back. On the contrary, there were some days when I was so fully overwhelmed by the sacrifice that I wanted to scream…and cry. Then scream and cry some more. I didn’t enjoy every moment of the sacrifice, but if I had, would it really have been a sacrifice?

Sometimes I wish that God could have placed an easier call on my heart. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t feel a passion for something that’s so hard to fulfill. Sometimes I wish that I could just stop and be content with where we are – to enjoy the ride in the fast lane for a little while.

But only sometimes…

Sacrificial love requires that you shave off a piece of your heart and offer it freely. But can I share a little secret?

When you do this – when you give away pieces of yourself without any expectation attached – you’d be surprised at what you receive back.


When we signed up to host “K” for a month, we naively thought this would all hinge upon what we had to offer. We had no idea how much she would give back to us. She brought joy and laughter, and a wholeness that was entirely unexpected. This wasn’t about us, and it wasn’t about her.

This was about all that God could do with hearts willing to submit, and with broken people willing to take a chance.



Tomorrow there will be more tears, and more heartache, and my children will be separated from someone they’ve come to love deeply. “K” will board a plane and will be separated from a family she’s come to love deeply. We’ll all go our separate ways broken, and also more whole.

Isn’t it spectacular how God can both break and heal all in the same breath?

I’m trying to guard how many of the stories I share publicly – how much of the heartache and pain that we all feel to open to the world. Some stories need to be told, and others need to be protected. But I wanted you to know, my friends, that we are all going to be okay. This month was part of a design set into motion long before any of us drew breath.

It doesn’t make sense, and it isn’t easy.

But sacrifice never does, and it never is.

Thank you for your prayers, and yes, please keep them coming. But know without doubt that we’re all going to be okay.

This is only the beginning of the story…

Half a dozen years

My baby is six today. This child brings so much joy to our family, and I am grateful every single day for his smile, his humor, his giggles, his freckles, his energy, his sweetness.

He is so precious to me.


He’s currently keeping his hair longer because, in his words, “I wanna be able to flip it.” Um…okay.

He's always good for a laugh.

He’s always good for a laugh.

That face. I could cover it with smooches if he'd let me...

That face. I could cover it with smooches if he’d let me…




Goof take 2

Goof take 2

Perhaps his biggest flaw is that he knows he's cute, and he works it.

Perhaps his biggest flaw is that he knows he’s cute, and he works it.

Skinned knees and elbows are part of his every day wardrobe. "Play hard of Go Home." That's his motto.

Skinned knees and elbows are part of his every day wardrobe. “Play hard of Go Home.” That’s his motto.


He hates shoes so this is what his feet look like every moment of every day.

He hates shoes so this is what his feet look like every moment of every day.

He continues to grow taller, yet he has only gained about 4 pounds in the last three years. He's a scrawny little bugger...

He continues to grow taller, yet he has only gained about 4 pounds in the last three years. He’s a scrawny little bugger…


All the girls have crushes on him. What can I say? Chicks dig freckles...

All the girls have crushes on him. What can I say? Chicks dig freckles…

I’m constantly wishing I could freeze time with this kid, and yet each new season brings out a new aspect of his personality that is so much fun. I can’t wait to see what he becomes in the future.

Posts of birthdays past if you’re interested:

Someone’s One – December 16, 2008

To My Son on His Birthday – December 16, 2009

My Christmas Baby – December 16, 2010

Four is More – December 16, 2011

Delightfully Five – December 16, 2012

Scenes from a (crazy) (blessed) weekend

We packed last weekend full of as much activity as we possible could in order to fit everything in before Christmas. Birthday parties, an all day training for orphan hosting, and our annual Christmas party left us completely spent last night.

But it was all so fun!

I baked, cleaned, baked, cleaned some more, set up, tore down, set up, tore down again, and on and on it went, and when it was all said and done and the dust settled we were left with great memories, and sweet blessings shared.

Today I’m just going to share a few photos of our crazy weekend. I’ll be writing later this week about the impact our Christmas party had on us, and will hopefully have both locally and internationally.

We are blessed, indeed.

We kicked off the weekend by celebrating Landon’s upcoming 6th birthday.


I managed to control 15 kindergartners, a piñata, and a metal bat all by myself WITHOUT BEING BLUDGEONED TO DEATH! Someone give me a medal. Or a stiff drink. Either will do…


Don’t you love how much kids enjoy celebrating one another?!


A 6 year old opening gifts in front of his friends – the definition of claustrophobia…


On Sunday we hosted our annual Christmas party in which we gathered toys for The Ronald McDonald House, and this year we teamed up with Sole Hope to cut shoes for Ugandan children.


So many people we’re blessed to know.


Cutting out old jeans, which will be made into shoes for children. So simple. So effective.


Sweet friends working hard. We cut enough fabric to assemble 30 complete pairs of shoes. 


It’s not a party without a wicked game of soccer, football, baseball, tag…


Lee reading the story of the birth of Christ, and why we love to bless and give to others, because so much has already been done for us.


Tia and Landon helped me assemble the shoe kits Sunday night, which will now be sent to Uganda to be sewn together.


We have one week left to prepare for Christmas before our sweet “K” arrives to spend a month with us. I am admittedly a little overwhelmed, and also relieved to have last weekend under my belt. But what a blessing it is to be able to pour ourselves out to the greater benefit of others. It’s not easy, but the reward is worth the lack of sleep, the stress, and the work involved.

I can’t wait to share more with you all this week about the way the Lord has blessed us by giving us opportunities to bless others!

Happy Monday, friends!


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.


Family Game Night at its Best


If your family is like ours, then you are constantly looking for ways to connect with one another and enjoy one another with as few arguments as possible, and without the crutch of the television constantly entertaining you. Family Game Night is always enjoyable, but only if you have the right game.

We totally found that game!


First a little background:

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a dear friend from the past. Thanks to the world of Facebook we can all feel somewhat connected, but there’s something lovely about getting a personal message from someone who once played a significant role in your life.

My friend, Kirk, contacted me about a game that his wife Jane developed. He sent me the game to try out with my family, and if we enjoyed it, asked if I would tell my readers about it, and oh my goodness, we so enjoyed this game.

Instructures is a fast paced game for groups, and it forces you to work together as a team, to problem solve and strategize, and to control your desire-to-win impulses and not throw blocks at your teammates when they let you down.

Jane developed the idea for the game years ago while teaching VBS. She had the children in her group stand behind a curtain with styrofoam cups and follow her voice commands to build a structure out of the cups. If they listened well, they’d build the structure correctly – if they didn’t listen well, it would fall.

The application was to show the children how Noah had to listen closely to God to build the Ark. There weren’t drawn up blue prints. God told him what to build and how to build, and Noah had to listen closely and follow those directions.

Jane noticed how much fun the kids had playing this game, and the idea for Instructures was born.

Taking her simple idea, Jane and Kirk worked together to develop an entire game. They had a friend design the blocks, and Kirk took the designs to an Amish wood working shop in Bowling Green, Missouri and asked if they would be willing to cut the pieces for them – 38,000 of them. They had the cards and game pieces printed, gathered their Amish wood pieces, and in their basement with their children, they packaged the first 1,000 games themselves.

Then they began to tell people about it.

In 2011, Jane entered the game in a contest put on by the Mensa Society – the Mensa Mind Games. Out of 59 entries, Instructures won, and it is now being offered online, and in select stores.

When we sat down to play with the kids, I wasn’t sure if we would like it, but within minutes I realized that this game is Fun with a capital ‘F’! By the end of the game, one person in our family (who shall remain unnamed) wet their pants from laughing so hard.

gamenight2We all also realized that should we ever play this game again, we want to be on Tia’s team, because this game combines two of her greatest strengths – Competition and Bossing People Around.

There are 72 pairs of “blue prints” inside the game, and they are broken up based on difficulty. You split up in two teams, and one person on the team acts as “foreman.” The foreman from each team take one set of matching blue prints, and they look at the picture on the card and tell their teammates how to build the structure. The first team to finish shouts DONE! and the other team inspects. If the structure was built correctly, you roll the die to move forward on the board. If it was built incorrectly, you roll the die to move backward.

There are challenges on the board that up the ante, such as the foremen giving instructions without speaking, or turning around and giving instructions without looking to see if the team is doing it correctly. These added a level of suspense to the game that made it even more fun.

The game was a little too hard for Landon. He couldn’t quite keep up, so we designated him the roller of the die and mover of the pieces. He also shot this video of us playing. Notice how focused Tia is in her instructions. Lee began to worry she was going to harm him if he didn’t quickly and efficiently heed her instructions. (And yes, they won. I want to be on Tia’s team next time…)


I cannot recommend this game more highly. It is great for adults and children. It requires you to think quickly, to listen hard, and to use your wits to beat your opponent. If you’re looking for a great new addition to Family Game Night, this is it.

(Click here to order.)

Disclaimer: I was given Instructures for the purposes of review. I am not being compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Crazy is as Crazy does so don’t miss the Crazy, Yo!

Daddy has been out of town for a week. Five solid days of crazy without the buffer of a male voice to TAME SAID CRAZY!

I’ve done fairly well, but last night I hit a wall. Tired, I was. Exhausted. I wanted the small children in my midst to go to bed. To sleep. Because honestly I was starting to feel a bit like this:


So we made it home from soccer practice, had the obligatory ice cream snack, then I asked the small children to stop screaming (why with all the screaming?!) and go get ready for bed. Instead, this happened:



Now my first reaction was to get angry because HELLO?! Did you not hear the words that came from my mouth? I said get ready for bed, not put on cheesy music and have an air guitar jam session.

But then I took a breath and simmered down a minute to actually watch them, and a strange thing happened.

I laughed. I laughed because these small children are freaks in the best sense of the word. They’re so weird and I do really love their weirdness.


It became quickly apparent that however ready I was for bed, they were not ready to the same degree. So we put on our shoes, grabbed the dog, and took her on a walk. In the dark. In the rain.

They ran around the block yelling and somersaulting through every. single. yard. (Sorry neighbors.) And we all laughed, which felt good because this solo parenting thing can be a drag.

We made it home and through the bedtime routine quickly and when the house was finally, mercifully quiet I whispered a prayer of thanks before falling into bed. I’m glad I didn’t miss that moment last night.

That crazy moment, with my little freaks.

Happy Friday, friends. May your weekend be filled with just enough crazy to keep you laughing. *wink wink*

A Repost, Because Summer is Crazy

This is, hands down, the craziest summer I’ve experienced thus far as a mother. We are moving from one thing to the next at break neck speed, and it’s all this Mama can do to keep from hyperventilating at ALL THE INSANITY!

See there? See the caps lock? INSANITY!

Today I’m packing Sloan up for his week long adventure to Washington DC and New York. My parents have told each of the kids that they will take them whereever they want to go for a week long trip when they turn ten (in the Continental United States – yes, that had to be defined because a certain child had big ideas about traipsing about Europe for her trip).

When Sloan returns we’ll have a few days at home before we leave for Kanakuk, St. Louis and Conway, Arkansas for two weeks. When we come home we’ll have a week and a half before school starts. Seriously, I feel like I can’t breathe when I try to think about all of it at once.

So while I go bury my face in a paper bag, I’m going to leave you with a repost, because I needed to laugh today, and maybe you did too. Happy Friday, friends! May your weekend be fun, restful and free of panic attacks.



Originally published June 11, 2011


I was on the phone last week, pacing the driveway.  It was a beautiful day and the kids were all napping or resting.  I just needed some air.  As I spoke with my friend, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.  I turned in time to see Sloan marching by with a twelve foot ladder tucked snuggly under his arm.  He didn’t even glance my way as he walked past, his face cool and nonchalant.  As if carrying around a ladder was normal.

I swear, if that kid had a stuffed tiger I would be living with Calvin and Hobbes.

“Um…I think I should probably hang up,” I said to my friend as Sloan set the ladder down next to the corner of the house and popped it open.  He looked up at the roof, his hand shading his eyes slightly.  I managed to reach him just as he stepped on the third rung, the ladder wobbling precariously on the slanted driveway.

“Whatcha doin’?”  I asked, grabbing hold of the base of the ladder.

“Oh, hey Mom,” Sloan said, still playing cool.  “I’m checking out the bird’s nest up here.”

I looked up and sure enough, there was a nest just underneath the roof.

“Can I?” he asked, looking down at me with his penetrating blue eyes.  Then he grinned.  Stinker.

“Yes,” I replied.  “Be careful.”

So up he climbed to the top rung and he peered over the side of the nest.

“There’s a baby bird in there!” he screeched.  Seriously screeched.  My ears are still ringing.  “It’s so cute!  Aw, Mom come see the baby bird!”

So we switched places and I climbed the ladder with him holding it steady.  Inside the nest was a tiny, newly hatched baby, it’s beak pointed upward, waiting for nourishment.

“Can I see it again?” Sloan yelled, shaking the ladder for effect.  Nice.

He climbed back up and looked in again.  “This is so freakin’ cool!” he yelled again.  To which I reminded him that I was only a few feet below and he didn’t need to scream.  Then he reached for the bird.

“Don’t touch it,” I cautioned.  “If the Mama bird comes back and smells you on her baby, she’ll leave him and he’ll die.”

With one last look and a wave, we pulled the ladder back down and headed on with our day.

Fast forward to this afternoon when we’re driving home from church.  Sloan pipes up from the backseat.  “Hey Mom.  I don’t care if it dies, so when we get home can I get the ladder out and pick up the baby bird and keep it?  I’ll get it worms and I’ll take care of it.  Can I raise the baby bird?”

“No,” I said.  “It’s Mama would be sad.  And we really don’t know how to raise a baby bird.  It’s better if we leave it alone.”

“But I can take good care of it,” came the anticipated protest.

“Hey Buddy,” Lee said, glancing into the mirror.  “You don’t need to try and raise that baby bird.”


“Well,” Lee said, and he paused.  “It would be like a bear coming to our house and seeing you and saying ‘I want to take that little boy home and raise him.’  Bears don’t know how to raise little boys.  That bear wouldn’t know how to feed you – he’d probably just give you raw meat or raw fish, like he eats.  And if he tried to hug you or give you a kiss, he’d probably claw your face off or bite off your head with his sharp teeth.  Bears aren’t meant to take care of little boys just like little boys aren’t meant to take care of baby birds.”

This is the part where I begin clutching my sides, I’m laughing so hard.

“And bee’s should take care of bee’s, wight?”  Tia chimes in.

“Right,” Lee replies.  “Bears take care of bears, bee’s take care of bee’s, bird’s take care of bird’s–”

“And people take care of people!”  Sloan interrupts.

“That’s right!”  Lee pumps his fist in the air.  “Homosapiens take care of Homosapiens.”

“Yeah!” Sloan yelled, pumping his fist in the air victoriously. “Wait…what’s a Home-sapien?”

And THAT, folks, is what happens when Daddy decides to explain.

The End.

A Decade

My boy.

Born July 10, 2003

9 lbs. 3 oz. 








Clearwater 025


Photo by Avodah Images. One of my all time favorites. AvodahImages.com

Photo by Avodah Images. One of my all time favorites. AvodahImages.com


He has ten year old Hobbit Feet now...

He has ten year old Hobbit Feet now…


My baby is ten today.

A decade.

Double digits.

Never to be single digits again.

I really, really love who this kid is becoming.

Pardon me while I go have a piece of cake.