WFMW: When Moving is Bittersweet

We moved into our house Dec. 10, 2004.

We moved out July 27, 2012.

My older kids were 4 and 2 years old. There are a million memories dancing around the halls of that house.

We are super excited about this new chapter in our lives, but transitions can be challenging.

I borrowed this idea from my friend Shannon (the originator of WFMW): find a secret spot in the house and write down a favorite memory. We also wrote down our move in/out date. The new buyers will probably never see it, but my kids will never forget it!


We are making good progress on getting settled. And my kids are at their grandparents farm for the rest of week. I can’t remember the last time my hubby and I were HOME ALONE.

I’ll see y’all later.

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FB Giveaway {Announcement}

You might remember this massive giveaway that I hosted with these lovely blogging ladies: Jessica from The Mom Creative; The Nester; Jessica from Allora Handmade; Megan from Sorta Crunchy; Lindsey from The Pleated Poppy; Lisa-Jo from The Gypsy Mama; Hayley from The Tiny Twig and Kristen from Rage Against the Mini Van.

Thousands of you liked their awesome Facebook pages and checked out their blogs. Today I am pleased to announce the winners.

And the grand prize is an incredible gift basket including all of the following:

Grand Prize winner: Breann Wozniak

CONGRATULATIONS to all the winners!

This giveaway is restricted to US residents only. Thank you to all the amazing businesses who contributed to this giveaway, especially to Becky Higgins LLC for The Project Life kit and Xyron for the 5″ machine and adhesive – two of my most favorite companies.

End Summer With a Splash {Giveaway}

UPDATE:  Comment #12 has been randomly selected as the winner.  Congratulations Kirsten!

Sometimes an overnight staycation is exactly what you need.

Several weeks ago, before our summer got really crazy, we enjoyed a day/night on the town over Father’s Day weekend, just before we traveled to Kenya.

We checked into The Woodlands Resort (North of Houston, Texas) and the person in charge checked out the amenities.

My son checked out the rollaway bed. He was pretty excited about it:

My daughter found snow cones around the pool and the fun was just starting.

When we got back to our room, we devoured an afternoon snack (my kids were so impressed)

The night ended with a Dive-In Movie around the pool. But I’m not going to lie, my favorite part was the super, amazing, deluxe breakfast the next morning before church.

There were seriously about 200 choices!

It was an awesome weekend!

I’m happy to announce The Woodlands Resort is providing give away an Oasis of Fun package that is an overnight stay for two adults (and up to two kids) plus breakfast for four! It includes many amenities like the amazing pools, sauna, steam room, Fitness Center and Forest Oasis Waterscape.

Please check out The Woodalands Resort and leave a comment if you’d like to win!

This giveaway ends on Friday.

Parenting: How to Go for the Real Gold

It was 1984 and I was 12 years old.

I watched Mary Lou Retton flip and flop in the Olympics. I wore a leotard and leg warmers and cheered her to gold.

It’s surreal as I plan to watch history unfold this weekend with my own 12 year old daughter.


How did I get so old?

I’m on this parenting path and I’m running this race dodging obstacles and trying to avoid getting off course.

But it’s hard and I’m an amateur.

The other night, my daughter tapped on our door. It was hours past her bedtime, but I could tell it was serious by the look on her face. She slowly walked to the side of my bed clutching a folded letter in her hands.

She handed it to me and started crying.

My heart thundered as I read her carefully printed confession. It told of how she deliberately disobeyed us. And how she quickly discovered with her secret choice, there was no joy. She was riddled with guilt.

I have never been more proud of my daughter. 

Sure, I was disappointed by her choice (which in and of itself wasn’t a big deal, just something we didn’t feel like she was ready for), But I was more impressed with her honesty.

I hugged her tight, her body quaking. I wiped my own eyes.

And I felt like I had won gold.

Because somehow, some way in all of our parenting mistakes and mishaps, she got the one lesson we long to teach our children:

Be like Jesus, even when no one is looking. And when you mess up, ask for forgiveness and keep running the race.

My kids are going to make mistakes. It’s part of life. But hearing my girl ask for a consequence, made me feel like all this hard parenting work is paying off.

When I look at the world’s idea of successful parenting, it includes good grades, elite education, conforming to mainstream agendas, being politically correct and looking perfect.

I haven’t taught my kids any of that. Instead, I’m okay with okay grades and we are currently (purposefully) moving out of an exemplary school district. I’ve encouraged them to stand up for what’s right, even it it means they are alone and I’d rather overpay for a t-shirt that benefits a worthy cause than jeans that get the approval of peers.

This journey is long. It’s filled with victories and defeats.

But in this leg of the race, I’ve learned there is victory in defeat and I wouldn’t trade that bit of gold for anything.


WFMW: Cupcake 101

[This post required a fair amount of um, research. It was a hard job, but somebody had to do it.]

I used to get frustrated with eating cupcakes because I like to eat icing with every bite of cake. This always proved to be difficult because I always had cake leftover. I want to share THE PERFECT way to eat a cupcake and get icing with every bite: I give you a cupcake sandwich.

This might just change your cupcake-eating life:

Step 1: Make/Buy a cupcake.

Step 2: Remove cupcake wrapper.

Step 3: Carefully break off bottom half of cake. Seriously.

Step 4: Press broken half of cake ON TOP of icing, where icing is in the middle of two cake halves

photo source

Step 5: Eat.

Step 6: Repeat often.

Cupcake sandwiches work for me!

edited repost
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Motherhood is Not Rocket Science

I was an incredible mother before I had children.

Now, my kids are sitting in front of the Netflix box and I’m hiding in the bathroom eating a chocolate bar.

It’s been one of those years days.

Two weeks before our trip to Kenya, I started giving my kids their weekly dose of malaria medicine. Somehow I missed the MICROSCOPIC instructions on my 5 year old’s prescription that told me to give her 1/4 of a pill. I didn’t discover my mistake until the day before we left for Africa, as I was pulverizing the huge adult dosage.

Y’all: I overdosed my child. Not once, but twice.

Thankfully, she’s a belligerent girl who doesn’t conform or take medicine well. Upon my calculations, she didn’t ever get a full dose.

But still.

I didn’t sleep a wink, watching over her all night. And I prayed and just between us, I had a meltdown. I could have accidentally killed her.

She’s fine, I might be too someday.

This mothering thing is heavy.

Her next doses while in Kenya and two weeks after we got home, were appropriately dissected and crushed with a pill cutter and mixed with a Fun Dip.

This mothering thing is fun.


At least I’m not one of those moms who let’s their kids do crazy and unsanitary stuff. Like for instance, letting a nasty  giraffe lick my child in the mouth.

I would never do that. Ever. Because that would be wrong.

We are moving in 4 days. Yesterday I started on the pantry. I’m nearly forty years old and I just realized can goods have expiration dates. Y’all. Most of mine expired in 2009.

Let’s let that little fact seep in.

Again, with these near-death experiences.

I packed the toaster a few days ago and opened several boxes today to find it. We are eating off styrofoam and I’m at the point where I’m bribing my children with MONEY to babysit each other.

So, duh,  motherhood isn’t rocket science.

It’s actually more complicated and a lot harder.

Why We Need to Struggle

When I run into her next to the spaghetti at the grocery store, she hugs me and says, “so, was your trip to Kenya just ah-maazing!?!?” She drags out the last word and her voice goes up and I am afraid to commit. It’s the tone used to describe a memorable vacation in an exotic place with a lot of exclamation points.

Before I can answer, she says, “I bet you just want to give all this up and move there!”

What I mean to say is “Yes, we had some amazing moments. But it was also hard.”

But instead what came out was, “On my last day in Kenya, I convinced one of our girls not to run away with her tiny baby, lost track of when my family had showered last and counted the hours until we boarded the plane. Oh, and I saw a man die in the middle of the road.”

She couldn’t grab her noodles fast enough.

I am not good at any of this: When I’m here, surrounded by comfort, I long for there. I get sick of all the stuff and pressure and complications of living first world. When I’m there, tangled in a mosquito net, wondering if we will have water, covered in dust, out of my comfort zone in a hundred ways, I revel in the simplicity of life and how close God is, but I long for here.

I try to wipe away the stain of the human suffering I witnessed, I try to forget the world that didn’t even pause when a man died after a hit-and-run in front of our van on the way to the airport. I’m packing my house and living 360 degrees different than I did a few weeks ago.

I. Struggle.

Yesterday, as I read Ann’s post about her anger,  I couldn’t help but feel it, too. I am ashamed at the relief I feel when I am home, how much I love the ease, the comfort and convenience in America. I am mad that I long for both worlds. I hunger for this while I ache for that.

I. Struggle.

Sometimes I think I initially said yes to Mercy House because of guilt and my fix-it way-of-thinking. That’s why I am slow to take credit for what has been accomplished in the last 18 months because it was all God and just a minuscule speck of me.

It all comes down to this question: Do I love my comfort more than Christ?

I get a different answer every day. And when I peel back the layers, I discover the anger. But we need to struggle.

If we aren’t struggling against our culture, we are giving into it.

Today, this email from a friend landed in my inbox. I asked her if I could share a part of it. She and her husband just bought a new house.

” I don’t like the way the house looks. It’s got old, stretched out, stained carpet and white walls…When we bought the house, I had fully planned on taking up the carpet and refinishing the wood floors underneath,, as well as putting a fresh coat of paint on all the walls, which is purely a vain desire. But nothing needs to be changed or updated…not even close. After reading Ann’s post yesterday, I spent the rest of the evening in tears before I just finally went to bed (at 7:00 p.m.) to escape all of the ugly emotions swirling around in my head and heart.

All day today, I have fasted from Pinterest or even thinking about home decor and I honestly can’t decide if I’m being sinful or not in wanting those things. So my question is this: If you were in the same position, would you refinish the floors and paint the walls or would you invest the money in Mercy House?

My answer:


We would give money to Mercy House and we would paint (eventually). I told her the bottom line for us is this: we feel good about what we are giving and doing for God (and if we don’t, something is wrong). We hold our money loosely. If God lays it on our heart to give someone money, we do it. But at the same time, we also get what we need and occasionally what we want. And we struggle. Does God ask us to lay aside our plans to get something we want to provide for someone in need? Absolutely. Heed that invitation. You’ll never regret it. But don’t be a slave to guilt.

I responded, “In my opinion, I don’t think it’s wrong to paint or update some, I think it’s wrong to go into debt to do it or to ignore the nudge to give to someone because you want things. Be generous givers and do the work of God and also set aside a bit of money to do good things for your family.”

“Struggle is the food from which change is made, and the best time to make the most of a struggle is when it’s right in front of your face.

Now, I know that might sound a bit simplistic. But, too often we’re led to believe that struggling is a bad thing, or that we struggle because we’re doing something wrong.

I disagree. I look at struggle as an opportunity to grow. True struggle happens when you can sense what is not working for you and you’re willing to take the appropriate action to correct the situation. Those who accomplish change are willing to engage the struggle.” -Danny Dreyer

Most of all,  whatever you do, don’t stop struggling.