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Be thankful. 

I’ve got all the feels right now, after a day of cooking, playing, hugging, visiting, enjoying family and starting to think about (gasp!) Christmas. 

I’ll be honest. I began the day super grumpy because the boys didn’t sleep that well, and I was tired from the get-go.  I struggled through making breakfast (including muffins from scratch, so I give myself a few bonus points). I separated rude siblings once, twice, thrice. We visited with my in-laws since we wouldn’t be dining with them today. I snatched a nap from 11-12, then showered. I put on a sparkly sweater and some lipstick and called it good. Then the task was readying my home for 12 guests. 

Once I got a big coffee (complete with copious amounts of bourbon) and some salad (a nice, light lunch before a huge dinner) I felt great. Cleaning the floors and tables, prepping everything I could (which mainly consisted of chopping onions, as it so happened) and dancing around my parents and Hubby in the kitchen put me in a great mood. 

You can see the menu I posted yesterday, but believe me when I say it was a lot of food. There were several chefs, of course, but I ran the dishwasher four times. Two were before we finished cooking, and the last two were the dinner dishes, utensils, and the last bit of dishes from cooking.

I could choose to still be grumpy. I could choose to be frustrated at the amount of dishes I’ve done, the two friends that showed up, or the fact that my kids didn’t make it to bed until ten. But instead, I’m choosing to be thankful. 

I’m glad I have so many family members willing to travel to me. I’m grateful for the abundance of food we have. I’m thankful for friends who feel like family, and who know they can just call last minute and come eat at our feast. I’m thankful my table is large, and my tribe is larger. 

So tonight, find something to be thankful for. Whatever it is, surely there’s a single thing to thank the Lord for. The kindness of strangers, the ability to live and move and breathe, or any amount of food to eat will work. Anything you can think of to thank Jesus for is a win. He wants to hear from us and get to know us even better. He wants to show himself to us as we bare our souls about how today wasn’t as we planned. He has grace and forgiveness for the yuck and the stress of your Thanksgiving. Will you let him take it away?

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! A lot has happened since last Tuesday, and a lot of feelings have been shared. But instead of rehashing everything, I’m just spreading the humor and the love. Here’s what my kids have been talking about!

 Listening to Toto’s Africa in the car, and I hear this from the backseat…

J: Mom! I’m playing my air guitar!
And indeed he was.

I see this:
J: Mom! Do you like my dress?!

Eating Mexican take out…
EK: And I need some soy sauce.
J: And some ketchup.
Me: Uh, do y’all mean salsa?

EK: Look Mom, I got a horse field!
Me: What?
EK, holding her hands up, palms out: A horse field, like Violet got! (From the Incredibles)
Me: Oh! A force field, with an F!
EK: NO! A horse field!

J: Know where my scratch came from? A dinosaur’s teeth! (Launches into 5 minute story about how it happened and how he killed the dinosaur.) And that’s why you have to make them dead.
Me: *jaw drop*

This song is playing in the car…
J: This is from angry birds!
EK: Why is he saying “never gonna give you up”?

A few nights ago, we went to our friends’ house, and the dad started telling “ghost stories” and one of them had werewolves involved. The rest of the evening and the next day, the bigs couldn’t stop talking about “weird wolfs” and beginning everything they said with “Once upon of time…”

Last week, Hubby had a terrible bout with hand, foot, mouth, and now that he’s healing, his hands are peeling. EK saw the pink skin coming through, and he explained to her that the old skin was coming off and there was new skin underneath. EK said, “Oh! It’s because God is still making you!” Adorable.

An excuse I’ve obviously used too often is J’s new reason to not do anything: I don’t have any more hands.

Do you kids repeat what you have said but using it incorrectly? That’s a frequent occurrence in our house! What else are your kids saying these days?

I almost missed it!

At 11:30 tonight, I realized today was about to be my first day in November, a la NaBloPoMo, that I wouldn’t have published a piece. So here I am, blurting out my feelings late at night. 

Let’s start with good things.

I’ve spent today getting ready to host my sweet friend’s baby shower tomorrow. So much fun preparing food, finding my nice dishes, and even cleaning (!!!!!) my home to have over a bunch of fun women to celebrate a new life joining our circles. Is there anything better than that?!

We are finally over the sickness in our household! No one is running a fever or feeling shitty. No one is spreading germs wherever they do or don’t go. We are ready to join the land of the living once and for all! Take that, holiday season! We are IN YOU!

I have been feeling much better after two days of literal, physical sickness after the election. I’m not just an entitled youth who is butt hurt over the outcome. I am stricken with grief over the hatred, intolerance, rudeness, and ignorance pouring out over social media. I’m the first the internalize my feelings and opinions, especially about politics. But I can stay silent no longer. If you are trolling Facebook statuses or articles, or worse, vandalizing property, or harassing (physically, emotionally, etc) those whom our laws and statutes still protect (aka everyone), you are in the wrong. We are called by Christ to be LOVE, to share the GOSPEL, and treat every human being with respect. Jesus didn’t call names to others who thought differently than he. Jesus didn’t hang nasty signs on doors. And Jesus didn’t spray paint rude sayings on walls and buildings. Jesus loved. Jesus performed miracles. Jesus led those who didn’t believe into his presence and helped their unbelief. I pray that he would do the same for me and all those in this world. 
Off my soap box now. 

Happy Veterans’ Day, by the way! All men and women who have served, supported those who served, or lost one who served should be celebrated on this day. It took knowing some veterans and their families firsthand to really know what it looked like. And y’all, it ain’t easy on anyone. We need to love them, support them, and help them fight for their rights and comforts upon their return home back into our communities. They have sacrificed much, even when “we aren’t at war”. These folks have given more than we can imagine. Show them a little (a lot!) love. 

All of that being said, I’m looking forward to a weekend of very little social media, lots of time loving on my people, and gorgeous weather here in NC. What are your plans?

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! Not much to say besides my kids just keep on being silly. Enjoy!

At bedtime…
J: My ears are pully. And my nose is beepy. (Then he socks himself in his nose.)

J, holding out his pinkie to Hubby: Can I put my pinkie-promise in your big belly button?

J to my mom: You’re the funniest guy!

J: EK, you’re the best and I love you.

J, while standing close to my face: What color are your eyes?
Me: What color do they look like?
J: I don’t know. I think they’re nice.

Tales from preschool…
EK gets a muffin and exclaims: Damn! That’s a big muffin!

J: I wanna give you a kiss on your back!

J, anytime I call him my little/baby boy: I’m a BIG boy! (Always in various degrees of indignance.)

EK’s lullaby she made up: Jesus, you love me, and all the people love you. And never fear! And we love you and you love me the best.

Proof that I’m a thirsty person and J doesn’t have much faith in my ability to do things one handed (like catch him when he’s catapulting off of a piece of furniture): J is always shouting at me to “Put your coffee down!” or “Put your water down!” or obviously beer or wine or whatever I’m holding. But you can bet he calls the drink by name.

Walking into the grocery store, all five of us holding hands…
J: Aw! This is my family!

When EK’s supposed to be asleep…
Me: You’re singing a little too loud since your brothers are sleeping. Could you sing a little more quietly till you fall asleep?
EK: Like this? *sings softly*
Me: That’s great! Good night!
EK: *genuine yawn* I’m tired.
Me: You could… ya know… go to sleep.
EK: Oh yeah!

EK, standing in a pillowcase: Mom, look! I’m a mermaid! A real one!

Bedtime snuggles…
J, holding up five fingers: Look mom, my family!
Me: Yes! There are five of us!
J: (Holds up his thumb.) This one is Daddy. (Adds his index finger) This one is me.
Me: What are the rest of us?
J: I’m all done.
Me: Okay.

She’s done…
EK: J is eating tomatoes and then spitting them back in the bowl!
Me: Tell him that’s yucky and to please stop.
EK: He just keeps doing it! And I’m DONE of that.
Me: I usually say “done WITH that.”

Do your kids pick up on your phrases? What do your kids say that sounds a little (or a lot) like you?

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! I’m writing from my Mom’s kitchen in Georgia, and we are here all week! I’m looking forward to sharing some humor with you!

J, with a cup of ice water: Can I have some ice?

Hubby pours out the water and gives the cup back.
J, a few minutes later: I need more ice.
He goes to the fridge and holds his cup up the dispenser… for too long. His cup fills up, then he says hysterically: Too much ice! I got tooooooo muuuuuuuch iiiiiiiiiice!
Holly: Here, let me help you. (Dumps out some ice.) Better?
J, crying: Still too muuuuuuuch!
Holly: Okay. (Dumps out some more ice.) How about now?
J, with a huge smile: Yep, thanks! (Walks away, crunching ice.)

The big kids have taken to running from D, and this morning they were calling him Pigman. Awesome.

We had been working in the garden, and EK had collected some not-yet-ripe Thai chili peppers…
J, running upstairs: Mooooooom! Mooooom! I need a napkin to wipe my mouth!
Me: What happened?
J: I ate it! I need a napkin!
Me: You ate a pepper that EK gave you?
J: Yes! Mooooooooom!
Me: Here, water is what you need. (I give him some ice water.)
J: Ahhhh. Fanks, Mama.

D: (screams at the table)
J, slapping the table: Be quiet!!!
Me: Don’t shout at your brother. We have to teach him not to shout at the table.
J: But he’s making all the loud noises!
Me: Actually, you’re also making loud noises.

J: When I was a kid, I don’t want a van.

J, when I said it was time to get dressed for the day: Okay! I’m gonna put on my pajamases!

EK, randomly: Gus Gus is the best mice of the universe.

J, coming upstairs from his nap: Look who’s heeeeeeere!

J, when he turns to see D following him: Uh oh! I better git!

Me, after a particularly gross poop: Don’t you want to start doing this on the potty? It’s less messy, and I don’t have to clean you up as much!
J: Nope, I’m good.

Hubby: What do you want for lunch?
EK: A cheese-adilla!

EK: Daddy, do you want your sunglasses back?
Hubby: That would be great!
EK: Well, actually I….
Hubby: Okay, thanks for nothing.

And this one wasn’t what they said, but rather what they didn’t say…
We had been in the car all afternoon and evening (after being at church all morning) to go to my parents’ house a couple of states away. It was about 9:40pm (a good hour at least past usual bedtime) and we had stopped about 20 minutes before to put everyone in pajamas, and get them settled in for the last hour and a half, when Hubby and I started listening to what the DVD was playing. For the past 20 minutes, the bigs had uncomplainingly watched the DVD menu loop. Only the baby was asleep, but neither of the bigs had said a word. Just a small sign of tired children.

J: Mom! There was a bigger bee on a bigger, bigger, bigger flower!
Me: Oh really?
J: Yeah! And it was boddering me. And if it was on your head, I would flick it off!
Me: Out of love, of course.

EK: Here, I have a job for you.
J: Okay!
EK: Stand right here. (She draws a circle around him, to the tune of Joy and Sadness from Inside Out.)
J: *draws a circle around her*
Me: Touché.

I’m loving that the kids are getting bigger and wider imaginations, and recreating/acting out scenes from their favorite movies. How do your kids pretend?

Things Toddlers Say 

Happy Tuesday, friends! I’ve scheduled this post, so if it’s published, that means we are on the road today! We’re headed to visit family and friends in my hometown, and I knew I’d better schedule it or I’d never get it out there. ANYWAY- here’s the good stuff. There’s a few fun pictures to go with them, as well!


EK: Do you want your hood on?
Me: Nope.
EK: Well, your hair feels cold to me.

When we were in the mountains with family last week, J found this old school phone, and they sent it home with him. Here he is, showing me that he knows how to use it:

“This one goes on my ear and this one goes on my chin, Mommy.”

When I took the big kids to camp one morning…
J: But why are we leaving my daddy and my baby brother?!

New versions of “If you’re happy and you know it…”:
If you’re happy and you know it, eat your hand! (EK)
If you’re you’re happy and you know it, toot on your blankies! Toot, toot! (J)

J has always had a sensitive gag reflex, so this story didn’t really surprise me. The other morning, I was getting him into a clean diaper and clothes to go to camp. He started coughing, which escalated and turned into a fit, culminating in a huge burp, and then puke. I yelled for Hubby to come help me (since I had two handfuls of puke I was trying to get to the toilet with) and I think I scared J. When I got back and started cleaning him up, he said: “Mommy, I’m sorry I burped in your hand.” Gross, but sweet.

Hubby has a habit of calling the kids “silly hillbilly” when they do something silly. EK tries to say it, but ends up saying, “silly hobilly”. The other night, she cracked up and confused and called me a “funny hoe”. Of course everyone in the room (my mom and two friends were over) died laughing, and then she just called everyone “funny hoe” and “silly hoe” all night.

EK, one morning: I’m so tired. Last night, Barbie was calling me and texting me. She took a picture and sent it to me!

J, randomly: OMG mom! (He actually said the letters O M G, correctly and in the right order.)

You know your kids have been watching a lot of Despicable Me when this happens:


We’ve been immensely enjoying our pool membership so far this summer. EK is my fearless swimmer, and has been jumping off the “diamond board” every time we go.

I was teaching J and EK the high five game where you trick the other person (up high, down low, in the middle, too slow!) and they thought it was hilarious. J kept saying, “Do me to that! Do me to that, Mom!”

Helping Hubby cook by using the pinch bowl of salt…
EK: I accidentally ate the salt instead of putting it in the food and it hurt my mouth.

Me, looking at my smiling brood: Who’s a happy kid?!
EK: Meeeeeeow!

J, after a particularly gross poop: Mom, I’m really sorry I took a big poop this morning.

J: Can we go downstairs and watch a movie?
Me: Sure, that’s fine with me. Why don’t you go ahead? I’ll be down in a minute.
J: But Mom, the bigger tv is broken and the little tiny tv is on.
(He’s right. The bulb in our big tv burned out, so we have a smaller tv in its place till we fix it. And yes, I said bulb.)

Me: You’re a good boy, little guy.
J: Yeah, and El’ K is a good girl.
Me: That’s true. She is.

J: He’s in jail, Mommy!
Me: Actually, he was just dirty and I washed him in that bag.

Phew – that felt like a long one! I hope you enjoyed our funnies; come back every Tuesday for a few more!

You Just Need to Get Away

Sometimes, you need a vacation.

Most of the time, you can’t have one.

And sometimes, things fall into place quite nicely, and you get the perfect excuse for a getaway.

photo courtesy of the talented Johnny Stevens

Last week, Hubby and I had a family friend who got married in Dallas. That’s a plane ride away for us, so we jumped at the chance to get out of town for a few days. My saint of a mother was willing to keep our kids, so we left them behind and stayed away (several states away!) for five whole days.

Did you read that? Five days. That’s an unheard of vacation for parents of three kids under age five. But we were blessed and thrilled to be almost entirely free of responsibility, eat way too much delicious food – without thinking of whether our kids would eat it – and go anywhere and everywhere we liked, without planning very far in advance.

We delighted in local restaurants, nature walks, and even some shopping. We were privy to an intimate weekend celebrating the couple, including our rousing performance of a Marvin Gaye cover at their rehearsal dinner. We traveled from Dallas to Austin to spend sweet time with family we don’t see very often, and even enjoyed a few naps. Yes! NAPS!

Even though I thought about (worried about, even) our kids, I knew they would be fine without us. We didn’t actually talk to them or FaceTime them as much as I thought we would. We talked about them, yes, and wondered how they were. But it was immensely refreshing to be away, and to rest assured things would be fine when we returned. Everyone was a little tired (my mom especially), and REALLY glad to see us, but they were fine. They survived – thrived, even – having had a break from us, too.

You see, we love each other. Kids and their parents have a bond to which nothing comes close. But it’s good to be apart sometimes. It’s refreshing, it makes us appreciate what we’ve got, and it makes us realize we don’t truly want to be apart from them for that long, even if we fantasize now and then about getting the hell outta dodge. But I have to tell you: going away for five days with my spouse was an incredible honeymoon-like experience. We hadn’t looked in each other’s eyes for as long, or had uninterrupted conversations as often as we did on this trip in years. Yep, I went there. Years. Like, four years, since that’s how old our daughter is. It’s the longest we’ve ever been away from her or the boys. But we needed it. Our marriage needed it. Our hearts, minds, and exhausted bodies needed it. I know how hard it is to imagine getting away, the effort, money, help, and planning it takes. But it was so, so good. And we’re already thinking about the next one.

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday, y’all! Glad to bring another week’s worth of randomness from my crew. We’ve got a fair amount of one-liners this week, and a few goodies from a friend. Enjoy!

Talking about tutti-frutti jeally beans…
J: …and it’s sugar in there! And strawberry, and lemon, and blueberry, and sugar!

Pointing at her shirt…
EK: I very do have rabbits on my shirt. They’re really cute.

It’s because we like books?
EK: I hungry. Like the hungry ‘atapillar.

J: Look! It’s my chick-a-way-lee! (Ukulele)

J chokes on a bite, and pukes in his lap. He looks right at me and says: Clean it up, mom!
Yeah, obviously.

Blast from the past:
EK: Yup, yup, yup! That’s from Land Afore Time. You watched it when you were a baby, Daddy. Did you like Cera and Petri and Spike?

After breakfast, she’s lazy…
EK: Mommy, may you wash my hands and put me on the couch?

J, at lunch: Yum! I want more meatmall!
Meatball, obviously.

Our friend Styles was over, and he sang this song: Teenage Mutnant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutnant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutnant Ninja Turtles! Teenage in a half-shell! Turtle power!

EK: There’s different kinds to call bridge: bridge, and tunnel.
J: Yeah! Tunnel bridge!
Me: Um…

Me: Okay it’s time for cupcakes! Let’s sing happy birthday to Mitch!
EK proceeds to run up to Mitch, and sing fastest and loudest birthday song you’ve ever heard.

Hubby: When I ask you to do something, you say, “Yes sir!” and do it.
J: Yes sir and do it! (Runs off.)

Job ambitions…
EK: when I grow up, I want to be the leader at Chick-fil-A.
Me: What does the leader do?
EK: They give the food to people. I very do want to do that.

A text I get from Styles’ mom about what he had said after being at our house…
“Styles just said, “Mom, can we go back to EK’s house so I can find the frisbee?” I said, “They will find it, honey.”And he said, “Yeah, but EK told me I would be her hero if I found it, and I really want to be her hero!”
Obviously I almost died reading that text.

Well, what are you kiddos talking about? Any romantics in your household?

Your Best Friend Is Pregnant! Now What?!

So. Your best friend just shared the news: “I’m pregnant!” What do you do? You congratulate her, ask her how she’s feeling, and maybe even offer to help with a baby shower. But then what? How do you encourage your bestie as she journeys through the months ahead, awaiting her bundle of joy? If you’re a mom yourself, you might have some ideas already. But if you aren’t, or you don’t, I’ll tell you what I did when my own bestie told me her news. 

I put together a gift basket! I’ll be totally honest and say that it wasn’t my own original idea. She had done the very same thing for me almost five years ago when I shared my news with her! She started with some belly butter (for stretch mark prevention), ginger tea/candy (for nausea), a gender neutral soft blanket, a hospital toiletry kit (seems early but it’s SO helpful!), a book of pregnancy advice/humor/devotions, and healthy snacks (there’s a lot of snacking). All of these are GREAT things to put in a “Hooray, you’re pregnant!” basket. If you’re an experienced mama, you can add a couple of your trusty favorites for the baby: gender neutral onesies and swaddles, bibs, soaps/lotions you used with yours, or other inexpensive but useful items. Put in it a little basket with some tissue paper and a bow, and voila! You’ve blessed your friend with some helpful and fun gifts!

Here is the gift basket I put together for my friend:

I tried to include a thing or two for her (belly butter, Larabars) and a few things for the baby. 
She said she was thinking grey for the nursery, whichever gender, so I chose grey baskets and grey hangers – these no-slip ones are fabulous!

The O-Ball! A favorite of all three of my kids, it’s easy to grab for newbies, light, and has a slight (but not annoying) rattle. I also use those split rings that babies love to attach it to the stroller, highchair, or carrier so when the baby lets go, it doesn’t hit the ground.  
A snuggly bath towel is a must. This brand happened to be on sale and soft, so I grabbed a green one – gender neutral!

Belly butter is a must for mamas-to-be, for itch soothing and stretch mark prevention.  
Swaddles are the single most used item in my house, for all three of my kids. They sleep with them (thankfully any one of them) and I have used them as nursing covers, burp cloths, blankets and swaddles. Naturally they’re my favorite gift, especially since they come in a thousand designs now! Aden + Anais is my favorite brand, mostly because they hold their shape better than most others, and they are slightly bigger (for actual swaddling purposes).

Halo sleep sacks are another brand favorite of mine. They are cute and practical. My last has now outgrown most of ours, but I love them to keep them cozy (on top of a long-sleeved onesie) without covering them in a blanket they’ll squirm out of.
Books. That’s the one thing I never deny myself or my children. Hubby might say we have too many, but I say, “NEVER!” These are two household favorites. I Love You Forever makes me cry every time. The Going to Bed Book can be recited completely by any member of our household that has a good hold on the English language (Hubby, EK and me). I’m a big Sandra Boynton fan in a general sense, but this masterful rhyming and adorable bedtime routine is our favorite.

A cheap but adorable bath toy. He was a nice basket topper!  
Babyganics is a brand that I love, across the board. They are new to diapers (aka I haven’t tried them yet) but I love their soaps, hand sanitizers, sunscreens and detergent. AND I am completely addicted to their “face, hand and baby wipes”. I literally use them as such. And luckily Babies R Us has sales on their brand regularly.

Larabars are a favorite snack of mine, being totally clean, gluten and dairy free, and very healthy for you. They’re also smaller than protein bars, and not intended to be a meal replacement. I love snacking on them, and my kids do, too!  
All in all, I think it was a very cute and useful basket!

Do you have something that you normally do for friends when they announce they’re pregnant? What would you add to my basket?

Distracted By the Sacrifice

It’s Good Friday.

I wanted to start my day off today with a quiet time, with my heart in a certain place. I’ll have a marathon of two services this evening that will plunge me into the depths of the sacrifice that has been made for me. But I wanted to have a few moments on my own, with the Word, and with Jesus.

It didn’t work out that way.

I was summoned for applesauce about 15 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. Once I roused myself, I heard two voices and not just one. I tried to lay there, ignore the babbling baby, take out my iPad and read a devotional in the bed, but the toddler next to me just couldn’t be still. Maybe while he eats, I thought. Maybe while he eats I can sneak away for a moment. After scrambling eggs, toasting English muffins, and cutting fruit, it seemed I might get a moment to sit on the couch on my own. But then up the stairs came the third hungry animal who had awoken. My duties were far from over.

While I was waging my war on a toddler who didn’t eat and a baby who wouldn’t go to sleep, I was distracted. My mind was on higher things. I was going through the normal morning motions, but my mind was spinning, thinking of two thousand years ago on this day. On that day, a different war was being waged. That day, Jesus was beaten, pierced, crucified. That day, the whole of Jerusalem was plunged into literal darkness, as the Son of man died on a cross that should’ve been for everyone else. How could I just be going through the motions of a normal life, when this day should have been reserved for quiet reflection or a grand showing of appreciation?

Because it is this sacrifice that allows me to freely live and love and go through those motions. This gift of forgiveness is what makes me who I am, and who I am is a busy mother of young children who need me to extend to them the grace I have received. The battle was fought for me against sin and darkness, and on the third day, the Light triumphed, death was beaten, and sin was crushed by the weight of God’s love.That is what I will focus my mind on. And it won’t be just on Good Friday.