Friday, August 29, 2014


Every once in a while, I like to share a few of the things that I'm crushing on.

-  Younique Mascara.  I got this stuff sometime back in June, and I LOVE it.  I had seen several Facebook parties for it, and I finally took the plunge with a friend from college who sells it.  I have been thrilled.  I am one of those people who rarely leaves the house without mascara, and this mascara really does stay in place.  I don't think it is branded as "waterproof," which I usually have had to wear, because I cry a lot and my eyes water in the wind easily.  However, I haven't had a problem with raccoon eyes, and I love how long my eyelashes look!  It's also easy to remove - bonus!

Here's a comparison pic.  The top is with no mascara, the middle is with one coat of normal mascara, and the bottom is with one coat of 3D Fiber Lashes.  It really does feel magical.


(Side note: something I am not crushing on is taking close up pictures of my eyes.  There was no way that I could find for them to not look a little weird.  I tried to "SMIZE" like Tyra Banks used to tell me on America's Next Top Model, but I'm not sure it came across very well.  The picture does, however, illustrate my point.  Magic lashes!)

I realized that I keep telling people about it, so I figured I should get a referral link and share it on the blog and maybe get some free mascara in the future!  If you are interested in the mascara or any of their other cosmetics, which I haven't tried yet, click here and help me earn some rewards!

-  Moccasins.  Are these a cool thing?  I am not sure, because I am not usually right on the style money, but they look cute and comfy.  I am hoping to get this pair when they come back in stock!  I plan on pairing it with aztec leggings, some sort of sheer fringe top and an Indian headdress.  I think I shall veritably fit right in.  You can just call me Tiger Lily.


-  I'm loving this list of questions to ask my children when they get done with a school day.  I realized very early on that asking, "How was your day?" usually resulted with the answer of "Fine" or "Good."  Since I want to know a lot more than that, I realized that I needed to get better questions.  These are 25 good ones that I found through Facebook.  I've had great results so far with asking Lily what made her laugh.  It has been hilarious to see something through her point of view!

-  I'm also crushing on online shopping in general.  It's Labor Day weekend, and after checking a few sites for summer clearance clothes for next year, I am pleased to report that several places are having big sales online.  It's easy to check for sizes, and I do not have to drag my children into the stores and answer a million questions about them.  Win, win, win!

-  Evernote.  


I've talked about it here on the blog before, but it is incredibly helpful in organizing tasks and projects.  As I look ahead to the fall and think about all that I want to accomplish, I have found it helps to keep me sane.  I keep track of holiday stuff, birthday party info and meal plans, when I manage to do those.  It's the best!

- This fabric.  It's called Stampede in Cream from the Cotton & Steel August line.  I really like most of the line, in fact.  AND - my mom is sewing it into dresses for the girls!  I am more than a little excited.  Thanks, Mom!  (I ordered it from!)


And that's about all I've got right now.  My brain is feeling more and more like mush these days.  Hope that you and yours have fun plans ahead for the holiday weekend!  I am most looking forward to having Lily home for a weekday again.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


This morning was quite glorious in my little world.  Every one of my children was safely and *mostly* happily ensconced in some kind of program, leaving me with a quiet, empty home.  When I was telling John how much I enjoyed the empty home, I felt a momentary flash of guilt knowing that someday, the empty home will make me sad.  But, he pointed out that we really enjoy the exception to our norm, and someday, I will really relish the full, noisy home, when the silent home is my norm.

But this morning, I basked in the quiet.  I sat on the couch without moving for at least 30 uninterrupted minutes doing a lot of nothing, which felt wonderful.  This was the first morning that I had to get everyone ready to go and take Lily before I then took everyone else.  Amazingly, it went smoothly, for the most part.  I laid out pretty much everything the night before, which is an essential component to mornings going well around here.

We also added the stress and strain of pictures before we left the house.  The younger children were about as cooperative as I could have hoped for (photographing Violet is just plain difficult right now - that girl never stops moving), but Lily felt that tears were very necessary.  However, she still wanted to have her picture made.  Lily's adjustment to kindergarten has mostly been very smooth, but I can see her tiredness come out in these moments when something that is of very little consequence all of the sudden becomes a massive, tearful ordeal.  She insisted that I take her picture, even though she could not stop crying.  Here's a little dose of real life for ya!


And here are the rest, as they embark on a new school year!


Violet wailed for a while after I dropped her off, but I'm told that she did eventually manage to pull her little self together.  Chilliam and Bella took their new classes in stride.  I had a blissfully unencumbered morning, and I am looking forward to this being repeated again tomorrow morning.  Having the breathing room is good for my soul, and I am thankful for the time we have apart.


But, I am (almost) always ready to see them again when the time is up!  Glad we are getting into the swing of things.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I'm continuing this little series of Things I Want My Kids to Know.  I've realized that all of the topics I've chosen are things that I feel a little "soapboxy" about.  I feel like parenting is one of those things that brings out the strongest emotions and opinions, because at the end of the day - this is our shot as parents.  You only get one go-round with your kiddos, and there are SO MANY things that I want them to know and understand before they leave our home.

I do understand that most important things are caught, not taught, and I'm hopeful that they can see us as their parents living out those things that are most important to us.  And, if there are ever any doubts, they can always reference these blog posts.  Ha!

Dearest darlings of mine,

Someday, I hope that each of you will have the opportunity and desire to be gainfully employed.  I hope that you can dream big and reach for the sky and that the world will be your oyster.  I fully hope and expect that you will each be able to accomplish great things in your own ways and times.  I can already see that each of you have unique strengths to bring to the world, and my excitement grows as I think about all that you will do in your lives.

But - I wanted to write a note of caution to you all.  Pretty much anything worth doing takes a lot of work.  Also - you may not like it all the time.

I hear a lot of people say things like, "Find something you love doing and figure out a way to get paid for it" -or- "Do what you love and never work a day in your life".  I completely understand the sentiment behind these statements and can assent to part of them.  I hope and pray that you look for jobs that are suited to you and that you will enjoy and find purpose in.  After all, you spend a lot of life working.

However, I think the concept of totally loving every aspect of your job and life is not a realistic expectation to set.  ESPECIALLY right after you finish schooling, when the drive towards idealism and self-actualization is like a tidal wave that is easy to ride until you wash ashore into reality.  The best advice that I can give you is to start doing something, anything.  Work hard at it.  Figure out what you like and what you don't.  Learn to be content in whatever circumstances you find yourself in.

Do you hear me?  Learn to be content.

Some things will go your way.  Some things won't.  You can change some things.  Others will be totally out of your control, and the sooner that you quit fixating on those things - the better.

In our life path, we have had surprises and set backs and a lot of hard work.  We are not doing what we thought we would be doing, but it is exactly what God has for us.  We love so many things about it, and there are other things that we are less crazy about.  That is going to be true for pretty much everything in life.  Always.  Find ways to make peace with the things that you don't like and learn flexibility.  (This is something I still have to work at everyday.)

You can read the story of how we got into CFA here, and I can assure you, it is not what we imagined for ourselves.  But, I am so thankful for the life it has created for us, and I know it is exactly where we should be - good times and hard.  Your dad has another saying, "Don't try to change the world.  Try to change your world."  And I see him living it out everyday.  He is changing the world around him through all of the people he interacts with on a daily basis.  It is hard and good at the same time.

Please find ways to be thankful and content.  Those are attitudes that you choose, and the more that you choose them, the more you will feel them.

I am so excited to see what God has in store for each of you, and I know that you will do great things.  But most importantly, you will be great - because you are you!  You never have to earn our approval or love - you are so loved, no matter what.  I can never say that often enough.

(But do know that I will eventually quit bank-rolling your life no matter how much I love you!)

With love forever,    Your Mother

Saturday, August 23, 2014


We have mostly lived to tell about our first week of school.  I say "mostly," because I am currently battling a cold that just made me sneeze snot all over my hands and the edge of the computer.  You're welcome for that little piece of info.  Here's a rundown of our highs and lows this week.

High:  Almost all the women that I regularly do life with had a kindergartner going to school this year.  Many of us gathered on Tuesday morning to commiserate and have a playdate with the set of younger fry still left at home.  We had far more good food than we needed, and I brought CFA's new iced coffee for everyone.  I've had one almost everyday this week.  Many of us have another crop of kiddos going off in two years - it really does go crazy fast.

Low:  John yelling, "The oven's on fire!  What should we do?"  We took out the Texas Toast that was unfreezing for Community Group and watched the little fire burn on out.  Nothing like a little fire drama to keep things interesting.

High:  Lily loves school!  Her "color" did not change from green all week, and she seems to be adjusting really well.  We celebrated a great start to the week on Wednesday while William was at therapy.


High:  Little Miss Violet LOVES frozen yogurt.  Which totally makes sense.

High:  William and Violet started their new therapy schedule this week, and it is much better for them.  Look how happy William is in the therapeutic walker!

High:  Though the new long school day is an adjustment for us, Lily does come home and get to play in the afternoons and evenings.  I'm so thankful.

Low:  Both babies have gotten to the stage where they are regularly making messes.  William is especially proficient at spreading things away from himself as far and wide as he can.

Low:  This week it hit me that I have wasted years of Box Tops.  Never again.  I will always cut them out in the future and give them to some school that needs them.

High:  Lily rode the bus home on the last three days of the week, and we plan for her to do so from here on out.  She LOVES it.  I LOVE that I do not have to wake the babies, and I actually get her at the same time - if not earlier - than I would if I picked her up.  This means that Bella and I walk across a yard and wait for a few minutes before the bus comes.  Bella comes prepared.

High:  Rollin' on the River.  It was great to be able to take part in an event that benefits Easter Seals - where William and Violet do most of their therapy.  We have been so helped by them, and it felt fantastic to support the cause!

Low:  Because CFA was also at the event, it was a little harried for our little family.  And it was hot.  But, we survived!

Low:  There is a lot coming up in the next few months.  This means that John is working a bit more than usual.  So - here I am blogging in the office while he studies some new documents.  What an exciting life we lead.

All in all, it has been a good week, and I'm so very thankful for a great start to the school year.  Now, we just have to rinse and repeat most weeks through May.  I hope we are up for it!

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Baby girl started Kindergarten this week, and mostly, it has been really great.  For a bit of fun, I thought I'd drag up some pictures from when John and I were about to start school.  I don't have actual pictures from each of our first days - though our mothers might have them somewhere.  But, I do have one of each of us in the months prior to us starting Kindergarten.

It's funny, because I don't really think Lily looks much like either one of us.  People are always playing the "who do they look like" game, and I feel like I am horrible with it - especially when it is so close to me.  Sometimes I catch flashes of expression or mannerisms that remind me of myself or of John, but I rarely think that Lily or Bella looks much like either one of us.  They are just Lily and Bella.  (Though there are often comparisons of Bella and cousin True, which I can see a bit.)

Here I am at my fifth birthday party.  Care Bear themed, as I am sure many parties were that year.

Scan 1

And, this is John at his first "spiritual birthday" (the day he proclaimed faith in Jesus as a child), in the March before he started school.

Scan 2

He is so very cute.

So that's my Throw Back Thursday blog post.  Enjoy.  If you started school this week - I hope that the week has been kind to you!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


To be honest, I feel a bit like I've been hit by a truck this week.  The start of school is just exhausting for everyone involved, and last night I also hosted community group at our house.  So, today I want to lay on the couch while the babies sleep and Bella plays with Legos in her room.  Instead, I'm reading through various blog posts and news articles about all that has happened in Ferguson, MO in the past couple of weeks.

I don't feel qualified to write one single word about what is going on.  I dread inserting myself into something controversial and complex.  It would be easier to read in silence and only talk with John about the tragedy.  To be honest, I want to close my eyes and heart to it all, and I think that three years ago, I probably could have.

Now, I have a black son.  My precious boy who sometimes wears braces to help him stand correctly.


He's got the biggest smile, and he loves to play peek-a-boo by covering one eye and peering at you through the other to see if you've noticed.  And though he will grow up in a white family - he will not experience the white privilege that his father, mother and two older sisters almost unknowingly possess.  His skin is shades darker than ours, and it is amazing to me to realize how much this matters in our world.

When I look at our twins and see my son and daughter, I honestly don't often think about them being African-American.  I think of them as William and Violet - children I have loved since before they were born.  Children who I would do anything for.

It is heart-wrenching to know that the statistics are stacked against my son.  That because of the color of his skin, he is more likely to be stopped, more likely to be arrested, more likely to be convicted of a crime, than his lighter skinned counterparts.  John and I have already talked about some of the preparation that we will need to do with him, and we hope to lean on our African-American friends and family to help us to understand things we have never had to think about.

I know the situation in Ferguson is complex, and I certainly do not pretend to fully understand all that has happened there.  Nor do I feel able to pass judgement.  But, I can see a pattern of unarmed black men being shot just like anyone else can, and it points to problems that run deep and wide with no simple solutions.

Because of my son, I can no longer live in ignorance or easy dismissal of "their problems."  The problem is mine now, and because I can identify with both "sides" - I feel the problem pressing in, and I hate living in a fallen, sin-stained world.  My heart is broken, and I am looking for Jesus in it all.  And since he aligns with the sick who need a doctor - not the well, I know to look for him with the downtrodden and oppressed.  That's where I want to be, even if I don't know how to be there.

Here are a few blog posts that have really resonated with me in the last week:

Is It "Goodbye Evangelicalism" or "We Join You in Your Suffering"? by Thabiti Anyabwile
I Know a Boy by Shannon White
More on Ferguson and White Privilege by Matt Chandler
A White Cop, A Black Kid and a Crime by Jamie Wright
Color Blind is a Lie by Stacey Valley

Monday, August 18, 2014


Last night we had all of the clothes tried on and laid out.  The lunch was packed with help from Lily so that I knew she would eat everything.  I laid in bed thinking about all of the things that Lily doesn't know that I wouldn't be able to help her with.  Can she tuck in her shirt?  Does that matter much?  Can she re-zip her skirt after using the bathroom?  Who will she sit with at lunch?  Will she be able to make friends?


The first morning of our adventure in formal education dawned a bit on the rainy side.  However, Lily's spirits were not dampened in the slightest.  She was so very excited.


Bella wanted in a picture in her too small Little Mermaid PJs, but she did not want to smile normally. Which got me this funny pic.


John and I walked Lily through the rain, into the school, and into her class.  She bobbed along with great enthusiasm.  When we got to her room, she sat at her table and took everything in.  Her room is adorably Dr. Seuss themed.


After a hug and a kiss, this was my last glimpse of her before I left:


She was quite happily putting together a puzzle and ready for us to leave.  I am so thankful that she is independent and seemingly ready for this transition.  That is how I want it to be.

That didn't stop my tears.  They flowed freely down my cheeks as John and I walked down the hall.  I was supposed to head to a "Boo-Hoo/Woo-Hoo Breakfast" for Kindergarten parents, and at that moment, all I wanted to do was go and boo-hoo in my car by myself.  I did force myself, with a little urging from my wise husband, to go into the media center full of mostly strangers.

As I walked up to the table, the tears just kept coming.  It's not exactly an ideal way to meet people and make a first impression.  I was easily the weepiest person there that I saw, which is not what I would have predicted.  Nor was it a pleasant surprise.  Other mothers kept seeing me and saying that I was going to make them start crying.

Glad I could spread some cheer.

I did pull it together a bit and manage to actually talk to some other parents.  I was glad I went, and it did take the edge off the rest of the morning.  I dove right into the fun by picking up all my littles and heading to the babies' new therapy schedule and my workout class.

The rest of the day was pretty good for me.  I did tear up any time I really dwelt on Lily's being at school, but I had some great one on one time with Bella, and I can see how beneficial that will be for us.


I wasn't able to get Lily signed up for the bus in time for her to ride today, and pick-up time came before I knew it.  I woke up the babies and sat in my first carpool line.  I do hope that bus transportation works out soon - carpool line is not just a ton of fun with 16 month old twins - though they didn't do too badly.


Lily was glad to see us, and my eyes filled with tears again as she got in the car.  Bless my heart.  She had a great day!  She wants to go back tomorrow!  All in all, I think it was a great success.  When asked, she told me that she figured out a way to pull down her skirt without having to un-zip it at all, and I thought to myself - she will get it all figured out eventually.  That's kind of the point.

We got home, and the girls were happy to see each other and detox with a little Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  I'm sad that the days of everyday clothes matching for these two are over.  The end of another era.  Though - I'm sure I'll still try to match them on non-school days for as long as they enjoy it.

The babies seemed glad to have Lily home.  They were even more glad about Fruit Loops in the kitchen.

So day number one is in the books.  It sounds exhausting to do it all again tomorrow, but I know that we will get the hang of it.  I'm so thankful for a great first day.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


My oldest baby is going to kindergarten.  As we walked the halls of her school yesterday evening, my mind filled with memories of my own small elementary school.  My eyes filled with tears several times throughout the night at the thought of Lily transversing this new little world on her own come Monday.  This time came so much more quickly than I imagined it would!

She's ready for it.  At least, as ready as one who does not really understand what is happening can be ready for something.  We've talked a lot about the schedule and some of the demands.  She's really excited.  When asked about what she is most excited for, she tells me "riding the bus."  I'm not sure how that came to be the most exciting facet of a new school career, but the answer hasn't budged.

Yesterday morning started the same way many of our mornings have started this summer.  I woke up to a little girl cuddling with me in bed.  I'm going to miss her.  And sleeping in - let's be honest here.


Later in the afternoon, we got all the school supplies ready to go - Lily has been really excited about this part.  I can't say I blame her - fresh Crayola boxes still make my heart start thumping with possibility.


Lily helped me design the appliqué for her "Rest-Time Towel" that I finished sewing on right before it was time to leave.


We wisely chose to leave our precious younger children home with John's sister for the actual "Meet the Teacher" event.  I was very thankful to not be maneuvering a double stroller through the crowded halls.  The parking situation was a little dire, so we ended up coming into the school through the back, where we promptly ran into our next door neighbors who had looked up Lily's teacher out of curiosity and had nothing but gushing things to say of her.

After finding the classroom, we waited in line to meet Lily's teacher - the one who will initiate us into all things school, bless her heart.  She does seem wonderful and experienced, and it brings a lot of comfort to like the woman we will be entrusting Lily to for so many hours a day.


We explored the classroom, put away school supplies and let Lily settle in with a Pocahontas puzzle.  It seems escaping the Disney princesses is impossible.


We wanted this night to be special for Lily, because it does feel a Rite of Passage of sorts.  We let her pick where we would eat dinner and headed to Cracker Barrel at her request for pancakes.


She loves pancakes.  And donuts.  Because it was an extra special night, we followed pancakes with a Krispy Kreme run.


After dinner, John presented her with a necklace he had picked out for her to wear at school.  It's a butterfly to symbolize the new season of life, and there is a heart inside the butterfly, to help remind Lily of all those who love her - our family and especially Jesus.  Lily listened patiently to this explanation and loved the necklace and then immediately started commenting on the dog picture next to us.  Gotta love how seriously children take sentimental moments.


And Monday will be here before we know it.  Lily's counting down the days.  I'm so thankful she's so excited.  Love this girl.


Friday, August 15, 2014



We've been to the ER three times in the last six weeks.  First week of July, last week of July and Wednesday night of this week.  We had never been to the ER with any of our kids before this little stretch.  But, the second and third times that I have visited with Violet, at least one or more members of the staff have recognized us.  I never wanted to become a regular at the ER, and every time it has been the same routine.

Violet gets a tiny cough.

She starts wheezing.

I hope the wheezing will get better.  I give her the rescue inhaler.  I give breathing treatments.  I suction her nose.  She loves all of these things so much.  (super sarcasm font)  I time her breathing.  I call the medical exchange.

She keeps wheezing, and it gets worse and worse.  Not better.

Then we head to the ER.  I skipped calling the medical exchange this time, because I just knew.  The pre-dinner breathing treatment did seem to help for a bit, but by bedtime, she was wheezing up a storm, and I knew that it would only get worse.


Each time we've headed into the ER, it's been the same there.  The receptionist hears Violet breathing and immediately calls someone over.  We bypass the waiting room full of people and paper work and head straight to triage.  I answer the same questions a couple of times.  Violet waves and says, "Hiiii" - one of her few words.  She squirms while they try to take her pulse-ox, and we inevitably end up having tape wrapped all over her foot after she's kicked the reader off of her big toe several times.


She gets steroids and several breathing treatments.  This time our respiratory therapist sounded just like Morgan Freeman.  His laugh seemed to belong in a movie.  As we held a fighting Violet for her second breathing treatment, I was saying a steady stream of things mothers say like, "It's okay, sweetheart.  Just a little longer, darling.  I'm so sorry, sugar."  Violet is no Shrinking Violet, for which I am quite grateful.  She needed that fight at the beginning of her life, and she has yet to give up the habit.

Respiratory therapist/Morgan Freeman (we'll just call him that from here on out) heard me calling her "Sugar" and noted that there was a bit of vinegar there as well.  He kept commenting on her "Vim" and "Vigor," and it was actually soothing instead of annoying, because it was Morgan Freeman.  Violet did fight two adults for the full 13 minute treatment, bless all of our hearts.

Thankfully, we only had to get two treatments last night.  Then, they kept us for observation to make sure her breathing was controlled.


After 30 very squirmy minutes where she pulled out my earring, and threw it to the ground along with other stuff from my purse and a toy that Morgan Freeman gave her, Violet finally succumbed to sleep in my arms, which then transitioned to sleep in my lap.  I was smart about this trip and brought the paperback copy of the book I've been listening to, and once she fell asleep, it was actually quite a pleasant time.  They leave you pretty well alone when you've got a sleeping baby who is breathing well.  Everyone sort of tip toes in and listens carefully with their stethoscope to her back or chest as it rises and falls peacefully.  They speak in whispers.


Around midnight, it was time to go home, and since my legs and backside had fallen asleep with Violet, I was ready to get going.  I cannot say that getting off of the bed was graceful.

On Monday, the babies had their well-check visit, and the doc prescribed a daily inhaler to help control the asthma.  I picked it up right before we headed to the ER, so a lot of good it did us this week, which was my fault.  But - we started it this morning, so I am hopeful that this will be our last ER visit for a while.

As I held her in my arms while she slept, I thought, "She is worth it all.  I'm so glad I get to be the one doing this with her."  And I really am.  God gave me this gift, and I'm so thankful.  I prayed over her last night that he will use her fight for his glory.  I look forward to see who this strong girl will become and the ways that he will use her unique story.  Personally, I'm hoping that unique story involves fewer trips to the ER in the future.