Why it’s been so long…

imageSometimes it just feels good to say “No,” and know that you’re choosing the right thing. I’d be dishonest if I acted like saying no to the blog recently was hard; it wasn’t.

My sweet and energetic four-year-old is just coming out of two and a half weeks of sickness. This has meant multiple wake-ups at night, juggling homeschooling and other energetic children, mental energy trying to figure out what was wrong, and feeling like a thermometer was strapped to my hand.

Our children have been so healthy that I had never dealt with anything like this before; it’s nothing compared to what others live daily, but for me it was quite a valley.

The choice to rejoice and give thanks or to complain and despair was magnified with every day. I could feel myself getting weaker and weaker, and yet I could sense the steady current of God’s strength growing more and more apparent. You never really know when a hard time is coming, but sometimes in the middle you realize an overwhelming comfort that is just normally not sensed.

I have to admit, yesterday after we finally found out was wrong (which was an easily treated infection, much better than things we had begun to worry about) my trust and faith bottomed out. Obviously, when there was now a really good reason to rejoice! I was tired of being tired, and too tired to care that I had chosen the poor-me route.

Unfortunately, I can’t even say that today has been a complete turnaround. Though I woke this morning from an incredible nights sleep to four healthy, happy children, things in my heart are still working themselves out.

So here is what I’m thankful for right now: (and I’m preparing to be very convicted)

~ my husband, who carries more responsibility than I can even comprehend; yet is so loving and patient and understanding with me

~ the mercy of God, that daily keeps me from being consumed

~ our American healthcare system; yes, even that. I’m embarrassed at how many times I was tempted to complain while being helped by such caring, personal professionals

~ friends who cared and asked about and prayed for Sophia

~ a church family I dearly miss when we have to stay home

~ music on my ipad that speaks of God’s sovereignty, greatness, and deep love

~ other little girls who were about the cutest nurses you could ask for

I’m thankful that for now it seems we are out of the woods with this hardship; thankful for the opportunity to be tested and shaped; and praying that my faith will continue to grow as God gives opportunity.

From preschool to kindergarten; my thoughts so far

imageI’m trying from time to time here to just sit and write out thoughts. Most of my posts are things I’ve thought about for awhile or specific updates about the girls or the family.

There’s a gentleman in our church who loves to tell me how much he wished he would have understood stages when his children were growing up. He’s told me on more than one occasion how hard it is to welcome a new stage while realizing that the one that just passed had fled without his realizing how precious it was.

I remember growing up almost every year in school thinking during the first week how much better last year’s teacher was than this year’s. I finally realized with some amusement that I would soon be missing the teacher I was currently griping about.

“It goes so fast!”, everyone always says. I’ve stood around in more than one group of young moms wondering what to actually do about it.

My sweet and beautiful oldest daughter started kindergarten last week.

The weird thing is – at this point, I don’t really feel like it’s flown by. I feel like I can remember every stage  either in grueling or delightful detail.

But as I now transition to being a school mom, I’m fighting the feeling of wanting to go back to those preschool days. It was so fun to basically play all day every day! I don’t think once I thought, “I can’t wait ’til she’s in school!”

I feel like I have a new baby again…what am I supposed to do with this? You mean I have to guide this child through the intricacies of education? responsibility? relationships? eventually independence?

All right, cut! Everybody, let’s just go back to the playground.

But nope, this is happening whether I want it to or not.

On the positive side, I feel like I have been praying all day every day. Not in the spiritual way, but in the “Lord, if you don’t help me I’m either going to lose it or go hide in a corner somewhere.” (slightly overdramatic)

The challenges, the tests, the stretching into new territory is a gift from God. Not just for Hope, but for me, too. It helps that her eyes have been twinkling for a whole week and she has said at least ten times a day, “I really like school!”

But how to do my best? how to trust and rest? how to self-discipline and diagnose? when to listen and when to go with your gut? These things I’m wondering about.

And how to cling to this last year I have with Sophia, and the last two years with Gracie, and the last three years with Mckayla, and how not to wish they were all in school so we could all be on the same page again.

I’m so thankful for my husband who listens so patiently.

I love my girls more than ever before.

And I’m so grateful for my Jesus who lovingly puts new challenges in my life, and then promises to always be near.

(and I really need to go to bed… because tomorrow is Monday morning!)

pretty pink book {giveaway}

I have a strong aversion to sticky notes.

At some point in the past I promised myself that I would never have them in my house and so far I’ve stuck to it. (pardon me while I laugh at how horrible that joke was)

You see, my mom was an amazing woman. I’m pretty sure she’s never forgotten a single thing in her entire life. She would make lists of the lists she needed to make, sticky notes for the sticky notes she needed to write, and plans for the things she wanted to plan. Okay, that might be a little exaggerated.

The bottom line is that she remembered everything and was and still is way ahead of the game.

Right above that bottom line is that she used endless lists and sticky notes to stay that way.

Let’s just say, at some point in my teenage years I became not a fan.

Then I got married.

I have a fairly good memory, so I did quite well for awhile just using my twenty-something old steel trap.

Then I had kids. (plural, in case you missed the “s”)

All of the sudden, the lists became vital.

The sticky notes, however, I could not surrender to.

Happily, I found a practical and pretty solution.

Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble

My awesome uncle and aunt who lived in Hong Kong for years would give us these beautiful journals covered in these amazing Asian fabrics. It hit me one day that these could be my perfect solution!

I now have a lifesaver notebook where I keep all my lists, schedules, plans, goals, menus, grocery lists, Christmas gift ideas… you name it. It’s in my pretty pink book.


Now, beyond being in the book, it’s actually not that organized, but that’s just sort of how I operate. It’s not hard at all to find what I need.

Best of all, every time I pull it out (which is approximately fifty-seven times a day), I get to touch the awesome fabric. And see how pretty it is. And be excited to make a list.

Correct that, the best thing of all is that it can go with me everywhere I go.

This might not work for everyone, but if you struggle with multiple papers in crazy places, you might want to give it a try!

Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble

My favorite practical help from this idea is that I never lose my menu and grocery list on the way home from the store. Seriously, I couldn’t help but think that the bag boy would snatched it just for contempt. I always used to lose my hard-planned menu on the way home from the store!

But you can’t lose a pretty book!


Would you like one? or three?

Check out these beautiful prints!

imageNot only are they so sweet to touch (very important in the pretty book process) but they also have beautiful  detail on the inside as well!

imageI’m giving away a set to some potentially happy person!

imageLeave a comment, like the blog on Facebook, share the giveaway, or pin the idea to Pinterest, you know the ropes. = ) I’ll be generous with entries.

Here’s to being more organized with less clutter!

Contest ends Saturday night at midnight!

When a mom feels disconnected


How many times have I walked through my house, interacted with my girls, gone about my responsibilities, but known something was wrong?

Have you ever felt like that?

I’m here, but I’m just not really here.

My girls play really well by themselves, so it’s not uncommon for me to be working around them while they play some silly game they’ve made up. But there’s still just a difference sometimes.

If I had to rattle off the symptoms they would probably go something like this: my kids aren’t listening to me, I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing, when is my husband ever going to get home and save me from this madness, I just want to go somewhere and be by myself…

Now sometimes these feelings are caused by just ordinary, crazy motherhood. I know that. But I think a lot of moms would agree that there are other times when we know something is genuinely wrong.

When I begin to feel like this, and when I’m finally honest with myself, I have to admit: the problem isn’t my kids…

… the problem is me.

A lot of voices “out there” tell moms to just relax. Go do something for yourself… have some me time... Or the Christian version: There’s grace… there’s rest… just remember how much God loves you… He knows what you’re doing is hard…

Those things are true, absolutely, but when I jump to those before really dealing with the issue, nothing is solved, just temporarily passed over.

You see, I’m prone to wander. A converted idol-worshiper.

How quickly I slip from glorying and rejoicing in God to seeking my own pleasure and satisfaction in temporary things, maybe even my kids or domestic accomplishments. And from there it’s just a slippery slope to being discontented and unhappy with everything because loving God has been abandoned.

I try to take these feelings very seriously. As already said, I, by nature was born bent against God. Though His child now and blessed with unspeakable grace and mercy, it’s all too easy to forget.

The only answer is repentance.

I wish I could say that at the moment of realization, I repent immediately, but of course, that’s not always the case. The reason that I’m writing this now is because of two days that have been an absolute struggle. I wish that I had given in sooner.

I don’t think our kids keep us from God as much as we would like to think; they just manifest where we are with God in glaring, vivid color.

When things are turned back right, the day might not look all that different to an onlooker, but the heart will be different, and the mom will know.

Potty training: what NOT to do

photo credit
photo credit

I really thought potty training was going to be the end of me. If there ever was an end. And then everyone said the next child would be easier. And it was… by four months.

To make it perfectly clear, it took me sixteen months to potty train my first one and twelve months to potty train the second.

The end of me.

In retrospect, it was mostly my fault. My girls would have “got it” much faster if I hadn’t botched it so royally.

For fun I thought I’d put together a list of what NOT to do when potty training. Some may apply to you; some may only apply to me and my crazy mind. Either way, I hope you enjoy, don’t take it too seriously, and most of all, don’t spend twenty-eight months of your life potty training.

1. Don’t let your child sit on the potty too long. The point is for them to learn to go when they need to; not to have “the bathroom experience” by rule of probability and statistics.

2. Don’t think that treats will train your child to go. I’m not saying don’t give them; but at least for mine, there was no connection between a reward for going and actually mastering the skill of well, you know… going.

3. Don’t switch back and forth between big kid undies and pull-ups. Of all the mistakes I made, I think this was the biggest. I am now a huge fan of going cold turkey.

4. Don’t think that buying a potty book at Barnes and Noble will aid the process either. And it gets really uncomfortable when it becomes your child’s favorite book and everyone who enters the house gets asked to read it.

5. Don’t frantically search Internet sites and help books regarding potty training. I found that most of them either said the same things or were too philosophical to actually be helpful regarding a toddler.

6. Don’t begin to wonder about your qualifications to parent if potty training is a little rough. Most people work their way through it in one fashion or another and you probably won’t be the exception.


If you’re really being tried, just remember there’s someone out there who messed everything up completely and somehow through it all daily gets to hear, “Mommy, I need to go potty.”

Blessed words.

My little Pharisees

My girlies love clothes. And you can imagine with four of them that we go through a lot. Their Nana loves to shop for them and also gets great hand-me-downs from a friend of hers who has a granddaughter just older than Hope. (how convenient!)

Last time we were at Nana’s house she gifted us with a huge bag of clothes! Which we couldn’t look through for several days! And the girls were going crazy! But I didn’t want to have a mess at an inopportune time! (and do they ever make a mess trying on all those clothes… but they have fun so it’s all good)

When the day finally came for us to go through the stuff, I gave the girls specific instructions: “Girls, I’m going to put the little girls down. Do not touch the bag until I come back out!”

When I returned to the living room, I was shocked and amused at what I found:

IMG_1444The girls had literally made a fence around the bag. “We put all the rocking chairs and ottomans around it so we would make sure we didn’t touch it, Mommy!”

I laughed so hard, took a picture, and thought, “I’ve got to write a post about that!”

Pardon a quick history lesson: Have you ever wondered where the Pharisees came from? They’re nowhere to be found in the Old Testament, and then they suddenly appear unintroduced and unexplained, playing a major role in the gospel narratives.

The Pharisees were the upholders of the law, the self-proclaimed keepers of the kingdom. In their zeal to keep the law and insure that the people of Israel would never again fall into polytheism, the Pharisees had built fences around the law in the form of new laws. These new laws were meant to keep people from disobeying the original laws. But then, those weren’t good enough, and more were put into place. Eventually, the Pharisees made their law-keeping a law unto itself. The purpose of the law in displaying God’s beautiful character was completely obstructed and opposed.

Paul has an awesome “rose garden” illustration about this, but you’ll have to ask him about that.

I cannot explain the depth of my amusement at the fact that my children made a literal fence around something they weren’t supposed to touch. Their childish version of Pharisaism didn’t bother me at all; but wow am I ever going to have an awesome example to use with them when they’re older!

{Israel recap} Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee
Bonfire by the Sea of Galilee ~ I ask you, what is cooler than that?
Bonfire by the Sea of Galilee ~ I ask you, what is cooler than that?
Jordan before flowing into Galilee
Jordan before flowing into Galilee
Jordan River
Jordan River


Have you ever had an opportunity to do something you really wanted to do, and then realized (after the fact) that you sorta squandered it?

A dear lady our family knows offered to watch the girls so I could go do something by myself. I knew just what I wanted to do: another young mom I know gets out a lot, but not often with another lady and without her kids. So she worked it out to have someone watch her kids and we went shopping at this fabulous consignment shop I had been to. (It really is fabulous! set up like a boutique; adorable, totally in style clothes; ah! I want to go back!)

Anyways, we had a great time at the shop. I am such a poky shopper. I just love to look and look and think and think and go back; then try stuff on; decide none of it will work, etc.

Seriously, anyone who will go shopping with me ought to get a Joan of Arc award.

Every now and then, though, I see something and know I want it. (That’s why I take forever all those other times, because it’s just so hard to push me over the edge to spend money on something that doesn’t wow me.)

This time, it was a yellow wool skirt. My favorite color is yellow, but this was a new shade for me; kind of like a winter yellow? Definitely with gray undertones. Mm…mmm. Big fabric-covered buttons on both sides of the waist. And it fit. And I knew I had Christmas money coming. Then I found a yellow rope necklace to go with it and the deal was done!

Well, that was the good part. I was happy. yay.

Then, we went a few other places and I realized that I didn’t have the number of the lady who was watching my kids. Was today the day she had to pick up her grandson at school? Was she upset with me for not being back sooner? My mind started to go ka-fluey. I tried to switch lanes and almost collided with a car in my blind spot. Arg.

I dropped the girl off and rushed home, worrying the entire time about whether I had stayed out too late. (small note: the lady had specifically said, “Stay as long as you want, I’m good.”) But did she mean this long? If only I had written down her number before I left. Lack of preparation: you trouble me again!

Of course, when I got home, everything was fine. She was completely reassuring that she didn’t have anywhere to be and just wanted me to have a good time. So then I went from having a good time, to worrying I had too good of a time, to wishing I had had a better time instead of worrying about yada, yada, yada.

End of story: I felt awful. Even seriously second guessed buying the yellow skirt.

Moral??? Um, if you get a chance to get out as a young mom, just remember that stress and trouble and yourself will go with you even when your children do not. Always have a phone number to call your babysitter; even if you think you’ve had it previously (I did) check again, your nerves will thank you. And try to have a good time.

Oh yes, I did try to recount this pitiful tale to my husband who was halfway across the world on the most exciting and engaging trip of his life…via email. He better like that yellow skirt. = ) 

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

A fun home tour from the Living with Kids series at Design Mom

I always enjoy going to Design Mom and looking through her Living With Kids series.

This tour especially caught my eye because of all the colors! I had never seen so many shades used so successfully. Here are a few pictures to show you what I mean.

8d749cec8e5e8ff8e838e22b9aaf43f5 010d03ac978e2475729ebe618862a945 e43f728a97e86e273a099fa426da6be7 b4ac4e585983a6af9a5f7c3fe4e47f0e

Aren’t they beautiful?

Check out the entire post here at Living With Kids: Chelsey Woolley.

Hope you enjoy!

10 Ways to entertain small children at long, boring doctor’s appointments

Ever been taken back to a room at the doctor’s office, have a nurse weigh your child, ask if you have any questions, and then say the Doctor will be right in?


Ever found yourself wondering if that nurse remembered to tell that Doctor that you were even there?

Here are ten ways to be proactive at entertaining your children while waiting in the doctor’s office. (Please note: these would not really be appropriate for the waiting area, but are fair game once in the room.)

Edited 10 ways photo1. Play I-Spy. The rooms at our pediatrician’s office are very colorful, so this is always something the girls want to do.

2. Play Simon Says. My girls are a little too young for this, so it’s really just a glorified version of “Do what Mommy says.” Hey, why not throw in having them respond with, “Yes, Mommy!” and make it a training exercise as well?

3. Play Ring-Around-The-Rosie. It’s okay, I promise.

4. Give bumpy horsey rides with the kids on your knees.

5. Explain the different “doctor” equipment in the room.

6. Play Peek-a-Boo.

7. Sing songs softly. Especially ones with fun action or hand motions.

8. Play copycat. Do something and have the children imitate you. (Jumping jacks, standing on one foot, turning around, making a silly face… they love this one; especially once they get to be “the cat.”)

9. Play thunderstorm. Pretend it’s raining and everyone has to huddle under an umbrella to stay dry. (The girls actually made this one up; they love to make rain noises by slapping their laps.)

10. And if the doctor is still not there, Repeat.

Stick out your tongues!
Stick out your tongues!

The point is to be creative and be happy. If you are impatient, your children probably will be, too.

Sad faces
Sad faces

Really the sky is the limit.


Last time we went, I happened to have a brush in my purse because we rushed out so early and I hadn’t had time to really get them ready. So we played beauty shop; I fixed their hair while talking to them in my awful imitation Brooklyn accent. They thought it was hilarious. (If they only knew it was helping me stay sane as well… )

Silly faces!
Silly faces!

What do you do to occupy your children while waiting?

Oh yeah, and if all else fails, tell them to make faces and take pictures. = )

Gracie’s stages: Whasfodinnuh?

Sweet baby Gracie
Sweet baby Gracie

It’s time for the next installment of Gracie’s stages!! And it is a good one!

This stage was definitely my sister’s favorite ever. It got to the point where she would text me every morning saying, “Did she say it?” But I give too much away.

We love two-year old’s around here!! I think it’s my favorite age. You can read about why here. After that post, I started writing down all of Gracie’s fun two-year old stages. You can read about some of those here and here.

A little background before I dive in to the story of this stage. Gracie lost weight from the age of six to nine months (I really took that hard) and it was a while before she got back to where she needed to be.

But now?

She’s definitely making up for lost time.

Plainly stated… the child LOVES to eat. And I’m so thankful every time I look at her chubby little body.

At some point this fall, she realized that I pretty much knew what I was going to make for dinner that night; and that if she asked me I would share that information with her. (The other girls will frequently ask about the dinner plan at some point during the day)

Gracie began to ask me, “Mommy, whasfodinnuh?”

And I would reply with whatever the choice was for that night.

To which she would reply, “Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face.

It was great. But it got even greater.

That question became literally the first thing she said to me every morning! For at least a month, probably longer!

I’d walk into her room in the morning, “Good morning, Gracie! How are you?”

She’d stand up (always with the most hideous case of bedhead you’ve ever seen), rub her sleepy eyes and say in a soft, morning voice, “Mommy, whasfodinnuh?”

And I would reply, and she would say, “Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face.

Every. single. morning.

(See how I just. did. that.? It’s a very bloggy thing to do.)

Even though she had already asked first thing in the morning, she would still ask six or seven times during the day. Just randomly walk up to me and say, “Mommy, whasfodinnuh?”

And I would reply and she would say, “Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face.

Didn’t matter what it was. Spaghetti? Tilapia? Chicken and dumplins? Breakfast?

“Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face.

Of course, I would tell Laurie about this during our daily phone conversations; so she began texting me in the morning, “Did she say it?”

It was her idea for me to ask Gracie, “What do you want for dinner?” Awesome idea. “I’ll try it tomorrow!”

So the next morning after “Mommy, whasfodinnuh?” and my reply and “Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face; I asked:

“What do you want for dinner, Gracie”

“Chicken and dumplins!”

She said that for at least a week; but after she said it, I would tell her what we were actually having and she would say…

“Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face.

I love that girl.