The Coolest Birthday Party Ever

My parents are about as predictable as Missouri weather. They are the best parents a girl could ask for. They love me well. My home was a good place to grow up. But if I told you stories of my childhood, you probably wouldn’t believe me and would definitely find it stranger than fiction (in the very best way).

There was a time my mom, sister, and I flew on a whim to Las Vegas without a hotel booked. This was before cell phones and computers. We arrived to find every hotel in the city booked. Approximately three hours of going hotel to hotel landed us at the last available room in the entire city. You would, if you’re like my mom, assume that Vegas has too many hotel rooms to ever sell out. You would have assumed wrong. The kicker, however, is that my mom was unphased. Driving around Vegas with too little girls did not stress her out at all. It was all part of the adventure, she assured us.

The day of one of my big high school events, my parents decided to buy a farm without ever seeing it. They were too preoccupied with my event to be able to go, so they asked their friend to go purchase it on their behalf.

In their mid-50’s, my parents adopted my little sister. Their friends thought they were crazy, but she is the best part of my family.

They will call me on a Thursday to tell me they’re flying down to see me on a Friday.

I say all of this to explain why it was no surprise that I came home for Christmas during my freshman year of college to find my parents had become foster parents, and I now had six (SIX!) new foster brothers under the age of ten.

Apparently, my parents did not take well to my departure.

I’m kidding. I was their fourth kid. They barely noticed. 

This was my first experience with foster care. And boy, was it memorable!

Each college break, I would come home to a different combination of kids. It was always an adventure, to be sure!

Even though I myself have never been a foster parent, it has continued to play a prominent role in my life. Many of my friends foster children. Several of my friends work as social workers to advocate on their behalf.

Involvement in the foster care system is one of the most noble callings in life. To represent and care for children whose parents are unable to properly parent is incredibly sacrificial and amazing. The horrifying realities some children experience would be too unbearable to say in this space, and foster parents and social workers must face these tragedies daily.

I think we can all agree they are the unsung heroes among us.

As I said, I do not have first hand experience with being a foster parent. I have done my best to understand, but forgive me if I am errant in any way.

That being said, I could talk all day about my frustrations with our culture losing the village that it takes to raise a child, but perhaps the place it’s most prevalent is among foster parents.

Fostering children is beautiful and amazing…but it can be exhausting and challenging and lonely. Raising a child who has experienced deep trauma is hard. While it is obviously never the fault of the child, these precious kids don’t necessarily behave in normative ways and figuring it all out takes time and patience.

You may not feel called to foster children (I don’t, at this moment), but everyone can rally around foster families to encourage and help them.

Giving to the vulnerable, in any capacity, is one of the best ways to spend your money.

And every foster family could use some financial assistance. The foster families I talked to said how much they appreciate gift cards. That way, the foster parent can determine exactly what each child needs and wants. Gift cards to Target, grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, etc. are all welcomed and appreciated.

On the flip side, giving your crap away isn’t helpful. Children who’ve been previously raised in unfit homes don’t necessarily know how to play with toys properly. Or maybe they need a new pair of shoes more than they need a board game. Older children want to be in style and have current clothes just like their peers and take great pride in picking them out, possibly for the first time ever. I would implore you to give cash and gift cards and let the foster parents decide the appropriate way to spend it.

I know economic times are tough. There are ways to give to foster families that do not involve money. Train to become a respite care provider to give the foster families you know a break. To protect the dear foster children, not just anyone can babysit them. Investing your time to become a respite provider is a beautiful way to assist foster families.

If that is not an option, help with the children already in the family in whatever capacity is beneficial. Bring the family a meal. Pick up kids from school.

Did I mention giving gift cards?? Send flowers. Write a note of encouragement. Just do something. 

The Stand Up Foundation is a place to find helpful resources that go well beyond my scope of understanding.

I promise anything you do will be very much appreciated by the foster family (unloading your crap, notwithstanding), and as with all of life, giving is always better than receiving.

I experienced this first hand just a few weeks ago. I had the privilege of attending the coolest birthday party at my church (Salt Church).

Foster care and adoption are important to my church. We take the call to love and take care of widows and orphans seriously. One of our families currently fosters the most precious boys. The oldest boy has never had his birthday celebrated, and he is old enough for that to be beyond disheartening. What started as the foster mom simply bringing a cake to celebrate turned into the sweetest act of love.

The entire congregation dressed up as super heroes to celebrate a boy who so deserved it. We had to find the balance between celebrating his birthday well but not overwhelm him by going overboard. Because too much of a good thing is too much, especially in this situation. I am proud to say (because I cannot take any credit; I was merely an observer), it was amazing.


This grand celebration was a blast, and it would be easy to replicate with the foster children you know.

More than ever, the foster care crisis is rampant. It is the unfortunate reality that some children must be removed from their homes for their safety and well-being. I am so grateful for the foster families who provide loving, nurturing homes for these sweet kids facing indescribable situations.

Let’s be the village that rallies around these families who give so much and expect nothing in return. Consider how you can be the solution to the problem. Perhaps becoming a foster parent is your call. But if not, you can still do something.

Think of the foster families you know. Choose one and do something awesome for them today.
Additional Resources: 
Call your local Department of Children and Families and ask what needs they have.

4 Kids South Florida is a ministry in my area that is doing tremendous work. Perhaps a similar program exists in your city.

The One Thing I Wish I Knew When My Kids Were Little

A weird thing happened last week. As I wandered mindlessly through Target, I realized that my kids have outgrown the baby/toddler section of the store. I will never again purchase an item from that section for my offspring.

I paused for a moment to let that sink in, and consistent with my overly dramatic ways, I thought back to the many, many hours I’ve spent in Target over the years.

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I remember walking the aisles looking at nothing and everything all at once. I have bought more diapers than I care to think about and have found some fun deals during those trips.

I remember inspecting every bottle nipple to see if one might be the magical answer to my infant’s refusal of a bottle. (None of them worked. For any of my four children. I wondered then if I had magical boobs. Time would tell I mostly have stubborn children.)

The smell of Pampers Swaddlers instantly takes me back to those impossibly hard and, in hindsight, incredibly sweet days with a newborn…when I wasn’t sure if I would ever figure anything out…but certain that there was no greater gift than my sweet baby.

I remember taking my first walk of shame with a screaming toddler in tow. Though, it certainly wouldn’t be my last. These walks, in a weird way, represent my growth as a mom through the years. The first one ended with me in tears, hugging a kind stranger. The most recent involved my older children trying to contain their laughter as their little brother lost his crap over a Little People set.

I’ve bought pajamas for Christmas…leotards for dance recitals…gifts for birthdays…

I’ve been covered in spit up…with leaky boobs…and sometimes leaky eyes…

Given the ability to talk, those aisles of Target could tell some stories. That’s for sure.

I am still in the thick of raising children, so it’s not like my days of spending too much time and money at Target are over.

But my days of diapers, nursing pads, pacifiers, and sippy cups are.

As I think back to those long days in the early years of having kids, the one thing I wish I could have known then that I know now…is that everything was going to turn out just fine.

The baby who would never sleep eventually did.
The pacifier addiction finally broke.
The toddler who crapped his pants on the daily eventually stopped.
The tantrums gave way to more manageable emotions.
The kid who refused to learn his ABC’s eventually learned to read.
The child who was painfully shy now speaks with confidence.
And the one who was impossibly defiant isn’t so much anymore.

The amount of tears I’ve cried, the amount of times I worried, the amount of stress that my little people have caused me…it all worked itself out in time.

I know there was nothing that anyone could have said that would have made those early years of raising kids any easier. Part of being a parent is learning to navigate your own personal journey, in all its beauty and treachery. And because I am as stubborn as the children I birthed, I mostly learned all of those things the hard way.

But as my kids transition from the little years to the middle years, I am so proud of who they are. When they were little, I thought for sure I was screwing them all up. I had no clue what I was doing, and I just knew I was failing in every way.

The difficult behaviors of my children, mixed with the unkind narrative in my mind, led me to believe my family would become a colossal failure. It turns out, though, that I wasn’t as terrible of a mom as I thought I was.

These kids…
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…turned into these kids.
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(Trying to pass the time in a hotel room, evacuating Hurricane Matthew.)
(My youngest, on both occasions, wasn’t feeling it.)

My kids are turning out just fine. Better than I ever imagined, actually. My oldest is only ten, so we still have many years to navigate. I am not pretending to think that I have this all figured out or that there won’t be bumps in the road along the way. I know better than that.

What I am saying is that my children are more awesome than I ever thought possible. My shortcomings as a mom have not ruined them. Their shortcomings as children who are still learning about this big, crazy world have not impeded them.

They are far from perfect. I am further from perfect.
But, fortunately for us all, perfection is not our goal.

Outgrowing the baby and toddler section at Target is a weird feeling. On one hand, the middle years are the best. The reprieve between the toddler years and the teen years is magical. My kids are fairly independent and so much fun. There is less to worry about because they’re not trying to kill themselves by doing dumb crap like climbing dressers and jumping off couches. And yet not old enough to be doing dumb crap like texting while driving or making out with a boy in the back of a Mustang. The middle years are a treasure of awesomeness, to be sure.

But the little years…when they’re not impossibly hard…are so very sweet. Kids who mispronounce words. Although, my kids still won’t be convinced a tomato is not called a potato. Kids who require so much but are generous with their affection. Kids who can’t leave you alone long enough to pee but are so delighted with your very existence that leaving for even five minutes is too much to bear. I know it’s annoying now, but it will feel so sweet later.

You know I will never tell you to enjoy every moment of those boogery little appendages. Although I am embarrassed to admit…because of how much I hated being told that…that the terrible moments and ugly times eventually do fade into sweet memories. And I still have a four year old. Even still, I will never ever put that sort of annoying pressure on any mom. It is impossible to enjoy no sleep, enormous amounts of poop, and embarrassing temper tantrums. You can be grateful for your children without having to enjoy every moment.

What I will tell you though, especially you moms of young children, is to keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t let yourself believe you are inadequate or failing. You aren’t. Your hard work and sacrifices will pay off. The moments and days and weeks that are beyond frustrating will give way to easier ones. What you are doing is worth it. You will see the reward of pouring your heart and soul into your sweet little ones. It is not easy. It is not pretty. And it is not always fun. But I promise what is waiting on the other side is better than you will ever believe.

If I could tell you just one thing, it’s that everything will be just fine.

Mama, you are doing such a great job with your kids. Better than you can imagine. Keep loving the heck out of those cuties. I promise every little act of love, every sacrifice you make, every minute of sleep you lose, every tear you wipe and boo boo you kiss…it’s building awesomeness in your kids. It’s all so important and so worth it. Just wait and see!

Being A Mom Is The Best Ever. Except It Kinda Sucks Sometimes.

I have an account at a bank that typically has $1.37 in it. I have had the account since high school and only keep it open because it’s in a different state and would take too much effort to close it.

I check the balance every once in awhile, just to make sure all is well.

So you can my surprise when I checked it this week, and there was $4,001.37 in it! Back in March, a $4,000 deposit was made. I immediately called my mom because she is the only person who even knows the account exists. And she’s the most generous person I know, so it wouldn’t have been beyond her to have done something crazy. Looking over her meticulous accounting records, though, she found no trace of the deposit.

Thus began our mother-daughter recon work.

I hoped the money was some sort of miracle sent to help me pay off bills from the most expensive summer of my life where everything in my house seemed to break.

My mom went down the rabbit hole of QuickBooks trying to find an accounting error. Surely, she had deposited a check in the wrong account?!

We both wondered aloud if my husband was living a double life. I’m kidding. 

We both like a good detective show, so we pretended to be super sleuths and hashed out the possibilities for over an hour…never once considering that the money may not actually be mine. I mean, the money was deposited in March. Who doesn’t notice they’re missing $4,000??

My mom discussed it with my dad, who, unlike us, does not play detective in his free time. He is a lawyer and actually pays attention to things such as “facts” and “reality”. And, like any good lawyer (and dad), he would prefer for me to stay out of prison for embezzlement, so he suggested I call the bank and ask for a copy of the deposited check.

Darn him and his quest for truth.

The bank emailed me the check, and much to my dismay, it was not my money after all. The check was written to a man sharing my husband’s name, but it was very obvious it was not for us. Unless, of course, he IS living a double life, and his secret alias is a trust fund kid from Indiana.

It turns out that the person who doesn’t notice $4,000 missing is a trust fund kid from Indiana. 

I told the bank of the error, the money was given to its rightful owner (I presume), and my bank account returned to its piddly $1.37.

Even though it turned out to be just a crazy story, the possibility of $4,000 appearing out of nowhere felt like the most incredible miracle in the midst of a very hard week.

Because, friends, this week kicked my butt.

Before becoming a parent, I had magical dreams of teaching my children beautiful virtues and strong moral character. I dreamed of the parent I hoped I’d be. Instead, I am pretty much drowning in the sea of good intentions with very little execution of those hopes. Which is equal parts necessary to surviving the dailyness of life and disheartening that it feels like I can barely do more than survive.

This week included my husband teaching my son why it is inappropriate to draw a giant penis on Moses at Sunday School. And I threw up a little in my mouth when another son wished that toilet paper turned his poop into Nutella. Beautiful virtues continue to allude us. 

During a potential hurricane, our roof started leaking. Impeccable timing.

My children fight…and fight…and fight. And just when I think they have nothing left to argue about, they fight again. And while they fight, they destroy the house at an alarming rate.

My never-sick kids can’t seem to stay well. It’s nothing major, thankfully, but it’s unusual for them.

I really try not to complain. I try to take it all in stride and focus on the good. There is so much good. I know all problems pass and life happens. I know my kids are growing up fast. But this week…it all felt like too much.

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The way I handle stress is by cleaning. So when I was overcome with all of the frustrating emotions of the week (and month…and year…), I stayed up until 3:30 one morning to really clean my house. Which is really smart when you have four children to parent the next day. 

While I mopped my floor, I bawled my eyes out. Yes, life is hard. And right now, the circumstances of life are overwhelming me to the point of tears on a regular basis.

But those weren’t really the reasons I was so upset.

As everyone slept peacefully in their beds while I mopped in the middle of the night, the pain of how unnoticed I am came pouring out.

Being a mom is awesome. And fun. I adore my kids and think they’re the greatest ever. I love being a mom more than anything. Except that sometimes it kinda sucks, you know?!

At any given moment, there are a million things swirling around in my head…

The physical needs: appointments, sports schedules, meal plans, laundry needs, school work…

The emotional needs: am I spending enough time with each child, who needs what from me, why does that child seem a little off today, will the whining ever stop…

The spiritual needs: am I passing down my faith, are my kids kind, do they have decent character…as evidenced by Moses’ penis, you can see we have some room for improvement. 

The job of a mom never ends. More often than not, I am okay with this. I know it’s what I signed up for. I mean, I didn’t really know, but I figured it out pretty quickly. A mother’s sacrifice is par for the course.

But there are some days that I just want someone to notice all I do and how hard I work.

Because I think the hardest part about being a mom is how no one really notices me. 
If I didn’t show up for a day or two, it would be very noticeable.
But when everyone’s laundry gets done and meals get made and they all get to their games on time, the approximately six million things I do in a day go unnoticed.

While intellectually I know my family appreciates me, it doesn’t always feel that way. Sometimes, I’ll get a sweet thank you as a reminder that I am not as unnoticed as I feel. But every once in awhile…and by every once in awhile, I mean about once a week…I throw myself a little pity party for one. Because my house is a wreck, everyone complained about dinner again, and the laundry is overflowing…and while everyone is having champagne wishes and caviar dreams, the visual reminder of my six million unnoticed jobs overwhelms me. And I bawl my eyes out.

I don’t really have some catchy inspirational way to end this. I wish I did. It’s just I think a lot of us moms sit at home, thinking we are alone in this. Because, after a hard day, we all wake up the next morning, throw our hair up in messy bun, and pull ourselves together to face the world. We are all interacting with each other’s best self, and we convince ourselves that everyone else has it together and that no one else is struggling.

I may be struggling more than most as I am barely hanging on by the thread after a very long week, but I have yet to meet a mom who has it all together. Most every mom I know is a great mom. And every great mom struggles and cries and loses her crap once in awhile. Every great mom doubts herself and doesn’t quite know if anything she does is actually working. But we are all putting on our game face and hoping that our best is enough. (Spoiler alert: it is.) 

You aren’t alone. Next time you fall apart and have a nice long ugly cry, don’t believe the lie that you’re the only one having a hard day. Believe me, you are not alone.

Being a mom is the best ever. But it still sucks sometimes. For every single mom.



My Evolution of Fashion (AND a LuLaRoe Giveaway!!)

Fashion is not something that comes naturally to me.
I am not great with clothes. I’ve worn generally the same make-up since high school. And my hair is…long? That’s about the only adjective I have.

I don’t even know how I got a boyfriend in college, much less a husband, because I was not good at anything that guys tend to notice. My very cutest shirt back then was a Gap Favorite T. As in the very boring, basic cotton shirt. I had one in every color. I wore sweatpants in public, on the regular. The rest of my closet pretty much came from Goodwill. I wasn’t even broke; I just overvalued comfort, apparently. My sister may or may not have wondered aloud many times why I dressed so stupidly and suggested that possibly my horrifying fashion choices may be the reason I couldn’t get a date. So no one was more surprised than her that I eventually landed a boyfriend.

A boyfriend who happened to have a job in a little place called the National Football League. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. The NFL is known for many things…wearing unfortunate clothes is not among them.

So when my boyfriend-turned-fiance invited me to a team event, to say I had no idea what to wear would be the understatement of the decade. I inherently knew my Gap Favorite T wasn’t exactly the look his teammates’ wives would be rocking.

Because I was still in college (and also because it’s my favorite store), I went to TJ Maxx and dropped some cash on the cutest outfit I could find. I knew I wasn’t a trophy wife, but at least I could be a participation ribbon.

When my man picked me up for the event, he noticeably gasped. The smile on his face told me that I had made a good decision. And I can only imagine his relief when I looked presentable, rather than what he had come to expect of me (which was a college student who looked as if I had just rolled out of bed). (Because I had just rolled out of bed, usually.) I remember thinking that it did not take much more effort to look cute than it did to wear sweatpants and a Goodwill shirt, yet I felt a so much better about myself.

Much to my sister’s delight, I prohibited myself from buying another basic cotton shirt for a full year. If I were going to buy clothing, it had to be something cute. That was my new rule. I wasn’t fashion forward, but I was no longer a tragedy either.

Fast forward, I got married. I had a couple of kids. My body changed. I was exhausted. Cute clothes felt like a waste of time when I was covered in spit-up and wiping booties. Yoga pants and t-shirts became my official mom uniform.

My horrifying college wardrobe set the fashion bar quite low. I never thought it could get worse. I was wrong. Motherhood had gotten the best of me. The only pieces of jewelry I owned were Christmas gifts from my husband’s sweet grandma who could never understand how I could leave the house without earrings on. And my clothes were…sad and boring.

As I was nursing my baby girl one afternoon, I turned on the TV. Oprah was featuring a group of Frumpy Moms who wanted to improve themselves.

(This obviously isn’t Oprah. But the message remains the same.)
(I sadly cannot find the actual episode.)

I believe it was Tim Gunn who offered easy tips to transform these moms from frumpy to fabulous.

The tips were truly so easy that I decided to transform myself. I followed his every rule, and for the first time since becoming a mom, I started to feel normal again.

I understood, once again, that it’s not that much harder to dress cute…but it makes you feel so much better. I reinstated my original fashion rule and did not buy a cotton shirt or comfy pants for an entire year.

Over the years, as I have added a couple more kids and have *somewhat* aged, I am finding, more than ever, the value in feeling good about myself. The great part about getting older is that I like myself on the inside more and more, and I don’t see any problem with reflecting that on the outside.

It feels good to feel good. And though it does not come naturally to me and I will never be so on trend, my fashion has definitely improved. I can now attend social functions without being terrified of my closet. I have cute jewelry to accessorize any outfit. Sweatpants are still enjoyed, just in the comfort of my own home. My make-up and hair…well, I am a still a work in progress.

I still don’t dress cute everyday. I am home with my four kids all day and constantly cleaning, so around the house, I dress comfy. But when I go out with friends or on a date with my husband, I like to leave my mom role behind and feel good about myself.

In the weeks to come, I plan to highlight some of my favorite places to shop…if you’re a frumpy mom looking for a boost, a fashionable chic who loves all things cute, or anywhere in between…I think you will find something new and fun!

One of the hottest growing companies right now is LuLaRoe. And when my friend Elizabeth offered for me to try LuLaRoe, I was all about it! So many of my friends are obsessed with LLR, and I couldn’t wait to see what the hype was about.

The thing that stood out to me most about these pieces is the versatility. The Cassie skirt and Classic T are comfortable AND stylish. My fashion goals, if you will. This outfit begs the question, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEEN ALL MY LIFE, CASSIE?” (Note: you must join Elizabeth’s FB group to see the clothing.)

Working moms, you will look fab at your job then transition easily to carpool lines and sporting events. No need for a quick change in the car!
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I will be honest. I was not hopeful about this skirt. I have some junk in my trunk, if you know what I mean, and I have a history of skirts not flattering me at all. I was VERY pleasantly surprised to learn that this skirt, in some magical way, fits well. LuLaRoe is known for fitting in a flattering way that other clothes just don’t.

Paired with a sassy pair of earrings, this outfit also transitions well to a night out with your girlfriends or a date night with your husband!
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I cannot say it enough: I am so impressed with how versatile LuLaRoe clothing is. As a person who still tends to overvalue comfort (at the risk of being a fashion emergency), discovering that LLR clothing allows you to be cute and comfortable is pretty much the best thing ever. I wish this clothing line was around when I was having babies…when nothing seemed to fit my ever-changing body very well.

The other thing that I appreciate about LuLaRoe is how drastically it has improved the mom uniform. These leggings that “feel like butter” paired with an Irma tunic are a much welcomed upgrade from my worn out yoga pants! And once again, the versatility is so great!
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This LuLaRoe combo is easy to wear around the house and looks put together when you need to run a quick errand or go to soccer practice.
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The Irma looks great with leggings and also pairs well with jeans for a great Fall look.
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Now that you know of the gloriousness that is LuLaRoe, how about a chance to win a free pair of leggings??!!!

It’s so easy! There are many ways to win!
Click over to and “Like” Elizabeth’s Facebook Page (5 entries)

Optional, for more chances to win: 
Post a comment, telling her your favorite LuLaRoe piece (5 entries)
Share this blog and tag three friends (10 entries)
Set up an online pop-up party with Elizabeth (20 entries)

I will draw one winner on Thursday, September 1.
Elizabeth will send the winner a free pair of LuLaRoe leggings!!

Shop her site today! You will be glad you did.

Photo credit: Rosa Puente

Featured jewelry:
Tradewinds Necklace
Nebula Earrings
Simplicity Hoops
Emebet Necklace
Water Drop Prism Earrings
Catalyst Earrings
Dreamer Necklace



You Are Fine. I Am Fine. We Are All Fine. Except We Aren’t Fine.

As seen on the Huffington Post:

The Love Your Spouse Challenge has been circling Facebook for weeks (months?) now. I laughed with my friend about how nobody has tagged me in this challenge yet. Which is funny because I love my husband AND I like him.

Even if, in his words, he’s “been tagged eight times but isn’t into that type of thing.”

Knowing me well, my friend said, “I am surprised you didn’t participate anyway because you love that sort of thing.”

She is right. And opposites do attract. I am totally into that type of thing and typically do not miss a single opportunity to brag about my husband. He’s hot. He’s funny. He’s kind. And after nearly twelve years of marriage, we still have a lot of fun together.

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Dancing with my man at a wedding earlier this year (photo cred)

But I didn’t post about this for seven days.
Not because I have anything against the challenge.
Quite the opposite: I enjoy hearing people’s histories and what makes each relationship unique and awesome. I love knowing why people fell in love. I believe in celebrating marriage. Even when it’s imperfect. 

The reason I didn’t post went much deeper than the challenge itself.

I don’t quite know how to explain it, but the emotional climate of our culture bothers me.
One of our deepest needs as humans is to be known. To be heard. To be understood.
The world is a hard, oftentimes lonely, and very messy place.
People are suffering. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally.

But when asked how we are, “I’m fine,” is almost always the response.
You are fine. I am fine. We are all fine.
Except we aren’t fine. 

I understand this answer is an automatic response to a question mostly asked to be polite.

But it explains the reason I chose not to participate in the Love Your Spouse Challenge.
My marriage actually is fine.
But I know many (most?) marriages aren’t.
I want to be a person who knows people, who sees people.
And if someone’s marriage isn’t fine, I want to be a safe place for that to be said.
Which is why I intentionally try to limit the amount of bragging I do on social media.
I don’t want to be perceived as “so fine” that my friends are unwilling to admit when they’re not fine. Because I also want to be able to say when I’m not fine.

Whether or not you participated in the LYS Challenge is not the point…believe me, I’ve done more than my fair share of bragging on social media…I am, in no way, trying to make you feel bad about that. To some degree, the very nature of social media is to highlight the awesome parts of our days. No one is gonna stop in the middle of lecturing a child to snap a picture. No one is going to film a fight with their spouse and post it to Instagram. No one is going to screen shot a difficult texting conversation they just had.

And if they do actually post this sort of thing, we all kinda feel like we need to divert our eyes from the train wreck. You know it’s true. 

Social media is what it is. A highlight reel of our lives. With the occasional sarcastic and honest snippet.

My frustration is not with social media.
My frustration is with the inability to say, “I’m not fine.”

The ultimate cost of this is the alarming suicide rates in our country.
Most people thankfully don’t go that far, but still, we aren’t fine.
Diseases ravish people’s bodies. Addictions abound. Marriages sometimes end. Relationships get strained. Bills go unpaid. Kids are hard. Insecurities creep in. Cars break down. Houses fall apart. Depression and anxiety can be crippling. Expectations aren’t met. Job security is non-existent. Natural disasters hit without warning.

Life is good in so many ways. But life is hard.

And I don’t really understand why our culture’s goal seems to fake like it’s all okay.

It’s okay to not be okay.

Even in friendships where we are brave enough to say, “I’m not fine”, we still apologize for saying so. This is especially true when our hard things are mostly first world problems.

Something I’ve said many times that my same friend (mentioned at the start) reminded me: Just because your hard isn’t as hard as someone else’s doesn’t make it not hard for you.

To admit life is hard is not complaining.
To say things are overwhelming does not mean you’re ungrateful.
Asking advice about a tough situation doesn’t mean you can’t handle it.
Don’t apologize for realizing you can’t be it all/do it all/have it all.

It’s okay to not be okay. 


I think the place to start is to stop apologizing when you share the deep parts of your soul. If a friend can be trusted with your hard stuff, she doesn’t want you to feel bad about sharing it. If your marriage is hard or you don’t like your child at the moment or your boss is a jerk, don’t apologize for how it affects you.

Similarly, when asking someone how they are, genuinely care and listen for the answer. Better yet, listen for what isn’t being said. Not everyone is looking to bare their soul, but in a constantly communicating world that has very little quality communication, I have found that most people are willing to talk to someone who will listen.

Everyone wants to feel valued. Everyone wants to be heard and seen.
And I believe everyone wants a safe space to say, “You know what? I am not fine.”

Be the person who can listen. Be the person who sees. Be the first to admit, “I’m not fine, and here’s why.”

I guess I answered my own question. I am bothered that our culture is so disconnected (even though we feign connectedness) that we feel the need to pretend everything is just fine. Because we have made ourselves believe that no one really wants to hear otherwise.

But that’s untrue. People do want to hear otherwise. I know human nature. I know the friends with whom I am mostly deeply connected and the reasons why. I know that we are all longing for friendships where we can be our full selves. Where we don’t have to apologize for what brings us down. Where we can admit the hard. Where we can find love and comfort and hope and belonging. And…bringing it back to the Love Your Spouse Challenge…celebrate the awesome!

This is my challenge to you: call someone today that could use a good friend and a listening ear. Ask how she is really doing. And tell her how you are really doing.

The dysfunctional emotional climate of our culture won’t change in a day, but you surely can make someone’s day today.


You Are More Than A Human Trash Can

There I was. At the base of a waterfall, at the end of the most beautiful hike I’ve ever taken.



We stopped at the gift shop to enjoy some delicious ice cream. Because grandparents always say yes.


My kids gobbled up their ice cream at a super human pace (we may or may not have underestimated the hiking trail and brought exactly no water or snacks). One by one, as they finished, my kids all handed me their trash.

As they all ran off to play in the gorgeous wide-open space, I looked down and laughed.

I just never expected to be a human trashcan. You know?

Especially when an actual trashcan was right beside me.

A human trash can. Just add that to the list of thankless things I do.

Human cow.
Butt wiper.
Hair brusher.
Carrier of all the things.
Snack giver.
Back scratcher.
Clothes washer.
Grocery getter.
Activities coordinator.
Puke cleaner.
Bedtime sergeant.
Did you use soap? checker.
Song singer.
Covert spinach hider.
Water pusher.
Appointment maker.
Lunch packer.
Chauffeur of The Fight Club. (Obviously, my kids can’t discuss the fight club. That pesky first rule and all. But the back seat brawling tells all.)

Shall I go on?

You know exactly what I am talking about.

You do approximately six million small things everyday to love your family well.
And somehow all six million things go unnoticed.

And if you’re anything like me, it’s very hard feeling unseen and unappreciated.

Evidenced by the fact that I give every ounce of all I have to raising my four people, and yet somehow I can still cry myself to sleep at night replaying all the ways I have failed that day.

It makes absolutely no sense how I can do my very best yet never feel like my best is enough. And I know I am not alone in this.

But, as I sat at the base of the waterfall that day, watching my kids run wild, I was overcome with the assurance that being a human trash can matters. So to speak.

The six million thankless jobs matter.

Think about the Great Wall of China. It took over three billion bricks to complete the wall. No one individual brick is all that impressive, but the culmination of them is magnificent.

And that’s exactly what you are doing.

Each time you do yet another thankless task, you are building something spectacular. You are investing in a relationship that will echo for generations to come. The little daily parts of raising kids that feel so very daily are actually way more valuable than we think.

Being a human trash can matters. Because you are so much more than a human trash can.

On the surface, it seems like ill-mannered short people throwing their discarded goods your way. But look a little deeper. You are the only person with whom they have this level of comfort. You are safe. You are predictable. You are a place where they belong and are known.

There is no love like a mother’s love.

And to get to serve your family in six million little ways is sacred work.
It’s hard work.
It sucks oftentimes sometimes.
But it’s sacred. And it matters.

You don’t have to be thanked for what you’re doing to count.
Every minute of lost sleep. Every moment of cleaning up the bodily fluids that flow so freely. Every mopped floor. Every dinner cooked. Every small sacrifice is building love, confidence, security, and belonging into the heart and mind of your children.

Do not despise the things that no one sees, appreciates, or thanks you for.
Because your children do see. They cannot begin to comprehend what you do in a given day, but their hearts affirm that what you do is important.

Greatness happens one brick at a time. One small act of love at a time.

Mama, do not lose heart today. The endless list of what needs to be done and who needs what can be overwhelming. You’re not just completing a to-do list. You’re building something spectacular.

Brick by brick.

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Photo cred


An Anthology Proving That Summer Is Kicking My Butt

I love and adore my children to an almost disgusting degree. I am obsessed with them and think they’re the best four people ever made. I even like them. I don’t have to wipe poop anymore, so I am particularly fond of them at this moment.

But there are some things I need to talk to you about. Some things that I must speak out to the World Wide Web before my husband comes home and finds me rocking back and forth in the fetal position saying to no one and everyone, “Does anyone hear me? Is anyone listening? Can anyone hear the words that are coming out of my mouth?” Over and over and over.

Life has been a teensy bit stressful lately. If you couldn’t tell by my dramatics (see above). And there are two things I do to cope with stress: I write and I clean.

Because these bedrooms were spotless 12 hours ago…

…I just can’t with the cleaning right now.

So I must write. You’re welcome.

My breaking point came yesterday. I was peeing in front of the audience that is my offspring and said for the 4,579,846th time, “Please let me pee in peace. We can talk about Minecraft in literally 45 seconds.”

Peace. I go to the most bacteria infested, stinkiest, grossest part of my home to find peace. Peeing is the most peaceful part of my day. Well, theoretically. Realistically, it’s mostly me explaining (again) how girls don’t actually pee out of their butts to my curious son who lacks boundaries and a basic understanding of human anatomy.

It got me thinking about this glam life I am living. And what a weird paradox life is that there is nothing I would rather do than raise these savages my children, but there are so many parts of parenting that make my eyes roll so far back in my head that I am surprised they aren’t stuck that way. Yes, I have become my mother. 

There are many, many things that I understand about kids:
They’re sticky. Soap and water are stressful. 
Their standards of cleaning are low but are on par for their age.
Listening is a learned art that takes time (which some people never learn).
Obeying commands is really hard. Even at my age.
So I get it.

But I don’t get how they can go hours without speaking to me, but the moment I sit down on the toilet or pick up my phone THEY HAVE QUESTIONS! SO MANY QUESTIONS! AND IDEAS! AND PLANS! AND LET’S PLAN MY BIRTHDAY RIGHT NOW BECAUSE IT’S ONLY EIGHT MONTHS AWAY!

The same goes for bedtime. I actually am one of those annoying moms who loves tucking my kids in at night. I enjoy a bit of brief chatter, but I would also be perfectly fine if the deep philosophical discussions happened around 4 pm instead of the exact time when JoJo might be falling in love for the 17th time. Don’t children understand priorities?? 

Dear children, I love that you have so many questions. So many wonderings about life. How exactly does gravity work? Does someone die the moment someone is born? Why is the sky usually blue but sometimes it’s not? I know I homeschool you and answering these questions is sort of my job, but JoJo likes to date men who wear excruciatingly tight pants and until I make sense of that, please save your questions for the morning.

But I stay and listen because I’ve learned that my kids don’t want answers nearly as much as they want to be heard.

On my good days, I soak in their awesomeness.
On my not so good days, I think to myself, “Why. So. Many. Questions.”
But only say aloud, “Ask Dad.”

The tell tale sign that I’ve given up on parenting for the day is when my answer to everything is, “Ask Dad.” I simply have reached a point where my mind can no longer process endless requests and questions.

My children have a very good, involved dad. He knows a lot of things. He is compassionate and kind. And will approve a PG-13 movie 85% more often than I will.

So it is a bit confusing to me how he can be sitting on the couch with our children…I can be eight states away without cell phone service…and my kids will still find a way to ask me questions first.

This ability is so innate that they even do it in the middle of the night when they’re not fully awake. My husband sleeps closest to the door (which, side note, I figured out after like eight years of marriage that he does that as a protective thing…how cute is that?!). The distance to walk around our giant king size bed to me takes some added effort, and yet 100% of the time, every kid is willing to go the distance.

And the weird part about it is that the amount of compassion I have from 1 am – 6 am is zero. My child could literally have a missing appendage and I’d be like, “It’ll still be missing in the morning. Go back to bed and stop bleeding on my sheets!”

I do not parent well in the middle of the night, but my kids are pretty dedicated to regularly testing to see if this has changed.


In fact, I think they have formed a union dedicated to testing me. And according union by-laws, they’re required to see how far they can push me before I explode. They do this by:
– asking to play electronics every minute of every day
– having selective hearing
– deciding that hitting is the answer to all of life’s problems
– and if hitting doesn’t solve it, then surely name calling and screaming will do the trick

And when exactly no one in my family can get along and everyone ignores my instructions/corrections/etc, I explode.

Losing my crap on my children is the worst feeling in the world that generates the best possible outcome. Imagine the peace I would find in life (toilet peace, notwithstanding) if my children chose to listen and obey the first time I asked something. But, no, that is impossible for the ten and under crowd.

They must wait to listen until I lose my ever loving mind, when I make the most empty threats known to mankind, practically lose my voice because I am not typically a yeller, and if I am feeling particularly mad, bawl my eyes out.

There is nothing that straightens my children up faster than tears and rants and threats and Mom completely freaking out.

Hello, my name is Sarah. Welcome to my crazy.

The thing is, I don’t feel great after my freak out is over. I actually feel pretty crappy. I don’t understand how I am a grown woman who can hold my stuff together like 90% of the time, but should my hormones shift in any way, I unleash the fury on the sweetest, cutest, most innocent people in my life.

But then I emerge from my bedroom (because what good is a freak out if it doesn’t end in collapsing on your closet floor, wondering why life is so hard?!?), my house is clean and my kids are getting along and everyone wants to hug me. And I apologize and get over my guilt and mostly think that losing my crap was kinda worth it to have peace and a clean house for the next 23 minutes.

So basically what I am trying to tell you is that SUMMER IS KICKING MY BUTT.
The dog days of summer are upon us, and as much as I love the lazy days spent by the pool, the savages children are wearing me out.

It’s not like the start of school magically makes life easy and stress-free. But in between school, football practice, dance lessons, work, and a steady routine, the crazy somehow feels less crazy.

And I am kinda looking forward to less crazy. The school year is its own kind of crazy, of course. But the fuller days and cooler weather means more time outside (at least where I live), less fighting, more things to do, less boredom.

And if I’m really lucky, this might just be the year I get to pee alone. Don’t be jealous.


Tell me: are you still loving summer?? Or are you ready for school??