From the Heart titleI recently heard about Chobani’s #BreakYouMake promotion- asking folks to tell the world about a friend of mine who needs a break… And could use some Chobani Flips in their life.

My first thought was wow what an awesome idea!  My second thought was… I’m not fond of Greek yogurt.  But the idea of the Flip intrigued me, because I do enjoy parfaits.  So I decided to try the Flips before making any commitments.  And, well…

I’m hooked!!!  I seriously LOVE these things!  I love the crunch of the add-ins and the fresh, fun flavors that are perfect for breakfast, snack, or even dessert.  
I didn’t have to think more than about two seconds to know who of my friends would not only most love the Flips, but also to think about who most needs a break right now.
You know those days that Mama said would happen?  Try linking those all together into a really tough year.  A year where seemingly nothing goes your way.  From moving and the door on the freezer gets broken (and the company subsequntly sending the wrong replacement part two or three different times to the tune of -$200 a pop), to Internet service randomly shut off for no reason, to numerous personal things I would never betray on the www, my dear sweet friend who is an amazing mom, an awesome nurse, and probably the strongest woman I know has been through quite a year.  If anyone deserves to jet away to a tropical island on her two minute break while on her nursing rounds, it’s Johannah.
Not only is she working long twelve hour shifts three or four days a week, she’s supporting her two teenagers in their sports and all the while working out herself in an attempt to become a healthier mom.  What a better snack for someone striving to eat healthy than Chobani Flip?  I love that they are high in protein and fabulous in flavor and come in some really great varieties to please any tastebud.  I know if she was to win some free Chobani Flip yogurt she would FLIP… And be super excited about the healthy break SHE could make while at work or on the go!
So here’s to my Super Mom-Nurse-Friend… Hoping Chobani Flips… For you!  Love ya!blog signature
Want to nomiate one of your friends?  Find out more about the #BreakYouMake project here on the Chobani website!  And find out more about the Chobani Flip yogurt here!

Family Photos – Gone REAL

From the Heart title

I love my family.  We’re beautiful.  We look alike.  We get compliments on how cute our kids are.  And I love to show on Facebook and on this blog how wonderful we are.  But ya’ll, this is Wednesday, and this is a “From the Heart” post.  Which tells you I’m about to GET REAL on ya.  Lookout.  We ARE beautiful sometimes.  We do look alike when we smile.  We have adorably cute looking kids.  BUT OMG THEY ARE SO REAL.  I made the mistake of looking at Pinterest before our family photo shoot at our home this past Saturday.  HA!  What all those Pinterest family photo ideas show you is this:family pics collage


They show you beautiful, happy children doing sweet things, and those awesome walking away pictures where no-one has a huge butt.  They show you naturally posed photos inside a clean home with a child happily showing off her playhouse.  They show you giggles.  They show you smiles and seriously gorgeous, stunning shots.  And yes, we ended up with a few of those for our hour of steaming hot, bug-bitten, whine-infested, toddler-tantrum, baby crying photo session.  So it’s time to take off the filter, ya’ll.  It’s time for our Gone REAL photos.  Ya know, the ones I didn’t even save onto my computer from the memory stick because, well, this needs to be the only place they are ever recorded…  So here they are.  Recorded here for posterity, and never again.  Because we are REAL.  They aren’t Gone WRONG.  Because ya know, kids are kids.  They aren’t wrong.  It WAS hot.  It WAS miserable.  And it’s hard at one and almost three to understand why your crazy mother wants pictures in matching outfits in the summer heat anyway.  (By the end, I was questioning my sanity once again, for the millionth time this month…)blooper reel

1. Seriously, posing on your front porch can be awesome if your almost-three year old THINKS it’s awesome… if not, well…
2. Somehow Mommy and Daddy were always looking at the camera… the kids?  Well…
3. Yes, more than once Mommy had to bribe Boo to get into the picture… and then in the end, she didn’t get to play in her lil pool after all because she just threw one too many fits.
4. The full-on butt shot.  Need I say more?  Wow.  More weight to go to reach my goal!  (I seriously had grilled chicken and broccoli for lunch while typing this post.  I’m tryin’ ya’ll.)
5. Yeah.  So laying on the floor with our heads together?  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA
6. Hey Becca, why don’t you sit in your rocking chair and read a book for a picture?
7. This would be a great candid shot if, oh, ya know, the room was clean…
8. Really Mom?  Is all this necessary?  (I have a feeling I’m gonna see this look a LOT in his life.)

This One’s For The Moms

I wanted to take a moment to stop and tell you about some moms I know.  You might know them too.  One of them might even be you.  

There is a mom.  She only ever wanted one blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl.  And God granted her that wish.  She always loved her baby girl fiercly, and she was always there.  She was a rock through every storm.  She’d always listen, always love, always be a shoulder to cry on.  Always.

There is a mom.  She had two beautiful babies with the love of her life.  Only one day he changed.  Drastically.  Angrily.  Violently.  So she did what she had to do to protect her babies.  Now they live in a much smaller house on a single income.  She is the strongest mom I know.  She has no regrets and claims her children are her reason for living.  She always listens, always loves, and is always a shoulder to cry on.  Always.

There is a mom.  She works hard for her family.  Every day she drops her baby girl off at day care and tells her she loves her.  She puts 250% of herself into her job, and when the clock strikes 5:00 she isn’t always the first to leave.  She’s carrying another baby now, and will work just as hard for that baby as she does for big sister.  She’ll always be there to listen, always love them both, always be a shoulder to cry on.  Always.

There is a mom.  She goes to school every weekday at a special school so that her son can be there with her.  She didn’t plan to get pregnant at 14.  But life happened.  And now her baby boy is almost three, and she’s about to graduate from high school.  She has worked hard so she can get a good job to provide for his future.  She’ll always be there to listen, always there to love him, always be his shoulder to cry on.  Always.

There is a mom.  She raised her children and loved her husband with everything in her being.  And then one day last winter, that love wasn’t enough to keep him from passing through Heaven’s gates.  She struggled, she learned to lean on her adult daughter.  She learned to lean on God.  And then she heard the unthinkable words.  Breast cancer.  Now she’s learning that her daughter will always be there to listen, always be there to love her, always be her shoulder to cry on.  Always.

Whether you are a new mom, or a grandma who’s had that title for years, Mother’s Day is a day for celebrating you.  Whether your mom is on this Earth, or in Heaven, it’s a day to say thank you.  I have so many beautiful friends who are amazing, amazing mothers.  They inspire me daily and keep me going.

I am not a patient person.  I sometimes start projects and lose steam and never finish them.  I’m too organized in some areas and not organized enough in others.  I’m probably way too quick to put my kids in their rooms to entertain themselves.  I can’t process laundry and dishes in their entirity in the same day.  I’m doing good if I vacuum once every couple weeks, and mop once a month.  If the toilets are clean, an act of Congress must have been passed unanimously.

But I love my children.  Unconditionally.  I make mistakes but I fight for their well being.  And I have learned from each of the moms in my life that THAT is what matters.  We each mother our kids a little differently, but each of us is mothering a little bit different child.  The “Mommy Wars” are pointless because every single one of us has one thing in common:

No matter what we believe or how we live our lives or raise our kids, we are all moms.  Whether that baby is 1/2 of our genetic makeup, or is none of our genetic makeup, a mom is a mom is a mom is a mom.

So here’s to you, moms!  This day isn’t about our differences, it’s about that precious job title we all have, and that bond that brings us together with our children- be they young or old.  Being a mom is a beautiful gift.  One to be cherished.  So if no one has told you lately, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.  YOU ARE AMAZING.  YOU ARE HEAVEN SENT.  YOU ARE CHERISHED.  YOU ARE.  YOU ARE MOM.




From the Heart title

Well, so we’ve had a LOT going on around here.  I mean, just a lot.  So we’ve been doing a lot of “flashback” activities.  When life gets busy, that’s when you need lots of solid stuff to fall back on.  Yes, we’ve also been watching a lot of Sesame Street on Netflix.  I refuse to feel guilty.  Especially when the word of the day is “scrumptious” and Becca goes around looking for appropriate times to use the word “scrumptious” in her vocabulary throughout the day and suggests we should add “scrumptious” to the S page in her Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words: From Accessories to Zany book (aff link, thank you) because “it’s the fanciest word I’ve heard all day.”  I’d say she’s learning from what she’s watching, wouldn’t you?

But I digressed.  We’ve gotten some new Kindle apps, which I’ll (hopefully) be reviewing very soon for you, and we did try a new-to-us art form yesterday that she loved that I can tell we’ll be doing lots more of in the future.  But mostly, she’s been going through her newly organized activity closet and pulling out a few old favorites that haven’t been used in a while.  Honestly, it’s nice to see her enjoying activities that I spent time on that got used and used and… forgotten.  Here are a few of the “oldies but goodies” that she’s been using the past couple weeks:

Animal Habitat Boxes (This is the last post I did about them, so they are all linked on this post.)

Activity Boxes (Boy these are definitely oldies but man, she has LOVED pulling these out lately!  I’m so glad I didn’t dismantle them!!)

We’ve been using our Activity Trays a lot, too!

She’s back to using her Race Car Number Mats again.

She’s again loving her Clothespin Clock.

And she’s been enjoying making her Ten Apples Up On Top tower from our old Apple Theme Center.

All of this to say – if you take time to make up activities for your kids, SAVE THEM FOR A RAINY/HECTIC DAY!  You just never know when you’ll need them to be able to pull out something and entertain themselves in an educational manner… None of these things took very long for me to make up, and they have been paying for themselves in spades the past couple of weeks!  I hope that when you make fabulous activities for your kids that you will share them with me, and that you will SAVE THEM for later.  If you need more ideas on organizing your learning space, I’m happy to offer some suggestions individually.  And if you just struggle with keeping it tidy, you might check out my post on getting your kids started with chores to help your family.

Hang in there, moms.  You can do this!!!  Remember that NO ONE is perfect, but YOU are the PERFECT mom for your kids!


Me and my babies enjoying some time at the park with Daddy on his lunch break for my birthday last week.
I’m far from perfect, and so are they.
But together, we are exactly the perfect match that God planned.
We are a family made perfect by love.  

I am blessed beyond words.

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Priorities and Flexibility

From the Heart title

It was in the fall of 2006 that I learned the meaning of the word flexibility.  That I learned how to truly be a “team player.”  I guess you could say, “Everything I needed to learn about life, I learned in Kindergarten.”  But you see, since you know I’m in my 30s… it wasn’t the first time around in Kindergarten that taught me the most.  I learned a lot from Mrs. Smith, mind you.  I learned the importance of communication, I learned how to read, and I learned how to make and keep friends.  I learned how to determine a true friend from a surface friend, and so much more.  Those are important life skills.  But it was the day that our principal sat us down and said those fateful words… someone was going to have to switch from 2nd grade to Kindergarten.  The decision had been made for her because “only one of you is Early Childhood certified.”  My world began to crumble around me.  Having desired to teach older kids, 2nd grade had been a mental leap for me.  Kindergarten?  Kindergarten would teach me everything I needed to know about life.  And much, much more.

That first year in Kindergarten would set me on a course for the rest of my life.  I would learn valuable lessons that year that I find myself using over and over with my own kids.  Lessons about flexibility, and setting priorities, that I still pull from today as I struggle to keep all the frisbees spinning atop those long, spindly sticks… sometimes I feel like a circus act.  Trying to entertain, keep everyone happy… and make money in the process.  It’s a challenge.  And I learned enough from that first year in Kindergarten to know that I’m not done learning.  Every single day my kids and my clients teach me new things about myself, and about life in this big wide world.  I think that the day I finally know everything will be the day that I walk through Heaven’s gates.  Because here on this Earth, there’s just always something new.

I had a sweet little girl in my class named C.  She was kinda big and bumbly, and she taught me that the best way to remove an old metal soap dispenser top from the finger it’s stuck around is with dental floss.  She taught me that hunger doesn’t always look the same in every kid.  And she tested my patience to no end.  I had a sweet little boy in my class named Ch.  He taught me what pain looks like and the importance of Mommy and Daddy fighting to stay together, not fighting against each other.  I had a little fighter named K.  He taught me that pain can come in so many different forms, and can lash out in anger trying to be tough and disguise itself.  He also taught me the importance of making sure my son knows that it’s not ok to pee in the sandbox on the playground.  (yup, seriously ya’ll)  I had a little boy named M.  He taught me the importance of never giving up.  And that a drop of honey goes MUCH farther than a gallon of vinegar.  He taught me how to carefully peel back the layers of an onion until finally I can reach the heart.  I had a little girl named P.  She taught me to look for determination inside and encourage it – and foster a love of learning even if it’s not visible at the beginning.  She taught me that it’s not about milestones reached, but rather the striving to GET to the milestone that matters.  I had a little girl named N.  She taught me that no matter how hard I try, there will be some people in my life that I just can’t change.  And when I come across them, I need to learn to appreciate their strengths and not focus on their weaknesses.  Because if I focus on their weaknesses, I’ll only bring out my own.

So you see, I learned so many valuable lessons from those kids.  They taught me truly everything I needed to know about life.  Twenty four little angels, who didn’t always act like angels.  They wore my patience through to its raveled end every. single. day.  And I swore I’d never teach Kindergarten again.  HA!  Little did I know.  I’d end up teaching several different Kindergarten classes before the end of my teaching career, and I’d end up teaching my own 2 year old much of that same kindergarten curriculum.  You see, all that I learned from them I am learning all over again as a mom of a highly gifted child.  Patience, flexibility, and that whole thing about a drop of honey going father than a gallon of vinegar?  Yeah, I’m learning that one all over again too.

But the new thing I’m learning daily as a mom of two who works from home is how to set and tackle my priorities.  Let me tell you – that is the biggest lesson I’m learning.  How to juggle my “career” as a mom and housewife with my career of being a travel agent.  I WANT to be successful at both things.  I want to be the BEST at both things.  Have I had to lower my standards on the “housewife” part of the resume?  You bet.  But have I had to compromise who I am and what I believe in in the process?  NO.  I’ve just had to realize that getting laundry processed through is a three day process.  By the time it all gets folded and then put away, it’s time to wash again.  But that’s ok.  It’s ok for dishes to sit in the sink a couple days.  I try to rinse them off so they don’t stink.  I try to wipe down my counters every day.  I try to pick up and tidy our items daily and we’re teaching the kids to pick up and tidy their items daily.  I try to vacuum as frequently as is possible, realizing that it’s not going to be every day, or even every week.  Our house might not be the most deeply cleaned house in the world (ok, ok, so it’s FAR from it!), but we keep it tidy.  Everything has a place.  And it goes in its place.  That is a priority.  When I let it get out of control, I start struggling with being depressed and feeling physically ill.  There’s just something wonderful about setting a timer for ten minutes and diving in and straightening things up.

So that’s a priority.

Work is a priority.  My career has to take a front seat in my life.  Which is hard in today’s modern vehicles.  I’d like to think I’m in an old reliable Ford pickup truck with a bench seat – there’s room for family AND career in the front.  All the baggage just gets tossed in the back.  It’s hard to maintain that priority, but it’s important to me to offer fabulous customer service, and to keep happy clients coming back for more vacation planning in the future.  I means so much to me when people come back, and/or when they send their friends to me.  That says I’ve made a difference in their life in some small way, and that is just incredible.  It also keeps supporting our family in a small financial way, and it makes me feel like I’m making a difference in our family as well.

So that’s definitely a priority.

But the beauty of working from home is that my number one priority can be my kids.  It’s a challenge to have one who still prefers to nap two hours, and one who can sleep 20-45 mins and be good to go for the rest of the day.  When do I fit the work priority in?  Well, there’s the flexibility.  Being a work at home mom is HARD.  It’s probably the most challenging undertaking I’ve ever taken on.  But I’m determined to meet my kids where they are, while meeting my clients where they are.  Do I always succeed?  No.  But the amazing thing is that I’m starting to see my kids catching on to the flexibility part of having a mom that works from home.  Gray is content to play by himself while I work.  (A true blessing that is really a requirement if you’re gonna be living in this house… Mommy can NOT play with you for three hours while your sister naps and plays in her room.)  He’s learning that he really can entertain himself.  Becca has learned how to entertain herself in her room, and loves room time.  While some moms would love to have some time to themselves but struggle to get their kids to understand, it’s a priority around here.  It HAS to happen, so that my work priorities can be met.  I’ve had to be flexible to change my work hours around when they are able to nap and play, and sometimes it involves me getting up early and working, and/or working after they go to bed.

But it’s a priority.  And I’ve had to figure out how to be flexible enough to fit it in.

That’s honestly part of why I haven’t had a whole lot of time to blog recently.  With getting ready for the big consignment sale that I help with each spring and fall, and work, and kids, and housework… well, I had to throw the blog in a bag in the back of the truck for a while.  I’m seriously hoping to be able to pull it back into the front of the truck with me and have some more “me” time in the mornings with my coffee before the kids wake up.  I love blogging.  It’s a fabulous outlet for my emotions as well as for all the wonderful activities that we do together that hopefully inspire you and your kids.  It’s not something I plan to ever quit, but I sure to appreciate YOUR being flexible as my readers and understanding that I may not have as much time to be posting on my Facebook Page or writing here some weeks.. and that’s a good indication that my priorities of family and work have shoved the blog back to the back of the truck again.  And I hope as parents you can appreciate that.

I’m looking for more parents to share their hearts here – about struggles, victories, and anything in between!  Would you like to share?  Contact me today!

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