Category: Daily Life

2015: The Year of My Great Big Audacious Holiday Shopping Goal


A few weeks ago REI announced it would not be open on Thanksgiving.

Just today, I came across a list of 28 major retailers who will also not be participating in the Thanksgiving consumer craziness.

I’ll be the first to admit that while I adhere to a philosophy of simple living and minimalism, deep down I love stuff. I enjoy buying myself the kids new sets of Legos and the newest, hottest education toys. If I would have it my way, I would buy new clothes all. the. time. and I’d probably have a huge scarf collection. Target is my kryptonite (seriously, have you seen the new red patterned kitchen items they have on display right now? SO CUTE).

The tension is real. Needless to say, the holidays are a tricky time of the year for me. I love thinking about what to get the kids and how to best spend our small budget on items that are worthy of being in my home. I love Amazon Lightening and Cartwheel Hot Toy deals. But I also love Advent and the time of reflecting and waiting and hoping that comes with it. In years past I’ve tried to marry these two holiday mindsets (both are about giving, right?!), but I’ve emerged every time feeling like I had a case of multiple personalities.

For the life of me I can’t focus on Jesus and waiting and hoping and quieting my soul while I’m frantically searching for the best deals and (to be honest) dealing with a mild case of both the gimmies and the frustration of “the gifts I buy will never show the love I have for the person I’m giving them to.” Other people might be able to. Not me.

So, this year I’m trying something totally different.

This year I will be done holiday shopping before Advent even begins. Yes, I will miss many deals. I will probably pay more for things I buy and our holiday budget won’t go as far. But my goal is to be able to focus my heart on the season of Advent. To slow. To celebrate. To pray. To spend time away from the ads and messages that tell me my life would be just a bit easier/happier/simpler/spiritual if I had one. more. thing.


How do you stay sane during the holidays? What practices help you manage the tension of the season?



What I Wish I Would Have Known Before Moving Overseas….

Today I’m guest posting over at The Moving Mom, a space created to help connect women who move frequently. They are a pretty new blog, but have already helped hundreds of moms move well  by offering the ultimate packing checklist (seriously, isn’t this list AMAZING??!!). Their site is full of other great tips, suggestions, and interviews with professionals– so head on over and take a look!

My post today is about moving overseas. We spent some time in Kenya early in our marriage, and we learned a lot in the moving process! Enjoy!

The Most Dangerous Thing About My Life

the most dangerous thing about my life-- it's probably not what you think

It’s been awhile since I wrote a real post.

It’s easy for me to write about what we’re reading and what I’m loving and what we’re doing. Doing is easy in this stage of life. I wake up every morning and immediately the cogs are in motion. Most mornings I don’t even have to think about going from one thing to the next. I just look at my planner and it tells me what’s on the agenda for the day. All I have to do is, well, do it.

I’ve always been a doer. I remember calling my dad sometime last year and complaining about how much stuff I had to do. I was working for a non-profit a few hours a week, blogging for 3 blogs, running a household while the hubs was taking 12 hours of doctoral classes (+ teaching at 50% + a side job), and training for a half-marathon. Oh yeah, I also had a 1 year old and a 3 year old home with me all day. WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?


A Day in the Life (September 2015)

Welcome to a day in my life, school day edition :).


6:30am    Today started out like any other ordinary day… kids came piling onto our bed as Jake and I slowly woke up, saying “the green light is on!!!” which means their clock had turned to 6:30a and turned green– the signal of freedom (sidenote: This clock is worth every single last penny we paid for it.). Most likely they’ve all been awake for at least 10 minutes, carefully watching so they could bound out of bed at the slightest hint of a color change. They were excited for the day, asking to eat. Asante and Ada raced downstairs before Jake and I’s feet hit the ground; they are always the hungriest.


What I Learned in July

what i learned in july

Over at Chatting at the Sky, Emily Freeman hosts a link-up party where we can share about the things we learned. I’ve been a quiet observer for the last few months, and decided to give it a try for July. I think it’s just another way to help me to reflect on how I’m growing and learning, as well as to take notice of the things going on around me. Sometimes I get so “in my zone” that I overlook a lot.


A Day in the Life {July 14th}


Today started WAY too early. For some unknown reason, Anaya was up and down all night, wanting to play and being totally wide awake. I ended up just laying on the floor next to her  so I didn’t have to rouse myself from my warm snuggly bed each time to comfort her. At 6:30 the kids came into Anaya’s room, so happy and READY FOR THE DAY. I went downstairs to help them get started on their breakfast.

We woke Anaya up at 8:15. Must be a rough life to be up all night and then sleep in. 🙂

Ada and I began the day walking to the the nearby hospital for a much-awaited doctors appointment. Her growth has slowed down to a snail’s crawl, so we went to see a specialist. Turns out we think everything is going to work itself out in the end– she’ll just be tiny until puberty and then have a later growth spurt than normal. So far the only thing that bugs her about being short is that she can’t go on big waterslides. Other than that she loves being “mini” (in her own words).


The Token in My Pocket

Summer vacation for us means that we’ll most likely find more of these little things lying around.


Our kids are drawn to those penny-smashing machines like a bee is to a flower. The gears. The pictures to choose from. The huge hard-to-turn crank. The penny-in, penny-out magic never gets old. The kids will carry these smushed down pennies with them wherever they go- in the car, on their bikes, and sometimes even wrapped in their little hands as they fall asleep.

By the time fall comes, these pennies will be forgotten. Sometime in late August, I will gather them all up from under the couch cushions and behind beds, and put them in their memory boxes, small tokens of the fun we had together.

As 3 of the 4 kids bound off to school, however, their pockets will not be empty. With the new school year comes a need for a different kind of token. A reminder of home. A reminder that someone loves them. A reminder that they aren’t alone, even when they’re on the playground and may not know who to play with or what to do. In the morning, if they need it, I’ll slip a penny or a note or a small picture into their pocket or backpack, telling them that if they get sad or lonely, they can feel for it and think of me.

I carry a different kind of token. It’s not physical and it isn’t in my pocket. Instead, I carry it around in my heart, and I touch it to ask the Holy Spirit to remind me of my purpose and my calling, especially when I feel bored or forgotten or insignificant in the mundane, day-to-day routine. While Scripture is not something to take out of context and use to make us feel good, sometimes choosing one verse of Scripture to hold onto (while knowing and understanding its place within the chapter, book, and whole story of Scripture) is incredibly powerful.

This month over at the Graham Blanchard blog, the Mom Mentors and I are sharing some of those tokens that we hold onto during our current season of life. We live in very different spaces and places, but we all have found that holding onto certain passages of Scripture helps us to persevere, find joy, be reminded of our calling, or simply keep our head above the crashing waves. Here’s what I shared, but please feel free to go on over and read more of the others’ if you want. 🙂

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  – 1 Corinthians 10:31.

I’ve been a stay at home or work from home mom for nearly 8 years (with a 1 year exception), and sometimes I feel, well, tired of being at home all the time! On occasion I am tempted to believe that my work caring for kiddos at home is not as Kingdom-building as some other things I could be doing if I was working outside the home. It’s during these seasons that I hold on to this verse, which reminds me that God asks me to glorify Him in WHATEVER I’m doing, even in those tasks that feel quite mundane. This verse also brings my attention back to the overarching call on my life to be a whole-life worshipper, and reminds me that I can do that ANYWHERE, especially in my own home.  So, when that feeling of restlessness begins to saturate my mind, this verse and ones like it helps me to regain perspective and patience.

What’s the passage or verse of Scripture in your pocket this season? 

A Day in the Life {June 17th}

This summer schedule is wee bit more than I bargained for.

The first day was a bit hectic, but by day 3, we’re grooving.


Today was my day to sleep in (yay!) so I (slowly) rolled out of bed around 7:30. I was up WAAAAY too late finishing up the last book of the Harry Potter series, and even at 7:30, it was still absolutely worth it.

Jake went out to work around the building, and I ate breakfast and got all of us dressed and backpacks packed for the various camps.

Ada was the first one to drop off at camp, and we spent a few minutes at the park before I met a woman at 10:00a to sell her some of our cloth diapers (we’re done, we’re done!). Asante and I played a couple games of tetherball, which was awesome and brought me back to my elementary playground days (expect in those days I was awful at tetherball, mostly because I was so short, but do you know who was REALLY good? A guy named Marcus Barringer. Tetherball champion).

After the diaper exchange (where we laughed together about “meeting up in the grocery store parking lot, making sales”, ha!), we headed to a different park where we played and hung out for an hour or so, and then swung by the library on our way home. I intended to just pick up a few books on hold, but the kids wanted to go in so we came out with WAY too many books (I didnt even bring a canvas bag to carry them all in! doh!), but with very happy kids.



With hungry tummies, we headed home, I made a quick picnic lunch and then we all walked to the pool to pick up Ada, and then had our picnic lunch. I accidentally started an awesome routine of reading them Bible stories on our picnic, and today was The Persistent Widow. The kids were surprised that they could “pester” God with their prayers. Ada commented that if they did that to me and Jake, we would not be very happy. “You guys don’t let us have something if we pester you.” True story. Parents, think about that one 🙂




After the picnic, we walked to Asante’s camp, dropped him off, and then headed back home. I put Anaya down for a nap while Jake took a break from reading and set the girls up with listening to stories with their new headphones (seriously love these- my house is QUIETER). I  was able to finish up a blog post and answer some emails before Anaya woke up after a short hour nap. This could have been because the girls decided to make a laboratory in the bathroom and kept on shutting and opening the door to get more “ingredients”. 🙂

So, Anaya and I played a bit and then walked to pick up Asante from camp, leaving the girls in their upstairs laboratory. When we got home, Jake took the kids over and I was able to spend some time doing internet errands, as I like to call them, as well as a little bit of reading.


Around 4:45, I packed a quick picnic dinner and we headed to Asante’s flag football camp. The school where it’s located has an AWESOME playground, so we decided to take the whole family. Everyone had a great time!


Finally, when we got home, we showered the kiddos and got them to bed. It was Jake’s turn to put Anaya to bed, so I showered and came down to my desk to do some more blogging, answer more emails, and request some books from the library (Aly is getting into bird and wanted me to find some field guides for kids).

Whew! After a bit more time online, I’ll read before bed. I started Siblings Without Rivalry today and its really good so far. I think exactly what I need right now with the summer stretching indefinitely in front of us :).

What’d you do today?!