Cucumbers and Jalapeños

June 24th, 2015

A while back my friend Kristi wrote a blog post about the days when parenting is awkward.

I remember nodding my head through the entire post.

“YES!!” I kept thinking, “Yes, I do usually feel like a traveling 3 ring circus when I take the kids out.”

It was oddly comforting to know at least one other person felt the same way.

You know that expression “as cool as a cucumber”?

That’s how I want to feel when I take the kids out.  Whether I’m alone or out with Andy, I just want to feel put together and cool and breezy.


I feel more like a hot mess.

I’m as “hot as a jalapeño” instead.

Including the sweat.

I’m constantly sweating.  Whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, I’m usually sweating profusely as I lug the kids in and out of the car, in and out of the church, in and out of their coats, in and out of the store, in and out of the carseats.

Falling breathlessly into my seat when it’s over, I almost always feel like I need a shower.

I also feel like I’m doing something wrong.  Like all this should be easier.

I’ve blogged before about how I white knuckle my way through each of my days.  Pushing so hard.  Always so intense and focused. Trying to accomplish just a little more.

It’s the same way when I’m on the go with the kids.  I strive SO HARD to keep it all together.  To keep track of everyone.  To have fun.  To be safe.  To look cool as a cucumber even though I’m hot as a jalepeño (literally and figuratively).

Photo Jun 22, 9 58 33 AM

Now that summer is in full swing, my outings often lead me to parks and pools with all 3 of my babies.

Before leaving the house, I carefully pack our bag, making sure I’m fully prepared for every situation…thinking this might help me stay cool while we are there.

Inevitably I forget something anyway.  But, even when I don’t, I still feel like a hot mess juggling everyone and everything.

Photo Jun 16, 5 30 45 PM

I look around at the other moms (and nannies) and everyone else seems to be running well-oiled machines.  They look fashionable not flustered.  Breezy not sweaty.  Perfectly prepared not hairy canary.

Just the other day I was at the park for swim lessons experiencing all that I’ve just mentioned.  While I was sitting on the edge of the pool sweating and stressing, it occurred to me to take a step back (or maybe 30,000 feet) to look at myself.

Photo Jun 16, 5 25 15 PM

I too rolled up in a double jogging stroller with 2 out of 3 kiddos buckled in and reclining peacefully (no one else could tell Drew had been up since 6am crying constantly and that I was worried Avery would start melting down at any minute from also being up too early).

I too had a cute duffle bag packed to the brim with everything but the kitchen sink (which no one else could tell was digging into my shoulder, making me sore and angry with every step I took).

I too was sitting on the edge of the baby pool talking to a friend while my kids played in the water (no one else could tell I was experiencing full-on ADD trying to watch both girls play while keeping Drew out of the sun and attempting to have a soul-bonding conversation with my friend, all the while feeling like I was failing at all three).

I too packed a lunch for my kids and sat feeding the baby while they mostly ate everything set before them (no one else could tell that I was doing complex algorithms in my head to determine whether the girls were getting enough veggies and protein in relation to what they ate for breakfast and would be eating for dinner or that I was extremely self conscious giving Drew a bottle in front of my friend who only breastfeeds).

From the outside things didn’t look so bad.  No one could see how much inner turmoil I was experiencing at every turn.

It occurred to me that maybe I looked cool and breezy to someone else!  That maybe all of us are frantically schlepping our kids all over town and feeling like a hot mess in the process!

Photo Jun 15, 10 09 12 AM

I love love love Glennon Doyle Melton and I remember taking a huge breath of relief when she suggested that life isn’t hard because we’re doing it wrong.

It’s just HARD.

But we can do hard things!

I’m starting to figure out that life is not an “us” and “them” situation.

There isn’t a group of moms who have it all together and those who are a complete disaster.  We are all a complete disaster sometimes.  We all have good days where we’re shining and feeling full of life and hope too.

We don’t know much of anything about anyone else from what we see on the outside.  We could be catching them on their best or worst day.  We could watch them looking like a cucumber when they’re really feeling like a jalapeño.

This makes me want to give us all the benefit of the doubt more often.  Not to criticize someone who’s having an outwardly bad moment.  Not to idolize someone who seems to have it all together.

I want to remember that we are all standing side by side on a level plane.  We’re all desperately human.  Flawed and magnificent all at the same time.

Created in the image of a holy God and rescued from our endless sin by his very own Son.

Cucumber or jalapeño, we need him and we need to love, accept, and encourage one another.

This is all giving me something to chew on lately… (no pun intended ;)

Everyday Life

June 9th, 2015

May was a doozy.  Tough in a million little ways.  I’m glad to see it fading in the rearview mirror of my mind.

We may not know what Andy wants to specialize in, but, after his month-long ER rotation, we know it’s not Emergency Medicine.  The ups and downs of that schedule were not for us.

No thank you!

June is proving to be better all around.  Summer is my favorite and even though it hasn’t officially begun, we’ve already had some very fun summery days.

We were invited to go swimming with Grace’s preschool friends one sunny evening last week.  Grace was infinitely more brave than she was last summer, and she beamed with pride at her own courage.  Avery played it safe along the edges, which allowed me to keep a close eye on her without having to get into the pool since Drew was planted firmly on my hip, squinting his sensitive baby blues as the sun went down.

We’ve spent long days in the yard and eaten dinner on the patio.  Salmon, corn on the cob and veggie kabobs were followed with fresh pineapple for a summery dinner that pleased every last one of us.  I pretty much want to grill all the food as soon as June hits.

Andy is tidying up our garden beds, adding fresh mulch, and finally installing some edging after years of debating whether it was worth it.

It’s totally worth it :)

I can’t wait for him to have a chance to finish up the job.  It looks so nice and makes me want to sit outside all day admiring it.

I’ve been weeding as though my life depended on it.  As much as weeding can be a pain, I’ve found it to be oddly therapeutic.  I find my mind wandering to the many ways my spirituality is like a garden.

In gardening, negligence is a breeding ground for weeds of all kinds to thrive and choke out the good.  I find this to be so true when I neglect spiritual disciplines like prayer, bible reading, and meditation.

Then there are some weeds that look so tall and threatening, but they’re really no big deal.  They have shallow roots and practically leap out of the soil as soon as you give them a little tug.  This reminds me of the obstacles in my life that feel overwhelming, but aren’t really such a big deal at all once I determine to give them a tug.

Deep thoughts with Rebecca in the garden :)

There’s just something about coming inside after a whole day in the back yard.  Clothes smelling like sunshine.  Kids sleepy from all the exertion.  It all makes me smile.

Another thing making me smile lately is Avery’s new haircut…

Photo May 28, 5 11 38 PM

I cannot resist a little girl with a bob.  It’s so neat and adorable.  I’m glad Andy had the idea to get Avery’s hair cut now before she develops an opinion about it like big sister who wants Rapunzel hair.  Lord help me.

Drew used to sleep on his belly (taboo, I know, but he loved it) and now that he’s more mobile he will roll onto his side sometimes.  I just love sneaking a peek (on the video monitor) of him sleeping and I smile when I see him like this…

The little hands!  The leg and foot!  The diapered bottom!  I can’t even handle the cute.

Drew smiles at just about everything…

That face.  OMG.

I smile watching Grace spend HOURS drawing and coloring at the dining room table.  Her love for art has really blossomed in the past few weeks and it’s a joy to watch her create.  We updated her art stash with a giant box of fresh crayons and a new set of water color paints.  We bought a fat new coloring book and a ream of white paper too.  These simple supplies have provided hours upon hours of entertainment for her.  I found a YouTube channel dedicated to “how to draw” videos that are perfectly tailored to young artists.  Grace has had a ball working her way through each of the videos.  This Mickey Mouse was one of the early products of the video tutorials and I was so impressed with it!

Photo Jun 04, 11 14 17 AM

Her passion and talent make me smile.

I’ve had very generous friends watch the kids lately and I’m overwhelmed by their help.  Andy and I were able to sneak off to Lansing for a scholarship dinner thanks to a good friend and my sister for taking care of all 3 kids.  Another friend took the girls for an entire day and I only had Drew to care for (which feels like a vacation let me tell you!) and I smiled as I sat outside with a good book and refreshing drink while my little mister took his afternoon nap…

Photo Jun 03, 4 18 27 PM

Just the other day I read a sample of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I was so hooked by the few paragraphs I read that I instantly had to purchase the ebook.

I read the whole thing in a day, and I felt like Marie Kondo was inside my head putting words to all of my frustrations.

I often joke about being a hoarder, but it’s actually not very funny.  I have entirely too much stuff and I probably spend 30% of each day hating the stuff, stressing about the stuff, trying to organize the stuff, cleaning around the stuff, or downright feeling overwhelmed by the stuff.

After reading this book, I’m THRILLED at the idea of taking care of this problem once and for all.  The author boasts that very few of her clients ever relapse after properly tidying their homes.


If I had 3 weeks of alone time to devote to properly tidying my home (aka getting rid of probably half of all we own) I’d be all over it like white on rice.

I don’t happen to have that kind of unencumbered time, so I plan to carve out what time I can and get to work getting rid of everything and anything that doesn’t “spark joy” –  the process that Kondo details in her book.

I may even have a garage sale despite the fact I’m a die-hard “donate everything” gal.  I just don’t know that it would be feasible to transfer everything I want to purge all the way to the donation site.  I may just get it out onto the driveway and sell it all for super cheap.

I’ll keep you posted on the great tidying of 2015.  I think I’m done being a hoarder once and for all.

Clutter is awful and I just don’t have the mental or physical time for it anymore!

Stay tuned…

Retro Family Fun With Netflix

May 31st, 2015

A couple weeks ago my sister and soon to be brother-in-law came over for a Mad Men finale dinner party.  Some of us have been big fans of the show for a while now, and Andy’s always down for good food and good company ;)

Photo May 17, 5 57 20 PM

I thought it would be fun to have a retro dinner party featuring food and drinks from the 60’s, the decade in which most of the show was set.

Ellen and Kevin brought the drinks (Gin & Tonics and Old Fashioneds) and garnishes (hence the perfectly coordinated fruit in the picture above) and I supplied the meal.

Photo May 17, 6 08 20 PM

We started with shrimp cocktail served up in style :)

After enjoying cocktails and appetizers while listening to actual vinyl records, we headed into the dining room for the main course.

It was fun to set the table with fancy linens and our wedding china.  Every time I pull all that stuff out I think about how I should do it more often!

Photo May 17, 5 33 34 PM (1)

I used this tutorial to quickly learn how to fold the cloth napkins into the crowns you see on each plate.  So easy and such a fun touch!

We were all pretty hungry, so I didn’t snap any pictures, but we enjoyed Beef Wellington, Potatoes Au Gratin and Creamed Spinach.

I chose these dishes based on food featured on the show…Betty orders those sides at a restaurant in episode 2 of the first season and Beef Wellington was featured as a part of room service to Joan and Roger a few episodes later.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from foods so different than our usual repertoire, but OMG everything was so delicious!!!

I found it interesting that the potatoes didn’t call for any cheese, only crème fraîche and heavy cream which more than made up for the cheese that’s typical in so many modern potato recipes.

The Beef Wellington called for pâté , and that is hardly a common ingredient, but I know it contributed to the rich savory flavors of the beef wrapped in the light and flakey puffed pastry.

Creamed spinach may sound like some kind of torture you’d be dished up by a grumpy lunch lady, but holy yum was it good!  That stuff could turn me into Popeye any day!

We hung out after dinner and let our stomachs rest while we listened to more records and got the kiddies off to bed.  Shortly before the last.ever.episode of the show aired, I popped into the kitchen to whip up the topping for the Baked Alaska I’d prepped earlier in the day.

Photo May 17, 9 42 18 PM (2)

I used this recipe and was so proud of myself for pulling off a dessert that involved BAKING ICE CREAM!

I may have gone on and on about it during every commercial break. LOL

It was such a unique and delicious dessert! I know I’ll be making it again.

baked alaska

I thought the series finale of the show was perfect.  It tied up some story lines, but still left much to the imagination.  It didn’t “finish” the characters off, rather it gave us a peek into the directions they were heading.

mad men

Mad Men was such an artful drama.  For me it was just as much about the costumes and design as it was about the story line.  The series felt like an honest look into the past and how life was then.  It was also a real display of human nature.  How flawed and cyclical our lives are.  People are complex and dysfunctional and contradictory and beautiful and messed up.  They were then and they are now.

Netflix currently has season 1 through the first half of season 7 available to stream.  I don’t have the time to re-watch the whole series, but I have gone back to watch the first few episodes again, and it’s so interesting to see how everyone started off.

We had fun talking about our favorite moments in the show and anticipating the ending.  TV can often seem like a time waster, but I think when you enjoy it with people you love, it can be a cool way to bring everyone together.

I’m so glad we decided to have our little viewing party to watch the finale.  It was a sweet evening that I’ll remember for years to come.

Thanks Netflix for getting me hooked on the show in the first place!  Allowing me to binge watch great shows like this one commercial-free is the bomb dot com.


Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with welcome kit including a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Times, They Are A Changin’

May 29th, 2015

It’s all starting to happen at once and I find myself grieving.

Friends of ours are moving to Tampa this weekend and yesterday was the last day Grace and her little buddy were able to play together.  Just this week I sat next to this friend, one I don’t even hang out with much, and we had the best conversation.  We related so much to one another, being in such a similar phase of life.

It made me sad realizing that we probably won’t talk like that at all anymore – knowing how bad I am at keeping in touch with people after they move away.

We have other family who just found out they are moving out of state this summer.  They’ve been talking about the possibility for a while, but now it’s really happening.

Both of these changes make make me skip ahead and think about us moving…to a place we don’t even know.  The time we have left here feels like sand slipping through an hourglass, my heart quickening with each grain that slips by.

I want to hold on tighter.  I feel greedy about my time here and my experiences and relationships.  Instead of being open-handed and receiving what God has for me, I want to be selfish with what I have left.

On top of these changes, Andy’s school schedule has really ramped up over the past month.  It’s going to intensify even more over the summer and fall as he takes exams and travels for some of his rotations.  His travels will take him to FL and NC.  Each of those spots have military hospitals where he could potentially do his residency.

It will be good for him to gain experience, get his foot in the door, and get the lay of the land.  Although we don’t ultimately have a say in where we end up, it would be nice to get a feeling for some of the options as we prepare to uproot our Michigan life and head out to a whole new land.  It would probably be good for me and the kids to travel with him for at least part of the time.  Plus, it’s really hard on all of us to be away from Andy for so long.  This month has really shown that.

But then the grip on my life here begins to tighten and I don’t want to miss a second of what is here for me.

I’ve got to really pray for wisdom and discernment and then trust God to guide me and to give me the grace to obey him, even if it’s really hard.

As I’ve been pondering all of this, it strikes me how much we want comfort.

Well, at least how much I do.

I want my life to be trouble-free, comfortable, and progressing up and to the right, as if life is measured on some imaginary graph.


But are comfort and “progress” what truly satisfy our souls?

I don’t think so.

I think it’s struggle and pain and downward mobility.

Try writing a best selling book featuring those goals.  Ha!  America would laugh in your face.

But God wouldn’t.

Jesus was the epitome of downward mobility.  He left the riches and glory of His seat at the right hand of the God of the Universe to become a lowly baby.  He gave up everything that we might become heirs of everything – HIS inheritance.


The beauty of that makes me want to weep.

Yet I live day-in-and-day-out in my little suburban bungalow striving for a comfortable, pain-free, up-and-to-the-right kind of life.

I pursue this for myself and I pursue it for each one of my children.

That’s why I monitor every minute of screen time and do complex math to make sure they’re eating the proper ratio of healthy foods. That’s why I “couldn’t possibly send them to our local elementary school” and why I want them to have good manners, clean teeth, obedient hearts and trimmed fingernails.

I want them to be shiny little success minions if I’m brutally honest with myself.

And for what?

So that they too can experience self-righteousness, entitlement, boredom, and overindulgence?

Am I really doing them any favors?

Dr. Robert Coles, a Pulitzer Prize winning psychiatrist, has this to say about an alternative kind of life:

There is a worldview which says that anxiety, pain, and fear are part of what life is meant to be, that God himself assumed such a life, that he lived under continual anxiety, pain, and fear, and ended up as a common criminal strung up on a cross and killed.  Now, if you take that kind of existence as a very important one and as a model of sorts, then you’re going to have a difficult time becoming as “successful” as you may have been told you ought to be if you come from a middle-class family.  You have a moral dilemma.

The dilemma becomes, “Do I want to seek after all that the world deems worthy? Or do I want to pick up my cross and follow Christ, even if it looks backwards to the world at large?”

What does that downward mobility even look like in my suburban stay-at-home-mom world?

I know it means letting go of the fear of change.  Letting go of the fear of those who aren’t like me.  Embracing risk in the relationships I have and embracing risk even more, to develop new relationships.

I think it means re-evaluating what I’m trying to make happen in each of my kids.  To be less worried about their grain intake and more concerned that their little souls are being fed the truth about who God is and how majestic His kingdom is.  How they were each specially made to carry out a purpose in that kingdom and how that starts now.  That they can play a part in bringing Heaven to earth.

Even in small moments.

I also want to re-evaluate what I’m trying to make happen in my own life.  I’m so worried about what I should be doing every minute of the day, but it’s always temporal things. I want to be more caught up in eternal things.

Lord give me the grace to lean into all this and not shy away from it…

Our Little Graduate

May 25th, 2015

Happy Memorial Day!!

I’m beyond grateful for the service of each and every man and woman who gave their life for our freedom.  May we not forget what that really means and may we live in a way that is worthy of their sacrifice!

It’s pretty quiet around here today.  Our very own military man is traveling to take an exam, so the kids and I are laying low and trying to get back on schedule after a fun weekend.


I’ve finally had a chance to upload a couple videos from Grace’s preschool graduation program and I’m so glad that I was able to capture a little sampling of the wonderful ceremony.  Preschool was a very positive experience for us and I’m so proud of the way Grace has grown academically and emotionally.  No matter what we do from here on out with homeschooling next year and potential public or private school later on, I think I’d like Avery and Drew to each have a preschool experience after what I saw this year with Grace.


How on earth did the last year go by so fast??


I remember when our little boo bear was a tiny baby and now she’s this big girl so full of spunk and sass.

She was very proud of each song she sang in the program.  Here are a few short clips…



She was such a little ham!  I had several other parents come up to me and comment how comfortable Grace was in front of everyone and how “into” it she was.  We may have a little performer on our hands!


When she walked up to receive her certificate of completion, I had a total flash-forward to her high school graduation and I just know the time between now and then is going to fly.  Dear Lord please help me to appreciate and wisely steward all of the moments I have with her between now and then.



The preschool chapter has closed and we have a carefree summer ahead of us before homeschooling kicks off in the fall.  I’m both excited and terrified of what we’re in for with Kindergarten and I can only imagine the blog posts that will be born out of that experience!

Congratulations Gracie Bear.  Daddy and I are so proud of you :)


Friday Funday: The DIA

May 16th, 2015

Andy is currently doing his ER rotation and that means the kids and I are on our own quite a bit lately.  He’s going between working afternoon shift and working midnights, so he’s usually gone or asleep which has been sad for all of us.

When he decided to be a doctor, I was so happy for him and for the future of our family, but I don’t think I really realized what it would mean for our schedule.

His OB rotation is next and that comes with crazy hours too, so I’m working on keeping a positive attitude and making fun memories in the mean time.

Yesterday I wanted to get us all out of the house for some fun so Andy could sleep in peace.  After thinking through a few options and taking the gloomy weather into consideration, we decided to spend the afternoon at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

I wasn’t sure how it would go with 3 small children, but the day was a great success!


The girls were so well behaved and didn’t touch anything they weren’t supposed to.  They really loved the “Eye Spy” activities sprinkled throughout the various exhibits.  Grace was able to find all but one of the picture snippets!

Avery was happy to see the sights and she too did an awesome job keeping her hands to herself.  For being only 2 years old, I was so impressed with her!

closeup statue

Drew is really easygoing in general and yesterday was no exception.  He had fun seeing new things and being doted on by so many other museum goers :)

me and drew in atrium

One of our favorite features was a projection table that walked us through a 3 course french meal.  We liked seeing all of the pretty dishes and the yummy looking foods!  Grace’s favorite part of the meal was the 3rd course…dessert!

table setting

She is sitting with me while I put together this post and I want to capture some of her thoughts on our fun outing, so here’s what she has to say…

I really liked the cakes… that was the dessert.  My favorite of all was the plates because they were pink and white and those are 2 of my favorite colors.  I really loved the meal!  That was amazing. I really liked it so much.  I couldn’t even scream because it was so much fun!!!!

And we had so much fun together. I really loved the museum.  So that is one of my favorite places to go because it’s so fun and I could even see a horse painting.

Mom let us get a treat.  I chose a frosted cookie and milk.  It was super yummy and it smelled like vanilla!  It tasted like vanilla too and it made my fingers blue.  That’s all I want to say.

grace with cookie

avery with cookie

Avery would hardly sit still for a picture, so it’s blurry but I just love her cheesy smile!  Whenever I ask her to smile I get this face.  LOL

Drew could hardly stay awake from all the activity.  Well that, and it was his nap time.

me and drew

How cute is he with that thumb?!

After our little snack break, we ventured up to the 3rd floor where we took a quick walk around before getting really tired and deciding it was time to head home.

girls in atrium

Admission is free for residents of Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties and kids are always free!  What an awesome way to spend the afternoon.  I only wish I’d have had this idea during the LONGGGG winter.

Have you been to the DIA lately?  I want to head back for one of their craft and activity events for the kids.  I know they’d love that since they were so interested in being there just looking around.  What a special memory that I’ll treasure :)

Grace wanted to “edit” some of our museum pics too, so here are her works of art :)


closeup statue edited

princesses at table


She could have spent hours working at the computer fancying up her pictures!  I think she’s got a future in graphic design!

Photo May 16, 2 23 49 PM


May 12th, 2015

I’m calling uncle.

Surrendering under the weight of everything.

Try as I might to engage “beast mode” and conquer all I face with strength and determination, I’m just not cutting it.

I’m not standing victorious on a heap of rubble at the end of the day, cheeks flushed with pride and accomplishment.  I’m dragging my limp legs to the couch where I want to curl up to hibernate.

I like to think I can do it all and then some, but the truth is that I can’t.

I just can’t.

And I hate the sound of that.  I hate seeing those words staring back at me in black and white.  I hate acknowledging that I have any weakness whatsoever.

Weakness disgusts me.

When I try to get to the bottom of why that’s the case, I guess it’s ultimately fear.

Weakness says, “I can’t do it.  I need help.  I’m not enough.” Those sentiments scare me because they imply dependence.

I don’t want to be dependent.  I don’t want to need anyone’s help.

Not even God’s help.

I’m a prideful wretch.  Seeking to be my own savior.  Seeking to protect myself from being hurt. You can’t hurt me if I don’t need you.

I can’t be hurt if I don’t depend on anyone for anything.

I can’t be loved either.

I can’t live in community or relationship if I’m not vulnerable.

If I don’t admit my failings and my humanity.

No hurt, but no joy either.

No risk, but no intimacy either.

We recently completed a church-wide Bible study about vulnerability and taking down the curtains we have between ourselves & God and ourselves & other people.  As we wrapped up that study, I felt God calling me to humility.

I told Him I wanted whatever He had for me.  Anything.

He called me to humble myself.  To allow Him to strip me of my pride and usher me into a sacred space called humility.

I begged Him to humble me without destroying me.  To humble me without taking all that I hold dear (namely my husband and children).  To be gentle with me.  To have mercy on my stubborn and prideful soul.

He has been so gentle with me.  Brutally gentle, but gentle nonetheless.

He hasn’t deemed it necessary to yank the rug out from under me, but he’s been excruciatingly clipping off fruitless branches.

Holding a mirror to my face so that I can peer inside and see my own weakness and His glorious strength.

Like strands of sticky red licorice held tightly in my clenched fist, He has been pulling out the things I go to for my sense of value and worth and control.

I cry and squeeze the strands tighter, but He keeps pulling harder.  He doesn’t yank.  He doesn’t shame or condemn me.  He just smiles at my red, tear-stained face as He keeps pulling.

My self-reliant approach to parenting.

He pulls…

My confidence in my own competence.

He pulls…

My frantic attempts at self-justification.

He pulls…

My tendency to martyr myself and pretend it’s loving service to others.

He pulls…

My inauthentic dance with my husband.

He pulls…

My attempts to rescue myself and alleviate my fears with logic.

He pulls…

Each one of them leaves a gooey mess behind as God graciously pries them out of my hand.  He wants to wash the sticky shame of it all away.  He wants to replace my twisted substitutes for worth with His truth of who I am.

Loved by Him.


He’s a good father and I’m loved by Him.

End of story.

No amount of success or failure changes the way He loves me.

He loves me fully and completely and that’s

Take a couple of minutes to listen to this and let it soak into your heart.  It’s been on repeat over here for months and I cannot hear it enough.


Rainforest Cafe Field Trip

May 7th, 2015

I’m sitting at my dining room table listening to Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors and drinking a cup of lemon jasmine green tea that I had to talk myself into taking with honey.

During Whole30 I grew to enjoy unsweetened tea very much.  It was a little afternoon or late night treat that was fully compliant with the program and felt like an indulgence.

I don’t need to sweeten it with honey, but that sounded especially lovely tonight so I decided to go for it.  After walking through in my mind that life is short and we are meant to enjoy things.  Things like raw honey.  I mean it’s practically a health food!

God called the promised land the land flowing with milk and honey, so how could those things be all that bad.  Am I right?!  That’s an argument used by my friend Jen and I’ve never forgotten it.  Especially when I dip into a lovely jar of strawberry creamed honey sent from my sweet aunt in Jacksonville, FL.  Or I dig into a big bowl of ice cream.  That’s basically milk, right?

I digress…

I’m sitting here with my sweetened tea and my soulful tunes and I’m happily dropping my thoughts onto the keyboard like raindrops on a tin roof.  My heart is full this evening and I want to capture it.

I’ve been sick for the past 4 days and whenever I’m sick I get the irrational fear that I’ll never feel better again.  Things like, “How will I ever enjoy the summer? Will I ever want to cook again? How am I going to take care of my children without it feeling like climbing Mount Everest?”

Perfectly logical thinking…

Um, no.

Thanks to the good Lord in heaven above I woke up this morning after an awful night’s sleep feeling better than I have in days!  We had a busy day, so it was a welcome relief to be feeling so much better.  The girls are both teetering on the edge of sickness and health, but I loaded them up with healthy breakfasts, essential oils, and most importantly prayer.  They seemed well enough after all that, so we got into gear for Grace’s field trip to the Rainforest Cafe at Great Lakes Crossing Mall.  All 4 of us had to be there, ready to go, at 10:00 sharp.

By the grace of God I was able to shower, feed all the kids, pack everything we needed and get us on the road in time for our 50 minute trip!

We strolled in at 10:00 on.the.nose.

The field trip was as hectic as you’d imagine with an entire dining room of preschoolers, parents, and siblings.  The kids seemed to enjoy touring the animal displays and learning about the animals and their habitat, so that’s what mattered.

I had the opportunity to chat with some of the other moms and Drew was a champ throughout the whole ordeal.

rainforest cafe collage

After the tour and eating lunch a few families headed over to the kids play area for the little ones to burn the energy they were all still brimming with.  Grace and Avery had a blast running around, climbing on giant fruits and vegetables, and literally piling on top of their friends.  At one point Grace was laying at the bottom of a pile of 5 classmates and was laughing through the whole thing.  It was hilarious, and I wish I’d had my camera handy but I was busy bouncing Drew and continuously scanning the madness to make sure Avery was present and accounted for.

The kids had their hearts set on riding the shiny carousel nearby so we all shelled out way too much money to make their dream come true.  It was a gentle ride and the kids all loved it.

I however am getting old.  It made me dizzy and light-headed and I couldn’t wait to get off!  I think Drew got a little dizzy too.  Poor guy.

Before leaving the house this morning, I grabbed a Carter’s coupon I’d been holding onto and in a twist of luck, the mall had a Carter’s store!

I’m a sucker for Carter’s.  Their clothes have fit all 3 of my kids so well (lots of other brands are short and wide rather than long and lean and they just don’t work well for us) and I love how matchy matchy they are.

So many of the people I follow online dress their girls in these totally hip and stylish outfits involving infinity scarves and skinny jeans and cowboy boots.  They look adorable and awesomely trendy.

I sometimes feel cheesy for liking the 3 piece sets from Carter’s, but at the end of the day they are comfortable, well-made, and reasonably priced.  My kiddos like comfort above all, so I know there’s no way in hell Grace would tolerate skinny jeans or an infinity scarf.  Ha!

They’re only little once, so I’m ok with the colorful cotton coordinates at this point :)

We loaded up with a bunch of great stuff and even greater deals and then headed for the car.

There mayyyy have been some cajoling at the store about trying on a few things for size and I mayyy have promised a candy treat on the way out if everyone cooperated.

By the time we finally made it out of the store we were all exhausted.  Avery was two hours past nap time, Drew was getting hungry and even Grace was looking weary.

Drew wanted to be held and Avery could hardly walk another step, so I carried Drew and put Avery into his carseat in the snap-n-go stroller! It was hilarious, but it worked!

Of course I didn’t have any quarters on me so we tried to get change for a $5 from a couple of guys walking by and one of them did the nicest thing.  He outright GAVE me $3!  I tried to insist he take my $5, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with it and seemed happy to hand the money over “for the kids”.

You guys.

I about cried.  He was a young guy, probably in his 20’s and it was just the sweetest gesture.

I saw the goodness of God in that guy and it warmed my heart.

Once we had the dollar bills, we still needed to get quarters so I buttered up the cashier at Dress Barn and she changed a buck for me.

We grabbed some Sprees (for Avery and me) and a cherry gum ball for Grace and we finally made our way to the car.

Avery was asleep before we got there and Grace was happy to chew her gum in the air conditioned van while I nursed Drew again in preparation for the long ride home.

Everyone napped through the entire ride and I enjoyed uninterrupted grown up music all the way home :)

After dinner and a little rest time we took a walk to soak up the lovely spring weather.

It was one of those walks that’s just perfect.  Everyone’s happy.  The weather is on point.  The conversation bounces back and forth between question/answer time and squeals of delight about how much fun we’re having.

spring walk

It was one of those rare moments when everything feels right and heaven and earth seem to collide.  If only for a few sweet moments.

I wanted to burn it into my memory so I can call the sweetness back when we’re having a tough time.

spring walk all 3

I wanted to remember everything about each one of them.

Grace’s long brown hair, quirky little gait, fluffy new neon pink skirt and wide-eyed smile.

Avery’s plump little knees peeking out of her new neon pink shorts and her sweet toes gripping for dear life to her flip-flops, re-learning how to walk in them after a long winter in sneakers and boots.

Drew’s shock of dark hair and smooth pale skin.  The way his blue eyes darted back and forth taking in every detail of the canopy of trees above him.  The little red bump on his chin from who knows where, and his sweet gummy smile each time I made eye contact.

I’m blessed beyond measure and I’m overflowing with gratitude tonight.

Back to Basics

May 5th, 2015

It’s been so long since I last posted without thinking about how my words would be received.

I continue to write in my head all day long, but seldom do I pluck the words out onto the keyboard to share here on the blog.


Because I worry that people won’t understand what I mean, or I’ll come across as obsessive or neurotic (both of which I actually am!), or I’ll seem like I’m over-spiritualizing things, or I’ll be another mom whining about her life online, or no one will care.

I’m getting tired of those excuses.

I started this blog as a creative outlet for myself over 10 years ago.  I had a slow job that left me with time to write or post nonsense and that’s what the early days of this blog were.  So incredibly random, but I just didn’t care.

Eventually I let my mom know about my blog, and she passed it along to my Aunt Becky.  I think I told my sister about it early on and Andy too, of course.

For a long time I kept it very low key.  I felt vulnerable letting many people have access to the trivial things I posted here.

Part of me really misses the days I posted here only for myself.

I do look back and laugh at the posts that contain only a closeup photo of my eye or a picture of the toilet at our first apartment (what on EARTH was I thinking with those??) LOL

But it was refreshing to just pop into the blog to post whatever the heck struck me at the moment.

I want to get back to that.

I want to stop worrying that what I write won’t be interesting or relevant or pinnable.

I want to pour my thoughts out, if only to record things for myself.

I want to share photos and memories of these years with my family.  Crazy times we’re in with 3 children under 5 and a husband in medical school.

I don’t want to forget these days.  The incredibly difficult ones and the overwhelmingly joyful ones.

I want to remember looking at sweet two and a half year old Avery in her castle nightgown and matching Ariel purse and “glass slippers”.

I want to remember the wide-mouthed smiles that Drew doles out so freely.

I want to remember the eccentric outfits that Grace picks out and hearing her reasoning for each and every item she’s wearing.

I want to remember how the doctor gushed for a full 5 minutes about how special and amazing Andy is as a medical student.  How they reference him whenever talking about exemplary med students.  About how they would MAKE a spot for him to do his residency if he decides to go into family medicine and doesn’t end up with a military placement.  I was at the doctor’s office to be treated for whatever awful cold/bronchitis I have, but I got so much more than medical attention.  I was nearly moved to tears hearing a well-respected physician praise my husband so wholeheartedly.

I want to remember this house.  The way it’s almost always messy.  Crumbs on the dining room floor and smudges on the table.  Toys strewn all over the living room no matter how hard I try to corral them to the girls’ rooms or the basement.  I want to remember the basement and how it looks like a flea market because of all the crap I hoard and cannot seem to scale down no matter how many bags I donate to the Salvation Army.

It might be messy and chaotic and too small for our growing family, but it’s home.  It’s our first home and it’s not perfect, but the memories it holds are priceless.  Bringing home each of our sweet babies and welcoming them all into the same pale blue nursery.  Our bold red kitchen, gold dining room, and blue living room walls have witnessed so much joy, heartache, fun, hospitality, sacred times, and silly times with our family and our friends.

This blog is also a home of sorts for me.  It’s my own little corner of the internet and I want to get back to writing for me.

Just me.

I feel relieved.  Making this decision and moving forward unencumbered by worry of what anyone thinks of my posts will hopefully free me up to capture my life.  Raw and real.

It may bore you to tears, and that’s finally ok with me.

I hope this is the nudge I’ve been needing to post more often.  Let’s see how it goes!

Drowning Out a Rough Day with Netflix

April 30th, 2015

Parenting is hard.

Wayyyyy harder than I imagined it would be.

Sometimes the physical demand of parenting has left me worn out.  There are just so many mouths and hands and behinds to wipe.  So many shoes and socks to put on.  So many baths to give and nails to clip.  So many carseat buckles to fasten.  So many meals to make and clean up after.  So many little bodies to lift up and down.  SO MUCH LAUNDRY.

It has left me plum tuckered out on many an occasion.

But lately?

Lately it’s been emotionally demanding.

Staying engaged.  Speaking kindly even when the same question is asked for the sixth time (literally!). Deciding what healthy balanced meals to give them day after day.  Wondering which battles are worth fighting and which are driven by my fear or pride.  Not losing my temper when they just.cannot.get.along.  Figuring out how much to play with them and how much to empower them to play.  Wondering whether he’s really hungry again or just needs to take a nap.  Balancing discipline with prayer as I try to raise 3 humans to understand God’s love and pass it on to the world.

It has been KICKING MY BUTT.

Things ebb and flow and I know this is just an ebb, but I’m feeling overwhelmed lately and I’m ready for another flow!

At the end of the day I’m running on fumes and don’t have the energy or creativity to blog or work on projects or even hold a decent conversation.

That only leaves me with a few options…

1. Go to bed.

As much as I crave good sleep and should go to bed earlier, I just cannot spend my only child-free hours asleep or I’ll burst.  I need child-free awake time to refuel!

2. Zone out on my phone.

This sometimes wins out but generally ends in me getting frustrated with all the crap posted on Facebook or depressed that I wasted my alone time scrolling through a bunch of useless information online.

3. Get sucked into a tv show!

Although this is probably just as much of a time waster as the internet, it somehow feels better.  The power of story is a driving force for so much learning.  As cheesy as it sounds, I usually learn a lot about myself and the world when I watch a show in its entirety.

Thanks to the awesomeness that is Netflix, I can choose option #3 and watch shows on my phone, my ipad, my computer or the tv!  I’ve watched many of my favorite shows on all 4 devices depending on the circumstances.

Netflix is so great that it saves my place in a show if I start watching it on my phone and end up switching to my ipad so I can prop it up to watch while I do dishes or make dinner.


Lately Andy and I have been watching and LOVING Freaks and Geeks.

freaks and geeks

It’s set in 1980 and shares the day-to-day drama and humor of a group of high school students…some freaks (rebels) and some geeks (straight-laced nerds).  Andy and I both crack up at least once every episode!  The characters are hilarious and lovable and we’ve liked it so much more than we thought we would!

It was canceled after one season (BOO!) so it won’t take long for us to watch them all, but I can totally see us watching the series again sometime…I bet it gets funnier each time like Friends did when we watched it about a million times.

I always like to have a show to watch on my own since Andy is so busy and we don’t get much time to watch tv together.  I gave Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt a try and while I did like it and thought it was funny (especially the first few episodes) I just haven’t gotten totally hooked yet.  It’s a light and silly comedy and I can seriously appreciate that at the end of a long day, so I know I’ll give it another shot :)

Quite a few people have recommended Friday Night Lights, so I finally gave it a try.  It’s really football-heavy and I’m not a football girl, so that’s not my thing, but it’s based in a small town and there is a large cast of characters so I think the interpersonal dynamics will be enough to rope me in.  I’ve only watched a few episodes so far, but I’m already getting attached to the cast!

friday night lights

On the kid front, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is still a big hit and I’m totally ok with that!  It’s such a positive show that teaches great lessons about sharing and generosity and dealing with emotions.  I’ve used Daniel Tiger advice jingles on more than one occasion to get my girls to share or speak kindly or work through their anger.  Thank you Jesus and Daniel Tiger for getting me through sibling rivalry! LOL

daniel tiger

That’s what our Netflix has been tuned into over the past month.  Are you currently watching anything on Netflix?  If so, let me know in the comments…I’m always up for a new show, movie, or documentary!


Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with welcome kit including a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Whole30 Compliant Ratatouille Niçoise

April 13th, 2015

This is one of my new favorite dinners…Whole30 or not!

It’s rich, hearty, savory, and healthy to boot!

After Drew was born, a bunch of our friends very generously brought meals to get us through the early days with a newborn.  It was so nice not to have to worry about cooking while we were getting adjusted to our baby boy!

When my friend Beth offered to bring a dinner, we were right in the middle of our Whole30 experience and I did not want to subject her to the rules of the program, but she asked for the guidelines and insisted on bringing a compliant meal.

WHAT A WONDERFUL TREAT it was not to have to cook for a night when I was already cooking day in and day out to make sure we stuck to the plan.

I had NO IDEA the dinner would be so delicious!  I devoured two giant bowls of this incredible Ratatouille on that first night and made a double batch not even a week later because I just couldn’t get enough!

ratatouille bowl

Look at all those gorgeous veggies and that rich broth…

We’re talking onions, garlic, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and fresh sausage with fennel.

*In order to make this dish Whole30 compliant, make sure you use sausage free of sugar and other processed ingredients.  This can be tricky, so read your labels!  Your best bet may be to check out a local “mom & pop” meat market to see if they make their own sausage.  We have a local shop that uses only pork, salt, and fennel and it’s perfect for this meal!

ratatouille closeup

The recipe isn’t complicated, but it does take some time, so do yourself a favor and make a double batch.  I’ve heard it freezes well, but we haven’t had it last long enough to freeze because I could pretty much eat it for lunch all week long and dinner at least a few times in a row.

Not that I’m an extremist or anything. Lol

Without further ado, here’s the recipe!  It’s handed down from my dear friend Beth’s great Aunt Odile :)

ratatouille nicoise


Whole30 Compliant Ratatouille Niçoise
Recipe type: Main Dish/Paleo
Cuisine: French
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 lb. zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 bell peppers (I use 1 green and 1 red or yellow)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 28 oz can Italian tomatoes, crushed, or diced (When I double the recipe I use one can of Italian seasoned tomatoes and one can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb. ground beef (much prefer italian sausage, removed from skin and browned like ground beef - be sure to use sugar-free Whole30-compliant sausage if you're doing Whole30)
  1. PEEL and dice eggplant, then soak 20 minutes in hot, salted water (2 teaspoons salt per large bowl of hot water). Drain well.
  2. Scrub zucchini and dice medium to small.
  3. Chop and sauté onion and bell peppers in ¼ cup olive oil until softened.
  4. Add zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant. Add 6 cloves of finely chopped garlic (I mince mine in a garlic press, don't use the stuff in the's not the same as fresh!).
  5. Add basil, oregano, pepper, and 1 teaspoon or more salt.
  6. Simmer over medium-low to medium heat, uncovered.
  7. In a separate pan, brown ground beef or italian sausage and drain any excess fat. Add to above ingredients, cover and cook slowly for about 2 hours, or until very thick.
  8. Can be served over rice or noodles, but is delicious (and Whole30 compliant) on it's own!


Rebecca’s Random Rambling

April 10th, 2015

Maybe I should start a new series…

Rebecca’s Random Rambling!

Gotta love some alliteration :)

But seriously, I do miss writing about what’s happening in our life.

It’s been fun going on and on and on and on and on and on and on about Whole30 and I could probably write even more!

But I’ll spare you ;)

I did add a new menu item at the top of the blog in case anyone wants to view all of the Whole30 posts later on.

whole 30 menu

I guess I haven’t written a random update in a while because life feels pretty ordinary these days…

We have adjusted well to life with a baby.  In fact, it’s been a much smoother transition than I anticipated!  Drew is such a happy and easy going baby.  It surprises me almost every day.

Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop, but for now he’s an awesome eater and sleeper and he’s all smiles when he’s awake.

I think I also might be a little more laid back this third time around which probably helps things too.

With Grace I was so anxious about every little thing.  Her umbilical cord coming off, cutting her tiny little finger nails, whether she’d ever sit up or use a sippy cup (LOL), whether she was color blind (at TWO when she kept mixing up blue and green) and a host of other equally embarrassing things.

Praise Jesus I wasn’t like that with Avery!

But I was still very intense and had unrealistic expectations about what the baby phase was supposed to look like.  I pushed hard to get her to sleep through the night, tried hard to space her feedings farther apart and felt like I was supposed to say yes to everything and not let my baby slow me down.

That was all a mistake.

I missed out on the precious and fleeting moments that should be carved out for a new baby.  Saying no to meetings and retreats and events and get togethers for a short time during the baby phase is actually a good thing.

After Avery’s infancy I committed to myself not to make the same mistakes, should I have the opportunity to have another baby.

I’m happy to say that, for the most part, I’ve held to that commitment.  I hunkered down in the beginning and said no to just about everything.  I’ve skipped parties and retreats and saved myself so much stress.

Photo Apr 02, 7 39 18 PM  
I definitely wanted Drew to sleep through the night, but I wasn’t quite as desperate about it.  I planned in my mind to feed him every two hours for the better part of six months if that’s what he wanted.

And you know what?

He slept through the night and went to a 4 hour feeding cycle all on his own.  Without me pushing at all!  It’s nuts I tell you.  NUTS.

I’m not complaining though!  This easy baby thing totally ROCKS.

People keep asking whether we’re “done” and I find it weird that so many people asked that as soon as Drew was born.  And they keep asking!

Photo Apr 06, 9 38 16 AM  

At this point, our heart is really for adoption.

God put that desire in my heart in the most unlikely way and it’s only grown stronger.  I know there are no guarantees and that some of the most loving families have wanted to adopt and it hasn’t worked out, so I’m really trying to leave it all in God’s hands.  I trust that if he has a child(ren) in mind for us and we trust Him to get us from A to B, He will.

If he doesn’t, we’ll continue to support adoption by contributing to others who are on the path to bringing home the children God has for them.

Photo Apr 05, 10 43 22 AM

So we aren’t “done” yet.  Not because we have “our boy” or have our hands full.  I really believe there are other children out there or coming some day that are meant to be a part of our family.  I get antsy and anxious thinking about it, but I truly do believe that if we’re open and willing to obey, God will handle the rest.

I started this post last week and got interrupted before posting it, so I’m back today to finish it off…

It’s interesting to me how everything I said above is still true, and nothing dramatic has happened, but I find myself in such a different place this week.


About every.little.thing.

I was so looking forward to preparing for Easter by quieting my heart and life during Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter Sunday).

But instead of it being a Holy Week, it was a HOLY CRAP I’M SO BUSY week.

Anxiety set up camp in my heart and tormented me all week.  I’m only now getting some relief from it after much prayer from my beloved husband and much reaching out to God despite not really wanting to reach out.

What’s up with THAT?

I know He’s the only one who can give me peace and joy, yet sometimes I’d rather wallow in my own pity party.  Sometimes I want to stew about the things that are upsetting me rather than turning them over to Him and choosing to abide in Christ.

And I just don’t understand why.

Thankfully I’m well aware of what a lost sheep I am.  Remembering my weakness prompted me to ask God to help me ask Him for help.

That’s how dependent I need to become.

And boy do I fight it!

Like a stubborn toddler I’m always shouting, “I do it!”

On my own.

Without you, God.

It’s no wonder I get myself into such muddy puddles.

I’m so grateful for his never-ending love and mercy.

Lord knows I need it every day!  The ones where things are working out as well as the ones where they aren’t.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...