A Poignant Morning

Saturday, December 22, 2012 18 Comments A+ a-

Thursday brought a text from Mom asking if I was available for dinner on Friday night.  The invitation was extended on behalf of herself and my aunt.  Unfortunately, not everyone could make it that night, so it was switched to a breakfast this morning.  And what a morning it was!

There we sat, Mom, Aunt Debbie, my girl cousins, and most of the sisters, chatting, talking, laughing, and crying over breakfast.  Some of us bleary-eyed from having to get up early and needing coffee, some of us more talkative than normal, all of us missing Grandma Nancy greatly this Christmas season.  Her absence was acutely felt.

After the meal was eaten, Mom and Aunt Debbie handed each of us a small package, wrapped in leftover Christmas paper from Grandma’s house.  “This is Grandma’s last Christmas present to you all,” they said.  “Go ahead and open it, then we’ll explain.”

IMG959788Inside the wrapping paper, in the white box, nestled in the black jewelry case was a gorgeous white-gold cross, with a single diamond in the center.  As we looked from the necklace to our mom and aunt, they explained.

Years ago, Grammie (Grandma Nancy’s mom) had the idea to break up a diamond bracelet and give each of her granddaughters and great-granddaughters a cross necklace.  She even went so far as to design the cross herself.  But time went on and Grammie eventually passed before she could make it a reality.  Grandma wanted to carry out her mother’s wishes too, but never had the means to do so.

Fast forward to this summer and the diagnosis of Grandma’s lung cancer.  One of the last requests she asked of Mom and Aunt Debbie was to make sure this happened. 

Today was the culmination of an idea 15+ years in the making.

I can’t begin to tell you how emotional this morning was for all of us.  To have something that meant such a big deal to Grandma, to know that this was something Grammie had envisioned for us.  I know any of us would gladly give the necklace back if it mean having Grandma here with us, but this is such a sweet, precious reminder of these beautiful women and the influences they had on our life.  And to share the necklace with all of the women in this family means more than I can say.

IMG950608I’m not sure there will be another gift that can top this.  It is the perfect gift, and so fitting that it would come from Grandma, no matter how indirectly.  As my Aunt Debbie said, “Please don’t be sad about this.  I have no doubt Grandma is looking down and smiling, she’d want you to know how much she loved you.”  And I know my aunt is right.  Sigh.  She is so very missed!

Senseless Thoughts

Friday, December 14, 2012 5 Comments A+ a-

This is just me rambling, in no coherent order or rational reasoning.  Senseless thoughts on a senseless act…

  • Does anyone really have the “right” words during a time when a gunman enters an elementary school and kills 20 children, 7 adults, and himself?  I know that I’m a loss for words.
  • As the information got worse, I knew I wanted my kids home with me.  Illogical? Yes. But as a mother, it was my basest, my most primal instinct.
  • So I did.  I turned off the news, drove to the school, and checked Devyn out for the day.  The front office didn’t bat an eyelash, so I don’t think I was the first parent to show up.  I almost bawled when I saw Devyn’s sweet face.  I actually had to hold myself back from grabbing her and not letting go…
  • I also noticed the principal’s red eyes.  It was obvious she’d been crying. I just can’t imagine the weight that lies on her shoulders as every educator’s worst nightmare came true today.
  • We came home, turned on the Christmas music and made dough for Christmas cookies.
  • My sister, Allie, picked up Devyn and Hudson for Elliana’s birthday party (I’m home with sick babies) and when I hugged them goodbye, it was a little longer and a little tighter than necessary.  I just needed to feel their warm, little bodies against mine.
  • Every time I stop to really think about the victims, my heart beats painfully in my chest.  I can’t imagine what the families are going through, now planning funerals instead of making holiday memories.  I think of empty beds and I want to cry.
  • In moments like these, I’m so tempted to homeschool.  No, I can’t create a bubble for my Littles, but you can’t blame me for wanting to try.
  • Not going to lie… on days like today, I hate social media.  It was human nature at its finest. #sarcasmfont
  • This will never, ever make sense to me.  I will never understand what drives a man to gun down innocent, unarmed victims.  And the fact that the majority were kindergarteners makes me that much sicker to my stomach.
  • All day I kept thinking of Hudson and his classmates. Volunteering in his kindergarten classroom twice a month has allowed to me fall in love with each one of those kids.  I just… can’t…
  • Yesterday, intruders set a woman on fire when she answered the door; in China, a man yielding a knife injured 22 children; and this tragedy.  This world is full of monsters, human ones.
  • I was a college freshman when Columbine happened.  It was horrible and I ached on a human level.  Today I ache as a mother.  These are emotions and feelings that are universal when it comes to being a mama.
  • There are no words for a tragedy like this… None.

To the parents, the faculty, to the rescue workers, and the victims, both alive and taken too soon, the world aches and hurts with you.  When the burden is too heavy, we will do our best to stand in the gap for you.  We can’t take away your pain, but we can offer support in whatever way we can.  You will be in our thoughts and prayers in the days, weeks, and months ahead.  We won’t ever forget today; it affected us all.

A Brighter Hope

Monday, December 10, 2012 4 Comments A+ a-

This is the first time that I have been sad during the Christmas season.  Even four years ago, in the midst of the craziness of a niece arriving, my sister getting married, being 8 months pregnant, and my mom getting paralyzed from Guillian Barre, I was not sad.  Stressed, yes.  But I was still able to bask in the glow of the holiday and have it warm through my soul.  But this year its different.  I am… sad and hurting.  I miss Grandma; its just hurts.  And I may be able to smile on the outside, but I feel like its such a fa├žade.

Last week our pastor gave a sermon that I’ve been unable to stop thinking about.  He started by talking about two American stories, Jovan Belcher and Christopher Krumm.  Both stories happened within days of each other, both haunting, tragic, and sad.  Both stories so indicative of the hurt and pain that never becomes more acute than during the holidays.

I think of the pain many face this holiday season.  Of the wife who faces her first Christmas without her husband, who won’t be there to share in the joy and excitement of their little ones.  Of the mother who takes the requisite photo of her children under the tree, and knows that one is missing from the shot because of a premature death.  Of the family who has no income and no idea how they’re going to buy groceries, let alone Christmas gifts.  Of the couple who’s struggling with infertility and yet at every turn, are reminded that there are no stockings to hang or traditions to start.  This world is full of pain and hurt.  Its messy.

And He knew that…  He knew this world was a hopeless and dark place.  The moment sin entered the world through that first bite, the first act of disobedience and pride, the world was a fallen place.  Void of any true light.  He knew this world needed to be saved from itself, it needed a savior.

Enter a baby.  Born to a virgin mother.  In the humblest of places.  Placed in a feeding trough.  Fully God, completely holy, the Great I Am.  Come to save you.  To save me. To offer hope.

I look around, at the faces of the crowds as they sweep by me in the malls and the stores.  I wonder at their stories, what pain or hurt they’re hiding behind their hurried and absent smiles.  I wonder if they’re facing the loss of a loved one or the loss of a job…  I wonder who they wish they were celebrating with this year… I wonder at the circumstances in their lives.  Do they know there’s a brighter hope?  Do they know there’s one who cares and hurts with them?  Who loved them so much that He was willing to sacrifice His own son to offer the world a savior?  And is it not our jobs to shout that glorious news from the rooftops?

I know that Christmas is full of warmth and joy, of family and friends, of baking and caroling, of being together.  But there’s another side, and its one seldom discussed or talked about, one in which there seems to be no hope or happy endings.  But I’m here to tell you there is… and its yours for the taking.  All you have to do is ask…

Praying you come to know the hope in Jesus Christ this Christmas season!  I promise it’s the only hope you’ll ever need.

This is a Keeper

Sunday, December 09, 2012 3 Comments A+ a-

GrandmaAshlynnI managed to capture this moment between Great-Grandma and Ashlynn today at the birthday party.  There’s just something about seeing generations together like this and I will be framing this one for sure.

Christmas Newletter

Friday, December 07, 2012 6 Comments A+ a-

I realize that many would frown on this, the Christmas-type letter via blog.  But at this point, I really just don’t have the energy needed to create, print, address, and send out 100+ Christmas cards.  And as much as I’d love to jump into the Christmas spirit with both feet, unfortunately, that’s just not going to happen this year.  So without further ado, our cyber Christmas letter.

NewsletterTopDearest Family and Friends,

2012 has been a rough year... a very rough year!  And while I'd love to have a redo, or reverse some of the things that have happened, I can attest to the fact that our faith has been strengthened.  And to that end, I can say, ok, it was not for naught.

Devyn Paige – She has had a rough year. Between three of her close girlfriends moving to other states and the loss of GG, she’s been extra sensitive to changes. And with that, we’re trying to be sensitive to her. She was initially struggling with reading in the beginning of 2012, but sometime during the spring, reading finally clicked and we haven’t been able to keep her in books since. She is very much like her mama, always with a nose in a book. I love it! She also joined the school choir this year, and has been going to early morning choir practice every Tuesday with her school friends. She marched in our town’s Christmas parade and has numerous concerts coming up. She continues to be one of the most compassionate and loving girls I know, I’m constantly amazed at her insightfulness. She is such a blessing!

Hudson Jonathan – Oh, the little mister is not so little anymore. He is becoming more aware, by the day, that he is the only boy among a house full of girls. Some days he relishes in the role, other days, he just.wants.a.break. Thankfully a new friend moved to town and he often escapes to his friend, Holden’s house, where boys rule. He played modified tball this summer and absolutely loved it! He rarely needed to use the tee, and especially enjoyed tagging people out at base. He was a tad too enthusiastic about it actually. He also started kindergarten this year and at first, wasn’t too please with it. It was a lot different than preschool and required more work. But I can finally say that he’s now loving it! Our little man is quite bossy and authoritative, a trait that will serve him well some day. But right now, we get the fun job of trying to reign him in. He is a breath of fresh air, such a fun addition to our family.

Reagan Jacqueline – We recently had Rea’s well-child check-up and the doctor told us, “She is definitely a free-spirit!” I laughed. It was the understatement of the year. Reagan is a pistol, no doubt about it. She is our resident nudist, we are absolutely unable to keep on clothes on her. Jon and I often shake our heads in both bewilderment and laughter. When she is not running around naked, you can find her either coloring or building with her blocks. She and Hudson have a love-hate relationship, either the best of friends or worst enemies. She and Ashlynn have grown closer, often disappearing into Reagan’s bedroom for playtime.

Ashlynn Rose – Our baby turned two years old on Saturday and its hard to believe that babyhood has come to an end in our family. But as Ashlynn grows more independent, we’re looking forward to all of the new adventures in store for us. She is still in diapers, but there’s a definite interest in potty training. She refuses to be left behind by her siblings, often believing she’s bigger than she is. I can’t tell you how many times Jon and I have to turn away in the midst of disciplining so she can’t see our smiles and laughter. The girl has the sass of Reagan, with a touch of attitude and extroverted tendencies. She and Reagan are going to be a handfull, of that I’m certain. But as the baby, there couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for this family.

Jon – 2012 has been a long and stressful year for my husband. Between two separate wildfires on his highway and participating in security detail for the president’s visit in October, I’m not surprised he’s ready to shut the book on this year. He has been up to his eyeballs in paperwork for FEMA involving the High Park fire, cleaning up mudslide after mudslide, and worrying about his guys. He was recognized statewide for his team’s work in the fire. To say I’m a proud wife is an understatement. It takes great leadership to have an effective team, and this proves how much work and effort Jon puts into his job. Jon was able to get away a couple of times this year for “boys only” fishing trips, one with his brothers and another with his cousin. I’d say he earned that time away.

Its has been a year of lessons for this wife and mama. In January, for some inexplicable reason, Munchkin Land Designs took off. I was scheduling blog designs about 6-8 weeks out and I found myself floundering under the new workload. It took numerous months of sleeping little, having next to zero patience with Jon and the Littles, and feeling so very overwhelmed before I made some necessary changes to my schedule. It was the best decision I could have made. I was also able to go to a blogging conference in Nashville in February and absolutely loved it! I was able to meet some dear clients, meet some new friends, and hang out with like-minded women who “get” this crazy blogging thing. It was such a blessing. I’m continually thankful for this opportunity to be home with my Littles. It was something I’ve prayed for for over six years, and I don’t take this time for granted at all. It has even allowed me (and with the swapping of sitting services with a friend) to volunteer in Hudson’s and Devyn’s classes at school. So much fun! In May, Jon and I celebrated 10 years of marriage by escaping to Steamboat Springs for a weekend away. It was the perfect celebration, and probably THE highlight of 2012. We’ve had numerous valleys during these ten years, but oh, the mountain tops. It has been an amazing journey, and one I’m so glad to share with my best friend.

In August we said goodbye to Grandma Nancy after a (too) short battle with cancer. I miss her dearly, almost painfully so. This is our first Christmas without her and its proving to be a much harder battle than I anticipated. Her absence is acutely felt during this time of year. But we move forward, if not for our sake, then the sake of the Littles.

In November, my dad was officially diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. A blow in the midst of grieving Grandma. But after meeting with numerous specialists, there seems to be a plan in place and Dad will be having surgery next month. I’m confident he will beat this, and pray for continued grace and strength in the weeks ahead.

Its true, I’ve never wanted to say goodbye to a year as much as I do 2012. But we are so very blessed. Friendships have been rekindled, prayers have been answered, our faith has been strengthened, God has been near, and mercies are new every morning. Yes, 2012 has been tough, and we’re a little battle weary, but I pray that this time hasn’t been for naught. He is good. All the time!

Praying you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012 11 Comments A+ a-

This was written last night, when things always seem darker than they are...  I took it down this morning because it's such a raw post.  I consider myself a pretty open person, so for me to second guess this post says a lot.  But I want to remember this time, all of  it.  But you are forewarned... 

Have you ever had that moment, when you know you're suddenly existing outside of yourself? It happened tonight. Actually, it's been happening entirely too much lately.  But tonight I stood there, in the middle of the kitchen. Jon and Hudson were going over letters of the alphabet, letters that he should know by now but doesn't yet. Devyn was interjecting, ready to help, often talking over her dad. Reagan was trying to show Jon just how smart she was, and Ashlynn was shrieking her dissatisfaction that she was hungry and no dinner was set before her yet.

I stood there, aware of the chaos, chicken baked and ready to serve. I knew a side dish was required, but I couldn't decide between the rice or potatoes. And as I wondered which required less effort, trying to grab at the elusive logic that this decision should be easy, it happened. The chaos dimmed to a loud roar, no words or voices were heard, just one indecipherable roar. And I pressed my fingers into my eyes, begging myself not to lose it. Not here, not now. The tears squeezed their way through anyway, and in that moment, I decided silent sobs were as painful as loud ones. I wasn't sure why I was crying, I've been doing so much of it lately. I cried reading about Sarah's infertility in 1 Samuel this morning, so I could very well have cried over my inability to choose between rice and potatoes.  Who knows?

Dad's oncologist appointment this afternoon left me more rattled than the actual diagnosis itself. I loved the doctor, he was thorough, personable, and humorous. Everything said through his thick Italian accent made me like him even more. He was positive, encouraging, and gave us his honest opinions. It was refreshing and exactly what we needed.

Which made the things he said, and didn't say, even harder to hear. Yes, he thinks the cancer is bigger and more aggressive than the biopsy shows. Yes, he recommends full removal of the prostate. Yes, Dad's situation is rare but they've seen this before. Yes, he does think Dad will be cured. But don't be surprised if at the follow-up appointment, after surgery, that radiation is still recommended.

I wasn't prepared for this. I was expecting to hear how low risk Dad was; I expected to hear how common this is in men and how fast this would be fixed.  I actually had a script of how it was going to go and the doctor basically said all of his lines wrong.

I want to walk this journey with poise and grace; I want others to see God in all of this. But I also need to be real. And this is hard. This whole year? It has broken me. On the way home, I actually reached for the phone to call Grandma. I can't believe that I forgot for a minute that I wouldn't hear her reassuring words. I bawled telling Jon that story in bed tonight.  I want her here right now, so bad, I physically ache.

This Christmas season was already going to be hard. It was always her season. Begging Mom to go shopping with her... making us go shopping with her. She lived for Christmas mornings, she delighted in watching her great-grandchildren shout and squeal in excitement over gifts she bought. She prided herself on the Christmas dinner. It was already going to be hard!

And now this...

I don't know. I don't get it. I don't have answers or easy fixes. I don't understand what God is doing here. Am I still confident in His goodness? His sovereignty? Of course. Will I still sing his praises? Absolutely. But I get to be mad. And scared. I can be confused by His plans and wonder at the bigger picture. He's bigger than my doubt and human emotions. And even though He knows how it all turns out and why it must happen right now, in this way, He's hurting with me. There's comfort in that...

But right now, I need a few days, I need some time, because I'm not ok. I'm a bundle of exposed nerves and hurt and anger. I don't like not having the right answer, or right thing to say. So it's better to sit still and say nothing at all...

The Rules

Monday, November 26, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

OrnamentIt was the last day of our Thanksgiving break.  After many requests, beginning two weeks ago, I finally broke down and made the chex mix that is now synonymous with Christmas tradition.  While the chex mix baked, we dug out the ornament kits we used at Devyn’s slumber party on Friday night. 

There we sat, Devyn, Hudson, and Reagan each with their own set of gingerbread house ornament pieces, each engrossed in their project.  All was calm and quiet.

…until, that is, Hudson noticed Reagan’s gingerbread house.

“Reagan, its not supposed to look like that!”  It was horror at its finest.

With a shrug, Reagan said, “Yeah it is, Hudson!”

“No,” he insisted.  Then bringing the picture example on the box over to Reagan, he pointed to it.  “Its supposed to look like this!”

Reagan looked at Hudson, then the box, then back at her own ornament.  I could see the wheels turning in her head as she debated her response.

With classic Reagan attitude, she placed her hands on her hips and said, “I like it this way, Hudson!”

And that explains the dynamic difference of these two, this brother and sister.  One obeys the rules, likes the rules, and wants everyone to obey the rules.  The other… not so much.  They are going to drive each other nuts from now until the end of time.

30 Days of Thanks, Part II

Monday, November 26, 2012 2 Comments A+ a-

30DaysPartII11.  It was a good day, and I can't choose one thing. I'm thankful for our church and a pastor who brings just the right message when I need it. I'm thankful for impromptu Starbucks dates with Littles #1 and #3. I'm thankful for veterans, who have sacrificed so much for freedom. I'm just thankful for Sundays, a fresh start to a new week.

12.  I am thankful for Jon. He has been my best friend for 15 years, he knows me better than I know myself. I'm thankful that after a rough season, we coming through the valley stronger than ever. Babe, thank you for being on this journey with me. I'm looking forward to the next hilltop.

13.  I am so very thankful for a God who is true... yesterday, today, tomorrow. His words breathe life into my soul. And I'm thankful for the mornings when its Him, I, and a good cup of coffee. Now if only I could consistently meet Him each morning...

14.  I am so thankful for this girl, the one we didn't plan but desperately needed. I'm thankful for her impish smile and spunky personality. I'm thankful for her love of dancing and babies. I'm thankful for the fullness she brings to our family.

15.  I am thankful for new life. I am thankful we'll be welcoming a niece or nephew in July. Thankful that my sister will be a mother of three. Thankful I'll be holding a newborn come summer time. Praise you, Jesus!!

16.  I am so thankful I get to call this place home. So many wonderful memories from parades to Thursday night concerts to Rio margaritas. There's a reason it was voted #1 place to live in 2006. Love this place!

17.  Today I am thankful for coffee dates, dinners out, play dates, girl days, phone calls, heart-to-hearts, and side-splitting laughter. It has been a blessed week of time with friends. I am so thankful for the people who share life with me.

18.  Oh Reagan. My 1st surprise, my 3rd born. My lover of being naked, my little helper, my spunky personality, the owner of the dancing, wiggling hips and the sing-song voice. Today I am so thankful for you!!

19.  Today I am thankful for a husband who knows the importance of his role in his little girls lives. I am thankful for a man who sets his alarm to run out to buy flowers for his little girl on her birthday.

20.  Today I am thankful for community. The outpouring of love and support via calls, texts, tweets, emails, and comments has been amazing. We are so blessed by the family and friends in our life. I am thankful for the prayers, kind thoughts, and offers of help. It has helped lighten the load to have so many in Dad's corner.

Line in the Sand

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 25 Comments A+ a-

There are times I want to draw a line in the sand, as if to say "Here, and no further." As if I can expect the Lord Almighty to say, "Oh, okay" and respect that I can't handle anything beyond that line. I wonder if it's with an amused smile or a sad shake of His head that He wonders at the smallness of my faith. And I can't help but wonder if that's the point. He knows the line as well as I do, where faith in my own coping skills end and full trust in Him begins. 2012 has been lesson after lesson in learning to trust God. Even now I find myself at a crossroads. How long must God repeat Himself before this lesson is learned and my trust is completely placed in Him, no matter where the line is drawn? Heck, at what point do I erase the line altogether because it no longer matters?

Two months ago I posted about our cancer scare with Dad. Two months ago I arrogantly said that since doctors weren't worried, I was voiding my own fear. (There's that whole trusting science over God bit again.) Two months of delayed biopsies and rescheduled biopsy results appointments. Two months of constant run around, further proving to me the lack of worry or urgency. And yet no matter my gut feeling to the news that a lump had been found in September, I was still shocked to hear, "Munchkin, it's cancer."

It appears that bad news and birthdays go hand-in-hand in 2012. (I hereby request that we forego anymore birthdays until 2013. I don't care that December is full of them.) And seeing that it was Devyn's birthday, I went into autopilot. No time to react, no time to dwell; choosing instead to celebrate her. There was a concert to watch and McDonald's dinner to enjoy, no time to process the fact that Dad has cancer. I still haven't cried, perhaps I'm afraid if I start, I won't stop. Yet I've been up since 2:00am, a sure sign that the news is sinking in.

Dad has an appointment with an oncologist next week. I wonder if the doctor is prepared to meet my parents, surrounded by the army of four, strong-willed daughters who are determined their dad will beat this thing. Its been said that there's nothing like a woman scorned, but I beg to differ. There's nothing like a daughter whose not willing to face a life without a parent. But in all seriousness, I can rest my soul in this. My God has this. Not me, not my dad, not even his doctors. My God will fight for us, we need only be still. For there is no one like my God. No one.

30 Days of Thanks, Part I

Saturday, November 10, 2012 8 Comments A+ a-

If you are friends with me in social media, you know that I’ve been partaking in #30daysofthanks.  I’m definitely one who believes that we should be thankful throughout the year, but November is such a great reminder to stop and really take in the things that we so often take for granted.  Here are the first 10 days of November thanksgiving.


  1. Today I am thankful for low-key days. I have no intention to do anything but take Littles to school and recuperate from Halloween. #coffeeinhand
  2. Today I am thankful for full cupboards and a full fridge. I'm thankful for the ability to keep my children fed in a world where so many mothers struggle to give their babies just one meal a day.
  3. I am thankful for these women, my sisters, my best friends, and an impromptu morning of gabbing, crying, and laughing. It was exactly what I needed today.
  4. I am thankful for the Godly character and influence of this man in our life. He may be Jon's grandpa by blood, but he's every bit as mine too. Happy early Birthday, Grandpa!
  5. I am thankful for like-minded friends and family. I am thankful for civil debates and conversations that require me to consider opinions outside of my own. I am thankful for the opportunity for my voice to be heard when I cast my vote. But most of all, I am thankful for a God who is not surprised by election results. And who is bigger than candidates and political agendas.
  6. On a non-election-related note, today I am thankful for the opportunity to work from home. It was something I prayed for from the moment they laid Devyn in my arms. And something I don't ever take for granted.
  7. I am thankful for impromptu date nights. And Mexican food. And we're thankful for Nana, the watcher of the Littles so we can have impromptu date nights.
  8. I am thankful for morning snuggles. On any given morning, I don't know who will end up in my bed, but I can count on a good 30 minutes of cuddle time.
  9. I'm thankful for the opportunity to volunteer in Devyn and Hudson's classes. I love saying the Pledge of Allegiance, grading spelling tests, and mostly watching them in this environment. Thankful for friends with whom I can share childcare so I'm able to do this.
  10. Today I am thankful for new bible studies. I'm thankful for the beautiful women in my Saturday morning group. I am thankful for new words from Him. I am thankful for passionate teachers like Beth Moore. I am thankful for a renewed vision as we study Deuteronomy these next 6 weeks.

Politics and Playgrounds

Thursday, November 08, 2012 12 Comments A+ a-

This was the first election that I had children in school during the campaign season.  During the 2008 presidential election, I had a 3-year-old, a 1-year-old, and was in my 3rd trimester with Reagan.  And even as physically exhausting as that time period was, it was infinitely less stressful.

This election Devyn has been more aware of the election process.  From repeating political tv ads to asking questions to forming opinions of her own; its been a thoroughly fascinating process.  But through it all, I’ve been convicted of one thing.  No matter my political opinion or beliefs, my 7-year-old does not need to be burdened with such an adult responsibility.  I’ve answered the questions asked, I’ve watered down opinions, and I’ve encouraged a difference of opinion. 

For the very reason that I wanted to avoid what happened on Devyn’s playground on election day.

A friend asked her who her parents were voting for and after Devyn shared what she believed was an innocent response (as it should have been), the friend retorted, “Your parents are stupid.” Devyn didn’t come home in tears, but more out of confusion.  And as she retold the story, my heart broke.  The polarizing game of politics had indeed reached the playground.

Throughout this election campaign, my heart has been burdened.  Friends were no longer speaking to each other, words were used as weapons, and a difference of opinion meant that families were split.  To be for one, meant you were against another.  It became an all or nothing, war of words.  It was ugly.

Yet, folks were shocked that America was so polarized.  Really?  Just one look at my Facebook or Twitter feed, and it was obvious WHY it was polarized.  No one wanted to admit that either side could be a tiny bit right, on any issue.  The biggest travesty for me this election season, was not that my candidate didn’t win, but that children are now carrying adult conversations and opinions to school.

I don’t know about you, but I strongly believe that children should not be shouldering the political views of adults.  They should be learning to share the swings, daydreaming about fairies, and learning their time tables.  They should not be creating us vs. them mentalities in grade school, but instead learning to work together and problem solve word problems. 

These children, the ones who skip through the play yard and swing on the monkey bars, are our future.  It’ll be up to them to overcome differences and solve the very real problems that our current government is facing.  And if I want my children to be open to new ideas and be willing to work with others who don’t agree with them, then its going to have to start in the home.  Its MY responsibility to teach grace, love, and tolerance.  Its MY responsibility to teach them that the ads they see and hear on tv are NOT indicative of the human race, that one side isn’t better than the other.  Its MY responsibility to see that my children carry on the belief that everyone is just doing the best they can.

I answered Devyn’s questioning look of whether her parents were stupid or not.  “Mommy and Daddy voted for the guy they thought would make the better president.  Others voted for the other guy because they think he’ll do a better job.  Neither is right, neither is wrong; we just believe different things for different reasons.” 

It’s a shame that my 7-year-old had to learn that lesson at such a young age.  Please.  I ask you, I beg of you, to be aware of what’s being said in your home.  Remember that little eyes are watching, little ears are hearing, and its being repeated at school.  I have high hopes that future generations may someday bridge such a wide gap between the parties, but we have to do our part and it starts at home.

Random Sunday Updates

Sunday, November 04, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

  • I may not post here anymore, but it sure looks pretty for Christmas. 
  • I can’t tell if I hit a blogging slump or writer’s block, but I hate that I haven’t updated as much as I have wanted.  There’s much to share…
  • For instance, I wanted to tell you that I started my antidepressants again.  After a 3-month break from my “happy” pills, it was becoming obvious that I needed them.  It could be situational (ie, Grandma dying, life, etc.) or it could be that I’ll need them the rest of my life.  I’m ok with either situation, I just need to do what’s best for me and my family.  Being able to breathe and not have anxiety/panic attacks makes me a much better wife and mother.
  • We’re gearing up for Devyn’s 8th birthday in a few weeks.  We’re attempting her first sleepover and I’m preparing the house and us for a houseful of girls (about 5 friends).  I’m awed that we’re at this stage of life already.  Sleepovers were a constant in our house growing up.
  • Devyn is turning 8 years old.  I’m near tears just typing that sentence out.  She’s growing up so fast… she’s reading Ramona books and The Babysitter’s Club.  She’s asked for Taylor Swift’s new CD for her birthday.  And I can’t believe that my baby girl is getting so big!
  • I have a whole post written in my head dedicated to this weird stage of life we’re currently in.  On one end of the spectrum, we have two children in elementary school and its surreal to take Devyn to choir practices or dropping Hudson off for school.  Then on the other end, we have a preschooler and toddler at home, one still in diapers.  Its just weird having a foot in two different stages of life. 
  • Speaking of the end of babyhood in our house…  Most days, about 98.25% of the time, I’m really happy and excited to be done with the baby stage.  Every day I see a foreshadow of life moving forward and getting excited to see our family grow up and grow closer.
  • But the other 1.75% of the time, usually when a friend announces a pregnancy or I see a cute pregnant belly, I get all sentimental and wistful.  Its hard to believe that stage of our life is over.
  • And September marked the longest I’ve gone without being pregnant.  In our whole marriage. Crazy!
  • Hudson has really bloomed this month.  During September he wasn’t too sure about this kindergarten thing.  It was harder than preschool, there was little play time, and they actually expected you to work!  Poor guy.  But October brought a new excitement about school and he’s so anxious to share with us all he’s learning.  Its been a blast to experience the differences.
  • Every day I ask the Littles two questions… What was the worst part of your day?  And what was the best part of your day?  The worst part of Hudson’s day is any day that he doesn’t have PE.  Seriously.  Kid loves himself some Physical Education. Shocking.
  • Another thing is his desire to help his daddy, in any way, shape, or form.  The days that Jon reports for 12-hour snow shift, Hudson is the one in the kitchen making his daddy a lunch.  Its really too precious for words.   Yesterday, the two of them crawled under Jon’s truck to change the oil and you could tell he was so thrilled to be a part of such a manly chore.
  • Reagan.  Oh Reagan. 
  • Really, what haven’t I already shared about this girl on social media?!  She is still as feisty and sassy as ever.  But I’m also seeing a nurturing side come out too.  She loves to help me with household chores and I really think Acts of Service is her love language.  She’s recently taken on setting the table and helping me unload the dishwasher.  In fact, often times, she beats me to it.
  • And her streak of memorizing and singing songs WAY above her comprehension level continues.  Reagan recently spent the night with her cousin Elliana, at her Aunt Alli’s house.  So it was no surprise that she came home singing Taylor Swift’s new song, We’re Never Getting Back Together.  I need to record this one too.  Because its as hysterical  as the Call Me, Maybe song.
  • Ashlynn has reached epic toddler levels.  We’re a month away from her two year birthday, but we’ve been experiencing age two attitude for about 6 weeks now.
  • The problem is she’s cute.  And she knows it.  Plus add the fact that she has three older siblings who all adore her and give her anything she wants is only making matters worse.  As the oldest of four, I always swore I’d never spoil the baby.  I’m totally eating my words now.  But she’s so darn cute!
  • Jon is as busy as ever.  This summer was one of the hardest summers he’s had since starting with CDOT almost nine years ago.  And this fall, officials all over the state are wanting to recognize him and his guys for the hard work they put in during the fire.  Jon hates it.  He hates the attention, he hates being recognized for doing what he considers his job, he’s not a fan.  And often tries to deflect the attention elsewhere.  Ha!  Sorry, dude.  Excellent leadership is hard to hide.  One proud wife over here.
  • And the winter season has begun.  He put in a few snow shifts in October, and thus begins the season that I refer to myself as a “Winter Widow”.  12 hour snow shifts are brutal on a family, especially when I’m doing the single parent thing and trying to keep Littles quiet so Jon can rest between shifts.  But its our normal, and I’m ready for it.  Bring it on, Winter.

Well, that was longer than I intended, and its obvious I haven’t updated in a while. 

Life continues to move forward, and as many promised, the loss of Grandma does seem to lessen.  Her loss is still acutely felt and I can manage the day-to-day now, but the moments when her death hits, it hits hard.  Almost paralyzing so.  This holiday season is going to be so hard, but I’m determined to make it as normal as possible for the Littles sake.  And because she would want it so…

Some Favorites

Monday, October 29, 2012 14 Comments A+ a-

We met with one of my dear friends, Becky, for our annual family portraits.  We met at one of the numerous open space areas around here and as we chatted, we couldn’t believe that just two years ago she was taking maternity pictures when I pregnant was Ashlynn.  Whoa.  Time really is just flying!  I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, the woman is uber talented.  She even photographed her first celebrity wedding this past summer, I’m so proud of her! 

Here’s a few of our favorites from our time together that afternoon, including all of the “real” shots that come with the territory of four Littles.


Final Update on the Silent Auction

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 0 Comments A+ a-

We wanted to take the time to thank each and every one of you for the role you played in making the Silent Auction for the Turners a success. Your participation, either through a donation, bidding, or even just spreading the word, has helped us raise over $12,000 for the Turner family. This auction would not have been a success without your contribution.

A few important items to note:

  • If you won an item, payment must be received by October 31, 2012. If we do not receive payment by then, the item will go to the 2nd highest bidder. If circumstances have changed and you can no longer honor your bid, please contact us to let us know.
  • If you're a donor and have not received an email from us, it is likely because your winner has not paid yet. As soon as the winner pays, we will put you guys in contact via an email from us.
  • Should any questions or issues arise that we haven't addressed here, please email us at turnerblogauction@gmail.com.

Several people have asked if they can make a monetary donation directly to Julee. Here is the information if you would like to do so:

Preslee Turner College Fund
Summit Bank
PO Box 965
Arkadelphia, AR 71923

Online donations can be made to the memorial fund through this link:

Again, thank you so much for coming together to show your love and support to Julee and Preslee. Please continue to pray diligently for them in the days and weeks to come.

Life in the Green House
Life Sweet Life
Knee-Deep in Munchkin Land
SheShe Made Blog
The Getts Times
The E Family

A Time to Refocus

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 13 Comments A+ a-

questions-refocus-mind-gallery-3Last Thursday, I had a mini-meltdown. 

I called my friend, Mandy, in tears.  I told her I was failing.  That in every area of my life, I was failing those around me.  She made a light-hearted comment that made me chuckle.  “Sometimes, Jenn, you’re expectations are too high.  Your kids are alive and you’re still married.  Sometimes that IS success.”  And its true.  The expectations I have of myself are high. After all, women all over the blogosphere and in Twitter and Facebook Land can do it all, why can’t I?!  Mandy and I laughed over the “failures” of our parenting and when I hung up with her, I felt good that at least I was a bit more normal than I thought.

But knowing myself and knowing that I’ve been battling some feelings for a couple of months, I knew it wasn’t just high expectations that were plaguing me.  I blubbered to Jon in the kitchen later that night, my stress and anxiety at an all-time high.  “I can’t do it all,” I complained.  “I’m drowning!  Something has to change!”  And it was in that moment that Jon said, “Ok, so change it.”  And with those four words, something clicked.

Things are going to change. 

When I started Munchkin Land Designs in 2009, I had NO idea it would turn into this.  NONE.  In fact, the first couple of years, work was steady.  Not crazy, just enough to bring in some extra income during the month.  I got to meet some incredible women and form some amazing relationships with clients.  Then this past January, something happened and suddenly I was scheduling designs four to six weeks out.  And the orders kept coming in!  I had my first taste of feeling overwhelmed.

In the spring I raised my prices, thinking it would help things slow down.  I thought that life would return to normal and I could catch my breath.  Little did I know that it would have the opposite effect, and now I’m busier than ever. 

**Let me clarify here.  I am not complaining about being busy.  I feel very fortunate to be able to do something that I love, from home.  I realize that I am doing what some women only dream of doing.**

However, somewhere along the way, I’ve lost focus.  I am not the mother I want to be, I am not wife I’m called to be.  Friendships and other relationships have suffered because I am so busy… all of the time.  After parent-teacher conferences last week, I realized that I have to have to a more active role in Devyn and Hudson’s academic lives.  Not only is the need there, my desire is to be there.  Present, active, intentional in my relationships with them!

From a professional standpoint, I’ve lost the ability to connect with clients on a personal level.  I’ve lost the personal touch that I like to give to my clients.  And I want it back!  I need things to slow down, I need to offer my clients more than what I’ve been giving!

As I’m fleshing out the changes, I can tell you two things are being changed immediately.  I’ve removed the ability to access my emails from my phone.  I will only be answering emails when I am working.  I love my clients, but there’s no reason I need to be answering emails when I’m doing homework with Devyn or reading books with Ashlynn.  I don’t need to sit at a picnic table, sending an email, while the Littles are playing on the playground.  I removed it last week and I can’t begin to express the weight that was lifted in doing so.  It was a good move.

I’m also going to be taking less clients during the month.  I realize that I may lose clients because of this and while I’d hate to have that happen, I realize that some clients will need someone who can meet their needs immediately.  And I’m ok with that.  Some important shifts have taken place in the past couple of months and I need to refocus on my family, my friends, my relationship with God. 

I’m terrified to hit publish on this post.  Because then I’m laying it all on the line, with potential clients, with current clients, with friends, and with family.  But I need the accountability.  I need to be honest with myself and with you.  This place has always my online journal, and I’ve never shied away from being real, raw, and honest before.  I’m not going to start now.  

It’s a time to refocus.  The changes are going to be good, and even if change terrifies me, I know this is right for me at this time.

Silent Auction Follow Up

Saturday, October 20, 2012 0 Comments A+ a-

turner_buttonThe auction is over. Now what?

We are in the process of collecting email addresses of the donors, winners, and the winning bids for each item. Its an extensive process but we're working on it.

DONORS - Please email us at turnerblogauction@gmail.com with the item # and title in the subject line, the winner's email address, and their winning bid.  This will allow us to verify information before sending out invoices.  PLEASE DO NOT INVOICE THE WINNERS YOURSELF.

WINNERS - We will be sending out Paypal invoices by Monday night.  When the invoice has been paid, we will let the donor know. The two of you can then arrange shipping and/or redemption of the prize.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email any of us and we'll respond as soon as we can. Again, thank you to all (donors and bidders) for making this a success. Our hope is that it'll be a blessing for Julee and Preslee Turner.

Life in the Green House
Life Sweet Life
Knee-Deep in Munchkin Land
SheShe Made Blog
The Getts Times
The E Family

Silent Auction Time

Sunday, October 14, 2012 0 Comments A+ a-

turner_buttonThank you for stopping by the Silent Auction we are hosting to benefit Julee & Preslee Turner. Below you will find information to assist you in the bidding and listing process.

To List Your Item:
1. Compose a blog post that includes the details of the item being auctioned: item name, item description, retail value, and where you are willing to ship (US only, etc.). If you wish to do so, you may list a starting bid, but it is not required.
2. Enter the direct link to your item (not just a generic link to your blog) in the link-up tool below.

To Bid on an Item:
1. Read through the list of items below. If you see something that interests you, click on it and you will be taken to a page where you will be able to leave a comment with your bid.
2. Bids should be placed in $1 increments. (Example: If previous bid was $9, your bid must be at least $10.)
3. When you leave your bid, please include your name and email address.
4. Check back often to make sure you haven't been outbid. You will NOT be notified if someone outbids you, so you'll want to be sure to check in on items as the week goes on. Bidding will be closed on Friday, October 19th, at 10pm EST. Winners will be notified via email. All invoices must be paid by October 31, 2012.

We hope that this answers any questions you might have. We have tried our best to keep this as simple as possible, but realize there will always be questions come up. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you need help or clarification on something. Thank you again for being a part of blessing Julee & Preslee.

Happy bidding!

Courtyard Marriott, Little Rock, Arkansas

Sunday, October 14, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

Overnight stay at the Courtyard by Marriott, Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas
Estimated Value: $136
Weekend Night Stay (Friday, Saturday or Sunday); room with King or 2 Queen beds, breakfast for 2 the following morning, and parking included.

Come stay a night in the River Market District and take advantage of all the amenities the area has to offer. Offer good on any weekend night and must be booked 2 weeks in advance. Not available during special event weekends.MarriottCourtyard

Hampton Inn Suites, Little Rock, Arkansas

Sunday, October 14, 2012 11 Comments A+ a-

Overnight stay at the Hampton Inn Suites, Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas
Estimated Value: $111
Weekend Night Stay (Friday, Saturday or Sunday), room with King or 2 Queen beds, breakfast is included and parking as well. 

Come stay a night in the River Market District and take advantage of all the amenities the area has to offer. Offer good on any weekend night and must be booked 2 weeks in advance. Not available during special event weekends.Hampton Inn Suites

Large Scentsy Warmer

Sunday, October 14, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

Jane, a large Scentsy Warmer + 3 Scentsy Bars
Donated by: @michellefemiano
Description: Scentsy scented candles for your home. Our flameless candles are safe and provide hours of home fragrance. One large Scensty warmer (Jane) + 3 Scentsy Bars, either your choice or the choice of the donor.LargeWarmer

Midsize Scentsy Warmer

Sunday, October 14, 2012 12 Comments A+ a-

Chateau, a midsize Scentsy Warmer + 3 Scentsy Bars
Donated by: @michellefemiano
Description: Scentsy scented candles for your home. Our flameless candles are safe and provide hours of home fragrance.  One midsize Scensty warmer (Chateau) + 3 Scentsy Bars, either your choice or the choice of the donor.MidsizeWarmer

Home Is Where the Heart Is Wall Sign

Sunday, October 14, 2012 9 Comments A+ a-

Home Is Where the Heart Is Wall Sign
Donated By: Whale of a Sign
"Home is where the heart is" is a special edition made exclusively for the Turner Family.  11"x14" canvas in Blue Jean and White with a Red heart.HomeHeartIs

Silent Auction FAQs

Friday, October 12, 2012 3 Comments A+ a-

turner_buttonWe know there’s been a number of questions regarding the Silent Auction taking place next week and we’re going to do the best we can to answer those questions here.

But first we want to take a moment to thank you for the overwhelming response for Julee and Preslee Turner. We’ve been awed with each donation and email, amazed at the kindness of strangers, and thankful to see a community come together to support a friend in need. Thank you!

1. Do I need to enter my item on each blog? Do I need to visit each blog to see all of the items?
No, you don’t need to visit each of our blogs to enter or bid on an item. You only have to enter the link on one site, and it will show up on all of our sites. The same with bidding on items… All of our blogs will have the exact same list of items up for auction.

2. How do you bid on an item?
When you see an item you want to bid on, click on the link from the list and you’ll be taken to that item. In the comments, please be sure to leave your name, email address, and bid. All bids must be made in $1 increments. If the last bid is $9, then your bid must be at least $10.

3. How is a winner chosen?
The comments should be closed on Friday night at 10:00pm(EST). The highest bid will be the winner of that item.

4. How will be payments be accepted?
We will contact the winners and will send them a Paypal invoice for the amount. Once it’s paid, we’ll let the donor know so shipment can be arranged.


  • It is at the donor's discretion if the item will be available to US bidders only, or if they are willing to ship internationally. If you are donating an item, please be sure to list in your post if it's limited to US bidders only.
  • It will be up to the donor to pay for all shipping charges.
  • All payments should be received by October 31, 2012.
  • These payments are not considered a tax deductible.

We’ve also listed a sample post for your donated item below…

Title of Item:
Estimated Value:
Description of Item:
Picture of Item:

Again, thank you so much for the tremendous response! We’re looking forward to next week!

Life in the Green House
Life Sweet Life
Knee-Deep in Munchkin Land
SheShe Made Blog
The Getts Times

Silent Auction for the Turners

Sunday, October 07, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

turner_buttonOver the weekend, one of our own lost the love of her life in a tragic car accident. You can read more about it here.

We know many of us were shocked and saddened by the death of Julee’s husband and baby Preslee’s daddy over the weekend.  It’s hard whenever a loved one’s time is cut short, but especially when it touches someone so young.  And it has put Julee in the position of single parenting her 10-month-old baby girl, in a way that no one should have to face.

We know that she’s surrounded by loved ones, family and friends that can love on her, mourn with her, and be there for her in ways that many of us can’t.  But it has touched a lot of us in Blog and Twitter Land and many want to help in a tangible way.  So here is a way that we can come together and honor Matt Turner and offer what support we can to his wife and daughter.

Next week, October 15th through the 19th, we (Life in the Green House, Life Sweet Life, Knee-Deep in Munchkin Land, The Getts Times, SheShe Made) will be conducting a silent auction with all proceeds going to Julee and Preslee.

To Donate an Item*:

  • Create a post detailing the item up for auction.  Include a description and/or picture.
  • On Monday, October 15th visit any of the above blogs and list your item.  Make sure to use the direct link to that specific post.
  • Once the auction ends on Friday, October 19th, we’ll have you email us with the winner’s name, email address, and the amount of the winning bid.  We’ll invoice the winner.

*If you do not have a blog, but still want to donate an item, please contact any of the Jenns, Sarah, or Ashley and we will be happy to list your item for you!

To Bid on an Item:

  • On Monday, October 15th, visit any of the above blogs to view the list of donated items.
  • If an item interests you, click on the link to read more information.
  • To place a bid, leave a comment on that blog’s post leaving your email address and your bid.
  • Be sure to check the list often as new items will be added throughout the week.

This is the amazing part of blogging...its watching a community of men and women come together to support one another in need.  Thanks for your willingness to help and we’re looking forward to a successful auction.  And as always, we’re sure that Julee, Preslee, and the rest of their loved ones would greatly appreciate your prayers in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Special thanks to Sarah for designing the button for the auction!

Call Me Maybe, Reagan Style

Tuesday, October 02, 2012 14 Comments A+ a-

Whenever I’m having a bad day, I’m going to come to this post and listen to Reagan singing Call Me Maybe, acapella style.  She is a crack up!

My Broken Tooth

Friday, September 28, 2012 4 Comments A+ a-

Four years ago, my tooth broke in half, right along the filling edge.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t painful at all.  But like a good girl, I went to the dentist.  He confirmed the break and I scheduled a dental appointment to fix it.  Then a few days later, we found out that I was pregnant with Reagan.  Surprise!  So, I cancelled the appointment.

And never rescheduled.

This is where I get a bunch of lectures about being responsible and putting on my big girl panties.  This is where the I-told-you-so’s come into play and the speech about how if I’d fixed it back then, I wouldn’t be in this place today.  I know.  I know.  But in these four years, its never bothered me. 

Fast forward to this past Sunday. 

Mom and Dad took us out to lunch after church and we chose our favorite Mexican restaurant.  As I happily dug into the chips and salsa, I bit down on something HARD.  And the shooting pain from my jaw to my toes is nothing like I’d felt before.  I knew the day of reckoning had come.

A couple of days later, I was sitting in my dentist’s chair and was told that it was time for both a root canal and crown.  The only thing the dentist and I supposed had happened was that the chip had dislodged part of the filling that was covering the nerve and that was why I was in so much pain.  He (the dentist) was so concerned, he was adamant that I stay that afternoon and get it done.  However, I had to arrange for both child care and moolah, neither of which was accessible right that moment.  Instead I scheduled the appointment for this morning because I knew Jon would be off, and it was payday.

DentistOn the way to the dentist this morning, Jon reminded me that this time around, there would be no divorce. (Long story.  It involves my wisdom teeth, a 2:00am request, and a broken engagement.  Not even kidding.)  I faked a laugh through that and spared him a brave smile before walking into the dentist.

I wish I could say that writing the check was the most painful part of the morning (and it WAS painful), but I’d be lying.  It took four shots of novocaine to numb me.  4 shots!!  And because I was have a narrow and shallow palette (the dentist’s words, not mine), it made it extra difficult for the dentist.  There was a LOT of digging, jamming, maneuvering, and poking.  It was less than delightful, the only bright spot being that I got to watch How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days during the procedure.  It helped drown out the sound of the drilling… somewhat.

So now here I sit.  Banished to my room, with vicodin, a swollen face (Jon says you can’t even see my jawline right now), and frozen peas.  I’m hoping that in a few days the pain will be a distant memory.  But right now, I’m just trying to keep my head from moving.

Manning and The Broncos

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 9 Comments A+ a-

I've been a Denver Bronco fan since the day I was born.  The story of Dad asking for the football score mid-labor and delivery when I was born is legendary.  And often told to explain the extreme of Dad's faithfulness to this team.  His love of the game and of the team has been passed down to us, and except for a short time in my teens when I loved the Raiders as a form of rebellion, I will be a Broncos fan until the day I die.

With that said, many people have seen my rants about the Tebow-Manning-Broncos debacle that happened in the spring.  Countless exchanges between family and friends, hours on the phone with brothers-in-law, folks were none too happy about my lukewarm response.  In fact the other day I posted a Facebook status reading: "I WANT to believe 90 million is worth it.  I WANT to believe that Elway's ego didn't get in the way of his GM responsibilties. I also want world peace."  I wish I could take credit for the sentiment, but I stole it from Twitter.  It was too good to not share.

Here's the deal.

I LIKE Manning.  He is, without a doubt, an amazing quarterback.  Inarguably, one of the best to the play the game of football.  He's always been one of my favorite quarterbacks to watch and I have no doubt, there's a few years left in him.  I need to make that clear, especially to my Indiana family (hi Aunt Bernie, Jared, Jason, JP).  Go Manning!

Here is where my issue lies.

90 million dollars to recruit him to play for the Broncos.  90 million dollars!  Do I think he's worth it?  I don't know, I can't answer that.  However, in my  heart, Manning is an Indiana Colt.  Always has been, always will be.  He is their franchise player, as Elway was the Broncos.  Whenever Manning talks at the press conferences post-game, I hear his voice and I expect to see a Colt uniform.  It always takes me a moment to comprehend that's a Broncos head on the platform behind him.  When it comes time for Manning to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, I have no doubt, it will be as a Colt.  As my friend Kodi says, a Manning fan or a Colts fan, buy a shirt with a horse on it and call it good.

In addition, what happened to building a team?!  An actual team, from the ground up; something that will withstand the test of time.  Is Manning an amazing quarterback?  Yes.  But he has maybe three years left in his career.  Maybe he will lead a great team in that time, but what happens when he leaves?  We're willing to start all over again with a rookie quarterback?  So we're willing to sacrifice long-term success for a few flashy years?  

IF we even get the flash.  All last spring, I was told over and over again. "Just wait. You'll see why we did this when we win the Super Bowl.  You'll see."  Now granted, we've played some strong teams these first few weeks, so I'm not giving up on my Broncos.  But there's been no plays (save for the first game of the season) that screams "Super Bowl Winners Here!"  Peyton cannot win football games by himself.  He may have all of the athletic ability in the world,  but if our guys can't catch the ball (I'm looking at you, Demaryius) we can't win games.

So there you have it.  My take and mini-rant on the Denver Broncos and Manning situation.  Do I have a leg to stand on?  Am I as schooled as the stats quoting fans?  No, I'm not.  Just one life-long fan who has an opinion.  And since I'm not afraid to share my opinion on most everything else on here, why stop at football?!  Ha!

Moving on...  Go Broncos! Please, please, PLEASE beat the Raiders on Sunday.

9x9 Randomness

Thursday, September 20, 2012 6 Comments A+ a-

  1. I’ve been talking to friend, and photographer extraordinaire, Becky Young about fall family portraits and color palettes.  I think I’m leaning towards a navy blue-gray-pink combination this year.  P.S. I love getting to swap services with my talented friends.  Its one of the perks of my job.

  2. I firmly believe that one of the best things about fall are pumpkin patches and corn mazes.  We have scheduled our outing in October and some cousins will be coming with us.  It’ll be good to get together outside of cancer, comas, and funerals.

  3. I am going slightly stir crazy.  Ashlynn started vomiting on Tuesday morning and slowly everyone (with the exception of Devyn and myself) have taken a turn.  Once one gets sick, I can inevitably count on the fact that we’ll be house bound for a good 5-7 days. But tomorrow, I may take a turn through a drive-through somewhere.  Anywhere.  I just need out.

  4. Oh Broncos.  That was a nasty game on Monday night.  Grandma always had the best commentary during Broncos game and she would've been especially punchy during that game.  It was an ugly game, both the playing and the refereeing.  Lets hope both sides get their acts together.  And soon.

  5. In keeping with the blue-gray-pink theme, I fell in love with this dress.  But I’m not willing to spend $250+ on it.  Especially used.  So, its back to the drawing board for me.  I’m in desperate need of fashion help.  I might be missing that gene too.

  6. Late one night, a client posted a picture of some jewelry and I fell in love.  I promptly contacted her and within a few days ordered myself a necklace, including the letter “G” for our last name, a Blessed disc (which matches my tattoo), and each child’s birthstone.  Happy Birthday to me!  It arrived on Wednesday and I’m crazy about it.  Definitely go check out Origami Owl necklaces.  You won’t be disappointed.

  7. Don’t these look amazing?  I’m not sure what it is about fall, but it brings out the baking in me.  And these pumpkin cookies with the cinnamon icing are just begging to be made.  Which brings me to #9 below.

  8. I was looking through my blog the other day and stumbled upon our family page.  Whoa, time travel.  It looks like I hadn’t updated that page in years.  There were pictures of Devyn holding Reagan… as a baby!  Um, time to dust off the cobwebs.  So I finally updated that page and will probably be revamping this site again soon.  But you know what they say about the cobbler and his children’s shoes, the saying also applies to designers and themselves… and their sisters.  Ha!

  9. These pretty shoes have made their way into my closet.  I’m getting ready to break them in because… wait for it… I’ve decided to start running.  Something has to change about this slowing metabolism. And four kids. And gravity.  Sigh.  Wish me luck.  I’m going to need it.

Dear Devyn & Co

Monday, September 17, 2012 3 Comments A+ a-


Dear Devyn & Co,

As I write this, the four of you are chowing down on grilled cheese sandwiches during a living room picnic, while listening to Disney Friends on Pandora.  Every so often, a song comes on that you all know and a contest of who can sign it the loudest ensues.  S, I know you caught the look in my eyes and the tears that threatened to fall down my cheeks.  I’m sure you’re confused why Devyn’s mommy is so sentimental today.  Let me tell you…

I have had the privilege of watching the four of you grow up together.  From preschoolers to second graders, it has been an honor to watch each of you grow and change into the beautiful girls I see today.  Its been fascinating to watch personalities develop, to watch friendships grow and change, to watch you learn the abc’s to reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, from singing Disney princess songs to Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift songs. 

It makes my mama heart tender… knowing how fast its changed and knowing how much lies ahead of you beautiful girls.

It’s a rocky road ahead…  one filled with hurt feelings, mean girls, uncertainties, changing relationships, good and bad decisions.  Its going to be a roller coaster, dear girls.  One that will cause both you and your mamas plenty of heartache, and I assure you that each mama would gladly take this from you if we could.  But growing up is hard work and can only be done by you.

I want to bottle this time up forever.  This time of baking cookies, little girl giggles, picnic lunches, and carefree dancing.  Its going so fast and I want to freeze time, to save this innocence.  I’ve come to love each one of you, I am thankful for the strengths that each of you bring to this close-knit group.  I can’t assure you or myself that this group will always remain tight-knit, but I can assure you that when I think of Devyn’s childhood, I will think of you.  And smile.

One Thankful, Sentimental Mama

Today was a first…

Saturday, September 15, 2012 10 Comments A+ a-

Devyn started going to this school in 2009 as a preschooler.  And never once in those four years has she ever once mentioned a mean girl.  Devyn gets along with everybody, and I mean everybody.  When other mothers mentioned their children were having problems with the same girl at school, Devyn was completely oblivious to it all. She had no idea what I was talking about when I brought it up. 

So bells started ringing when she mentioned that a girl in her class was being mean to her.  Naturally my inner mama bear threatened to come to the surface, but I managed to calm her (the bear, not Devyn) down and walk Dev through the appropriate ways to handle the situation.  Talk to the teacher, talk to the student, etc.

But when a few days later, Devyn came home and mentioned that the same girl had shoved her in PE class… Oh hell no, some girl did not just touch my daughter! 

The ensuing conversation that took place between Jon, Devyn, and I was downright comical as I calmed Devyn, tried to pacify an upset Daddy (whose response was simply to push the girl back and harder), and rein in my own feelings.  And once Nana and Aunt Ney found out about it, oy vey.  It made our scene at home pale in comparison.  Unfortunately said scene sent Devyn running in tears, to the other room because, and I quote, “I don’t want to push her back.  I can’t do that!” (My sweet, sensitive Devyn.  I love you for it!)

Cooler heads prevailed and I scheduled a meeting with the teacher instead.

As I told the teacher, had the bullying stayed at the verbal level, I would’ve encouraged Devyn to continue talking to her teacher.  I definitely wouldn’t have requested a parent-teacher conference so early in the process, but physical touching of any kind is simply unacceptable.  And neither is avoiding the situation, which is Devyn’s coping method of choice right now.  That does neither child any favors; one learns to avoid unpleasant situations and the other learns that her behavior will allow her a pass in life.

I want Devyn to be equipped and empowered to handle these situations; to know that she is capable of standing up for herself.  And that her mama and daddy have her back, completely and whole-heartedly.  I am her advocate in these early years of learning what is, and what is not, acceptable.  And unwanted physical touching is absolutely not allowed.

Her teacher was amazing.  She listened, she brainstormed with me, we came up with a good game plan.  And I’m confident that this will be nipped in the bud sooner, rather than later.  It especially warmed my heart when she had Devyn come back in and included her in the discussion of everyone’s role in all of this.  And we both reiterated that the adults are a safe place, teacher or parent, she is safe to go to either one. 

I don’t think we’ll hear much from the classmate again once the teacher has said her piece.  At least I hope not, for the classmate’s sake.  I don’t think Mama Bear has anything on Daddy Bear, Nana Bear, and Auntie Bear.  Yikes.

Confessions in Munchkin Land

Friday, September 14, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-


  • My car is a mess.  A certifiable health hazard.  But it comes to the rescue more times than I can count.  A trip to the mountains, forgot long-sleeved shirts?  I have boys or girls clothing.  Forgot to put on shoes before leaving the house?  Do you need size 3, 7, 10 or 12?  I wish I were kidding.

  • As I doled out sandwiches mid-errands yesterday, I realized I was a sandwich short.  Instead of the pb+j the others got, Ashlynn made do with the 4 vanilla cookies.  Don’t feel sorry for her, she was more than happy to make the sacrifice.

  • I’m sure that any leftover lunches were promptly thrown on the floor of the van.  Hence the first confession above.  I’m terrified to step back and there and see what new mold the Littles have scientifically created.

  • I was inspired by Courtney’s wreath making tutorial and convinced that this time would be different, I trotted the three younger Littles through Hobby Lobby while I pretended to know what I was doing and what I was looking for.  I failed.  Miserably.  We left with some wheat stalks and 2 scarecrows.  They were haphazardly carefully placed in a ceramic vase by our front door.  And THAT is the extent of my crafting experience.  It’s further convinced me that I’m missing the Craft gene.

  • I have great intentions when it comes to bringing meals to families with new babies.  However, great intentions do not translate well to actions.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to bring a meal on a night I was scheduled to do so.  Its quite humiliating actually.  Thankfully, I remembered last night.  At the last minute.  It wasn’t the thoughtful, home cooked meal I wanted to bless them with, but at least I remembered at all.  Oy.  Thank you for being so gracious about it, Brock and Kristen!  And congrats on your beautiful baby boy!

  • I’m a spender.  I married a spender.  It’s a horrible combination.  If I pass on anything to my children, it’ll be to marry the opposite of what they are.  There’s something to be said for balance.  Especially in finances!

  • I’m a natural consequences kind of parent.  If my child is repeatedly told not to tip back in their chair and continues to do so anyway, I figure that gravity will be a better teacher than I.  And 9 times out of 10, once they’ve fallen and gotten hurt, they won’t do it again.

  • And lastly.  I reposted a friend’s Facebook post yesterday, and I’m reposting it here too.  It bears repeating:

"You know that mom in the store pushing a screaming toddler in the cart while a wild preschooler is touching everything in sight and antagonizing the screaming toddler? The mom who looks defeated, and isn't even trying to stop the madness? The one you look at disapprovingly and list all the solutions to her bad parenting in your head as you walk by? I was that mom today. And I have the same list running through my head, only each of the brilliant and "obvious" suggestions are crossed out in red ink, having already failed me. Practice trumps theory. You see, the thing is, most moms are intelligent problem-solvers, just like you. And we want it to stop more than everyone else in the store combined. So save your looks. Save your mental commentary. Just finish your shopping trip and enjoy your quiet drive home. Thanks."


Sunday, September 09, 2012 3 Comments A+ a-

practices that are handed down from the past by tradition
"a heritage of freedom"

I have been fortunate to have two God-fearing, Christ-loving, Bible-believing grandmothers.  I do not take this blessing lightly.  Grandma Nancy might have been a part of my day-to-day life, but Grandma Rose is prayer warrior like no one I’ve ever met.  Whenever a need is apparent, I can count on a phone call from Grandma Rose and know the words “Let’s pray” will be one of the first words uttered.

My cousins lost their second grandma last Sunday.  First Grandma Nancy in August, then their grandmother, Eleanor, a few weeks later.  I attended both funerals and was struck by the legacy both women had left, one of mercy and compassion and the other of steadfast faithfulness.  Looking down the line of cousins, at both funerals, where each grandchild bore a stamp of their grandmother’s print on their lives is inspiring.

Just this past Friday, after having lunch with some dear ladies in Denver, I decided to stop by Grandma Rose’s house on a whim.  What was intended to be a quick stop, a short visit, quickly turned into hours.  I sat at her elbow, across the table from my aunt, and soaked it in.  Their stories, their wisdom, their life lessons.  At one point, Grandma Rose took my face in her hands and with the sassy way she has, said to me, “I share this so you will learn!”

This morning we sang Kristian Stanfill’s Always in church.  Reagan sat on my hip, her head on my shoulder, her face buried in my neck.  The thought came to me.  Share with her.  This is her heritage too.  So as we swayed to the music, I brought her ear to my mouth.

“Reagan Jacqueline, you are a child of the utmost High.  You belong to the King.”

Oh, my God, He will not delay.
My refuge and strength always.

“He has mighty plans for you, my Love.  You need only Him.  He has, is, and will always prove faithful.”

I will not fear, His promise is true.
My God will come through always, always.

I sang each word over her, over her soul, and over her heart.  Each word was lifted up as a prayer, bestowing on her the same heritage I received at my own mother’s and grandmothers’ hands.  As I sang, I prayed that the words would take root in her heart, that she too would someday know the deep truth of them. 

And as life cycles forward, and just as generations before ours, we hand down the tradition of placing our trust, our lives, our hearts in service to the one true King.  It’s the richest heritage I could ever dream of possessing.  And now its my turn to see that the heritage is shared forward.