the phrases that, indeed, came out of my kids’ mouths this past weekend….happy Monday!


I am just gonna jump right into this one. Too many good ones to waste time with my effort at pithy dialogue when my kids are so naturally hilarious.

“Mommy? Can we skip church this Sunday?” “Well honey we try to make time for God a priority.” “I know. But would it hurt God’s feelings if we miss one?” “Well, I think He understands our hearts so it may be okay but why?” “Well I like church and enjoy going and don’t want to hurt God’s feelings so we should go.” “But why would you like to skip? I want to always listen.” “Well, right now it’s Saturday morning. I kinda feel like I am gonna throw up. So I am trying to figure out if it would be better to go to church and puke on 22 people and NOT hurt God’s feelings, or skip it, puke only on my own self, but have Jesus sad.” “Pretty sure Jesus, and every parent in town, will be just fine with that decision.” “Ok.”

“Mom I think you should put your hair back on. You know, make it long again.” “Why honey?” “Cause it is less ugly that way.” “Thanks for the tip.”

“Mommy that guy is staring at you.” “Which guy?” “That guy on the sidewalk. He is staring.” “That’s cause our mommy is so pwetty!!” “No. I am pretty sure it’s because he can tell from the street that she has a booger in her left nostril.” “Thanks for the tip.”

“Why can’t I get a new boogie board?” “Because you have wrecked two others. Maybe Santa will get it for you for Christmas.” “No he won’t. Santa KNOWS I wrecked the last two. So he won’t get it.” “Then why should I since I ALSO know you wrecked the last two?” “Because I am your son. And you always say you love me more than ALLLLLLLLL the stars in the sky. So surely that’s enough love to get me a new boogie board even though I wrecked the last two.” Dang this kid is good. But no. He didn’t get the boogie board.

“I need a higher allowance.” “Why?” “I have a girlfriend.” “So you want to pay for everything with her?” “No. I can’t afford that. But maybe eventually I can chip in a few bucks.”

“Mom!!!!!” “What honey? You ok?” “NO! I am angry. You LIED to me!” “About what?” “The F word is NOT fart!!!!” “Yes it is.” “No it’s not. No no no. It’s worse. And I don’t know what it means but ——– said “—-” to his mom and got his mouth washed out so he told us at school and it is NOT fart.” “Oh my gosh look out the window!!! There is a panther in the woods!!” “Where??” “Right there!!” “Where??” “Keep looking!!!!” Crisis averted. (and note that I always have to make up wildlife in our local jungle??)

“I am gonna go in the pool.” “Ok.” “I am gonna go in the pool and be nude.” “Um, ok.” “I can if I want to.” “Who said you couldn’t?” “Hadley.” “He said you couldn’t go nude in the pool??” “Yeah. He said at dusk the bobcats come out and if they saw me nude they would eat me. But only if I’m nude. I don’t believe him so I am gonna test and see if he is right.” “So what if he is right?” “Then that means I am wrong.” “I know. But if he is right, you will only know cause you were nude and a bobcat came out and ate you all up. That seems a pretty big risk to take, just to try to prove your bother is wrong.” “Mom? You aren’t a guy. You just don’t get it.” “Ok.”

what do our pictures say, where are our lives real, and don’t assume it’s all roses….


It can be done, you know.

Life can be faked.

Well, I suppose life itself can’t really be faked, although, put enough effort in and a “Weekend at Bernie’s” scenario could, I suppose, be a reality, at least for a few hours until you’re busted.

And you’ll always be busted. Because, not to be disgusting, but death starts to smell.

Thus, life can be faked. But eventually, it starts to stink. So it can only work for so long. Certainly not these people though, right? Not these pictures. The real deal, for sure.


This one….I mean, look at the beauty. The passion. (impressively caught by Jennifer at Yankee Belle photography…look her up…) The closeness. What a perfect couple!!!


Heavens to betsy look at those attractive coordinated children. And the abs on that mama!! (Ok, sorry. Shameless plug.) The majestic backdrop of the ocean. Sigh……are you moved yet?? Jealous?

Don’t be.

PLEASE understand something.

Life is hard. Parenting is hard. Marriage is HARD. We are severely imperfect people with brokenness all over the place. When a work colleague posts about her latest promotion, or your in-laws post about a fantastic trip, or your mother’s neighbor’s cousin posts about his perfect children, do NOT wish you had their life. And don’t assume that their posts mean they are saying that this snapshot of their lives, or ANY aspect, is perfect or jealousy inducing. There are things in my world that sure, look great from the outside. I can’t hide it and I don’t try to. My children have never known want, not in our home. They have never been truly cold or hungry, not in our home, although two of our babies have indeed known true cold. But now? Their photos look perfect and joyous and smiley. And it is not that they are FAKE. But seeing them as the sum total of that picture, of anyone’s lives as the sum total of those Instagram or Facebook posts? That is fake. That will never be real. And that’s what starts to stink….when people play like those lives are real, or people assume them to be so, and judge them on a photo. They are not.

In these pictures above are some lonely, hurting people. Some insecurities and deeply rooted losses and traumas and pains that while may be diminished will never be truly gone.  We are not JUST those either. Should I just post a photo of myself, curled up in a ball, sobbing in hurt and loneliness? Crying my eyes out because I feel without a champion, without a person who loves me more than he loves anyone else in his life? Makes me his priority, stands for me when it is hard, believes our family is the best thing in his life and world? Sure. I could I guess. But that would also be fake. Because that moment and those feelings don’t define me either. I am more, WE are more than the sexy, laughing photo together. We are more than the broken lonely hurting wife. We are more than the ambitious but angry, unfulfilled husband. We have a very large picture and the paint is not dry yet, the chemicals haven’t finished processing. So there is still time, day in and day out, to make the pictures different. And day in and day out, they are. For us.

And to post the photo of my gorgeous, kind son who simply MUST be a charmed child because he is cute and blond and athletic and has yes, some definite privilege MUST mean he is happy and perfect right?


Nope. He is a sensitive young man who is too kind to fight back and has spent two years getting picked on like many kids are, unpleasant but still mostly normal, until the last few weeks when middle school started. And somehow, for some reason, a big old bulls eye was painted onto his back, metaphorically speaking, and he hasn’t been able to go a single day without some kind of physical, verbal, or cyber “attack” for a couple of weeks straight – at least not until I inserted myself forcefully into the picture. Don’t hate him for what you see on the outside; don’t assume because of a photo or a birthday present of an apple watch or something nice he has it all together and life is easy and perfect. And don’t assume because I post a happy family photo that we are trying to fake it, or be something we are not but that friend and online communities foster the fake and even REWARD for the fake…

Snapshots are for the express purpose of capturing a moment, and TRYING to see the best in it, despite the wounds there, right under the surface. Anyone looking at a photo, or a painting, needs to see the whole thing. It is in the imperfections that the beauty is often found. Here below, is reality….like everything else is in focus, everything seems clear, except the people in it, except who we are.


And at the very least, it is where the truth really is. So keep that in mind next time you see a picture, scan a post, or read a blog and assume it is so much better, so much easier, so much more perfect than what you have. Chances are? 99.9% of us are in the exact same boat, no matter what the boat looks like from the outside. We are all there, barely afloat, trying to bail out the water that constantly threatens to drown us. That’s the real picture.

who likes to shop?? and even better?? your shopping helps protect women, children, and the most at risk!!


I am not gonna lie.

Sometimes I feel like I am gonna go on a shooting spree if I get one more person telling me why I need Arbonne/Tupperware/Greens Plus/Crossfit/Silpada/Jamberry/fill-in-the-blank. I can’t take it.

But how did these feelings start??

When we first moved to our smallish town, I was married, no kids. And lonely as all get out. We lived in a condo next to 127 old people. REALLY old. My only interaction and relationships? My in laws. I mean, good people, but you know. In laws. ;) Fast forward a few months. We found a church and some wonderful new friends. Everyone was a mom but me…I was still a blissful, blindly unaware newlywed hahaha. And the moms? The stay at home variety for the most part. Very quickly I learned about their efforts at creating extra income. Loved that. Supported that.

Until my pantry was filled with 47 magazine subscriptions, 118 scented candles, 12 boxes of new revolutionary make up, enough cookware to open 3 restaurants….you get the picture.

Every weekend was an invite to a party, and I wanted to support my friends. If I went to one and not another, I felt guilty. If I went to one, and didn’t buy, I felt guilty. So I made a blanket decision.


I would go to none….no parties, no programs, no nada. My bestest of friends…nope. Wouldn’t go. I couldn’t do it.

And Ken said if one more scented candle showed up in our bathroom that made him sneeze 47 times in a row he would leave me.

So the decision was made. Since then, I have received no shortage of invites and information; I have accepted and attended none. But….

About two weeks ago I received an online invite. This was a jewelry party for a friend in the adoption community. Adoption fundraisers are sometimes my exception. (And to clarify?? Raising funds to help create a family is something I will do intermittently, depending. Ask for handouts? Do no work but expect donations? Or use your orphan kid’s picture as a call to help the orphan crisis while sending your family to china to adopt while also booking time at Hong Kong Disney and bringing 14 people with you? Not so much.) Sorry. I digress.

Anyway, saw the link, checked it out, and this company is AMAZING. Firstly, the jewelry is handcrafted by people all over the world. Specifically, it is made by women in broken, impoverished, and at risk communities. The company will partner and help kiddos in that community with education. 10% of the funds from each party help adopting families. Partners are screened responsibly and carefully. Child labor is not allowed. It is a beautiful effort, with lovely things (and I am not even a big costume jewelry fan.)

So I ask you…consider taking a few minutes out of your online social media time (face it, you are at WORK right now hahahaha) and click on this link. Don’t believe me? Check out the map. Read the “about” section. Then do a little shopping. This specific person can be helped by your shopping through October 1st. But any time is a good time to support women who need to support themselves and provide for their families to escape the worldwide bain of child labor, child sex trafficking, and more. Me? I see my kids’ teachers Christmas presents, some stocking stuffers, and maybe, just maybe, a bauble or two for myself. But really I see women and children empowered by using the skills that they have, the skills they can learn, to do something more. Make a bigger life, and a better future. And that is pretty daggone awesome and worth my support.

Drop by, shop, and help. You shop anyway….may as well do it here. ;) Happy shopping!!!!!

And announcing…. Marlowe’s Gotcha Day Video!!!


finally. A year after the fact.

We just celebrated Marlowe’s first forever family day. This crazy little monkey has made our family complete. We can’t imagine a day without her in it, and have trouble remembering the days before she was part of us. Baby girl – you are so precious. I am the luckiest mommy in the world – because I was chosen to be your mommy and you were chosen to be my daughter.

You, my love, will forever be mine but more importantly I, my dear, will be forever YOURS. Always and forever my baby you’ll be!!!!!

a post from someone else about wine and kids and my own variation on it all…


Ok. I LOVE the post I have linked below. It is freakin hilarious. Why? Because I drink a lot? Because I think wine solves any or everything? Because alcohol helps you cope as a parent?


It is just plain funny.

To be honest with you, I am not a huge drinker. There are several reasons for this, but it is mostly it is because alcohol does not affect me like it does most people so why waste the calories? Additionally, I think beer tastes like cold fizzy urine. Wine? I like it far better than beer but still, blah. Not my bag, baby. I can appreciate a really nice wine, and can recognize the nuances etc. But I would far prefer a tasty mixed drink, frothy chilled concoction, or perfectly paired margarita with a plate of nachos. This article, however, was pretty daggone funny.

Have a read.

I just find it funny because of the pithy humor. Pairing the proper wine with the crappy behavior of your kids that day – something about that just makes me giggle. So although I love the idea, and in no way take credit for it (this lady had the idea!!) I have to give it my own spin because wine just wouldn’t get the job done for me.

So here is my list of how to deal with the kid behavior that sends you over the edge.

1.) walls of house or insides of car window painted with poop? shots. several of them to dull the mind and the senses so that you don’t vomit all over yourself while cleaning up said poop.
2.) lousy whining kid attitude? a daiquiri because it will make you smile and ignore said attitude. any and everything is fabulous with a strawberry daiquiri in hand!!
3.) teenage fits and car wrecking?? margarita, rocks, served with a massive plate of nachos because everything looks better after margaritas and a massive plate of nachos.
4.) half the night is spent re-tucking in various kids because they can’t stay in their bleeping beds and have to come down to tell you they can’t sleep/get water/tell you their butt itches/etc? online shopping. copious amounts of it. i mean, get on amazon prime/zulily/sephora/neiman’s (whatever your poison of choice) and just start clicking add to cart, add to cart, add to cart, add to….until your finger cramps up, your eyes glaze over, and divorce is on the table unless you can pry yourself off the computer.
5.) when the walls are caving in on you and you totally can’t cope because your husband is out of town and you have NO clue how to help your 6th grader with his math (anyone else feeling like a total moron EVERY SINGLE DAY??) and your toddler is teething with molars and her amber teething necklace broke while your other daughter walks downstairs with the sluttiest looking makeup applied all over her face looking like the town harlot and your other son superglued feathers to your other daughter’s elbow to turn her into a bird? hmm….crack maybe. yeah. crack definitely. the back alley kind.

Then again, that’s not an option for reasons both logical and legal. You can’t do crack. Your husband is out of town and that would be irresponsible.

one year ago, today, forever family day. but it’s not the day i actually met Marlowe…with some pics!


This post has been a year in the making.

Sure, the obvious is that one year ago today our family received the final piece to the puzzle and we became whole. My sons and daughters and husband took this adorable and tiny baby into their arms and into their hearts and she came home with us and hasn’t left us since.

But I got to meet her before that.

And THAT has taken me a year to talk about, to write about.

There are many reasons for this, but primarily, it was such a special and personal day for me, and for her, and actually, for a few other people too….so I have held it close. I share it now because the anniversary of this day is special, deserves something special, and as such, I write. So I now write to her directly. To my Marlowe.

Marlowe baby…this is for you to read, and to know about your special day. Every last moment of it that mattered and that impacted me, and probably you, on levels we don’t even understand, is forever etched on and in me.

Saturday morning in China. Everyone else got dressed and ready for an adventure and some touring. Me? I showered quietly, preparing alone. I didn’t put on perfume, because I was thinking of you. I was thinking of how, a few months earlier, I sent you a special blanket. A blanket I had slept with for weeks so that it would smell of me. So I washed, my normal soap, my normal deodorant, my normal body lotion. I smelled of the blanket I sent. I hoped you would recognize me. Newborns do, you know. Newborns recognize the scent and sound of their mothers both in and out of the womb. I never carried you there. But I still wanted to make a primal connection. A connection deeper than a photo or a cute outfit.

While your daddy and brothers and sisters sweated and toured in the China summer heat, I drove to you. I had been told it would be over an hour from the hotel in Beijing. You were somewhere special. You were in a foster home. A group foster home. A place where you had spent several months after your first 10 months in a medical care home. In my hand I held the bear…the bear you still have. The driver I booked, from the hotel, let me know we were almost there. Only 15 minutes had passed! We made our way through this tiny little neighborhood with narrow, curving streets. Homes close together, laundry on lines out the windows. We were 15-20 minutes outside Beijing yet it felt much further.

He slowed to the stop. The driver. And he turned and looked at me, asking in broken English, “Miss you here. This right? No look right. Where you go?” I answered, also broken, but for a different reason, “This is right. I am here to meet my baby. My daughter.” He understood. He pulled back, eyes wide, and looked away quickly.

I opened the car door, got out, and approached the entrance. I knocked, then entered tentatively. Shoes were in a pile by the door, so I added mine. I looked forward and saw many little children in a kitchen area. They were all being put into high chairs for snack time. All but one. You sat on the floor, centered in the play area, with one nanny, one ayi. Everyone smiled, and pointed to you. No one spoke English; the coordinator had yet to arrive.

the outside of one of these special group foster homes

the outside of one of these special group foster homes

your bed in the crib room

your bed in the crib room

you and one of the aye's as you walked us out to the car

you and one of the ayi’s as you walked us out to the car

the ayi with whom you were playing when i came in

the ayi with whom you were playing when i came in

the babies having snack while we played.

the babies having snack while we played.

Oh baby. You were so beautiful. Tiny and pale, and dressed in the size 6 month dress I had sent for the family day we would all meet. You were dressed up, in the little matching socks too! You looked up and saw me, curious, and went back to playing with your own foot. I dropped my purse, the bear. I walked over, opened the gate, sat down on the floor next to you. Talked. Touched. Smiled. We giggled and smiled together. The nanny watched, smiling. She then picked you up, and led us upstairs. Showed me your crib. Your room.

Sweetheart, they loved you there and cared for you but yes my heart broke. The windows were all open or broken and the heat was stifling, as were the mosquitos. You were covered in bug bites! I finally remembered the bear, and ran downstairs to grab it. We played with it together and then I held you. Oh baby you were so tiny! The dress was huge on you; I guessed that you were maybe 15 pounds. Your hair was so short, although they had honored my request not to cut it again. For over an hour we played, laughed, snuggled, talked, babbled, played with my phone, took pictures, sang and clapped, and danced with the bear. It was amazing. Holding you? It was heaven. I knew that you completed my family. I knew you were my daughter. I knew you were mine, as much as a human can belong to someone else, and equally, I was YOURS. I would be yours forever. I swore it then and I swear it again now.

At this point a door opened and closed, and one of the foster coordinators came in. She was not the one with whom I had corresponded. She was younger, and she met me with immediate affection and enthusiasm and expression, something not generally seen in China so openly, especially with a Western stranger. Within moments she shared her story with me, weaving many comments about God into it. I hugged her again, explaining we shared the God connection and she was thrilled, hugging me again! We talked a bit about your schedule, habits, preferences, personality…she spoke to one of the ayis and translated my questions and the ayi’s answers. I learned much, but you never left my sight. It was almost time to go and I was absorbing every moment.

Suddenly, a door opened and closed again.

My driver. He came inside to ask to use the restroom. As he started speaking to ask, he looked around and saw.


Not with his eyes….with his heart and apparently with his soul.

He saw the play space. He saw the nannies. He saw the kitchen, the high chairs full of little ones, the one in which you now sat, barely touching food. (They said you were a slow picky eater….not the case. I just discovered you still needed foods fed to you at this point.) He stood there, mouth open, eyes turning red. He then quickly turned away and ran off to the restroom, then out the front door.

Nap time had arrived and schedules in a group home are very important. It was time for me to go. Walking out that front door was one of the hardest things I have EVER done. I gave you hugs and kisses. They were obviously foreign to you, but you seemed to enjoy them, and even gave me a few giggles as I nuzzled your neck and rasberried your cheek. You stayed in your ayi’s arms as she walked me out. The coordinator was heading far into Beijing so I offered to give her a ride as I had no time restraints. I never took my eyes off you as I got into the car. I snapped photo after photo of you, the house, of you, and more of you. MY DAUGHTER. I felt the eyes of the driver burning through the rearview mirror, but I never looked. Even as the car pulled away I watched you, my tears flowing, until you went back inside and the door closed.

The woman in the car with me, barely a woman as she was so very young herself, maybe 22 or 23, held my hand tightly. She spoke to me of forever and soothed my heart as I so did not want to leave you for even a moment. At this point I finally looked at the driver. His eyes were almost as wet as mine. I spoke quietly to the woman, mentioning the driver. She spoke to him and his eyes returned to the road. Over the next 30 minutes they spoke, her mostly, while he said bits and pieces, alternately balling his eyes out openly and then smiling. She too, began to cry, then grabbed my hand again, and spoke words that will be hard for me to ever forget, not that I would want to… “He had never seen this. He saw all the children. He felt shame. He felt sad. He could not pretend this not happen here, that China does this. But so many little ones, so bare their home. It saddened him they have no hope. But I explain to him the great hope that they have. Yes, your baby has you. But all the babies have the hope of a heavenly Savior, a Creator and Father no matter what! He tell me his family never speak of God. No God. And he has never known hope. I tell him of the hope we all have. We talk much. He say he want the same hope and he prayed with me to know God. He will bring his family and his brother and family to my secret church this weekend. He believe!!”

I cried with her. I cried and looked at him as he began to cry so openly. I had never seen such open expression of emotion. In America we hide our feelings like these. Feelings of pain or loss we share but feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness are supposed to be hidden and locked away so no one can know our hurt. And he was so present with it. Marlowe it was so beautiful. Being a part of it, even watching, was precious. And it made me think so much.

My precious baby girl….this is the hope for you. Me? You will ALWAYS have me. I am your mother, forever and always. No human being on the planet will love you more than me. But my life is finite. My brain is limited. There is a hope and a love greater than mine, and that is in the One who created you, breathed you into being, gave you the spitfire stubborn will and strength and gusto that made you fight tooth and nail to stay alive when the odds were stacked so high against you. My love, you are a fighter. You are precious and perfect as you are. Meeting you that day changed me forever in so very many ways, ways I can’t and won’t even describe here but will whisper in your ear. My love for you has only grown. And as we “met” on forever family day, as we “gotcha”, it was actually you who GOT US. Wholeheartedly and completely. Man, did you get us. And we all met you two days later where you remembered the bear….

holding you in my arms knowing this was it, this would be forever

holding you in my arms knowing this was it, this would be forever

And fell completely in love all over again as you truly met the whole family which was now YOUR family!

you were a tad overwhelmed as we all smothered you!!

you were a tad overwhelmed as we all smothered you!!

Happy Forever Family Day my precious baby girl. I love you more than there are stars in the sky, and more than there are fish in the sea, and more than there are grains of sand on the seashore….

no one giggles the way you do, baby. love you soooo much!!!

no one giggles the way you do, baby. love you soooo much!!!