rules to know if you want to visit, or live, in florida….(funny, yes, but i am also being serious so spread the word)


I feel like Paul Revere.

“The snowbirds are coming!!!! The snowbirds are coming!!!”

There are some unwritten rules you need to understand if you are going to be driving down here. Please, I beg of you, read these, and consider your actions, and forward to the loved ones who come down here to visit. I, and a whole gang of my suburban mama friends, will hunt you down if you don’t.

1.) If the speed limit is 40 then you drive at 45. Period. The only people who are allowed to drive slower, and only at 41 or 42, are those who are really really old drivers, or really really new drivers. And if it is under 41, then you shouldn’t be driving.

2.) If you are on the highway, stay out of the left lane unless you are going fast. Sure, pass someone slow in the middle lane, then get your 68 in a 65 zone butt back over to the middle so the rest of us can stay on cruise control at 74 in said 65.

3.) If you break the rules of either 1 or 2 in my little florida town, you may got honked at, yelled at, tail-gated, obscene gestured, etc. Not a big deal, and little fall out possible. However, make note. If you do this is Miami you will be SHOT.

4.) If you are hitting the beach, and you say, “Aw, it is only 78 degrees and really cloudy. We don’t need sunblock!” please reconsider because you are being an idiot. You will be sunburned. And that ain’t cool cause that can lead to death and stuff.

5.) If you are going to a waterpark, of which we have many, please make sure your tray tables are fastened and in the upright position. I.E. – tie your bikinis tight and wear cover ups. Duh.

6.) If you want something built here, add 2 times the cost and 2-3 times the timeframe originally quoted for the job. I don’t care where you are from, or who you are, or how much you will pay for an “on time” build. Our craftsmen may be talented. They may be the best. But on a good day for fishing, they are not showing up on your worksite. Period. Money is irrelevant. Offer bonuses. Offer souls. Doesn’t matter. The surf, the golf, or the fish are calling.

7.) Go read some Carl Hiassen novels.

8.) Going to Walmart anywhere in the world is a crap shoot at best. In Florida? You are 110% guaranteed some kind of crazy. Could be anything though, so be on the lookout. I have seen a. nudity b. vomit on floor c. a fake finger in the plums and that is not even listing the really weird stuff. Needless to say I hardly ever go there. The 12 dollars in savings is not worth the trauma.

9.) If you move down here and expect personal space, you will get it as neighbors rarely really know their neighbors. This changes, of course, if anything sue-worthy comes to light. In this instance, get comfy with Florida laws and statues, and get in the habit of quoting them freely and randomly to your neighbors to insure that they know that you know your laws and won’t tolerate them trying to threaten you for having your trash cans on your driveway but partially touching the street.

breathing underwater


That must be it.
The choking. The panic. The overwhelming need to control what can’t be controlled despite my screaming lungs and my flailing arms and my hysterical brain, all colliding with the knowledge that I CAN’T DO IT which is unacceptable because I am a mom a wife and I HAVE TO DO IT.

But I can’t. I won’t. Not because I don’t want to and not because I am not trying enough or wanting it enough but because one human being is only so strong even though I may be known as superwoman I am not and never have been although for a while I thought maybe I was but no I AM NOT SUPERWOMAN. And right now I AM BARELY BREATHING.

The ribs ache.
The eyes droop.
The feet blister.
The head pounds.
The tummy roils.
The cheeks sink.
The lips turn.
the chest heaves.
the brain breaks.
the heart explodes.

And I am without motion, under the water, hovering while everything inside me breaks into the smallest of pieces, broken and lost and sinking to the depths, past where the souls await. Although I am dead, no oxygen, no breath, no life left in me at all…(not a shred. No choices. No chances. No opportunity. No relevance. No love for me FOR me)…I still will revive myself, help from no one else because when would I ever get that anyway, forcing myself, coming to, somehow teaching myself, in death, HOW TO BREATHE UNDERWATER. And I will do it. I will do it. I will breathe underwater. Right now. I am breathing underwater. And I will continue, until no one needs me to do it. Until everyone else is whole, everyone else is complete. Then I will break through the surface and retch all the lifelessness out and I will breathe again. Air. Myself. Love.

Until then i will continue to breathe underwater.

Our happy forever family day and why it is beautiful and brutal…


Despite the PC issues with the term, she likes to call it Gotcha Day. She loves the idea that we “got” her but more so I think that she “got” us. I can’t imagine life without our sweet Elis Rey. She is spunky and fun. Affectionate and soft. Snuggly and gentle.

But we met her through loss. And even on the best days I see her heart tempered with it. The need to be seen and always acknowledged. The need to eat so fast like she isn’t sure when she will eat next. The desire to finish first and best in everything at school to make sure she is noticed. These are all reminders of where she comes from and how she got here. As a mom it is so hard sometimes to keep in mind that the loss will always be part of her. Moms need to fix and heal and make it all better. Some things though can’t just be fixed with a bandaid and the perfect healing mommy kiss. Elis Rey is only recently starting to accept a China past. So we go at her pace. And that’s ok.

But as we celebrate the day she made it into my arms, having already been loooonnnggg in my heart, I keep close to me that yes we “got” her but only because someone else “lost” her. I am so humbly grateful, joyous, and broken all at the same time. And if you are a mom of any kind, you know exactly how that feels.

Man we love this beautiful girl. More than I can ever explain. I saw her first in a dream in October 2009. 2 years later she was in my arms. Baby, I love you more than there are stars in the sky, more than there are fish in the sea, and more than there are grains of sand on the seashore.

My little love…you got me.

Elis Rey’s Gotcha Day video

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!!!!!