Beach Bums

I headed into this summer’s vacation with a tiny bit of apprehension. The boys have been to the beach before, but it’s never been the whole vacation. They talked like they would love it (and they know I love it), so I was hopeful that they wouldn’t get bored.

There was absolutely no need to have been concerned.  These boys were made for the beach. They immediately understood and appreciated how important sunset was to me, and they woke up ready to hit the beach early every single day.

They were pros at helping me set up the canopy every morning, and they dragged our beach gear down from the condo without complaint. They spent their days on boogie boards and skim boards, jumping waves and playing with the sand fleas at the edge of the water, collecting shells and making drip sandcastles and a couple of real sandcastles, and digging countless deep holes in the sand.

Their favorite was digging a hole, gently filling it in so it was a trap, watching me step in said hole, and laughing like maniacs. Happened multiple times. They’re such sweet kids.

About halfway through the trip, they met some friends. A boy and a girl, J&J, who were Bennett and Jack Henry’s ages, and also Midwesterners. Their parents were sweet and fun to hang out with, and the kids just played and played together. Mine were sad one morning when we were at the beach earlier than their friends, and kept begging me to text their mom to see when they’d be there. This was such a fun and unexpected part of our trip!

So ready to go back. 


A Peek into my Day.

(I know. Two posts today. Surely these are the end times.)

This just happened, and because I’m laughing at myself as I reflect on this, I decided to write it down.

We are having company overnight Friday night that I’m pretty pumped about, so I’m doing a bit of cleaning (honestly, my housekeeping standards are pretty low, so I make sure bathrooms and floors are clean) and food prep.

While making a grocery list, I cleaned out the fridge a bit.

Which meant throwing a couple of things away.

Into a full trash can. I decided I should just empty the trash all over the house.

At the foot of the stairs I saw the bag I had from shopping this morning, which had 2 pairs of booties and a casual little dress in it. I couldn’t decide in the store on the booties because, of course, I was wearing my only pair of non-skinny jeans today.

So I went up to my room, changed into the dress, and decided: it’s a keeper. Changed into skinnies…still couldn’t decide on which pair of booties I wanted to keep.

Realized that I have a bonus hour today until kid pickup, because younger two have running club and oldest has a meeting. Score.

So I changed into my workout clothes and threw hair in a ponytail, so I can get a workout in.

And then I saw the bathroom trash, which was full. Oh yeah. I was going to empty that. But before I did, I thought I should clean the bathroom up a bit…and I used the last of the antibacterial wipes while I did.

Actually remembered the trash before I went back to the kitchen, and grabbed the main floor bathroom trash can on my way. When I got that, I saw the toilet cleaner, and remembered that I needed to take that to the basement bathroom.

Dumped trash, went downstairs and squirted toilet cleaner in that toilet (I guarantee I won’t remember to actually clean this until like 9pm tonight) on my way to getting a canister of anti-bac wipes from basement storage.

Back to kitchen, where my grocery list sits, half completed.

YOU GUYS. Can you even believe I somehow wrote enough words to make a whole book? And is it any wonder than when I need to get some writing done, I leave my house? For the love. I’m a mess. (Also, potentially pertinent information: I am fully caffeinated today, too.)

Now. Off to walk a few miles on this perfectly lovely day.


Last weekend, Jack Henry turned eight, and we threw a huge party for him.

Ok. We didn’t exactly throw the party. We went to a party, and just worked a celebration for him into that party. However, it’s going to be hard to top next year, because this year, the party was a wedding reception. :)

My dad’s wife, Annmarie, has two children, and her daughter was married in a beautiful ceremony and reception in KC last Saturday. When we had a little bit of time, we had a party at our table for Jack Henry, complete with presents and a cookie cake we brought along.

he was waiting until 6pm (near his official birth time – i need to look that up) to really celebrate!


new catcher’s mitt. i’m getting pretty good at buying sports equipment :)


with papa!


we kinda like him.


bros. how am i the mom of kids this old?


jh and the beautiful bride gianna!


nieces and g on the dance floor.


my brothers and sister!


we make the brown-eyed in-laws sit together ;)

He loved his celebration!

So, to my boy: I could not possibly love you more. Your smile and laugh are infectious. The depth of your thoughts sometimes overwhelms me in the best possible way – you’re an old soul, and you’re not afraid to tell me what you’re feeling. You’re unlike your brothers in that way, and so sometimes, as your mom, I’m caught off-guard when you bring things up. Know that I always, always want to have those conversations with you.

Your dad and I are proud of the person you are becoming: so aware of other people and their feelings, still so sweet and kind and sensitive. And this age is one of our favorites: you’re still little, but also big enough to do fun stuff with your older brothers and dad, like ride roller coasters (I will never, ever join you on that adventure).

Can’t imagine life without you, buddy.


(Here’s seven, and one through six can be found here.)


So vacation was several weeks ago…and I’m just now writing about it. However, it deserves to be documented, as it was fabulous. 

There’s something I can’t even put into words about being at the beach. Matt (who loves the beach, too, but isn’t even remotely as weirdly obsessed as I am) asked me several times, “What is it about being here that makes you happy?” and I honestly don’t fully understand it. All I know is that the ocean and I are a good fit, and it’s a sad, sad thing that I live this far away from it.

{in the process of writing this post, I found the following quote, and, well, it’s just true:

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net forever.” 

Jacques Cousteau 

That sounds about right.}

We spent 8 nights in Siesta Key, in a condo that was a 2-minute walk to the beach. It rained the first day and a half, and I was concerned (read: borderline depressed) that we had brought Missouri’s rainy summer with us. However, it cleared up and the rest of our time there could not have been more perfectly beautiful.


I am afraid I have been completely ruined by this beach. It’s the only place I want to vacation. Ever. I sincerely hope that this becomes at least an every-other-year destination. In the weeks since we have been home, I’ve already started a sales pitch to my family to get them to go back with me next July. 

We drove there, driving through the night on the way down. I have found my gift, thanks in great part to my insomnia: I am a great nighttime driver! I drove from St. Louis, leaving at 5:30pm, to Dalton, GA, about 500 miles, with one stop at 8:30pm. I was so proud of myself! The boys are excellent travelers – seriously, like rockstar amazing – and I don’t think it would take any convincing to get them to do an overnight drive again. Matt was less of a fan, but I think I could talk him into it again, too :)

I mean. With sunsets like these, how could you not be convinced? (Confession: I am majorly obsessed with beach sunsets, and the still of the beach after dark.)

More to come. 

Twice This Week…

…I’ve felt out of my league parenting the boys.

First, it was doing math homework with Luke. I knew the answer (!!!) but couldn’t explain it. Like at all. And “you just have to believe me” wasn’t cutting it for some reason.


(A little background: Jack Henry recently tested into the gifted program, called Mosaics. He goes to a different classroom for about 3 hours every Friday with a few other second graders.)

This morning I woke Jack Henry at 6:20 like I do every school day (most mornings I have just rolled out of bed myself). He generally wakes up happy, but this was new:
Me: “good Friday morning! Time to get up! It’s Mosaics day!”
Him, immediately: “yay! And we get extra strategic thinking time today because Mrs. S was out last week!”
Me: confused face, thinking I don’t even know what you just said, but if that gets you out of bed quickly to get ready, whatever. It’s so early I can’t even decode yet why that would be exciting.


Bennett: please do not feel left out because you aren’t included in this post. We can high-five each other over the fact that we bought you new shoes yesterday and neither of us lost our minds.

Wanna Hear a Secret?

So it’s not really a secret exactly…lots of you will read this and think, “Uh, yeah, already knew that.” I just haven’t written about it here, probably because it makes it feel so official, and I wasn’t ready for that yet. Vulnerability and all that jazz.

I blogged a couple of times earlier this year about being brave and making some decisions about finding a job, but I left one little thing out, and it’s this: I wrote a book.

Like a whole entire book.


For a long, long time I’ve thought about writing a book. However, I was never very sure what I wanted to write about. And clearly, that is a problem when you want to write a book.

The one idea I always kind of thought of writing about was my mom, and how cancer impacted her and how she still chose to be grateful despite her circumstances, etc. However, there were a lot of factors surrounding this idea that I wasn’t sure about:

Is it entirely my story to tell?

Do I want to go there, and relive all of this myself? I mean, that sounds kind of painful, and in general, I like to avoid pain.

Is there enough story to write an entire book?

The more I thought about it late last fall, the more the idea grew in my head. {Cue the insomnia I’ve mentioned before.} It started to feel like there was no way I could NOT write this. I finally got brave enough to talk to my siblings and dad about this idea, and since no one objected – I feel so much like it’s our story – by around the beginning of January, I started writing.

I committed myself to writing regularly – several mornings a week, and sometimes, late at night, when I couldn’t sleep. The whole book concept was still a complete mess; I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of it yet, but I just kept writing. The one thing I knew I wanted to do was excerpt relevant blog posts from around the time of my mom’s illness and death; those posts were written in the moment, and they were far more emotionally-charged than what I could write (or details I could remember) at this point. So I was also reading my own blog posts from years ago, and making lists of what I could use. It was totally, beautifully, horribly, consuming.

Remember that time I went on that blissful overnight retreat by myself? Yeah. That was so I could write.

Also…psst…um, I got another tattoo that day of my retreat. It’s the word courage, in my mom’s handwriting, on my ribcage. Kelli went with me and held my hand because mercy, this one hurt a little more than my wrist.

 But I digress.

Back to the book stuff: I had written quite a bit, and checked the word count. It was somewhere near 15,000. A quick google search told me that most memoirs are around 50,000 at least.

Ooohhhkay. So then I was thinking maybe I’m writing a bookLET. Or a pamplet. Because I didn’t know if there was that much more story left in me. But, after asking a couple of dear friends to read what I had so far, and taking their feedback to heart, I knew what else I could write about.

I decided to go back and add chapters to the beginning, telling about my mom and who she was as she grew up, and then about my own little family. Then, the cancer story, and its impact: grief, legacy, all of that. I’m currently rewriting the ending and editing it from a hard copy (which is totally different than editing on the computer screen, I’m finding, and absolutely exhilarating to see all of my words printed out!).

I honestly don’t know what will come of this yet. Obviously, I would LOVE to have it published, and I’m researching and exploring my options for this.

Here’s what I know, though: I LOVE WRITING. I feel like a writer now. I would love to somehow make this my job. While on vacation in Siesta Key (I swear, I’m still going to blog about our amazing trip), I came up with a second book idea, which I’ll talk about in an another post because a) this post is getting super long and b) I’m going to need your help, dear readers, with this next idea I have.

So there you have it! My last several months in a nutshell. More on this to come, I’m sure.

For the Love

You guys. I got invited to Jen Hatmaker‘s house for a huge party. HER HOUSE. This is not a dream I had, it’s real life. Unfortunately, I can’t go and meet 200 of my newest friends, who will be there for the party.

Are you confused yet?

Five-ish months ago, I was chosen to be part of a group of 496 women+4 men (we call them the #bandoffour) who got the privilege of helping Jen launch her newest book, For the Love. The launch team has its own Facebook page, and the craziest thing has happened, far beyond what I ever imagined (and from what Jen has said, far beyond what she could have imagined, either)…this absolutely incredible community has formed. I mean, true, amazing friendships have developed, and the idea of a launch party at Jen’s house came about. So literally, she invited the whole launch team to her house, and around 200 are attending. Isn’t that just so cool?

And how much do I wish I lived closer to Austin, TX, so I could go???

So here’s where I tell you about this book. And why you absolutely must read it. I feel like I won’t be able to do it justice in this one post, but I’m going to try. Some of my favorite quotes have been turned into cute graphics, so I’m going to just stick them in here between paragraphs so you get an extra little sampling of this gem.


(Here’s where I’m totally struggling and have restarted this paragraph several times. I don’t even know where to begin.) This book is for anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by life and what you think is expected of you. It’s for someone who has lived in church and community well, and for those who have been burned by their church and community. It’s for people who want to love others better, parent more effectively, and live out what it means to show Jesus (not religion – and to that end, this quote: “If it isn’t also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true.” Curious? You need to read this.) to the world and our families.


There are sections that have been a huge inspiration to me as I figure out this tricky transition from SAHM to wife-and-mom-with-some-kind-of-a-job. (More on that here and here if you’re new here.) It’s been an interesting year for me, and I’ll be writing more about that soon, but in the meantime, know that this quote from the book lodged itself very deeply in my brain:

I don’t like when people minimize their gifts. There is a difference between humility and insecurity, and self-effacement does no one any favors. We teach our watching children to doubt and excuse and diminish themselves. Do we want our kids to reflect on their mothers and have absolutely no idea what we loved? What we were good at? What got our pulses racing and minds spinning? Don’t we want them to see us doing what we do best?


Oh, and it is FREAKING HILARIOUS. If you follow Jen on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you already know how funny she is. This book will make you laugh until you cry several times. She’s invented new words (horsecrappery) and phrases (you’ll be saying “that’s off the beam!” after reading this). There is an entire chapter on fashion concerns (tights are not pants, the whole underwear-with-workout pants debacle, high-waisted jeans…).


And several short Jimmy-Fallon-style Thank You Note chapters.



Have I convinced you yet? Buy this book. You’ll love it and want to share with your friends. Promise.