Category Archives: things i love


The 2 younger boys are at a summer camp for the better part of the day this week Monday through Thursday (cue angels singing), leaving me and Luke to fill our days.  

This morning, I asked him to come with me to drop off the boys, then go for a walk/jog on the levee. Told him we’d go look for some shoes for him after that, then get lunch. He agreed, and he wasn’t even reluctant.

We exercised, shopped the outlet mall, and ate Pie Five for lunch. And it was just so pleasant. 

Not that many years ago, I would’ve told you that the prospect of parenting teenagers, especially boys, freaked me out and seemed completely out of my comfort zone. 

And trust me, there is still plenty to be uncomfortable and awkward about, and moments where his obvious early-teenageness makes me crazy. 

But gosh, I love it when he’s talkative and willing to listen and have a conversation. I’ve warned him before, and reminded him again today, that he has a mom who is not afraid to discuss hard topics, and give him different angles to consider, so that he can form his own opinion. And that I hope it means he knows a) I’m going to bring stuff up that may be awkward and b) it means I’m comfortable with him asking questions, etc. 

Today we talked about current events, particularly about prejudices and stereotypes, and why they’re just not ok. We talked about the difference between ISIS and Islam, and how some people don’t understand that there’s a difference. We talked about LGBTQ issues – how America views the issues, how Christianity does, how I view it all – and the horror of the massacre in Orlando, and how people are trying to use this to further religious/political agendas. We talked about how it’s entirely possible to have a different opinion than your friends, even on heated topics, if you can simply manage to approach each other intelligently and with respect.

I’m sure there were lots of times that he would’ve preferred I stop talking or asking him questions. But he’s not always easy to engage, so I took full advantage of our morning together. And I really feel like these conversations have to happen if we, as a generation of parents, have any chance of putting humans out into the world who do a better job of civilly engaging with each other.

And yes, I’m all warm and fuzzy about parenting right now. But give it an hour…his brothers are about to blow in here like a hurricane, and then it’s the supper/baseball game/baseball practice evening frenzy that is regular life (which I love, don’t get me wrong).

Just thankful for the one-on-one we got today🙂

On Fire.

Remember how I had the privilege of working with an amazing team of people to help Jen Hatmaker launch her book?

It turns out that I like having access to books before they’re published and getting a chance to help spread the word about them when I strongly believe in the message🙂

And since I didn’t steer you wrong last time, I need you to trust me today when I tell you about an incredible book that you all have to read.

John O’Leary is a lifelong St. Louisan with an amazing story to tell. When he was nine years old, he was burned over 100% of his body – by a fire he set in the family’s garage – and was not expected to live. In fact, shortly after the fire, he asked his mom if he was going to die. (I have to pause here for a second as a mom every time I read this, because it takes my breath away to think about having to answer that question.) Her response, which John says changed everything as he laid in the hospital in excruciating pain was, “John, do you want to die? It’s your choice, not mine.”

Miraculously, after months of hospitalization, and surgeries that included the amputation of his fingers and multiple skin grafts, he was able to go home. Obviously, he had years of physical therapy and recovery ahead of him, but he persevered with the support of his family, his faith and his community.

I have had the honor of hearing John speak (and play the piano!), as well as meet and talk with him, and I promise, you will just not find a more inspiring, encouraging, real person than him. His story, and outlook on life, is one you have to hear/read to believe.

And fortunately for all of us, he has written his story. His book, On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life, is available starting today.


Friends, it is so beautiful, and so clearly conveys his message of hope, faith, love, gratitude and living boldly to impact those around you. You will laugh and cry at his honest storytelling – he walks through his entire experience, including the key players in his recovery (his family and Jack Buck, the legendary Cardinals broadcaster), and what his life – challenges and blessings alike – has been like in the nearly-thirty years since the fire (spoiler: he has a lovely wife and four beautiful children). You’ll be inspired to embrace today for the gift that it is, and live #OnFire.

Oh, and there’s this. You know how much I love BrenĂ© Brown, right? Here’s what she had to say about John’s book:

This is a book about coming alive – about practicing courage and fully showing up at home, work, and with the people we love. John is a storyteller, change-maker, and cage-rattler. Reading this book is like having a good friend look you square in the eye and say, “The time to be brave is now.” 

So you don’t even have to just take my word for it…BrenĂ© loved it, too!

Click on that link above, and order yourself a copy of the book. You won’t be able to put it down. Then come back here and let me know what you thought!

And hey: follow John on Facebook and/or Twitter. He writes a blog post every Monday, and has a short vlog every Wednesday, and posts to Facebook a few times a week. You won’t want to miss these doses of inspiration!

PS…big, big congrats to John and his whole team (especially Abby and Deanna, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting) who have worked so hard for this very day. Cheers!

Older Kids Are Awesome: Saturday Morning Edition 

I’ve made no secret about how I know we are in a parenting sweet spot. Way past baby/toddlerhood (which I loved, but holy exhausting, that is for young people), but not yet at driving/girlfriends/college decisions. And while it’s not nearly all sparkly rainbows and unicorns, it’s nice.

Take this morning for instance.

Matt got up early to get an oil change, so he was out of the house. I stayed in bed (not sleeping, of course, because it’s the only morning I don’t actually have to be out of bed early, so naturally, I was awake. Nearing-40, you are a delight.) until close to 8, and came downstairs to the boys quietly playing a computer game together.

Because we have a slow day, I offered to make pancakes* for breakfast. This is a rarity…I have a minimal-effort-before-coffee approach to life, but what can I say. It’s a sunny, lovely fall morning, and I was feeling generous.

The 2 older boys immediately said they’d love pancakes, but Jack Henry was less enthusiastic.


Because my 8 year old already made himself breakfast, people. He had a bowl of cereal and cleaned up after himself.


(He did still have some pancakes. There’s always room for pancakes.)

*full disclosure. We are talking about add-water-to-a-box-mix pancakes. Not even the add-egg-and-oil kind. Or homemade, which are best, but please. It’s early on Saturday morning.

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. 



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. 

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.

Pool Day

This boy, who I’m spending the afternoon with (his brothers are at a day camp), invited me to the pool. 

I think he knows his mama is never happier than when she’s in the sunshine.🙂

I hope, friends, that you’re soaking up every single minute of summer that you can. And doing things like eating a watermelon-only lunch and drinking copious amounts of QT unsweet mango tea and never doing your hair (thank you, beachy, wavy hair for being in right now) and enjoying not wearing much makeup because you have a little bit of a tan that hides a lot of stuff. Tell me it’s not just me who’s doing these things?