31Aug2014 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

My home base is: east of Atlanta

Day to day I work as: a homeschooling mom, freelance writer, chief cook and bottle washer at The Apted Zoo

If I didn’t do this I would: have a little studio/office where I’d paint, craft and write for fun

Next year I will travel to: Uganda again, Lord willing

To me Sunday means: going to church, having a family dinner at the table, taking the kids to youth group and having a couple hours of alone time while they’re there

And I like to eat: at a Chinese buffet after church, but that only rarely happens

And I will get out of bed: at 8

And get dressed around: 10

And I will smile about: teaching Jonah’s children’s church class and getting hugs from his cute little buddies

And I just may daydream about: taking a long afternoon nap

And when Monday comes: I’m going to enjoy Labor Day off with my family!


28Aug2014 Filed under: blah-blah-blog


Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 catalog release party at IKEA Atlanta.


My sidekick, Eli, came along, and all evening I was entertained by how much my 12-year-old loved everything he saw! (Note to IKEA: If you’re making a 12-year-old boy want to shop, you must be doing something right!)

Eli Collage

[He was trying to put on a frown for the camera, but couldn't hold it. LOL]

I was also amused by how much Eli loved the chicken satay skewers from the buffet, but I digress. (Two plates full, people. Two!)

It had been a while since I’d been to IKEA. Last time I went, it was a rainy afternoon and my sister and I whiled away a few hours, stopping for a yummy dinner of Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes in the budget-priced restaurant. At the time, we were shopping mainly for rugs and kitchen gadgets, so we kind of breezed through many of the departments.

Well, at the catalog release party, we got to go on a guided tour of IKEA, and it was just awesome.


[Why, yes, our hearts are pounding with excitement over this glimpse inside IKEA's dreamy closet systems!]

I spent a decent amount of time in each department and came home with several bits of knowledge that are going to take me back sooner than later:

  • They sell over 15 kinds of mattresses and most come with a 25-year warranty. So don’t believe those commercials that say you have to replace your mattress every eight years. If you buy an IKEA mattress and it fails to perform eight years in, just return it for a new one. (Check their site for details, and keep your receipts, obviously! The salesperson suggested scanning a copy to protect against register tape fading.)

[Eli made it his mission to test every mattress until he found his bliss.]


[Although I think he'd have happily slept on a pile of these ultra-soft bathmats.]

  • Everything is NOT all Scandinavian-modern-fabulous, like it used to be. And I really like that. Because these days, I’m more of a traditional girl when it comes to home design. Not everything at IKEA is austere and clean-lined. There are a ton of really pretty things to be found here.
IKEA Collage

[Click the pic to see the lovely floral detail on the must-have window screen, the classic chair design and the vintage cabinets.]

  • However, with a small 1970s bathroom ranking near the top of our remodel wish list, this modern sink cabinet is just what I’m looking for. It doesn’t project far from the wall, and those deep drawers are just what I need to store 4 kids’ worth of stuff!
  • Sign up for IKEA Family and get a free coffee or tea every time you shop, as well as deals emailed to your inbox. Oh, and we received a BOGO fro-yo coupon on our registration receipt, which we, of course, took advantage of.
  • Finally, their Sparkling Pear Drink (Dryck Bubbel Paron) is the bomb-diggety. Even Eli, who isn’t a fruit-juice-lover, found a way to casually sneak himself a second glass.

So if you’ve never been to IKEA, or haven’t been in a while, do yourself a favor and go! And to make it easier to shop for the things you love, enter this contest to win a $100 IKEA gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






Grace in the Blame Game

19Aug2014 Filed under: blah-blah-blog



Moms need to show one another a lot more grace than we do.

We look at a child behaving badly–whether two or sixteen–and immediately blame the mom for some deficiency that caused the behavior.

(It’s curious how we almost never point to Dad–it’s almost always Mom at the receiving end of those wagging fingers and tongues.)

One thing I’ve observed, that seems truer with every passing year, is this: kids, at a very early age, assert their independence, and they often choose to do it through misbehavior.

In addition, every single one of us are born with a free will to do as we please regardless of how we’ve been taught. Granted, some unruly kids haven’t been taught any better. But a lot of the ones who earn our disproving glances have been taught how to act. They just decide to do the opposite. Sometimes repeatedly.

I’ve also learned that some kids–thankfully, not many of them, but some–are like Teflon when it comes to punishment. The verse about the dog stubbornly returning to its vomit comes to mind. Every family I know that has three or more children has at least one Teflon kid and one pretty easy one. The others are usually somewhere in the middle of the extremes.

It’s all too effortless, when a mother has been blessed with an easy kid, to take credit for how well-behaved they are. To be all puffed-up with pride over how well that child is doing and kinda patting yourself on the back when no one is looking. (Or patting yourself on the back while everyone is looking, which is sometimes the case with social media.)

The truth I’m learning is this: your easy kid’s good behavior is probably not any more to your credit than your Teflon kid’s bad behavior is to your blame. He or she has a mind of their own, right? So, there ya go.

One of my greatest struggles throughout this life has been to stop playing The Blame Game. Honestly, I battle that judgmental tendency every single day.

And as a Christian, it’s hilarious, really, because if I “know” why someone is doing what they’re doing, then that is like positioning myself on the same plane of understanding as God.

I think He gets a giggle out of sending us life experiences to teach us that we, most definitely, are NOT Him.

I can almost hear Him laughing when I’m forced to realize that I don’t know squat about anything in my own life, much less someone else’s.

We sing in the Church about Amazing Grace, because truly, the whole concept of it is amazing. It produces amazing things: forgiveness, acceptance, patience.


I don’t know a single person in the world who sits outside of God’s grace, and if I’m gonna call myself His follower, then I have no right to cast another person outside the reach of my grace, either.

Especially not another mama, whose struggle is probably more like mine than either of us realize.


Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy!

6Aug2014 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

One of the few things I love about summer is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. We got a ton of strawberries and pluots (a yummy plum/apricot hybrid) at co-op yesterday, so I chopped some up, added a cubed apple, and couldn’t wait to dig into my fruit salad this morning. And I did not intend to share it.


Before you label me a terrible mother, listen: I know my kids. Violet doesn’t like pluots. Jonah probably wouldn’t, either, especially if unpeeled. They both like strawberries and apples, but Jonah prefers his apples peeled and I wanted the fiber.

I mean, honestly — sometimes Mama just wants to enjoy something the way SHE likes it, without having to share!

SO…I sit down with my bowl of yummy goodness and Jonah comes over and stares at it, longingly.

“I want that…”

Foiled, once again!

“OK, I can share. Go get a little bowl.”

He skips off to the kitchen and returns with a bowl and spoon.

“What’s that?” he asks as I scoop pieces into his dish, pointing to the ruby-red pluot.

“It’s like a plum. You should try it. It’s very sweet.”

I spoon the pluot in his dish, along with half a dozen pieces of apple and strawberry. He looks at his bowl, then mine, clearly sizing up the situation.

“OK. You can have THAT one,” and he points to his bowl!

“No!” I laugh. “The smaller one is yours! Eat it all and I’ll give you some more.”

So, he sits down beside me and, totally ignoring his spoon, picks up the chunk of pluot with his fingers and bites off a little chunk.

“MMM! Good!” (Yay, I think! Another fruit to add to his list of “likes”.)

Then he plunks the rest of it back into my dish. “I don’t want it.”

“What are these? Potatoes???” and he drops an apple chunk back into my bowl.

“No, silly! They’re apples. With the skin on. Just pick the skin off with your fingers if you don’t want the skin.”


A minute later, as seen below, he sprinkles a wad of apple peel into my bowl.


“I don’t want these.”

(Do you see? Do you see WHY I didn’t just share to begin with?)

“Jo-NAH! OK, listen…you eat the pieces you want from your bowl, and just leave whatever you don’t want in it, m’kay?”

He tosses one more little fistful of apple chunks into my dish.

“I only want the strawberries.”

And this all happens five minutes after I showed him the container full of freshly washed and stemmed berries in the fridge. If all he wanted was strawberries, why didn’t he just grab one of those?

I guess because no Mama’s meal is complete without a large percentage of it coming in contact with little kid hands and/or mouths.



Gifts Timed and Seated

4Aug2014 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
August Joy Dare Image2

In case you missed my last post, I’m participating in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare for August.

Yesterday’s and today’s answers are….

August 3rd: A gift at 10AM, 1PM, 10PM

  1. 10AM: Jonah and Violet snuggling with me on a lazy Sunday morning.
  2. 1PM: Conversation with a sweet, sweet friend.
  3. 10PM: Getting to put on my new pajamas, which are the most comfortable things that have ever graced my closet…or my body. They feel SO good, I’m highly at risk of becoming one of those People of Walmart, y’all.

August 4th: Three gifts sitting 

  1. The privilege (and insanity) of being able to sit at this desk and work from home.
  2. My husband, who I know at this very moment, is working away at his desk so that our family can have everything we need.
  3. Those four nutty kids who are seated in my living room at this moment, even though the biggest one is home from school because he’s sick. The others don’t start until next week, which is a bonus thing to be thankful for!