Wednesday, December 21, 2016

But I'd Promised Him Waffles.

Little known fact: I HATE SYRUP. 

Wait. That sounded wrong. I don't hate syrup, per se- I really, really, really enjoy syrup. Especially the maple kind that comes from New Hampshire. (Shout out to my bestie's Mom for hooking me up again this year with that delicious Yankee goodness. I am deeply spoiled. Y'all, she also sent bacon. ::drops mic::)

So I love syrup, (obviously) because I have a soul and functional taste buds BUT I HATE SYRUP because I have three young kiddos and anyone that's ever topped a pancake or drizzled a waffle or crowned a biscuit with the stuff knows that the very second you crack open a bottle of the stuff around kids it's immediately everywhere. The bathroom doorknob is sticky. The television screen is sticky. The dog is sticky. The book on the a shelf in a room behind a locked door IS STICKY. I don't know what sort of voodoo magic kids possess for random stickiness, but mine have it. 

And it 

They'll scrape their plates in the trashcan (and coat it with long dribbles of syrup) then carry them to the sink (leaving a trail of sugar droplets on the floor just waiting to be stepped on) then go wash their hands (touching everything from the couch to the walls to the ceiling on their way). Oh, and before you ask, I've tried wiping and washing and wishing away the syrup from their fingers at the table, but it only does a marginal amount of good in the Random Stickiness Department. Somehow, some way they can still manage to spread that liquid sugared goodness on at least 12 available surfaces. It's a gift. Or like I said- voodoo magic. 

So yeah, I hate syrup. Which brings me to my point. 

At bedtime on a previous night, I had bribed promised my youngest a warm, homemade waffle for breakfast if he'd settle down and go to sleep. He was ecstatic (because he is, after all, my son) and immediately put his angelic red head on the pillow and drifted off into a sugar plum wonderland filled with bacon and maple syrup. He slept like a cherub that night. BUT HIS OLDEST SIBLING DID NOT. 

By 11:30pm I was cleaning vomit from no less than three rooms of my house. I was running puke saturated towels through the washer with an extra rinse/sanitize cycle and holding throw up bowls and rubbing backs and blowing post projectile vomit noses and watching Curious George with him until approximately 3am. I eventually fell asleep on the couch with him after watching more television than I'd ever want to watch between the hours of midnight to 3am and woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a bus. It was a decidedly unbeautiful morning. 

7:30 rolled around and my precious carrot top calls out from his room "Momma! I see the sun! Is it time for maaah waffles now??" And OH MY SWEET MERCIFUL HEAVENS I WANTED TO CRY. There were so many things that I did not want to do that morning, and whisking flour and warm milk and eggs into batter and watching for that little green light on top of our waffle maker was only one of them. Bless it. 

But here's the thing- I'd already promised him waffles. He wasn't the one up sick all night. He went to bed. He slept quietly. He did his job. I couldn't back down on my end of the deal. God always fulfills His promises to us, and when it's feasibly in my power, I want to parent my kids that way, too. Sure, it would have been easier to fix them toast or cereal or throw them candy canes and marshmallows, but what would that have taught him about my consistency? About my validity? About my laziness versus my desire to keep a promise? I didn't want to break his trust just because I was tired. 

We've been going through an interesting phase in our house lately. There are some boundaries that are being tested and pushed and experimented with and some attitudes that are beginning to show signs of flippancy and maybe even a hint of disrespect. (Shocking, I know, because I'm sure there is nobody else out there who has had one of their perfect little snowflakes answer in whiny tones or develop a terrible case of selective hearing.) I don't know if it's an age thing or a hormonal thing or a too-much-Christmas-excitement thing, but I pulled my trump card last week and had a serious (and literal) come to Jesus with the offending boundary pusher. I'd recently studied on my own several accounts of Paul's instructions to families in Ephesians and Colossians in an attempt to sort of realign my focus as a parent so I sat down and shared those scriptures with them as well. 

I didn't start with the typical "Children, obey your blah, blah, blah..." ones, but instead focused on what God was telling me, as their parent, through Paul's letters. I told them that God had given me a goal and a duty and a JOB to train them and discipline them and coach them and show them Jesus. To be an example to them on how to live a Christ like life. How I'd been convicted lately for the times I raised my voice unnecessarily or lost my temper over unimportant things or overreacted to innocent mistakes. I started my conversation with them by sort of lifting the veil and letting them see how I truly and honestly want to be the best parent and example I can be and that I still mess it up sometimes. I pointed out my flaws and weaknesses and areas that I ask God to help me do better. And then I showed them the specific scriptures I study to help focus my vision onto those goals. How I don't want to be a Mom that frustrates her kids (See last scripture at bottom of post. Paul can throat punch a Mom for inconstancy, y'all. It's painful. But good, too.) by saying one thing, then acting differently. It was only after that revelation, that honesty, that laid bareness that I brought up the other side to Paul's instructions- what he wanted children to know. 

"And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." -Paul, Ephesians 6:4

We talked about the promise God makes when He says it will "be well" with them and they will have a "long life" because of their honor and obedience. We talked about how many blessings God wants to give us when we obey His will and put our focus on being like Him. We talked about what it means to obey, even when you might not understand the reasoning behind it. We talked about Abraham and his faith to begin the journey God led him on. We talked about Solomon and what he had to say in Proverbs about guarding our hearts and our minds and the power of our tongues. How strong the words we say are and how much hurt or healing we can speak with them. I used real life examples of things I've said to them that both hurt them when I lost my temper and raised my voice and also built them up when I was encouraging and compassionate. I opened their eyes to realize and see that their words have the same power. And then, when we were both done crying and apologizing- we prayed. We confessed our sinful attitudes and asked God to give us strength to do better. And we are doing better. 

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." -Solomon, Proverbs 18:21

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the Earth." -Paul, Ephesians 6:1-3

"Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord." -Paul, Colossians 3:20

So early that post-vomit-apocolypse morning, when my youngest asked me to fulfill the promise I'd made to him after he'd come through on his end of the bargain, as tired as I was and as much as I hated the thought of the mess it would leave, I made him waffles anyway. 

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart." -Paul, Colossians 3:21 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Magic Trash

Most all of y'all know that before I had kids, I was a public school teacher. 
(Actually, I'm a 4th generation educator- because THOSE GENES RUN DEEP.)

Anywho, I taught in a public school for several years before I became a SAHM (shout out to Oriole Beach Elementary!) and then transitioned into a homeschool freak. I mean, home educator. I don't have the required perm or denim jumper. Yet.  ::wink:: 

Last night, there were about 417 Lego pieces on my living room rug. People, those things are the bane of my existence sometimes. It's like, HOW ON EARTH do they scatter so quickly??! And SO FAR from the big kid's bedroom??! I'm not kidding, I stepped on one in my side yard throwing a bag of trash in our collection can the other day. I think Satan plants them under my feet to test my spiritual condition. Well played Satan, well played. 

Back to the living room catastrophe. The Legos are everywhere, along with a few crayons, some abandoned Mr. Potato Head appendages and a couple of puzzle pieces, just for good measure. I sat down in a tiny white chair next to my window facing my back yard and wept bitterly at the task laid out in front of me. (Not really. But almost.) As I was sighing dramatically to myself, a light bulb went off in my head and an angel came down from Heaven, sent by The Father Himself and whispered two magical words in my ear: "Maaagic Traaash". 

I called the kids away from their wrestling match/hide and seek game/squeal session/bookshelf dumping exercise and explained to them that I had a game to play. I told them that I'd spied one special Lego on the floor, and that whom ever found it and picked it up would be the winner. I sent them to grab their empty and abandoned animal cracker cups (another few items littering my living room floor) and told them to pick up as many Legos as they could while I counted down from 50. THEY TOOK OFF LIKE A SHOT. 

They were digging in couch cushions and behind curtains and underneath furniture. They scrambled through our dining room and our kitchen on their Lego seeking mission. All three of them filled their cups with an impressive amount of Plastic Weapons of Death before I finished and when the winner was announced, they happily dumped them back into the plastic bin where they belong. We played a few more rounds picking up Mr. Potato Head arms and crayons and puzzles and counting bears and it blew my mind how much easier this was than cajoling them to clean up or standing over them like a dictator ordering them to pick up specific things. 

We played "Magic Trash" all.the.time. when I taught school and it never occurred to me until last night to play it at home, too. I woke up this morning to a clean living room, a tidy rug and I was able to fix my coffee without stepping on a single sharp Lego. I've got a good feeling this whole "Magic Trash" gig is going to be sticking around for a while. 

And thanks for stopping by! ~Katie. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

He's My Built In BFF.

 Husbands make the best Best Friends. 

Friendship and laughter and inside jokes and Starbucks stops are what make road trips with three kids, a dog, 17 pounds of animal cracker crumbs and a tiny toilet that's shoved in the back of your SUV actually survivable. (Even if it does mean he jerks the steering wheel every time you try to take a picture of yourself with your grown up unsweetened cup of coffee.) 

Marriage y'all. IT'S GOOD STUFF.

And thanks for stopping by! ~Katie. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The (un)Sweet Life

Friends, we have a VERY SERIOUS topic to discuss.

Earlier today, I forgot to sweeten my coffee. I realized my misstep after the first sip but seeing as I'd finally managed to wrangle all the kids into actually sitting down and doing their morning school work, I decided to push through and drink it at the table rather than to get up and afford them an opportunity to scatter. They're fast and they can sense weakness. It's like a sixth sense.

Y'all, here's the scary part: I DID NOT HATE IT. I feel like I don't know who I am anymore so I decided to test things this afternoon by intentionally using cream only and *gasp!* this coffee I hold in my hand is rich and creamy and delicious.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME? Please put me on your prayer list because I'm having an identity crisis.

And thanks for stopping by! ~Katie. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Never Thought I'd Ever...

Me, at 2:21am: 

"God you spoke this very universe into existence and Your awesome and mighty power astounds me. The smallness of my life compared to the vastness that You've created humbles me when I consider how deep and wide and far Your love for me still reaches. It's with this view in mind that I ask that Your grace and mercy and favor be poured out to me and that You SEND THAT HAMSTER OUT OF WHATEVER HIDING PLACE HE IS CURRENTLY OCCUPYING because, God- he long gone. And Lord, if it isn't Your will that this escaped rodent be found, I beseech You for Your imminent return because there is zero percent of me that wants to break this news to my oldest offspring in approximately five hours hence. It's in Jesus' holy and perfect name I pray this humble prayer, Amen." 

Y'all, I'm gonna go ahead and add this to my column of "Prayers I Never Thought I'd Pray". 
(The list is ever growing.) 

**And also, the hamster WAS found. That's the power of prayer for ya. 

::praise hands::

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"You're Pretty. On the INside."

Vanity, y'all. 
It's seeds get planted early with little girls, or so I recently discovered. 

A few months ago, as I was getting my 4 year old daughter dressed for church one Sunday morning, she admired her reflection in the bathroom mirror and remarked "I look SO beautiful!" And granted, she did. Her dress was freshly ironed and her hair was shiny and combed. I'd just pulled her hair out of her face and secured it with a bow. Her lace trimmed socks peeked out the top of her little Mary Jane shoes and she really was quite adorable, if I do say so myself. 

But, despite her preciousness, I heard warning bells. They rang out to me from just a few years in the future when, if pride in her appearance were too unnecessarily praised, my sweet Josie may fall into the trap of believing that feeling good about yourself as a person only comes when you feel good about yourself in the mirror. So I put the comb on the countertop and swiveled her to face me. 

"You're right, Shug. You DO look nice today. Your hair is combed and your dress is pretty and your bow matches the pink in the cupcakes on your collar. But there's a more important beauty I want to tell you about. And you can't see it when you look in the mirror. The prettiness I want to tell you about is the kind that's found in your heart. It's the loveliness that happens when your heart loves Jesus and your family and others. When you love God, you treat others with kindness and gentleness. You share your toys and crayons and very favorite stuffed animals. When you are that pretty on the inside, what you look like on the outside doesn't matter. Who would you rather play with? A little girl who has on a beautiful dress and fancy bow but who screams at her brothers and ignores her parents and snatches Legos away from people or a little girl in plain play clothes who loves her family and hugs her friends and shares her PlayDoh? It's an easy choice, isn't it? Because when your heart is hard and cold and unloving, it doesn't matter how beautiful you are on the outside because you'll still be unkind. But if you love Jesus and others, you'll always be pretty, no matter what you have on. So remember that the best kind of beautiful to be is when your insides are just as lovely as your outsides. AND YOURS ARE." 

I left the pep talk in the bathroom that day, but continued to bring it up from time to time as we dressed up or left the house looking especially special. We continued to talk about the importance of our pretty hearts throughout the months, but I never realized until this morning just how much of the message had sunk in with her. Bless it.

I was in my bathroom, brushing my teeth before we needed to leave for our weekly Bible study at our church building. It's a typical, stressed out homeschool Tuesday and I'm absolutely, positively looking it: jeans, t-shirt, dirty hair covered in one of my husband's baseball hats, chapstick and sunscreen rounded out my current ensemble. I'm wiping my mouth on a hand towel when I feel some tiny arms wrap themselves around my right leg. I look down and see my sweet, innocent Josie looking up at me, head cocked to the side and examining my current state. "Momma, you sure are beautiful on the inside," she said. ::inwardly beaming:: "Well, thank you, Jo. That's very nice of you to say," I replied. "Yep," she said, "because your outsides don't look pretty at all today." Sweet merciful heavens. 

I nearly died y'all, right there on the tile. I was crying laughing. CRI-NE. True story.

So the moral of the story is this: If you ever find yourself afflicted with false modesty, just come over to my house and spend some time with my kids and they'll knock you off your polished pedestal REAL QUICK. Bless 'em.

*PSA: I am 1000% taking a shower during nap time today. Promise. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

On Slothful Motherhood.

Heaven sakes, y'all. Am I the only one who feels like they are trapped inside a tornado of stress and school and activities and dog hair?? My two bigs woke up nearly TWO HOURS EARLY this morning so that can only mean one thing: MANDATORY REST TIME this afternoon. (And that is the lone reason I can even sit still long enough to write all this down.) 

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind around our house. I won't go into ALL the gory details, but let's just say the hi lights are: we've started school, adopted a hamster, baked almost 70 pans of bread pudding, practiced baseball, planned food to feed 150 ladies at our church's Ladies Day, taught a new quarter of Bible Classes, and bleached our porch furniture. For starters.

I am busy and frazzled and fried, if I'm being totally honest. There are times when I think I'm being held together by Jesus, coffee and dry shampoo. I'm not sleeping much and instead spending the hours between 1:30am and 5:00am channeling my stress energy by wiping out my icebox drawers or turning over laundry loads or rewriting my To Do list or Pinteresting butterfly life cycle lesson plans. I've become quite good at managing my work flow demands at 3:45am and cat napping on my couch while our newest family member Rhino the hamster trains for the Olympics on his squeaky exercise wheel. (Also to be noted: When the pet store associates tell you hamsters are nocturnal: THEY ARE NOT LYING.)

Early mornings come and I brew my coffee and read my Bible and pray before my day "officially" begins and more often than not, despite my best efforts- I'm burned out before the sun even comes up. And I realize that, while I'm not alone in the stress vortex that sometimes comes with motherhood, busy seasons like this are ripe with opportunities for me to meltdown. I'm busy, tired, stretched thin and ready to snap all before breakfast is over. Coffee can't cure what ails me, but it does give me enough energy to blink in surprise when I look at the clock and realize it's only 9:07am. 

 I can feel my emotions simmering just below the surface and they are ready to boil over at the slightest provocation. I KNOW YOU KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. On a normal day, my youngest's artistic expressions inside one of my lesson planner pages wouldn't bother me. But on a day like this, it's enough to make my temper explode and my blood positively boil. I see a spilled bag of goldfish crackers and want to scream. Abandoned uncapped markers make my neck veins distend and do not even get me started about what milk splatter on my baseboards does to me. Normal sibling squabbles find me quick to overreact and typical childlike delays have me barking orders and thundering through my living room. My stressed out self can turn me into a short tempered, overly dramatic, narcissistic, whining, complaining, victim and THAT IS NOT COOL because last time I checked, approximately zero of those things were fruits of the Spirit.  

But fear not! I've discovered a trick that has helped me cope on days like these. When my tank is running on fumes and I haven't washed my hair in like 100 hours, I CHANNEL MY INNER SLOTH LIKE A BOSS and somehow find the strength to survive another day. That's right: When I can't take it anymore, I take on slothful motherhood and

When I want to yell at the kids for emptying Legos onto their bedroom floor: I whisper. I walk slooowly around the house instead of stomping in frustration from room to room. I make the bed purposefully instead of throwing pillows down in angst and self pity. I gently open the icebox door to get eggs out to scramble instead of jerking it open with impatience. I brush teeth gently, comb hair like it's fragile and drive like I'm 92. When my patience is thin and I want to scream: I start speaking in nearly monotone. I wash dishes by hand instead of tossing silverware angrily into the dishwasher caddy. And guess what y'all: IT WORKS.

When I am nearly out of energy, and the opportunity for me to refill my tank is still hours away, it makes sense for me to conserve as much of it as I can by limiting my energy output. The more I fuss and the more I sigh and the more I exhale dramatically over every.little.thing- the less energy I have to do the things I really need to do like Godly parenting. And teaching. And vacuuming. And cooking supper. On the days when I blow my top and explode all my emotions on all my kids over all the little things they do, by 10:45am I have nothing left but a sick, guilty feeling in the pit of my stomach and loads of remorse for the way I lost it with the kids. 

But, by LITERALLY SLOWING DOWN and almost coasting through the day's activities- the more energy I have to actually make it through them. And, surprisingly, the less I fuss at the kids or lecture them for not listening or freak out over their typical sibling bickering- the less I am inclined to actually do it. For me, madness breeds madness and havoc breeds havoc. Once I lose my temper it becomes that much easier for it to happen again and again and again AND AGAIN. But, on the flip side- the longer I can exercise self control and refrain from blowing my top, the easier it becomes to knock my gears down a few levels and channel my patience instead of blowing it while I yell at the kids over fighting over what episode of Wild Kratts to watch next.  

So my hopeful hope is that maybe this self realization may help you on the days when you feel like you have nothing left. Maybe knowing I slow down, breathe quietly and tiptoe around my house when I'm about to lose it will help you do the same. And maybe, just maybe, channeling our inner sloths will in turn help us be better Moms on those hard, empty tank days. And y'all, I know this for sure- going slowly through my day beats the post freak out high blood pressure headache HANDS DOWN. 

So go on and own your own version of slothful motherhood on the hard days and rest assured that I will, too. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Am I Doing Enough?

I love summer mission trips. 

As a teenager, I went on several. My first was a trip to Honduras when I was 14 and I'm not going to lie, IT CHANGED MY LIFE. I went to Mexico the following two summers and I can say that experiencing life outside my comfortable 'first world' bubble was humbling and gratifying and I'm so glad my parents sacrificed their time, money, prayers, and stress levels (HELLO!)  to allow me experiences like that. 

Coming back (or re-entry, as it's sometimes called) gave my teenage self a romantic vision of future mission field work with my nameless, faceless future spouse. I COULD JUST SEE US working in the mountains with the people, learning the language and reaching their souls for Christ because until we came, they'd never have heard the name of Jesus. 

Then I went to college. I continued my educational career and the opportunities to continue international mission work waned. I charted a course through my studies, began dating and then married my husband, Matt and suddenly my spouse wasn't nameless or faceless anymore. I finished my degrees and began teaching in a fabulous school in our county but the back burner dream of reaching lost souls for Him still burned. 

I'd see others begin long term mission works of their own or watch as high school students embarked on their own first mission adventures and the feelings I had all those years ago for mission work would surge back and I would remember the fire that had been ignited all those years ago. I still desired to reach those who didn't know Him. 

Then, after a few more years, we had a baby. Then, 18 months later- we had another one. Then, 17 months after that- we had our third bundle. I became a SAHM and later a homeschooler to my oldest two and while raising a bunch of homeschool weirdos was fulfilling and I loved it, there were times when I began to doubt the amount of my affect on the world for Him. 


A member of our congregation's youth group took their first international mission trip this summer, and as I heard the stories and watched as my social media feeds filled with re-entry stories and testimonies and changed lives, that now familiar nagging feeling came back to the surface. "What difference am I really making now?? What happened to the zeal I felt? I don't feel like I'm doing ANYTHING to spread the Gospel now." 

AND THEN IT HIT ME. I am doing mission work. Right here, in my home, with my family. God's given me my own village full of souls who, before they met me, had never once heard the name of Jesus. While I may not be trekking through mountainous terrain to reach the lost, I am traveling my own path to touch lives for Him. It's just that I'm crossing valleys of Legos and rivers of spilled chocolate milk instead. 

Every day I'm working to point three souls Christ. I'm the first and biggest and most influential force in their lives and to them, in this moment- I have become The Gospel with skin on. Their view of Jesus and His love and grace and care are nearly wholly dependent on how they see Him working in my life daily. Everyday I get to work in my 1,749 square foot mission field as I use my actions and words and feelings to show them Jesus and point their way toward Him. 

So while I may not be in a foreign country or in a far off land teaching and preaching and serving- God has put me just where He wants me to work. Right here reaching out to the souls He has charged me with. And maybe one day, there will be another opportunity to serve somewhere else but until then- I'll keep working where He has planted me. 

Thanks for stopping by.  ~Katie. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Me + Disaster Relief= Desserts

Ok, so here's the deal: My go-to crisis reaction is to cook because when the going gets tough, I go to the kitchen. AND HERE IS THE DEAL- I'm heading back in there now. 

I'm going to have an old fashioned Bake Sale for my local Florida friends who want to help support those who are recovering from the unprecedented flooding in South Louisiana. There are those who are suffering and have lost everything- and all proceeds from this Bake Sale will go DIRECTLY to families in need. 

For a donation of $10 you can buy an 8" pan of some delicious "500 Year Rain" Raisin Bread Pudding covered with a deluge of 'no-flood-zone' vanilla sauce. I'll be taking orders from now until Saturday, August 27th and have them ready for pick up or local delivery on Monday, September 5th. You can comment below or message me to place your order, and make your donations in cash or check. 

I'm going to be cranking out as many bread puddings as I can possibly bake in hopes to raise as many donations as possible to support their relief and recovery costs. And if you can't afford a donation, you can always pray for the families and churches and business affected as they begin the rebuilding process or share this donation opportunity with your friends who can. 

Thank you for helping me do a small part to keep #louisianastrong.

And thanks for stopping by. ~Katie. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Back to {HOME} School Vortex

It's that time of year again, y'all! 

All the crayons are on sale and Ticonderoga pencils are still the VIPs in the writing tool department and the aisles are flooded with equal parts glue sticks, 3 ring binders, and loose leaf paper packs. In other words- IT IS LIKE HEAVEN TO ME. 

Office supplies are my jam, y'all. When I'm 93 and senile, my kids are going to discover a cache of horded crystal clear Bic pens because I can NOT stop myself from buying them. (They are the superior ink pen. Anybody that says differently is dead to me.) 

I taught in (an amazing!) public school before the kids came along, so the "Back to School" frenzy is one that I'm familiar with. [So is the blood born pathogens video they make teachers watch every.single.year. WE GET IT. Wear gloves. It's smart and safe. ::check::]

Anyway, what I was surprised to discover was that the pre planning school year whirlwind I rode when I taught public school TOTALLY TRANSFERRED home with me when I began homeschooling. The same desire to empty my classroom desk and wipe out all my cubbies and weed through readers and puzzle boxes and math manipulative IS JUST AS STRONG here as it was there. Only now, I don't have a classroom to have an organizational freak out fest in, I HAVE AN ENTIRE HOUSE to spazz out on. 

I don't know why, but in the last few weeks I've had the compulsion to organize my plastic container cabinet because surely I can't teach Luke math if every tub doesn't have a matching lid. I've taken apart my linen closet because old candles and dusty lightbulb boxes would  make Phonics instruction absolutely impossible. I refolded my Tshirt dresser drawer because without doing so, I wouldn't be able to focus on our science curriculum. I swept out the garage and drove a gigantic load of toys and lagniappe coffee cups to our local mission this week because NO ONE CAN LEARN in a house with too many outgrown toddler clothes. 

So if you need me between now and Monday morning, check for me under my bed organizing 2014's tax return file box or look in our backyard where I'll be hauling broken plastic shovels and sand toys and cups to the recycling bin. It's an urge I'm powerless to resist. I.must.purge. 

So whether you're organizing your classroom or organizing your house- Happy Back to School madness all my teacher friends! 

And thanks for stopping by. ~ Katie. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

a real {LIVE} Bible study how-to tour

So here's the deal, I'm NOT a Bible scholar. Like, at all. Ever. I know I've told y'all this before. There are zero parts of me that think myself some high faluting Bible authority person because let's be honest, I still want to put 2 m's in the word amount. And you can't struggle with basic spelling rules and be a noteworthy Bible scholar because it's against the rules. 

So there, I'm not. 

BUT WHAT I DO KNOW is how important my personal deep daily Bible study has become to my life. By God's grace I've gotten into the habit of studying and reading and praying before the kids get up every morning and y'all- it's a GAME CHANGER. 

I was talking with some of my friends last week about this very thing. We were discussing (read: texting) about the idea of daily prayer time and Bible study and the idea came up that while everybody TALKS about how important it is to read and study and pray every day, it's hard to find real life, real world examples of how it's actually DONE. I took some very sophisticated, artfully staged pictures (sarcasm) of my spaces and showed them how I made my house and space work for my needs. I showed them my prayer journal and closet and they snapped pictures back of their areas AND IT WAS SO NICE. Because real Moms with real kids and real husbands and houses and laundry baskets and work schedules want to read and study and pray every day just like me. It was so encouraging. 

You see, it's easy to tell someone how fundamental daily Bible study and prayer is to you, but is hard to translate that into real, practical, workable ideas until you can SEE HOW IT IS DONE. So that's what I'm praying about doing. 


I'm planning to do a series of Live videos on the blog's Facebook page showing anybody that is interested the real life, real world, in my real house with toys and coffee cups and walls way that I do my daily study and prayer time. I AM PETRIFIED. Live vidoes are intimidating! But, it's my humble and prayerful hope that by opening up and explaining and showing and talking about how I do what I do every day, that there may be some ideas that you'll find useful or helpful or applicable to your own lives. (or at least funny.) 

It looks like I'll be going live at night after I get the kids to bed- maybe around 8:30. (LET US PRAY!) And the videos will be short because I know nobody wants to listen to me drone on about notebooks and study plans for 65 minutes straight, amIright?? ::wink:: I'll be working on a schedule and I'll get more specific details out to y'all soon. But first, I need a little more coffee. Have a fantastic and fully caffeinated day, y'all! 

And thanks for stopping by. ~Katie

Oh! p.s.- If you're so inclined, hop on over to the blog's page and let me know if you're interested and if there is a night of the week that's easier for you than others. (I'm thinking week nights so that weekend family time isn't interrupted.) 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Summer Lovin'. Lovin' Summer.

So it's precisely 11:15am and I'm sitting (read: SWEATING) on our deck while the kids splash in their blow up pool. The thunder has been rumbling all morning, and the dark skies to our west indicate that a classic Florida storm is forming. 

The kids woke up this morning, and after our Bible and breakfast and yogurt straining (I sometimes fancy myself a modern day homesteader and bask in the frugality of preparing some foods in my kitchen rather than buying them off the shelf. Also- WE EAT A BUNCHA YOGURT and Dave Ramsey says that spending $30 on it every two weeks is insane and I've got to agree. Homemade for the win, y'all.) and PayDoh and chores were finished, I sunscreened us like crazy and shuffled us outside. 

HALLELUJAH, go burn off somma that energy, kids. 

The two littles are splashing and squabbling over inflatable pool toys and my oldest is running around with the hose "watering" my  plants. (He's really just spraying it over his head like a geyser and drinking from the end. Hose water is good for kids, by the way. It's got...vitamins. I think.) 

In half an hour or so, I'll usher us inside to hang up their wet clothes and change them into dry ones. I'll fix lunch, put my youngest down for a nap and then drink a cup (or two) of my afternoon coffee. I'll putz around doing laundry and fixing supper and gathering up things to drop off at Goodwill on later this week. We'll all snuggle on the couch and gorge on popcorn while we watch Home for the 17,000th time. 

Supper time will come and the kids will bargin for bites and beg for dessert and leave their chairs and hands and faces sticky. They'll bathe and then I'll "mop" the bathroom floor with the tub run off and floss all their teeth and read our Bible story. My husband will wind them up with tickle fights and piggy back rides and then we will eventually be able to snuggle and pray and sing our way to getting them tucked into bed. Today will end, and tomorrow will be nearly identical but with different dirty clothes and new sandwich crusts to feed the dog. 

It's easy for me to become anxious for our new school year to begin. After church yesterday I ordered our new curriculum for next year and in just a few short weeks, school will officially start for us. And, while I'm starting to crave the stricter schedule and more detailed plans that our days will have, I can't help but stop and soak up these last lazy days of summer. 

So until our workbooks arrive and we start counting down to Halloween, I'm just going to drink my cold glass of water and enjoy view from my rocker. Happy last days of summer, y'all! 

And thanks for stopping by. ~Katie. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

New Mercies. Hallelujah.

After the debacle that WAS all the things yesterday afternoon/evening, today's chapter in Proverbs offered (as usual) an awesome nugget of truthful goodness. 

"Apply your heart to discipline, and your ears to the words of knowledge."
~Proverbs 23:12


I don't know if Solomon knew much back then about overcoming the struggles a SAHM who's husband worked about 459 hours over the past two weeks and weekends has, or if he ever had to find strength and encouragement and sanity in a household that's plagued by summer tuberculosis on top of it, but it sure sounds like he did. And I'm so grateful for it. 

::fist bump::

If you're not reading the dates corresponding chapter in Proverbs as part of your daily Bible study, let this be an encouragement to start. There's SO MUCH good stuff in there y'all. You won't be disappointed. PROMISE. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Choosing. It's Hard.

This is a tough one to write, y'all because I blew it as a parent today. BLEW IT WIDE OPEN. Zero "Mom of The Year" medals were awarded to me today. It.was.rough. FOR ALL OF US.

This afternoon disintegrated around me faster than I'd ever thought possible and in an effort of self preservation, I may have put all three of my kids to bed tonight at 7pm just to be able to put an end to this day. Mercy sakes. 

Ten hours earlier, I'd been drinking coffee at my kitchen table with my Mom, never suspecting the brittle and broken edges that the day would leave me surrounded with. 

You see, the kids were pushing my buttons all afternoon and I knew it. Moms, you know what I mean because you can see the storm coming. The horse playing began to become more and more "enthusiastic" and their selective hearing worsened with every rebuke aimed their way. The supper I fixed (including homemade mac and cheese, THE NECTAR OF THE SAINTS) went largely untouched and month old stale marshmallows were begged for like they were manna from Heaven. RUDE. Nobody wanted to pick up puzzle pieces or have their teeth flossed. A cup of milk was mysteriously splashed all over every single surface in my kitchen, but NO ONE SAW IT HAPPEN. A pillow sprang a leak and there were suddenly 328 tiny feathers sprinkled all over my freshly vacuumed living room rug. 


Today found me making choices and I didn't make good ones. I chose anger instead of peace. I chose reacting instead of responding. I chose temper over grace. I chose the emotions that were easy for me to access instead of the fruits that would've taken work to acquire.  

I chose poorly. And I knew immediately, as I thundered and stormed and rained around my house and my kids and my dog and my cat that the choices I was making, while they may have felt easiest at the time, were going to be the ones that were going to leave me with a bitter taste in the back of my throat but I didn't care, because losing my temper felt good in the moment. Yikes.

But here's the thing, y'all: Feelings are fickle. They can change and evolve and morph in moments. What "feels" good in one moment can leave you feeling shameful and guilty and drained in the next. (Ask me how I know. ::cringe::) Feelings shouldn't be allowed to rule over my spirit- My spirit should rule over my feelings.

And you see, knowing the right choice and choosing to make it are two totally different things. And that's where my big mistake came. I knew the choice I should've made, but I didn't chose it. Why? BECAUSE I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE IT. The good choice was hard. The bad choice was easy. And today- I chose easy over hard. And I hate it. I hate it so, so, SO MUCH.

So tonight, before I go to bed, I'll lay it all at His feet. I'll empty all this awful, heavy, hard baggage I'm carrying and leave it there. I'll go to sleep knowing that I've cried and snuggled and repaired things with both my kids and my Savior. And tomorrow, when I get up early to drink my coffee and read my Bible and start my day- I'll be able to humble myself and begin again. And, my prayer will be that when the choices come, that I'll have the strength to chose the right one even if it's the hard one. 

And I'll have a huge batch of homemade apology blueberry muffins waiting for the kids, too. Because breakfast pastries are their love language.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I Gave My Kid Cavities. (Alternately Titled: SO THIS IS MOM GUILT.)

So six months ago, after three or four cavity free dental check ups, when I took my kids to the dentist for our routine cleanings- my oldest's teeth were He's five, and was just old enough then to have his first round of X-rays. When they scanned those bad boys, there were SIX CAVITIES smushed all up in between his molars. 

I felt about half an inch tall, y'all. (Probably less, if I'm being honest.) I may have cried right then and there in front of our dentist and our hygienist and the receptionist and the guy delivering the Kentwood water jugs. It wasn't a pretty day. My throat got all hot and my eyes got all stingy and watery and before I knew it those hot, wet, embarrassed and scared and angry tears were being blinked all down my cheeks and my nose was as red as Rudolph's. (Also to be noted- I am an ugly crier. Always have been.)

I sort of sniffled and guiltily looked at the ground talked with our doctor about what could've caused these ground breaking (and bank account breaking, FOR REAL THOUGH) rot spots. Do they drink Cokes? No. Did they eat candy? Only tootsie rolls at church on Sundays and Wednesdays. Do they chew gum? No. Gummy worms? No. Sugar by the dump truck full? Ummm, No. We are a healthy family! 

I didn't get it. My kids ate balanced meals. I brushed their teeth every day! I even gave them vitamins at bedtime to make sure they were getting all the goodness and vitality and nutrients that their growing bodies needed. I thought I was doing everything all the good moms did! Every single night, after baths and teeth brushing and Bible reading and prayer praying and snuggle snuggling, I'd slip them each their gummi dose of daily vitamin C and D and Iron and Calcium just to make extra sure their bodies stay healthy. 

But HOLD THA PHONE. Did I just say gummi vitamins?? I think I did.

Lemme check that vitamin label. Hmmm. Ingredients: glucose, glucose syrup, high fructose corn syrup... SAY WHAAAAT?? Are the first three ingredients in my kid's vitamins really- ::Gasp!:: -sugar??!! 

YES THEY ARE. And, as it turns out, giving your kids what basically amounts to vitamin powered sugar glue every.single.night mere seconds before their precious heads hit their pillows is kinda an awful idea. And it's also really, really, REALLY bad for their teeth. 

Aaaaha! So this is what suffocating and insurmountable MomGuilt feels like. And it ain't fun y'all.

Luke was a trooper. We went back to the dentist four (or maybe five) times to get his cavities filled and he was an absolute CHAMP. They used some "magic medicine" ::shiver:: and numbed his precious mouth and he never really complained. The staff remarked over and over about how compliant and brave and funny (of course!) he was through it all. I could bust my buttons off being so proud of him. He's such a fantastic kid. 

But the last filling was a doozy and they did eventually have to get the laughing gas out to help him through it. **The recovery was awesomely hysterical and if I didn't value at least a tiny part of his privacy, I would post it publicly  but since I do try to have some boundaries, y'all will just have to trust me when I tell you it was the funniest thing I've ever seen. The saga behind that tooth was far from over, however that's another story for another day. But for now, know that Luke is amazing and I never give the kids their vitamins in their beds anymore. 

And oh! I wouldn't be a good friend if I didn't lay it all out like I did and pass on some helpful tips that my dentist gave to me that fateful day as I stood in her hallway and cried in front of a handful of strangers. I followed her directions EXACTLY and when we went back for our cleaning this week, all three kids were cavity free. HALLELUJAH AND AMEN. I'm pretty sure angels sang in Heaven along with me. 

Here's what I learned: 

*Brush twice a day. (This is obvious. Morning and night, before breakfast or after, it doesn't matter. Just get those bad boys brushed 2x a day.) 

*FLOSS. (Ok, so before the great CavityGate, I didn't floss the kid's teeth. Horrible, I know, but I'm being honest. I didn't. But afterwards I grabbed a pack of those flosser pick things and y'all- THEY ARE GENIUS. Also to be noted: I timed it, and flossing all three of my kid's teeth took just over 1 minute total. It took loads of self discipline to really make this a habit, but y'all it's really a game changer. Floss.those.teeth.) 

*Fluoride. (So my dentist gave me a tube of grape flavored 3M ESPE 0.4% Stannous Fluoride to brush on their teeth once a day. And THEY HATED THE TASTE. So when I went back for Luke's fillings I got a tube of the bubble gum flavored and they like it so much better. It's an average sized tube, but you literally only barely have to get the bristles wet with the stuff so it'll last you for like, EVER. I even found it on Amazon, so you can grab a tube online, too. It doesn't heal cavities (BUMMER.) but it does protect the healthy enamel from weakening. I brush it on every night because you can't eat or drink for like 30 minutes after application. Bonus: It's eliminated the bedtime drink begging situation. Win/win!!) 

I don't know if your kids have had cavities. I don't know if you've ever given your kids cavities like I did. But if you have- I AM RIGHT THERE WITH YOU SISTER. I SALUTE YOU WITH MY TINY FLOSSING PICK. And if you haven't- BLESS YOUR INNOCENT SOUL AND FLOSS THEIR TEETH ANYWAY. Because having to hear your child cry out for you from a dentist's chair is one of the hardest things you'll ever have to hear. Trust me, it's like ripping a part of your soul from your body, dousing it in gasoline and setting it on fire while you stand in tied to the stake in a pile of fire ants.

So don't be like me, y'all. Floss those teeth and say those prayers, because Jesus and plaque germs are everywhere. 


And thanks for stopping by!  ~Katie. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Searching For Sanctuary.

{completely unnecessary} Disclaimer: I AM NOT A BIBLE SCHOLAR. 
But I dug a little deeper into Isaiah this morning anyway. 

Because things are so hard right now, y'all. 

The world is hard. The news is hard. Social media is hard. Life- it feels like- during these past few days, has been hard. 

And I've found that it's during hard times when my faith grows because it's then that I search for my sanctuary the most. Don't we all? 

I was reading through Isaiah earlier (Nerd alert, I KNOW.) and I came across a few verses that felt like a balm to my hurting soul. They're in Chapter 8, when Isaiah is telling all the people about all the hard things that were going to happen to them.

And interestingly enough, Isaiah felt so strongly that he wrote this warning on a scroll and display it to be read publicly and THEN ON TOP OF THAT, he named his second son with the same warning. (I don't have a scroll in my hand, don't worry. And I'm not renaming the kids. Whew.) But even still, it meant that he had a message and he felt really strongly about delivering it. 

He's talking about the future fall of Damascus and Samaria, two kingdoms that were uniting to try and overthrow Judah, the smaller southern kingdom of divided nation of Israel. It was a scary and hard time. Things were a straight up mess. Kings were corrupt and were leading their people in corrupt lives. Idol worship was the norm and child sacrifice was an accepted part of it. Life.was.hard. They'd turned their backs on God and the nation as a whole was suffering because of those choices. And something about that feels sorta similar to me.

But anyway, then verses 11, 12, 13, and 14 happen. 

"For the LORD spoke to me with a mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people saying, "You are not to say, 'It is a conspiracy!' in regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. Then He shall become a sanctuary..." -Isaiah 8:11-14a

And that's what got me, y'all- the part about where Isaiah was called to put his fear and reverence. His respect and awe were called to be focused on God and not on the wicked nation surrounding him. That struck a chord because there are just so many scary things that are attracting my attention lately. Everywhere I look there seem to be new social and political and racial situations that fill me with fear. It's hard. But Isaiah knew hard times, too. And he knew how to find sanctuary. 

And so for me, as I walk through hard times here when hard things happen and hard situations are surrounding me, I'm able to take courage like Isaiah and focus my fear where it belongs and find a sanctuary where he found it. With God. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

I Prayed For Flip Flops. FOR REAL.

About a week ago I bought Josie, our 4 year old, a new pair of flip flops for the summer. And, BECAUSE SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS REAL, about an hour after we got home- she lost one. 

::eye roll::

It's situations like this that help me understand the lionesses' urge to sometimes eat their young because sweet merciful heavens I'd *just* bought them for her. 

When she came to tell me (read: crying like she'd just been mauled by a bear) that she couldn't find one of her new shoes, I initially blew her off. My kids "lose" about 17 things a day and I can usually locate them with fairly decent accuracy within a few minutes. I did a quick visual sweep of our living room, came up fruitless and encouraged her to go look in her bedroom. I shrugged it off as one of the many aforementioned "lost" items I find each day and went about my business. (I'm pretty sure I was cleaning toilets. It was a riveting day.) 

But then, when it came time to clean up before bed, my usual under-the-furniture-behind-the-doors-beside-toy-chest haunts were empty and void of that bright pink shoe. "Whatevs", I told myself- "It'll turn up in the morning." 

Except that it didn't. ::groan::

I dove deeper into the recesses of our house. I lifted mattresses, I emptied dirty clothes hampers, I even checked the pot drawer in my kitchen. NOTHING. 

It was at this point that I started to feel a little...frustrated with the whole situation. I mean, c'mon! She had them for like before one was magically vaporized. It was maddening, y'all. 

Surprisingly, (or not really) I don't handle losing things well. We have a rubber set of squeaky building blocks that are my own personal Kryptonite. I haaaaaate them because if we've pulled them out during the day, I can't go to bed until I find ALL TEN OF THEM and put them away for the night. It's a character flaw, I know, but to thine own self be true- AND THIS WHO I AM. 

So, on like Day 4 of the ShoeQuest, my eye started twitching. Like, FOR REAL. It became more than a $9 pair of shoes and had turned into a mountain of disrespect for toys and a lack of appreciation for things and a whole downward spiral of despair and angst against life. (I may have a flair for the dramatics. MAYBE.)  And clearly, I needed Jesus to hold my hand through this. 

So, in the middle of another fruitless search, I snuck away to my closet, closed the door and gave God the current rundown of the situation, ESPECIALLY about my current semi-psychotic state regarding the whole big thing. (God knows I'm really good at making mountains out of molehills and He still loves me anyway. Ridiculous, I know.) 

So I pour out all my shoe insanity to Him, and ask Him to help me curb the crazy a wee bit. I give Him all the backstory of all the facets to the whole thing and then ask him to slow my roll. I humbled myself. I recognized that I had weaknesses that were coming to the surface because of one single lost shoe. (It's pathetic that I had to climb off the ledge because I'd spent a week looking for a shoe, these are first world problems, I get that.) I owned my flaws and asked Him to prefect them for me. I left my closet feeling better, and knew that I'd have  that shoe located before bedtime that night. 

Except that I didn't. 

I didn't find the shoe that day, or the next, OR THE NEXT. My psychosis continued to try to read it's ugly head, but instead of giving in to it, I gave it up. I forced myself to exhale. To unclench my jaw. To put it in a bubble and blow it away. (Again, I may be just a little dramatic.) 

A family connected with our church tragically lost their home in a fire this week. There are siblings in the home that are the same ages as my oldest and middle child. We are collecting clothes and other donations for them so yesterday, The Great Purge happened. I went through all our toys and books and puzzles and clothes and PlayDoh molds. Things that were nice enough to donate were donated. (Side note: DON'T GIVE YOUR TRASH TO THE NEEDY. It's not nice. But that's another post for another day.) Things that were broken were recycled. Things that were kept were organized and put away. Also, how on Earth did we accumulate so many stuffed animals??

I was going through a bag of off season clothes that were stored on the floor of the big kid's closet in their room when I saw it. THE PINK SHOE WAS FINALLY FOUND. And at first, I couldn't believe it. And neither could Josie. She shrieked, ran to grab it's mate and literally hugged them.

I made a point to stop then and thank God for the help He gave us. I'd been praying and searching and working so hard- and I never thought in a million years I'd be praying for a tiny pink flip flop, but BECAUSE MOMMING WITHOUT JESUS IS INSANITY, I did. 

I'm sure there will be more ridiculous things I'll ask God to help me with, but for now, this takes the cake. What's the craziest thing you've ever asked God to help you with? 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Things You're 'Dye'-ing To Know.

I'm totally lame with post titles, I KNOW THIS. 

I posted this morning about one of our yearly summer traditions: TIE DYE. I've gotten lots of questions and messages and texts, so I figured it would be easiest to answer them all here in one place. 

It came about maybe four summers ago when my niece Ashley gave me my first tie dye tutorial. I loved it and the kids loved it and we've been hooked ever since. 

Ashley was/is my tie dye mentor and she's given me some sage advice over the years. (I may or may not have texted her AGAIN this year because my memory is either completely blank or filled up with current episodes of Animal Mechanicals.)

So here's her/my advice:

-Get a kit with bottles and dye powder from your local craft store. Pay attention to the volume of dye each kit makes because running out ruins everyone's day. TRUST ME. 

-If you have brand new shirts, wash them first and leave them wet. You want to get the sizing out so your dye will be vibrant. Better yet- use an old shirt. Recycling for the win! 

-Rubber bands. Get loads. They only give you like three in each kit and we use more. Walmart sold a huge bag with their craft supplies for like .97¢. It's worth it FOR SURE. 

-DYE OUTSIDE or, if it's raining, in a bathtub OR on your sworn enemies' kitchen table. ANY OTHER AREA is a terrible idea. Awful. 

-The crumple design Tulip tries to sell everyone on is lame and anyone who thinks it's cool is a loser. (I'm looking at YOU, Steven
Brighton.) That is not tie dye. That's cheating. No rubber bands= NO TIE DYE. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. (But we still love you, S.B.) 

-Wrap your dyed shirts in a WalMart bag and leave them to soak overnight. It'll make the colors brighter than if you rinse them after say, 6 or 8 hours.

-Cut the rubber bands and lay the shirts out to sun dry on the grass before you rinse them. (Again, it'll help your colors stay vibrant.)

-Hand wash individually (I know it's a pain) each shirt after you've rinse it until the water mostly runs clear. I just swish each one in my sink with some soap and then rinse and then hang to air dry. We will wear them after this initial dry and then for the first several washes I'll keep our freshly dyed shirts in a separate load because BLEEDING WILL HAPPEN if you don't. 

-After a couple of washes you'll be good to go tossing it in with your other colors, so don't worry too much. Or, if you're still nervous, you can always go back to your sworn enemie's house and toss them in with their good church clothes JUST TO BE SAFE. (Not really. Jesus would not approve.) 

-Gloves are a hassle and pain, and I never wear them. They're huge! However, I sport an interestingly colored palm/fingertips for a few days after we dye so PICK YOUR BATTLES. 

-Make a shirt for your husband that he will never (willingly) wear out the house because the family that tie dyes together, STAYS TOGETHER. 

Unify your family this summer by tie dying your cares away like we do! Make your husband a shirt that he will "love" to wear. ::wink:: 

Enjoy your summer creating traditions like this one. I know we do!