Sunday, December 28, 2014

Intentionally Relational

Intentionally Relational.  That's it.  That's my "catch phrase" for the new year approaching.  It's so much more than catchy phrase or lofty ideal.  It is my heart's desire.  My passion.  I love people. I love nurturing heart connections. I love communicating openly, lovingly, and intentionally.  It is not always easy though.

Have you ever felt misunderstood?  Misrepresented?  Misplaced in the grand scheme of life and love?  Of family and friends? It stinks, it hurts, it really crushes if you are someone who really loves being relational.  Someone who loves deeply, can grieve deeply when that love is not reciprocated or when that love is misunderstood.  

Some people invest most of their lives communicating love to their family and friends.  Actions often speaking louder than words.  Parents experience this with their children.  A parent's needs are often secondary to that of her children.  The need for her children to feel loved, cherished, and protected is primal, a part of her innermost being. Spouses experience this as they row through life's waters together.  Sometimes bailing out the boat and other times gliding down the stream with relative ease, but all the while communicating love and commitment. 

This year has definitely held many amazing moments.  So many celebrations have taken place in my heart and in the hearts of those that I love. Thankfulness abounds!  If I were being very honest though, I would have to say that this year has also been a very heartbreaking year.  I have felt misrepresented, misplaced, and above all misunderstood for quite some time now. I have done some serious soul searching to see how I can change this tide, how to navigate this stormy side of life that honestly caught me off guard.  Maybe that is a problem in itself.  Being "on guard" hardly allows for intentional, honest communication.  Relationships suffer if walls are built up to shelter the heart.  

So, although it may be "safer" to retreat into our self made shelters, are we really being relational?  Are we sincerely seeking to intentionally connect our hearts with others even if we may be disappointed from time to time?  Or even if we may be the source of disappointment from time to time?  

Being intentionally relational is experiencing life on life with others.  No holds barred.  No barriers. Loving others where they are.  Loving others for who they are.  Believing the best about others.  Asking the sometimes tough questions and COMMUNICATING in order to alleviate any false assumptions. Looking at the big picture.  Being focused on someone's heart and not their flaws because really, we are all flawed.  Above all, in my mind,  being intentionally relational is seeking the very best for other people.  Giving them our very true selves.  The real us.  No walls, no falsehoods, no judgements, no selfish conditions.  Only love and life.  That's my heart's desire.  That's my passion. 

Intentionally relational.  That's my catch phrase for 2015.  How about you?  What is your desire for this new year ahead?



Monday, December 22, 2014

Unopened Gifts

The gifts were already open. The long dreamed of toy kitchen sat staring blankly, oven door open in a silent scream, plastic food chewed.  Shredded wrapping paper, busted game pieces, and crushed ornaments littered the living room floor.  The tree tilted awkwardly toward the broken sliding glass door as if it were trying desperately to escape the sad little scene. 

Oh, that Christmas so, so long ago.  Two tiny broken hearts amidst all those broken toys.  Broken door, broken dreams, broken family...

Christmas may be the hardest time of the year for some people.  All the "togetherness" of the season accentuates the loneliness of those who are grieving.  Grieving the loss of a loved one, the death of a dream.  Broken hearts, broken homes.  

We can offer gifts to those who are lost and lonely by being there for them. Opening our hearts and homes to those who need love and comfort.  We can share our faith, our food, our families and friends.  So many unopened gifts...



Thursday, October 23, 2014

One Day

Wednesday, I participated in an inspiring photo journaling project called One Day. The One Day Project (#OneDayHH) was hosted via Instagram by one of my favorite bloggers, Laura Tremaine, of the Hollywood Housewife blog ( 

Pictures are one of my passions in life, right along with anything chocolate and peanut butter, coffee, and sleeping children. So, Wednesday I had a great time photographing many of the seemingly mundane aspects of our life. Here are some of the pictures and a few thoughts that I shared on Instagram at the end of One Day. 



Monday, September 8, 2014

Elvis Has Left the Big Box

This photo was found on

For years now we have shopped at the big box wholesale stores. 6 monkeys + two parents + people who are crazy enough to visit us + random animals = a hunka, hunka box store love. I mean, where else can you buy a case of Ramen Noodles big enough to feed a college student for all four years? 

"Shopping" is actually the wrong verb. "Schlepping" is more like it. Anytime you go to a store to pick up lunch supplies and come out with a 5 pound jar of peanut butter, a six pack of sliced bread, a crate of bananas (or enough supplies to feed an army of Elvises or is it Elvi?) and a giant inflatable jack-o-latern you are schlepping not shopping. 

And really? Who uses that much spray starch besides maybe an Elvis impersonator in Vegas? 

But seriously, it's not all bad. Some gigantic quantities of certain products are actually helpful. Big box shopping has it's pros and cons. Let's take a look:

1. Pro: A half ton of liquid laundry soap? With mountains of laundry accumulating on the daily? That works for me. 
Con:  Lifting that half ton container of liquid laundry detergent to fill that tiny measuring cup makes me feel like a female body builder competing in a clean and jerk competition. 

2.  Pro: 1000 rolls of toilet paper at pennies per roll.
Con:  Finding a place to store 1000 rolls of toilet paper upon bringing them home. "Hey kids! Forget Legos! We've got some toilet paper rolls for you to play with!" "And tonight, you can snuggle with them at bedtime!" 

3. Pro: 50 boxes of whole wheat pasta. Yes! Spaghetti forever!!! 
Con:  Spaghetti Forever!!!

4.  Pro: A 12 pack of Febreeze assures that your house will never stink. 
Con : It could also assure you that there will be a hole the size of Texas in the ozone layer above your house.

5.  Pro:  200!!! Now that's a ton of tampons! 
Con: 200? That's also a constant reminder of your "special time of the month ". Heck, you could even do a an
advent-like  count down calendar with with a tampon behind each numbered door leading up to "P-Day".

6. Pro: That 800 count of newborn diapers will be so useful...
Con: Until your newborn out grows them by the end of the first week and you are left with 500 newborn diapers. 

Ah, Big Box shopping! How I love and simultaneously hate you so. If it weren't for the double packs of Nutella I would have left you long ago.



Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Times when I make ridiculous faces:

1. While applying mascara (I look like I am about to sing in a demented opera.)

2. While spoon feeding a baby (I look a Goldfish burping.)

3. While tweezing my eyebrows (I look like a creepier version of "The Scream ")

4. While meeting someone or a group of someones for the first time (I look like my smile is plotting a hostile takeover of my face.)

5. While reading the menu on the wall at a fast food restaurant (I look like I am constipated.)

6. While smiling (My eyes disappear. It's all nose and refer to #4.)

7.  While driving (I alternate between looking like a spider monkey- "Stay in your own lane!" and confused Asian woman - "What does that street sign say?" )

8. While concentrating (I purse my lips like a duck, but not the sexy duck face from selfies, which has always confused me because DUCKS ARE NOT SEXY!)

9. While confused (Hostile scrunchy forehead takeover of entire face accompanied by squinty eyes and flattened nose. It's like a Winston Churchhill, Margaret Cho, Mike Tyson mash up.)

10. While singing (please refer to #2 and #5)

11. While crying (Think Golam)

12. While waking up (Think confused mole. The animal, not the skin thingy which grosses me out)

13. While grossed out (Think Billy Idol lip curl meets wide-eyed Valley Girl)

14. While tired (I look like a Shar-pei. My facial muscles just give up, gravity prevails)


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Read This Stinkin' Article and Now My Eyelashes are Flat

I'm a researcher. I research. I research things like, "How to keep your house looking good if you clean it once a month or never?" or "If I eat ice cream for every meal, will I still be meeting the basic nutrition guidelines set forth by the FDA?" 

Recently, I researched "How to apply your make up so that you look younger." That's when all heck broke loose! Did you know that as you age, your eyelashes lose their natural wave? That's right folks. Your eyelashes basically go flat! How's that for a bit of fun trivia on Labor Day? #gravity! #firstworlddrama

So, being the feisty and passionate person that I am about anything that might present itself as a challenge to me (or you could say that I'm slightly obsessive-compulsive), I have decided that I will not, I repeat, I will NOT allow my eyelashes to get lazy. I am on a quest. On a quest to find the ultimate gravity defying mascara. Please join me and give props to your favorite mascara here or on my Facebook page. Because really, flat eyelashes = no fun. 

And if you're one of those Super Duper fortunate people that has curly eyelashes that look good without mascara, well, thank your mama, your daddy, and God because you are blessed. But do yourself a favor, don't read articles about "how to apply make up so that you look younger" because you might find out that as you age you also accumulate other types of facial hair. Oh yeah, those luscious curly eyelashes look great and all, but did you happen to see that straight wiry chin hair? 



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

White Wolf Cafe

White Wolf Cafe is an eclectic eatery in the heart of the Ivanhoe Antique Row in downtown Orlando. Just about everything, from the swanky chandeliers hanging on the ceiling to the antique plates lining the china cabinets is for sale. The owner of Whitewolf Cafe will also buy antiques from his customers. The whole place is a feast for the eyes!

But there's also a culinary feast that awaits you as soon as you walk into the café. Their breakfast and brunch has been declared one of Orlando's finest, and I am here to tell you that their truffle oil potato chips loaded with lobster and bacon are out of this world! 

And bonus! All of the tables are made of reclaimed marble from the floor of the former Orlando City Hall. You know, the building that was featured exploding in Lethal Weapon? That's Lethal Weapon I not Lethal Weapon II or IV. And that's back when Mel Gibson was a hunk. Wait! Mel Gibson is still a hunk. 



Monday, August 18, 2014

School Has Started.

School has started. Uniforms replace bathing suits.  Impromptu lunches grabbed between play dates have given way to lunch boxes planned and packed the night before (or frantically the morning of) school days.  Summer light is fading and changing.  Bedtimes are required not suggested.  School has started.

Homer and homework, Latin and loose teeth, new tennis shoes and Transcendentalism, Plato and play dough.  A Kindergartener, a Fourth Grader, a Freshman, a Junior and a College Girl. School has started.

Has school started in your neck of the woods?



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kiss Me in New Glarus!

New Glarus is a tiny Swiss town located in southern Wisconsin.  We took a little day trip there. Pete's dad is full-blooded Swiss so the day proved to be fun! 

The highlight of the day was when we stopped and had fondue at the New Glarus Hotel. Did you know that Swiss tradition says if you drop your bread in the fondue pot you'll have to kiss the person to your right? 

Let's just say that prompted some bread dropping :-)

Fun times!

Swiss treats, kisses, and lots of laughter made the day amazing!



Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Nod to Norway

There is a special tiny town in Wisconsin that owes a corner of my heart. Stoughton!  

Stoughton was founded in 1847 by Luke Stoughton, and settled by many immigrants from Norway by the early 1900's.

I love the downtown shops and cafés that run from the opera house at the top of a hill all the way down to the Yahara River. 

We love to sample (and buy) various cheeses and sausages from Cheesers ( Spicy cheeses, stinky cheeses, chocolate cheese, and squeaky cheese curds! 

Stoughton claims to be the birthplace of the "coffee break". Let me tell you, with made from scratch eateries like The Koffee Kup and Fosdal's Bakery, I believe the claim! 

Everywhere you look in Stoughton there are nods to Norway. 

Even the toy shop has a Viking at the helm! 

We enjoy Stoughton every time we visit Wisconsin.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Little Monkey Takes Us on a Short Hike to Long Creek Falls!

We are having some adventures here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hiking, tubing, and off road driving that will curl your hair real quick like (southern accent required for that last phrase).

Yesterday, we hiked to two waterfalls and a swinging bridge. It was so worth every step, every drop of sweat, and every bug bite to view some of God's magnificent handiwork. 
Here is a short video with Little Monkey navigating his way up to a Long Creek Falls. Enjoy!



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pardon Me Sir, Is That The Blue Ridge Scenic Choo Choo?


Yes! Yes! 

If you ever find yourself in the general vicinity of Blue Ridge, Georgia and you have some time to spare between eating fried apple pie, napping in the hammock, eating bisquits and sausage gravy, tubing down the lazy river,  eating shrimp and cheese grits with Johnny Cake, and napping in the hammock, you might want to hop on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad. 

Little Monkey invited us along on his maiden voyage. The train has restored vintage passenger cars complete with restrooms, car attendants, and a snack car that served Moon Pies. We choose a closed car as opposed to the open air car because it's Georgia + summer = hot + big bugs.

As far as LM was concerned, we could have chosen pretty much anything as long as it had a window. He sat glued to that window the entire hour ride to McCaysville, Tennessee. 

I couldn't blame him for gazing out that window. The scenery along the way was lovely. We hugged the Toccoca River for most of the journey. The river changed its personality around each bend. One moment it was a gentle trickle over the red rocks that line its bed and the next minute it was all ripples and rapids. 

The woods along the way were clothed in glorious shades of green. So beautiful! Our 9 year old Monkey Girl took the pictures of the woods! She did a great job! 

We had an hour and a half layover in McCaysville, Tennessee where we window shopped, ate BBQ, drank sweet tea, and bought lots of homemade fudge. 

Then it was back on the train for Moon Pies and our return journey to Blue Ridge. Fun times!