A Packing Hack, a Shopping Injury, and an Unwanted Guest

Our girls returned from church camp last week exhausted, exhilarated, and covered in dirt. They had a blast and can’t wait to go again. This was a new experience for all of us. They’d never been to sleep-away camp. Somehow it snuck up on me, and I didn’t leave enough time for the preparations. The day before we left, I was sitting hostage supporting Delaney at a swim meet for the third 12-hour day in a row, and suddenly panic set in about the prep. Luckily, I was sitting with another swim mom who had some good practical advice. Her best tip was to put each day’s outfit in a separate ziplock baggie. Each can be easily grabbed, all items stay together, and future day’s clean clothes don’t get soiled when dirty items get crammed back in the duffle. Brilliant! Off I ran to purchase travel-sized everything and a box of 2-gallon ziplocks. These extra huge ziplocks aren’t well known, but they are so handy! Next time you are in that aisle at the grocery store, look on the bottom shelf and grab a box of these miracles. You’ll be so glad you did the next time you have something too big for the normal ones like a turkey carcass (for soup, you know?) or your refill movie popcorn (the whole bucket fits!) or a whole day’s outfit to pack for camp.

Anyhow, the morning of camp drop-off, with little more than 20 minutes to spare, we ran a last ditch mission to WalMart in search of a swim suit that didn’t look meant for a work out. As we were rushing through the store, nary a cute, acceptable swim suit to be found (duh!), I inflicted upon myself a shopping injury. I managed to kick the cart so hard that I wedged the wheel between my pinky and ring toe. It was one of those pains that comes up slowly before it hits full force. Apparently I leapt straight up into the air. Bailey said she thought I’d decided to start skipping. Like to my Lou. I wish. A week later and I still can’t wear sneakers. I’d like to say this was my first shopping injury, but a couple of years ago I tweaked my neck trying on sports bras and ended up in traction. Sports bras are brutal! They have to be tight or they are worthless, but then you have to practically dislocate your shoulder to get them off. And God forbid you try one on that’s too small. I should have called a girlfriend on my cell phone and just waited there in the TJMaxx fitting room till she came in to extract me, but I didn’t think of that. So I struggled, writhed, and yanked until I was out. Think Tommy Boy trying to struggle out of the child sized flotation device he accidentally inflated around his neck in the airplane scene. Hopefully my toe will heal more quickly than my neck did.

While I can’t directly blame my sore toe on church camp, the trauma I suffered today falls squarely on its shoulders. Ok. You’ve seen my laundry room, right? Here’s a reminder of the layout (look at the drawing if you can stand to). If you are facing the sink, directly to the right, counter height and above is a cabinet where the laundry lands from the laundry chute. (Laundry chutes are the best, by the way. If I ever get the chance to design and build a two story house from scratch, I’m pretty sure I’m designing it from the chute out.) Well today we were on our way out the door and I decided to forward the laundry one more quick time, as we do. I open the chute door, start grabbing an armful of towels, and out flies a lizard. It falls the three feet to the ground, lands on its feet, looks both ways, and starts to make a run for it. Meanwhile, I’m screaming like a lunatic which makes Bailey scream. I hate lizards. They are the absolute worst for me after snakes. I leap over the scene into the hallway to make my escape and Flossie runs into the room in hot pursuit. I’m still screaming a little, and my girls are looking at me like “really, Mom?” Well in the confusion, we don’t know where the lizard went. They think Flossie ate it, but I don’t think she’s fast enough to catch a lizard. But maybe she is fast enough to catch a lizard who spent four days in the pitch dark of a laundry chute with no sustenance. I don’t know. It was kind of a sickly pale brown color and looked a little bloated. Poor thing. As I sit here writing this, that thing could be sneaking in here to skitter up my foot. I wonder how long I’ll be sneaking around my house like a ninja trying to make sure I don’t step on a lizard. Now I’m scared of my laundry room, as if I wasn’t already. And that is why I hate church camp.

Ever Heard of “Family Camp?” It is the BEST Summer Family Vacation!

Ok. Think Dirty Dancing without the country club feel or the scandal. I never knew family camp was a thing until I met Scott. His parents met on staff at a family camp as teenagers. (Isn’t that awesome?!) His mom is a third generation family camper. Her grandpa helped build one near Yosemite in the early 1910’s. It’s just like a kid’s summer camp, but the whole family goes and lodges together. Every campy activity you can dream up is available and the food is provided. I repeat. Everyone in the family is entertained all day and three delicious meals per day are prepared for you. You are breathing mountain air, being fed delicious food you didn’t cook, and your kids like it better than Disneyland. You have to try it! In case for some reason you aren’t rushing to google up the nearest family camp, let me show you what it’s like.

Read more

Apothecary Chest Before and After

Scott and I love antiques. Well, to be more specific, Scott likes antiques and I loooooooove antiques. So if you do the math, we love them. Not the fancy, expensive, heavy, ornate numbers. We like the well loved and used primitive looking simple antiques. Sometimes the things I bring home are a little too well used and rickety for Scott’s taste. Mostly because when I bring them home, I bat my eyes at him and ask him to fix them. He works his magic and then I find a place for my treasure in our house. This process makes me so happy! A few years ago he went so far as to ask me to please stop buying pieces of junk. I can’t remember exactly how I replied, but I’m sure it was something like, “Oh silly, you know I can’t do that.” One of my favorite pieces of junk joined us on a snowy day in November a couple of years ago. Here are a couple of random pictures from that day (aren’t cell phone cameras neat?):

I found it on Craigslist and somehow talked the seller into delivering it. He and his son plopped it right into my garage. When Scott got home, he smiled at me and said that if I wasn’t finished transforming it and moving it into the house soon, he was just going to use it as garage storage. Um, no.

Read more

What if? The Intersection of Faith and Doubt

Some days words just won’t come. I think it’s the curse of the introvert. If I could change one thing about my body, it would be to have different vocal chords. I’d love to have a rich, raspy, rangy, soulful, powerful singing voice. But if I could change one thing about my personality, it would definitely be a sturdy rightward slide on the introvert/extrovert scale. I’m what you call an outgoing introvert, so sometimes I just hit a wall and can’t interact anymore until I have some alone time to recharge. I could do with less of that. I’ve had a couple of blog articles floating around in my head for a week now, but today, words escape me. Read more

Podcasts: A How-To and My Favorites

There’s something about car time with kids. It can try your patience for sure, but it also serves up this captive but natural interaction that can be so sweet and free. I’ve had wonderful conversations with my kids in the car, and I remember car time with my mom being priceless, essential to my emotional well-being, and just what the doctor ordered after a long day of high school as a teenager.  I think the fact that there is conversation without eye contact takes pressure off and lends boldness. My girls ask really hard questions in the car about sex and relationships and God. The setting gives the questioned time to process and ramble and delve. And sometimes kids just say cute stuff that warms your heart like this little snippet.

Read more

My 10 Favorite Things (well, 11) from Amazon

I was searching for an old Amazon order recently and noticed that ALL of our Amazon orders since 2004 are still in the system. Looking back on those orders was like opening a time capsule into the last 13 years of our lives. In 2004, I ordered a mesh crib bumper pad. Ugly but safe.


That was the baby phase. In 2005, I ordered The Kite Runner for one of our very first book club meetings, still one of my favorite selections all these years later. In 2006, a sit and stand tandem stroller. The girls are on the move. In 2009, a book about how to train dogs. Enter Flossie.


2012 was the year of the house remodel. Light fixtures and door hardware. Boring but beautiful. There were optical illusion books and swim goggles, ankle braces and cat doors. In all, we have placed 788 Amazon orders. And that includes the pre-prime years when I used to wait until my cart had 27 or so items before I pulled the trigger to save on shipping. I refuse to calculate a dollar total. I’m sure I’d pass right out. I love life-hacks and am always excited when someone shares a great find with me, so I thought you might like to see what my top Amazon purchases list looks like.

Read more

Survival Guide for the Professional Turned Stay at Home Mom

I meant to write this post a couple of days ago, but then I needed to wait until I was having a day where I felt like I was more than just surviving. My kids are 11 and 13 and I still have days I feel like the joke’s on me. As I’m putting out fire after fire our house becomes more a blast zone than peaceful haven. Those are the-two-steps-forward, three-steps-back days or weeks and we all have them. And then you get a good night’s sleep and deal with your dissues {I explain those here} and forward the laundry, take a deep breath and feel like you’re back on track. My being a stay-at-home mom was not plan A for our family. When I became pregnant with Delaney, I was working a full time family practice, seeing patients at 3 hospitals before and/or after my full day, doing urgent care some nights and weekends, and taking call for our large group a week at a time every 7 weeks. I knew that schedule was completely incompatible with motherhood, but we thought I’d work 2 or 3 days a week and have my mom nanny. Then Delaney was born and reality set in.

Read more

Funny Things Kids Say…The Mouths of Babes

Kids say funny, amazing, blunt, insightful, crazy things. Hearing these things has been one of the many unexpected thrills of parenthood. These little people are so full of surprises and depth. I have been jotting notes through the years of some of our girls’ doozies, but it probably isn’t necessary because our family language has evolved to incorporate the best of them.

Read more

Things that Make Me Laugh

I once heard a story about a neurosurgeon in a remote part of Alaska who wears a helmet every time he drives his car because he’s the only neurosurgeon around. I have no idea if this is true and can’t remember where I heard it, but I have been laughing about that for at least two decades. I don’t know why it tickles me so much. I guess it just charms me. There’s something so innocent and true and sensible about it. And quirky. He values his safety and health more than he worries about looking foolish. I love that. I think he’s someone I’d like to know.

I just love to laugh! Sometimes with no warning I will recall one of my favorite gems and just laugh right out loud. My girls like to guess what I’m laughing about. They know all my go-tos.

Read more