When You Feel Like You’re Falling Apart

Sharing something personal and raw is scary. Writing about things that you hesitate to even talk about is powerful. My health isn’t something I ever thought I’d be blogging about, so bear with me. Within the past week, I’ve chatted with two sweet friends who are beautiful and young and full of life. Both are mothers, wives, active community members, and friends to many. Both of these precious women are dealing with health issues of their own. Their journeys are different than mine, but it really struck a nerve to realize just how frequent these unexplained illnesses are, especially in otherwise healthy 30-something women. That realization is what prompted me to write about my journey. I’ve been holding my thoughts close, stewing over them for months. It’s shameful to be ill. It’s embarrassing to admit that you don’t feel well on a regular basis. There’s a societal stigma that anyone with a chronic illness is lazy, unwilling to get better. That they lack the drive or motivation or will power to push through. One look at our social media feeds proves that what we’re posting is only the good. The happy. The easy. Sickness is hard. Fear is hard. If my writing does nothing other than show we can be real, it’s worth putting my pride aside.

The photos I post on social media. Smiles, makeup on, hair fixed…I look normal.


My reality–falling asleep the second I’m home, not bothering to take off my makeup or wash my face. Because most of my days are spent feeling horrible, this is how you’ll usually find me if I’m at home. In bed, sleeping the days away. I think that hurts my heart more than anything…knowing what all I’m missing.


My journey began around the first of this year. In January, I realized I just wasn’t feeling well. With kids, germs and colds are nothing surprising, so I didn’t think much about it. But my simple cold just got worse and worse until I ended up in the hospital, diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia (which, looking back, may or may not have been a correct diagnosis. Probably not.). My cough was relentless. My breathing was horrible and I’d be so short of breath that passing out became something fairly normal for me. It took several months to be referred to a pulmonologist at UNC, who quickly ordered a battery of tests. Soon after, I was diagnosed with my first autoimmune disease–an interstital lung disease that causes inflammation in the lungs, making it difficult to breath like a regular person. Treatments? Not many options, other than long term steroid use, which seems even worse than the symptoms to me. I rely on an inhaler and nebulizer when things get bad. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason for when a flare up will occur. I’ve missed more things that I can count–games, recitals, competitions, date nights, trips…the list seems endless.

Fast forward a couple of months to July. I noticed that I was having some eye pain and blurred vision. I’ve never worn glasses or contacts and figured it was probably my turn for that. I scheduled a visit with the opthamologist and didn’t think much about it, until he walked into the exam room with a look of pity on his face. He asked me a few questions about any autoimmune issues in my history and after filling him in, he quickly diagnosed a brand new autoimmune disease, optic neuritis. This super fun one involves an inflammation that damages the optic nerve and the treatment plan involves steroids administered by IV as an inpatient. The steroids don’t cure it, but can shorten the duration of the pain, which by this time was pretty severe. I opted out because…well, I have kids and a husband and things to do and it wasn’t a “good time” to be in the hospital. When is?

Moving right along to just a couple of weeks ago and I received my THIRD autoimmune disease diagnosis in a span of about 6 months. Me, a normally healthy wife and mama, who had never been sidelined by anything other than a cold or the flu…normal stuff. Now I’m anything but normal. I now know I have Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks your thyroid. Oh, it also makes you feel horrible. Really horrible. Can’t get out of bed horrible.

Learning about these autoimmune diseases has been a shock, to say the least. There’s so much I don’t know, so much I don’t understand, but I’m seeing quickly how important it is to be your own advocate. In this case, knowledge IS power, so the more I can learn and understand, the more likely I am to get appropriate treatment plans from my doctors. Doctors. Plural. Again, not something I ever thought I’d say. I’m now seeing my general practitioner, an opthamologist, a pulmonologist, and I have a referral to a hematologist because my blood work is not even close to normal. My white blood cells, platelets, and neutrophils are THROUGH THE ROOF. My C-Reactive Protein, which is a marker for inflammation in the body, is off the charts high. All of this leads me to believe that there HAS to be a singular cause for all of this. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m praying so hard that my doctors can work together to find the root cause and put me back together.

I’m not a sickly person. Or I wasn’t. But now I struggle every single day. Some days are better than others, but not many are truly good. If  you look at my Instagram feed, or my snaps, or really any of my social media posts, things probably seem pretty great. Smiling kids. Happy husband. Interesting views. But isn’t that what social media is about? Posting the good? Maybe it shouldn’t be only about that. Maybe being real isn’t a bad thing. And this is my real right now. I hope it isn’t my future. I pray I get answers and begin getting better. But for now, this is me. And mostly I feel like I’m falling apart.



How I Became a Work-at-Home Teacher for VIPKID

Be a VIPKid Teacher

For as long as I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for an opportunity to contribute to our family’s income. Over the years, I’ve done several things. I was a trunk keeper for Matilda Jane. I scored tests for companies like Pearson and ETS. I ran consignment sales (and participated in tons of them). I sold things on Ebay. And while all of these things produced some income, none felt RIGHT to me. A few months ago, I began having some medical issues and the bills began piling up, as medical bills tend to do. I really wanted to find a way to stay home but make a REAL income…and if I could use my degree, that would be even better! Enter VIPKID.

VIPKID provides an international learning experience to children in China between the ages 4-12. Headquartered in Beijing, the company offers fully immersive one-on-one English language instruction provided online by highly qualified teachers. The curriculum is based on the U.S. Common Core State Standards and uses a flipped-classroom approach to foster creativity and critical thinking skills. What does this mean? In a nutshell,  I teach English to  children in China through  a video taught one-on-one class that lasts for 25 minutes.  These video lessons are a bit like Skype, but VIPKID has their own platform and servers that you use while teaching. They also have prepared lesson plans that you use for each class, which means no lesson planning! It’s all right there for you, and takes minimal effort on your part.

This video explains a lot!


So, how can you get started? First, you must meet the minimum requirements.

  • Bachelor’s degree (at minimum an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education)–note that your degree can be in ANY field, not just education!
  • Native English speaker with a North American accent.
  • Some experience working with children. Babysitting experience, homeschooling, camps, etc. will all count here. You need to be comfortable working with kids.
  • High-speed internet and audio capabilities with a webcam and microphone.

After you’ve applied, you will move on to the interview process. Don’t be alarmed, but this process can be quite rigorous. In fact, only 6%-10% of all applicants will make it all the way through. It’s important to be prepared and gather as much information as you possibly can.  There are so many applicants (this time of year is called the “summer hiring frenzy” for a reason!), so you want to stand out during every step of the process. Speaking of the process, here’s what it looks like:

Step 1: Apply (you’ve already done that at this point).

Step 2: Interview and Demo Lesson

You will schedule a 30 minute time slot for your interview and demo lesson. The interview is very important as it, along with your qualifications, decides whether or not you will be accepted to work with VIPKID and it will determine your base payment. During the interview portion, you will answer basic questions about your experiences. This part is easy peasy!

Next is your 10 minute demo lesson. Your interviewer will act like a 5 year old (not as awkward as it sounds, I promise), and you will teach a prepared lesson. You will display how well you are able to explain activities to a foundation level student, how you are able to elicit complete answers from the student, your ESL teaching skills, and your time management. They’re looking at your personality (be happy!), your timing, and your preparedness.

Step 3: Mock Classes

After passing your interview, you will schedule your first mock class with a current VIPKID teacher, also known as a Mock Class Mentor (MCM). You will have all of the material you need well in advance so that you can be totally prepared. During your first mock class, you will teach a full 25 minute class to the MCM, who will be acting like a 5 year old Chinese student with limited English knowledge. The entire mock class will last about an hour and will include your introductions (you can ask questions during this time), the 25 minutes for teaching, and feedback after class. During the feedback portion, your MCM will give you tips and tricks to improve your performance.

After your first mock class, you will get an email that explains your next step. Most people will be asked to do a second mock class that is practically the same as the first. During the second mock, you will need to show that you’ve implemented your feedback and corrections from the first mock. A few lucky ducks won’t have to do a second mock and will go straight into signing the contract and becoming a full-fledged teacher. Even fewer will be turned away after the first mock if the MCM decides they are not a good fit.

Step 4: Sign Contracts, Upload Documents, and Open Your Schedule

Yay!!! You did it! You are now officially a VIPKID Teacher and you can open up your schedule. This is truly the best part of teaching with VIPKID…you can set your own hours each week. The earning potential is only limited by the amount of hours in a day. My current goal is to teach 100 classes each month, which equals 50 hours of teaching. I choose to aim for 12 1/2 hours per week, and I’m pretty happy with the way I’ve been teaching lately. You can see my schedule below:


I said the hours and scheduling flexibility are the best part of VIPKID, but actually the money is even better. Currently, the base pay rate is $7-$9 per class. Most people seem to be around $8 per class (25 minutes). That makes base pay $14-$18/hour. However, VIPKID offers incentives for finished classes that bump up the pay rate to more like $18-$22/hour. I’m currently making at least $20/hour and can make more if I go for the monthly incentive pay, which varies from month to month. It’s hard to beat $20/hour from home and I’ve been really happy with my income so far. There are opportunities to make even more when renewing your contract or applying for other positions, like MCM. The sky seems to be the limit for earning potential and that makes me super happy.

Do you think VIPKID might be the right fit for you? I’m happy to answer any questions and walk you through the hiring process. One mistake I made when applying was going directly to the VIPKID website instead of finding a current teacher to help me. Each teacher has a referral link to share and if you use my link, that means I can be there to guide you through the process. As a nice bonus, I get a little extra money for referring you AND you get a little extra money for being referred. After all, who knows who would make a GREAT VIPKID teacher better than a current teacher? I went through the process without a referring teacher and caused myself a lot of extra work. If I had it to do over, I’d definitely choose a current teacher to hold my hand!

This opportunity has been a game changer for my family. I don’t have to miss family time, I make my own schedule, and I dictate how much money I make each week. Also, pants are pretty much optional. My ideal job, for sure. If you are interested in applying, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m happy to help in any way I can.



I Stopped Writing

It’s been almost 10 months since I last sat down to write. I don’t know the exact reason, but somewhere along the line, writing slipped to the bottom of my priority list. Life is such a series of seasons, and some seasons just don’t allow you to do all of the things you want to do. I guess that’s really where I was…where I’ve been…where I am. There have been so many changes in the last year, and so many that I’ve wanted to write about. Somehow I just haven’t been able to find the words. Some changes have been good, some not so much, but it’s hard to recall a big event that didn’t make me want to write. But actually writing is a different story. So many nights I’ve been sleepless and  composed entire posts in my head, but by morning, the drive to write them out would be gone. I miss it, though. I miss the outlet that writing gives me. I miss sharing creative things I’m enjoying. I miss sharing what I’m reading and pretty things I love. Plus, I’ve given myself permission to just write for me and to take a little time whenever the desire hits. So that’s what I’ll try to do. Just write. Share. Be honest. That’s what I’ve been missing.


Minted Threads

Are you all tired of hearing me talk about the importance of shopping small? I sure hope not, because today I want to share a wonderful shop with you. I learned about Minted Threads through the Brand Rep community on Instagram and Facebook. The owner is just the sweetest and she reached out with a very generous offer to some of the mamas in the group. I was so excited to order my first things from Mel, but I had NO idea how wonderful the whole experience would be.

First, let me tell you a bit about Minted Threads. From their website, their mission statement:



How amazing is this? They also participate in Project Red Balloon. Read more ab out it on their site. I just love that they do all of this! I knew I loved this shop even before my order arrived, but once it did, I was blown away.

First of all, check out this gorgeous packaging:


It’s soooo cute!



Even the tags and cards are beautiful.


I love that the mission is right there in every package.


I haven’t even talked about the clothes yet! I mean, can you believe how cute these tees are? They’re printed on my favorite tee brand for Owen, and they’re super soft and comfy. I love them and he’s adorable in them.


I’ve already washed them a couple of times, and they’re only getting softer. No shrinkage, which is awesome. The print quality is fantastic. I seriously can’t say enough about how awesome it has been to get to know this fabulous (new to me) brand.

If you’re in the market for adorable clothes for your littles (and for yourself), I highly suggest checking out Minted Threads. I’m dying for this tee for me!

Head on over to Minted Threads website. Be sure to check out the clearance section because sales are awesome! Be sure to note that @instaowsie’s mama (that’s me!) sent you.

I’ll be back here on the blog soon with a post that’s not so cute. I have to share with you all though. You’re going to die when you hear about our last vacation. Yuck.




Shopping Small is Sweet


In my last post, I talked about how much I love to support my friends who have direct sales businesses. That is still so true! But I’ve been branching out more and more to shop small and I just love the benefits. You may not know this (I sure didn’t!), but there’s a whole world of small shops on Instagram. Most of the ones I’m familiar with are run by mamas of littles who are doing what they love and providing for their families at the same time. I’m so in awe of their creativity and business savvy! You all know I love to make things. I even occasionally make things for Owen to wear–cute tees, beanies, even shorties. But I LOVE to buy from these small IG shops and know that I’m getting a unique product of exceptional quality. I love Target as much as the next girl, but man, you can’t beat original handmade items!

I think I stumbled upon the world of small IG shopping a few months ago when I fell in love with Tink & Key. I first bought the “I make mama’s heart full” tee, and once I saw how soft and cute it was, I went on a bit of a shopping spree. Owen now has several tees, I have a couple of my own, and I’ve even given a few as gifts. Scrolling through the Tink & Key Instagram page led me to many other shops, and my newest method of shopping small was born.

Since then, Owen has become a brand rep or brand enthusiast for quite a few small shops. Let’s be real…I’d still be buying from these shops even if he wasn’t working with them, but I love the sense of community I’ve found in the “brand rep world.” It’s awesome to see so many mamas supporting each other by buying small, supporting small, and promoting small. Sure, getting some of his clothes at a discount is amazing, but the real benefit is knowing that by supporting small shops, I’m helping real people with real dreams. That’s one of my favorite things to do.

I want to share with you a few of my FAVORITE small shops. Owen works with some, but not all, of them. I do have friends and family discount codes for several that I’ll also share with you so that you can save when you shop with them. I know that you’ll fall in love with them, too!

Hashies – code OWEN10 to save 10% on your order. Custom hashtag gear for all ▹ SD/Cbad CA ▹ Plagiocephaly/helmet tees available

9 Twenty Five Kids – code OWEN15 to save 15% on your order. Modern + Monochrome gear for your babes.

Sew Much Sweeter – code OWEN15 to save 15% on your order. Modern handmade threads for Littles 🔆Made in Indiana 🔆Ships worldwide.

Urban Tee Farm – code INSTAFRIEND10 to save 10% on your order. A tee shop for rad bigs and littles based in the Midwest!

Moots – code MOOTSFRIEND to save 20% on your order. Home of “You’re my Person ©” ❤️

Rainy Day Lane – code RAINYFF to save 10% on your order.  Tees for the whole family. Made in NC.

LooptyLoo – code OWSIE15 to save 15% on your order. Spunky and dreamy children’s basics. Handmade in Utah [Amy + Cheryl] • est 2009 Free shipping over $50.

Fayebeline – Hip➕Edgy➕Clever Baby and Toddler clothing ✨You purchase, we donate. Brand partner of Miracle Babies charity.✨

Brave Little Ones – We sell modern children shirts that spread the love of Jesus. $1.00 from every shirt sale goes to Rwanda, Africa.

Curly Qs Counter – CQC by Ang Disney hipster edge ••• handmade apparel + home goods prematurity awareness💜 ©2013 ••• PHXAZ

Sweetest Little Babes – code THANKYOU to save 10% on your order. ✖️Handmade baby and toddler clothes in Louisiana 😊

She She Marie Boutique –  Handmade baby/toddler booties. Bootie Boots ♡ Specially made for your little! Kids love how comfy they are. Mommies love how they stay on! Handmade. Patent Pending. ♡Jesus!

Periwinkle Jazz – Handmade swag for the hip modern baby | tot | kid • Boys Girls Unisex • the original “but first, milk” tee.

House of Burke Shop – Handmade clothing and accessories for your little ones. The shorties are beyond adorable!

Minted Threads –  Hand Drawn + Hand Made Tees. Advocates for Sex Abuse Victims & Empowerment. #projectredballoon #empowerthroughart Est. 2015 in PNW.

Brooklyn+ Fifth – ᵀᴿᴱᴺᴰᵞ ➕ ᴹᴼᴰᴱᴿᴺ ➕ ᴴᴵᴾ ᴴᴬᴺᴰᴹᴬᴰᴱ ᴷᴵᴰˢᵂᴱᴬᴿ ᴮᴱᶜᴬᵁˢᴱ ᴸᴵᶠᴱ’ˢ ᵀᴼᴼ ˢᴴᴼᴿᵀ ᵀᴼ ᵂᴱᴬᴿ ᴿᴱᵀᴬᴵᴸ

Dylan + Derek – Home of the NAP FIGHTER tee. Such cute tees. I love them all.

So I shared more than a few, but I really do love all of these shops and SO MANY MORE!!! That’s another post for another day, but I hope you’ll check out these shops. Tell them @instaowsie sent you. I promise you’ll get AMAZING customer service and a fabulous product.





I Support My Friends Who Sell Stuff

Oh my goodness, doesn’t it seem like everyone is selling something? Clothes, diets, makeup, oils, skin care…I could go on and on. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to check out my Facebook feed and see post after post selling stuff. You know what, though? I really don’t mind. In fact, I love it when I can support my friends who sell stuff. What’s not to love about supporting a fellow mama who is trying to make a little cash so staying home with her babies is financially possible? Or helping another woman out who wants to buy her own home? Or who just wants a some extra money for a nice vacation? It’s a pleasure to make a little purchase from these ladies. And the best part is that I almost always get a product I love in return!

I sold Matilda Jane for several years, and I know it can be really hard to “advertise” that you’re in direct sales. Most people don’t want to pressure anyone into buying something from them…I know I didn’t! During my experience, I also learned that word of mouth is the best way to grow a business. And that’s why I want to share a few of the products I’m loving and introduce you to the hard working ladies who sell them.

Rodan and Fields — from their website: “Founded by world-renowned dermatologists Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, Rodan + Fields® puts the power of dermatology-based skincare in your hands, using a highly effective social commerce business model. With Rodan + Fields, looking good and feeling confident has never been easier and it’s all possible without a trip to the dermatologist’s office.” My sweet friend Elizabeth Grogan just happens to be a R+F consultant, and she couldn’t be more helpful! I was on the fence about what product to try first, and she recommended REDEFINE  Multi-Function Eye Cream to target my trouble area. I’ve been using it for a little over a month and I am loving how soft and supple the skin around my eyes has become. One little jar will last about four months, which I think is amazing! A little bit sure goes a long way. R+F has SO many options, though, so if you’re looking for a skin care solution, get in touch with Elizabeth. She really knows her stuff and I know she’d LOVE to help you!

Young Living — Their website says, “Through the painstaking steps of our proprietary Seed to Seal production process, we produce the best, most authentic essential oils in the world. We are committed to providing pure, powerful products for every family and lifestyle, all infused with the life-changing benefits of our essential oils.” I love my essential oils. So much. I’ve been using oils for a couple of years, but I was ready to really jump in and get more serious about incorporating them into my daily life. I reached out to a sweet mama that I met through Matilda Jane, Carla Ledford, and she walked me through purchasing my first Premium Starter Kit. Not only did she send me super helpful information via email, she also sent me the most awesome welcome gift that included so much info about oils that I’m still reading through it weeks later. If you are ready to begin your own oily journey, reach out to Carla. You’ll be glad you did!

LuLaRoe  “LuLaRoe sells women’s dresses, maxi skirts, pencil skirts, a-line skirts, sheath dresses, and they are all simply comfortable.”  Amy Blevins is my closest LuLaRoe consultant and she’s super nice and helpful. Because of her, I am the proud owner of half a dozen LLR pieces, and I just adore each and every one. The leggings seriously can’t be beat. If you’re interested in hosting a show or joining her Facebook group, get in touch with Amy.

Jamberry — “Jamberry nail wraps offer the hottest trend in fashion. Wrap your nails in over 300 different designs.” I know several people who sell Jamberry, so I’ve bought from quiet a few parties. The wraps are so fun! They’re easy to apply and last for a couple of weeks. The junior sizes are so cute for littles and they even fit my nails! Haley Walton is a sweet friend and she just happens to be a consultant! She hosts fun games and giveaways on her Facebook page, so if you’re interested in giving Jams a try, I really suggest you connect with Haley. I’m sure she’d be glad to help you!

These are just four of my current favorite direct sales products. I have tried and liked several others (enough for another post!), and there are several others (like Younique) that I’d love to try!

Tell me, are you involved in the direct sales world? What do you sell? If you don’t sell, what are some of your favorite products? I’m all about supporting each other, so reach out here to make new connections. I’m happy to help!


My Very Own Project Photo Rescue

Have you been following along with Becky Higgins’ Project Photo Rescue? The entire process was so inspiring. I obsessed over the steps and details over on Instagram and decided to jump in and rescue my own photos…which needed quite a bit of help.

I’ve been scrapbooking for as long as I can remember. I have albums full of pictures from high school and I guess I discovered paper scrapping in college. I dove into Creative Memories in 2003 and stuck with that style of scrapping until around 2008. That’s when I switched over to digital scrapping and it was life changing! I quickly found a scrapping home over at Sweet Shoppe Designs and I’ve been there ever since. I took a hiatus from digiscrapping in 2013 and jumped into Project Life. Since then, I’ve been able to incorporate my love for digital with PL and I do a sort of hybrid style for my albums and it works out perfectly. Memory keeping is a so important to me and I knew I needed to get everything organized and accessible for our family. Project Photo Rescue has helped me do just that.

I decide to conquer the first step in getting my photos and scrapbooks organized. I brought all of my scrapbooks into one place (our classroom) to see just what I have and what I need. I would have guessed I had about 10 albums, but including photo books and Chatbooks, that number is closer to 40.  I really wanted to get my old 12×12 paper scrapped albums moved into Project Life albums, but I still have no idea what to do with the super old sticky film albums.


For step two, I rounded up unscrapped photos and memorabilia from around the house, took a shopping trip to Michaels to pick up a few more Project Life albums, and gathered everything I needed to get these photos into permanent homes.


Step three was a pain, so I got the kids involved in organizing photos by year. It’s easy to see the years before I embraced digital scrapbooking and PL because those are the years with tons of random photos!
In step 4, I got all of those photos tucked into albums. Then I totally copied the idea of using binder clips and card stock to label my non-project life albums. It’s a temporary fix, but it works for now! These albums house paper scrapped layouts, digital layouts, and random photos that are now safely in pocket protectors. What you don’t see? All of my PL albums (10).


My final step will be adding in all of my Project Life albums (10) and finding a permanent home where all of the albums can be easily accessible and neatly stored.

I feel so much better about the state of our memories. It bothered me more than I realized that I had a mess of photos and memorabilia that wasn’t organized. I want these albums to live long past me and I want my children and their children to be able to know about our lives just by flipping the pages. Now that will be much easier and I’m so glad.

So tell me, how to you preserve your family’s memories? Are you a scrapbooker? How do you organize? I’d love to see pics of your spaces! Feel free to share in the comments or follow me on Instagram to see more of what I’m doing to rescue our photos.


I’m a Pretty OK Mom

In my last post, I talked about five of the reasons I’m not a very good friend. Those reasons are still all true, but some of the things that make me a bad friend actually make me a pretty ok mom.

Sure, I’m super introverted, but that means I really like to hang out at home. I enjoy spending time with my little family and I’m never more relaxed than when I’m snug in my own house. That’s a good thing, since I stay at home and homeschool the kids. I think it would be even harder to be a stay-at-home mom if I weren’t so happy just being home with the kids. Being a mom makes being introverted not such a bad thing.

Of course, being home with these children is why I am so very tired, but I’m only tired because I’m so busy being a mama to them. My exhaustion is proof that I spend my days playing, reading, cooking, snuggling, nursing (yes, still), teaching, cleaning, and loving these babes. Being tired may make me more likely to be a bad friend, but it’s evidence that I’m a good mama.

Being insecure is kind of like breathing for me. It’s just part of who I am. My kids don’t know or care about my self-esteem. They aren’t spending their days looking for my faults, even though they do occasionally like to point them out. They’re far more interested in what I can do for them…and that’s pretty much everything. Maybe not so much for the older two, because they are getting to be pretty independent, but yes, pretty much everything for the baby. As long as I’m meeting their needs and loving on them, they just don’t really care about my feelings. And that’s a pretty good thing for me. I don’t have to hide my true self from them. They love me just because I’m the mama.

As much as I may not be dependable to people outside my family, here at home I’m a rock. I’m here. I show up. Every single day, I’m the one who is taking care of everyone. If they’re sad, or sick, or grouchy, I make them feel better. I make sure they’re fed and I even give them healthy food. Green smoothies are my method of choice because everyone loves them, they’re super nutritious, and I can relax and turn my head the rest of the day while the baby eats goldfish off the floor. It’s awesome. I’m also the one who makes sure they’re clothed every day.  Especially the baby, because if you turn your head for a second, he’s peeing in the closet. He has to be fully dressed at all times. Trust me on that.

And every day I make sure they’re learning, growing, and turning into pretty decent human beings. But more than all of that, I love them. They know I love them. They have no doubts about it. If you ask them how much mama loves them, they’ll tell you “more than the moon and the stars and the sky.” That’s how I know I’m doing pretty ok at this mom thing. And that’s really all I need to know.


5 Reasons I’m a Horrible Friend

It’s interesting to look back and see how easy friendships used to be. In high school and even in college, friends were one of the very most important parts of life. It was easy to make and keep friendships going. Something happened between then and now though, and it is has increased with each big life change and each new baby. I used to be a good friend. I’d initiate phone calls and hanging out and making plans. I could listen for hours about anything and offer advice and compassion and companionship. I’d show up. I’d be there. But not anymore. Now I don’t call. I rarely text unless you text first. I hardly ever actually show up. I’d love to pretend that I don’t know I’m a bad friend, but it’s pretty obvious. I’ve thought a lot about it lately, mainly because I’ve been kind of lonely, and I’ve come up with (at least) five reasons I’m a horrible friend.

  1. I’m painfully introverted. So much so that I’m flaky, distant, and private. I want to talk to you on the phone, but texting is much easier for me. Going out in groups is hard and makes me want to sit in a quiet corner alone. I’m essentially a hermit and that makes it pretty hard to be a good friend. If you can look past all of this, though, I’m super loyal and trustworthy. I’ll love you to pieces and pick you up when you’re down, but you’re going to have to get me out of my shell first. Not many people want to put that much effort in and I don’t blame them. I’m very unlikely to make the first move and that makes me seem uninterested. I’m not. It’s just really hard for me to be social and outgoing. Add in some major trust issues from friendships gone bad, and I’m pretty much a loner.
  2. I’m tired. Oh my goodness, am I exhausted. I only have three kids, but I swear it seems like there are a million of them and one of me and they wear me out. When I finally have a moment of peace, I just want to collapse on the couch, in my cozy bed, or maybe in a hot bath. I’m afraid talking on the phone or making plans to do something is the last thing on my mind. Don’t get me wrong. I want to go out away from my house and I really do want to have some fun, but I just don’t remember to actually do anything about it.
  3. Life is hard. It so is, isn’t it? I had a few rough years of uncertainty and responsibilities that made me anything but fun. I know I wasn’t happy-go-lucky or even moderately exciting during that time, and that’s not really what you want in a friend, right? And then, as if I wasn’t scattered and weary enough, we had a sweet little baby. Any tiny bit of fun that was left in me was totally gone. Add in the whole postpartum mess and I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to be around me. If you look up downer in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure you’ll see my face. True story.
  4. I’m insecure and I have nothing to offer. Well, at least that’s how I feel about myself a good part of the time. See? Told you I’m insecure. But really, I don’t have a lot to offer. I don’t have much time to spend chatting or texting, and, as I said before, I don’t really go out much. If you are my friend and you need me, I’ll drop everything to help you, but as for the day to day friending? I’m not very good at it.
  5. I’m not very dependable. It’s true and I hate it about myself, but at least I admit it. I have the very best intentions, honestly, but following through is not my strong suit. See number 2. And 3. Those both make me even less likely to be dependable than my introverted nature. I’m awesome in emergencies, but not awesome in normal daily life.

When I read all of this about myself, it’s a little sad. But it’s me and it’s true. I don’t believe in pretending to be someone I’m not, so I won’t pretend to be a good friend. I do hope that at least part of this is just a season of my life and that it will change. That I will change. I want to be better. I want to be fun and outgoing and exciting and maybe someday I will be. For now, though, this is my reality and I accept it for what it is.




Choosing Gratefulness

Choosing to live a life of gratitude sure is harder than it sounds. Everywhere we go, everywhere we look, we are bombarded by our need more and need it now culture. Patience seems to be a rarity. Compassion is hard to come by. Gratefulness is a bit of a mystery. It’s so easy to be sucked into what society says about deserving more and better and it’s hard to step back and say “No. I already have all I need.”


Kristen Welch, of We are THAT Family, gets it. Her book, Raising Grateful Kids in and Entitled World, launches on January 26. After reading just the first chapter, I knew this book was going to challenge me in some really uncomfortable ways. What I didn’t know when I started reading, was that the convictions I gained from the book would lead us to explore our entitlement as a family. I didn’t expect to implement new plans to combat that as quickly as we have. And I certainly never dreamed I would already see a difference in not only the kids, but the adults as well.

Choosing gratefulness is a big theme in our home right now. Showing the children how important it is to have a grateful heart is so important to me. I think nearly every time I ask them to do something they may not want to do, I end my request by saying, “and do it with a grateful heart.” Although I’m sure they’re getting sick of hearing it, it really is rubbing off.

Our new family motto that goes along with gratitude in a big way is “Less Stuff; More Adventure.” We don’t need more stuff. Do we want more? Sure, sometimes. Do we need to have more? No. So in living out our new plan, we’re making changes in the way we do birthdays. We’ve decided, as a family, to forgo gifts and instead have experiences. Our oldest, whose birthday is in a couple of months, is already thinking of some pretty awesome family adventures for us. He’s excited about the prospect of going somewhere new, so much so that the thought of all of the things he wants seems to have taken a backseat. We’ll do the same for our sweet girl when her birthday comes around in October. We’re going to be grateful for our time together, excited for new experiences, and grateful for all we already have.

However, promoting gratefulness doesn’t mean that the entitlement monster is completely gone. A few weeks ago, I noticed that screen time was really eating into our day and that’s not ok with me. In talking with the kids, I figured out that they felt they deserved to have screen time. After all, they do their school work, daily chores, and help with their little brother. They’re entitled to have screens anytime they want, right? WRONG. Those little screens are a luxury, not a necessity, and I knew I had to change up those attitudes quickly. So now, after a bit of resistance, they must earn their screen time in increments of 20 minutes. There’s an official chart and everything. They are completing their responsibilities with much more grateful hearts AND they’re appreciating their electronics more than ever. They now understand that they’re not entitled to screen time just because they help around the house, and they’re much more grateful for the time they do get.

For us, choosing gratefulness also means taking an active role in caring for what we have. We are blessed to live in a warm, dry home, and one way to show our gratitude is to take care of it. That means chores every day for everyone, kids and adults alike. It’s easy to grumble about my third load of laundry in a day, but it’s more important to demonstrate my own gratitude, because doing laundry means our family has warm clothes to wear and I have a nice washer and dryer to help keep clothes clean. When the kids complain about a chore, I remind them how very fortunate they are to be in a position to have chores to do. I’m the first to admit that there are days when gratefulness is hard, but choosing gratitude means trying our hardest to see all that we have to be thankful for even on the hardest days.

Choosing gratefulness and fighting entitlement in our home is not an easy thing. It’s an important one, though, and it’s worth the struggle. I’m so hopeful that the choices we’re making now will impact our children for a lifetime. I’m hopeful that gratitude will win over selfishness and that having a grateful heart will beat out always wanting more. We have so many blessings. We have more than we could ever need. More than anything, I want my children to never lose sight of how very fortunate they already are, no matter what our culture tells them about having it all.



Please join me on the #RaisingGratefulKids Blog Hop. Below you will find links to all of the FABULOUS blogs participating. There are some amazing articles here and I know you will enjoy them. Thanks so much for reading. I hope you’ll come back soon!

Inspiring an Attitude of Gratitude – by Alison
Rasisng Grateful Kids – by amanda
Why You Can’t Buy Gratitude At The Dollar Store – by Andrea
Missing – Gratefulness in our home – by Ange
Choosing Gratitude – by Angela
Gratefullness – by chaley
5 Steps to Gratitude-Fille Family – by Christa
Practicing Grateful Parenting – by Dana
Sing a Song – by Hannah
Cultivating gratitude in our family – by Jamie
Gratefulness In Our Home – by Jana
Let It Begin With Me – by Jen
Choosing Gratefulness – by Jennifer —–> You are currently HERE 🙂
Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World – The Book – by jeri
Eradicating Entitlement – What are you rooted in? – by Jessica
Gratefulness in our home – by Kate
The Problem With Entitlement is that it begins with us – by Katelyn
7 Unusual Ways I Know How to Be Grateful – by Kathryn
Raising Grateful Kids – by Keri
How My Children Remind Me to Pray with Gratitude – by Kishona
Grateful – by Kristy
Entitlement: The Ugly Truth of a Beautiful Lie – by Leigha
The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Raise Grateful Kids – by Lindsey
Dear Son: How Do I Teach You To Be Grateful Without Guilt? – by Marie Osborne
Gratitude, A Practical Definition – by Mia
Cultivating Gratitude in Our Home – by Nancy
Learning Gratitude through Chronic Illness – by Rachel
Being Grateful – by Rebecca
I’ve Found Something I Can’t Live Without – by Sarah
The Power of Naming our Gifts – by Sarah
Outfitted – by Sarah Jo
Growing Gratitude in our Family – by Sondra
Teaching Gratefulness – by Stephanie
How Grateful Looks From Here – by Alison
Fighting Entitlement in Children and All of us – by Leah
Entitlement Problem – by Karrie
Grateful Today – by Krystal