Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bedtime, Sweet Toddler. Bedtime - and I mean it!

Bedtime tonight:

After FIRST going potty - at least twice - and all but the first unsuccessful attempts, reading books, getting “new” water, saying prayers, rock-a-bye-ing, singing lullabies, giving hugs and kisses, giving more hugs and kisses, and tucking her BACK into bed AGAIN for the Ump. Teenth. Time...:

I tell Ayla "It is bedtime, and I mean it!" 
She asks in the sweetest, most sincere voice possible (which is so, totally possible that it tugs at every last heart string that hasn't yet strung) "are you patiens all gone?"

Yes, dear. Yes, they are...

So, Daddy gets home from a long day of work. Tucks her in and says, "I mean it!"

And she tells him "Mommy says ‘I mean it,’ too."

You got it, chick-a-dee! That's teamwork right there. 

Love that girl to stubborn, sleepy pieces. (And that daddy of hers, too, by the way.)

Friday, May 8, 2015

An Open Letter to My Children: the Responsibility of Choice

My darlings, 

There are so many things I want you to understand in life, so many things I hope and try - try every single day - to teach you about life and living well. One of these things weighs heavily on my heart and mind today: the responsibility of choice. Please, don’t choose to see choice as a right, but rather as the responsibility it truly is. You will hear a lot of propaganda on “the right to choose,” regardless of the argument at hand. And while that propaganda does have a point: our opinions and choices belong to each of us and need to be our own as opposed to giving another person the power of your choice; there is fault in seeing this choice as an entitlement. Behaving as though you have the right to choose often leads to self-righteous decisions that pose a detriment to yourself and others. 

You see, as you go through life, you will be confronted with many opportunities in which you have the responsibility to make a choice. Sometimes, it will be as simple as choosing between fresh fruit or french fries as your side for lunch. Other times, the choice you are confronted with will hold a larger impact, such as how you treat another person, wether you take that sip of alcohol offered to you at a gathering with friends, or if you decide to take a relationship to a sexual level. With each of these circumstances, and many others throughout your life, you don’t get to make a choice, you have to make a choice. While I have hopes of the choices you will make - especially in the potentially life-changing situations - more importantly, I want you to choose responsibly. Make forward-thinking choices. Understand the potential results of each choice and consider those results before coming to a determination. And please know that I will always be available for you to discuss the situation, and I will do my best to help you come to a decision - your own decision - as opposed to infringing mine upon you.

I also understand there are a lot of external factors that will weigh into your decision. (My fingers are crossed that at least some of these factors will be the parental guidance you’ve received throughout your life up until this point of choice confrontation.) Regardless of which choice you make, also understand there will be consequences. Even if you make the “right” choice - or rather the better choice - such as choosing to not get into a car of friends when the driver has been drinking - there will be consequences. These are consequences that you will need to face, and while I’ll be by your side through whatever the consequence, these are still your consequences and the result of decisions you have made. Many choices result in consequences that will affect not only you, but others as well. These may be people you love, and some you dis-like (and that’s OK too), but they are all people and deserve to be treated with kindness. Regardless of the situation at hand, you always have the option to be kind in your choice. And I want to stress, being kind does not mean neglecting your opinion and delegating your choice to someone else’s wishes. Being kind means: do not be vindictive in your choice, intentionally hurtful in your choice, or - even worse - hateful in your choice. Every situation, even those of utmost difficulty, can be handled with firm, but gentle kindness.

I also acknowledge the fact that you are human and you will make mistakes. You may make a bad decision and you may face consequences that seem insurmountable at the time. And while I may not like or agree with a choice you have made, I will always love you and will do everything I can to help guide you through those consequences. While the consequences are yours, you will never be alone. 

Occasionally, you may find yourself in a detrimental situation that is the result of someone else’s choice. It may be unfair, but it is a part of life. Everything happens for a reason, and sometimes those reasons are because evil and meanness exist in this world. It is your responsibility to choose how you react to those situations. These choices theoretically have the power to perpetuate evil or dispel it. Choose wisely. Choose responsibly. 

All my love and understanding, 


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Welcome (me) Back! ...please?

"Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." -John Lennon

It's been a long time since I've published a new post. I've written many with great intentions to finish at a later date, but they all seem to be jumping in too deep and too fast to just complete one and publish it after being gone for so long. I don't have a justified reason for my absence. Life was busy happening and I simply didn't take the time for myself to do this that I love.

Since my last post in July of 2011, I've gotten married, pregnant, and delivered a baby. I've left my job, started working with my husband, and stayed home with my daughter - selfishly getting all of those wonderful baby "firsts" I would have otherwise possibly missed out on. I've grabbed amazing opportunities by the horns, continued to feed my passion of writing, and reintroduced myself to the love of painting I once had as a teenager (and, surprisingly, discovered it's something I still love to do). And in the next couple of months I'll be finishing a fundraiser book sale, starting a new part-time job as a grant writer, and celebrating my son's 13th birthday.

How this has all happened in 3 short years will never cease to amaze me. I feel like I've lived a lifetime since my last post - certainly a better life than I could have planned for - and yet it still feels like yesterday. I guess that's the funny thing about growing older. I always tell my son life just keeps getting better. He looks at me like I may be crazy, but someday, he will understand.

In the mean time, we're going to get through these teenage years - and middle school and high school - with a lot of courage, optimism, faith, and prayer. He's a great kid, and I'm excited to see the young man he's becoming. We're also going to get through the toddler years - and temper tantrums and limit pushing - with all of the same. She's so strong already, and I love seeing her personality and individuality shine. And with teenage and toddler happening at the same time, life is sure to be interesting!  

For more information on my fundraiser book sale, please visit:

My goal is to sell 500 books by December 21! The cause is worthy - please consider helping!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Patience? What’s that?

Patience happens to be something I find I have very little of… I try to be patient, but Oh! The anticipation! Regardless of the anticipated outcome: good or bad, I want it here. And I want it now.

…I admit that I’m a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to patience. I’m consistently telling my son to be patient: don’t interrupt; no, we are not there yet; wait until you are older; among the many other quips we, as parents, find ourselves repeating over and over to our children. I even ask my fiancĂ© to be patient: I’ll be ready in 5 minutes; I’ll just quickly run in and out. However, he admits to being even less patient than I.  

We all find ourselves with patience tried at one time or another. But can you imagine being patient in a time a loved one has beaten you or your children? Or being patient with a woman that continues to return to her abuser, time after time?

As the saying goes, time heals all wounds, but who has the patience?

Those at Children’s Inn have the patience of saints. The women, the children, the counselors, the volunteers: they all, while patience may be tried, take the time to heal the wounds, waiting, with patience. Anticipatory, likely; but patient still.

In the beginning of 2010, I had the opportunity to help initiate a makeover effort for Children’s Inn. The plan: grand, the timeline: immediate, and the effort: valiant of all involved. However, the execution? Delayed, and delayed, and delayed again.

Towards the end of 2010, my fear was that this effort would be abandoned, and that was something I could not bear. I had made a commitment to Children’s Inn and vowed to see it through. So, after months of work had gone into the effort, the effort was revised. The plan: less grandeur, more basic with functionality; the timeline: immediate still; the effort: unbelievable. And the execution? Completed!

Through Furniture Outlets USA, South Dakota Furniture Mart, and their fantastic and caring vendors, an overflowing amount of participation and assistance poured in. And finally, in May of 2011, the install took place.

Three common areas, a large family room, a small family room, and a teen area at Children’s Inn received fresh paint, all new furniture, area rugs, TVs, and wall art. The visible difference was drastic and beautiful; from industrial to cozy, stark to warm. The response was heartfelt and humbling, to know that those seeking safety will also find a comfort of home they may have never known before.

There is now an electric fireplace crackling in the large family room in front of the large scale sectional. And over-stuffed, comfortable rocking chairs towards the back of the room to comfort small children.

It is not uncommon to find someone curled up on the chair in the small family room quietly reading a book. Or find older children playing video games on the new flat screen TVs in the teen area.

And to witness this transformation for Children’s Inn? Definitely worth the wait.

Patience, while fleeting, is a wonderful thing. Because you can’t deny, some things are just worth waiting for. Some things are worth never giving up on. And the best things are often the most difficult to obtain, requiring hard work, and, of course, plenty of patience.

Click on the photos to the right to view some before and after makeover pictures of Children’s Inn.

To learn more about Children’s Inn and how you can help stop the violence visit

Friday, February 4, 2011

Get Your Red On!

I’ve always loved the color red. It’s so vibrant, so alive. Wanna make a statement? Red makes it loud and clear. I’ve got a red leather purse, red shoes, a few red shirts, and a little red-dress pin. And I’m wearing many of these things today for National Wear Red for Women Day. What a fantastic cause!

A woman’s heart bears many things. We bear the pain of our loved ones: the worry, the fear, the sorrow, the broken hearts, the disappointments, the aches, and the tenderness. And we revel in their joy.

I remember reading an email about being a mother, and it reasoned that the experience of having a child gives a woman the ability to live with her heart entirely on the outside of her body. I love that analogy… I’ve found no better explanation to describe how much a mother cares for and loves her children.

But it isn’t just the mothers’ hearts that need protecting. It’s the hearts of all women.

So, I ask you to join me today. Get your Red on.

**for more information regarding heart disease, please reference these websites:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I Want for Christmas

"Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God." - Mark 10:14

This is the bible verse written on hundreds of books I delivered to the Children's Inn last night. Hopefully the boxes of books will last a little while, as they are intended for children ages 5 and under. But in addition to my book delivery last night, I also delivered 21 blankets, to make a gift set, for the 21 children, ages 5 and under, that will be spending Christmas at the shelter because their homes are not safe. Sadly, this count does not include the women and other children that are over 5 years...

I brought Isaac with me, mostly to be my helper. On our way there it dawned on me: he will be celebrating 6 Christmas parties this year, with 6 families that love him, protect him, and help him succeed. I have no doubt in my mind that Isaac is aware of all of the love and support he has, as well as the sheer amount of presents he'll be raking in this holiday season. But what about those 21 kids, 5 and under, whose homes are too unsafe to spend Christmas? Where is their love and support? Please don't misunderstand me - the effort of the Children's Inn staff is a Christmas miracle for the women and children that need them all year long. But the shelter, although safe, still isn't "home." Not the kind of home I know and love.

I think of the Christmas lists my son made and all of the toys and games he wants. And although there are a few things on that list he will be denied - like the live lizard, for example - most of his wishes he will get this year. Not to mention those few things I know he'll love, that he just didn't think to ask for.

I think of my own Christmas wish, of spending time with the people I love most. And I can feel the anticipation of the gatherings that start in just a few days. It's palpable. It's so close, I can almost taste the treats and smell dinner cooking. I don't have to wait long for my wish to be granted.

I can't imagine Christams wishes like mine being worlds away from my grasp. I can't imagine wishing the person I loved most would love me in a less painful way. I can't imagine my child wishing for fears that he should never have had to experience in the first place to subside. Or for him to be excited about the very things we take for granted every day - like the milk in the fridge, the blankets on our beds, and even the toys on the shelf (or, more frequently, on the floor). It's unfathomable.

This holiday season, and every season, we should all say a prayer for those less fortunate. Lend a helping hand in some way, whether it be through a donation or deed. I know in my heart there is more I can do for others. It is easy to forget, when it isn't the life you live, but helping one in need is something you'll never regret. And it may be the best gift they have ever received. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vulnerability. It's What Love Is.

I like to think of myself as being a strong woman. A pillar of strength for my friends and my family, a role model, a leader, even a furniture mover when necessary.

But, I'm not strong.

I have been a single mom for the past 5 years. Braving the boogie man, the monsters under the bed, the others in the closet, the strange creaks at night, and the startling crash of thunderstorms. Fixing the ear of the teddy bear the dog chewed on, the holes in the t-shirts, the TV remote control, the computer when its too slow, among countless stuck zippers. Teaching how to tie a shoe, button a shirt, ride a bike, throw a football, and show kindness to others. Comforting when a knee is scraped, the flu is caught, a fever is breaking, legs are aching, or a tummy just hurts.

But, I'm not strong.

I have been a manager, leading a team of advertising professionals, who also happen to be some of my closest friends. I've conducted meetings for company presidents and chief officers, held forums for giant corporation VPs, and presented at the front an entire organization - not to mention high schools and elementary schools.

But, I'm not strong.

I have managed to move a full-sized sofa, circa 1970-something, out of a living room, through a hallway, aroung the dining room corner, and down a flight of 20 steps. Which, rather than strength, was far more of a show of stubborn resolve combined with the advice of my father to slide it down the steps on it's back. ...He just didn't realize over the phone that I was doing this solo. Regardless, his brilliance proved a positive result for me to get what I wanted: that 70's sofa outta there and myself unscathed!

But, still, I am not strong.

I've shown strength, but not because it's what I am. Because it is what I have had to do. It was always as a response or an action. Not a state of being. While experiencing all of those situations that have forced me to exhibit some level of strength may have helped to form who I have become, it isn't the situation or the strength that defined me then or now.

Because I am not strong.

I seem to do a fair job at keeping up with the appearance of having a modicum of at least inner strength, but in reality, I'm only strong when I have to be. When there is no other option but to be strong, until the moment comes when I can fall apart. It inevitably happens... most comfortably in my own bedroom, after my son is sound asleep, and I am by myself.

Because I am vulnerable.

Feeling vulnerable is scary. Letting others witness your vulnerability is even more scary. At least it used to be, for me. But I've found something magnificent. Relieving, really, when you stop to think about it. Because I've found this crazy thing that allows me to let my guard down. And a person who catches me when I fall down, feel down, break down. I assure you, I am far less than beautiful during these times.

But he loves me still.

That's what real love is. It is the allowance to let it all out to a heart that listens, cares, understands, and doesn't judge you. A real love enjoys the best of you, laughs with you, plays with you; and when you need it most is there for you with a shoulder cry on and arms to wrap you up with, which manage to make things better somehow.

It's knowing that you don't have to do it all on your own - not that you aren't capable, but that there is more than you. It's sharing - not just the good times, but also those that you aren't quite sure how else to get through.

It's an accordance. It's acceptance. It's vulnerability.

It's what love is.