Archive - June 2017

» Conquer your days
» Houston, Star Fish, and the 2017 Hyundai Elantra
» On the other side of obedience
» Review: Sun Basket
» Year of Less: Birthday Update
» 2017 Father’s Day Gift Guide

» Conquer your days

Summer is slipping by. We blinked and June is counting her last four days. We’ve had our fun but we’ve had our rough days too. I’ve already had many days of white flag waving and complaining. Too many. It’s not fun to feel defeated. To call your husband with the “I’m exhausted” S.O.S only moments after he walks out the door. But my goodness I’ve done it. I’ve heaped all my defeat and unhappiness all over someone who, at the moment, was powerless to help.

One day in the middle of this frustration and unloading I found myself being annoyed with myself. Not with my kids, not with my husband. I was annoyed by my own voice. I’m supposed to be the strong, do it all, working mom. And the best I can muster is a complaining, venting phone call to my husband. Don’t get me wrong, Dad needs to be filled in on the day and the various antics… but what in the world was I expecting to happen with these phone calls. If I didn’t like hearing myself, I can’t imagine what poor Calvin was thinking.

I pondered what a small change in perspective could accomplish during the intensity of summer and sibling rivalry. What if instead of lamenting the hardships of the day I conquered them? Instead of crawling to the finish line and complaining about the challenge I could simply crawl across the finish line and celebrate the fact that I made it.

I’ve run many races, and they have been hard. I’ve wanted to quit and walk. But I didn’t, I pushed through and at the end I was glowing, proud of myself, enjoying ice cold water and patting myself on the back. Why doesn’t that translate into motherhood? Well. It does. It’s perspective. We can either view the day as something to be conquered, lived and celebrated or something to be lived through so that we can vent and complain about how hard it was.

When I prepare for a 5k or 10k I don’t typically just get up that morning and start running. I would either fail, hurt myself or make terrible time. This concept applies to parenting as well. Without preparation we aren’t likely to knock it out of the park. For me, that preparation starts in my heart. A change of the mind is nothing without a change of the heart.

God’s word has so many heart-permeating messages:

Proverbs 14:1

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Proverbs 31:26

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Luke 1:45

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.

God’s word is full of promises and encouragement! Not only do we find instruction and encouragement for how to be strong women, but God implores us to seek Him because our strength isn’t enough! My heart’s cry is this: Let me never be found as the foolish woman tearing down her own house. Rather let me be found with my eyes lifted up, speaking words of encouragement to my family. Let me savor the days and conquer them rather than giving myself over to them.

I hope you find encouragement here today, from one tired mom to another. Go conquer your days.

» Houston, Star Fish, and the 2017 Hyundai Elantra

Special thanks to Hyundai USA for allowing us to test drive the 2017 Hyundai Elantra. As always, these opinions are my own.

Cherry Pie Hospitality is hard to keep up with. It seems that every time I’ve visited Houston in the past two years, Cherry Pie has opened a new restaurant. The latest being Star Fish which has a seafood-filled menu that can accommodate all appetites. This time around I hopped in a Scarlet Red Hyundai Elantra and headed down to Star Fish to see (and eat) what the fuss is all about.

Here are some of our favorite things about the car followed by my grand experience at Star Fish in Houston.

2017 Hyundai Elantra

My first impressions of the new Elantra Value Edition was it’s sleek design and roomy interior. Besides the interior trim, there didn’t seem to be many noticeable differences compared to the Sport Edition I drove last time around. The inside fits four comfortably (five technically) with decent sized trunk space. I know I’m always in for an adventure driving the streets of Houston so the sport mode was a necessity.

all photos © Goodbye Normal

Things we loved:

CarPlay – I’m looking forward to how CarPlay will improve over the years. Built-in car GPS systems are so inferior compared to maps on smart phones. CarPlay was able to mirror Apple Maps onto the car’s display along with Spotify. iMessage is also another major component of CarPlay which took more time getting used to. Nonetheless, having the car’s display look just like my phone, squashed the learning curve and I was ready to go right away.

Style – Hyundai has come a long way with their designs. I have to admit that in the past, I might’ve been embarrassed with driving a Hyundai but those days are now gone.

Power – The Value Edition still offers a sport mode for the demands of driving in a bustling city. I was not disappointed at all by the performance needed to keep up on the Interstate.


A car with CarPlay is a huge selling point for me. The car was perfect for our trip and would make a fun commuter for anyone. The additional horsepower (vs. some of the other vehicles in the same class) is a benefit in a city that gives little grace for those that can’t keep up. The lane assists is a natural extension of the car and keeps anyone safer on the road.

Star Fish
191 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007

Step in and see the 300-gallon freshwater aquarium, you’ll know you’ve made it into the right place. The back wall at Star Fish is busy with a raw bar, which cranks out freshly shucked oysters, seafood cocktails, and massive chilled platters. We sat down and had a little of everything, some of my personal favorites were the Sizzling Shrimp, Lobster Puff Tacos, Steak Taretare and of course the Raw Oysters (Gulf, Maryland, and Maine). You’ll also want to make sure you save room for the White Chocolate Bread Pudding. Click through these photos to see more.

 all photos © Goodbye Normal

» On the other side of obedience

I am an adoptive mom. I don’t use the term unless I’m trying to explain why things, especially parenting, are a little different for me. The normal parenting books and tips don’t typically work for me. Two of my kids function a little differently and try as I might I can’t change their past. I also don’t have to accept that their past defines what they will become. Each day is moving forward and stepping back at the same time, yet I believe the days ahead have much more hope than darkness.

I’ve spent the last week living a little bit of that darkness. You see, when a child suffers trauma at a young age you can’t be certain when and where that trauma will manifest or erupt. You might be at Target, you might be at church and you might even be in the middle of the most fun activity of the entire summer. But it will erupt. I’ve learned not to take it personally in the years that we’ve parented and I’ve begun to anticipate it as well. But man, does it hurt the heart at times.

I was feeling very low and very discouraged at work today. But thankfully God was faithful to put something in front of me that spoke to my depths and gave me the reminder that I needed. I was chosen, selected and called to walk a very specific path with my children. There is no one better or more equipped for this job. And my children? They are children. It may take heart-wrenching, back-breaking work to get to the essence of who they are at times… but the preservation of their childhood and the redemption of past hurts is worth it.

The quote I came across at work was written by another adoptive mom, and in her story of saying yes she says There is a child waiting on the other side of our obedience. (You can read more here) The wonderful thing about this statement is that it doesn’t just apply to my children who joined our family through adoption. This applies to all children. Each day we say yes to walking through the hard things. We are obedient to the call of motherhood. We are obedient to God’s calling on our lives. When we say yes to kindness, patience, love and self-control we show them how to live.

My very soul is weary from things I have walked with my child this week. Anyone else? I am so thankful that there is purpose in these trials. I am so thankful that their is a child and a life on the other side of my obedience. It makes it all so very worth it despite the very deep valleys.

1 John 2:5-6

But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in Him. This is how we know we are in Him:
Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.

» Review: Sun Basket

We have tried several meal services over the past year but continue to look for fresher, organic and non-gmo options. We recently had the opportunity to try Sun Basket through the Moms Meet program and I’m excited to share our experience! Sun Basket has really fun design so we were especially excited to see the adorable box arrive at our doorstep. The farm fresh appeal carries into the packaging with sweet little images of sunshine and farm life.

As we began to unpack the box we appreciated the recycling directions and eco-friendly packaging. My husband is an avid recycler and quite the tree hugger so he was very impressed that Sun Basket went the extra mile in this department.


The contents were all labeled well and we quickly set out the ingredients to cook the first meal. A few of the ingredients were already chopped, carrots in this case, and this made the process even smoother.

The meals, in my opinion, were very straight forward and easy to put together in 30 minutes or less. They weren’t terribly fussy or overly complicated. We did run into this issue with other meal services. I need a meal service to make my life easier and don’t want to be in the kitchen preparing things for an hour. The kids were also able to join in as I cooked and that always makes for an enjoyable family experience. Sun basket recipes have suggestions for ways the kids can help out, I appreciated that they approached mealtime from a family perspective rather than assuming that mom would take the responsibility alone.

The meals were tasty and well thought out. Additionally the portion sizes were enough to feed two adults and four small children. We chose to order from the family meals section but there are definitely meals that would be catered toward couples or roommates if that is the preference.

If you are searching for a meal service that focuses on organic ingredients and simple prep this is definitely a great option. Click here to learn more about Sun Basket and try your first box at 50% off!


Disclaimer: Moms Meet and Sun Basket provided us with a meal service to sample. The opinions in this post are completely my own.

» Year of Less: Birthday Update

We are steadily continuing the year of less and it gets easier with each event. This week brought another opportunity to put our resolution into practice. Charlotte is turning 8 years old! She’s a bit of an old soul so while she still has the remainders of a baby face it seems completely probable and appropriate that she’s a full 8 years old. When my kids were very little I made a promise to soak in each day and stage and do my best to stay in the moment, this has made the passing years seem more realistic even if they do feel faster than I would like.

This year a few of our kids were at various camps during Charlotte’s birthday and Calvin had taken Liam to Houston with him. This gave Charlotte and I a golden opportunity to share some quality time. We started the birthday festivities with pedicures and talked about what event she might like to do for her birthday gift. She requested a surprise and I took that as a challenge. I discovered through a random Facebook ad that something called China Lights Nashville was currently set up at the fairgrounds. After viewing the press release and videos I knew this was just the event to celebrate my half-Chinese princess.

I’m a firm believer in dressing the part for celebrations. I told her to choose a favorite dress and chose one for myself as well. We put on lipstick and drove the 30 minute drive to the fairgrounds. I kept the surprise until we arrived and she began to see the lights. It was beautiful! If this event comes to a town near you I highly recommend a visit!

When we substitute events for presents we are in favor of going all out. This means dinner, dessert and specials drinks. This means that the gift recipient gets the royal treatment. It’s a full out attempt to create very fun, out of the ordinary moments and memories. It means saying yes to all the things that we often say no to. When you are one of four kids there aren’t as many moments like that so that makes days like this even more special!

During the evening I made sure to fill her head and heart with affirmation, I told her how wonderful she was and about all the ways she makes our home joyful.

The year of less has become less about reducing the stuff and more about amping up the intentional moments. The removal of things has caused us to focus more on what we do and say during celebrations. I hope that when we come to the end of this year our kids have unforgettable moments and a knowledge of their importance and place in our family.

» 2017 Father’s Day Gift Guide

Father’s day really crept up on us this year! We’ve had way too much fun kicking off Summer. Fortunately we were already thinking ahead and have compiled some interesting ideas for all the dads out there. Enjoy this list that doesn’t include ties OR socks!

1. Twelve South – Apple Accessories

If your household has been taken over by Apple, some accessories that match Apple’s design might be a nice addition to his desk or nightstand. We especially love the HiRise 2 stand for iPhone.

buy on Amazon
Twelve South website

2. EGO Mower and Lawn Equipment

Finally, a mower we can both agree on. The EGO Power+ mower is powerful with the torque of gas, but doesn’t require gas or a silly extension cord like the electric mower we used to own. The mower folds up nicely, runs at a low noise level, and starts up every time with a push of a button. EGO also has an array of outdoor equipment such as chainsaws, leaf blowers and edgers that all use the same battery. Read our full review here.

buy on Amazon
Ego Power+ website

3. Netatmo Smart Home

I’ve mentioned Netatmo and their beautiful smart home products in my Mother’s Day post. If you’re husband has (or wishes to have) a green thumb, the Personal Weather Station monitors outdoor environmental elements such as temperature, humidity, and pressure in real-time. If you’re husband is anything like mine when it comes to growing fruits and vegetables, he’ll need all the help he can get.

The Netatmo Presence is the first outdoor security camera with artificial intelligence to detect and report about people, cars and animals. When I get outdoor notifications about movement or activity, it includes the family member it sees. It’s also great to see if someone is loitering around the house, any cars that wait on the driveway for too long or in our case, a dog that gets loose. This camera is combined with a floodlight that needs to be hardwired so make sure you have a spot that will work along with 30 minutes to wire and properly mount everything.

Netatmo website

buy Netatmo on Amazon

4. Tablift iPad Stand

When this came in the mail, I have to admit, I laughed a little. But for the last eight years, we haven’t had a TV in our room. My iPad Pro now serves as our bedroom television that now sits comfortably right on our bed. The legs are designed in such a way that your legs can sit under the Tablift without knocking everything over.

buy on Amazon

5. MyQ Garage Door Opener

This has been one of Calvin’s favorite smart home devices. Chamberlain’s MyQ Garage works with most existing garage door openers and with a quick five-minute installation, your smart phone can open and close the garage door from anywhere! Now that our kids are older, they’re always opening the garage to get their bikes out but never remember to close them when they’re done. We had many mornings where we found the garage door open from the previous night. Now we can check from inside the house before bed and make sure things are shut without having to get up from the bed.

buy on Amazon
Chamberlain website

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal