Archive - August 2017

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» In the Middle
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Legacy
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» Pillars of Remembrance
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» REVIEW: Coola Sport SPF 50 Guava Mango Sunscreen Spray
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» The eclipse will be fun they said…
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» REVIEW: Burrow Couch

» In the Middle

Last night we enjoyed some time in our town. Nashville in the late summer/fall is like none other. One of my favorite things to do with the kids is grab a meal and walk the pedestrian bridge over to the playground area near LP field. It was a normal Saturday night and of course the bridge was filled with tourists and Nashvillians alike. There were also several wedding parties headed out for photos on the bridge. We stopped to take a few pictures of the kids and watched as a large bridal party walked by.

The group was gorgeous. A collection of people who had obviously spent a large sum of money on the perfect hair, nails, gym memberships and attire to make the bride’s special day absolutely flawless. The wedding party was walking up the bridge on my right. To my left was a group of friends. They were likely college age or young career. The group was mostly black but I did spy a few who were not. They were super cute and looked like they were preparing for a fun Nashville evening. I overheard the girls in the group discussing how cute the wedding party looked. They praised the colors and the various aspects of how everything was put together. One girl in particular was so overcome that she yelled out Ya’ll look so cute!

What would your response be if you heard that? You might smile, nod, yell thanks! Something right? I truly hope so.

That’s not what happened. Instead, the members of the bridal party rolled their eyes. One girl said whatever. And they kept walking as if this compliment had messed with their moment of perfection. At this time I think it’s important to point out that this wedding party was completely white.

And here I stood in the middle with my family. Sick to my stomach. I watched the girl who made the comment say wow… and I watched her go through stages of embarrassment and offense. I should have approached her. But I didn’t. I wanted to somehow fix that moment. But I’m not sure I could have.

Right there as we stood in the middle I felt the weight of the tension in our country. I felt the weight of the very real thing that is privilege and racism. Could it have easily been switched around the other way? Sure. But that’s not what I’m discussing… although I know some of you will be quick to point that out.

What I want us to take away from this moment in the middle is this… we are not moving forward. We are stuck in a mess that leaves us broken and unable to communicate well. Can we please just step away from our pride and truly examine our hearts for racism, micro-aggressions and get to the root of this issue? I say that knowing full well that the root of this issue is a sinful heart.

I’m lacking in the answers department here but I couldn’t let this moment pass by without sharing a very real story that happened in my very real town in front of my very real children. I can’t help but wonder what that moment did to that sweet girl’s heart. I wonder if she will compliment someone again. Our words and actions create ripples. And in this case those ripples aren’t good ones that enact positive change. They spur on distrust, hate and tension.

The thing about the incident that haunts me the most is my failure to move. I’m certain that I should have gone to her and expressed my apologies for the actions of the bridal party. Not that I’m responsible for all white people everywhere… but as someone who was a witness to wrongdoing. It’s not possible that she will see this and read it… but if it were possible I would want her to know how sorry I am. The words of Dr. King are ringing strong this morning: The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

When you see something, when you know it’s not right. Speak up. It’s the beginning of the bridge toward understanding. Next time I’ll be sure to take my own advice.

Legacy

We are in the mundane middle of packing up a house. Taking all the things that represent you on earth and stuffing them in boxes will really get you moving in the minimalist direction. I’ve started selling things and giving them away, knowing that they won’t fit in the new house or won’t look quite right. The past five years have been a labor of love, transforming a house we thought might be home for a long time. It wasn’t, because there were different and fuller plans for our family.

I’ve always lingered over the emotions of the human experience. The letting go, the growing up, the disappointment, the tragedy and the overwhelming beauty. And there is nothing like a move with children to push you deeper into those musings.

Early this morning I took sandpaper to a table adorned with the first scribblings of my son’s name. Once he figured out how to personalize things he really went for it. He’s my fourth, but my first to really take a crayon or marker to walls, furniture, the brick exterior of our home and pretty much anything else he can access. I’ve found at least 7 “self portraits” and more Liam’s than I can count. I’ll admit, it was frustrating to find a sharpied, wide-eyed version of Liam carefully penned onto the patio steps. I did everything I could to erase it before the house sold. Nothing would quite take away the picture and there is still a faint depiction of that little stick figure if you look carefully when entering the back door.

Friends, this human experience is a beauty. One we should be so thankful to experience. It’s messy and most certainly lacks the perfection God intended… but it’s so full. We leave our marks across time and no matter how much time has passed there will still be lingering depictions of the lives we led… just as my sweet boy wanted to leave his mark in the place we call home.

I was talking with my grandpa yesterday. We chatted about the new house and all the plans I had to make it a home. We talked about how they were considering selling their home and moving closer to family. We have states and more states of separation between us all. He said I don’t want to just give it away, it’s not much, but I worked my whole life to own this little piece. I took that statement for what it was at the moment. Someone who worked hard, loved hard, gave more than what he had to give and was left content at the end of the day. Happy with the result of what he and grandma had built together.

But later that day an overwhelming revelation slammed into me. That new house we are moving into? That’s theirs. The things that flow out of me… my ambitions and accomplishments? Also theirs. Legacy is a powerful thing. By showing us what love is my grandparents have put their mark on my life. They have personalized me, added their stamp. Their long days of work, sacrifice and choices have all accumulated into who I am. My parents? The same. The work ethic… the understanding that we make hay while the sun shines. They have all put their mark on this life and it has tattooed  itself permanently into the fibers of my being.

Grandpa, Gran… you don’t just have that acre in Michigan with the house you call home. You have a daughter, 3 grandchildren, 3 grandchildren-in-law and 7 great-grandchildren. All that we have is a result of your steadfast labor and love passed down through time. We are your stamps on this world.

» Pillars of Remembrance

This morning I walked barefoot through my quiet home. The sun was coming through the window, sneaking down the wooden floors and spilling up and over my feet. It was bright, silent and eerily familiar. And suddenly an overwhelming moment of recognition came over me. August of 2016 was calling, late August and her heavy warmth was reminding me of an unexpected trial I walked through just a year ago.

On August 22nd I found myself at the Sarah Cannon Cancer center for a parathyroid tumor removal. There were many assurances that I would wake up from surgery feeling better than I had in years. But that was not the case. When I went home on the 23rd my body revolted. I spent months in a recovery that was supposed to take days. I was readmitted to the hospital at times and had a few ER visits as well. I was never sure when walking was a good idea because passing out or nearly passing out became normal. Making my bed was more than my body could handle. My friends and family had to swoop in to care for my family. My husband took the entire load of parenting at times. And in the thick of it I lost the ability to even sleep at night. I remember begging God to speed me to recovery. I also remember the clarity in those moments… understanding that this was a trial that would pass and be looked back on from another time with wiser eyes.

How quickly I forgot the pain after those months passed. How quickly I forgot the kindness of my friends and family. And most importantly  how quickly I forgot that God delivered me. At one point I was told that when the body reacts this way one can expect to remain in this state for 18 months to 2 years. I recovered in 5 months. Those 5 months felt like 5 years but they were 5 months nonetheless.

I was so quick to forget the pain and the deliverance from pain once the trial subsided. We humans are a forgetful bunch and that’s not altogether okay. I am a firm believer that our trials and stories are to be memorialized as testimonies to the way God works in our lives. I also believe that God is honored when we take time to remember our stories. In the book of Joshua (chapter 4) God instructs Joshua to have twelve men gather twelve stones from Jordan to serve as a reminder and memorial for future generations. Forty years of mere survival and difficulty were becoming history and God did not want them to forget what they had been delivered from. Additionally, during this time, God moved miraculously and rolled back the Jordan river, allowing the Israelites safe passage into the promised land, He did not want them to forget their deliverance… and His might.

And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’  For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

Joshua 4:20-24

I am thankful for the gentle reminder from my deliverer this morning. His kindness in my life is not overlooked, but I did not take the time to set up my own pillar of remembrance. I forget to tell the story of His faithfulness in dark hours. Today and in the future let that not be so. I’m testifying today that I remember what was done for me. I remember when the fog lifted and I walked without falling. God you are great and mighty and active in our lives. You are good even when the answers are not what we want. This is my pillar today, a digital testimony and reminder that You are faithful.

What is your story? In what ways has God delivered you? Take time today to remember and honor Him.

 

» REVIEW: Coola Sport SPF 50 Guava Mango Sunscreen Spray

Summer was way too short, as usual. Thankfully we still have weeks of warm weather, swimming and outdoor activities left in the year. Because we are outdoors so much in the summer I like to use a good SPF on our family. We’ve become hyper-aware of the dangerous chemicals in many popular sunscreens and were really excited to partner with Moms Meet and Coola when given the opportunity to test out a 70%+ organic spray on sunscreen full of antioxidant-rich ingredients like strawberries!

The Coola Guava Mango (SPF 50) spray went on evenly and quickly as we hurried to spend a day on the water with friends. I love spray sunscreen because it’s easy to get a good coating on the kids without wrestling them down and keeping them from wiggling away. We have been using a lot of mineral-based natural sunscreens and they are very difficult to rub in and leave white splotches all over my kids. Our family has a variety of skin-tones and the kids hate looking silly with white, greasy blotches all over their little bodies.

Not only is Coola Guava Mango spray easy to apply it also has ingredients that are good for our skin! Each bright turquoise bottle is full of aloe vera, algae extract and cucumber extract. These natural ingredients work together to soothe skin, renew and heal skin cells and protect against environmental threats. It’s a pretty hard-working sunscreen. Additionally the sport version is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. We also tried out the Mineral Sport SPF 50 tinted sunscreen stick. I absolutely loved being able to use a tinted sunscreen on my face and skip make up for the day. It went on smoothly and did not pull at my skin like many sunscreen sticks I’ve tried.

Coola operates under the “Farm to Face” code, meaning they believe in sourcing their ingredients and vendors locally to promote communities and jobs as well as cutting down on the costs of long distance shipping (both financial and environmental). In addition they use their platform to encourage and sustain local and organic farming. Just as we are careful about what we put IN our body we need to be aware of what we put ON our body as well.

To learn more about or order Coola products visit their website or your local Sephora, Ulta or Nordstrom.

Checking out the website? You’re in luck, my readers can use code Ho20 to receive 20% off their order!

 

*I received Coola products as a Moms Meet blog ambassador, all opinions are my own.

 

» The eclipse will be fun they said…

We live in the North Nashville area of Tennessee, just minutes from Gallatin, TN which has been hailed as one of the best places to view the total solar eclipse. In our area we are told to expect over two minutes of totality. Side note… using the word totality is so dramatic, and it makes me laugh.  This has of course caused a lot of excitement and party planning. Schools have closed, t-shirts have been made, people are renting out their houses to visitors coming from places as far away as Japan and apparently we need to get gas in the next 5 minutes because it’s totally going to run out. Oh… and groceries… we have to go get those as well because ALL THE FOOD WILL BE GONE.

At first this total eclipse business really sounded fun. Order glasses on amazon.com, find your party spot for the viewing and take the day off school. And then Facebook exploded. I’ve read countless stories of folks who have gone blind from starring at eclipses. And on top of that the glasses that everyone ordered on amazon are evidently all fakes and not “nasa approved.”

So let me recap this. There is an amazing eclipse coming, we will get to experience totality, it’s once in a lifetime, we get a day off school… but there will be no gas or groceries, traffic will be intense, we don’t have the right glasses and we now have to manage impulsive young kids who might accidentally look at the sun during the eclipse and blind themselves. <insert the wide-eyed emoji here>

The last eclipse excitement I can truly recall was in 1st grade. I lived in Michigan. I don’t think I discussed the eclipse with my parents, but I did go to school. It was fun and a bit exciting but we didn’t have themed snacks. We simply helped our teacher cover the windows with tin foil. I don’t know why and I don’t remember much else about it. But we weren’t afraid, or stressed.

After pondering how social media has intensified the total eclipse frenzy I hopped on the laptop to do a bit of googling to see how others have and/or are planning to view the eclipse safely. Here’s what I found.

Strategy 1: Find a furry friend and wing it with the amazon glasses
that may or may not be NASA approved.

Strategy 2: Require your kids/students to wear boxes
over their heads and take your chances by looking at the sun directly,
with only your reading glasses to protect your eyes.

Strategy 3: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
(thank you Pinterest)


Strategy 4: Light one up and roll with the free glasses from the library.
No worries, no problems.

Our family is going with a mix of strategies and will be gathering with a small group of people to enjoy our two minutes of totality. I hope my kids remain safe, deep breaths, and I’ll take some steps to achieve that but I’m also not going to freak out. Above all, I’m hopeful that we make memories as a family… the day we got a day off school and saw the sun slip behind the moon for 2 glorious minutes.

 

 

 

 

» REVIEW: Burrow Couch

When we first moved into our house, it was nearly a disaster trying to get our King size mattress upstairs. The house, built in the 80s, has a narrow staircase along with a lower ceiling on the first floor that made things difficult. We practically had to fold the mattress like a taco to make it up the stairs. If only we had foam mattresses back then that come nicely rolled up for easy transportation in tricky scenarios. For this same reason, we’ve never been able to have a couch upstairs.

Enter Burrow.

A lot like the foam mattress companies (Tuft & Needle, Casper, Purple, etc.), Burrow couches are delivered to your doorstep in boxes that easily fit through doorways and in our case, up a challenging set of stairs and angles. When Burrow asked us to put their sofa to the test, we knew we were going upstairs with it. Soon after, our UPS man delivered four boxes that make up a three-seat sofa.

With two people, these boxes can be brought up a flight of stairs super fast. It’s still possible for one person but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. The kids wanted to help so we decided to open the boxes up downstairs and let them take the individual pieces, the kids had no issues whatsoever.

You’ve probably guessed by these pictures that there is some assembly required. It’s true! However, once unpacked, it only takes about ten minutes to assemble without the use of any tools. The cushions that come vacuum packed are made with a high-density foam core so they will hold their shape. Around the foam is a pillow top and bottom, and that is the secret to the Burrow’s comfort.

The finished product is mid-century inspired furniture (a chair up to a four-seat couch) fit for your needs. We’ve now used the couch long enough to say that Burrow has passed the test of four children and two dogs, much credit goes to the stain resistant fabric.

Lastly, I can’t forget to mention the power cube that allows USB and standard plugs to be readily available right under the couch. Your guests will be surprised and delighted about this fun addition.

Conclusion

For anyone that lives in an apartment or needs to get a no-hassle couch upstairs like us, Burrow is a no brainer. Maybe those things aren’t hurdles for you and you just want nice looking mid-century modern furniture (designed by an award winning furniture designer), Burrow is for you, too. We have received so many compliments about the look and sleek style of the couch and everyone is even more in awe when we tell them the full story of Burrow. Moving it is so easy, in fact, we’ve already moved it three times in our home. We love this couch and plan to enjoy it for many years to come, no matter where home is.

Burrow website

buy Burrow on Amazon

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal