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Another day, another season
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» On attachment, blindness and the support we need
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» REVIEW: Kwikset SmartCode Deadbolt
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My Travel Essentials
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» The Mondiest Monday
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» Thanks, Hero-Mom
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» Chattanooga Fun in the 2018 Mazda CX-9
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» It’s hard to wait: Pride and parenting
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» My Current Amazon Obsessions
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» Asleep by 8

Another day, another season

Ten months ago we sold a home that we toiled over. We had shiplapped, painted, repaired, roofed, removed walls and the list goes on. Despite those things it wasn’t hard to say goodbye. We were moving forward into a new space that included trying out a Christian private school for our children after years in public school. These last ten months were a good ten months. Our kids grew and learned new things about themselves. Additionally they grew confident in who they are as individual people. Interestingly enough, even as we saw positive things, we ultimately began to feel like this season was exactly that… a season.

The Lord began to alert our spirit to things that we value as a family and as the end of school was in sight the decision to move our family to another home and a new school was solidified. We put our home of ten months on the market, with the help of our long-time friend and realtor, and had multiple offers within a day of showing. This was the first in a series of confirmations that eased our souls as we began to make big changes in a short amount of time. I’ve said in the past, likely in this very space, that we as a family will never be afraid of changes. We will try, and try again in our daily pursuit to live out a life that reflects what was done for us, and all mankind, through the Gospel.

And that, the Gospel, is something I want to highlight today. It’s not complex nor is it hard to define. It’s the greatest truth that we can grab hold of.

Sin entered the world due to human choices. Sin brought destruction, evil and separation from a holy God. But God had a plan. A plan that began to take shape in the Old Testament. A plan that was foreshadowed, prophesied of and looked for in the the bloody and tumultuous pages that lead to the New Testament.

The Gospel is the great news of Jesus Christ, the son of God, fully God and fully man. The Gospel is the GREAT news that God sent Jesus as a righteous and blameless substitute for us. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we can be justified to God. Because of what HE did, because of this great love story of abundant grace that redeems us, we can, by faith enter into a personal and saving relationship with God.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

Moving and a Gospel message. How do these things come together? We believe so fully in what Jesus did for us that we also believe it is imperative that there is never anything complicated or confusing in the components of what make up that message. It is not muddy or unclear in the Bible and therefore should be easily explained by those who follow Jesus and know His word. We have found, in recent experiences, that the Gospel message became complicated, and that was not something we could continue to align with. And while we understand that multiple interpretations take place when human eyes hit the pages of the Bible we hold to the truth that we see time and time again in the simplicity of who Jesus is and what He accomplished on our behalf. Without any agendas inserted.

Our prayer is that as we move back into the public school system we have opportunities to love our neighbors like crazy. We have found, in the last year, that retreat is not the answer to the world, and as comfortable as it sounds to live and serve with those like you it’s not the answer for our family.

» On attachment, blindness and the support we need

This may be the hardest blog post I’ve ever written. It’s hard because it may offend people who had good intentions. And I’m thankful for those intentions. But at some point life must be lived and explanations must be given and teaching moments should take place.

My daughter is legally blind. She was also adopted at 5 1/2 years old. This creates a complex set of issues that we, as a family, deal with on a daily basis. The blindness/visual impairment… honestly not a big deal. The attachment issues and past trauma… really big deal.

This summer marks four years home for our daughter and we decided that it was time to let her fly a little bit. To go and do all the fun things that our other children were doing. We have NEVER restricted her from activities due to her vision condition. She has gone on the tallest water slides, rope climbing courses, swam in the ocean… you name it, she’s done it. However, we did restrict her from activities that involved adults and older teenagers because she has difficulty discerning who she can and cannot attach to. When an adult shows her attention she thrives on it and begins to seek an inappropriate amount of attention from that adult.

Here’s what we have learned in the past several years. People often do not know how to react to children with disabilities such as blindness. They are either intimidated, over-indulgent or hands-off. Fortunately we have met people who reacted appropriately, but honestly those people are few and far between. It seems incredibly difficult for kids and adults to treat her like a typical child. Rather we frequently get two extreme spectrums: the celebrity treatment or name-calling and excluding. Neither of these are healthy for our daughter, yet we can’t seem to convince people to treat her just like any other kid.

No child is more special than any other child. They are all created differently yet deserve equal treatment. Elevating a child and giving them extra attention because they have a disability can be incredibly crippling. Lola’s life is going to take a lot of extra work and she can be just as successful as any other person. BUT if she is surrounded with people elevating her beyond her peers and making life easier on her she will never learn to work as hard as she needs to. Lola needs the chance to be treated like every other child her age. 

Our difficulties in this area are compounded because our daughter is also struggling with attachment. When adults give her extra attention, more than other children, it causes a bigger rift in our relationship. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given adults guidelines such as: please don’t hug Lola, please don’t call her name with huge high-fives EVERY time you see her, please encourage her to play with other children when she tries to hang out with you… only to have these guidelines completely disregarded.

When she returns from a place or event where she has been showered with attention and allowed to do things her way without question our home becomes chaos. We are placed at square one again, no matter how much work we’ve done on the front end. All of our efforts are completely wiped out.

I am explaining all of these things because you may know our family or a family like ours. We desperately need your support to help our child grow emotionally. We need you to allow US to give the hugs and compliments and we need you to provide structure, boundaries and normalcy when you happen to be with our child.

» REVIEW: Kwikset SmartCode Deadbolt

Since turning our home into a smart home with a SmartThings hub and installing a Ring Pro doorbell system, replacing the traditional lock on the front door has been a priority.

Before

Calvin and I have historically been terrible at remembering to lock the door on the way out. Add kids into the equation and it becomes even easier to forget! The challenge is not only making sure the door is locked on the way out, but also making sure people don’t get locked out when they’re not supposed to be. Faced with these two issues I began to look for options. My research led me to this Kwikset SmartCode Deadbolt lock. I can now use my phone to lock/unlock the door OR use the digital keypad. This came in ultra-handy when I locked my keys, phone wallet AND groceries in the car at Aldi and had to walk/jog home empty-handed (true story).

This primary feature among others (listed below) is why we love it so much:

  • Touchscreen, great for design and function
  • Keyless entry
  • One touch locking
  • Works with Amazon Alexa via our Samsung SmartThings hub (or Wink for others)
  • Up to 30 user codes so I can track who is using their “key”
  • You can re-key the lock yourself to use your existing keys

Installation

The deadbolt works with standard size door cutouts (1-3/8in. – 2in.) so for us, no new holes were required. Simply remove the old deadbolt and install the smart one. When we first tested the lock, the deadbolt didn’t extend as far as the unit wanted so we had to make sure the lock was lining up correctly. I also utilized a spade bit to make the hole in the door frame about 1/4″ longer. Even with that minor hiccup, the installation process only took about fifteen minutes.
From there, it was time to set up manual codes and connect the lock to my iPhone’s SmartThings app. If it isn’t the first device you’ve added to your app, both of these steps will only add another five-ten minutes, depending on how many manual codes you set up.

Design and Function

This lock is made of a heavy metal that’s built to keep anybody out, as a deadbolt should. The touchscreen is responsive and bright when you touch the keypad to activate it. When unlocking the door, you have to enter the code but when leaving the house, you can simply touch the padlock icon to lock the door. The SmartThings app can unlock and lock the door as needed. A few advanced functions include locking the door at a certain time every night (this will only occur if the door is unlocked) or lock/unlock the door automatically depending on if you (really this is detecting your phone) are leaving or arriving.

Conclusion

With four kiddos and a dog running around, you can never be too safe. I love knowing that my door will lock every night on it’s own as I manage bedtime for my family, talk about peace of mind! There’s nothing worse than leaving for a trip and wondering if the last person out the door remembered to turn the lock. With the addition of this lock I’ve gotten into the habit of double checking to see if the door is locked when we’re gone for an extended period of time. Another bonus? I no longer need to equip my kids with keys that they might easily misplace. The thought of our house keys floating all over Nashville is frightening. If your house is as busy and crazy as ours, I definitely recommend this product.

Kwikset website

Buy Kwikset SmartCode Deadbolt on Amazon

 

 

I received this product from Spectrum Brands to complete this review, but the opinions expressed here are my own.

My Travel Essentials

Over the years I’ve flown to many international destinations as part of my work and calling. This means lots of long-haul flights, jet lag and sleepless nights. Thankfully those things pale in comparison to rich-cultural experiences, an expanded worldview and making some of the best friends I could have ever hoped for. These many long flights have helped me appreciate many of the modern conveniences we can utilize to make our travels a bit smoother. Here are my favorites (tried and true!) below. Again, nothing on this list that I haven’t tried and loved. Get ready to learn how to survive your next long flight and International travel!

Good Ol’ Ethiopian Airlines

Supplements:

Hydration and proper supplements can go a long way when you are in a different climate and altitude. Flights dehydrate you pretty quickly, staying on top of water consumption and electrolytes is key. I use these electrolyte powders once during the flight and every day while I am on the ground at my destination in addition to doubling or tripling my water consumption.

Additionally, I use a combination greens powder and probiotic from Amazing Grass. This helps keep things regular and provides a bit of tummy insurance. These single serve powders are in my top three must haves!

If I’m having a hard time adjusting to a new time zone I often use melatonin or dream water for the first few nights.

Flight Accessories:

I historically cannot sleep on long flights, or any flight for that matter. BUT I have tested out a few travel pillows that provide great support and would allow any other normal person to get a few hours of sleep. I recommend the Cabeau Evolution, in fact it’s coming with me on my looming 30+ hour trip next month. It it made from dense memory foam and has ample neck support all around. Additionally there is an adjustable strap in the front that prevents it from slipping around during sleep. The Cabeau is also packable and comes with a little bag to keep it clean during transit. The bonus? The cover is removable and washable!

 

An eye mask is another great essential. Most international flights provide one for passengers, but I prefer to bring my own, like this one, that does not lay against my eyelashes. So much more comfortable! You might look like a bug, but there will be no pressure against your eyelids!

I like to carry a scarf with me any time I fly. This is truly a multi-use item. It can warm you up and protect your nose from interesting smells all at once! I love my secret pocket scarf, similar to this one, that also discreetly packs away cash and my passport! Speaking of passports, I use a passport wallet with RFID blocking technology when I’m in transit, it keeps me organized and keeps my information secure.

Snacks:

Airplane food is pretty bad, and often tummies don’t agree with local food. Personally, I love local food and look forward to trying everything but I’ve seen too many folks struggle with food and then struggle to stay nourished overseas. Here is my personal snack stash list, that I carry for myself and to share with others.

Vermont Smoke and Cure Sticks

Lara Bars

Chewy Banana Bites

Protein Bars 

Chocolate Covered Almonds

Dried Mango and Figs from Trader Joes

Packing:

If I am traveling to a warm destination I like to bring a rechargeable fan. This creates a nice white noise and also moves stagnant air. I’m all about trying to rest well when I’m dealing with jet lag and long days. I want to be fully equipped to give a full day! I also smush my personal pillow into my luggage, just one more thing that helps me rest well when it’s time to recharge at night. For packing clothing efficiently I utilize a set of packing cubes.  This allows me to separate garment types and sift easily through the inventory within my pack.

I saved my favorite packing companion for last, GoToobs! They recently launched new and improved items and I’ve utilized several of their styles and sizes to safely pack my liquids and gels. I choose GoToobs over traditional toiletry bottles because they are squishy. They won’t bust or break open and have an exclusive loop-lock system for extra security. The loop can also be attached to a backpack or carabiner, I use the smallest size to mix up my own healthy hand sanitizer. (grab that recipe here!)

Gotoob also makes GoTUBBs that are perfect for over the counter medicines. They can be opened with one hand using a light squeeze at the base. They pop right open giving you quick access to tummy meds or whatever medication you need quick access to. You can see all GoToob and Tubb options by visiting the Human Gear site.

I hope this “list” is helpful to you as you plan your adventures near and far!

Feel free to throw questions in the comments if you have any!

 

» The Mondiest Monday

March 26th began as the Mondiest type of Monday. You know, the kind of Monday that starts with too little sleep and things that aren’t tragic but border on being almost tragic?

I was sound asleep at 6:30am, which is unusual because my body clock never allows me to sleep past 6. I was awoken from my deep sleep by Calvin’s slightly alarmed sounding whisper/yell. I need your help, quickly he said. I untangled myself from the six-year old who had made his way into our bed at some time in the night and noticed that our 10 year-old son had also joined us. I vaguely remembered talking to him in the night but didn’t dwell on that and quickly slipped out of bed to find out what Calvin needed.

As I made my way out of the bedroom I could hear our daughter getting ready, she rides an earlier bus than the others, and began to worry that she was sick or hurt. My fears were quickly replaced by new fears when Calvin said it’s the hamster. A good many scenarios went through my head in that moment, and they were mostly gruesome. I then remembered what Elliott mentioned in the night! He sleepily murmured that while he was in the bathroom Finn, the hamster, crawled onto his foot! He had carried Finn back to his cage and then decided to come down to our bed.

I’m going to stop here for a moment. We love(d) this hamster. I had several hamsters growing up, all who met their end by escaping down vents, but never a hamster as sweet as Finn. Finn was a cuddler. He loved to be held and often fell asleep in our kids’ arms. He never ran away when they tried to pick him up, instead he would wait at the edge of the cage and make noises, soliciting for someone to come get him. He ate apples, pears and spinach from our hands and fell asleep in the hoods of their jackets. Finn’s favorite human in the house was Elliott. He often escaped and found Elliott and his cage was housed in Elliott’s room.He was most definitely the best hamster ever. And as a result the kids played with him a ton and enjoyed him immensely.

So there we were in the early morning light, Calvin looking pale and me looking at him trying to figure out what’s up. The hamster is dead Calvin said… Lola stepped on him. The means to Finn’s end was a series of unfortunate events. Lola rose early that morning, like a champ, and bounded down the stairs like always. She likes to hop and kind of leap down the stairs. We tend to fuss at her for this, because safety, but she never stops. She’s like our very own Tigger… but her actions are not the actions that triggered Finn’s untimely death.

Here we have the series of unfortunate events, not to be confused with the book series: a crafty hamster escapes and finds his boy, the boy returns the hamster to his cage, the boy fails to notice that the cage is loose and therefore not able to contain the crafty hamster, the boy goes downstairs in the early morning, the girl wakes up for school with limitless energy, the girl is also blind and cannot see what is on the stairs, she then hops down the stairs, the very stairs that the boy just went down, the very stairs that the crafty hamster followed the boy on… and as she leaps off the last and final step she lands squarely on the hamster who had just made quite the trek to follow his boy. (Events confirmed by our canary security camera)

I went to the bottom of the stairs and saw our little Finn. He was quite the mess. Calvin quickly let me know he wasn’t up for handling this job. (Moms… we are the tough ones) My stomach was turning a little and honestly I shed a few tears. I grabbed a few items and began to clean up the splatter zone created by the shear force of Lola’s last jump off the bottom step. I could hear Lola in the bathroom brushing her teeth. She told Calvin she landed on something but still had no idea it was the family pet.

After Finn was cleaned up, Calvin and I had a chat. We decided that we could not tell the kids that Lola landed on Finn. Rather, we decided to share that he had come down the stairs and somehow gotten hurt and killed in the process. Why? Because Lola didn’t need the responsibility and the others didn’t need to blame her. I’m going to call this parenting technique shielding.

Well friends, the kids were very grieved. We processed their loss with them and said all the right parenty things.

But guess what? Lola is smart. She put two and two together and outed herself. She realized that the thing she stepped on was Finn. She had a good cry, but I underestimated her ability to forgive herself, she did that with ease. She then outed herself to her siblings, who also forgave her.

That’s our family. We loved a hamster who met his end when our blind daughter jumped off the bottom step in the early morning and pulverized him. As parents we underestimated our children’s ability to process and forgive and instead fed them a story to protect them. It was a two-fold lesson for us.

1. Don’t buy small pets who have a tendency to escape if your child is blind.

2. Don’t underestimate your kids and take away their opportunity to extend forgiveness.

We will figure out this parenting stuff eventually. 

 

 

» Thanks, Hero-Mom

We enjoyed a fun Spring Break that included driving to Nana and Papa’s in Charleston, SC. We helped a bit as they moved into their new house but also took time to go to the pool and hit the beach. The week was mostly low-key, uneventful and full of family time.

One afternoon, my sister and I took our crew, seven kids total, to swim at her neighborhood pool. We delighted in watching the kids jump into the cold water and sun themselves in the many vacant chairs found by the poolside. We never took our eyes off of them. As the afternoon went on a few other families, undaunted by the chilly water, also showed up to enjoy opening day of the pool season. We still didn’t take our eyes off of the kids as they found additional friends and added to their poolside antics.

The older kids began a swimming race after we encouraged them to get back in the water. With slightly blue lips and shaking legs they agreed. It’s always fine once you’re in the water, they warmed up quickly and enjoyed their racing. After about 10 minutes I heard Lola across the pool. My daughter Lola, as you likely know, is blind but she is all around the pool like any sighted child her age. She needs assistance from a parent or sibling at times, but it’s just not a big deal for her to navigate. However, as she participated in the race she got confused about her position. She continued to swim but became more confused and called out for help from her siblings. They didn’t hear her as they made their own way, racing across the pool. I stood and began to make my way over to give her verbal directions to the side of the pool, which was very close to her. She was still doing well, but self-advocating louder for help as I made my way across the pool area.

Before I could reach her I noticed another mom pick up on the word help. She sprung into action and dove into the pool to get Lola. Lola was confused when this happened and struggled against her a bit. Then, as if in a serious of unfortunate events, the hero-mom began to struggle herself.

At that point I dove into the water, fully clothed, to rescue both of them.

I found myself feeling a bit irritated as I drug everyone out of the water. Everything was under control, I thought to myself. But there I was, soaked and dealing with a somewhat awkward situation. But as I thought about it, and we all pulled ourselves from the pool, I realized that the world needs a whole lot more hero-moms willing to jump into the deep end. She didn’t wait to figure out the situation, analyze it or weigh the options. She saw a child in need and she took the single action that made sense in that situation.

She acted. She helped. 

Action is what the world needs. People willing to get messy, willing to jump into the lives of others without asking all the questions first.

So thanks hero-mom. I decided not to tell you the whole story, I thanked you for your help and let you believe you saved the day. Because you did, and you reminded me that there are good people. I hope you keep jumping in for every kid. I hope you retell this story and inspire others to act. You are what’s right in this world.

 

 

» Chattanooga Fun in the 2018 Mazda CX-9

Winter has really felt never-ending. Although it didn’t get super cold this year the Spring has still taken its time to come around, we’ve even had strange little snow days pop up here and there. The rainy and cold weather was really getting to us and we felt that a family weekend getaway was in order. Thankfully we live in the Nashville area and places like Chattanooga are just a quick two-hour drive away. The Mazda CX-9 was our road trip companion for this trip and it was an exciting departure from our usual eight-passenger minivan.


Here are a few things we especially liked about the car followed by a rundown of our Chattanooga visit:

Seats Seven – Outside of minivans and overly large SUVs, there aren’t many vehicles that can fit our family of six. With the deceivingly compact CX-9, we can even fit an extra family member or friend. Some mommas can’t succumb to the idea of minivan life and this vehicle would be a great alternative.

Interior – The interior of the CX-9 is just as sleek and sophisticated as the outside. Every detail is well thought out, down to the very placement of the cup holders. Everything you need is within arms reach allowing you to control the temperature, radio, etc. without distracting you from the most important thing, keeping your eyes on the road. 

GPS and Advanced Heads-Up Display – For many years we’ve utilized the phone GPS over the built-in car GPS systems. In the past they’ve tended to be hard, clunky to use and often give inaccurate directions. This built-in GPS is in another category! I love the addition of features like including the distance to the nearest gas stations and restaurants. 

The Advanced Heads-Up Display magically displays the speed limit, your current speed, blind spot warnings and more right onto your windshield. This eliminates the need to look away or down as you are driving. 


The CX-9 made the drive to Chattanooga smooth and fun, and of course the kids requested Kidz Bop radio on Sirius XM. As parents, we really appreciated the comfortable, adjustable seats. A comfy seat always makes the trip seem shorter!

Chattanooga Highlights and Destinations:

Westin – Downtown Chattanooga

  • Hotel Room window

The Westin is a new addition to the downtown Chattanooga scene (less than a year old at the time of writing this). It is located only a couple of blocks away from the free shuttle that runs along Broad Street. If you’re familiar with downtown, it’s near the Tivoli Theatre. In addition to the hotel, the area referred to as West Village is in the process of being renovated with new restaurants, shops, and office space. On Saturday nights, the block is closed off to car traffic and an amazing laser light party takes place outside with street vendors, live music and other fun surprises. The kid-focused light show starts at 6:45 and there’s another one geared more for adults at 7:45. This is REALLY fun, in fact we were pleasantly surprised with how much free fun we had during show. The kids absolutely lost it when MASSIVE balloons came raining down from the sky. We could tell how much thought and effort was put into making this a unique experience.

The renovated hotel (which used to be the BlueCross headquarters) has luxurious, clean and spacious rooms. The floor-to-ceiling windows create the illusion of an even bigger room. The outdoor pool is open year long with the water set at 80 degrees. Additionally the hotel is fully equipped with a coffee shop, quick service food area, restaurant and comfortable lounge areas. The staff and service were excellent as well. The bellhop who assisted us showed so much enthusiasm for his work and even shared interesting facts such as the preservation of the original elevators and circular stairwell in the building.

High Point Climbing

Anytime we spy a Mellow Mushroom, we just have to eat there. It’s a good thing High Point Climbing is right next door. The climbing and physical exertion made us feel a little better after the heavy meal. We visited the downtown location of High Point Climbing. The beautiful facility allows climbing both inside and outside of the building. There is 30,000 sq. feet of climbing surface to enjoy including the best kids zone we’ve ever experienced in a climbing gym. The kids area empowered them to hook up and climb on their own without having to wait on us for assistance. As you all know, our daughter Lola is blind. This is probably her fourth climbing experience and she has grown to love it. High Point is an excellent place for expert climbers and those who are putting on climbing shoes for the very first time. Their friendly staff is great at giving guidance and encouraging families to get moving together.

Creative Discovery Museum – This is by far one of our favorite children’s museums. The museum boasts everything from an excavation area to a riverplay area. We found that our kids were able to engage in several sensory enriched activities while learning new things about Tennessee and surrounding areas. The museum is currently hosting America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far. The cultural exhibit explores the diversity of Muslim cultures in our community, country and around the world! The exhibit represents 52 different countries around the world. It will be at the Museum through May 13th. Our kids loved learning more about the Muslim and Middle Eastern culture. Kudos to the museum for facilitating activities that help overcome fear-based perceptions regarding Muslim cultures.  Some of our highlights were getting henna tattoos (from Indian culture), baking Middle Eastern treats, and watching a science presentation in the auditorium.

Chattanooga Football ClubIf your household is anything like ours, soccer is becoming a big deal. If you visit Chattanooga in the Spring or Summer, Chattanooga FC might be playing a home game at Finley Stadium. The free shuttle will land you about four blocks away from the stadium. You can show up early and tailgate with the Chattahooligans (family friendly) and enjoy general admission seating. So come early and enjoy front row seating. After the game, we took advantage of walking down to the field and meeting the home team for autographs.

Chattanooga ZooThe zoo is a bit smaller than our home Nashville Zoo. We visited on Sunday morning before our drive back home. The crowds were low so it ended up being nice for us. We were able to take our time and read about each exhibit and engage the kids. Several of the animals were playful and the kids enjoyed interacting with them. During our visit the trainers showed the crowd how the chimpanzees get their wellness checks and train to keep them safe and healthy. The kids enjoyed seeing how the zoo cared for the animals in this way. The zoo is also very reasonably priced, under $10 for admission. 

Bonus: There’s a nice outdoor playground complex next door to the zoo you can make sure to visit if your kids need to get a little extra energy out at the end of your zoo visit. This playground is an inclusive playground and offers something for children of all abilities.

Conclusion about the Mazda CX-9

The daily commute with the CX-9 in Nashville was enjoyable and I already miss driving the car every day. The comfort and the handling of the car was very enjoyable. The back storage area was enough for groceries but offered a challenge when it came to our weekend trip. When driving to Chattanooga, our family of six had to fold one seat down to fit all of the suitcases. Fortunately, we were still able to fit three kids in the middle row with the fourth child in the back. We did notice we turned a lot of heads when driving and parking the vehicle which is a testament to the sleek new look and vibrant candy-apple red color! This vehicle could work for a family of six but would be ideal for a family of four or five. The extra room on a daily basis would be nice and comfortable with margin to add visitors or extra luggage for the longer trips.

 

 

 

Special thanks to Mazda USA for allowing us to test drive the 2018 CX-9 Grand Touring. As always, these opinions are my own.

» It’s hard to wait: Pride and parenting

If you will allow me a moment to be vulnerable I’d like to share a bit of my story. I’m a classic, type-A firstborn. I’m a three on the Enneagram and it’s sometimes embarrassing to read my Myers-Briggs results out loud. Growing up I could learn anything I needed from a book, I could self-teach, research and therefore ignore my teachers. I was prideful. And although I knew and loved Jesus, I did not see the need to eradicate pride because honestly my ability to accomplish things through my own power was hailed as a great thing. But those around me couldn’t see my heart and how pride was wrecking it in quiet ways. It wasn’t until later in college, when I hit my knees in total dependance on the Lord, that I realized how hurt I really was by allowing the not so great parts of my personality to lead the way. Compassion is also extremely present in my make-up and thankfully, through daily and unrelenting sanctification, compassion became the flag I loved to wave.

Today, I still struggle to keep pride at bay. (remember daily and constant sanctification) Just yesterday evening Calvin and I attended Bible study with other parents in our community. I went to drop off one of our children and came back to learn that Calvin had chosen a parenting Bible study to attend. Internally I rolled my eyes, because I know everything about parenting… of course. I have studied trauma, and children and TBRI and ALL THE THINGS. I walked into the room and spied several faces I am growing to love and immediately God spoke to my heart, knocking me down a few notches, reminding me that every person in the room was also an expert parent but chose to take time to worship, intentionally share with others and look to God’s word to become even better in this category. I was unusually quiet as I listened and waited and watched for whatever I needed to glean during the evening. And it finally came. I needed to hear that exhaustion is always part of parenting. The mornings have been hard for one of our littles lately and I’ve come to dread that part of the day. I’ve looked for ways to get through it as quickly as possible and ignore the nonstop protests from this particular child. I was coping in my own strength and venting to Calvin later.

But this morning, because I was listening last night, I was reminded to take the time, even in the midst of exhaustion and look for the connection point. Liam slipped into our bed around 5am this morning and woke up for good around 6:30am. He immediately let me know that he didn’t want to go to school and wondered how many days were left until Spring Break. His attitude soured as I reminded him how many days remained. My mind immediately went to the song It’s hard to Wait from the Rain for Roots album. I pulled up the song and pulled him close and he began to sing it with me. After our time of togetherness and even worship we printed a calendar and talked about the days God gives us. I asked the kids… will there ever be another March 22, 2018? After thinking, they responded that no, there would not be. This gave us a moment to reflect on each day as a gift. A gift that allows us to either love each and honor God or choose to be prideful, impatient and angry. I watched as their eyes opened to this concept; no day is to be wasted.

This morning, a ten-minute detour changed the trajectory of our entire day. I’m so thankful that God broke through the barriers of my pride years ago. I’m so thankful that I can walk with other parents who are all looking up as we parent. We cannot look down to guide our children without first looking up to learn from our Father.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 11:2

» My Current Amazon Obsessions

There’s a t-shirt that says something like “I run on coffee and Amazon prime.” I don’t wear many word shirts but if I did mine would probably say something similar. Amazon doesn’t always have the BEST prices on everything but most often, if I utilize subscribe and save, they have the best prices for supplements and personal products that my family uses. Today I thought it would be fun to share what’s on my current rotation of subscribe and save amazon favorites.

1. Gaia Herbs Golden Milk Tea blend : I use this blend daily with the following recipe, which is slightly different from the instructions that come on the canister. 1-2 tsp. of the blend combined with a splash of half and half and a Chai Rooibos tea bag… and water of course. Read up on the anti-inflammatory benefits of Turmeric here. 

2. Acure Brightening Scrub: This is hands down my current favorite beauty product. I use it 2-3 times per week and my   skin absolutely glows. As a HUGE bonus Acure has very strict standards for what they allow in their products, this is just about as clean as it comes and outperforms even top shelf brands.

3. Amazing Grass Green Superfoods: I’ve been using this powder for a couple of years now. I originally added it to my international travels as a way to keep greens in and help the detox process. I now use this several times a week added to a glass of water. It’s a great source of probiotics and green superfoods. I rotate out the flavors. Bonus tip: order the $2 sample pack (free shipping) to try and receive a $2 coupon back through amazon for a future purchase of Amazing Grass. You can find the sample pack by clicking over on the options using the link above. I also love this little shaker set of 7 on the go sizes of varying amazing grass flavors for $9.99.

4. Grass-fed Gelatin Collagen Protein: I realize this might be a weird one for ya’ll. We use this to make gummy bears and jello jigglers. Grass-fed Gelatin is a superfood and can help heal the gut and restore joint health. Read up on that here. We use gummy bear molds and turn out some awesome, firm little treats. The link above contains a great recipe.

5. THIS short-sleeve maxi dress: My search for the perfect summer essential stopped right here. And at $22 the price was right. The material is slightly stretchy and very soft. I chose to grab this dress in black as I plan to accessorize it in different ways and wear it as least twice per week. It ALSO has pockets. I’m 5 foot 4 and this goes all the way to the ground but is fine with a pair of shoes. It’s incredibly flattering and fits true to size.

 

» Asleep by 8

There were days on this parenting journey that would leave us sound asleep in a child’s bed by 8pm. Those were the days of one more drink of water, one more story or I’m scared of what might be in my closet. After an early morning out the door, a long day of work, a healthy home-cooked dinner and family time there wasn’t much left of us. And so, on most nights, we would find each other sprawled out in a bed, snoring, with a baby or toddler either sitting fully awake on top of the sleeping parent OR completely asleep in a way that we couldn’t risk waking them.

Those days were pretty good and I’m finding that although I enjoy relying on my kids to wipe their own bottoms now…  I long to hear their voices call out with funny made up words and lispy f’s and r’s. Our kids are still young, ranging 6-10, but the baby has all but worn off. They are growing long and lean, with firm calves and arms from dance and soccer. They have budding plans and good friends. They have ideas and projects and personalities.

Lately, we’ve found ourselves falling asleep at 8 and 9pm again. We work so hard to fill the hearts and minds of our children with the things we value as a family. We toss them around to tire out their tireless bodies, because the boys seem to need pure exhaustion to fall into a peaceful sleep. We read the Bible and cook together. We apply essential oils and talk over their days. We pull them close when they are angry, trying desperately to show them that love always trumps anger. We discipline, often, because they are incredibly naughty and have developed some interesting ways of expressing their displeasure with our guidance.

And we question ourselves constantly, understanding that we are molding small people who will become big people in an even bigger world. I’m thankful that we can trust Jesus with our children because we will always fall short!

We fall asleep at 8 and 9pm because we know that these years are so very short. Just as we miss the squishy legs and lispy voices, we will miss ornery 10 year olds who don’t like to put away their laundry but let us brush the hair out of their faces at night and kiss their foreheads. We survive through the valleys and challenges of parenthood so that we can be blessed by the sweet crest of the hill, the tender moments that bind our hearts together.

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal