Being the Mother.

It has been a very dark and hard health journey over here. The emotions have been high – actually, the emotional swings were as if we were riding on a metronome a toddler was swinging around. After realizing that my child was not doing okay, I not-so-jokingly toyed with the idea of checking myself into a mental ward for a vacation. 

That comment is not funny – nor is it meant to be. I reached out for help (do you know how hard it is for a mother to actually tell people she’s on the verge of losing it?) and asked to have the kids entertained away from the house. 

I asked for help.

Read that again.

And again.


I didn’t get that in-person help, and instead I had to wade through the mud and into the quicksand while trying to keep it together and not breakdown in front of the kids. (PS – I failed, miserably.)

I am so grateful for my husband who did see me and helped as much as possible, of course. We talked every day after he got home from work, and he supported the best he could. He offered to stay home – and did take a ½ day to let me breathe. But I was drowning and searching for that real, in-person village – that life float that was supposed to be the answer to everything hard in motherhood. The thing we are all told is needed.

That village is bullshit. It’s broken.

Anything more than a food chain, a gift, and maybe a glass of wine is too much to ask for. 

When things get REALLY hard you are it – it’s on you to figure it out.

Through this I prayed. I prayed and prayed. It wasn’t until this weekend that I had a clear answer.

I was intended to mother these babies. ME – not a village.

I have everything within me. No one can do better by my children than me. When the hardest, darkest days feel all-consuming, I have it within myself to not only handle it – but to heal, grow, and thrive with all I am given. I do not need to be more. I do not deserve better. I do not need to run away. I NEED to be the mother I was created to be. 

We are living in a culture where mothers are being told they aren’t enough; they deserve more; they need to put themselves above all else to be happy. That the only way to be a good mother is to put their wants and desires above all else.

I’m here to say that is not true. Motherhood is messy. It is gritty and hard, and it is OKAY to normalize that.

Instagram lies. 

Turn it all off and reconnect with yourself and God. Pray for knowledge, support, and love. He knows what you need and when you need it.

He did not bless you with children you are not enough for.

Turn off the outside world and refocus on the happiness you already have.

You are not meant to put your wants above your children during these challenges. You are meant to double down and not run away.

If our society would start emphasizing the true needs of families, real support would be happening without question – without asking. It would be natural.


I made it through this hurtle. I felt like I was close to breaking. I needed to share.

I need you to know that you can rediscover happiness after it feels so far gone. You will find it – feel it – live that happiness, but in the hardest moments, dig deep and be that mama you are meant to be. Your babies need you.

If you know anything about PANS/PANDAS, Lyme disease, MCAS, and all of our other diagnoses, or if you have followed any of our journey, you may understand why I haven’t shared much in quite a while. When you have a child’s eye swell shut for no reason (Mass Cell Activation Syndrome), be screamed at and harassed and followed for 3-4 hours at a time over something as simple as a waffle, or change your plans yet again because of emotional mood swings, it becomes a struggle to find the motivation to smile each day. 

Finances are tight and the out-of-pocket doctors, supplements, and prescriptions are (more than) a lot. I sucked it up and called for another appointment in shear desperation. I was told to cut everything cold turkey. EVERYTHING. The panic that I felt was all-consuming. It would be for 10ish days to clear the system before a round of bloodwork for Emmett. We would follow the antihistamine diet, as well. We wanted a clear vision of bloodwork to see what the #(%)Q$ was happening with our boy.

It is day 20, and we are all okay. We are actually smiling, laughing and dancing in the kitchen again. We made it to day 10, had bloodwork taken and were told to continue off everything if Emmett was tolerating it all. He was and still is. I am at a loss and cannot explain how or why, but I will not complain!

We have had a few tears and hard moments, but absolutely nothing like our daily breakdowns from a month ago. We are still awaiting the lab work results, but we are praying that we may be entering the other side to all of this – to 11+ years of this.

My thoughts on why Emmett is doing so well:

  • We started on more intense treatment in December and never reached a baseline, maybe it was a sign he didn’t need as much – or that a big push was enough to help but didn’t need continued?
  • We gutted this house over 8 months ago and have dealt with the construction dust fallout from that. We believe it has finally all settled, and my OCD cleaning may be paying off. Perhaps we are 100% living/sleeping mold-free. 
  • We put in the saltwater pool (sans heater) and the kids jump in every single day. The cold salt water is helping (healing!) the nervous system.
  • We got rid of 90+% of our things from our previous homes (literally every holiday decoration, bedspread, pillow, and stuffed animal…) and replaced with new items. (I don’t recommend the immediate replenishing though – or you’ll be eating rice and beans like us for the next few years to pay it all off.)
  • It’s warm outside. Our bodies struggle when they are cold. We struggle to even stay warm (it’s why you’ll always see Emmett in a sweatshirt). The warmth is healing.
  • Vitamin D… We are outside playing, doing schoolwork, soaking in that sunshine’s magic.
  • Ocean Air… Living so close to the beach has to be healing. 
  • Prayer. Somehow it always comes back to prayer. 

After I begged for help, John and I realized it was all on us – which is what is actually meant to be, right? 

I spilled my heart to friends (who were too far away to help in-person, but who were truly my saving grace in the moment while walking the dogs miles at a time just to breathe alone each day). They blessed me with prayer and motivation. Maybe that’s what today’s village looks like.

Do I know what tomorrow will bring? No.

Do I know what the lab work will tell? No.  

Do I know much about anything? NOPE.

Do I know that I am hands-down the greatest mother for these little people?

100% YES. 

They are meant to be mine. I will never take them for granted.

I learned that the village of help isn’t what a mother needs. A mother needs to feel supported so that she can do what she is meant to do. No one knows her babies like a mother does – no one. 

We need less self-love, less selfishness, and far more mother-love.

Way less self-love.

Way less selfishness. 

Way more mother-love.

It could heal the world.

Finding Home.

I know it’s been a beat since I have posted anything, but please read on. We have dealt with some very scary health things that have left us speechless. I say ‘us’ because even John and I couldn’t find words most days. Every time we thought we made headway, we were thrown back and in tears. We watched doctor after doctor – including hospitals turn us away or pass us along to ‘specialists.’

So, please, give me grace. At some point, every mother must cancel everything out and give 100% to the things that make her heart beat… our children are our everything, no? Here I am – back, and I *think* I am ready to start writing again.

Emmett is okay. Every child is okay right now. John and I are okay right now. We found a doctor and protocol that seems to be working. Any mold exposure pushes everything back, and I try to avoid it at all costs – but it happens, as we have recently learned, and we will have to work through it moving forward. I am tired of living in a bubble, but I will always protect my babies.

If you have been following my social accounts, you know that we were called Home to the Catholic Church. I don’t think I quite shared how that came about…

Emmett hadn’t woken up for more than a few hours in days. He was deep into a crash. John and I were in tears every day – dealing with sickness from our children (and ourselves) that had lasted years. We were on the brink of breakdowns and were questioning everything, including God. I knew for a few years that I was being pulled toward Catholicism, but I didn’t really bring it up to John. Only my best friend knew – and as a true Catholic, she never once pushed it; she waited patiently, knowing where we belonged.

It was an awful week – another awful week, after an awful month.

I couldn’t stop crying, so I ran. I ran through the neighborhood, passed the schools, down the roads, past the church until my chest hurt. I then turned around and realized I had to run home. The tears had stopped, but I couldn’t go home. I ran the path and turned into the church. I ran to the doors. I was sweaty, red-faced, and had no idea what I was doing… but I walked into the church. I fell to my knees and cried. I cried as though I hadn’t cried before. I prayed and prayed. I prayed until I knew I had to go home to my sick children. There wasn’t a weight lifted and the earth wasn’t shifted, but I could breathe… and I felt something big happening.

The next morning, John asked if we could attend church the next day (Sunday). He did not know about my run the day before – and he did not know about the feelings I had been having. He, though, was at a point of not believing or giving his heart over. I had no idea. He asked if we could attend the catholic church down the road – the exact church that I prayed at. I had no words other than, “Sure, let’s head up there in the morning.”

Who wants to guess if tears were shed that Sunday?

No need. Even our children – all five of them – loved the experience, with our eldest 3 asking when they could go back.

My best friend (and sponsor) – she had to have been smiling when I called her (I don’t know for sure) – but she answered questions and let the rest fall into place. We joined RCIA the next Monday (second week of classes).

I’m sure now that our priest(s) had never meet someone like me. I’m a researcher, right? You’d better prove it or I’m out… So, I questioned EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING so much so that everyone would just stop and look my way at breaks in the discussion, assuming I had something to question. What can I say? I am who I am. And I am Catholic.

The entire year changed us. It changed our marriage. It changed our health (don’t stop reading). It changed our parenting. We were called home.

The moment we fully gave everything to God, things changed.

The right doctor entered… healing began. (Is anyone surprised that I was pulled in every manner to choose St. Hildegard as my saint? No? I didn’t think so – I mean, why back down from controversy even in the church!) — (wait, on that note, is anyone surprised that John chose St. Joseph? Don’t be – wait until this all comes into play here… keep reading).

So there we were, on our knees as a family, praying so many things we didn’t even understand yet… several times a day… attending mass 1,2,3 times a week sometimes. I found myself knowing everyone in the office up there- stopping in to ‘drop something off’ but staying for 45 minutes to laugh. It became home…

And then came everything – Easter Vigil included Scarlett catching her hair on fire, she and I missing our cues to be in front of 100’s to accept God because I had high-heeled (literally 3” heels) us out of the service to get her water and dry her tears — and then promptly sprinting (same heels) back in yelling, “We are here!! We didn’t run away!” (Oh, this is after a neighbor came from the back to take a sleeping 4-year-old from my arms after everyone was watching us front row kneel and stand, kneel and stand numerous times while I struggled to stand. She took sleeping Veda so I could be present.). The priests cried (as did we) when we were confirmed. (I still don’t think they’d seen anything like us before.)

We also went through convalidation with our marriage at close to midnight that night without knowing people stayed to watch. The organ chimed in right on an unexpected cue and tears were shed again. The entire night was the s*it show of a circus that our family truly is – and God laughed and said, “WELCOME!” There couldn’t be another way for us, right?

We were home.

And then comes the move – This is why you started reading, no?

We were ready to go south for the last several years – perhaps us knowing we were sick? John asked to be relocated if ever an opportunity was present in the southeast. Well, here we are now – a simple phone call stating Florida was available.


We instantly agreed to anywhere in the sunshine state. I mean, 10 years of parkas for this many kids? Just move me now.

We had no idea what was coming… and to be honest, we still don’t know. We were given 3 locations – Tampa, Orlando, and Miami… and then at the last minute, we were presented with a new office (and promotion!) in Jacksonville. No one knew that Jacksonville is where we were married. No one knew we owned our first home there or had our first baby. No one knew… Only God. Only God knew we needed to go HOME.

Now it is today. We turned down several offers on our (beyond gorgeous – seriously, really really beautiful) home and then accepted one – the one I didn’t want because it didn’t feel right but I went with the realtor and everyone else. Nothing felt good about it. Not to mention that we also could not find ANYTHING (29 houses later) in Jacksonville to offer on… most causing my mold circulation issues or mold headaches for all of us… and then the contract on our house fell through.

Full disclosure – I facebooked them, the couple on the contract and knew instantly upon seeing they were a family of 3 (toddler aged child) and dressed up their cat in profile pictures (nothing wrong with this-but we are dog peeps), that my gut was right… our 5 bedroom, 4800 square foot house was not meant for them. I could only laugh at this point.  (Thank you to social media for allowing full stalking abilities.)

We then decided I needed to stay south (while working, finishing our school year, and staying sane) with the kids and pup while we re-list (at a higher price).

There have been mold issues and family issues arise while traveling and some drives back and forth, but we are beyond grateful for those who love us and support our journey. This life is not normal… we are not the typical family – but we are so in love. We are so close. Our children are kind, giving, happy, loved, and ready to be HOME. So are we – John and I created this life – so different than any we came from. We have done this for nearly 13 years on our own… Through 9 houses and 6 states. We are ready for the house God will grant us. We are ready to come full-circle.

The housing market is not friendly. Especially in Florida, but we will not be afraid. We are praying multiple times a day to both St. Joseph and St. Hildegard together (healthy, natural healing with moving protection and financial support – a HEALTHY HOUSE — I told you – it was meant to be – and always will be). But it will happen. The right house will be there.

I decided tonight that, instead of waiting here to house hunt in late May, we need to go HOME.

Home is where we are together.

It’s time to let go and head back north maybe this Sunday (Mother’s Day)? Maybe sooner? Our house was re-listed today – and with your prayers (and ours) the right buyer will walk through, offering the exact price we need. They will absolutely love our house and make it their own.

We will then wait until we are pulled toward a home. We will not force something. We will move to the sunshine and continue to heal. We will find homeschooling coops and a new church that will provide us all.the.feels. It will all be as it is meant to be. God’s Will will be done… and we are here for it – today, tomorrow, and always. We believe.

We will always be HOME, together.

Spring Cleaning Your Life

What if we treated spring cleaning as an opportunity to freshen up everything in our lives?

As the spring comes barreling in with cherry blossoms in bloom and gardens beckoning, it’s a time to freshen everything up a bit. There’s a reason that we all crave an intensely deep clean and purge session this time of year. The mustiness of winter needs to be replaced with wide opened windows and the smell of clean laundry. However, there may be even more than your house needing a little love right now, and if that’s true, my words are for you.

What if we treated spring cleaning as an opportunity to freshen up everything in our lives – our physical and mental health, our relationships, even our passions and plans?

It can be a brutal process; one that gets messier and harder before you come through the other side, but isn’t that when all the beautiful things in life happen? After the hard work and a big mess? (I mean, our closet clean outs aren’t a thing of beauty until the final hanger is in place.) 

We are knee deep in the mess that comes with detoxing and we were in need of an escape. <Insert our runaway to Florida here>

While soaking in the Vitamin D, we decided to have those big, messy conversations. I highly recommend doing this in the sunshine; you’ll by far less likely to become defensive, cranky, or negative. The other key here is to dedicate quality time to these big-life conversations. Hire a babysitter, leave the kids with grandparents, and then book a hotel for the night. The time together will help you spring clean your relationship in more aspects than talking, ha! 

With the discussions typically comes a few emotional breakdowns. This is all part of the process. Get in a good workout and treat yourself to a massage or facial (DIY style or at the spa). Your puffy eyes will be gone, and you’ll use the solo time to process anything and everything still needing processed. 

What We Conquered While ‘Freshening Up’

Fresh Sheets

There comes a time in adulthood when you need to pull the trigger and upgrade your sleeping situation. A crisp new sheet set may be a great idea – or you can go big and replace that old mattress and bed frame, too. (Jump over to Casper for an amazing mattress and Article for a beautiful frame.)

Fresh Food

Whole food eating has always been our way of life, but we are focusing on adding in more wild caught fish and removing/limiting the all-day snacking. 

Fresh Mindset

This one is hard for me. I’m still struggling with it long after the initial conversation. We are dedicated to healing and happiness, and I’ll be the first to admit that my negativity (How can we do this? It’s too hard. How can we afford it? Why is XYZ happening?) has got to go. While it is triggered by very valid points, it does not help anything. God continues to provide us with answers when we need them most. I believe he does the same for you, too. 

We are all smart, capable, and deserving people. A fresh mindset (if you, too, are in need of one) may be the first step in aiding the next step of your journey.

If you are not confident in your actions, dreams, and abilities, your end goals will always seem out of reach. 

Can you tell that I needed a pep talk? 

So here I sit, in my freshly cleaned house, on my new bed, not stressing over the basement flooring choices (actually, I just let John pick and walked away from that decision), not freaking out over the laundry list of things we want to accomplish in the next 18 months (and how it will get done), but instead – I am enjoying my tea and choosing to believe (to know) that it will all work out wonderfully. 

A Childhood as Sweet and Slow as American Honey


“Strong love grows
She grew up good
She grew up slow
Like American honey.

Steady as a preacher
Free as a weed
Couldn’t wait to get going
But wasn’t quite ready to leave
So innocent, pure and sweet
American honey.”

I’ve had too much on my mind lately. I needed an out. We were all a bit burned out and over the cold, the masked-craziness still occurring in NOVA, a solid year of school work, our health issues, and all the updates we are making to the house. 

I needed a change of scenery and a reminder that breathing is a necessity.

As we spent over 16 hours in the car driving down the east coast to escape our reality that is still happening in Northern Virginia, the kids listened to music, audiobooks, and watched movies thanks to the unlimited wifi we opted for to use in just such road trip occasions. I realized just how ‘privileged’ this is – and I wondered if I was doing the kids wrong by granting this luxury.

Then I laughed and laughed and laughed as I knew my own sanity needs to be valued, too.

Balance, it’s important.

We arrived at our first Florida location and unpacked our suitcases and backpacks of ‘school items.’ (We homeschool year-round with long breaks in the summer and 2-3 breaks throughout the year for road trips, but we still bring books, some math, and anything needed for any online classes that are being completed during that time.) Scarlett completed her 6th grade history project, the boys finished their books, and everyone picked out a few new games. We enjoyed family time, more board games, and running around outside in that beautiful warmth known as the Florida Sunshine. 

One afternoon on our trip, while sitting outside reading a book, American Honey started playing. I looked up to see my kids, especially the oldest jumping in and out of the pool – sun-kissed and laughing so hard she had tears pouring out of her eyes. My tears came, but not from laughter. I was brought back to my own childhood and saw just how special my own children’s lives are during this small chapter of their own lives. They are growing up slow. While mature beyond most of their peers, they are innocent and naïve, even. It’s absolutely the reason we chose to homeschool – and it’s paying off. 

Beyond homeschooling though, there’s so much more. Our children do not know social media; Daddy says HELL NO to makeup, wedges, and crop tops; they will not have cell phones for years to come. Our children will be behind their peers in so many ways – but FREE in so many others. They know how to explore. They will continue to explore well passed the tween years. They would rather swim, run, roller blade, and create than sit – and sit – and sit. 

Why am I sharing this? Because your kids deserve an American Honey childhood, too. It’s never too late to find a better balance. Kick them outside. Make them make friends. Host sleepovers. LET THEM BE BORED.

No kid is in a race to having their first kiss or shaving their legs – no tween needs a social media presence. There are such bigger things in life worth striving for — like a long, slow childhood.

Grant your children this. 

The First Taste of Spring After a Long Winter

My boys are bordering on the stage where verbal fights are turning physical. I mean, Lyle chucked a rock at Emmett’s head because Emmett was taunting his ‘bad aim’ yesterday. Pretty sure that he hit his target in that moment. 

(So much for peaceful parenting at this stage, right?)

Our homeschooling days are already in countdown mode due to starting the year early and doubling up throughout the whole ‘two weeks to flatten a curve’ year we’ve had. (Seeing as how our area has no end in sight, I’m assuming some of my kids are going to complete two school grades this calendar year – because, what else is there to do?)

We started the pandemic as an already close-knit family, but the past year of doing the right thing by staying home has left us a little undone. We ordered out groceries and needs. We played with the same people and only vacationed to VRBOs. We weren’t scared of a virus; we were doing the same thing we’d have done in a really bad flu season. Mix that in with everything being shutdown/limited capacity and mandatory masks and the cold temperatures – UGH – a recipe for disaster for this outgoing family.

The winter was hard, there’s no denying it; but the snow has transitioned to rain and mud. My anxiety and clean house OCD is still not a fan of this season either, but at least I don’t need my parka on. I’ll take it.

The sky has found its blue again; the wind is calming down. 

The indoor fighting has turned to outside adventures together – exploring the thawing creek, building forts, and sword fighting with broken tree branches. 

After the longest winter, the spring is giving us renewed energy and faith. Soon flowers will bloom, my vegetable garden can be planted, and our skin will soak in the Vitamin D we so desperately need.

My prayer group had a homework assignment last week: Think of something – anything, big or small that touched your heart or gave you encouragement this week. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.”

I was still in the weeds and couldn’t think of much. Emmett and I had just had so much bloodwork done. (They literally had to weigh us to make sure they didn’t take too much.) Emmett’s Lyme journey seemed to hit a wall and we needed more answers. My own autoimmune journey is just beginning. I was tired. I was more than tired. My body ached, joints cried, head throbbed, and I wanted to curl up in bed.

Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling encouraged. I wasn’t even sure what to pray for in that moment, but God gave me what I needed: a beautiful blue sky and temperatures that welcomed me outside. 

6 glorious solo miles.

I have since been running outside on the days that hit 45 degrees or higher. We’ve been venturing to playgrounds and spaces for the kids to burn energy. I’m even sitting outside while working today! I am pushing aside my negative thoughts and worries and welcoming this spring with open arms. 

Along with this energy comes road trip planning! It has been 2 years since we’ve been to the beach, and I do believe that it is calling to us…

Your Guide to Valentine’s Day 2021

It’s time to start planning your Valentine’s Day festivities. Skip the fancy date night and overpriced flowers (and even the store-bought chocolates) this year and opt for a fun weekend making memories instead. 

Valentine’s Day 2021

Heart Notes

Plan a simple love note to write on a construction paper heart every day from February 1st – 14th and hang them on your children’s bedroom doors while they sleep at night. They will wake up to a new heart each morning!

Matching or LOVE Themed Sweatshirts

Hit up Etsy really quick and order one of their gorgeous heart sweatshirts (or shirts if you happened to be down south). There are dozens of options. We went with different versions for each person and cannot wait to snuggle up in them! 

Fuzzy Socks

If you are throwing on sweatshirts, fuzzy socks should also be on the agenda. Even the boys will love a fun pair of Valentine’s Day socks. 

New Books

Books are gifted on every holiday in our house! I love searching for a book that matches each child’s personality. I’m loving the choose your own ending chapter books for the oldest kids, an easy-to-read chapter book for Lyle, and fun picture books for the littlest two. 

Natural Bath Bombs

These can get pricey, instead of ordering each person their own box, order enough for each child to get 2-3 actual bombs of their own. Stick with natural versions to keep the skin happy.

Homemade Heart Chocolate

Grab a few molds from Amazon, melt your chocolate (we use Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips), and toss it into the freezer! We add whole almonds, crushed almonds, peanut butter, and chipped bananas into the center before freezing for a fun addition. 

These are definitely best frozen, so pop them out of the mold and into freezer baggies or a mason jar for easy access. 

Homemade Hot Cocoa Bombs

We are a hot chocolate family, but we enjoy ours with almond milk and an organic/healthier (haha – nothing is healthy with hot cocoa) option. Instead of purchasing hot cocoa bombs at $4-5 a piece, we are opting to try the DIY version at home and use our own dairy-free, organic ingredients! I even splurged on natural marshmallows for a few kids to try!

Heart-Shaped Pizza

Hand out a dough ball to each kid and let them roll away! You can help shape everything into hearts, even using cookie cutters for the pepperoni!

Family Paintballing

If you want to get out of the house together, think about doing something completely out of the box and booking a family package at your local paintball arena. We ventured out to try a few outdoor, safe, family Valentine options and paintballing won the prize! (We’ll report back on indoor race car driving soon!)

Plan a Quick Romantic Bed and Breakfast Escape

You know I’m always ready for a getaway, and this last year has been rough on our traveling souls. We are enjoying little weekends away, and I highly suggest you book one. Skip Valentine’s weekend away and spend that with your kiddos but plan it for another weekend in February. (This is much needed for reconnection and remembering why you chose your forever valentine!)

6 Things to Start with Your (Older) Kids During Isolation

We may all be at home a lot longer than we expected, and the lives of our children are most effected. They are old enough to understand what is happening, but young enough to not have a job to be working, a car to be using, or friends to be social-distance hanging out with right now. 

We are finally settled in our new house after the cross-country relocation. Our days are filled with school work, cleaning, playing outside, and cooking. For the most part, we are adapting okay; however, we are not homebodies and are desperately missing our soccer academy practices, scout meetings, wrestling tournaments, and o.m.g. our countdown to swim team season. While I do enjoy a perfectly clean house, I would much rather have a few more fingerprints due to running out the door to get to homeschool coop classes. But, alas, here we (all) are. 

I spent the last week figuring a few things out to help pass the time for my older kids. I’ll be detailing our favorite workbooks, websites, and curriculums soon, but these ideas are completely separate and just fun ideas to keep the kids stimulated until our freedoms are put back in place!


6 Things to Start with Your (Older) Kids During Isolation

Virtual Book Club

This one happened on a whim in our house. Scarlett, age 10, loves books and I order them by the boatload regularly. I came across a book that I knew she would love, but after reading (and crying) over the synopsis, I realized that she needed to have friends who would read it to… but how? Insert a virtual book club here!

We started a monthly zoom club for girls that meets weekly, does project, cooking, or crafts together as they discuss a list of questions about the book they are currently reading. Most of the members have never met in person! So far, this little adventure has consumed Scarlett in the best ways possible! 


Online Sports Training

Did you know that coaches and trainers have turned to online platforms to continue working with their players. There are also hundreds of trainers offering their skills virtually to kids all over the globe. This is the perfect time to increase a skill set – and can easily be a time when skills are lost. Our oldest son, Emmett (8) is working once a week with a soccer trainer – doing homework drills that have to be video’d and submitted! 

Snail Mail Pen Pals

Bring back the paper, pen, and stamps. All five of my kids have wanted in on this action, but the oldest 3 (6,810) have really made the effort (sometimes while whining) to send snail mail to their friends. You can get create with this and have them type, cut words from magazines, or write in invisible ink.


A Garden (No Matter How Small)

It’s planting season, so make an essential trip (or place an order) for flowers and veggies of all kinds. Grab planters, pots, or set up a garden bed and let your kids take over. You can research which plants thrive near each other and really get technical!


Everyone is cooking at home these days, but have you let your kids pick the menu AND cook it? There is no reason kids can’t run the kitchen. When you give them respect and trust, you may be surprised by how well they do. Stand nearby to help out when and if needed, but let them figure things out.

Subscription Boxes

Kiwi Crate:

These are the favorite in our house. We are trying out the geography version along with the tinker crate right now.

Green Kids Crafts Box:

Science and art kits every month.

Kid Stir Cooking Kit:

It even comes with tools for them to use!

Amazon STEM Club:

Amazon has subscription boxes, need I say more?  

BitsBox Coding for Kids:

Another one from Amazon: I can’t wait to review this one for you, as all of my kids are wanting to code, and ours should be delivered this week!   

Little Global Citizens:

This one has the kids traveling the world without leaving the house. You can add on to it by exploring documentaries and cooking authentic meals from each country.

A Letter to the Make-Shift Homeschooler


To the make-shift homeschool parent-

Welcome to the homeschool world! I know you never thought you would be here, but here you are. I wanted to take a minute to let you know that those of us doing this for some time now, we are here – utilize us! 

We are here to let you in on all of the secrets.

Put away those schedules floating around on social media. They only set you up to feel like a failure. 

Your child does not spend 7+ hours a day at school receiving a one-on-one education. Please do not try to give him this at home. What is covered in those 7 hours inside of a school can easily be covered before lunch at home with you – and in even less time the younger the child! 

Do not stress over ‘teaching.’ Teaching does not equal learning. Lecturing does not mean your child is absorbing. Checking the boxes does not equate to an education. Let this time be a time in which you learn your child. Let him guide you, have conversations instead of lectures, and work together to reach daily goals.

Your daily goals should not be the same as what a teacher would be doing at school. Your goals should include bonding, sharing, learning, and letting your child play. There is so much research about play-based learning. Let him collect sticks and rubber band them together. Let him build forts. Let him be bored to death until something creative comes out. Turn off the screens and eliminate yourself from the equation. You are allowed to walk away from your child and let him figure things out. Do not provide constant entertainment or offerings to him – let him figure things out! 

Cooking, cleaning, creating art, listening to audiobooks while playing — these are all wonderful ways to spend the day. Remember that the best way to teach is to set the example yourself. If you want your child to read, he must see you reading throughout the day. If you want him to clean up after himself, make conversation and do it with him a few times, he’ll pick it up.

You can get through school work without losing your mind. This one sounds crazy, but it’s true. Take a deep breath. Take breaks whenever needed, make things fun, and take the pressure off of getting it all done. The beauty in doing this at home is that you are in charge… even when the school wants you to turn it all back in. You can include a note that includes all of the other learning opportunities you are providing!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are hundreds of free apps and websites offering services right now, use them! Set up an email account and give your kid pen pals to write to. A successful day is one in which you and you children are happy and growing together. 

Moving Far and Saying Goodbye: It’s Different For Each of Us


We are a box of emotions right now. Each one of us expressing our anxiety, sadness, and excitement in different ways. Our countdown is ticking closer and closer to hitting the road, and reality is truly setting in. 

John has been living in a hotel for 3 weeks in Virginia; the kids and I have been in house-selling-survival mode. But after going under contract (to a delightfully wonderful family who loves the house as much as we do!!), my emotions are ready to explode. I won’t lie, I woke up with ‘Seller’s Remorse’ the morning after we accepted the offer. I have been burning from both ends over the last few weeks, and the reality of walking away from this house hit me hard. We only have days left of beautiful backyard sunsets, trail runs, and playing with friends here. The tears are real and falling hard.

As much as I could write about why I am crying, and why this move is so hard, I decided to try to shift my focus to how differently each of us is handling this – and how I am ((trying)) to support everyone’s needs while also keeping my sanity and checking the boxes of all that needs done.

I should start by acknowledging just how unique each of my children are. They have different love languages, different wants, and very different ways of releasing their emotions. I’m sure you can relate to this within your own home. Knowing each child as an individual is the first step in helping them with something as life-changing as a cross-country move. We did not handle our move to Nebraska well when considering the support our oldest child would need. She was 7 and internalized her anxiety and heartbreak to the point that it make her physically ill – ER trips and all – for months. So this time, I am determined to do better.

Scarlett, now age 10.5, is once again struggling with our relocation. She remembers Virginia and is battling with too many feelings at once – happiness, sadness, anxiety over change, and the heartbreak of saying goodbye – to her room, her house, and her friends. 

Scarlett is an empath. She absorbs all that is thrown out into the world. She was referred to as our little Earth Fairy throughout her early years, and I believe now more than ever that the title suits her. Here’s the biggest problem that we are experiencing right now: I am the opposite of Scarlett. My anxiety is not internalized AT ALL. Mine is spewed viciously out as if throwing it will somehow help it leave me. I make lists and tackle 12 projects at once. I stay up all night worrying and doing. I try to do others’ jobs as well as my own. I burn until everything is complete – and then I breathe. As you can imagine, my energy is not helping Scarlett. She has spent days at a time curled under a blanket doing little more than eat a few bites and sip water. 

Instead of push, as I tend to do, I am letting her sleep. I am also letting her dance it out in the kitchen, write it out in a diary (that no one else is allowed to read), and get lost in her books and podcasts. I purchased a weighted blanket for her and am trying to sit with her and just hold her more.

Emmett, age 8, is most worried about friends. I have helped him write letters to his closest friends and organize an open playdate for Sunday afternoon so anyone available can stop by and see him. He is rarely alone here, always surrounded by great friends – and these friendships are going to be missed. I don’t think the reality of everything will hit him until we are gone. Emmett gets overwhelmed easily, and he tends to become overly emotional – crying loud, hard, and acting in uncontrollable (but instantly regrettable) ways. While most of my energy is being spent on supporting Scarlett right now, Emmett is going to need a lot more once the boxes are packed and we start the drive. We plan to keep his diet clean (as he is the most effected by foods) as we travel, make sure he has time to run each day, and give him all the physical touch he needs – he’s a hugger. 

Lyle, our 6 year old, will remember this house. He will remember these friends. In all actuality, this will be the first home he remembers. Lyle retreats when his emotions become too big for him to swallow. He runs and hides and needs to be held – but also to have space. He cries, but in a different way than Scarlett, who cries of heartbreak. He cries in a different way than Emmett, who cries as a sensory overload. Lyle cried sweetly, gently, and purely. He is wise beyond his years, and he is already understanding the distance on the map. 

The littler kids are reacting to the energy that I’m throwing out. They are still young at ages 2.5 and almost 4 (but an immature almost 4). They will adapt and be okay as long as Mommy’s bed is open for them to snuggle in every night.

John flies in the night before the boxes are packed, and I couldn’t be more excited or terrified. It means that I have 2 days to organize everything for our drive, the rental house, and cross off 50 other items on the list. I’m feeling overwhelmed with the tasks, but more so, I am feeling heartbroken to say goodbye. Our neighbors have become out family. They cheer us on, share their wine, help us in every way possible, and have the biggest hearts. I know that I am drowning myself in the anxiety of the move and the children instead of handling my emotions of walking away from these amazing people. 

But today I am dedicating time to acknowledge my love for these friends. I am going to cry ugly tears over moving from this house. I am going to raise my wine glass to everything that Omaha has brought into my life – the slower pace, the longer conversations, and the focus on family. Cheers to Omaha. 

Staying Calm in the Chaos of Selling Your House with Kids

1606 N 146th Street_MLS_01

Moving is a pain in the ass. It’s time consuming, frustrating, expensive, and causes extreme anxiety. These feelings are intensified when you are both selling a house and purchasing a new one. There are just so many factors that have to happen for everything to go as smoothly as possible. It’s basically just a few months of torture.

We are moved about every 3 years or so for my husband’s company. Even when we think we’ll be somewhere longer, 3 years seems to be the sweet spot. We were flown to the midwest in February 2017 to house hunt, and here we are exactly 3 years later listing that house and awaiting another cross-country move.

This time is a bit different, though. We have to sell this house (for a good amount of money) to purchase a house in Northern Virginia. The cost of living and housing prices are (shall we say) INSANELY different compared to here. This of course increases my stress levels. 

To add to it all, John was already relocated to start the project in Virginia. The kids, dog, and I are in charge of selling the house – which means that I’m flying solo with 5 kids and a dog for a few weeks. 

I guess you aren’t here to read about just how stressed out I am, though, right? You are here for the opposite. So here’s how I’m staying sane and calm throughout this entire moving process.

Tips to Staying Calm While Selling a House with Kids

Declutter and Store Things

I’m talking cut your shit in way more than half. Kids have too much crap as it is. It is time to purge! You want almost nothing sitting on shelves, actually, you want to get rid of random, chipped, leaning bookshelves – they will not help your house sell. You can get tubs to put toys, books, and random items in and then put them in storage along with unneeded furniture, etc until you move. The less ‘stuff’ in your house, the better. (Also, it is way easier to clean!)

Minimize Closets

Is it winter? Pack up the swimwear and shorts. You get the point. Make a trip to donate anything outgrown or not worth moving and pack away half of the rest. Keep just enough to make laundry easy. 

Catch Up on Laundry

Get rid of your laundry pile and then start a habit of doing a load every day. Wash, dry, fold, and PUT IT AWAY immediately. 

Do Everything Immediately

This goes for washing dishes, picking up toys, making beds, etc. Anything that will add up to more work later needs to be done now. 

Hire a Cleaner

You need a cleaner on-call. Before a day of multiple showings or an open house, your house needs to be cleaned- and not by you. Kids make toothpaste messes and fingerprint messes. windows need cleaned, ovens, and all refrigerators, too. Do not take this stress on; hire someone. You can negotiate a great deal if you have them come once a week until you sell.

Clean Every Day

Keep up with what the cleaner has done. Vacuum every day and wipe sinks out after the kids are in bed. You may only get an hour notice before someone wants to see your house, and that hour is needed for you to herd the children out the door – not clean the house.

Eat Off Paper Plates

It is not environmentally-friendly, but it will save your sanity. Eliminate doing more dishes and just throw that crap away. You need everything looking gorgeous. 

Make Simple Meals

Eating out with kids is annoying and expensive, but you can stick to simple, one-pot/pan meals at home. You are not out to impress anyone; chicken nuggets work just fine when selling your house.

Book a Hotel for Open Houses

Run away the moment your house is clean and a day of showings or an open house is scheduled. Make it a weekend getaway or a little in-town stay-cation! We found a hotel with an indoor waterpark to live at for a few days!

Have a List of Fun Things To Do

It’s hard enough to get out of the house in time for a showing, so having a list of fun things to go do can help. Go see a movie, grab ice-cream, walk around Target, visit the local children’s museum, or have a list of friends on speed dial. 

Workout Every Day

This is how I’m saving my own sanity. I have to release my anxiety with a good workout. Go for a run, do yoga, or just blast some music and dance it out.