Inspiring Mom: Kristi Capel

Today I am so honored to share my interview Fox 8 Cleveland’s co-anchor Kristi Capel!

Kristi and I met at Heritage Academy, a small private Christian school, where we were friends and classmates. With a smile that could light up any room she had always been interested in Pageants. She was extremely comfortable and natural in front of large audiences. She went from Heritage Academy to Evangel University in Missouri to pursue a degree in Broadcasting and communications. From there she went on to win the title of Miss Missouri USA and actually competed in the 2006 Miss USA Pageant! We all watched it on TV growing up so it was really exciting to see Kristi on stage. In 2008 Kristi accepted a job as a weather forecaster and in 2012 became morning co-anchor of Fox 8 News in Cleveland Ohio.

Aside from all of her accomplishments in her career, she is also a wife and a mother of two adorable young children.

It’s obvious that her family is her top priority and they bring her the most joy in life. Kristi is a wonderful example of following your passion without compromising your values and priorities. I am so excited to share this interview, so let’s get right to it.

Mess Mom: How does your family feel about having a mom/wife on TV?

Kristi: It’s funny because just the other night my husband Hal and I were at home and he said, “Hey look there’s your promo” and I laughed and kept cleaning. He said, “Remember when we used to get excited about seeing you on tv and now after almost 13 years, it’s just another day, just another commercial.” We had a good laugh. Of course I never take it for granted. I’m blessed to be able to do what I love and get paid for it. My husband has always been my biggest supporter and number one fan! He’s become used to the fact that I’m on television but has always treated me the same as when we met in college, and for that I’m grateful.

My four year old daughter Kyndal is starting to understand where Mommy works. We were in the waiting room at the doctor’s office and one of my promos came on and she said, out loud, “Look Mommy there you are!”

I may have slid a little deeper in my seat and put my hat down over my face a little farther, but I also realized that she was proud of Mommy and that meant the world to me. My son Duke is not even two years old yet and obviously has no idea. He just loves his Momma.

The viewers have enjoyed watching both my children grow up. They have been so giving over the last several years since my first child was born showering me with beautiful gifts. Some of my favorites are family pictures, or jewelry that have my children’s names or pictures on it, and the beautiful homemade blankets our viewers have poured their hearts into.

MM: That sounds like a nice perk! Are there times you want to blend in and have some privacy though?

Kristi: Yes, we have had to set boundaries to keep certain parts of our lives to ourselves and try and keep things “normal” for the kiddos. Hal is very good at making sure that happens. He’s very protective. At the same time, we appreciate all the love from the community on a daily basis.

MM: This is a question I have to ask myself or any mom out there juggling a busy schedule: How do you balance work life with home life?

Kriti: Balancing work life and home life can be tough. Wakeup call is 1:30 am with 2 hour naps in the afternoon, along with squeezing in time for the gym to get that baby weight off, and making sure I have the energy to keep up with a 4 year old and 20 month old little boy who’s always on the move. So my answer to that is my husband. He is a HUGE help! With his job, he can make his own schedule which is a blessing because mine is so crazy. I have a husband that helps out with laundry, cooking, and cleaning! If that’s not an answer to prayer, I don’t know what is! It’s not the best schedule, but together we make it work.

 

MM: What advice would you give to a woman (or even your own daughter) considering a career similar to yours?

Kristi: My advice to those who want to get into this career is, have some thick skin. This career can be tough when it comes to egos, jealousy, and outside noise. I learned pretty quickly, you’ve got to have your own back. Learn to enjoy what you do though, it’s television! Figure out what your interests are, weather, news, maybe entertainment and hone your skills in that area. It may be a tough business, but its also very rewarding.

MM: I understand. I’ve been given the thick skin advice as a writer. That’s something that doesn’t come naturally to me! I know you love what you do though and it’s so fun seeing clips of you on the morning show.

You guys seem to have a blast! I even shared your recent video of you dancing with legendary choreographer Derek Hough.

Can you share with us your all time favorite TV moment?

Kristi: I have three favorite tv moments and that’s when Hal and I announced we were having a baby Live on the show!

For Kyndal’s announcement, we surprised the other anchors with making cupcakes on the morning show and creating a mess leaving powdered sugar splattered on everyone! Then we served milk in baby bottles to wash it down. My second favorite, I can’t forget when one of the most beautiful buildings in the country, the Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland lit up pink when I revealed the gender.

We now have a framed photo of it hanging in her bedroom. It was a total surprise! And my third favorite is when Dr. Oz revealed the gender of our second child!

What a cool moment we’ll never forget. I love how the station I work for, Fox 8 News in Cleveland, embraces our families.

MM: That’s so awesome! It’s been really exciting to watch you on this journey Kristi. Because I’ve known you and your family for such a long time I know how you love Jesus and are truly a light in your community. My last question for you is How has your faith impacted your career?

Kristi: My spiritual walk has always played a part in my journey to where I am now. I remember praying before going out on the Miss Missouri USA stage saying, use me for your glory. Let me be a light and example of you. Then I won and I was just as shocked as everyone else! I truly believe God opens and shuts the doors. I was looking to leave a certain station and job opened up in Denver. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted, but I was desperate so I said yes. As we were packing up our apartment my agent called the next day and said they took the contract off the table. My agent at the time, a big NYC agent with national clients said she’s never in her 20 years seen that happen. I knew it was God and I was relieved, but I didn’t know where I was going to find another job. In the end it all worked out, but it goes to show the workings of the Lord are always going on. You just have to be willing and open to where he’s taking you. One of my favorite verses and I even have it painted on my wall at home is Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Kristi. You really are an Inspiring Mom and I know there is still so much more to come.

By | June 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Handmade by Dad With Love

When my daughters are the age to be considering marriage I will impart my wisdom on them about what important qualities to look for in a man. Don’t marry someone for looks or money, I will tell them. Instead, marry them for their ability to build or fix things. I’m totally joking of course. That is not why I married J, but it is a nice perk.

J fixing the brakes on my van yesterday

Since Father’s Day is tomorrow I thought this would be a great opportunity to brag on my husband and how he has used his brilliant ingenuity to make cool things for our children.

First, the horse seat.

The saddle was my aunts and she gave it to us for Ezie’s third birthday party. J crafted the wooden form to hold the saddle. He made it sturdy enough for all sizes and fastened the saddle so that it wouldn’t fall off.

Not only was it a hit at the party, but it’s been a great place to sit or take a ride to imagination land for the past two and a half years!

Next is the lego table.

 

This table was designed to be the perfect height for little ones and it has a border that will prevent legos from falling off the edge.

The kids have spent countless hours at this table!

Even today they play so well together building and creating. I know Legos can be played just about anywhere but this was one of J’s greatest ideas because it gives the legos a designated area.

They can stay out and when the kids are ready to play they can pick up where they left off. It was such a hit with our kids J made one for our friends for Christmas a couple years ago.

I think as the mom, this is my favorite of all of J’s creations.

Lastly, the sprinkler.

 

 

While it looks like it’s just a T sticking out of the ground, it is actually a really fun sprinkler for the kids to run around in. It spins on its own and drops of water spray out all over. It shoots water really far. The photos do not do it justice.

 

The friends, family, and neighbors have all had a blast with sprinkler and hopefully will continue to for many summers to come.

J invented all of these ideas and executed them without any kind of instructions or template. Maybe someday I can get some measurements and take some decent photos (sorry all I have is poorly lit photos from my phone for now) and we can co-write some tutorials together. Toys R Us may be shutting down, but Messy Dad’s toy shop is going strong. Honey, if you are reading this, thanks for all that you do. I love how you have used your talents and creativity for your family. You are one awesome dad.

 

By | June 16th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Beautiful Day

I’ll never forget the day of  SJ’s graduation.  It really was a dream come true. We had been waiting for that moment for so long. I literally had a countdown on my phone.

 

She sprang out of bed that morning excited for her last day of school. We walked to the bus stop for her final busride to Ohio Valley Voices.

 

At home I started decorated for the party that night. I still had the old door up from SJ’s butterfly party and I covered it with photos and mementos from each year SJ was at Ohio Valley Voices. It is really amazing to see how much she grew at that school, both physically from age 2 to 8, and also in her communication. She went from understanding and saying zero words to being able to full-blown TALK. It comes so naturally to the rest of us that it’s easy to take for granted, but I never will. Not after all we’ve been through to get to this point.

As I was decorating I got a text message from Cochlear saying that her new cochlear implants had shipped. This was something we had fought for and had waited months to hear. I was ecstatic. The day just kept getting better and better.

Family and friends started showing up ready to celebrate. J’s parents came all the way from Texas. My family came up from Kentucky. Even one of SJ’s first teachers who moved away to Michigan came to the graduation. Our pastors were there and some of our first Ohio friends came to show support.

SJ did an awesome job on her speech! I cried. Quite a bit actually.

I have video but it’s too large to post on the blog. I’ll try to get it up on youtube later. 

 

 

After the graduation our family had refreshments and cake on our patio.  I felt like I was floating that day from sun up to sun down.

That would have been enough to have me grinning for weeks but it gets better.

The icing on the cake was that just before the graduation J and I were gifted an overnight stay in Chicago to see a U2 concert and spend time touring the city just the two of us.

I can’t even describe how awesome that trip was for us. All the emotions that I felt that week were the best kind of overwhelming.

My favorite part of the U2 concert was one little line from the song Beautiful Day.

Bono sang “See the bird with a leaf in her mouth. After the flood all the colors came out” and as Bono belts it out, bursts of color light up the arena. Obviously the line is referencing the ark, but it was very symbolic of the everything we were experiencing.

The flood was over and this was our rainbow. Just to put it in perspective, 6 years before that we were in thick of unemployment, pregnancy, living with parents, being on food stamps and SJ couldn’t hear or talk at all. We were in the middle of a flood just barely keeping our heads above water. Fast forward to the day I saw that song performed live, it was almost unreal. J and I were 16 rows away from a live performance by our favorite rock stars and then heading home just in time to watch our shining star SJ give a SPEECH at her graduation.  Whoa. This was the rainbow. We were seeing the results of God’s promises kept. He said he would never leave us or forsake us and there were times I doubted him. My faith was like a fleck of dust, it seemed nonexistent unless the light was just right. Thankfully another promise God says is that if you have faith even the size of mustard seed you can say to this mountain to move from here to there and it will. Nothing will be impossible.

I keep on thinking of Ephesians 3:20.

SJ’s graduation was something I had imagined and longed for for so long.  Then once the time actually came, everything unfolded exceedingly abundantly better than what I had ever even imagined! I know this story doesn’t end with a neat little bow and they all lived happily ever after. Of course not, but no matter what comes our way we will know that He is always faithful. It’s true, and I want to encourage you with that message as well. No matter how hopeless things might look for you right know God’s promises are true! He is able!

 

And just a little side note, the day I wrote this I saw a gorgeous rainbow.

Now I’m always going to think of Bono and SJ whenever I see a rainbow. You might laugh. I’m laughing too but what I will be remembering is that God’s promises are true.

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By | June 8th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Inspiring Mom Tiffany McNair

Tavis and Tiffany met in student ministry classes. They pretty much always knew, even before they were married, that they would want to adopt someday. Tiffany had been on multiple mission trips to Brazil and Tavis had spent significant time overseas in places like Tanzania and Kenya. They both had an unfiltered glimpse at what life is like for some of the orphans in other countries. Once they were married and had three children (Ian, Nate, and Clara) they knew they were done with pregnancies, but their family wasn’t complete. They were ready to adopt! They weren’t sure where they were adopting from but they were really hoping for a sister for Clara so that helped determine some of their options. Tiffany explains “When you adopt your agency will literally give you a sheet with little boxes on it and it’s a checklist and they tell you to check what medical issues you are willing to deal with, and that is a very sobering thing to ask what are we willing for God to give us?. You don’t normally get to make that choice. But for us, we already had a child with a bleeding disorder very similar to hemophilia, it’s called type 3 von Willebrand disease. It’s very severe and demands a lot of care. Clara was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and it was so bad that we almost lost her.” Since they were juggling two serious medical conditions with their own children they looked at the list from the adoption agency and they checked nothing. They considered it to be irresponsible to even try to take on more at that time.

This photo is from after the adoption when Clara had surgery. There have been many hospital stays for both Nate and Clara before and since the adoption.

 

I asked Tiffany why they chose to adopt from the Democratic Republic of Congo and she explained that the adoption laws are constantly changing as some countries open and close and the guidelines are very inconsistent. Currently, you can’t even adopt from Congo! So when they were ready to adopt she said “We looked at all the options and at the time it looked like we had tons of different countries to choose from, but once you factor in your financial status and then how many children you already have and if you have a request for gender or age it narrowed it down to basically two options for us.” The two options were Ethiopia or Congo and at that point, it was basically the flip of a coin, but they looked at Congo and the conditions for the orphans were so terrible they were moved with compassion. The cost of getting their child home was an immense amount of money. Tavis is an administrative pastor and Tiffany is a full-time homeschooling mom so just the financial aspects alone were going to take a miracle! Then they watched as God performed miracle after miracle. One time they turned in a significant payment (I won’t give exact details but we are talking thousands of dollars) and they thought they would have months before the next payment was due but they got a call two days later saying “We have a name for you but we can’t give it to you unless you can make the next payment and if you can’t then we have to move on and give her to somebody else.” They immediately knew they wanted that little girl but they didn’t have the money! The Lord provided though, and within a day the money was donated for them to give the payment in full! Tiffany told many stories like this about how the money came in and they received confirmation after confirmation that the timing was right and that they were the family this little girl needed and that she was meant to be their daughter!

The day they met their daughter (Livy) they were standing in the Cincinnati airport. There were about 5 liaisons each holding the hand of a Congolese child. One of the liaisons called out “McNair” and then they just handed her over. After all the paperwork and hoops that they jumped through it was that quick! They signed a piece of paper saying they got her and that was it!

After everything they had been through in the adoption process, they thought the worst was behind them, but they were about to find out that this was only the beginning of a very challenging lesson in patience and trust.

One of the first things they did was bring Livy to a clinic for testing only to find out that she was malnourished, had scabies, giardia, and tuberculosis and these things cannot even be treated at the same time. The medication used to treat tuberculosis will make the giardia worse. So you have to treat the giardia first before you can take out the tuberculosis and the tuberculosis treatment is a 9 month treatment. They had to give Livy crushed pills multiple times a day every day for 9 months and if you miss a day you have to start all over. On top of all the medical issues they were dealing with, there were the behavioral issues. Livy was lashing out in a physical and harmful way. It’s normal for there to be attachment issues with adoption but this was a special case. Livy was three years old at the time and still not making any strides in communication. Not only has Tiffany done extensive research and training for international adoption but they also have many friends who have adopted from 3rd world countries so she knew what to expect. The other children she had observed had caught on to at least some of the English language much quicker. Something was not right here.

At Livy’s doctors visits they had a translator for her and he couldn’t understand anything she said. He said she was talking gibberish. Six months into the adoption the behavior was improving but the language still didn’t come. Tiffany would call her name twenty times with no response. She turned to Tavis and said, “She is either the most disobedient child in the world, or she can’t hear.” They took her to get a hearing test and that’s when she was diagnosed with severe hearing loss. They began speech therapy with little progress. They worked on the word carrot for weeks and got nowhere. Her therapist had the audacity to say she thought that Livy had a “loose screw”. They knew their daughter was intelligent and that she deserved better so they did everything in their power to advocate for her. Over time this would mean fighting insurance to get her a cochlear implant and finding a therapist that would actually help Livy instead of making excuses for her lack of progress. Tiffany describes how challenging that season was “At this point, Livy had been part of our family for almost 2 years and still only had a handful of words. We had never had a conversation with her about her adoption or Congo because she couldn’t understand us nor could she tell us anything. It was a DIFFICULT two years. We knew we had to do whatever it would take to help her.” 

That was when they learned about Ohio Valley Voices school for the deaf (OVV). They took a tour and left both excited and disheartened. It was amazing to see deaf children speaking but the school was 45 miles away and she would need to go every weekday. Even then the conversation on their ride home that day wasn’t whether or not they would bring her to the school but how.

The one thing that they were concerned about going to the school was that it made the bonding process that much more difficult, but at the end of the day they looked at the overall goal which was that this child would have the gift of knowing Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. This is when Tiffany can barely get the words out through her tears she said: “so we sacrifice four years of bonding to be able to communicate with her that we love her and that she has a Lord and savior that loves her”. They knew what they had to do.

The first year Livy attended OVV  Tiffany would bring the whole family everyday and homeschooled the other three children in the conference room at the school.

Homeschooling away from home wasn’t easy, but Tiffany was committed to do whatever it was going to take.

During her first few months at OVV Livy experienced an explosion of vocabulary and learned hundreds of new words! When Livy would learn a new concept, her teacher would run her down to the conference room so she could show them.

All four McNair children participating in the Christmas festivities at OVV.

The next year they sold one of their cars to get a more fuel-efficient vehicle and drove to the school twice a day. Over the four years that they were there their family spent approximately 1,605 hours on the road.

“It was all worth it” Tiffany says and adds, “A couple of years after Livy started school, I was tucking her into bed and she started telling me about memories from Congo, things I had never heard before. She told how the mamas would carry baskets on their heads and that once, some bricks had fallen on her. She has some scarring on her arms, feet, and legs that we think might have been from this. I walked out of her room that night with tears rolling down my face. We had waited 4 years to hear those things.”

A week ago Livy graduated from Ohio Valley Voices and can now join her brothers and sister and experience homeschooling. There has been a lot to celebrate in the McNair home as this next chapter begins.

On paper Tiffany and Tavis requested a child without any special medical needs, but God saw through to their hearts and knew that they were the perfect fit for Livy and that she was meant to be a McNair. The puzzle pieces are all coming together and what a beautiful picture is being revealed.

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By | May 31st, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

I Wrote and I Wrote and I Wrote

6 years ago I learned that SJ was trapped in a silent world and had no way communicating with us. I longed for the day she would turn her head when I called her name or for her to speak the phrase I love you too. I imagined what her voice would sound like and the truth is it is different than what I thought it would be but it is so so beautiful. I kept thinking she might graduate early, but the school goes all the way to 2nd grade and she held out until the very end! Slowly but surely she did it. She met all of her goals. She’s ready. Life with fulltime speech therapy has come to a close. She has had to work twice as hard to do what comes naturally to hearing children, but she’s doing it and she’s that much stronger because of it.

I am a words person so I have to carve out some time on a regular basis to make sure I can express in words some of what I am feeling. Some people go for a jog, or paint, or even drink their emotions away. I write.

After SJ was born in the bathtub I wrote:

“I was in shock! I couldn’t believe that I was holding my baby! It seemed too quick, too easy, and too good to be true. After a minute of these thoughts, it finally sunk in that this was not a dream. I looked down at my daughter, my beautiful healthy baby girl and I welcomed her home.”- March 7, 2010

When SJ turned two I typed up a letter not knowing she was deaf. I wrote:

“For almost a year now you have been able to color, brush your teeth, eat with a fork, drink from a cup, unscrew lids, and dress yourself. It’s like you have the dexterity of someone twice your age, but you WILL. NOT. TALK.”- March 4, 2012

When SJ had her first hearing test I wrote:

“SJ went to the ENT specialist today and had her hearing checked per her doctor’s referral. I knew that this was a routine procedure for delayed speech. It was #8 on my list of things to do today. Simple as that. ” -April 12, 2012

When SJ had her next hearing test I wrote: 

“Eventually the lights came back on, the Doctor commended her for how well she did, then sat down to tell us the thing that, deep down, we already knew. SJ has severe hearing loss.” – May 07, 2012

When SJ had her cochlear implant surgery I wrote:

“As I type the words “The Surgery” I hope that I never have to use a title like that ever again and then I remember that this is the first of two.” -November 8, 2012

After surgery I wrote:

“In this past year of learning that SJ is deaf I have been building a wall. Every disappointment, every failed attempt at hearing added another layer to my wall. I have confessed to crying when she had her cochlear implant turned on because she didn’t react in the way I had hoped.” -December 20, 2012

As she learned to speak I wrote:

“Seeing SJ in the winter program could have been a reminder for me of how far behind she is compared to the other kids in her class. She can’t speak as well as her friends and she couldn’t quite muster out the words they had practiced for weeks, but still, that night as she stood up there and spoke into the microphone she was my shining star.” -December 17, 2013

When progress seemed slow I wrote:

SJ has started talking a bit more. We are at a place now where we can communicate our everyday needs to each other pretty well. It’s still hard though when there are so many things she wants to say, but I just don’t understand her. – September 30, 2014

As she was catching up I wrote:

“After she finished her assignment she said, “I tell  teacher I do homework by myself. Mommy, not help me.” I looked at her and said “Yeah. That’s right!” and she said You proud me. It wasn’t a question, it wasn’t Are you proud of me? She said it as a fact, because it’s true. I am proud of her. I am so so proud of her.” -October 14, 2015

When the finish line was in sight I wrote:

“This battle to give SJ a language is ending. We did it! She can communicate now! We are just tying up a few loose ends over the next year before she spreads her little wings.” -May 16, 2017

And after she graduated I wrote:

“Life with fulltime speech therapy has come to a close. She has had to work twice as hard to do what comes naturally to hearing children, but she’s doing it and she’s that much stronger because of it.” -May 25, 2018

I wrote and I wrote and I wrote my way to this pinnacle. Thousands of words poured into this blog pertaining to SJ’s hearing loss. It’s been surreal knowing how long we’ve waited for this moment and then to watch it play out like a fairytale ending is almost more than my momma heart can take. My little shining star stood at the microphone and flawlessly delivered her speech. The crowd clapped and cheered. We went home and celebrated late into the night under the stars. There was so much joy in the air and my heart was overflowing with gratitude. As the day drew to a close the extended family who had all traveled to attend the celebration got in their cars and left. The kids and my husband drifted off to sleep. The leftover food was packed up, and other than some decorations that were still hanging on the wall it was like nothing had happened. It was midnight now and the graduation was behind us. The years of struggle to give our daughter a voice was behind us. I sat down for a moment all alone in the silence. I did not write. In that moment as I sat there and took it all in… I had no words.

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By | May 25th, 2018|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Dramatic Changes with Modern Curtains

This is a sponsored post.

 

As my Pinterest board gets filled with ideas of how I want to decorate and remodel our home I notice an unlikely key element to transforming any room: curtains!

Furniture and paint color are important, but curtains are truly a focal point. They have the power to make a room look bigger, smaller, darker, brighter, calmer, cozier and more. If you are thinking of doing any remodeling or updates in your home you are definitely going to want to check out Highendcurtain.com. Highendcurtain is an online store that sells not only curtains but also faucets, sinks, lights and other home decorations.

Highendcurtain was founded in 1988 and became the first private enterprise specializing in the production of curtains. It’s the combination of modern fashion styles and a lifetime of experience that set them apart. You are going to love the options, quality, and customer service.

Before you get overwhelmed by how many choices of modern curtains there are let’s talk about how to choose the right one for you! Start with asking yourself these three questions:

1. Are these curtains primarily for aesthetics or are they serving a practical purpose?

If you want your curtains for keeping out light you may want to choose a blackout style fabric. If they are just part of your design then you have more flexibility.

2. Do you already have a statement piece in the room?

Highendcutain.com has so many modern curtains that have a fun or funky design to them.

I love the idea of having something that pops! However, if you already have a statement piece in the room like dramatic wallpaper or a couch with a busy pattern on it you will want to take that into account when you make your curtain selection.

3. What is your budget?

Curtains can add such a dramatic touch to any room and it doesn’t have to cost much! Once you have your budget you can choose all the pieces you need such as the rod, sheers, and the curtain itself. Highendcurtain has high-quality curtains for a fraction of the price. They also offer many specials like coupons and free shipping.

After you’ve selected which style of curtain you want you will need to take measurements. If you feel confused by any of these steps the good news is Highendcurtain has a live chat support team online or a customers service line where you can call and talk to a qualified customer service representative. They are on call 24/7 (with the exception of major holidays) and are happy to help before and after your purchase.

I wish you all the best on your room makeover. From rugs to curtains to light fixtures, it might feel like a never ending tasks, but take your time and enjoy the process. It’s your home; make it somewhere you love to be.

By | May 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

“It took 6 years to get to this point.”

It’s been 6 years since SJ was diagnosed with profound hearing loss. The Kentucky Derby never fails to serve as a reminder of this milestone.

 

It was May of 2012 and we had been waiting a month for the ABR test which would finally confirm whether or not SJ was deaf. We had the test done at an audiologist in Lousiville Kentucky which is where the Derby is. Her appointment was on Derby weekend and the whole city is buzzing with energy. Everyone is drinking and hardly anyone is working (even the secretary at the audiologist’s office was off for Derby day). Every woman you saw was dressed in their southern finest with gigantic fancy hats on their heads. So much celebration going on all around us and there we were finding out that our two year old daughter has never heard our voices.

Fast forward to now. SJ is practicing her graduation speech and song. I feel a little guilty about how much emphasis I have put on SJ’s upcoming graduation to my friends and family and on social media. I’ve been talking about since last year!

 



 


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Obviously I have a lot of words and feelings to get off of my chest right now. It’s just that we have been waiting 6 years for this. It’s amazing how much can happen in 6 years and yet you can never really quantify it in words.

“It took 6 years to get to this point.”

It takes less than 3 seconds to say that sentence, but it takes millions of seconds to live it. That’s why I am so focused on this big event. That’s why I talk about it so much. It has taken 2 surgeries, a multitude of specialists, and countless hours of therapy in order for SJ to hear and speak but she is doing it. The day that she no longer needs full-time intervention services is less than two weeks away.

So I apppologize if I over-share about all of this stuff. Thanks for being there for me as I process it all. Thank you for the prayer and support. Praise God we can see the finish line right around the corner. Although, as with many endings it is also a new beginning, the one we’ve prayed for all along.

 

 

By | May 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Map Art and Custom Jewelry

One of the awesome perks of blogging is getting to share incredible products and services with all of you. Today I have two product reviews and both of them are customizable, beautiful, and one of a kind!

First off I want to tell you about Modern Map Art.

 

This is such a cool idea and unlike anything I have seen before. Modern Map Art has lots of unique decor items and gift ideas. The Map that I have is called a Custom Star Map and it is a poster of what the sky looked like on the night my husband and I were married.

 

Isn’t that awesome!? We love how the poster turned out and we will truly cherish it forever.

 

The way it works is you give Modern Map Art the information that you want them to use. You get to pick the title, the font, the colors, whether or not you want the constellations (we chose to have them); it’s easy to make it completely your own. Ours says “A Love Come True” which was a significant line in a song that J wrote and surprised me with on our wedding day. The coordinates are for Midlothian Texas which is where we got married, but it’s also the city where we met and have countless treasured memories. It will always be dear to our hearts.

I can’t say enough good things about the Star Map. It could also be used for a birthday, first kiss, or any other memorable night you want to treasure.

This makes a great gift idea and a totally random bonus is that it also educational for the kids because we can teach them about the different constellations and share with them a piece of their history.

The poster shows up within days of placing your order and there are no shipping costs.

Go check out all that Modern Map Art has to offer on their website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

 

 

Next up I cannot wait to tell you about Willow and Ash Designs. Willow and Ash offer a variety of unique one of a kind pieces of jewelry. One of their specialties is using agate pendants and stamped metal.


The jewelry is handmade and no two necklaces are alike which the artist in me LOVES!

These necklaces are gorgeous and even better you can order your own custom piece.

Mine has all four of my children’s names on it.

This necklace makes my heart sing. I love it so much.

 

The kids were thrilled to find each of their names on it when they saw it. I even got this photo of their four little hands holding the pendant.

Don’t waste any time and go to the Willow and Ash website to see more of what they have to offer! You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

 

You could still sneak in a gift for your mom or gift something to yourself this Mother’s Day. I love my Star Map and my Willow and Ash necklace. I’m sure you know someone who would love them too.

 

 













*This is a sponsored post, but as always the reviews and thoughts expressed are sincere.

By | May 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Butterfly Party Fun

I already shared most of the details for the Butterfly party food and decorations, but I never shared the fun!

This was the biggest number of guests I have had at a kids’ party that I’ve thrown. We had 14 girls in a house that isn’t huge.

Thankfully I had plenty of help between two aunts, two moms, and the youth pastor’s wife from our church. I ended up needing all hands on deck!

We had sharpies to label the drinks and party favor bags! All of the paper products and party favor bags were from the Dollar Tree. So were these butterfly nets.

The nets were for a game where the girls on the balcony would throw butterflies to the girls on the landing.

I got this 100 pack of paper butterflies from Amazon because I didn’t want to cut out a hundred tissue paper butterflies!

The whole party was originally planned for outside, but it was stormy. Luckily I had the balcony as a plan B. The girls had fun competing to see who could catch the most butterflies.

We also did a tasty and cute butterfly craft!

It was very simple. We had ages 4-9 represented at the party and with help from grown-ups it was something that was great for everybody.

To make the craft all you need is snack size ziplocks, pipe cleaner, colorful candy, googly eyes, and a clothespin that can be colored with paint or markers. You can find a variation of this project here.


One final activity was opening presents!

I decorated this station by hanging a mosquito netting hoop which I decorated with flower garland and butterflies of course.

The 0ld white door is something I decorate for parties with photos from throughout the years. I added a few butterflies a pennent banner and the letter S for the birthday girl. This was all stuff that I already had on hand. 



That was basically it. I know the birthday girl enjoyed it and I think her friends did too.

 

 

 

If you missed part one of all the birthday fun you can find the details here

By | May 4th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Butterfly Party

I love party planning and watching the dreams and details come to life on the big day. It’s one of my favorite things! I am pleased to report that I have another low-cost, fabulous DIY  birthday party to reveal to you. The party theme this time? BUTTERFLY!

As usual, I had a Pinterest board for SJ’s 8th birthday which was butterfly theme. You can see all the pins here.

First off we had plenty of big tissue paper flowers!

All of the pink ones were pom poms that I used to decorate SJ’s party three years ago.

The others were from the dollar tree (as well as the butterfly wings)

 

I added fake flowers to the middle and green tissue paper for leaves. That’s it. I taped them to the wall with packing tape (use at your own discretion if you want to protect your paint).

This flower frame over the french doors was a great backdrop for the party and for photos…

which I later turned into thank you cards.

 

Now onto the food!

We had butterfly “pigs in a blanket”. I don’t have a great picture, but this was a HIT! I plan to a tutorial later. 

Even the crackers and cheese were butterflies. The cheese was cut out with a butterfly cookie cutter and the crackers are Pepperidge Farm.

I served Ants on a Log because I thought it might be nice to have a veggie on the menu and ants are at least an insect, so that’s close to the theme.

The fruit bowl with the butterfly sticking out of it was a last minute substitute for my failed attempt at making a fruit pizza. I love making elaborate fruit pizzas. You can find my recipe and previous creations here. I’ve had success in the past, but this time my giant butterfly shaped sugar cookie was a total disaster! No worries though. I just put the fruit I was planning to use in a bowl and it worked out totally fine. I decided against fruit salad because kids can be so picky. Most of them know which kind of fruit they want and that was way more practical.

Speaking of fruit, the bowl of watermelon was the talk of the party. I wish I could tell you where you could find this bowl that is designed to add water that it can be iced (the bottom comes off), but I got it at a yard sale and I haven’t been able to find it online.

The kids were actually the ones to add the decorations to the bowl. They had fun and it turned out so pretty!

 

Last but not least- CUPCAKES!

The cupcakes were storebought this time. I usually go with homemade though. I have some of those cupcake recipes and ideas posted here.


I got the ferns on clearance for 99 cents at the florist and I thought they would add a nice touch.

The edible butterflies were from Amazon. They were GORGEOUS! This was a bit of a splurge for me because I do everything on a budget, but it was worth it. I asked SJ if she would rather have rings or edible butterflies and she chose these. The girl’s loved them!


There were little butterfly touches everywhere. On the light fixture-


The party favors-

The napkins-

There were some butterfly crafts and activities too, but I’ll save that for another post. I’m all fluttered out for now.

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By | May 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment