The Magic Clicker

For the month of November I am writing every day about something that I am grateful for.

Thursday I kicked things off explaining why I am focusing on Colossians 3:15.

Yesterday I went kind of deep with my essay about our table.

Today there will be no preaching. I have a very simple object that I am thankful for. I know it’s outdated, but I am thankful for the keyless entry remote that unlocks and opens up my van.

I realize this is 2018 and keyless, self-parking and self-driving cars are where things are at. However, I tend to be at least 5 to 10 years behind when it comes to technology. My van is the nicest vehicle I have ever owned and it has a 6 disc changer. Some of you just wrinkled your nose with pity, the rest of you have still have tape decks.

Anyway, this is the first car I have had with a remote and I LOVE it. I have had it for three years now and I am still super thankful nearly every single day for this magic clicker!

It obviously can lock and unlock doors, but it can also open the side doors as we approach the vehicle. This is fantastic news for a mother of four. I love opening the doors for my kids!

1. I no longer have to worry about them opening a door and banging it against the car next to them.

2. I don’t have to rush to the car while they run ahead and wait for me. They can get in and get buckled so that when I reach the vehicle it’s all systems are go.

3. When my neighbor calls to say the van door was left open and it’s about to rain I don’t have to go outside. No way. I just push the button like the Judy Jetson diva that I am. It’s great.

The other thing this fancy contraption does is open and shut the trunk door! I never knew how much I needed a button to open and shut my trunk until I had one. When I pull up to Wal-mart to get my online grocery order and they come out with the wagon-full of groceries I just push a button and the door gracefully opens on its own. I have to pinch myself. Is this real life?

Lastly, my remote has a red button on the bottom that says “PANIC”. I don’t know the exact intended use for this button, but I know that babies love it. Why wouldn’t they? If there is one thing babies know how to do it’s push mom’s buttons and make her panic, both metaphorically and in this case literally. What a great opportunity for babies and toddlers to learn cause and effect. They push the button and hear an annoying siren come out of mommy’s car. Mommy panics. Mommy takes keys and gets distracted. Baby gets them again and they know exactly what to do with that panic button. Baby Geniuses!

Okay, maybe that’s one aspect of the clicker that I was never as excited about, but the rest of them are true.

I love being able to use my keyless entry! In fact, one time I went to a conference at my daughter’s school. It was just me by myself which is extremely rare. As I was walking back to my car after the meeting I used my clicker to open the two sliding doors out of habit. Every weekday I walked out of that school and pushed the sliding door buttons. Except for this time I had no children with me. I sheepishly looked over my shoulder to see if anyone noticed then casually exclaimed “Just kidding. That was a practice round.” and shut the doors.

So there you have it. I am so very thankful for my magic clicker.


By | November 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Thankful for the Table



Our table is old. Our table is stained. Our table is ugly. 

I get really embarrassed about it. Whether we have company or I look at it in pictures I cringe.

This table is so banged up; not in a cute farmhouse way, but in a four kids and real-life kind of way.

Do you want to hear a true confession? If I am going to post a cute little shot of my fabulous life on Instagram I try to hide all the scrapes and nail polish stains. Yeah, I’m that girl.

It’s nearly impossible though. It was already weathered when we bought it used 13 years ago and it’s just gone downhill from there.

We have always had dreams of sanding it down and refinishing the beautiful Maple surface but it’s at the bottom of an endless list of priorities.

And honestly, I’m not sure it would last long anyway in our house. There is bound to be an incident with a sharpie or a hot plate to taint the surface again.


I am thankful for the table though.


We’ve fed countless people at that table. We’ve eaten ice cream while talking about the diets we are about to start. We have had homework victories and late night tears sitting in those chairs.


We’ve grumbled while scrubbing the table and fought about who would sweep under it. We have sung many “happy birthday to you” at that same table and celebrated new jobs and reunions with friends and family.


Board games, puzzles, crafts, burnt meals, take out, and our traditional Saturday breakfasts all take place at the table.

We hold hands around the table, we reach out across the table, we pass food, and serve and are served. At the table, we are nourished and we are filled up.

So when I really pause to think about the table and what it represents, I am encouraged. I am encouraged to pray, give thanks, reach out, connect. create and celebrate. This is what we do at the table.


Our table is big. Our table is sturdy. Our table is full. For that, I am thankful. 

By | November 2nd, 2018|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Costumes on the Cheap

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15.

I am wanting to memorize this verse as a family this month. I love how the first part is so in depth, it’s talking about ruling, which makes me think of domination and power and strength, but it’s done in peace which seems so contradictory to the world’s view of ruling or power and strength. Then we get into the members of the body of Christ all getting along and that’s a whole other topic! It’s kind of weighty and complex, but then there is this little snippet at the end of the verse which adds “and be thankful”. Almost every version I looked up had it as a second sentence or at least had a semicolon. So we have two separate statements happening here. I picture this verse like me lecturing my kids, going on and on and then taking a breath and adding “and be thankful”. It’s that simple.


While I know it’s cliche to do a thankfulness series in November, I’m doing it anyway. For the next 30 days I will share something that I am thankful for.


Since October is a big month for costumes I thought I would use this as an excuse to post my kids’ costumes and share how I was able to have all four kids dressed up for less than two dollars!


So for my first thankfulness inspired entry, I am thankful for affordable costumes!


Z’s costume was a nerd/smarty pants.


This picture was for a school party. When we went out last night he had tape on the glasses and dressy shoes. We owned all of these items except the smarties which I got at the dollar store.

Next up, SJ was a box of donuts. This costume was a hand-me-down from a friend. The chef hat came with an apron she got several years ago for Christmas.

What is especially fun about this costume is that some of the donuts are velcro. So it’s like a toy that can be used with other play food or you can wear it. That makes it all the more frugal when it’s multifunctional.

Ezie costume was borrowed from a friend. I could have had him wear something that was Zion’s from years past but he has done that a lot so I wanted to give him a chance to be his own thing.

These LEGO costumes are so popular for boys right now and I can see why. They make you look just like a real human LEGO!


Finally, we have the little bumble bee. I found this costume a week ago for 90% off at Once Upon a Child so it was 80 cents. It was a little frayed and didn’t come with antenea or leggings, but did I mention it was less than a dollar?


Elle was with me when I bought it and she’s the one that picked it out. I stuck a yellow flower hair tie in her hair and voila!


The truth is I don’t like Halloween. Our neighbors go all out with creepy decorations and this year they actually had a skeleton sitting on a bench cradling the skeleton of what looked like would be a toddler or a small child wrapped in a bloody blanket. I wanted to throw up every time I drove past it which was multiple times a day.

I like the idea of celebrating Reformation Day and talking to the kids about who Martin Luther is and what the Reformation is all about. This is also a great opportunity to talk about fear, darkness, and death. Not the topics I am most excited about but when you shine the truth and light of God’s word on it it’s pretty exciting to see how we’ve been redeemed.

Bottom line, I love costumes. I think they are cute and fun and really healthy for the kids to use their imaginations and dream. We play with costumes year round and half of our birthday parties include dressing up! Speaking of which, Elle’s birthday party is in two weeks and we’ll be doing princess costumes.

I’ve written about costumes before and how I have a really nice stash which we accumulated at a low cost. All of those ideas are in the post “10 Ways to Save Money on Your Costume Stash.” I’ve got a lot more cute photos over there. You’ll see how much I love costumes and that’s why day one of thankfulness is “Costumes on the Cheap”.

By | November 1st, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Laundry Tips & Tricks for Large Households

When you have a big family, trying to keep up with laundry may feel like trying to win a losing battle. If you are feeling like it has been years since the last time you saw an empty laundry basket, you certainly aren’t alone. And if you have clean and dirty laundry spread throughout your entire home in various hampers, baskets or even piles, you aren’t alone there, either.

Winning the laundry game is tough when you have a big family, but don’t give up hope! Here are a few laundry tips and tricks for large households that just might enable you to experience the unbridled joy of actually being done with the laundry — for a few minutes anyway.

Develop a Routine

Facing a mountain of dirty laundry is undeniably overwhelming. If you don’t’ know where to start, it’s a good idea to develop a routine that makes the entire process a bit more manageable. Think about what you have and what your current strategy is for doing laundry. Do you have enough hampers or baskets? Is your laundry room set up in a functional way? How do you sort clothing before washing? When is the best time of day for you to do a load or two?
With the answers to these questions in mind, you can work toward getting organized and establishing a routine. If you have a bit of downtime between 1 and 4 each afternoon, make doing a load of laundry a habit. Make sure you have enough hampers for everyone to have their own, and tackle one person’s laundry each day. Breaking it down into smaller chunks and washing clothes every day is significantly less overwhelming than trying to tackle it all at once. Once you’re used to the routine, you’ll find that keeping up with your family’s clothes is easier than you ever imagined possible.

Make Sure You Have the Proper Supplies and Tools

When you’re managing a large family, sometimes it just isn’t possible to run to the store when you realize you are out of laundry detergent. By making sure you have everything you need on hand at all times, you can avoid the frustration of not having what you need when you have some spare time for washing clothes.
Stock up on detergent, fabric softener, stain removal products, bleach, etc. Try to stay at least one wash ahead on the essentials. As soon as you open a bottle of fabric softener, for example, pick up another. Staying one ahead means that when you empty one container, another is already waiting on the shelf. Also, make sure your laundry room is outfitted with useful tools and supplies like a small trash can for lint, a folding table, a clothesline or a closet rod, an ironing board and iron and extra laundry baskets. Having everything you need to successfully wash, dry and fold a load of laundry all in one place makes it a lot easier to keep up and not fall behind.

Get the Entire Family Involved

Being the mom or dad doesn’t mean you have to do it all. Even the youngest members of your family can help with tasks like doing laundry. Make doing their own laundry a part of your older kids’ chores. Doing so takes a lot of stress off you, and it helps teach them a valuable life skill. Your tweens and teens can also help with their younger siblings’ laundry. As a bonus, if your kids are doing their own laundry, they are way less likely to wear a shirt for five minutes than throw it in the hamper as “dirty”. This is especially helpful if you tend to purchase wholesale t-shirts for your entire family. Without each member of your family present to identify their own clothing, things could get quite confusing!
Kids who are too young to handle doing laundry on their own can still lend a hand with tasks like pairing socks, folding towels and putting things away. Start teaching them how to handle household chores young, and before you know it, they will be chipping in more and more.

Put It Away Immediately

As soon as a load of laundry comes out of the dryer, fold it and put it away. Do this prior to even throwing another load in the dryer. The sooner you do it, the less likely you are to put it off. Plus, putting one load away takes a lot less time than putting away the 10 loads you’ve probably let pile up on your couch at least once.
If you don’t put all the laundry away yourself, assign a clean basket for each member of the family. Place their clothes in their respective baskets, and take the baskets to their rooms immediately. If your kids are in school, make putting their clothes away their first chore upon returning home. The same goes for your spouse if he/she is at work when you finish up a load of their laundry. Eliminate procrastination from the process of putting laundry away, and you are way less likely to end up with mountains of clean clothes cluttering up your home.

Conquer Your Mountain of Laundry

When you have a large family, winning the laundry game is no easy task. By doing things like involving the entire family and establishing effective routines, though, you can make the process much easier. Very few people actually like doing laundry, but unless you can afford to buy the entire family a new outfit every day, it’s a necessity. We hope that the tips above make keeping up a bit easier and maybe even help make doing laundry somewhat enjoyable.


Jordan Smith is a full-time stay-at-home mother of 2 daughters and a new dog, Luna!
She loves spending time with her family and coming up with creative new crafts for every occasion.
As blogging is her second passion, she is a regular contributor to The Blog for All Things Wholesale Apparel.
She also enjoys strolling the streets of downtown Charleston, South Carolina and all the amazing food her hometown has to offer.
By | October 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Healing I Never Saw Coming

These days having a daughter who is deaf is a part of our norm. We don’t dwell on it. We don’t even think about it for the most part. SJ is deaf and it does make life different for her than for a hearing person but she has proven over and over that it isn’t going to hold her back.

Although, looking back 6 years ago to when she was diagnosed, it wasn’t that simple. It was pretty devastating to be honest. If you’ve followed my blog for a while you know the story. My husband was a worship leader in Texas when we felt God calling us to Kentucky. We left our home and our ministry to see what He had in store. Only two months later when we had no job and were living with my parents we learned that our daughter had profound hearing loss.

Everything we had built together as a couple was shaken.

The very first time I ever saw Jeremy he was leading worship, singing and playing the guitar. Music was an enormous part of our lives and we felt the Lord had blessed us with the gift to lead others in bringing God praise through music. Finding out that your child is deaf is a big shocker for most but when what you feel is your calling revolves around being able to hear it is especially tough. We felt so lost. It was like being stripped of our identity.

That wasn’t in the forefront of our mind at the time though. My biggest concern was figuring out how to communicate with our baby girl now that I knew she hadn’t been hearing me for the past two years.

I had already taught her a handful of signs that I learned from a baby signing curriculum my parents got for our first born. Now it was time to really dig into sign language.

I devoured everything I could find that taught ASL. I contacted friends that signed or that knew anyone who was deaf. I wanted to learn all that I could.  I bought books about ASL. I watched videos about ASL and I integrated into our home daily. It was SJ’s first language. One of the things that really helped me in that season was worshiping in sign.

I will never forget the first song I learned. It was Matt Reman’s We Are the Free. I practiced over and over. No one saw me except my Heavenly Father.

I started learning new worship songs and I would occasionally sign in church while we sang, but for the most part it was something I did privately. It got me through that difficult season and it also helped me become more familiar with ASL so that I could continue moving forward with finding a language for SJ.

Fast forward 6 years and SJ now has cochlear implants.

She can hear music now and has learned to speak. Also, Jeremy is leading worship again. It’s been a long journey to get to this point but the Lord has recently brought even more healing to my soul.

When I found out that deaf singer-songwriter Mandy Harvey (the golden Buzzer winner from America’s Got Talent) was going to be a special guest at our church I was ecstatic. I was also told that the pastor wanted me to sign during worship. The idea of interpreting worship songs and expressing my love and adoration to God through this beautiful signed language made my heart so full. I dove right in.

As I started working to interpret the songs panic set in. I would be signing in front of a lot of other people on the platform for the first time and some of those people would actually be deaf and use sign language to communicate! This terrified me. It’s one thing when it’s just me and Jesus but this was a whole new ball game. These are just some of the thoughts, fears, and lies that went through my mind.

You can’t do this. You aren’t qualified. What if you accidentally sign the wrong thing? What if you forget the words? What if people think you are showing off? What if the deaf community thinks you are foolish? What if they find out your daughter has cochlear implants? You know how cochlear implants are perceived. They are going to hate you and see you as a fraud. What were you thinking to agree to this? Back out! Back out now!

I let the anxiety cloak me and I texted my friend who grew up signing because she is a CODA (child of deaf adults). She was going to help me but I tried to cancel. I told her I was “chickening out”. I typed out the words “I don’t think I’m strong enough or fast enough”. She texted me back encouraging me and told me why she thought I needed to do it, but also told me I could decide after meeting with her and going over the songs.

That Sunday I stepped up to the x on the stage and as the band began to play I took that music that I heard and I formed it into a visual with my hands. It was incredible. The beauty behind American Sign Language is amazing to me.

I was completely overcome with emotions as I felt the Lord healing me in areas that I didn’t even know it was needed. He did though. This was a full circle moment that I would have never envisioned in a million years. I let my hands sing as I signed the words

“I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who you say I am. You are for me, not against me. I am who you say I am.

Who the son sets free is free indeed. I am a child of God, yes I am. In my father’s house, there’s a place for me. I am a child of God yes I am”

I mentioned that when we were in that dark place after leaving our home in Texas we felt lost and confused about who we were. When we had to choose how to help our daughter by either fully emerging in the signing community or having the cochlear implant surgery we felt lost and confused about who we were. When I was asked to sign but felt completely unqualified those same emotions were back but as I motioned my hand back and forth to form the words “I AM WHO YOU SAY I AM” I knew it to be true.

No matter what obstacles or lies we are up against we can stand firm on the truth about what His word says about who we are and who He has called us to be.

I am chosen!

There is a place for me!

I am a child of God!

Who knew how this story would play out. The daughter of a worship leader profoundly deaf did not receive the supernatural healing prayed for.

It sounds bleak, but instead, God took us on a faith journey like no other. A journey that at times seemed so dark I felt like I was going to accidentally stumble into a pit. I had no idea where we were headed.

That Sunday as I stood next to my husband while he played the guitar and led the congregation I interpreted the words into sign language and it was like I had an aeriel view of the journey and I saw how God’s hand was at work all along.

I have had several more opportunities to sign since then and will be worshiping in sign this Sunday as well. I have had such generous feedback from my church family and I appreciate the kind words. Whenever someone told me that it was powerful and touching I wanted to share with them the story of how I got to that place and how it was all because of God. This little testimony took over a thousand words to type out though so instead all I can say is: Thank you. I feel the same way.




By | October 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Inspiring Mom Kadi Spurlock

Kadi and her husband David dated for a little while in high school. They both moved from Texas to Colorado separately in college to pursue their creative endeavors. That is where they reconnected and fell in love. They married in January of 2004 with no plans of children anytime in the foreseeable future, but when Kadi found out she was pregnant only 3 months later, their plans changed. From that point on they’ve watched all of their plans change… a lot. It’s been through many tests and trials that they have learned now more than ever to lean on the Lord and trust that His ways are perfect.

In  2013 Kadi was pregnant with their 4th child, a little girl they named Charley Mae. She was born healthy weighing 6 1/2 pound but there was something different about her. She had extremely low muscle tone and because this was Kadi’s 4th child she knew that she wasn’t hitting all the milestones at a normal rate.

Charley Mae was a happy, easy going baby but she didn’t even roll over until she was 10 months old. Of course the Doctors were doing everything they could to pinpoint the problem, but they ruled out muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and all of the main causes of low muscle tone. By the time Charley Mae was 3 Kadi had taken her to see more specialists than they could count but they still lacked a diagnosis.

Kadi was feeling completely discouraged. Reflecting on that season she says “at that point, I didn’t care what it was. I just wanted to know how to help her. I wanted answers.” So finally a developmental pediatrician ordered a panel of blood work and a referral to see a geneticist. That’s when they started getting clues to what was going on. Charley Mae’s panel came back with a rare abnormality caused by a deletion in her chromosome 11. She is missing a tiny fragment of that chain, and only a handful of people in the world have been diagnosed with this condition. It doesn’t even have an official name.
Kadi and David were informed that this condition, along with low muscle tone and other minor issues, causes cancerous tumors that can appear between the ages of eight and ten years old. These tumors would develop in her neck, chest, and maybe even brain area.

Even though this wasn’t great news they were thankful to have some answers and were ready to take the next step to help their daughter.
Kadi met with the genetic counselor and learned that the condition thrives in high altitude. That means that low oxygen is not healthy for Charley Mae and it was recommended that they move. Kadi said that in that moment she immediately started thinking of moving to another area within the state that would be lower altitude.

Colorado was their home. It was where they fell in love and got married and it is all their children had ever known. This was more than just their address. It was their dream.

That’s when the geneticists informed Kadi of the severity of the situation. She looked at her and told her, I’m sorry, but I’m not talking about a lower altitude in Colorado. You all would need to move to sea level.

A shock went through Kadi’s body. She was alone when she met the geneticists assuming they would discuss treatment options like diet, medicine, and more bloodwork. This news came from out of nowhere and now it was up to her to share it with her husband. She called him after the appointment expecting that he would not respond well to the news because he loved Colorado even more than she did. After going over all the details with David, Kadi held the phone in silence allowing David to respond and then he said “Okay. Then we are moving”. He didn’t even hesitate.

They prayerfully felt that the Portland area would be their destination. They didn’t have any connections there. No big safety net or job transfers that would make for a smooth transition. They had something better than all that, the peace of God.

Kadi says “Things moved quickly once we knew what needed to be done. It was as simple as that.  There was  nothing that was going to stop us from making sure Charley Mae has the best life possible.”

So they immediately finished remodeling, and put their house on the market. It sold on the first weekend. Ironically they had already tried to get their house on the market before because they wanted to live in the country, but things kept preventing them. Kadi said that once Charley Mae got her diagnosis it all made sense WHY things weren’t working before. It would have been a disaster if they had just bought a house and then had to relocate again.

When the genetic counselor did a follow-up call to see what they had decided, they told her that the plan was to fly out to Portland in a month and buy a house. As soon as she heard that she was thrilled because she was going to recommend a specialist that was a colleague of hers that was in Portland! This was such a miraculous setup that made the whole transition go extremely smooth.

When they went to Portland to look at houses they prayed “Lord give us a clear yes or no” and house after house seemed to be a definite NO. They were starting to run out of time and it was getting dark, but that’s when it happened. They rolled up to a tiny little tiny house in Washington with a barn and chicken coop and they instantly fell in love! This was it!

It was what they wanted when they were in Denver but had never worked out. Now was the time. When they first walked through the 1920’s  2 bedroom house with the tiny porch on 5 acres, they had no reservations!

Maybe some would call them crazy considering their dream house was nowhere near move in ready.  It was originally a bunkhouse to the ranch hands that worked on the dairy farm. It was 1,100 square feet and it looked like all the electrical would have to be pulled, walls torn down, sheetrock replaced. There had been multiple remodels with 6 different layers of flooring that would all be ripped out. It was so nasty (Kadi’s description) that they bought a cute 1950’s Spartan camper and lived in that for the first 7 months while they gutted the place.

They wouldn’t have it any other way though. They are a true fixer upper couple with enough talent to make Chip and Joanna Gaines marvel at their work.

It’s been a year since the big diagnosis and in the time that they have been in Washington they have seen dramatic results in Charley Mae’s health and development. Her muscle strength has improved and her geneticists at the Portland’s Children’s Hospital has encouraged them that she’s on the right path. It is a lengthy process though. Charley Mae is in physical therapy, speech therapy and they will continue to reevaluate and assess her as she grows.
The biggest change aside from the move has been their new diet.

The specialists have recommended that Charley Mae be on a no processed food diet. They said it’s okay if she goes to a birthday party and has a piece of cake but on a day to day basis she does not need to eat anything that cancer could feed off such as gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. Living on farm land and eating homegrown foods as certainly helped with this process!



Charley Mae just turned five and while it hasn’t always been easy Kadi knows that they are giving her the best quality of life possible.

Kadi said, “We’ve been here a year and watched God put all the puzzle pieces together. It has been amazing to see it all fall into place and makes us excited for what’s next. We know God has a plan for Charley.

I want her to know what God has done and is doing and constantly be able to share that he has made her for a special purpose. I know God is using her in a big way.”

Kadi’s days are full as she now has SIX kids and homeschools almost all of them. They have created a beautiful home for themselves in Washington, just north of Portland Oregon.

Kadi has one of those Instagrams that you scroll through and drool over.

Not only does she have a gorgeous family but she is an extremely talented photographer with an equally talented husband who does carpentry like you wouldn’t believe. Oh, and they can both make the most incredibly exquisite food. What is really beautiful though are their hearts and their faith. They are committed to putting Christ first in their marriage and family. It is evident that His love radiates in their little farmhouse.

Kadi’s words in the midst of the storm are both encouraging and profound. She says: “When something is so completely out of your control you are either going to panic or you just have to let go. I prayed for an answer and we got that answer. I prayed for peace and He gave us peace. We know deep down that God has this. It’s in His hands and so we trust Him. “












By | September 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Back to School

The kids have been back in school for almost a month now. It’s a really cool feeling to be able to have them all start on the same day and have the same days off! I am especially looking forward to fall break next month. In the past, they were all at different schools. Ezie and Z had the same start day because at least they were in the same ISD, but since SJ’s deaf school was private it had its own schedule.

So far having them all in the same school is everything I dreamed it would be. Don’t get me wrong, they are not on the same daily schedule. Ezie is still half-day kindergarten, add to that the fact that Z has a weekly robotics club so I have to pick him up an hour later makes for a lot of back and forth.

Sometimes I need to hear from moms of grown children reminding me to cherish these times. It genuinely does help. I love the toddler and preschool years, but now that I am on my twelfth year as a MOP (mother of preschooler) I am salivating at the idea of getting to go exercise by myself or run some errands quickly without having to mess with buckling and unbuckling car seats and screaming parking lot safety lectures all the way into the store every single time. I want to meet up with other women from the church someday or become a two income family. Sorry, I am getting off topic with my daydreaming again. I promise you I do not resent my children! They mean everything to me and the fact that we are finished having babies allows me to see the temporary state of things and makes me want to be present even more because I know that this is it.

That was a huge tangent though. We’ll discuss my new stage of transitioning from a mom of babies to a mom of kids another day. This blog post was supposed to be about the first day of school!

We started practicing our school routine a week beforehand.


This is a great way to adjust sleeping schedules and tweak the routine. For the past four years we have practiced our school routine by literally getting dressed, packing lunches and getting in the car to go to school even though we really go to the park or to get groceries or something.

On the real first day of school we allowed even more time than usual because we had to do the obligatory school photos.

We even went to our next door neighbors house because they have so many flowers. Our landscaping isn’t nearly as nice, but J did plant some Zenias for the first time and they are in full bloom right now.


I also treated the kids to a special animal toast breakfast inspired by something I found on Pinterest.


The kids each got a note and a special animal. They turned out so cute and boy was I proud when I saw that my oldest had written me a note and made me an animal toast that is of my favorite animal!

I loved it! It gave me a flash back to when we made this fruit creation before he was even in school.

J came with us the first day and we prayed over the kids together and I did tear up a little.

Z is in 5th grade now. I already mentioned robotics. That is the thing he is the most into this year. I am sure you will hear more about this during competition
season. He just had his eleventh birthday. We went bowling with a couple of his buddies and he got a robot kit and the Indian in the Cupboard book series as gifts. They know him so well!

SJ is in 2nd grade. She has been thriving at her new school. I have been moved to tears many times because of her enthusiasm and how well she fits in. She has been really excited about reading chapter books for the first time. She truly understands them and eagerly tells us all the details. This is a major jump for her. We recently had another IEP (individualized education plan) meeting and discussed some of the times where hearing is most difficult for her and ways that the school can be as accommodating as possible. I am overwhelmed with how they go above and beyond to help each of my children succeed. I love our school!

Ezie is in Kindergarten. He rides the bus in and then I go pick all of them up in the afternoon. Ezie used to have an IEP for speech therapy but in May the preschool decided he no longer needed it which is fantastic. He is doing really well and just lost his two front teeth! Such a big boy.

Elle is about to turn three believe it or not and she is potty training. We’ve been diaper free for over a month now! She never wets the bed and hasn’t had any accidents at church, or in her car seat, or at the park, or on the go. So that’s great news. Except her big obstacle is the POO! She refuses to poo in the potty. I have never faced this problem before but I know it’s not uncommon. It is tiring, but having this issue with my fourth child isn’t so bad because I do realize that eventually she will get it.


They are all growing and changing so much I can’t keep up! As far as goals for the year, Zion will learn to code on a greater level. SJ will learn to adapt to mainstream schooling. Ezie will learn to read. Elle will learn to poop in the toilet. That’s a pretty wide range of skills we are working on, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s going to be a great school year.

By | September 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor

After 5 and 1/2 years with the same Cochlear Implant Processors SJ got her first upgrade in June! It was so exciting. I describe CI upgrades to cell phones. It’s like having an old banged up cell phone that won’t stay charged anymore and doesn’t have the latest features but you still have to hold out until you are eligible for your next upgrade. Except imagine your phone is 10 times more expensive and that your hearing depended on it. So it’s a pretty big deal.

This was the day SJ got her new CIs. Those two big boxes she is carrying are what the processors come in. There are quite a few extra pieces that come in the full package.

It was amazing to see the difference between the first time SJ got her CIs activated and this time. When she truly heard for the first time she was three years old. She still didn’t really care about hearing and she didn’t have any ownership of her equipment. In fact, for the first couple of years we had to convince her that she should wear them. When she was in preschool we tried taping them on, using headbands, decorating them with stickers and covers, whatever it took. I remember dreaming of the day that she would want to wear her CIs and could actually put them on herself.

That day has come! Not only can she put on her own batteries and equipment but she has been really excited about her new gear and motivated to learn about how it works! She takes pride in her CIs and is becoming more and more responsible and independent. She knows how to take off the batteries and charge them at night and how to plug into the FM system or audio cable at school. I’m so proud of her. She now knows more about all that stuff than I do!

This upgrade included a lot of new improvements and accessories that we were really looking forward to. SJ went from having the Nucleus 5 to the Nucleus 7. One of the things we dreamed about with the new cochlear implant is the “find my processor” feature. We actually haven’t had to use this tracking device yet, but there have been countless times it would have come in handy in the past! It’s reassuring to know it’s there.

Another cool thing that I didn’t expect was that the cochlear implant instruction manual is all digital.

This has been really neat for SJ because she loves to watch the videos and for that reason she is more aware than ever of how her cochlear implant works. Her brother Z  has also watched the videos and both kids have been instrumental when troubleshooting. When we were in Michigan SJ couldn’t find any batteries that were working on her CI. They were brand new so I didn’t know what could be going wrong! That’s when Z chimed in “Didn’t the manual say that the Aqua Plus accessory only works with rechargeable batteries and not disposable ones?” He was right! Problem solved.

Speaking of the Aqua Plus, I can’t say enough good things about this waterproof cover. Before now, if SJ wanted to swim she had to put the CI in a special order disposable baggie and then hope that it would stay in place which it hardly ever did so she would just take it off and swim without any hearing.

Now her CI can go into a form-fitting reusable cover with a waterproof cable. This has allowed SJ to be able to really swim and hear for the first time.


This photo is from the first time she wore her Aqua Plus. You can see how happy she was.

I’ll admit I was terrified when we were in one of the great lakes and she had her Aqua Plus, brand new CI and Nammu hat. I pictured her CI floating off into the sunset never to return, but thanks to the clip that tethers it to her swimsuit it wasn’t an issue.

You can barely see the invisible string that is keeping her CI connected to her.

She even went for a ride with a professional kiteboarding and they went really fast on the water. Still, her CI stayed on! Thank goodness!



Lastly, SJ has a new accessory called the mini mic.


This thing is awesome because I can clip the little mic to my shirt and my voice goes directly to SJ’s CI’s. This has been a huge help at the park where there is tons of background noise. It’s also great when we go on walks or bike rides. SJ can’t hear when a car is approaching but thanks to the mini mic I can warn her with ease. She also used it at sports camp over the summer. The coach gladly clipped it to his shirt.

Can you spot the mini mic in this photo?

It came in handy again when she went rock climbing with my brother and sister in law too. Whoever was belaying SJ would wear the mini mic and could direct her as she climbed.

The mini mic is very hard to see in this photo but SJ’s climbing coach a.k.a. Aunt Lindsey is wearing it.

She did a great job advocating for herself and making sure the right person was wearing the mic! The cool thing is that I can talk to her when she is behind the glass at the Chick Fil A playland. One time I had a mom asking me how I was doing that. Ha! I feel like an FBI agent sometimes talking discreetly into my little gadget. I’ve seen people do a double take at the grocery store when SJ is ahead of me at the other end of the aisle trying to grab a bag of candy and I quietly say “Put the candy down now.” into my mic and she startles a little and puts the candy back. BUSTED!

One feature that the Nucleus 7 has that SJ hasn’t had need for yet is Bluetooth technology. When she is older and she wants to stream the audio from movies, music, or her phone straight to her CIs she can!

We’ve had a few accidents though as we have learned the ins and outs of how it works. One time J called me and I couldn’t hear him. That’s when SJ came into the room to announce that her dad’s voice was in her head! The call was being transferred to her devices via Bluetooth. A similar blunder happened when SJ went on a road trip with my parents. The couple of times she has taken a trip without me I have had the caregiver sync their iPhone with her CIs. That way they could use the lost processor feature or the remote control if they need to.


This is one of the many screen shots I have taken to use as a tutorial for someone who needs to pair their iphone.


This is a snapshot of all the stuff (minus the actual processors) that goes with SJ when she travels.

Anyway, so my parents were on their way to a children’s museum that they have never been to before and they have a van full of kids and Sedona starts shouting- Turn left! That’s when they realized the phone was accidentally set for the GPS to go directly to SJ’s CIs! She was having to dictate the directions to my parents! It’s so futuristic I can hardly wrap my brain around it. Don’t worry we’ve gotten most of those kinks worked out since then.

It’s exciting to think that if technology has improved this much in the 5 years that she has been implanted what will it look like when she is an adult!?

Needless to say, we (including SJ) have loved the new Nucleus 7 sound processor. We are thankful for the technology, the doctors, the insurance and of course God’s provision that allows all of this to happen. SJ is a pioneer when it comes to some of this hearing technology and it certainly has its challenges, but we are aware of how blessed we are. She had such an active summer between rock climbing, camping, kayaking, sports camp, fishing, and kiteboarding. Her hearing loss didn’t slow her down one bit!

I’m so glad the Nucleus 7 can keep up!


By | August 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

The Decision to Retain Our Second Grader

About a month ago I got a lengthy comment on an old blog post called Crunchy VS Soggy. The reader was responding to the part of the article where I talk about the decision to have our infant sons circumcised. Her response was cordial but she was obviously opposed to circumcision. At the end of her comment she wrote

” We can’t go back but we can make changes for the future, sometimes it’s good to break traditions when they are unethical, or permanently alter someone else’s body without their consent”

I responded to the comment with an equally lengthy and equally cordial reply in which I mentioned

“Parenting is full of so many hard choices that we have to make on our children’s behalf day after day.”

I can’t think of anything more awkward to start off this blog post than a circumcision debate but I promise I am going somewhere with this.

Some people let their children drink Koolaid and eat Lunchables and they are judged. The other end of the spectrum is judged for not vaccinating their children. Some moms swear by homeschooling, others condemn it. From breastfeeding to working outside of the home, the mommy wars go on and on. However, I think for some of us moms, the real war is within ourselves.

The external voices are loud, but as a mother of 4 in my mid 30’s I no longer have the time to care diddly-squat about what other people say about my parenting. That doesn’t mean I feel like I know what I’m doing though. Like I said- parenting is full of so many hard choices that we make on our childrens’ behalf day after day.

Sometimes it’s cut and dry, like when you’re one year old wants to pick up a cigarette butt off the ground and see what it taste like. That’s a clear N-O. What about when your one year old wants to sleep in your bed? That might be clear for some people but there are a lot of different opinions out there about which choice is the “right” way. We have to assess, and pray, and consult, and research, and discuss and in the end we go for it. We make decisions for our kids because they are relying on us to raise them and we love them but dang it, sometimes it is draining.

Our deaf daughter has been all across the map when it comes to developmental delays. Cognitively she is fine. She has no other health issues, but because she hasn’t been hearing as long as other kids she is automatically delayed in speech and for that reason she has bounced around in terms of what grade level she is on. I was always on the edge of my seat waiting for her teachers to suggest that she should repeat a grade. The deaf school that she attended was Montessori style so grade level didn’t really matter, but eventually she would be mainstreamed.  At the end of last school year as we prepared for her to mainstream into the 3rd grade my husband was extremely reluctant and proposed that she should be retained. I pushed back.

Would she be made fun of for being the oldest? Would she hate us later? Am I keeping her from reaching her full potential? The questions went on and as her parents, we had a lot of heated discussions.

I wanted to hear what the experts (the teachers and therapists at her school) thought. One day I missed the school bus and had to drive my daughter to school. While I was there I walked up to the receptionist desk with my super messy bun, unbrushed teeth and gross old flannel and leggings. I figured since I was there already I might as well make an appointment. It turned out the people I needed to see were available to meet right then no appointment needed! I wasn’t really prepared for a meeting but this was my chance. I sat my butt down, gave some paper and pens to my two little kids that were with me and set my phone to record the conversation so that my husband could hear all the details later. They showed me assessments and shared what some of the other families were doing. As they went on I realized they actually agreed with my husband. They were all for retaining her. There were several reasons for this and as they explained their thoughts it made total sense to me and I was completely at peace with the decision, relieved even.

A few weeks later we had another meeting. This one was with the public school that she would be going to and my husband was with me. Thank goodness I didn’t look like such a hot mess this time as all the different specialists and professionals filed into the room for our daughter’s IEP meeting. As we discussed the details someone mentioned 3rd grade registration and I froze. I interrupted to explain that actually she would be repeating 2nd grade. There was some confusion among the team and not everyone in the meeting was comfortable with that idea. I understand why. In a lot of cases there are so many options to help a child get caught up rather than hold them back. This situation is unique though because she is going from a very small school with acoustically sound walls and often times 2 to 1 student-teacher ratio and will be transitioning to a large school with a cafeteria and a gymnasium and lots of noise and distractions. She was already stuck on a first grade level with some of her school work so to suggest that she would adapt to her new school environment socially and get caught up academically was risky. Everyone agreed the jump to 3rd grade is a huge one, even for typical students.

As the discussion continued I suddenly wasn’t so sure I was making the right choice! I wanted to do whatever was best for my daughter. My mind flashed back to 6 years before. She was two years old and taking the ABR test to determine whether or not she could hear. She had to be completely still for hours. At two years old this meant that she needed to be ASLEEP! She had just recently been potty trained and weaned from the pacifier. Part of me wanted to go back to diapers and a pacifier to ensure she wouldn’t get restless. However, there was something inside of me that determined then and there that I would NOT baby her. If she had a disability we would face it head on and teach her to push through obstacles and not allow anything to stand in her way.

As I looked around me in that moment I was humbled to be surrounded by these caring professionals that all took this time to meet together for the sake of one little girl. I knew they wanted to do what was best for her too. I told them that I didn’t want to do anything that would make her feel like she was failing or incapable. I was embarrassed about the tears streaming down my face.

In the end, after further discussion and deliberation, we made the difficult choice to retain her.  This gives her the entire year to get caught up academically and to adjust to the dramatic changes that come with leaving behind the school that she has known her whole life. She will go from only being around students who are deaf to being the only one who is. She will experience recess on a big outdoor playground. She will hold a lunch tray for the first time. She’ll begin reading chapter books and walking the same halls as her brothers and hearing announcements on an intercom. She’ll learn to use an FM system so that she can hear her teacher. She’ll learn to adapt and be an advocate for herself.

This week is her first day of 2nd grade at her new school. I am nervous, but I know she’s ready and I feel good about the choice we made. I know that God has her in his hands. These life-altering decisions are not easy. I always tell my children if they are trying their best that’s enough. I guess it’s true for parents too.

By | August 14th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Inspiring Moms

Inspiring Moms is an original Messy Mom series that features a different mother (or mother figure) each month to tell their story. The reason I chose that name was because in this context it fits perfectly as a verb and an adjective. The goal is for this to be a community of mothers that come from all kinds of diverse walks of life to inspire one another.

The series launched in early 2017 and since then we’ve had so many moms with different ages and backgrounds share their unique testimonies. Being able to feature these powerful heroic women is one the most anticipated reads on Messy Mom. Some of the moms featured have big platforms and successful full-time careers, other moms have walked through heartache or overcome obstacles. Being an Inspiring Mom is all about showing up and putting your heart on the line for your children and your family. Here are some of the stories that have been highlighted so far:


April 2017- Suzanne Sorenson shares what it was like surviving a tornado and having to start all over as well as having a son with a rare disability.

May 2017- Heidi Lewiston Talks about her experiences as a Navy Wife, a mother of four, and reflects on some of her favorite memories from Isreal. At 96 years old Heidi had a lot of wonderful advice and insight. *

June 2017- Susan Shipe had adventurous tales of being a single mom and encountering the Lord while… smoking pot!?! She even worked for Donald Trump. Her story may sound bazaar but it is a testimony of provision and restoration that will increase your faith!

July 2017- Shana Deemy was a teacher, foster parent, and founder of a bilingual preschool before she and her husband picked up and moved their whole family to HONDURAS. Life is very different on the Caribbean island but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

September 2017- Tiffany Williams shares what it was like having 4 children ages four and under and all in diapers not to mention a traumatic postpartum heart failure experience. Her testimony is powerful!

October 2017- Jen Hill is homeschool mother of six. Her world was turned upside down when their three-year-old son was in a lawn equipment accident that left him as a double amputee. Their family motto: Jesus is enough.

November 2017- Amanda Huffman shares her experience as an air force veteran who had been deployed to Afghanistan and a husband who currently still serves. Lots of wisdom from this heroic mother of two.

December 2017- Angie Keith experienced the worst heartache any mother could face when one of her twin daughters passed away during a nap on Thanksgiving Day. Just when you think there is no way God could turn this tragedy around He does and it is incredible.

January 2018- Monica Ramey is the author of Walking in Dominion, which is her memoir of going through the vicious cycle of abusive broken relationships and even having her own son kidnapped and taken to another country and how God still never gave up on her through it all.

February 2018- Lora Kendrick opens up about what it is like having a daughter who is the recipient of a heart transplant and how they have kept their family together throughout the trials of life.

March 2018- Christen Dierken wrestled on a men’s wrestling team and was an Olympic hopeful. She is a mother to one beautiful baby girl and is a true model of strength and perseverance.

April 2018- Lauren Béa is a singer, songwriter, and recording artist that is married to a professional football player. She shares how to keep family first while being in the spotlight.

May 2018- Tiffany McNair and her husband adopted a little girl from Congo after they had three biological children. They thought the bringing her to the US would be the hardest part but that was really only the beginning.

June 2018- Kristi Capel has her dream career as anchorwomen on an award-winning morning news show. Her greatest job of all though is being a mom!

July 2018- Kerry Howard tells her heart-wrenching story of surviving an abusive impoverished upbringing and turning things around after adopting her 5 year old niece when Kerry was only 18!

September 2018- Kadi Spurlock was willing to give up their home and their dream in Colorado so that they could live at sea level due to their daughter’s rare disorder that thrived in high altitudes.

February 2019- Lula Gibbs was raised as a sharecropper in Alabama. She is a true warrior who victoriously overcame many obstacles living in the deep south before and during the civil rights movement.

April 2019 Hashmareen Griffin was born and raised in Sri Lanka until her early teen years where her family moved to the US and she became an international runway model!

*Only a few weeks after writing the piece and talking with Heidi on the phone about how much she loved the article Heidi unexpectedly and peacefully passed away in her home. I believe the Holy Spirit orchestrated the timing of this interview and it was an honor to share this glimpse at Heidi’s precious life from her own perspective.

By | August 6th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments