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To The Employer of the Mom with Young Kids

She’s five minutes late. Again.

Her hair is hastily pulled back into a clip. Makeup sloppily applied at stop lights on the way to work. You recognize that dress – it’s started to pill a bit. She’s had it as long as you can remember.

As she collapses at her desk, you find yourself wondering – what happened to the professional young woman you hired?

Trust me, she’s wondering the same thing.

After feeding the baby at 3am, she tries to force herself back to sleep as quickly as possible knowing the morning will be here before she knows it. She wakes up to her husband getting ready for work – he has to be out the door by 7am. She realizes she doesn’t have time to make him breakfast, and she feels a pang of guilt. She pulls herself out of bed, and tries to do what she can to help make his morning as stress-free as possible – she knows the challenges that await him when he arrives at work. Her two oldest wake up and watch SportsCenter with Daddy as she makes her coffee. Before she knows it, he’s out the door – and she’s wondering how long she has before the baby wakes up and needs to eat again.

She turns on PBS Kids and hopes Wild Kratts will keep her 3 and 5 year old entertained long enough for her to take a shower. She grabs her cup of coffee and takes it in the bedroom, sipping it quickly as if it’s her life source. In some ways, it is. She stares at her closet, wondering what to wear. Just six months post partum, half of the clothes don’t fit and she’s starting to wonder if they ever will again. She tries on two different skirts, both with the same maddening result. Not yet. They go back in the closet. She sees a stretchy black dress that she has worn too many times, but it fits. It’s comfortable. And it’s passable for work. She ducks into the bathroom and takes a quick shower, all the while listening for the baby monitor. As she dries off, she hears her big kids, “Mom, I’m hungry!” She throws on her clothes and rushes out to make their breakfast. Honey Nut Cheerios it is. Again. As she pours their milk, she hears the baby start to cry. His pajamas are wet. Time to move up to the next size diaper? Either way, it’s time to wash the crib sheets. She throws them in the wash while he’s crying, waiting to be fed. She’s trying to breastfeed as long as possible, but she’s wondering how much longer it’s going to be feasible. She finally sits down to nurse him, all the while trying to referee her “big kids” who are engaging in a shoving match as they eat their breakfast.

The baby’s done eating so she lays him on his playmat and implores the big kids to get dressed. “Mom, I want to wear my Optimus Prime shirt.” Of course he does. Is it in the dryer? She hopes so. She goes into the laundry room and sorts through the clothes. No luck. She loads them into a laundry bin and dumps them on her bed to sort through them again. Success. She hopes her husband will understand why their bed is covered in clean laundry. She realizes there are clothes in the washing machine that need changed over. Done. She catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Yikes.

“MOM! The baby spit up!” Yes, yes he did. Time to clean the carpet. And the baby. The big kids aren’t dressed yet. “Please get dressed and brush your teeth.” They start to move, slowly, distracted by the tv. It’s not worth the fight. She goes back to get herself ready.

She quickly uses the hair dryer – not enough to finish the job, just to make sure her hair won’t be dripping wet. She pulls it back into a clip. She grabs her make up bag and realizes she doesn’t have time. She throws the bag in her purse. And guess what – the kids still aren’t ready. Frustration overtakes her. She turns off the tv and they spring into action. One needs help putting her shirt on. The other can’t find his shoes. One goes to brush his teeth – she’ll realize after she gets to work that she’s not sure the other one ever brushed her teeth. Oh well.

It’s late. Later than it should be. How does the time fly so quickly in the morning?

She grabs her purse. And her computer bag. And the diaper bag. She wonders what she forgot to put in there for the babysitter. Too late now. She rushes the kids out the door – but first, they want to grab a toy. Of course they do. And of course sister grabs brother’s toy. And a fight ensues. She plays referee again and they’re out the door. She feels like a pack mule as she carries the three bags, and the baby in his car seat, out to the car. Gone are the days of professional-looking pumps – she would likely break an ankle on the way to the car. She feels professional in her wedges – and hopes others will see her that way too. She hastily applies her makeup at the stop lights, noticing the new wrinkles appearing around her eyes and mouth. Where did those come from? A little extra concealer around her eyes. Feels like the coffee hasn’t fully taken effect yet.

She drops her kids off with the babysitter and instantly feels the guilt of leaving them. She gets so few hours with them, and the hours she gets seem so chaotic. She fights the traffic, watching the clock, knowing she’s cutting it close. Too close.

And that’s when you see her. Rushing through the door. Collapsing at her desk. Five minutes late.

And now, as her employer, you have a choice.

How will you respond?

You could reprimand her about being late again. You could comment about her somewhat disheveled appearance. You could give her a disapproving glare.

Or you could bring her a cup of coffee.  You could compliment the work she accomplished yesterday and validate her as the professional woman she still longs to be.

This is a season, and it will be over before she blinks. These days are hard, but they won’t last forever. Be kind. Be understanding. And I promise that the professional woman you hired will rise to the occasion. She is strong. She is intelligent. And she is a force to be reckoned with. You are lucky to have her on your team. Make sure she knows that. And I promise, it will pay dividends beyond your expectations.

Don’t compare her with the fresh-faced twenty-something in her brand new Ann Taylor wardrobe with her hair perfectly coiffed. She had that wardrobe once too, with the coordinating Coach purse. That was before daycare bills. Dentist bills. A mortgage. Back when she slept through the night, had time to go to the gym in the morning, and could make herself a healthy smoothie before work. You know what she has that the recent college grad doesn’t have? Experience. Resilience. Dedication. And a solid dose of determination that gets her through the long days and long nights. And guess what? When work gets hard, those are the qualities you want on your team – even if they arrive five minutes late.

Signed,

Every Working Mom

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Pray for the Nehemiahs

And here it is – election season.

If presidential elections weren’t tumultuous enough, now we have the added benefit of hearing everyone’s political opinion broadcast over social media. I remember being taught that there were two topics people never discussed – religion and politics. How things have changed! My grandmother might be rolling in her grave because today I’m going to talk about those two topics – but not in the way you might expect. Hold on, Grandma.

I know many people who are incredibly disheartened about this year’s election. They are struggling with getting behind either of the front running candidates. It feels like they are picking the lesser of two evils. Whether you feel that way, or whether you feel like your particular candidate is the best thing to ever happen to America, I want to invite you to do something with me – pray for the Nehemiahs.

I make it a habit to pray for President Obama. I pray for him personally, for his family, and one day as I was praying, God told me to “pray for the Nehemiahs”. The funny thing about that instruction? My father-in-law and brother-in-law are both named Nehemiah. But God brought to mind the story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. If you’re not familiar with the story, Nehemiah, a Jewish man, served as the cup bearer to Artaxerxes, the King of Persia, following the Babylonian Exile. As cup bearer, Nehemiah had access to the King in ways that others did not. God began to stir in Nehemiah’s heart a desire to see the wall of Jerusalem rebuilt. In fact, Scripture tells us that when Nehemiah heard that the wall was broken down, and its gates burned with fire, he sat down and wept. He mourned. He fasted. He prayed. He knew he had to do something.

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Because he regularly spent time in the King’s presence, the King noticed something had been troubling Nehemiah and asked him about it. Nehemiah had the opportunity to share his heart with the King, though he admitted being “very much afraid.” The King asked him, “What is it you want?” Nehemiah prayed and then asked the King to send him to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. The King didn’t just agree to send him there – he sent letters with him that would ensure Nehemiah’s safe travel, along with the materials he would need to rebuild the wall.

What does this have to do with our current political season?

Those with political titles are not the only ones with political influence. Yes, we should be praying for the presidential candidates and those who serve as our elected officials. Absolutely. But don’t stop there. Pray for the modern day “cup bearers” as well.

When God prompted my heart to pray for the Nehemiahs, I started praying for the Obamas’ maid. For the President’s driver. For the one who brings their meals. I don’t know their names – but God does. And just like Nehemiah, He may have strategically placed them not in positions of political authority, but of personal influence.

When you find yourself growing frustrated about this election season, pray for those who will serve our newly elected president in those ways. Pray that God would put people like Nehemiah in those positions that have influence on our elected officials every day. And pray that when given the opportunity, God would direct their words to provide wisdom, insight and discernment to those who are in authority.

Should we pray for our elected officials? Absolutely. Should we pray for those who are pursing the office of the presidency? Without a doubt. But I want to ask you to take it one step further – pray for the Nehemiahs.

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The Power of Relationship

A friend of mine posted an interesting experiment on Facebook the other day. She asked people to share a photo of a time when they (or their children) had been a minority in a situation by 4 or 5 people. For instance, as a black woman, she shared photos of herself with our running group from St Petersburg where she was often the only runner of color. Many of her friends had to admit that they had no photos of themselves in that type of situation.

It reminded me of a conversation my husband  and I had at least fifteen years ago, not long after this photo was taken at our high school graduation. We were just friends then, by the way. Who could have guessed we would someday end up as husband and wife?

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We were home from college and went to a movie theater in Sarasota. As we walked in, he commented, “I am the only person of color in this entire theater.”

I looked at him and asked, “Do you really notice that?”

He said, “If you were the only white person in this theater, you would notice.”

His comment struck me. I realized I had never been in that situation. Ever. I grew up in a town that is 95% white. My husband is one of very few minorities in our town. I had never known what that felt like.

When I returned to college, I began to seek out those opportunities. The first way I did that? I began attending a predominately black church. What an incredible experience.

We now live in that predominately white small town where we grew up and my husband and children are always the minority. Always. I don’t know what that feels like. And unless you’ve lived that, you probably can’t imagine what it feels like either. But I would challenge you to find those opportunities.

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I believe that one of the greatest ways we can overcome racism, prejudice and stereotypes is through relationship. It’s moving past the idea of “them” or “us” and recognizing our common humanity. It’s getting to know people whose experience differs from your own. Learning how to put yourself in their shoes. You may not agree with their political opinion – get to know them anyway. You may not look like them – get to know them anyway. You may not follow the same religion – get to know them anyway.

Once we’re in relationship, we have the freedom to ask questions. To start to understand each other better. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has answered questions about, “Why is it offensive when I say this?” There is a difference between being naively ignorant and willfully ignorant. Be willing to ask questions. Be willing to learn. And be willing to have your presupposed notions challenged.

For instance – this week, a good friend made a comment that to me falls into the “naively ignorant” category. This person said about my husband, “Let’s be honest – he is a white black person. I mean, he’s educated and…”

“Stop,” I said, “That is hurtful.”

This person looked at me with wide eyes.

“Think about what you just said.”

I could see this person replaying their comments in their head with horror. They never meant to be offensive. They had no malice in their heart. But their words were hurtful. First, they insinuated that black people aren’t educated. The family I married into certainly defies that stereotype – the amount of higher education in that family is astounding. And to say that my husband is a “white black person” implies that he somehow had to rise above the color of his skin to be more “white”, or that somehow he has denied his race by the way he lives. Comments like that only deepen racial divides.

But here’s the thing – my friend didn’t get defensive, and didn’t dismiss my feelings. My friend was immediately repentant and had an eye-opening experience, and even thanked me for pointing out how their words had been hurtful. Because we were in relationship, we could have an honest conversation about the power of words and the impact they can have.

It’s all about relationship.

And so I want to ask you the same question my friend posed on Facebook – tell me about a time when you or your children were the minority in a situation by at least 4-5 people. For some of you this will be easier than others. Can’t think of a time? That’s okay. Start to look for those opportunities. Start to build relationships with people who are different than you. And by doing so, we’ll begin to bridge the divides in our society, see our common humanity, and heal the brokenness we face.

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Dear Friends: Please Read the Whole Thing

Hi friends. It’s been a tough two days around here. I am a wife to a black man, a mom to two black sons. My heart is weary. I’ve cried many tears over the videos I’ve seen. I’ve tried to articulate my thoughts, and have been heartbroken when people dismiss or belittle my experiences and the experiences of my family. It hurts. My words feel inadequate. Fumbling. But my sister-in-law Jessica wrote a blog post today that closely echoes my heart. With her permission, I’m sharing it here. The niece and nephew to whom she refers? Those are the Mini Athlete and Little Miss Athlete. This is our life. These are our experiences. You may not understand. I get that. But please listen. And as she asks – please read the whole thing. Much love to you all… ~Callie

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For all my friends that know me well know that I hate confrontation and arguments. I would rather just do what needs to be done and avoid it at all costs. But, for the last two nights, when my husband has fallen asleep, I have gone to the bathroom and cried. I have cried over the loss of a man that I didn’t even know. I have cried because there is a fear inside of me that wonders if someday this could be my husband or one of my three sons. PROMISE ME YOU WILL READ THE WHOLE THING.

This is not a post about white cops killing black people so please just keep reading. This is a post about a wife and a mother wanting you desperately to understand the world we are living in and the reason we react to certain news stories the way we do. In fear.

When I met Nick, I met a funny, smart, incredibly good looking man. A black man. A black man that became my husband and the father of my three amazing boys. He and my boys did not get to choose what color of skin they have. God did that. And since God is the perfector of all things, I would say their skin is just perfect. Imagine if you had a son/daughter born with down syndrome, mental retardation, born without an arm or a leg, etc, imagine if one of my boys or me and my husband made a joke about them? Remember now, it was only a joke. It would anger you to the core. It would hurt every fiber in your being. Why? Because they didn’t choose this disability. They are your son/daughter and you love them no matter what. So imagine when you make a joke to me or my husband about a black stereotype. “Oh Nick doesn’t like watermelon. I thought all black people do.”It hurts. It’s not funny. You may see us laugh it off and shake our head, why? Because if we say anything to you about it, you become defensive and say Oh I was just joking. It was just a joke. It’s just a joke to you but your joke is part of the problem.  PROMISE ME YOU WILL READ THE WHOLE THING.

Two weeks ago my husband and I were in Walmart. He saw the lady watching him the whole time. We were in the self-checkout. We rang everything up, checked out and left. She was still watching him. We are almost to the door and the cashier comes running to us. “A customer didn’t see you scan the two air mattresses. Can I check your receipt?” (A customer?) Yes mam, here it is. “Oh there it is. Sometimes things just don’t show up. I didn’t see you ring it up.” Wait, you first said a customer. Now you say it doesn’t always show up. Now you say it was you that didn’t see it. See, I know what you are thinking friends, we are making it a race thing. We have had plenty encounters to know when he is being targeted for race and when he is not. So please, don’t try and dumb this down to being nothing. That is part of the problem.

Let me ask you a few questions: Have you ever had your 3 year old nephew come home upset because his white friend said he didn’t want to play with him because he was black? (Explain that to a 3 year old) Have you ever ridden with your husband through a town where the KKK is still active and fear grips his face because he is just praying we make it through there without breaking down and before it gets dark? Have you ever had someone in the store ask you, “Oh is he yours?” talking about my son. Have you ever had anyone ask you, “Oh, where is she from?” talking about my niece because they thought she was adopted. Have you ever been asked if you are still with THE daddy because you couldn’t possibly have the same dad for all three boys and still be with him. Have you ever gone to school to get your Bachelor’s degree and people just assume you are there to play sports? My husband did not go to college to play sports. He went to further his education.

I hear what you are saying. Trust me. I know you know us. I know you know what kind of man Nick is and how we are raising our boys but society doesn’t. Not everyone sees him as a well educated black man. A black man who was a coach, a middle school teacher and now a High School Youth Minister. Not everyone will see the big heart he has, the hard worker that he is, the compassion that he feels for those in need. They will only see him as a black man. Someone they need to watch closely. We are raising three boys to the best of our ability. God fearing, respectable, hard working, compassionate, kind to everyone. We can do that. We can pray for their protection and pray that they always follow God’s heart. We also have to prepare them for the way they will be treated because of the color of their skin. Their skin. Something they did not choose. PROMISE ME YOU WILL KEEP READING.

We always hear that it takes a village to raise our kids and we do. But I need to know that my village is not part of the problem. I need to know that you don’t dismiss every story you hear because “people are just playing the race card again.” I need to know that you are teaching your kids to love everyone despite their skin color, how much money they have, what kind of car they drive, etc. I need to know that when you pick up my baby that you don’t see him as the cutest mixed baby (because apparently all mixed babies are the cutest which just isn’t true) but as world changer. I need to know that if someone is being mean to my kid because of the color of their skin that you will have the guts to stand up to them. I need to know that you want to see this world change from the hate that is in it to a world where people are loved not because of the color of their skin but because they are a human being.

And here is where I need you to PROMISE TO KEEP READING because this is where I’ll just be real honest. Don’t you DARE tell me I shouldn’t fear for my husband and sons because it will never happen to them. Don’t you DARE tell me that it’s different because my husband is not a “thug” and he acts right. Do you know how many people have “acted right” and still been killed? Don’t you DARE tell me to sit and talk with an officer about all the crap they have gone through until you have set with my family about all the crap we (including my in-laws) have gone through. (This happened this morning.)

You see, this is not a cop vs black people problem. It is a society as a whole problem. We don’t want to acknowledge it unless it affects us directly. I have told stories of things that have happened to me and my husband and people act shocked. “No, not here. Not in our town. I just can’t believe that would happen. It must have been a misunderstanding.” This is part of the problem. You don’t want to see it. You would rather keep your blinders on and hope that someone else fixes the problem.

As a wife and mother, I try not to fear anything for my family. I pray and I try my hardest to trust God in everything. This is what I do know. My family loves the Lord with all their heart. We will serve him despite the news reports. We will serve him no matter how we are treated. We will tell the good news to those who need to hear it. We will raise our boys to be God-fearing men. We will love those who love us and love those who hate us. Will you join us? Will you love no matter what? Will you seek to help those no matter the color of their skin? Will you get out of your comfort zone and try and understand someone else’s footsteps who are not like you? Will you be part of the change?

 

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All About Dad

My husband’s one wish for Father’s Day every year? Silence.

When you have a busy family with three children who are 5 and under, life can be a bit chaotic. Father’s Day is the day it is all about HIM.

But then again, of course…it wasn’t.

My sister got married on Saturday (YAY!) and so we were up really late. I woke up around 5am on Sunday to feed the baby and then went back to bed. I woke up again around 8:45am and couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the clock. I can’t remember the last time I slept that late! And on HIS day, no less!

He had already made himself and the kids breakfast. Oops.

So the day may not have been ALL about him, but he did get some alone time after church to go to the driving range, go out to lunch with one of his fellow “dad” buddies and watch some of the US Open by himself.

But I think the highlight of his day was the Mini Athlete fighting to stay awake until the end of Game 7 of the NBA Finals. He made it! Barely. But he made it.

I couldn’t ask for a better father for my kids. There is nothing he won’t do for them (or for me for that matter). He bathes them every night. He does our daughter’s hair. He gets up with the baby in the middle of the night. He plays catch with our son. He manages our finances (hallelujah!). He is selfless, servant-hearted and loves his family with all his heart.

And I could not be more thankful for him.

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Love Beyond Labels – A Response to the Orlando Massacre

My heart is broken for Orlando today. I can’t stop thinking about the lives that were tragically cut short, and the pain their families and friends are going through today.

Don’t be distracted by labels like “gay bar” or “LGBT” – at the end of the day, this could have been any of us.

When we live in a culture that seems to thrive on hate, the labels we all wear could be the target tomorrow. Today’s victims were targeted because they were in a “gay bar” – tomorrow it could be because they were in a church, a mosque, a synagogue, a sporting event, a political rally…

We all wear labels. And when hatred is present, no label is safe from being targeted.

But when love is shown, labels fade away. We are all humans, created in the image of God, worthy of respect, infinitely valuable and filled with promise.

As we respond to today’s tragedy, may our words be filled with love. May we remember to love our neighbor, without qualification, because “hate cannot drive out hate – only love can do that.”

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Still Here

I had a moment of panic last night. I forgot to pay for my blog’s hosting and my site could not longer be accessed. I contacted the hosting company and they basically said…”You didn’t pay so we deleted it. And it can’t be recovered.” Serious panic. I cried on my husband’s shoulder, “So many memories are on that blog!” After about ten minutes of a broken heart, the customer service rep announced he had found something and actually could recover my missing blog. Hallelujah!

And in those ten minutes, I realized just how much this blog means to me – and has meant to me over the past few years.

To be honest, I’m feeling a little stuck about where to go with the blog. I miss writing, but the whole “fitness” part of my life is a bit on the back burner right now. Not that it’s not part of it, it’s just not a main focus at this time of my life. There are many more things that take up my thoughts – parenting, faith, relationships, leadership, etc. I’d love to write about these topics, but I’m not sure how to turn the blog into a new direction – especially with the current title. 🙂

So stay tuned. It might take me a while to figure out a new direction, but I’m not ready to let this blog go. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

And in the meantime, here’s an updated photo of my little kiddos. Life is good. <3

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Adjusting to Life as a Family of Five

We are two weeks into life with a newborn and I woke up today feeling rested for the first time since the baby was born. It’s been a rough adjustment!

People always say that going from one kid to two kids is tougher than two kids to three kids. The verdict is still out around here. There are some things that are easier (only one in diapers whereas last time we had two in diapers at one time), but other things are tougher. The biggest thing? We aren’t getting any younger! We are definitely feeling our age with the sleepless nights.

Our little squishy is waking up every two hours or so to eat. Thankfully he’s nursing like a champ and we don’t have any issues there, but the lack of sleep has been tough to handle. This too shall pass…

The “big kids” are in LOVE.

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Little Miss (3 years old) runs in the door after school every day wanting to hold “her baby”. She has been such a big helper and absolutely adores him. The Mini Athlete (4 years old) loves him too, but is a little more indifferent. He wants to say hi to him, then he’s on to playing with his toys. I’m thankful that neither of them are jealous of the baby. They’ve had to go through quite an adjustment too but they are doing VERY well considering.

I have eight weeks of maternity leave and I’m so thankful for that. I have been doing some work from home (it’s a busy season at the non-profit where I work) but it’s entirely because I WANT to, not because I’m required to. I am thankful for a job that I love! I am trying to remember to take it easy though and enjoy this time. It goes by WAY too quickly. Speaking of which, I’m going to take some time now to snuggle with this baby on my chest…

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What were some of your biggest adjustments when adding a baby to your family – whether your first baby or subsequent siblings? 

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Party of Five!

So…a lot has happened since the last time I blogged. Surprise! We are now a family of five!

This past Friday, we welcomed the newest little athlete to our family – say hello to David Lloyd!

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The Mini Athlete and Little Miss are pretty excited about their new baby brother.

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It’s hard to believe that when I started this blog, my husband I were recently married with no kids in sight. Wow, a lot has changed! I have so much to catch you up on. But for now, we are loving our (sleep deprived) life as a family of five!

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Checking In

*Tap tap tap*

Is this thing still on?

Hi there, remember me? Yes, it’s been a while since I posted. A long while. But life is good. Really good.

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The Mini Athlete will be FOUR next week – can you believe it? I’m looking forward to throwing a “non-Pinterest-worthy” party for him. I think I’m going to try to start a new trend.

Yes, hot dogs, watermelon and cookie cake at the park are still the right ingredients for a great birthday party…I hope.

Little Miss is full of spunk – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Those two keep me on my toes, but we sure have a lot of fun!

Work has slowed down for the summer, our evenings are spent out playing baseball in the yard, and I find my husband and I yawning and being ready for bed before 10pm. Yes, we’re getting old too.

I’m learning that life doesn’t have to be busy to be good. And I, for one, am enjoying a little down time.

I’d like to start blogging regularly again, but I’m not making any promises. We’ll see how inspired I get. The world of blogging has changed so much since I started….there is so much more pressure to be poignant. Deep. “Pin” or “Tweet”-worthy. And sometimes I just want to hang out with some of my old blog friends, writing about something or nothing, and not really caring about how much traffic any particular post gets. Do people still blog like that? Do people still read blogs like that? I sure hope so.

We’ll see.

So…what’s new in your world?

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