People often ask me what the girls do while I am doing homeschooling with my oldest child.


On Tuesday the answer was “take all the cushions off the couch and every single blanket and pillow they owned and build a fort”IMG_0572




If I am distracted enough they even smoke a stogie or two in their fort.  (just kidding those would be pretzel rods…I promise, but doesn’t this bottom picture look sketchy?)



If only, tearing down forts and putting them away was as much fun as building them….

In the interest of keeping it real, and hopefully finding out I am not alone… thought I’d share a few “Not Me Monday” moments on this Tuesday afternoon….

*It was not me that showed up with the girls at gymnastics last Wednesday with their feet and legs covered in mud from our morning play date at the park.  And as I wiped their legs down with wet paper towels it wasn’t me who was saying out loud so the other moms could over hear how “I gave them baths that morning but then took them to the park to play”  Silly me should have known they’d find a pond and sea weed and a muddy field….

*It also wasn’t me that let my girls pick out their outfits for the week.  I wasn’t so relieved that for once they chose matching outfits that I didn’t care that their choices weren’t necessary appropriate for the days activities… hence showing up for church in jeans and a tinker bell shirt on Sunday and then showing up for her brothers baseball game on Tuesday dressed in her Sunday best…. it also wasn’t my girls doing bridge kick overs on the sidelines in their dresses flashing the parents in the bleachers.

* I also didn’t drop my youngest child off at the church nursery with his pacifier, baby and 2 diapers but yet once again without a diaper bag… and instead of being embarrassed about not having a diaper bag it wasn’t me who was proud that I actually had a diaper to leave for him.

*  And on Sunday after church it wasn’t me who welcomed her in laws and parents for Easter dinner to a house that literally looked like a tornado hit after Saturdays birthday party.  Wasn’t my mother in law that had to clear the raisin bran from breakfast off of the table before setting the table in our hodge podge of place settings…. not exactly a formal Easter dinner, but we did pull off a yummy feast of ham, baked macaroni and cheese, baked pineapple and mixed fruit and veggies left over from Saturdays party.  And I didn’t just throw that last sentence in to try and make myself look a little better after confessing our breakfast wasn’t cleared before racing out the door for church Sunday morning.  Nope not me… 

* I also didn’t overbook our day on Wednesday with a play date, gymnastics, make up art class, soccer practice, and baseball practice…my introverted self didn’t feel so overwhelmed by all of the get together over that day and the day before that I literally blew up at my kids and husband by the evening… no, I know my limits… I don’t try to cram too much into one day and I never, never snap at my innocent husband or take out my stress on my children….

*And my son didn’t show up for baseball practice wearing a dirty uniform b/c I didn’t have time to wash it after the game the night before. 

*Nor was it me that on Friday had my parents running errands for me to get party food while I also ran errands to get ready for the party… No, I would have planned ahead and bought everything I needed ahead of time… no last minute panic over food and shopping for supplies the day before the event.

*Lastly, it wasn’t me that boiled Easter eggs on Sunday afternoon… then had my husband hide them (still hot) in the back yard for the kids to find …my kids weren’t grabbing their eggs like hot potatoes to take into the house and then dye….

How about you?  Have any “not me” moments from last week that you care to share and make this circus mom feel a little better about herself?

The past week has been spring break at the circus and while it is technically true, we did break from our studies, other than that, it was a jam packed, super busy week.

It is now Monday… school resumes tomorrow, and today I am trying to catch up on laundry and dishes and cleaning… right now, we’re back from gymnastics and the kids are down for quiet time.  I am thankful for an iced coffee and the fact that it is warm enough for a skirt and flip flops…oh how I love warm sunny days!!

Since I failed to post anything all week, thought I’d try a Project Life post and do my best to sum up our week in one post using pictures and memories…

Tuesday- my son got  to play catcher in his game… he was so excited!


Wednesday- We had cupcakes at the park with our friends to celebrate  April birthdays (only 7 days apart from each other)  Like how my son looks like Tarzan king of the playground? 


Thursday- a Cub Scout tour of the Maryland Public Television station


Friday- a lunch date with my 7 yr old and his daddy


Saturday- cousins playing together


Saturday- our young Jedi at his party


Sunday- loved worshipping with my parents, Scott’s parents, and Scott’s sisters fam at church on Easter morning… loved seeing my son sitting on his Uncle Jim’s lap  and my daughter nestled between grandparents as we celebrated the resurrection together.   Then, we had both sets of grandparents over for an informal lunch.  After everyone left we had a relaxing afternoon and spent the evening doing an egg hunt, dying some eggs, and baking resurrection cookies.  It was a wonderful day. 


Before having kids I watched/read excerpts from Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp.   The premise that you need to do more than just manage behavior, but get to the heart of what is causing our child’s behavior, made a lot of sense to both Scott and I.  And through the years I think we have tried to apply this approach to our parenting. 

But, there is something very different about reading a book before having kids and reading one with both feet in the trenches.  And I think having a 7, 5, 3 and 10 mth old qualifies us as fully entrenched

This quarter I have been attending a Sunday School class on parenting. Every single week I walk out of there inspired and encouraged and remarking, “What an excellent class!” We are watching the videos from Paul Tripp’s conference “Getting to the Heart of Parenting.”  I guess the Tripp family has the market on parenting from the heart, as these two brothers have written some great stuff!

I have been so encouraged and inspired by this class.  A few things that Tripp has said which really spoke to my heart are this.

*I am God’s instrument of love and grace to my child.  I need to see sin revealed as a a moment of ministry, not a hassle.  Ok.  I will be honest here, all too often when I am in the midst of a battle with one of my children over  obedience or respect, I am thinking to myself, “Why are we going through this again?  or Why now?   The notion of thanking God for this opportunity to minister to my child was quite convicting.

*Along that same line Tripp said,If we personalize our child’s behavior we make it all about us.  We become adversarial in our response (me against you) and we settle for quick, situational solutions that don’t get to the heart of the matter:  we bark judgments, and announce a punishment. We turn moments of ministry into moments of anger.” 

I think quite often when I neglect to take advantage of the ministry moment it is because I am either too tired or too rushed (or perhaps both).  I have been encouraged to stop… take a breath… speak quietly and calmly and walk through the issue with my child.  This takes time…. and these “ministry moments” always seem to pop up when I am in the middle of a homeschool lesson or trying to get dinner prepared or working to get us out the door for practice or…. they don’t seem to pop up when I am sitting on the couch wondering what I will do next.  These ministry moments force me to prioritize my time…. to realize that my child’s heart is more important that my to do list…

Last week in the video Tripp spoke on authority and how specifically at the ages of 0-5, our job is to teach our children that we have God given authority over them and we need to teach them to submit to this authority.   He said that it is much better to have these battles of authority now than when our child is 17.  I have to say this gave me a great deal of hope.  I feel like we are battling this day in and day out. (if not with one kid than with another)  but maybe, maybe, if I am faithful in teaching this to them now, maybe they will get it and we won’t be battling this later in the teen years.  (I think this was the first time I didn’t think of the teen years with fear and trembling.)

Some days at the circus I find myself rejoicing as it looks  we’re finally making progress.  Other days I totally blow it or feel like even when I am “doing the right thing” it isn’t turning out like I expected or wanted.  Each of these instances remind me of how very grateful I am for God’s grace…



I think there is something about the age of 3 that makes kids say some of the cutest things.  Lately, our 3 year old has been cracking me up and I have to write them down lest I forget…


Last week Scott was playing catch with our oldest son.  She of course wanted a turn as well.  Scott said sure and then she said, “Dad, can I get closer to you when I throw the ball, since I am a girl?” (Scott told her she could get closer, but not b/c she was a girl, but b/c she was younger).


I went to a baby shower for a friend of mine.  She is pregnant for her 3rd child, but it is her first girl.  My son asked why she was having a baby shower since she had already had babies.  I told him that it was b/c this baby was a girl.  “Oh, he said, so when you had ******** did you have a baby shower too?”  I told him I did after she was born, when we found out she was a girl, my friends threw me a party and gave me lots of girlie clothes and things.  Then my 3 yr old piped up, Well, Mom, I know that you definitely gave me a baby bath when I was a baby.”


Yesterday we finally, FINALLY had some sunshine and warm air here in MD.  The temps reached the high 80s and as we were driving home she announced, “Mom, I am B-O-V  hot.”  (we seem to have a little work to do on spelling… but hey, she’s only 3)


My kids love telling jokes and she doesn’t want to be left out.  Sometimes however, she misses the punch line just a bit.



“Aren’t you glad I didn’t say bananas?”


Some of my favorite times are when we all are sitting together as a family, belly laughing… I truly love this phase of our life and wish I could freeze time…hopefully, by writing it down… I can at the very least preserve the memories.  Visit Mary for more tiny talk.

One of my very first blog posts ever was on my children’s love of kidney beans.   It is now 3 years later and my girls have moved on to baked beans.  Seriously, the love my daughter has for baked beans can NOT be overstated. 

Last week I figured it was time to try the kidney beans out on number 4.  (let the playgroup  mocking begin).



What do you mean I shouldn’t eat too many at once? 


and the verdict is?


Looks like we have another bean lover here at the circus.  Though truth be told, I have YET to find a food this guy doesn’t like to eat.  He will gladly eat anything I put in front of him.

There is a whole lot of hype round these parts about the Orioles… with a 4-1 record to start the season, some new acquisitions over the off season and a new manager last season, for the first time in a LONG time, things are looking up for the Baltimore Orioles. 

And I feel the need to 1. explain the weird circus family sports allegiance when it comes to Baltimore and Pittsburgh and 2.  let the record show that my son is not jumping on the bandwagon.

1.  How is it that we are nuts about the Steelers and then route for the Orioles?   My family came from Pittsburgh and we lived in MD for 13 years before my parents moved back to PA.  My dad is a huge sports fan and one way we bonded through the years was by watching sports together.  He raised me a Steelers fan true and true.  My dad is also a Pirates fan but while living in MD he did take me to several O games.  I recall watching Cal Ripken and Rafael Palmeiro at Camden Yards.  I even remember a few games at Memorial Stadium.  I was never a huge baseball fan, though I loved the atmosphere of going to a game.  Dad didn’t mind cheering for the O’s as they were an AL team and the Pirates were NL.    The Ravens are different story.  They came to Baltimore when I was just about out of high school.  They came from Pittsburgh’s long standing Rival (the Cleveland Browns) and not only are they in our conference, they are in our division.  Simply put, you can’t route for the Ravens and the Steelers. 

So, that is why we have no aversion to the Orioles. 

I really didn’t start for real caring about the Orioles though until my son started liking them a few years back.  Which leads me to point number 2.

IMG_44262.  My son is a baseball fan and more importantly an Orioles fan, on his own right.  He routed for them in September when no one else would bother showing up for a home game. 

Neither Scott nor I really cared much about baseball.   When our IMG_1494son was two, his aunt Karen and Uncle Jim mailed him a tee ball stand for his second birthday.  And he was hooked ever since (wouldn’t you be if you could swing a bat at a ball in the houseThat’s circus life for ya.   He would ask to watch baseball on TV and then sit and watch (for waaay longer than I found interesting) whatever game I could find on tv.  For awhile there Sports Center was the perfect show b/c he could watch clips of baseball and we could get clips of football, all in the same program.  After that I would start dvr’ing (yes, I am sure that is a word) baseball games for him to watch.  It made sense to Scott and I that since he came about his love of baseball on his own, he could route for the hometown team.  We had no aversion to the Orioles, nor love for the Pirates. 

watching with Dadu

So, through the years, we have tried to make it to a few games a year… some Baysox (our local minor league team) and some Orioles.   I have always been impressed with his attention span when it comes to watching the game.  He always wants to stay till the end.   My favorite memory of taking them to a game was last summer.  It was a beautiful night and the kids were well behaved and enjoying the atmosphere.  It was one of those nights where I truly enjoyed life through the eyes of my children.    For my oldest son, however, the night was bitter sweet.  He had heard talk of the new manager that had come to Baltimore and how he was going to turn things around for the Orioles.   And so, unlike the previous times when we came to Orioles games, this time, my son came expecting to see them win.  And as the game went on it became quite clear to Scott and I, that it wasn’t going to happen that night.  We were ready to go, but my son insisted we stay longer.  Finally in the 9th inning when the other team scored 3 runs and the O’s still had nothing on the board, he realized the inevitable.   He looked over at me with tears coming down his cheeks and said so forlornly, “Mom, they aren’t going to win, are they?”  I told him I didn’t think it was possible and he said with all the sweet innocence of a 6 year old, “Mom, I Just wanted to see them win.  I’ve never seen the Orioles win and I just wanted to watch them win.”  IMG_2117  And that is why years ago his Uncle Jim  told him, “Well, kid, no one can ever accuse you of jumping on the band wagon.”  To which my son replied, “What is a band wagon and what does that have to do with baseball?” 

We had some friends over a few weeks ago and the subject of baseball came up.  The husband was a huge Orioles fan and when we told him our son was, he then started asking him questions about his favorite players and all.  It was in that moment, I realized what a horrible mom I am.  I have done nothing to educate him on the players or the team.  I don’t want to raise one of those fans, ya know the ones who say, “Yea… we love the <insert name of team here>!”  And then when asked to name 2 players on the team they give you a blank stare.   I find those kind of football fans to be so obnoxious… my son deserves better than that.  So today we sat down after doing our school work and read the sports page together.  I told him we could do this each day.  We can read it together, learn more about the players, and follow how they are doing.  It will educate us both on the team and the sport and provide a sweet mother/son bonding moment at the same time.


And if the Orioles winning streak continues and they end this season, for the first time in 13 years, with a winning record, I want the record to show that my son was a fan way back when…

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love Chick-Fil-A.  So, when I found out that they were opening a new one in Pasadena AND they had a “Raving-Fan” contest on face book in which the winner would win a year of free Chick-Fil-A, I had to enter.

The contest:  submit a photo of your favorite memory at Chick-Fil-A and explain it in 100 words or less.

My favorite memory at Chick-fil-A??  How ever will I choose?

Chick-fil-a was first meal after labor and delivery


The time I requested Chick-Fil-A after giving birth to my daughter and my brother did a CFA run for me to deliver it to me at the hospital.



Or her birthday party four years later?

Oldest daugher had birthday at Chick-fil-a

How about our anniversary dinner while in labor with baby number 4?      (as in, for real laboring - went to the hospital right from there)

Anniversary Dinner at Chick-fil-a WHILE in labor with 4th

Or when given the choices of any restaurant at Disney World, the circus family happily chooses Chick-Fil-A for the last 2 meals of their vacation?

Family loved Chick-fil-a in the Magic Kingdom

Or any number of times that I dressed my children up as cows to earn free dinner?


Youngest son with chick-fil-a cow


Sold out to chick-fil-a


enjoying their free food


Cow Appreciation day with friends


Circus kids and friends

I opted for the 2009 Cow Appreciation Day.”We have made it a family tradition to participate in Cow Appreciation Day for the past 6 years.  2 years ago we invited one of our best friends to join us.  They ended up having an appt to look at a prospective house on the way to our dinner. The Realtor graciously agreed to follow us to CFA afterward, so we didn't miss Cow Appreciation day, and they signed the paper work there while we entertained the kids in the play area.”

Our story was selected as a finalist (original post here).  We got to go to a Premiere Dinner at the new Chick-Fil-A before it opened.  This alone, made me giddy!! 

But, as if THAT wasn’t good enough… while there sipping our Sweet Tea… they read our story aloud to the room, and WE WON!!!

Me and the hubby at premier dinner in Pasadena

Without a doubt… best thing I have ever won… ever…. with 52 coupons for free combo meals, we can take our family of 6 out to dinner at Chick-Fil-A once a month for a year!!  This makes for one VERY happy circus family!!

How about you? Do you have a favorite memory at Chick-Fil-A?