It has been a very relaxing Christmas vacation at the circus house.  My sister in law and her family came in to town the evening of the 23rd.  We had too much fun making cupcakes for the kids for baby Jesus’ bday party on Christmas night.  She is an awesome trooper.  She happily obliged my request to roll out 19 baby Jesus figurines out of marshmallow fondant at 10:00pm.  Seriously, worlds best sister in law.   IMG_9448

Christmas Eve was low key.  We did a gingerbread house with the kiddos.  Which was a mess.  I think it remained standing for all of 2 hours before it collapsed on itself.  But, we had fun and that was the idea. 

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Scott and I took our nephews to the playground for a little while so we could have some time alone with them.  Then the girls went with my sister in law to Nana’s to do a little cooking, while I grabbed a shower and tidied up the house.


Then it was church in evening and Scott and I started wrapping Christmas presents at 9pm on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day we lived in our PJs.  My parents, Scott’s parents and Scott’s sister and her family came for the day.  We opened presents in the morning.  And then spent the day in our pjs hanging out and playing.  In the evening we enjoyed lasagna for dinner and Jesus’ birthday cupcakes for dessert.

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My brother and his kids were supposed to come for dinner and to spend the night, but the kids got sick and weren’t up to traveling.  I missed them immensely

Since Christmas, the low key easy going status quo has continued.  I can’t believe Scott only has 3 days left of vacation and the kids and I only have a week.  I am loving the break. 


I know it isn’t very seasonal to have 66 degree weather the night of winter solstice.  But I gotta confess I didn’t mind it one bit as that was the evening I’d been planning to take the kids to see the lights at Brookside Gardens.  I had never been but heard someone talking about them once.  Unlike other light displays, this one you park and get out and walk.  Which could be a hard sell for 4 kids on a cold winter night.  But, this Saturday the weather was perfect.  (and clearly we weren’t the only ones who thought so as we had to sit an hour in line at the parking lot before we could get in). 

Seriously, my three year old walked around all night in short sleeves with NO JACKET… In DECEMBER. 


The lights were impressive.  It was really enjoyable to walk around the gardens and enjoy the displays. IMG_9315IMG_9318IMG_9356

The bull frog which actually croaked was amongst our favorites.


The lightning storm and rainbow were pretty cool too.


Two of the kids decided to demonstrate their bravery and stick their hands in the lion’s mouth.  (I think this is my favorite shot of the night).IMG_9433

In the end I found it worth the drive and wait to spend a relaxing evening with the family walking around a garden of lights. 


But, now I say, bring on some snow!

Dear Children of Mine,

10 years from now when you are wondering what in the world to get Mom for Christmas, I have an idea for you.  So write it down and stick it away and remember it when your 19, 17, 16, and 13. 

All I want for Christmas, is you.  It’s true… nothing wrapped under the tree could possible come close to time spent with you.  So, if you really want to make my day, ask me if we can make sugar cookies together.

Like we did back in 2013. 

You can invite your roomate from college, that boy from church you think is kinda cute, your bff… the more the merrier… just promise me you’ll lick the icing and giggle over the snow men that turned out looking more like moustaches.  And then, AFTER your friends all leave, I’ll pull out these pictures from back in the day and we can laugh and giggle over the flour ALL over your shirt and pants and those goofy 3D glasses the you decided to wear while icing the cookies.  I’ll tell you that even then I knew you’d be the comedian of our family. 

I promise, it would mean more to me than you’ll ever know.  So I’ll tuck these pictures away for us to smile and laugh at then.

Love Always, Mom





A traditional Christmas card will not be arriving in your mailbox this year from the circus fam,  instead I give to you this greeting from me  to you. 

I’ve thought a lot about what I want to say in this card.  What image I want to share with you from my family to yours.  We’ve had a lot of great moments this year.  Many of them I’ve shared on here so I can look back and remember them in the years to come.   But, as I ponder this year about what image I want to capture our family this Christmas it isn’t the one of us all enjoying a National Park or the one of the kids all smiling in front of our tree before we chopped it down. 

No, this Christmas I want to share with you my mess.

minivan mess

Because, despite what those holiday movies and songs say over and over… Christmas isn’t about feeling good or just believing… it’s not about wishing or mistle toe or presents under the tree.  Don’t get me wrong I love me some mistle toe and presents and lights and cookies.  I enjoy it all.

But, Christmas is about Emmanuel.  Which means God with Us.  Christmas is about God sending His one and Only Son, Jesus to earth as a baby.  For one reason.  To Die.  For me.  Christmas is about Jesus making it possible for us to be with God.  Because we can’t be with God on our own.  On our own we are a Mess. 

On my own, I am a mess.


Literally and figuratively. 

Despite my best intentions, I don’t keep the van clean.  My sink doesn’t look like this every now and then it looks like this more often than not.  I say I am going to get up early and work out and read my Bible and tidy up the house before the kids come down.  But, I don’t.

I don’t have it all together. 

I am a mess.  And I need Jesus.

I need him to meet me in my mess.  I need him to forgive me when I snap at my kids for not picking up their stuff.  When I yell at them for fighting.  When I snap at my husband because his to do list for the evening doesn’t look like mine.  I need Jesus to meet me where I am.  And He does.  He reminds me what is important.  He reminds me that my worth isn’t found in clean clothes and a tidy sink.  He reminds me that I do not have to be perfect to have his love.  I don’t have to have it all together because He does. 

Jesus came because we messed up.  He came because we do not have it all together.  He came because He loves us.  He loves us in our mess.  And He loves us so much, so very, very much that He was willing to die in our place, so that we could spend eternity with Him in heaven. 

He was born a King in the lowliest of places.  In a messy stable.  Jesus, King of Kings, Lord of Lords was born in a dirty, smelly barn.  Because Jesus meets us in our mess.   He didn’t chose to come in a palace, He chose to come in a dirty stall.  And I am so glad.  I am so glad He continues to come and meet me in my mess.  I am so glad that I don’t have to have it all together. 

This Christmas, I want to remind you that we are all messy.  Despite what you may see on facebook or on tv.  Despite whatever image you have in your head, we are all a mess.  Not one of us has it together.  But, thanks to Jesus, we can be made clean.  Thanks to Jesus we don’t have to stay messy forever. 

Merry Christmas dear friend, from my mess.


We are on break here at the circus.  And I couldn’t be more excited about it.  I have been looking forward to this week for ages.  The week before Christmas.  All I want to do is enjoy the kiddos and catch up on some house work.  And bake.  And do some shopping.  And maybe see some friends.  (ha, ha… can you tell I am an introvert?  read over that list, when I proof read this and re read it, it made me laugh)…

Well yesterday was rough.  We had a fun filled family weekend that left us all tired.  Mom was tired.  The kids were tired.  I let them watch too much tv and play too many video games which left us all grumpy.  I attempted a craft but it was way harder than I thought and ended up more frustrating than fun for all of us.  Except the 3 year old.  He loved it, which truthfully provided some sense of accomplishment to this tired and frustrated Momma.

But, today is a new day.  And even though I am still in my pjs at 2:30… and that bread dough I started 3 hours ago is still sitting half done on the counter waiting for me to grind more flour, I feel like more has been accomplished and we are all happier.  We started the day with words searches instead of tv. I got a few loads of laundry washed and FINALLY washed those dishes that have been piling up in my sink since Saturday.  (Yes, you read that correctly, SATURDAY)  It felt good to get to the bottom of that pile.  Toilets were scrubbed, kitty litter emptied and mirrors washed, thanks to the kiddos.

They still played video games, and are playing again now, but we also painted some wooden trees.  These were a HUGE hit.  They loved these and it made my heart smile.  I don’t do art enough with them.  In the scramble to accomplish nouns, verbs, division, times tables, Latin, history timelines… well art often gets pushed to the back burner.  I know it’s wrong.  I struggle with art guilt all quarter long.  But today we had no jingles to sing, no worksheets to do, and so we painted.


and we smiled


And I loved it.  Loved every minute of it. 

I LOVED every layer of color on my 3 year olds tree.





I can’t wait till they dry and I can set them up on my fire place mantle.  I love how different each one is and I love how I can see their personalities shine through in each one. 

Oh, art… I must find a way to squeeze you with the flashcards and timelines, because you are so, so good for the soul.

We got our tree today!!! 


We started decorating the house yesterday, but it wasn’t quite right without the tree.   I don’t think our three year old remembers the Christmas tree b/c after we cut it down and tied it to our van he asked, “Can we keep it in our yard as our Christmas tree?”  He had no idea it would go in the house.  And then when we added lights, he was beyond excited. 

I love, L-O-V-E cutting down our tree.


Apparently, I am not the only one who loves it as smiles were easy to come by this afternoon.




We got home and Scott put the lights on it and then the kids and I decorated it.  I love unwrapping the ornaments.  I love the memories that each one holds and this year I really enjoyed sharing those memories with the kids.  They were so eager to listen. 


When my 9 year old found a IMG_8700little ornament he had cut and drawn on notebook paper in 2009 he said, “Mom, I am sorry I gave you such a lame gift.”  I did my best to explain that that little scrap of notebook paper that he scribbled “I love Mom” on in Kindergarten meant just as much if not more than the shiny glass ornament hanging next to it.  And it is one of my most treasured ornaments.  I remember him making it and wrapping it and giving it to me. 

Though there are no words to express how much I love these kids.  They are among the greatest gifts I’ve been given. 

Nothing like a back seat driver. 

Especially a 3 year old back seat driver.

At 1 am.  On a Snow covered back country road.


As we slip slided around the roads approaching my parents the other night, I seriously thought we might end up in a ditch and all the while my 3 year old was WIDE awake and chattering non stop about all the snow.  He kept saying, “Dad, don’t get in an accident.  We wouldn’t want to get in an accident and die dad.” 

Over and over. 

Truthfully, it provided a little comic relief to Scott and I as the conditions were less than ideal.

Thankfully, we made it safely.  And my dad greeted us with his plow and tractor.  At 2 am.  He was out plowing the driveway.  My three old thought he was out to give him a tractor ride.  We figured, “Why not.  It wasn’t like he was asleep.”  Besides, how often do you get the opportunity for a 2 am tractor ride in the snow. 


The snow was gorgeous and we had a wonderful day on Wednesday.  My poor mom had to work, so I offered to bake the pies.  I baked while my Dad and Scott played in the snow with the kids.  All day. 

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Then, the only thing that could make playing in 8 inches of snow at your grandparents EVEN MORE FUN, was the addition of 4 cousins and an uncle.  IMG_8300

Thanksgiving was a low key relaxing day.  We did a photo opp for Grandma’s Christmas card.  They went sledding again.  They did crafts and my grandparents came for a visit.   Then we ate our feast, enjoyed those pies and ended it all with watching the Steelers/Ravens game.  It was an ALMOST perfect day.  (darn that painful loss to our rival)


It was a wonderful visit.  Full of family and fun and snuggles, beautiful snow and yummy food.  I am grateful, so very grateful for my family and the opportunity to spend a few days with them.