Crazy Cupid’s Cafe

I always aspire to be this “super” mom who does all the cool projects and crafts with my kids but in all reality, I’m a slacker mom who married a guy that likes to keep my house in order.

Over the years, I have tried to find relatively easy things to do to make my kids feel special.  Every once in awhile, I put a note in their lunch box.  Last year for Easter, I put all their food in plastic Easter eggs inside their lunch box.  One year for Halloween, I looked on Pinterest to find food ideas and I made pigs in a blanket to look like mummies, grapes as eyeballs, you get the picture.  Fun but easy.

Most of these ideas are a one and done deal.  They are fun and every once in a while someone will bring up a memory but no one is desperate for me to do it again except…

A couple years ago, I came across Crazy Cupid’s Cafe on Pinterest.   Here’s the link:


Here’s the idea…you can print out these cute menus from the link above.  Each family member assigns a number to each course of the meal.  You (as the chef) are the only one who knows which number goes with which item (Fork, napkin, drink, appetizer, main course, veggie, dessert, etc.)


Then you feed your family in the order they chose.  One person might get dessert and a napkin for their appetizer course.

I usually pick a meal that I know everyone likes (usually pasta) with an appetizer and a dessert.  I also make a “fancy” drink (pink lemonade) and we decorate the table with the fancier dishes.

There’s nothing super hard about this meal besides keeping up with everyone’s picks and giving them exactly what they ordered.  For some reason, my kids always ask if we are doing it the next year.  It’s one memory they remember every year.  It’s become a tradition in our family and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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It’s About More

Tonight I finally got a chance to watch this week’s Grey’s Anatomy.  The story line has a young black man lock himself out of his house and as he is climbing in his window, the cops assume he is breaking in and shoot him.  You can guess how the story ends.

If I had watched this episode a couple years ago, it would have been just another story.  Tonight I’m fighting back tears and totally feeling for parents who have to teach their children exactly what to do when they get pulled over by the police to avoid tragedy.

What changed?  I still live in the predominately white-world I have always lived in.  I don’t have much glimpse into lives of people who look different than I do.

I’m sure many of you get tired of hearing me talk about reading and books and literacy but guess what, books changed my perspective.  Books make me a better person.  Books give me empathy and compassion for those that look like me and those who don’t.  Books like these…

I would not say that books like the ones I read in the past few years make me “understand” anything.  I will never understand what it’s like for someone to assume the worst in me just because of my skin color.

So when you hear me preaching about getting kids (and everyone else too) to read more, it’s not about job security, it’s about making this world a better place.  It’s about learning about people and places that are different than who and where you are.  It’s about teaching our children that everyone has a story and their story is important.  It’s so much bigger than a student meeting a reading requirement or my job security.  Books take us places we cannot go on our own.  They teach us things that our own lives might not lend themselves to teach us.


This is Jason Reynolds, my favorite author (right now).  I had the pleasure of meeting him at AASL in Phoenix in November.  I was so excited to meet him for one reason.  I wanted to tell him what his books mean to me.  I wanted to tell him how he makes me a better person.  I wanted to tell him that he makes me a better librarian when I put his books in students’ and wait anxiously for them to return and tell me what they thought of it.  One student at a time, I hope I’m helping to make the world a better place for my students.  I got to tell him all of that and I hope as he gave me a big hug, he felt the deep appreciation I have for him and many others who write books with strong characters who are up against all the odds.

I challenge you to read outside your comfort zone.  Maybe I challenge you to just READ, if it’s been awhile.  Take a literary trip into the Holocaust, be a refugee running for your life, feel what’s it like to get pulled over by the cops just because of your color.  I’m a fiction girl but I can still learn through the pages of my books and if you need a good suggestion…let me know.  I can hook you up!

My Favorite Things 2017 Edition

You know how Oprah used to have her “My Favorite Things” show?  I used to love that.  Here is my version of “My Favorite Things”, 2017 edition.

hate you give.jpgMy Favorite Book:

The best book I read this year was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  The theme of my reading year has been to read books that make me look at the world in a different way and, ultimately, make me a better person.  Authors like Angie Thomas and Jason Reynolds show me a world that is very different than my small-town predominately white world and they give me a new perspective.  Ultimately, they make me a better person.  They help me relate to people better and look at the world through different eyes.  Many of these books, including The Hate U Give, are not always easy to read, bu they are necessary.


My favorite app/website:

This might shock you but I read a lot.  I’m not someone who likes to reread things and I read so much (especially kid books) that I forget what I read and how I felt about the book.  I also have anxiety trying to pick out a book at a bookstore at a library.  There are so many great books, I don’t have time to waste my time on bad books.  All of these reasons are why I love Goodreads.  I religiously log what I’m reading and what I want to read on Goodreads.  Then when it’s time to start a new book, I have a list to work from.  I can also go back and see what I thought about books easily.  Not to mention they have awesome giveaways (which I have won before) and great lists to get book ideas from.  Can’t wait to share my wall of reads from 2017.  I’ve read some really good books.


My Favorite Vehicle

A year and a half ago, I had to buy a new vehicle in a hurry.  When your car will only go in reverse, it’s an emergency.  I had never heard of the Dodge Journey before, but I instantly fell in love with it.  I like having a 3 row SUV without it being as big as a boat.  I get that with my Journey.  I often get bored with the cars I buy but not this one.  I’m in it for the long haul!


Favorite Shopping

I used to love a big shopping day where I marathon shopped all day and traveled all over.  These days, I don’t shop for hobby but more for necessity.  That’s why I love Amazon Prime.  I can schedule things to show up at my house every month.  I have bought Christmas presents while I’m in a conversation with someone of what they have just said they would like.  I have bought books for Bible studies in the middle of Sunday School.  I bought two Christmas presents while I was sitting in a tech meeting because I knew they would perfect for someone I love.


Flea Markets

I love flea markets, antique malls, etc.  I love to shop them and I love having a little booth.  Be sure to stop by the Wagon Wheel and check out book #23.  I’m getting ready to put all new items in next week!


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Favorite Food

This is no surprise, who doesn’t love Chick Fil A?  I’m usually a stickler for going out to eat somewhere with a waitress when we venture to the “big city”, but lately, we have been on a Chick Fil A movement.  You just can’t go wrong and the employees are so friendly, it just makes your whole day.  Sometimes I go through the Chick Fil A drive thru just so someone will be polite and nice to me.  Is that weird?

I can’t wait to see what the new year brings and what new favorites I will find!

Parenting is hard

Yesterday I had to make a hard parenting decision.

I had to take my son’s birthday party away.

He had been warned several times throughout the week that one more show of his temper would postpone his birthday.  Yesterday, when he lost his temper, he lost his birthday party.

I was the mom that had to call the other mom and tell her I had to cancel the sleepover.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

It’s so hard when we have to make those tough decisions.  It’s easier to give in.  I’ve been known to say, “If you do that again…”  “Next time…” “One more chance…” too much.  It was time to make sure he understood that I meant business.

Bad choices bring bad consequences.

Last night in Bible study, someone commented that they often how God feels when we mess up.

Today, I was feeling pretty low about last night’s events and the sleepover that wasn’t going to happen today so I sought out a dear friend and mentor.  Her words to me were: don’t you think that’s how God feels when we make choices and decisions that aren’t in His will?

How many times do I have to hear that before I realize God had some words for me.  How often do I make a decision that doesn’t glorify God?  How sad must He be when He sees me lose my temper or not give my all?  That’s deep.

It’s hard to do the right thing sometimes.  I know in my heart, the decision was right.  I know that someday (probably when he is a father) he will realize how it hurt me more than it hurt him to take away his evening of fun.

I also know that I disappoint my heavenly Father on a daily basis.  We’ve all had some lessons to learn this weekend.

Something else my wonderful friend/mentor said to me today that she realized a long time ago that her children were her biggest ministry.  Chew on that for a minute.

It’s funny how I made a decision thinking I would teach my son a lesson and I probably learned more than he did.

Parenting is hard.  We do a good job of trying to make everything look perfect on social media but who does that help?  Instead of trying to impress everyone, what if we got real?  Instead of getting offended by everything what if we focused on our common goals and interests?  What if we lifted others up instead of judging?  What would that world look like?


We celebrated his birthday tonight.  It wasn’t how any of us had planned but it did happen.  We will continue to celebrate with family all weekend long.

Someday he will thank me.

40 Days & 40 Nights

Recently, our new pastor challenged us to be a praying church.  He asked for everyone to commit to taking one day during a 40-day challenge and fast from something….food, technology, TV, something that you would be sacrificing.

I spent some time thinking about this and it became pretty clear to me that God was asking more of me.  I’ve been in a pretty dark place for awhile.  I can’t really explain except that it got easy to do things my way and not worry too much about what God was wanting.  Starting with our vacation where God didn’t just knock on my door but pretty much blew it down (you can read about this here), I was starting to realize that it was time to put the work in to get back where I should be.

I decided I needed more than just a day, I needed to give something up for the entire 40 days.  Logistically, I can’t give up food for 40 days, giving up my technology would be hard to do with my job, so I started to look at what I really depend on.

Here’s the honest truth…I was drinking Coke Zero (and pop) like an alcoholic drinks beer, maybe even more. In the stressful times, celebratory times, sad times, it didn’t matter, I always drank a Coke Zero or four.  I knew this was what had to go.

This was a crazy idea.  Not only do I just love Coke Zero, but this 40 days included my birthday and the start of school where I need all the extra caffeine I can get.

I planned that every time I craved a Coke Zero (or soda of any kind), I would pray.  I wanted some specific things to pray for.  Of course, I wanted to pray for our church, my family, the school year and all the usuals but the two things I wanted to really focus in on were:

  1.  For God to bring a close, deep friendship to my life.  I have many wonderful, great friends.  I definitely don’t lack in that area.  I’ve seen a pattern in my adult life that when I get a best friend that I can really have deep conversations about and get real, they move.  (You know who you are!)
  2. My other prayer was for my own spiritual life.  I’ve been in a really weird place for quite awhile and although I knew my mind was changing, I really wanted to focus on putting the work in to be who God expects me to be.

Here’s the interesting thing, as I prayed for a close friend, God put situations in my path that made me be a better friend to the people around me.

When I prayed for my own spiritual life, he put situations in my path that made me get out of my comfort zone and step up my game.  He also gave me situations to deal with that normally would have got my temper boiling but I have been overwhelmingly calm.  Even in moments of anger, random Bible verse would pop into my head and instantly calm me.

I have missed my pop.  No doubt about it.  Starting a school year is hard.  Without my usual caffeine jump start, it’s almost heroic.  I have visited White Grill, a local, lovely greasy spoon that has my heart, several times.  It is almost a sin to go to White Grill and not have a Diet Dr. Pepper with my whistle burger and suzies, but I did it.  There were MANY prayers said in White Grill, and I was successful.

I’ve read my Bible more.  I’ve listened to God more and most importantly, I got my head on straight.  It’s easy to just be a good person and go through life without causing waves.  God asks more of us.  He wants us to jump into the uncomfortable.  He wants us to show His love every minute of every day.  He wants us to see needs before they are even spoken.  He wants us in His house regularly making connections and hearing what He has to tell us.  He wants us to show compassion and patience.

I don’t have all the answers and don’t pretend to, here’s what I know…I feel different on the inside.  I’ve seen God working all around me.  I’m glad I stepped up to the challenge.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.



Thankful for a Craptastic Vacation

I haven’t blogged in awhile but this story has to be told.

We recently went on our annual family vacation.  It was nothing short of craptastic.  And I couldn’t be more thankful….


We weren’t supposed to go to the beach.  At first, I had a great trip planned to Yellowstone but Parker informed me that riding in the car to look at “stuff” did not sound like a relaxing vacation to him.  Then I decided we should go to Disney World.  I did all the research and gently told Blake how much it was going cost (roughly an arm and a leg), then one night the kids were talking about how they really wanted to go to the beach.  We took a vote of who wanted to go to Disney World and who wanted to go to the beach and, I was the only one who voted for Disney World, so I planned a beach vacation.

Usually, I’m so excited to get to the beach.  I plan and make lists for weeks, preparing a meal plan, shopping for everything I need off of my many different categories of lists.  This year, I wasn’t into it.  I couldn’t tell you why but the night before we left, I started packing haphazardly.  I had a few ideas for meals and was just sort of excited to go.  I would describe myself as being in a funk.

Our trip to the beach was pretty uneventful.  It included me threatening to throw things out the window if children didn’t stop arguing, stopped traffic, closed exits, confused map apps, all the regular things that happen our family vacations.

Our condo was wonderful.  Much larger than we had stayed in before with lots of great amenities.  We got to the beach and thought it was pretty great too.

On Sunday, we planned to have a beach day because the forecast for the rest of the week didn’t look great.  We were excited to see a parasail company just a short walk down the beach so we planned to hit that up as well.  We played in the ocean, dug holes and got a little sunburned.  I walked down the beach and paid for our parasailing ride.  We were to come back in one hour.  An hour later, we marched down the beach and were told that the Gulf had gotten too rough and we couldn’t get out to the boat.  They refunded our money and sent us on our way…disappointed.

Sunday night Parker mentioned that his foot hurt.  We looked at it and it pretty much looked like he had a small blister right under his big toe.  We didn’t think much about it.

Monday came and it was a pretty rainy day.  We ventured to lunch and to an alligator farm.  We had quite a bit of fun and were able to mostly dodge the rain.  Monday night Parker’s toe was still bothering him.  I noticed it was getting pretty red and we decided we would probably head to urgent care the next day just to be on the safe side.

Tuesday morning we woke up thinking we would head to see the Blue Angels perform.  On our way, we saw an urgent care so we decided to stop.  Turns out Parker had a shell in his foot.  The doctor had to numb it and dig it out.  He was put on antibiotics and told to stay off the beach and out of the hot tub.  That will be easy, right?  (We got the bill for that procedure today.  Apparently, it was an outpatient surgery, who knew? $$)

So what do you do with a kid who can’t go to the beach on vacation?  Oh yeah, and it stormed so we didn’t go see the Blue Angels.  The kids and Blake spent most of the day in the pool and had quite a bit of fun.  Parker’s foot was bandaged but not slowing him down much.  We were disappointed we couldn’t go to the beach but the weather still hadn’t been too good.

On Wednesday, we headed to the Blue Angels.   We went through security at the naval base gates, made our way to the Navy museum and were all the way inside before we heard that the Blue Angels were grounded that day.  Of course, they were.  We were noticing a pattern here.  We still enjoyed the museum but didn’t have a day like we had planned.  We had a great lunch (in the rain) where we sat and watched boats come in and out.  Probably the highlight of the whole trip for me.  We went back to the condo and Blake and the kids headed back to the pool.  I wasn’t feeling too good. I thought maybe I had some bad seafood or something so I napped and took it easy.  We had a relaxing afternoon/evening in the condo but were starting to go stir crazy.

I’m the kind of person who is always ready to come home at the end of vacation but I’ve never been the kind of person who wants to cut the trip short to get home.  We live in a small town without a beach.  Most of the time you have to drag me to the car.  On Wednesday night, I was ready to come home.  I wasn’t feeling terrible, just a little upset stomach but I just was ready to be done.  We had a family meeting and decided if it was raining Thursday morning, we would probably just head home a couple days early.  It was supposed to rain the next two days.

We woke up Thursday morning, and it was raining so much you couldn’t tell the sky from the water.  We had a nice breakfast (I felt fine) and packed up the condo.  The first hour and a half of our trip were fine.  About twelve hours from home, my stomach started hurting.  I thought it might still be from the seafood, or maybe I had a stomach bug.  We stopped to visit several bathrooms, we stopped for ginger ale but nothing was making it better.  At one point, I talked Blake into letting me drive so I could focus on something besides my hurting stomach.  As the day progressed, I felt worse and worse.  The only comparison I have is the worst contraction I had in labor that never stopped for twelves hours.  I kept telling Blake I thought I was pretty tough but I really hurt.  My mom called and I had to hang up because I couldn’t talk to her.  I would shut my eyes for what seemed like an hour and look at the clock to see a minute had passed.  It was the longest twelve hours of my life.  In Conway, AR, I thought about stopping at an urgent care but what if there was something wrong?  We would be stuck in the middle of Arkansas with our kids and me sick…so we kept driving.  I think around Fayetteville, Blake started speeding.  I remember wondering if we were dumb to drive through Joplin and not stop but MAYBE if I got to my own bathroom and my own bed I would feel better.

As we pulled into town, I started throwing up.  I NEVER throw up.  As we got closer to the house and this had gone on for several minutes, Parker took off his headphones and said, “Hey, what exactly is going on up there?”  You can count on Parker to bring some comic relief to the situation.

I think I was home exactly 10 minutes when I told Blake I thought we better head to the ER.  I didn’t know what was wrong with me but I knew it wasn’t getting better.

It didn’t take them long to figure out that my appendix was the problem.  By the time they got me to surgery I had almost a 104 temperature and was a pretty sick girl.  Thankfully, I had great doctors and nurses (several former students) who took great care of me.

I’m thankful for our craptastic vacation because if Parker hadn’t hurt his foot and I had been in the ocean and a wave had hit me wrong, it could have burst my appendix even before I was hurting.

I’m thankful for our craptastic vacation because if we would have been having tons of fun, we would have been in Alabama when I started hurting.  Blake would have had to juggle me and two kids without any help.

I remember on Wednesday telling Blake that I felt like God was keeping us out of the ocean for a reason and it was kind of creeping me out.  I’ve always said the ocean is like church to me but I couldn’t find peace there this time.

The thing is that in the hustle and bustle of life, I kind of forgot that God has a plan and He takes care of us even when we don’t realize it.  Usually, I try to keep that in mind when I get behind a slow car or things don’t go my way.  I could fill a book with the times He has protected me from myself or danger and I can’t wait to get to heaven to hear about all the other times He protected me.

My appendix is out, I’m finally feeling better and I’ve had a little shake from the Maker of the universe that there’s no need to worry.  He’s got all this under control.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Matthew 6:26


Parker Says…

Last night Parker and I had some Royals tickets we couldn’t turn down, even if it was a school night.  So what’s a good, responsible mom to do?  Go to the game, of course.

Parker is a huge Royals fan, always has been.  This year, I notice he’s doing more than learning the players.  He’s really focusing on their stats, facts shared by the announcers and even how the pitchers hold the ball when they pitch.  Does he get bored?  No way, he’s totally in his element!

We happened to be in the front row in left field and in our row, there were only 4 seats.  About halfway through the game, I noticed the nice man was tweeting some of the comments Parker was making.

Here is a highlight of some of Parker’s commentary from the game:

“Royals rule, Tigers drool”  yelled about 37 times throughout the game

“Mom, why does it say Mike hashtag 8 Moustakas?”  That’s not a hashtag son, it’s a number sign

“Mom, do you have head lice?”  Apparently they learned about lice in kindergarten yesterday.

“Look Mom, #41 is pitching to #41”  Very observant kid!

And my favorite, “WE BROKE THE CURSE!!”

Last year, we attended 9 games.  Even though this was the World Series winning season, we only saw the team win 1 time.

We were happy to get a victory!

Here’s to making memories, eating $1 hotdogs and sharing my love for the Royals with the next generation.