The 13 Ways in which “Frozen” Melted My Heart

I have a million things I’d like to write about.

January would be a great month to tell a few more stories from 2013 that I never got to, I have some random nearly-completed posts I could polish up, and I’m feeling antsy to share last year’s Valentine party before Pinterest moves on to Easter (Pinterest moves FAST!)…

buuuuut then we went and saw “Frozen” this week.

And even though it was an inconsequential day and, initially, was never on my dorky blog radar (don’t defend me…anyone who uses the words “blog” and “radar” in the same sentence is a DORK), it turned out to be such a sweet and special occasion, I wanted to jot down a few memories.

Care to accompany me?

For starters, our family doesn’t get out much. I could probably count on one hand the public events we have attended as a complete unit. The reasons for this are manifold: 1. There’s a lot of us, 2. 66% of us are little people, 3. Events, even with little people, are ‘spensive, and, most importantly, 4. We’re homebodies – it takes something pretty special to entice us out-of-our-doors.

But from what I was hearing, “Frozen” was pretty special.

And the timing did happen to be perfect. Gideon loves any movie. Rebekah loves movies with girls in them. Betsie is just old enough to sit still for a bit, and Shepherd is just little enough to sit still for a bit. We had Christmas money to spare.

Honestly, it was go to the movies now, or maybe in two years. This was our chance!

So, after picking up my Grandmother (who is visiting from Texas), we loaded up in our funwagon and headed to Tulsa where we met my Mom at the theatre.

(Oh. I should probably tell you now that I like to spell theatre with an “re” instead of an “er”. It makes me feel fancy).

And, well, since there is a very intense OU game blaring on the television right now and my husband and father are literally dancing around the living room, I am going to have to share my highlights in numerical fashion rather than the flowing literary style that I would prefer. Que sera sera. Thanks for reading what I write, even when I am distracted by football chaos and sports enthusiasts.

Without further ado, I present to you our outing to the theatre (with an “re”)…

1. Is there anything more fun than watching your kids experience something new? This was Gideon’s 3rd movie, Rebekah’s 2nd and Betsie’s 1st, and I realized as we entered into the theatre that I should take note of their response to, well, everything. The arcade games and vending machines at the front. The ticket booth with long lines of customers. The concession area that smells like popcorn and fake butter. The bathrooms with sensor toilets and sinks and foam soap. The long hallways lined with numbered movie rooms. The giant movie screen. The purply, velvet chairs. It was ALL new to them. Looking back, I’m thinking that the theatre should have charged us grown-ups double, because we got to watch two shows today: the movie, and our kids watching the movie.

2. Just like I hoped, by waiting so long to see “Frozen” the theatre was nearly empty when we arrived, save for a few other groups scattered across the room. Slipping into our chosen row, I spoke to the two women in the row behind us: “I apologize in advance that we are here.” They assured me that they were in “kid mode” which completely put me at ease. This was my first time to bring a baby to a theatre. Sooooo taboo. Unless, of course, you are at a matinee showing of a popular Disney movie.

3. Well I’m a dummy. Apparently we had arrived to the movie early, because by preview time, there was not an empty seat in the house. Which was awesome because, you might remember this, I BROUGHT A BABY WITH ME. Still, I was pretty at ease; an attempt like this with my firstborn would have sent me into hysterics.

4. It is also noteworthy that my Mom, who is notorious for being cold in movie theatres, had heretofore avoided seeing this movie because it looked “so cold”. “It makes me cold to even see the previews!” she said. So, being a thoughtful daughter, I brought a few blankets along for her comfort. You know what’s funny about that? So did she. So between our pile of blankets, our cardigans, my giant bag, Shep’s carseat and all our snacks, there was NO ROOM for us to be “frozen”. I was as warm as a “happy” snowman in summer. ;)

And now, a word about each of my children as I watched them watch a movie…

5. Betise was killing me. She looked like a doll, perched on her booster seat next to her Papa, eating popcorn out of a little Coca-Cola cup. True to form, although she sat nicely through the entire movie, she was more about the snacks than the show. I lost track of how many times the root beer and popcorn was passed her way. And while I feigned jealousy that Mr. Gore got to sit by her, I was secretly thrilled to watch them together, especially during the “sca-wy” parts when she would hide beneath his arm. Be still, my heart.

6. Rebekah sat next to me, and provided the most amusing commentary. She inherited her Papa’s booming volume, and while the rest of us chuckled throughout the movie in moderate tones with only a few loud laughs here and there, her chirpy voice would slice through the entire room: “BAHAHAHAHAHA!!! LOOK AT THAT SNOWMAN SLIDING DOWN ON HIS BELLY! THAT LOOKS LIKE FUN! HE LOOKS LIKE A PING-WAN! HE LOOKS LIKE A PING-WAN!! Thankfully, I heard snickers all around us rather than hisses of “shhhh!!!” Folks truly were in kid-mode, thank you, Lord.

7. And Gideon. Complex of soul, his eyes are always telling a story; but when he is happy, they SPARKLE. It did my heart good to see lots and lots of sparkles everytime I glanced over at him during the movie. Flanked by his sisters, he would occasionally lean close to one or make a comment to the other, and he never groaned when he had to pass Betsie her drink again. Peaceful family times are a gift from God, and I loved seeing my son smack dab in the middle of this one.

8. So how did Baby Shepherd do? It was ironically funny, I suppose, that my baby boy who almost never cries decided to start crying two minutes into the movie. A helpless people pleaser, I lunged out of my seat and scurried to the darkened hallway of our theatre like my pants were on fire and stood watching the movie while I tried to rock him to sleep. The only problem was the little booger wanted to see the movie; he can barely hold up his head, but he was twisting his body around to stare at the screen, bobbing all over the place. I would finally get him cuddled back down when a noise or a song would interest him and he’d come bobbing back up. Finally, he gave in and I tiptoed back to my seat where he snoozed until the end of the movie. Phew! Good boy, Jake. I mean, Shep.

9. By the way, when I was rocking Shepherd in the aisle, I was also crying (not because I was frustrated, but because I have become a weeper, especially when I know my kids are having their hearts captured), which was quite inconvenient since I had no hands free. Tears and snot everywhere.

10. Another highlight of our experience was hearing my Mom and Grandmother giggling next to me. Actually, only my Grandmother was giggling. My Mom was cackling. (It’s okay for me to say that, because I’m a guffaw-er).

11. Where it was always such a treat to sit next to Mr. Gore at a movie in our courting days, it did something crazy to my heart to look to my left and see our little ducks all lined up in a row between us. Every once in awhile, we’d look at each other and laugh at a funny part. It was as close to brushing hands in the popcorn bucket as we could get.

12. Lastly, I can’t express how thrilled I am by the direction the Princess movies are going. I love almost every Disney movie there is and will eventually let my kids watch all that we own, but I am carefully meting out the princesses to my daughters for now; if they will be starry-eyed over a character in these formative years, I want it to be over someone very praiseworthy, like compassionate Belle. Thus, when we first saw “Brave” and I discovered that there wasn’t even a love interest and that Merida’s story was centered around her family, my heart did a jig. And now “Frozen”, the story of two sisters, one strong and golden-haired and one kind of ditsy (but loyal!) and brunette…hello, like Rebekah and Betsie?!…I just can’t. I don’t even know what to say. This is why I was weeping in the aisle of the theatre! Thank you, God, for this timely trend in story-telling!

I could obviously go on and on and on about everything I loved about the actual movie, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it (plus, this football game is getting exciting!). So I’ll end with this…

Our van was full of sunbeams all the way home, and as the kids discussed their favorite parts and laughed all over again at what they had seen, I acknowledged once more how important it is to have good stories in your life, whatever their form; whether it is a tale we make up at bedtime, or a book we read out loud, or a new movie we watch at the theatre, story-telling gives us a common experience and memory, shared convictions, and in the case of “Frozen”, a kindred sense of humor. Which leads me to one last thing…

13. That snowman stole the show.

Banana Split For My Babies

My Mom is so much fun.

I heavily lean toward being a hermit, and I sometimes think if it weren’t for her, we would never leave our house. That woman’s got more energy than a spring colt.

(I agree. That analogy DID make me sound like an old lady).

Last week, after a couple of months of rarely leaving our house, she made a motion that we go to the local library and then surprise the kids with their very first banana split.

After hemming and hawing for a bit like an old curmudgeon, I seconded her motion.

And we all said “aye!”

I’m so glad I took my camera along, because the following photographs further support my theory that little kids are so easy to impress and that if you can’t afford to give them Disneyworld, no worries. You can always give them ice cream.

I snapped a few photos while Grandmother was ordering the top-secret surprise. The kids were excited and it was fun to watch the expressions on their faces as they talked and waited and tried to guess what was coming…




Then, as always, they started getting antsy and wrestly. He pinched her…


she pinched him…


And I did my best to hold the fort down. Finally, it was time. Close your eyes, everybody!

(Not you, silly…the kids! You can keep your eyes open and keep reading).


(As usual, Betsie peeked).


Two banana splits and some french fries, coming our way! The fries were a surprise for me. :) Sneaky, sneaky Grandmother.




Please indulge me as I take a closer look at those surprised faces…

IMG_6578 - Version 2

IMG_6578 - Version 3

And we can’t forget Betsie…


Rebekah is surpringly picky about her desserts and a banana split proved to be too much for her to handle, but Gid the Kid TORE into his…






Betsie, too!




In case you’re wondering, my Mom and I did help them eat those humongous treats, but since there is nothing cute about seeing pictures of grown women eat ice cream, I decided to spare you.

We had so much fun, we spent less than $15, and the best part was that the hermit got to return home before the afternoon was up.

If your kids have never been treated to a giant banana split, may I recommend an ice cream outing in the near future?

Pretty please?

With a cherry on top?


At approximately 1:30 on Friday afternoon, we pulled into our driveway…

They were waiting for us on the front porch, and my heart skipped a beat or two as they jumped up and clambered down the sidewalk to greet us, shouts of “Mama!” and “Papa!” causing tears to cloud my vision.

The one-hour drive home had never been longer.

The first to reach me was Gideon, freshly bathed and wearing my favorite shirt. My Mom said he was anxious to get cleaned up for us because he “smelled like a puppy”, which told me that he was as excited about seeing us as we were about seeing him. I gathered him into my arms before even leaving the passenger seat and we held on to each other for dear life. My son and I, perhaps more alike than any two people in our family, share the same struggles and the same strengths. This pregnancy has been hard on us, especially the last couple of weeks, and our reunion was what I had been living for that last day in the hospital. When we released each other, our eyes were definitely “waterin’”, our smiles almost too big for our faces.

After an extremely long journey, we were home. Both of us.

Rebekah was next, skipping towards me in the long, pink dress she never takes off, her hair in long, golden braids. She covered me with kisses and informed me that she was going to take care of me. Her cornflower blue eyes radiated happiness and contentment, warming me to my toes.

I’m always home when I’m with Rebekah Sunday.

And then came shirtless Betsie Fair, wearing nothing but pink, floral culottes and a spunky little ponytail, hopping joyfully across the cobblestones that lead to our driveway. “Mama! Mama!” she continued to exclaim, her happy little face causing me to melt into a puddle of mama goo in the floor of our minivan. Betsie was my MVP that last part of my pregnancy, keeping me entertained and distracted by her out-of-this-world cuteness and unbridled joy. Scooping her up, I hugged her tight while she manically patted me and giggled and squealed.


In a big jumble of bodies and beautiful chaos, we landed in the living room. There were presents of crayon drawings to be presented, everyone had important stories to tell all at one time, and Baby Shepherd had to be thoroughly inspected by three curious siblings.

And I?

I sat in my favorite chair and took in the blessed moment. Coming home with a new baby always brings with it a fresh perspective and for the time being, the noises weren’t grating, the responsibilities weren’t drudgerous, the to-do’s and expectations were nonexistent, and I was as happy as I have ever remembered being in my entire life.

“Mom?…” I asked, “would you mind taking a picture?”

It suddenly felt very important for me to capture this moment for my memories.

“Do you want me to put a shirt on Betsie?” she replied.

“No. I want them all just like they are…”

Like everyone else in America, sometimes our family photos are staged, and the preparation for them has left me breathless and sweaty and uptight. We might be wearing matching clothes and not a hair is out of place, but the smiles are probably not genuine and there is no story behind our photograph other than “we look nice today and our clothes are awesome“.

But this picture was different.

We stopped our reunion for the briefest of moments, we quickly gathered into a cluster, we looked at the camera, and our faces were already beaming before my Mom even had to tell us to “say cheese!”.


The feelings I experienced at our homecoming will be impossible to hold onto. Life will eventually pick up speed and we’ll be back at the grindstone, going through our days, doing our chores, fighting negativity and frustration and cabin fever. This day was a gift, for all of us, and a sweet reminder that…

together, at home, is our very favorite place to be.

Our Minivan of Megahorror


~ a story of the day I almost died in the driveway, complete with italicized internal dialogue ~

Mr. Gore stuck his head back in the door after leaving for work.

“Haven’t you been wanting to clean out the van?” he called out, “It’s really nice out here this morning…if you clean out the inside, I’ll drive down to the carwash during my lunch break!”

“Okay!” I brightly responded. We had been watching loads of television during an otherwise uneventful summer week; it would be nice for all of us to get some fresh air.

Within 30 minutes time, the kids were all engaged in outdoor pursuits, and I was pulling our minivan into the shade, an arsenal of cleaning aids sitting expectantly beside me in the passenger seat: trashbags, Windex, paper towels, Lysol wipes, old rags, and a little bowl of hot, soapy water.

Let’s do this thingy…

I opened up both front doors. Not bad. I had gathered up most of the trash from our area while Mr. Gore ran inside the grocery store for me the day before.

I moved to the back of the van and opened up the hatch.

Geeze, Louise…

Boxes of toys and bags of old clothes intended for the storage unit (i.e. garage sale pile) hung in midair, threatening to fall out, and our folding chairs were sticking up at jagged angles on every side. Even though I knew all this stuff was back here, I sighed.

This is going to take awhile…

Moving on, I opened the next door, the big, heavy sliding one behind the passenger seat…

Oh, man. I forgot about this…

The giant plastic bowl of cereal trail mix Gideon had made for his Papa in Sunday School on Father’s Day lay opened, upside-down and empty, meaning the sticky cereal pieces were scattered in heaps all over the floor of the backseat. The kids had immediately spilled it on our way home from church that day, and, too exhuasted to deal with it, we left it there and just told them to tiptoe around it.

Turns out, every time we are pulling up into our driveway, we are always too exhausted to deal with it.

So there it still sat, partly melted into the carpet, mocking me with its sugary coating and voluminous girth. That was a big ol’ plastic bowl of trail mix!

Speaking of carpet, WHY do minivans have carpet?! How about some linoleum, or something we could hose down?…you might want to mull that over, Honda.

I sighed and frowned at the cereal with my mean, pregnant face.

I’ll deal with you last…

Moving on. I opened the last sliding door, and the fact that a decently cool breeze was blowing through the van gave me a fair amount of optimism.

I guess I should take out these carseats before I do anything else…

I unbuckled Betsie’s chair from the front row seat and pulled it out.

Oh, dear Lord…

erase this from my memory, please.

and forgive me for not taking care of our life.

The seat beneath her chair was littered with all manner of snacks and debris, and I quickly learned what had happened to all of her missing hairbows. It was horrifying. And I still had two booster seats to go, from the dreaded back row.

I quickly reached back and pulled them out, not daring to look at the aftermath.

And then I got right to cleaning, starting with my seat, passenger front. I windexed my window. I sprayed down my door and wiped it off. I polished the glovebox. Then I noticed the dust-covered dashboard, the end of which seemed very far away from my 8-months pregnant belly. I scooted myself up as far as my belly would allow, turned my face to the side, closed my eyes, and reached as far as I could, hoping I was eradicating all traces of dirt.

I opened my eyes. I did it! It was clean! But now there was a definite line showing how little I had accomplished. My little spot in the van might be very tidy, but the only thing that was doing for me at the moment was revealing how terribly filthy the rest of the crime-scene-on-wheels was.

Sheesh. This is going to take forever…

I decided to start removing all those floor mat thingys. For some reason, our van has like, 50. And all 50 of them were covered in grass and pebbles and goo and, I don’t know, probably poop. I made quick work of this part, dumping the stuff off of them and tossing them in a row in the sun. I’d hose them off later.

It was time to start gathering up all the trash from the rest of the van, and this is where things got super scary…

Please, oh PLEASE God, don’t let me find a Chicken McNugget.

If all those rumors are true that McDonald’s food doesn’t break down, I DON’T want to know it. Ignorance is bliss.

Oh, and please don’t let me find a sippy cup. I beg of you. No sippy cups.

And no dead mice. If I find a dead mouse…or a live one, for that matter…I am DONE here.

I timidly reached under the seats, digging out scraps of paper, empty containers, church crafts, and yes, finally, one McDonald’s box. I didn’t open it. If there was a McNugget in there, I’ll never know if it was moldy like it should be or freakishly well-preserved like it shouldn’t be.

Finally, all the trash from the inside was picked up and my Shop-Vac and I got to work. At this point, it actually looked like I had accomplished something, which is just the sort of results Shop-Vacs always bring to the table. Hallelujah.

Before I knew it, the driver and passenger area and the first row seat were looking decent and I could actually see the carpet on the floor of our minivan. Yes, it was covered with stains like someone had been murdered in our van and then decomposed there, too, but…you could see it. So that counts for something.

I wish I could shampoo this thing…

Like, the WHOLE thing…

Can you take a car through the carwash with the doors open? Is that allowed? Or maybe we could powerwash the inside?…

Sweating now, I decided to take a break from vacuuming and move to the back hatch.

So, yes, I knew there was a lot of junk back there, but I didn’t realize how long it had been there…

I have this bad habit of boxing things from the house up for our garage sale that never happens, sending it to the car, and then never touching it again. Thus, there was a hole-filled bag of clothes in the back from like, 2010, maybe? And they were covered with dust. If there was a mouse in our van, it was going to be in that bag.

I stuck my pinky out and gingerly began removing items of clothing to a heap under a nearby shade tree, shaking out dust, and continuing to pray for no critters or creatures to fall out.

When Mr. Gore comes home, we can put this stuff in the trunk of the car and I’ll deal with them when I decide to clean the car out…

I do believe this was the most terrifying part of my van-cleaning experience. There was stuff in that hatch that I had such little remembrance of, I knew it was very possible that there could be a small meal hiding out back there, if not a squirrel family or something truly terrifying, like a clown mask or a bloody knife.

Trashing items with little to no thought, I finally reached the bottom of this grime-mountain and was able to heave a sigh of relief…

That’s when I noticed a little storage door in the side of the hatch.

” What IS this? I’ve never seen this before…

Should I open it?

What if there is something weird in there? Like a human head?! What if the person who originally owned this van was a murderer and I’m about to find out???

What if Mr. Gore is the murderer? How will I ever provide for this family if he goes to jail?!

In my van-cleaning distress, I had obviously worked myself up into my typical “worst-case-scenario” mentality. But I HAD to know what was behind that door. Wincing, I slowly opened the door to that little container and it POPPED open…

it was empty.

Oh thank God!

That was terrifying.

But how nice that something in this van is actually CLEAN!

Heart beating, I made quick work of the empty hatch, scrubbing down the back of the seats, disinfecting the entire area and vaccumming the carpet.

That left one major area to tackle….

The backseat.

(excuse me while I take a deep, cleansing breath and perform a meditative exercise).

Okay, I’m back. So, like I was saying, the backseat

The den of the ragamuffins.

The lair of the hoydens.

In other words, Satan’s domain.

This is the seat we, as parents, NEVER visit. Ever.

Our eldest kids can crawl back there alone now and buckle themselves up, and the only time we see the trainwreck they’ve created is when we reach back to lift out one of their booster chairs for another vehicle and see showers of cereal and dirt and plastic toys come raining down.

But we act like we don’t see it.

Because then we’d have to clean it.

Like I was about to have to do, 8 months pregnant, in Ju-stinkin’-ly, in Okla-hot-homa.

After wedging myself through the allotted space, I scrunched myself into a half-standing/half-sitting position so I could inspect the seat. I wasn’t going to sit down until I could have a good look at it, see what I was getting myself into…

What is this? Bright green PAINT?…

hmmm…this is the same color as the stain on Rebekah’s 4th of July dress…

but where did it COME from?…

Ugh. Lucky Charms? Who had Lucky Charms back here?

Hey! A quarter…

I leaned to the left and then to the right in order to inspect the windows and side ledges.


Can’t do this.

I need to get out of here!!! I’m about to hyperventilate.

Okay. I can do it.

I’ve given birth three times. I can CLEAN this.

It was like a dank and infected Zombie hideout back there. The windows were covered…no, really, COVERED…in sticky, smudgy fingerprints, the seatbelts were all twisted and somehow wilted-looking, and the cupholders…

heaven help me, the cupholders were not the same color as the rest of the van’s interior. Rather, they seemed to be coated in…tar, maybe? Mud and dried up Dr. Pepper? Chewing tobacco?

After swallowing the bile that had risen to my throat, I Shop-Vac’ed a place for me to sit so I could tackle this nightmare that lay before me.

Did I REALLY say I wanted to do this?

And WHY did I volunteer for this job when I am in the nesting phase of this pregnancy?!…

{For truly, on a normal day, “cleaning out the van” would have meant picking up the trash and hauling in the stuff that didn’t belong there. On a nesting day, however, it meant cleaning dirty quarters and scrubbing the carpet with a toothbrush. What was I thinking?!}

Windex. Scrubbing Bubbles. Dawn dish soap. And 4 Lysol wipes per cupholder (for a grand total of 16 Lysol wipes).

I scrubbed and cleaned and cleaned and scrubbed and shivered and shuddered and cleaned some more.

Then I scrubbed one more time.

Finally, after two hours and what felt like a walk to hell and back, I was finished.

I fell back into the clean seat and just sat there in the hot van, not only unable to move, but unable to process one complete thought.

Eventually, like a shell-shocked survivor of a post-apocalyptic event, I managed to squeeze myself back through the tiny seat hallway and stagger into the open air, blinking against the bright sunlight. My thoughts were scattered as I walked barefoot down our steaming, cobblestone sidewalk.

Who am I?…

Why is it so BRIGHT out here?

I bet my house is filthy.

I wonder if the kids are still here…

I walked back into my air-conditioned house and straight to the powder bathroom where I began vigorously scrubbing my hands with soap and the hottest water available. I looked into the mirror…

My hair was disheveled and sweaty.

My cheeks were flushed bright red.

But it was my eyes that had changed the most. They were wild…dazed…the bearers of secrets too horrific to fully express.

We wrestled in the driveway, my minivan and I, and though I came out the definite victor, I will never be quite right again…

I’ve seen too much.

And even though I didn’t actually find a Chicken McNugget under the seat, its gonna be a LONG while before I’m ready to eat one again… 

Disneyworld Who?

Those of you who follow my blog’s facebook page (because I obviously needed a place on the internet to share more words and pictures!!!…) know that I shared the following status update last Thursday night:

“I understand that places like Disneyworld are magical and memorable family destinations and if we had extra cash laying around, I would be the first in line…

but there’s something awfully fun about declaring a weekend “staycation” and going to the grocery store with your family to buy everyone their own pint of ice cream and their own box of sugary cereal.

I got Ben & Jerry’s Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream and a box of Cocoa Puffs…”


This is true, and I still have the tummy ache to prove it.

But let me backtrack for a minute…

When my parents announced that they would be going out of town with my brother and his family over Memorial Day weekend, my Mom offhandedly mentioned that Mr. Gore and I were welcome to crash with our brood at their cozy little home in the country. She is always and forever making generous offers like this, and so I just kind of brushed off the thought of it, initially.

But as a very hectic week progressed, and as Mr. Gore’s old back injury continued to flare up more and more with little relief, I began to really mull over her offer. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, to “get away” for the weekend and truly relax, without really having to “get away”? For my parents happen to live 10 short miles away from us…

I finally mentioned the option to my husband, and before I knew it, our plans were set in stone: a 4-night family “staycation” to our home away from home.

And, as usual, I learned a few things on our “trip” concerning “staycations” in general, and ours, in particular, and I thought today would be a good day to pass them on to you. Because I really do love you, you know. You can thank me in heaven. Or, if you don’t want to wait that long, in the comments sections below. Or both. It’s up to you, really…

1. Seriously. The first night of your vacation, go to the grocery store as a family and buy whatever the heck kind of junk you want. Aside from each of us buying our own pint of ice cream and our own box of cereal, we bought potato skins, fried green beans and cheesecake from the freezer section, chocolate donuts, strawberry cookies (Betsie’s choice), special granola bars, loads of fresh berries, and the first can of Pringles I’ve bought in nearly a decade. I haven’t had that much fun at the grocery store since I was leeching off of my parents and writing checks like there was no tomorrow.

2. The whole point of a staycation is to STAY. So yeah, yeah, I know we broke the rules a little and stayed at our home-away-from-home, but we really had to and here’s why: at our home in town, the phone rings a lot, we have to wear clothes all the time, and our kids have to come inside to use the bathroom. Though my parent’s house is very close by, it is extremely remote, and all of our town rules can be broken. So if you can, staycate in the country, where your kids can swim in their undies and skitter across the pasture to go tinkle.

3. However, if you want to have a romantic getaway, do not sleep in your parent’s room. Or in your parent’s house, for that matter. My most heartfelt apologies, Mr. Gore. I was wrong. You were so right.

4. Keep in mind that staycations can bring with them a fair share of hard work. I told my Mom that I am forever blaming our messy house on all the stuff we own, and the types of floors we have that “show dirt”, but, I learned something during our 2nd day at her house without her there to help me manage everything: It’s not our stuff. It’s not our floors. It’s us. We’re a mess.

And while it was so nice to be away from all of the looming projects that I am constantly aware of in my own home, I still had to clean a lot, do lots of laundry, cook lots of food, shepherd lots of hearts, bathe lots of kids, and I still fell into bed, exhausted, by the end of each night. It put things in perspective for me, though, and helped me to better recognize and come to grips with the true nature of this season of our life, full of the fun and wonderment of childhood, yes, but also full of nonstop work. No matter where we go or where we are. Even on vacation. But especially on staycation.

5. You know what’s awesome? Packing light, wearing your clothes, getting them unbelievably dirty, washing them that night, folding them, and putting them on again the next day before repeating the entire process all over again. I could get used to that, especially for the kids…so this is me, declaring war on their closets the minute I finish this blog post. Or the next day. Next week. Well…just, soon. I mean it.

6. On a real vacation, you usually take your family to places they’ve never been, so on a staycation, it is only reasonable to invest in a few movies your kids have never seen, some games they’ve never played, and maybe some toys they’ve never played with. In our case that meant “Summer Magic”, Go Fish, and a huge box of sidewalk chalk that had vibrant colors the likes of which we have never sidewalk-chalked with.

7. Go on walks. Play outside. Read stories. Take naps. Play games. Watch movies. Dance in the rain. Take your first swim of the summer. Get muddy. And be prepared to bathe your kids no less than 8 times a day as a result.

8. But most of all, get ready to enjoy living and see with fresh eyes the simple pleasures that are available to you every day of the year if you could just take the time to notice and enjoy them. Nature, family, home, ice cream…

it doesn’t take much, does it?

Disneyworld is still on my list of wishes, and perhaps someday, I’ll be taking snapshots of my kids at the Magic Kingdom. But until then, I think we’ll survive just fine in our own neck of the woods…

staycation 1


Gideon muddy face

staycation 4

staycation 3

staycation 5

summer 1


p.s. the Pringles were delicious.

Mother Hen Goes to Neverland – Part Three

continued from Part Two: “Finally, we reached the main entrance to the PAC. “Here we go…” I thought, ready to greet a roomful of identically dressed children hanging on the arms of their loving and indulgent mother. But boy, was I was wrong…


Well, there were lots of children there, but they were dressed to the nines in…real clothes.

Not one Tinkerbell.

Not one Wendy.

Only one Peter Pan.

That’s right, ONE.

And he happened to be attached to my hip.

All of a sudden, I was faced with a new and unexpected conundrum, the reality that a veritable spotlight was placed upon us as we made our way through the extremely crowded room, inside the ladies restroom and eventually back out, and up the stairs and across the mezzanine, accepting the compliments and the delighted stares of every. single. person. we. passed. The children and senior adults we walked by were especially taken by my little lost boy, and Gideon received lots of waves from little ones even younger than he was, their mouths slightly hanging open to see Peter Pan right in their midst.

You know, I always think I will enjoy the spotlight…until I’m in it. To say my cheeks were burning would be a bit of an understatement.

“Why is everyone looking at me and waving at me?” Gideon asked me, and I wondered if, for the first time, my sheltered son might be realizing that not everyone goes everywhere dressed in costume.

“Oh, I don’t know, Gid…” I responded with a small smirk on my face.

“My name’s not Gid. It’s Peter.” he replied matter-of-factly.

“Well…that’s why everyone is looking at you and waving at you. You’re Peter Pan!” I muttered.

And then something even more unexpected happened to poor Mrs. Gore.

Right there, standing in line to have our tickets scanned so we could enter the theater, with absolutely no warning whatsoever, Small Elephant decided to make an uninvited appearance.

In other words, the impact of this meaningful night with my son hit me with full force, and a huge, dramatic, hormonally-charged lump began to form in my throat. I’m always sentimental. But when I’m pregnant…I’m a basketcase.

And when it was Gideon’s turn to hand the attendant his ticket, and he stepped up like a big boy and held up his paper, a shy and excited expression on his precious little face, the lump in my throat grew unswallowable as tears began to burn at the back of my eyes.

Good grief, get a grip!” I furiously said to myself as I tried to take deep breaths and refrain from breaking down in front of an entire roomful of folks…folks who were already looking at us because of the bright green costume and matching cap (topped with a yellow felt feather).

But then the elderly attendant looked down and saw that Peter Pan himself was handing her a ticket for the show and she smiled so big and said “Well, hello, Peter Pan!” before looking at me and beaming at the cuteness that was before her.

Gideon smiled. My Mom chuckled. And I…Small Elephant…released some sort of manic, breathy laugh that was two seconds away from being a sob. Looking down, I pasted a smile on my face and continued to nervously giggle as I rapidly blinked away my tears, wishing that we could all just have a moment of silence to take in this moment without having the entire waiting audience watch Peter Pan’s pregnant mother have a meltdown in the mezzanine.

It was one of the most wonderful and awful moments of my life.

Lord, have mercy.

Well, somehow, we finally made it inside the theater, gasping at the amazing scene set up on the stage, and, finding our seats, I was able to fan myself for a minute with my program and get control of myself once more. “I’m a little emotional right now,” I confided to the man and woman to my left, “so if I start weeping, just ignore me. I’m fine.”

“Oh, I’m assistant to an OBGYN, so I see crying women all the time. We won’t even mention it.” the woman replied, leaning over her husband to get a better look at the pregnant spectacle next to him.

Before too long, the lights thankfully dimmed, and the magic that is Peter Pan played out before our very eyes, and for the next two hours I was caught between the beauty of the story, the set, the costumes and the music, and the pure pleasure of watching my baby watch all of the above. Peter Pan is the perfect tale, is it not, for a little boy with an imagination and a heart as big as the sky, and I could kiss J.M. Barrie (or at least give him a thimble) for crafting a timeless story of boyhood that continues to resonate so deeply today, while beautifully paying homage to motherhood and family at the same time.

Gideon belly laughed at every funny scene. He clapped enthusiastically after every musical number. And when he reached out and held my hand during the mother’s lullaby, those pesky tears gathered in my eyes once more as I meditated on the past 6 years, on all we’d been through together, and on how gracious is the God of the universe to give him to me and me to him.

And, while it was a real treat to see the amazing Cathy Rigby in action (seriously…she cannot be 60 years old! AMAZING, and I told my husband that what she is able to do on the stage is much more impressive than if Peter Pan was actually real and could actually fly!), I was very grateful that we were just far back enough that Gideon couldn’t see that she was, in fact, a woman. That just wouldn’t have gone over well a’tall.

I could go into great detail about all of my favorite scenes, about the graceful and lovely Tigerlilly, about the fabulous and glittery pixie dust that was thrown all over the place, but I’ll just say that, of the many theatrical performances I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying over the years, this play was, by far, my favorite. Magical. Hilarious. Entertaining from start to finish. If you ever get the chance to see it, please do…and tell them that Mrs. Gore sent you. (I’m a favorite in Neverland, you know).

At the show’s conclusion, my Mom and I took turns hefting Gideon up to see each of the cast members run out to take a bow and wave at the audience, and the huge grin on my son’s face and his wide-awake eyes at such a late hour told me that his first trip to the theater had been a roaring success.

But the show wasn’t quite over yet…

Holding up her hands to quiet the crowd, Cathy Rigby herself made an announcement, that the cast would be in the lobby to help raise funds for AIDS victims and breast cancer survivors, and that, for $5, you could get your picture taken with Captain Hook…

(I inwardly gasped. What a perfect way to end our night, and how fun for my little Peter Pan to have a real picture with the Cap’n as opposed to his Mama in a mustache).

…OR, for $500 you could have your name entered into a raffle to win an opportunity to come back later in the week and fly with Peter Pan on stage.

(I inwardly guffawed. $500. Ha!).

And then I heard a little voice beside me yell out “I wanna fly!! I wanna fly with Peter Pan!”

(And I inwardly groaned. Thanks a lot, “Peter Pan”…you are now dead to me).

After some final applause, as the crowd began to disperse, we sat back down in our seats to get Gideon’s boots put back in place and to find all of our stuff (my big bag of Red Vines, included). “Hey Gid…” I breeched, “we don’t have enough money to fly with Peter Pan. But we could get your picture with Captain Hook!”

“But I want to fly!” he pleaded, looking at the stage with longing.

“We just can’t,” I said. “It’s too expensive.”

“Ohhhh…” he whimpered, and I hoped that the night hadn’t just lost some of its magic for him.

As we made our way back down to the main lobby, Gid’s hand in mine, he said, hopefully, “Do you think you could just tell Peter Pan that we don’t have that much money, and maybe he’ll let us come fly with him anyway?…”

I laughed at his innocence, and Mom and I directed him to the line where Captain Hook was already taking pictures with his fans. “There’s Peter Pan!” I heard the Captain yell out as we walked by, pointing at us and waving.

“Yep…” I thought, waving back, “we’re still here! Peter Pan and his Mom and Grandmother…” We continued to receive stares and waves as the lobby eventually thinned out, and my cheeks hurt from receiving and returning smile after smile. It was like prom night all over again.

But the most difficult part of the entire night wasn’t trying to convince Gideon that we didn’t have $500 or finding the willpower to smile at passersby, but to keep my son from seeing Cathy Rigby as she autographed posters right across the room.

“Where’s Peter Pan?” he asked as we continued to wait in line.

“I don’t know…” I bald-face-lied, as Mom and I shuffled around to block his view of her. We had made it this far – he couldn’t find out that Peter Pan was played by a…a girl!…when we were so close to our departure!

“Hey! There he is!” he said, slipping around me and spotting Cathy Rigby at the table right beyond me. I held my breath as, immediately, a puzzled expression crossed his face and he asked, confused, “Hey…what happened to Peter Pan?!”

“Ummm…” I responded, before blurting that “the little boy who played Peter must have had to get to bed – it’s so late! – and that’s just another Peter Pan saying ‘hi’ to everyone.”

We all know that one lie always leads to another. But believe me when I say my hands were tied.

Gideon just nodded. “Oh. Yeah.” Made perfect sense to him.

But when it was all said and done, we had our picture with Captain Hook…


we left without Gideon figuring out that Peter Pan was played by a woman…

and we decided that, someday, he might get another chance to fly with Peter, and that, for now, seeing his first play was a pretty big treat. Before leaving, he gathered up and threw some pixie dust that was left on the ground…


and we flew back home to our nursery on the second floor where my little boy belongs.

I hugged him tight.

I tucked him in.

And I kissed his forehead and cupped his soft still-a-5-year-old cheek in my hand, memorizing his face, and this night, for safekeeping.

“Sweet dreams…” I said, knowing that, tonight, they were almost guaranteed.


“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land.”

Peter Pan

Mother Hen Goes to Neverland – Part Two

So enough about my parenting philosophies and my 1500-word glowing endorsement of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan…let’s get to the actual show!


On Thursday morning last, I whispered to Gideon that he would not be taking a nap with his sisters that afternoon, but would be going somewhere very special with me and his Grandmother to receive an early birthday gift. His eyes lit up and he leaned in closely to whisper back excited nothings and to make sure I knew that he could keep a secret, and he spent the rest of the morning making exaggerated conspiratorial faces at me and patting Rebekah consolingly, even though she had no idea that when she woke up from her nap, we would have flown to Neverland without her. Our poor little Wendy girl…

But for that matter, Gideon had no idea we were going to Neverland, although I did divulge that his early gift was that we were taking him to his very first play…just so he wouldn’t spend the day conjuring up unrealistic birthday surprises of like, I don’t know, a helicopter ride or his very own living T-Rex.

“A play?” he asked, intrigued, “Like the one at Gabbie’s Kindergarten?!”

“Ummmm…it will be a little bit bigger than that.” I told him, my excitement growing into a fluttery little pit in my stomach.

By 1:00 p.m., the girls were asleep under Papa’s care, and we were on our way, an afternoon of relaxation and shopping – and food! – on the horizon, followed by our big night at the Performing Arts Center. I was kind of beside myself.

Gideon was such a good sport, sitting through a couple of hours at Anthropologie and A Pea in the Pod as his Mama got outfitted in a new maternity wardrobe: a week before, I had retrieved my maternity clothes from the attic to find that what remained was something they might dress a P.O.W in during a long Russian winter, and I nearly cried on the spot. The next day, my Mom offered to have mercy on me and take me for a little shopping spree if I could manage to get away early. I managed, and although I suppose we normally wouldn’t celebrate a little boy’s birthday by going shopping for maternity clothes, sometimes, necessity just calls with an urgency.

We broke up the monotony for him, though, with a short trip to Pottery Barn Kids, and then a 3:00 dessert at our favorite eatery in Tulsa, Queenie’s Plus. And please excuse me while I chase a rabbit…

Gideon was a curmudgeon of a baby (click here for more). He was claustrophobic, and grumpy and shackled by his own infancy, and I honestly couldn’t take him anywhere. Except for Queenie’s. They have an outdoor seating area on the sidewalk, and it became a refuge for us those first two years of his life – Mom and I could eat in peace, and he would happily watch the birds hopping around as he took in unlimited fresh air and solitude. It was the first public place I took him after he was born, and it was nearly THE only place we ate out until he was just past 2 years old.

And so there was something extremely touching about returning to that sidewalk table with him on this very monumental day as we sipped on coffee (and milk for him) and munched on our favorite desserts. I kept looking at him, trying to reconcile the little boy before me with the little baby I had brought here so frequently in years past, and I had to ask myself once more, “How is it possible that you can watch nearly every moment of their growth but not see it take place? Where did my baby go, dagnabit?!”

Anyhow, I am so grateful to have a place like Queenie’s to celebrate our special occasions, and the staff made such a big ado over Gideon’s upcoming birthday, even sending home some complimentary muffins to help him further celebrate the next morning. My heart was just overwhelmed to have this moment, at this place that had become like a second home to us over the years…

And it was here that my Mom handed Gideon a long, rectangular box wrapped in green and brown tissue paper and tied up with green string.

“Open it,” she said, “and it will help you guess which play we’ll be seeing tonight.”

Grinning, he tore into the box, eyes shining with that beautiful expression of innocent joy that children seem to have exclusive rights to.

Inside the package lay a brand new, size 7 Peter Pan costume, one that would actually fit! And one that would probably ensure that everyone we pass while Gideon is still wearing it to Wal-Mart as an 11-year old will know that he is homeschooled. His coolness will know no bounds…and it was as if Mom and I both realized at the same moment that we had not carried out this idea to it’s conclusion as it sunk in that we would be seeing this new costume for many, many years…well past the “cute” stage and more into the “sad” stage. Oh, well. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

“We’re going to see ‘Peter Pan’?!” he exclaimed.

Mom and I, leaning down at his eye level, hanging on his every word and reaction, laughed and giggled and clapped until I’m sure that everyone nearby either wanted to cry tears of sentimentality or maybe disgust at our obvious and overdone doting. Sorry, onlookers. We’re in love with the boy.

“Can I wear my new costume to the play?!” he asked.

“Uhhhhh…” I said, conflicted, for as eager as I was for him to get to wear his new costume and to match Peter Pan, you might remember that I had sworn when we saw Beauty and the Beast with my nieces that I would refrain from ever dressing my kid to match the star of the show we were seeing…unless we would be the only ones in costume, at a show like, say “Fiddler on the Roof”.

I was slightly joking when I said it, but not really, and now, as usual, my words were coming back to haunt me, and I cringed at the idea that I would look like an overindulgent mother as I toted around my own miniature Peter Pan among a sea of little boys and girls in Peter Pan and Tinkerbell costumes…

But later that night, after some more shopping and a fantastic supper at The Olive Garden, in the parking lot of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Gideon excitedly tore off his clothes and donned his brand new true-to-size costume, taking meticulous care in tucking his pants into his boots and securing his waist belt just so. As we made our way across the street and down the sidewalk, we had to stop every 5 steps or so to allow him to adjust his pants, his boots, his hat…

But finally, we reached the main entrance to the PAC. “Here we go…” I thought, ready to greet a roomful of identically dressed children hanging on the arms of their loving and indulgent mothers…

But boy, was I was wrong…


Did I say we would actually get to the play today? My mistake! But tune in tomorrow…the Grand Finale is coming up next!

(Read Part Three here).

How Boys Play in the Snow…How Girls Play in the Snow

I don’t want to get in trouble for making generalizations, but I couldn’t help but notice something as I went through all of our snow pictures yesterday…

I’ll just mostly let the pictures do the talking.


How Boys Play in the Snow

Make  a Snowman…


then tackle it.


OR make a Snowman…


then eat it.

(I don’t understand. It’s so…dirty! Boys are weird!!).


Snowballs fights are fun…


and the bigger the snowball, the better!!


When you run out of things to do, I don’t know…you could roll up a big snow-wheel…


and then you could, like, put it on top of each other.


and long after everyone else has gone inside, it’s still fun to just hang out in your Winter Wonderland…


eatin’ dirty snow and enjoyin’ the great outdoors.



How Girls Play in the Snow

Make a pristine and beautiful snowwoman and give her matching accessories…

(these are my beautiful nieces, Anna and Abigail! Love you, girls!!)


Or make heavenly snow angels with your sisters.

(and that’s little Kate there on the left. Love you, Katerbelle!)


Or pretend that you are a snow ballerina, dancing and twirling on the ice.


You get so excited to have a snowball fight with your brother…


until you (immediately) get hit in the face.


Snowball fight over.

(we have ALL been here, have we not, ladies?)


In fact, snow play over. Get me a blanket. I’m done.


And when all else fails and you have fully realized how miserably cold and wet it is outside…

(I know I used this photo yesterday, but I think it deserves to be seen over and over again).


Go inside where it is warm and read a book by the fire.



But thankfully, whether you’re a boy or a girl, and whether you play like a weirdo or a perfectly normal person, at the end of the day, when the snowball fights are over, and the tears are forgotten (and the dirty snow has somehow been digested), I’m glad we can all agree on on thing…

Hot Chocolate.

Heavy on the marshmallows.


Life is Nuts. Snow is Pretty.

Two weeks ago, I was terrified in the walk-in clinic waiting room.

One week ago, I thought I was dying from first trimester misery.

Three days ago, I felt like a new woman when I joined once more with my church family.

Yesterday, I had my second unexpected wave of internet “fame” this year after one of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker, shared my social media etiquette post and my site stats immediately exploded.

Last night, I didn’t need to wear a coat it was so nice.

And this morning, I woke up to…


That’s a picture of my backyard from my bedroom window.

All that to say, life is absolutely nuts, and you just never know what a day is going to bring.

But as we have observed together over the past two years on this blog, no matter what a day brings, and no matter what you’re going through, there is a level of beauty and abundance when life is lived according to the Word of God and when you are covered by the blood and grace of Jesus Christ.

Especially on snow days.

Miss Sunday and I woke up slowly this morning after one of the craziest nights of sleep our family has ever endured experienced. After hearing her bare feet patter out of my room (Miss Sunday does not pitter) and into the completely windowed laundry room, I heard her gasp.

“Mom!” she reverently breathed. “It’s snowing!!”

I let this knowledge sink into my very fuzzy and sleepy brain. They had forecasted snow. But I never believed it would actually happen…

We had been waiting for this moment for two long years, as forecast after forecast has left my kids disappointed, none greater than the Christmas Day powdering we were almost certainly supposed to receive. (We didn’t).

Miss Sunday had been a wee little tyke the last time she had really played in the snow, and I had looked forward to this moment all winter.

Although I will admit, my excitment was immediately tempered by the thought that I would be spending the next two hours or so dressing and undressing three children and mopping up melted snow from my entryway. But this is motherhood. I should have gotten over these things long ago.

After I peeled the cobwebs out of my brain and eyeballs, Gid, Sunday and I bounded up the stairs to retrieve Baby Betsie from her crib. I don’t know who was more atwitter about introducing her to the white world that awaited her, but I’m pretty sure it was the big, pregnant lady with the frizzy hair (who has a  heart of gold, by the way). Standing in front of the large double window in their nursery, all four of us ooohed and aaahed, and Gideon noted that “God must have decided to do something nice for us since we pray to Him all the time.”

“He must have!” I agreed. “We should thank Him.”

“Thank you, God!” Gideon yelled out the window.

“Thank you, God!” his sister copied, before adding, “I LOVE you!”

One cup of coffee and a “Peppa Pig” episode later we were scrambling around like crazy people, flinging hats and mittens and scarves and long johns all over the place in our haste to be ready to play by the time Papa made it up the hill to watch us. I had one driving motivation: we had to make it out there before the fat flakes tapered off or I would be a miserable failure of a mother who cares more about coffee than children.

And by jove…we succeeded!

Once ready, I surveyed my handiwork.

Be still my heart.

Do you remember days like this? Getting all bundled up with your siblings? Being so excited that God sent you a gift from the sky? Having nothing else on your entire horizon except enjoying what was right in front of your face?

Sweet, precious childhood. My favorite of all created things.


It was the most perfect snow I’ve ever seen, the kind that makes building snowmen and creating snowballs as easy as pie. And the giant, fluffly flakes that fell down as my kids played were like something out of Narnia.

If only we had a lamppost and a Faun.

Oh, well. Maybe next year.


Miss Sunday approved of her new winter playground.


And Baby Betsie reached up in wonder to touch the flakes that were landing gently onto our porch…


before swiftly deciding that, just like she doesn’t care for swimming pools and sprinklers, she doesn’t care for snow.


In fact, she hates it.


But she loves her Papa.


As unique and particular are the difficulties of life in the ministry, so are the perks, one of which being that Papa can come play in the snow with us while the time is right.

He may have to work on Saturday now, but…how could we have missed this morning with him by our side?

(Please excuse the dirty, grouchy snowman who is still staring at me through our office window. I think he wants to kill me…).


I will share more funny things about our playtime tomorrow, but for now, I’ll conclude with this: by the time they had shucked all their wet clothes and only long john bottoms remained, my eldest children were wound up. Drinking hot chocolate and eating grilled cheese sandwiches right in front of the fireplace topped off what must have been to them the perfect morning…


And If they don’t fully realize it now, they will. The only reason we have days like this is because God is good and His mercy endures forever.

We know who butters our bread…

and who sends us our snow.

Thank you, God, for all of it.


And I’d like to give a hearty “welcome!” to everyone who joined up with Mrs. Gore’s Diary yesterday! Your kind words and comments just absolutely made my day, and I am so very glad to have you along.


Want to read about more of our snow adventures? Here is one of my first (and favorite) posts: How to Survive When Snowbound

The Best Days…

The best days are not necessarily holidays or Christmas-bonus days or personal achievement days.

They are the days when you wake up in January to 70-degree weather. You have your husband open the bedroom windows before he goes to the shower and you lay in your bed for a near hour just drinking in the fresh, balmy air that shoots a steady breeze right across your pillows.

They are the days when you make yourself a breakfast tray and sit in your bed with the windows still open, slowly drinking your coffee and orange juice and marveling over how beautiful an ordinary day can be.


They are the days when your Princess lays on her fluffy pillow bed nearby, gazing out at her Kingdom and mirroring your own appreciation for nature and fresh air. “Doing good, Mudder?” she regally asks as you continue to sip your coffee. “Doing REALLY good,” you answer, thinking that only the addition of a ladies’ maid could make this morning better. (Cause somebody’s got to fix that hair…)


They are the days when you dress how you want and you spend the hours how you want, and the only thing you need is a good friend to give you a push or two.




They are the days when you sit on the front porch and watch your greatest blessings, and you think you might just be tasting Eden…





You thank God all day for the reminder of what life should be like, and you pray over your children, yearning for the day when all of you will live, and work, and play there forever. Together.


I think we should have more days like this, don’t you?…

(And I mean that).