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Friday Links & Things: The First Edition

5 of the 6 Reasons I get up in the morning

Friday Links & Things is a new idea.  A place to put the things that aren’t quite enough to warrant a blog post, but are still worthy of a share.  Like fine wine, I expect it will get better with time.

From my iPhone/Instagram

Post-it notes from my son

Do your kids leave you notes? One of our sons likes to leave me post-it notes about his math work (he’s homeschooled). He makes me laugh. 

We never know what you’ll find in our pool

 Living in Florida you never know what you’ll find in your pool.  Still, I have to admit I was a bit surprised when the boys found a crawfish ALIVE in our pool this morning…How do you think it got there? The kids are obsessed with telling me their various theories this morning.

Click Here:

This summer we are all about our Yonanas Machine and making every frozen concoction known to man.  If you don’t know what a Yonanas machine is you really need to check it out. You take frozen fruit and turn it into a soft serve ice cream like dessert—without the dairy.

Have you heard about the Orbitz debacle? The Wallstreet Journal headline read: On Orbitz Mac Users steered to pricier hotels.  Basically, Orbitz marketing has revealed that Mac users tend to spend 30% more on hotels. So now Orbitz is using that information to steer them towards the pricier options. Orbitz shot back on USA Today claiming that they don’t really charge Mac Users more than Windows users—they are just “personalizing results” with the higher priced options.  Do you use Orbitz?

My latest online obsession is the Sheknows Mommalogues  I think they really need a Mother of 5 on there.  You know, someone like…. me. I’m just saying.  That’s a total hint. I’m sure they’ve just misplaced my email address. I’m on Twitter ya’ll!

If you are on Pinterest check out my Summer Entertaining board. I’m just itching to plan a summer party. Are you?

Lately I’ve been obsessed with Sweet Tea, drinking it and finding recipes. Did you know that Sweet Tea isn’t just for drinking any more? Do you have a sweet tea recipe that is the absolute best? Please share it with me in the comments. I’m experimenting with Sweet Tea Recipes. So far I’ve only come up with buying a gallon of Chick Fil-a Sweet Tea.  I need to try harder I think.

Speaking of tea, Tetly is looking for consumers who think they have the best Iced Tea Recipe to submit their recipes by email to:   To enter: include your contact information, full ingredient list and methodology by June 30th. The winner will be announced by July 9, 2012 and is limited to US Residents only.

Friday Links & Things is inspired by my friend Laura at Hollywood Housewife.  She also inspired me to answer the 7 questions that scare me. Be sure to check out her links this weekend, I know I will be.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

5 Tips for taking baby to the beach

Nothing says summer like a trip to the beach, but what if you have a baby or young toddler? Can you still take a trip to the beach?
Don’t worry,  with a little preparation you can still enjoy a day at the beach with your baby or young toddler.  

Here are 5 Tips for taking baby to the beach:


Don’t forget the sunscreen! If you have older children you probably remember the rule of waiting until children were at least 6 months old before applying sunscreen. That rule no longer applies according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  It is now recommended that children under 6 months of age avoid direct sun exposure (hats, lightweight clothing, umbrellas etc) and it is recommended that you use sunscreen on any exposed skin (face and back of hands).  For children 6 months and older it is recommended that you apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 1-2 hours (depending on fairness of skin).  You may want to consider getting into the habit of applying sunscreen each morning during the summer months.
 Visit Skin Deep’s Sunscreen data base and pick out a SAFE  sunscreen for you and your baby!
Don’t forget a hat!  An easy trick to getting your children used to wearing hats is to start early.  All of my children have always worn hats at the beach without fail and without problem. Look for a light weight, wide-brimmed hat that it ties or snaps. My personal favorite, the floppy hat, is available from Hanna Anderson. They are machine washable and have been passed down to our 5th child and are still going strong!

Make it entertaining (and easy for you).  Sure there is a big ocean out there, but do you really want to chase your child up and down the beach and worry about the waves and a strong tide?  Bring a plastic or blow up pool to the beach, place it under an umbrella and add water  (from the ocean of course) throw in a couple shells and water toys and you are set! You can now relax as your baby crawls in/out of the pool, splashes and plays in the sand. Your child is protected from the sun under the umbrella too which will make the added set up worth it.
For infants under 6 months of age consider bringing a portable beach crib with sunshade. This model provides sun protection and good ventilation to keep baby cool.
Bring a large selection of sand toys. You can never have enough, no matter how many children or sand toys you have.  There is something about digging in the sand or water that kids love.  Use it to your advantage by bringing a large selection. You may want to consider bringing a net bag with the toys or the Transporter Beach Cart with tableWhen it’s time to go my kids all help rinse the toys off before we put them in the bag.
Even a 15 month old can do this!
Stay hydrated!
Stay hydrated and ditch the Sippy Cups!  Although infants under 6 months shouldn’t drink water (babies 6-11 months should drink modest amounts), you can still keep your baby hydrated by giving her extra formula or by nursing more frequently.  Aim to increase the hydration by at least 50% when on the beach.  The easiest way to keep everyone hydrated at the beach is to bring a long sports bottles of water. If you don’t want to bring a cooler just freeze a couple and take them to the beach in your beach bag or diaper bag.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

7 Questions that scare me & 3 for fun!

This past weekend I was inspired to “Blog Dangerously” by another writer/blogger that I had an opportunity to spend time with at the Type A Conference.  Just saying those words makes my heart race with excitement. For me it means writing without FEAR of judgement.  

Here are 7 questions that scare me & 3 for fun!

How do you do it all?

Quite simply, I don’t.  I sleep about 4-5 hours per night due to my insomnia.  I have an extraordinary amount of energy, my husband refers to me as “a machine” and he’s not always bragging about that. I thrive being busy. I cannot relax. On vacation it takes me 2 days to turn off my brain and I have to go far, far, away if I need to be still. Where there is nothing to do but be still.  That said, we have a housekeeper to keep the house going and although we don’t currently have a nanny, we’ve had one in the past, sporadically.  We use babysitters and mother’s helpers too.  We don’t have family to rely on for childcare or  neighbors who want to watch our kids. If it’s not my husband and/or I watching the kids we have to pay someone. 

Why do you homeschool when you can afford private school?

There are many reasons to homeschool and it’s not just about religion or not being able to afford Private School. I don’t think there is any right answer to this question. There is only OUR answer.  Quite simply, it works for us. It works for our family and we believe that it is the best place for our kids to be right now.  We put a lot into their education and our time together as a family.  We believe, as in most things, you get what you put into it.   Our children are thriving and learning because  we invest in our children’s education and each of them as individuals.  Travel is also a big part of our lifestyle and we use it as a tool for their education. You can follow along on our homeschooling adventures on our homeschool blog, Passport Academy.  Our homeschool isn’t perfect, but we see the blessings.  Our decision to homeschool is just one parental choice (out of many) that we make for our children.  It isn’t a reflection or response to anything you may choose to do, or not do. Please give us the same respect.

Do you ever worry about your husband cheating on you when he’s on the road?

No.  I am well aware that a marriage can fall apart or a spouse can cheat whether they work in town or on the road.  I choose not to live my life worrying about things that would never cross my mind to do and project them onto my spouse. I don’t have a magic formula or a concrete reason to give.  Giving one would mean that I believe that I have control over whether or not a spouse would cheat or that they have control over me.  I don’t believe this. Of course you need to work on your marriage, but ultimately, it comes down to trust. I don’t worry about my husband cheating on me because I trust him. He has never given me reason not to.  Not every man/woman who travels is a cheat and not every man/woman who works in town is faithful.

5 of the 6 Reasons I get up in the morning

Why do you have so many children?

We never set out to have a specific amount of children, although I do recall once saying I wanted 4-6 children when we got married.  We think our children are a blessing. We can afford to raise the children we have. We enjoy parenting.  We believe this is the size family we were meant to have.  There isn’t one in the bunch we want to return. Go figure?

Bean’s Dedication

How did you get a baby so fast?

Our youngest daughter, Bean, formerly known as Little Sister was placed into our arms through the miracle/gift of adoption.  We used a traditional method for domestic adoption —we went through a local domestic placement agency that had a flat rate agency fee ($25,000).  We were told the average adoption could take up to 2 years.  There is not however “a list”.  You are chosen by the birth mother/father who are placing their child.  Several families are presented at once.  I believe our particular story was an answer to prayer.  I prayed for unusual sense of peace and speed.   Although it was not without heartache and worry.  I now believe all adoptions have their share of drama.  There is a labor involved in having a child whether you have that child through adoption or give birth from your own womb.  I do not know who to call to get a baby fast.  Building a family is not like buying a handbag. However, if you would like to know how to get a Birkin bag fast, I’ve got a few tips.

Is it true you were a model?

Yes, I modeled for about 10 years throughout the United States, South Africa and Greece. I have been represented by Ford Models, Michelle Pommier and Wilhelmenia (to name a few). I primarily did Catalog and some editorial. I walked the runway once for Betsy Johnson and it was both thrilling and terrifying.  I also posed for Playboy Magazine when I was 22 years old.  While I did not have a “bad experience” with it at the time, it has proven to be an occasional roadblock in my current life and it is something that I don’t believe is in line with my religious beliefs.  I don’t talk about it because it’s a non-issue to me. I have moved on with my life. There is a fine line between shame and choosing not to glorify something. I don’t feel shame. (Romans 8:1)   However some women have tried to shame me in my life.  They don’t want to accept that I am a homeschool mother, a housewife,  or a Christian because I made a choice that is not in line with the person they see before them, or their perceptions of what a woman or Christian is.  They want to believe that  I am not who I say I am. Rather than, believe that I am a new person with a different testimony than them.  My friends in real life are generally SHOCKED and bust out laughing when they find out. I am extremely shy and no I’m not an exhibitionist. No one could be more shocked than my friends, family or ex-husband when the issue came out.   I honestly really didn’t think anyone would ever see that issue.  Seriously.  Stop laughing Laura.  

How did you get such a perfect life?

I don’t have a perfect life, but I have the perfect life for me.  I have survived childhood sexual abuse, divorce, being a step mother, infertility and the day to day pains of being a woman on this earth.  I am grateful for the blessings, I now embrace the trials and I try to move on with grace. 

 What kind of car do you drive to fit your family?

This is my FAVORITE question because it was so thrilling for me to find the “perfect” vehicle for our family.  We drive an extended GMC Savana. It seats 9 extremely comfortably! I am working on a video tour of this vehicle because I love it so much…and no this isn’t a sponsored post. We have no affiliation with the company, outside of being a customer.

Have you stopped blogging?

I have not stopped blogging, but my blogging has become erratic. It needed to because of some things going on in our personal life.  However, I’m pleased to announce that I’m working on a special relaunch of this blog to debut on July 16th.  I am looking forward to blogging more intentionally and regularly on the things that interest me: Family, Faith, Organizing, Decorating, Party Planning, Homemaking, Mothering, Shopping, Beauty/Fashion and whatever else is on my mind. 

Playing Dress Up is still fun

Why do you call yourself a Trophy Mom sometimes?

It’s a joke.  I’m the 2nd wife to a man 15 years older than me. That makes me a “Trophy Wife” although we joke I’m more into being the “Trophy Mom” because instead of being a lady who lunches, I’m a lady who homeschools and loves being with her kids & doing everything I can to make their childhood the opposite of mine.  I don’t really fit into any specific niche and I’ve decided to just embrace that. I’ve always been a bit of a walking dichotomy.  I also think motherhood deserves a trophy. Don’t you?

This post is part of Angie’s Top Ten Tuesday, and the iHomeschool Network’s 10 week series “10 in 10.”

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Type-A Parent Rookie

Today I flew into Charlotte, North Carolina with our 5 kids and 2 babysitters.  One of whom strangers frequently mistake as my oldest teenage daughter (although she isn’t a teen), which makes me feel both old and flattered. She is a beautiful young woman and I like that as we wrangle kids together we look like a giant family…and let’s face it. I like giant families—hence the 5 kids, which I realize isn’t so giant…but tell that to the strangers that count my children out loud as we walk by!

We came to Charlotte not for a vacation, although it feels like it to my kids, but for the Type A Parent Conference.  It is a blogging conference that I have never attended.  However, right after the high of Blissdom, everyone was asking, “Are you going to Type-A next?” and I did something crazy and signed up right in the airport lounge, while we waited for our flight back home.

type-a parent conference

Now I’m here…and truth be told, I’m nervous.  I’m missing my peeps and I’m nervous about  making some new peeps.

Something people don’t seem to immediately recognize about me is that I’m extremely shy. I want to talk to people, but I freeze up.  I have no idea how to make small talk.  I’m so much braver when I have a job to do…and I don’t have a job. 

But I’m here.  I’m open to learning new things and meeting new people…and next year I won’t be wearing the rookie badge!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

The Comfortable Christian

Today I was convicted that I am a Comfortable Christian.  

Simply put,  I am a Christian when it is comfortable.

If it is uncomfortable?  Well, then I’m not so sure it is for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t gone as far as to say that I am NOT a Christian when it gets uncomfortable. I am not like Peter after all.
Or maybe I have?   

Maybe I am just like Peter?

Put me in a room of believers and I will share and proclaim the truth of God’s word with the best of them.
Put me in that same room, but with a room of unbelievers, and I will be the most politically correct person you’ve ever met.

I don’t want to offend anyone.  
Even if Christ is offended.  Especially, if Christ is offended.
This goes beyond judgement (Matthew 7:1) and refraining from judging others so you won’t be judged. (Luke 6:37)
That is the lie that I believe that Comfortable Christians tell themselves.  
I tell myself that I’m  just refraining from proclaiming the truth of God’s word because I am not called to judge.  And that is true.   
We are called not to judge.  We are called to love one another. That means everyone.
But we are also called to proclaim the truth of God’s word, are we not?
I am uncomfortable sharing the truth of God’s word when it is not comfortable or easy to do so.
Simply put, I am uncomfortable sharing the truth that I KNOW  has the power to SAVE and TRANSFORM lives; because I do not want to be: called out, heckled, confronted, challenged, bullied, criticized, ostracized or unfriended on Facebook because of it.

Let’s face it. I don’t want to be unpopular.

I am just like Peter was.  Except he was facing being killed and tortured.
I just want everyone to like me.  Actually that’s not true either.  I just want it to APPEAR that everyone likes me.  I already know it’s impossible to be liked by everyone.  
In reality,
 I want the LIE of appearance over the TRUTH of  salvation.

I am a Comfortable Christian.

Are you?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.