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Family Kids

Happy 18th Birthday, Joshua!

It’s true that time really does fly. I can’t believe that today we are celebrating our firstborn’s 18th birthday. It truly does seem like yesterday we were bringing home that 9 lb. 12 oz bundle of cuteness. In honor of Joshua’s birthday, today I’m sharing 10 favorite things that have to do with Joshua.

1. His sense of humor. He’s so funny with his sly jokes. One time Jeremy commented that Joshua and I have a similar sense of humor to which Joshua replied, “No, we don’t.” I was shocked, because we actually do. Then, he added, “I’m funny.” Yep. There it is. That sense of humor!

2. When Joshua was about 7, we were living in Texas for a sabbatical time. Jeremy told Joshua he would pay him $3 to pick up all the sticks in the backyard. A couple of hours later we find Emma Grace picking up sticks and Joshua in his room. We asked Emma Grace what she was doing, and she happily replied that her brother was paying her $1 to pick up all the sticks. We didn’t know whether to be mad or to laugh in that moment!

3. His sensitivity to the feelings of others. It’s a beautiful thing.

4. His love for learning and reading. I’m always impressed by his thirst for knowledge.

5. When he was 3 or 4, we had a weekly evening gathering at our house. It always went way past Joshua’s bedtime, so we would put him to bed while everyone was still there. One night in particular he couldn’t stand being in bed while everyone was downstairs, so he got up and sat at the bottom of the stairs in a spot where it was hard to see him, but he could hear what was going on. Of course, we discovered he was there and took him back to bed. It happened again, so we told him to stay in bed or we would take his nightlight out of his room. We thought that would do the trick, so we were shocked when we discovered him at the bottom of the stairs again. We were even more shocked when he handed us the nightlight. Guess we chose the wrong punishment!

6. I love being able to have an intelligent conversation with him while learning interesting facts about just about anything. It always keeps the conversation interesting.

7. This video of his 12th birthday.

8. I love that he’s not afraid to say what he thinks or wants.

9. That smile of his. Melts this mama’s heart!

10. Most of all, I love Joshua for who he is, because who he is is pretty great!

Happy 18th birthday, Joshua! I love you with all my heart!

Africa Family Thoughts Travel

Human Life Is Valuable

It’s been a little over two years since I posted anything in this space. So much has happened in those two years from saying goodbye to our home of twelve years to moving continents to where we are now – fighting against the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.

My daughter and I just returned from South Africa a week ago. I was in transit during that dreadful 9/11 day in 2001. I was supposed to fly when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, but our flight was canceled, and we ended up stuck in London for a week. I’ve flown during some crazy times, but flying during the COVID-19 pandemic was a little unnerving. Our flight from London to Dallas was packed, because lots of people were re-routed through there since Dallas was one of a handful of airports doing health screenings. We received a health questionnaire on the plane. I totally expected thorough checks and vetting. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. Immigration was a breeze. No one even asked for our questionnaires let alone suggested we self-quarantine. It made this virus seem like no big deal although I knew this wasn’t the case.

We decided to self-quarantine anyway. I believe I’m healthy enough to fight this thing off, but if I’m a carrier, well, human life is way too valuable for me to be careless going around spreading this to others, especially the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. I think I can hunker down at home with my favorite people in the world in an attempt to flatten the curve. I just wish everyone would do the same. If we’re going to stop this dead in its tracks, we’ve got to let go of our freedom for a moment and just stay home.

There’s a lot of fear and a lot of unknown out there. I’ve decided as a daily practice to try and spread a little joy through this blog of mine. Who knows what I’ll post, but I do hope it will bring a smile in the midst of everything going on right now.

Love you all. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be smart.


meet posey…what it’s like living with a jack russell


The sudden loss of Snowy brought a lot of emotions into the household. We all grieved her terribly. The house was so incredibly silent. We knew we could never replace her, but the kids really wanted another dog. We thought it would be a good way to bring healing, so we visited Pro Life Pet Rescue and Rehabilitation. We were thoroughly impressed with them and the way they cared for the animals. We were excited to rescue a dog and give it a loving home.

We went to visit, and surprisingly, both kids fell in love with the same dog. They don’t agree on much these days, so we thought we should jump on it. There was just one small hitch. This particular puppy was a Jack Russell, and I was apprehensive that we were a Jack Russell family. I never owned a Jack Russell, but several years ago, when my brother-in-law and his family lived with us for about 6 weeks, they got one. That dog drove me crazy. I had actually forgotten about that dog until I read the list of traits attributed to this particular breed…intelligent, vocal, high energy, fearless, stubborn. I felt like this was about as opposite as we could have gotten from Snowy which is why I kept asking the kids, “Are you sure we’re a Jack Russell family?” They assured me we were.


And so we went back a few days later and adopted Posey. When the gal told us we could get her out of the pen and bring her to the office, I turned around to see her waiting at the gate looking at us. It was the sweetest thing ever. I guess she was ready for a home, for our home.

But let me just tell you what life is like living with a Jack Russell. It’s basically like living with a 2 year old on steroids.

First, they trick you with their cute looks. I mean look at that face. Isn’t she the cutest?


Once they appeal to your emotions, the fun begins. They desire to be the top dog, the dominant one in the family, and their stubborn, fearless nature means they will do anything to secure their place there. To come against this, I used her food. She loves her food. She acts like she hasn’t eaten in weeks when we feed her. I’ve trained her that she was to sit and stay while her food is being poured. After I put it down, I say EAT, and she knows that’s her cue to eat. I was amazed at how quickly she learned to do this.

Because she loves to eat, she doesn’t seem to know the difference between what she should eat and what she can eat. She didn’t get the memo that chocolate and caffeine = bad for dogs. She found a Hershey’s kiss in EG’s room (keep your door closed, honey!) and sniffs out fallen coffee beans under the coffee bar. Seriously, this tough, hearty dog is giving her system a workout!

Everything is a toy to Jack Russells. My backyard looks like a land mine from all the digging. Seriously, is this dog trying to get to China? And all the toilet paper. Oh, my. If it’s slightly hanging over the edge, she grabs it and runs with it. Twice in one day she unrolled 2 whole rolls of toilet paper. It’s amazing how fast that can actually be done. She loves car rides, but I don’t necessarily take her because she loves them. I take her because I don’t trust her alone inside or outside my house!


They get bored pretty easily (hence the toilet paper saga), so I basically give her trash to keep her entertained. Empty peanut butter container? Here, puppy. Empty plastic pot after replanting a plant? Here, puppy. She runs off with these items like she’s just scored gold. And she has. For about 5 minutes, and then she’s so over it.

Their minds are like sponges. They are incredibly smart and love learning new things, so teaching tricks are fun…except when she’s feeling particularly stubborn. We’re currently working on high five.

At the end of the day, after all that digging, toilet paper unraveling, mischief making, and trick learning come the cute cuddles. It’s amazing how energetic and passionate this dog can be one minute and how sweet the next. She loves being affectionate and cuddling in your lap. It’s a good thing, too. It helps erase all havoc she wreaked throughout the day. Sort of.


I read somewhere that Jack Russells, even though they are small, think they are big dogs. They will even attack a doberman for looking at them the wrong way. The vet told me that if a Jack Russell doesn’t die of old age, it dies from chasing a car and getting hit or from a snake bite. They are fearless! I think Shakespeare was thinking of this breed when we wrote the line, “Though she be but little, she is fierce!” There’s something annoying about it but also something I love about all the drama wrapped up in this little package.

Here’s to owning a Jack Russell and not losing my sanity.


a tribute to snowy


If you follow me on Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, then you likely saw that we lost our sweet Snowy girl on Father’s Day. It was so very unexpected. She was a healthy 3 1/2 year old lab mix that adored our family, and we adored her. Literally, on Sunday she was playing fetch with us in the backyard, and a week later she died. We still don’t know what happened to her. She stopped eating a few days before she died, but the vet was monitoring her and even the day before she died, her vitals were good. He said he never would have guessed that she would have died the next day. He requested to perform an autopsy at his expense and still didn’t find answers. Everyone was left puzzled. He said you think you know everything, and then a case comes along that you can’t explain. Unfortunately she was that case.

It’s ironic. I was the one that dug my heels in the sand on getting a dog. My kids fell in love with Snowy when she was just a few days old. The dogs at the school they went to that year had puppies, and the kids got to play with them and walk them every day. Snowy was the runt of the litter, and she seemed to bond with the kids as much as they bonded with her. When they begged for a puppy, I gave in. Little did I know that she would grab my heart, too.

I’ve felt silly for grieving the loss of a dog so much. If you’ve never had a family pet, then you might think I am silly. If you have, then perhaps you’ll understand. You’ll understand how much they become a part of your family.

Snowy was our first family pet. I write this post as a marker of remembrance to look back on and reminisce on the fun times we had with her and the silly quirks that made her Snowy…

  • I loved the way she greeted us when we walked in the door like we’d been gone for months. Every.single.time.
  • This poor dog. I keep telling her that bees & frogs are not her friends. She doesn't listen too well. Tonight the bees won.
  • She never met a frog or bee she didn’t like…even when her friendliness backfired on her. The foaming mouth and swollen face didn’t teach her the lesson the first time around. It was pitiful and funny at the same time.
  • She might have thought frogs and bees were her friend, but thunderstorms were always her enemy. Her safe place was the shower. Emma Grace would lovingly cover her up with a blanket and bring her a pillow to ease her fear until the storm passed.
  • When the rain is just too scary.
  • She LOVED car rides. All you had to say was, “You want to go for a ride?” She would race to the back door and wait for you to open it. She would dart out the door and wait at the back of the car until you opened the hatch for her. 
  • She loved the car but thought the back windshield wipers were a fierce enemy. For fun, we would turn them on. She would bark and growl as they wiped the glass. It was hilarious.
  • She would run along our fence bending down to see past the wooden lads. She barked at every passerby outside the fence, but if that same person came inside the house, she would excitedly bring them her ball in hopes of playing. She loved people and even made friends all over the world.
  • She learned lots of tricks including sit, lay down, roll over, high five, and shake. When it was treat time, she would just do an entire round of tricks in that order to make the process faster, so she could enjoy her treat!
  • She loved to play keep away which is why fetch didn’t work so well with her. She would go get the ball, but part of the fun for her was you chasing her to get the ball to throw it again.
  • She absolutely adored the kids and loved to be fair to them. Every night she would start out sleeping with Emma Grace. Halfway through the night, she would move to Joshua’s room. She wanted each of them to have a turn.
  • If I slept too late in the morning, she would come upstairs to wake me up. It was never because she needed to go outside. It was because she would get lonely and wanted someone to get up. When I would hear her coming, I would roll over with my back toward her. If she saw my back, she would let me sleep, but if she saw my face, she would nose me until I got up.
  • Popcorn and peanut butter were her favorites. These were the snacks at her 1st birthday party. 🙂
  • Decided to bring Snowy along for today's family outing. She might not have gotten a pancake at Harrie's but she sure is enjoying her peanut butter.
  • She was not a loud dog, but she would moan loudly at the weirdest times (like staff meetings). It was hilarious.

So, yeah, we (I) miss this sweet dog loads. I wish we could have found out what took her life too soon. The vet assured us that we did everything right, and I have no doubt that was deeply loved and cared for while she lived with us. She could never be replaced, but we have brought a new puppy into our home. Tune in tomorrow to meet the new addition.

Family Thoughts

teaching kids to be honest

I count being called "Mom" a privilege, especially when it's coming from these two. Happy Mother's Day!

Well, I don’t know what you’ve experienced, but it seems that many kids go through a lying phase. At the first hint of a lie, it’s easy to freak out and go all postal. No one teaches their kids to lie. We stress telling the truth, so why would they do it? Well, kids like to test the boundaries. The key is how we, as parents, are going to handle that. Please click over to Tommy Nelson to read my thoughts on what it means to be honest and how to teach our kids to continually choose honesty. And share your thoughts, too!