🎄Day 3: Friends Forever

Want to hear something crazy? My closest friends are girls that I met in middle school.


Those awkward years you’re supposed to hate and look back on with loathing and embarrassment!

Middle school, and my whole schooling experience actually, was pretty fantastic {outside of developing the insane acne I still struggle with as I enter my 30’s…Some people just never grow up, right?}.

This ornament was a gift from a friend that feels way more like a sister these days. In high school we would joke about how we were going to be friends forever and one day join the Red Hat Society together. This isn’t all the girls, we’re specifically missing Sabrina in this Red Hat mix, but they just didn’t make an ornament with enough women on it to portray the amazing friendships I’ve been gifted with all these years.

Who knew that during those years when most people find themselves lost in adolescence, I would find myself found by girls who would really know me, love me, and accept me for a lifetime. Julie, Stacey, Courtney, Sabrina….thank you for always being there no matter the span of time between texts, calls, coffee chats, and dinner dates. I love you all so dearly.

My Christmas wish would be that everyone could know friendship the way I do, and that they would hang an ornament on their tree each year to remind them just how richly blessed they are.

With love, Mal

🎄Day 2: Tiny Dancers


Seven or eight year old me walked down the hallway of our three bedroom/two bath house on Summerwood Drive toward the voice of my mother. I can still see the grayish-blue carpet, visualize passing the bathroom on the left before the hallway emptied out into our living area. My mom was sitting at the dining table they still have, balancing her checkbook in the same way that I’m sure she still does.

“You’re going to start dance class on Tuesdays.”

And that’s all I really remember. I don’t remember if I asked to start dance, or if it was my parents’ idea, but the following Tuesday I showed up at Tumble ‘n Dance and started gymnastics, ballet, and tap classes. My stage debut was shuffling my ribbon-tied tap shoes to the Andrew Sisters belting

“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”. Over the next ten years, I would also take lyrical, jazz, modern, hip hop, and dabble a toe in pointe.

I grew up being pretty shy, from what I can remember. I’ve always been introverted. But there was something about dance that brought me out of my shell. There was something about the stage that made me feel safe and more like myself than anywhere else. There was something about a wall of mirrors and an empty floor that felt like home.

I still love to dance. It’s an outlet of release for pent up emotions and a way I sometimes worship when I am happy and don’t have the words to say.

I miss taking formal classes sometimes. But as I hang up all of the tiny dancer ornaments on my tree, I’m thankful for all of the memories and friendships and experiences dance gave me. It definitely influenced who I am today.

With love, Mal

🎄Day 1: A Silver, Sparkly Forever

You know how people will say, “This picture just doesn’t do it justice”? Well, I think this picture does it too much justice, kind of like selfies on Instagram {thank you, portrait mode}.

It’s super lightweight because it’s made of styrofoam with a silver, plastic cap. It’s rough to the touch because of all of the sparkly glitter that was glued on over three decades ago.

This December marks 32 years since my parents said I do in a small church ceremony and this sparkly bauble was one of their first ornaments on their first Christmas trees. When I moved out, I took one with me, and it reminds me that no marriage is perfect, but it can be forever.

With love, Mal

25 Days of Christmas Memories

Just like many others, the span between Thanksgiving Day and New Years Day is my most favorite time of the year. We see family and friends that we haven’t seen in a while, we eat delicious foods, and our house becomes more beautiful with lit garland draped over furniture, vintage Santas and snowmen sitting about on table tops and bookshelves, and of course, the glow of our Christmas tree.

Last year we were between houses at this time, so by the time we moved into our home mid-December, we hastily threw the tree up and called it a season. This year however, we put our tree up the first week in November. I think we all felt like we needed a little Christmas redemption after last year’s last minute, half-hearted attempt at decorating. And as we pulled out all of our beloved ornaments to fill it’s boughs, I felt a sentimental welling inside my chest as I unwrapped each one and found the perfect branch on which to hang it.

Our tree is pretty. It is. But it’s no Macy’s special. Nothing matches, except the fact that it’s only white lights. It has no theme except Random. Or maybe Love. Or probably Memory.

Each ornament holds a thought, a memory of auld lang syne, and as I hang it up, I can feel it, see it…hear it, smell it, taste it. So this year, I thought I would share some of those memories with you.

Each day leading up to Christmas, I will post a picture of one ornament with a little story about why we have it or what it means to me. I hope you enjoy taking a peek inside my home, my tree, my heart. And as you relate to a story, or as one of my memories sparks one of yours, I hope you will share it with me; either in the comments here, or on one of my social media pages.

I believe the best thing we can share at the holidays are not things that can be bought in a store, but rather things shared from the heart.

Hope you see you again tomorrow!

With love, Mal

Holistic Homeschool Mommy Show and Tell Time

I had waited long enough. I had put it off and put it off, but at some point, it had to be done. The blankets and beach towels from the hall closet were boxed up, clothes that weren’t going to be worn were packed away…I had even packed up toys and kitchen ware…it was just time.

Time to open the dreaded doors of the bathroom cabinet and sort through the mess of medicines and random bandaid wrappers, unused bottles of Bath & Body Works smelly lotions and half-used sunscreens, bottles of nail polish remover, stray Q-Tips, and {hopefully} find all the fingernail clippers that always seem to go missing.

Does everyone have a drawer or cabinet like this in their house? Please say yes.

As I was sorting through, throwing out, and placing rare keepable items in a smaller packing box, I was flabbergasted at all of the unused and expired over-the-counter drugs we had under there. Nyquil, Sudafed, Halls throat lozenges, Pepto Bismol, Mucinex, Claritin, Benadryl, Advil, Tylenol, Advil, Advil, Advil! {Tim used to get a lot of headaches before we got on regular chiropractic care, and my back and left shoulder would constantly hurt, so pain relievers were abundant.}

It was then that I realized how much holistic living and healthcare had changed our lives. We had slowly over the last 3-5 years switched to natural remedies from the artificial, man-made, chemically-charged drugs that never cured the problem, but just masked the symptoms. Each one of those OTC drugs listed above were thrown out that day and never purchased again. We didn’t need them. They had been replaced by all-natural solutions that actually heal the root cause of our symptoms, and when taken regularly or at the first onset of an illness, actually prevented our viruses, bacterial and fungal infections, and even allergies from ever happening in the first place.

Want to take a peek into our current medicine cabinet?

Come on in. I’ll pour you a cup of virtual coffee {How do you take it? Black? Cream and a pack of Stevia? Heck, I’ll even let you have some of my hubby’s peppermint mocha creamer…}. Pull up a chair and we can chat about the healthcare supplements that have changed our lives.

But before we start, I want to make a disclaimer: I’m not trying diagnose or cure your disease. This is simply Holistic Homeschool Mommy Show and Tell Time. I’m just sharing these products, and giving my testimony. And for any Devil’s Advocates out there, you won’t change my mind. The proof is in the pudding for us. Our kids are seven, five, three, and one. None of them have ever been prescribed or taken an antibiotic. None of them have ever been diagnosed with an ear infection. Mason will be two in January, and he has never had a sick visit. Yes, he’s had runny noses and a cough once or twice, but they were all healed at home by his own miraculous, God-made body with the assistance of chiropractic adjustments and a few of these remedies. We do believe in the miracle of modern medicine and will take our children to the doctor if they don’t seem to respond to our natural remedies first. However, these remedies just almost always work for us, and they have saved us countless money on copays, prescription medicines, and more.

Now that I’ve upped that ante, let’s jump in.


Our medicine cabinet is abound with essential oils, but at this time, I am only going to talk about the ones that we use most often for our immune health; OnGuard, oregano, Digestzen, Breathe, lemon, lavender, and peppermint. Also behind the door is apple cider vinegar, colloidal silver, local honey and cinnamon, and Shakeology.

Let’s start with oils! We’ve been using them for years now, and they are the remedies we reach for first when we are preventing or healing sickness. These are our staples and have been complete game-changers in our healthcare costs and routines.

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You know when you feel terrible and you go to the doctor hoping they can help you, but all they say is that it’s a virus and you’ll have to let it run it’s course? The worst, right?! We all have busy lives and being sick is the pits. Having to wait an unknown amount of time for your immune system to work through a virus that has overtaken your body with little more that you can do about it outside of extra vitamin C, tons of water, and rest can be so frustrating.

Well, no more! OnGuard is a blend that DoTerra makes that actually gets inside the cell wall to fight off viruses in your body. It was also shown in clinical studies to significantly slow the rate at which the virus replicates it’s self, and actually cripples the process, where if it does replicate, it has less viral proteins.

Translation: It works. {And I don’t mean the wraps!} Flu season is coming up and we will use OnGuard to boost our immune systems to prevent ever getting it. And if we happen to still contract it, we would use it at the first onset en lieu of Tamiflu.

How we take it:

A diluted roller bottle (drops of OnGurad topped off with fractionated coconut oil) rolled on our feet and spine.

Diffused (we do about 3-5 drops) in our main living spaces or in the room of the sick patients at night.

Adults in our house will drink one drop 1-3 times a day during or at the onset of sickness in a shot glass of water.


Oregano is an antibiotic, so we will use it when an illness presents itself as more severe. I have one specific testimony of curing Jack’s strep throat using only oregano and OnGuard. After that experience, I realized the power of oregano’s antibacterial properties. So anyone that asks about sinus infections, strep, anything bacterial, I recommend they start there and then see a doctor if it doesn’t feel significantly better in a few days. In our experience, we’ve felt significantly better within twelve hours.

How we use it:

In a diluted roller bottle rolled on our feet and spine. {For an ear infection, roll it behind the ear. Never inside.}

Diffused {we do about 1-2 drops! It smells strong!} in our main living spaces or in the room of the sick patients at night.

Adults in our house will occasionally drink one drop once a day during or at the onset of sickness in a shot glass of water. {Beware: it. tastes. nasty.}

{Also! Oregano is considered a “hot” oil, meaning it can give a burning sensation when it touches your skin undiluted. It’s not harming you, but it doesn’t feel pleasant. Always dilute it when applying it on your skin.}


I can’t even begin to say how amazing this oil blend is. Stomach ache, constipation, nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, and more! It has helped it all for us.

How we use it:

Although it can be diffused and ingested, we most commonly roll it on our tummies with a diluted roller bottle. I love that I can hand it to my kids and allow them to roll it wherever it hurts.


Thankfully we don’t deal with tons of respiratory issues, but for chest congestion due to cold, flu, bronchitis, allergies, etc., Breathe is your best friend. Got a stuffy nose? It can help there, too. Does you or your partner snore? Yeah…from experience, it works for that, too. 😉

How we use it:

In a diluted roller bottle rolled on our feet, chest, and spine. During a stuffy-nosed crying fit, Jack has even been known to roll a tiny bit right on the end of his nose so he can “smell it better”.

Diffused (3-5 drops) in a diffuser, especially at night.

Lemon, Lavender, + Peppermint

I am an allergy sufferer; mostly animal allergies. You will never find me riding a horse, hanging out in a petting zoo, or petting all the dogs in the dog park…my face, dramatically told but not so literally, explodes! Itchy, swollen eyes, stuffy nose, back to back to back to back sneezing, itchy throat…you get the idea. If I don’t keep it in check, it will turn into a head and chest cold. Lemon, lavender, and peppermint {with their powers combined} are an amazing natural antihistamine. I don’t even keep Claritin in the house anymore. It’s even great for itchy bug bites, random allergic skin reactions, seasonal allergies, and more.

How we use it: 

In a diluted roller bottle rolled on our feet and spine.

Diffused (we do about 3-5 drops each).

DoTerra also makes capsules of this blend called TriEase and I will take 1-2 of those if I know I will be around animals that day.


Below are a dilution chart and a foot reflexology chart. I basically have these memorized because I’ve lived by them long enough. Our feet are amazing things, and when the right oil is applied in the right place, good things happen. After applying oils to our kids’ feet, we usually ask them to sit for 2-3 minutes to allow the oil to soak in and start doing it’s work.

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Apple. Cider. Vinegar. And everyone gags.

It’s true, it’s some nasty-tasting stuff, but the benefits are worth it. I take it several times a week, and I won’t lie, you will never acquire a taste for it, but it does get a little easier to swallow once you know what to expect and find a way to drink it that makes it bearable for you.

A detox for your body, a treatment for reflux and heartburn, a killer of yeast and booster of probiotics, a regulator of your body’s pH levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure, a weight-loss and metabolism supporter, an anti-fungal, and a cure for a sore throat are only scratching the surface of what apple cider vinegar can do for you when ingested. Plus, the uses are endless. Google is your best friend if you want to count the ways.

How we use it: 

I drink 1-2 tbsp in a shot glass of water with a drop of lemon essential oil {also a bodily detoxifier} and get it over with quick! I chase it with about 8oz of water.

Many will add it to a glass of water, hot tea, juice, or even cocktails! Drink up! It’s good for ya.

{Hey, parents. It also makes a good “Sassy Spray” for little sassy and disrespectful mouths. A little foul-tasting immune booster never hurt anyone, but it can keep them from talking back.}


Oh colloidal silver, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

An immune-boosting, germ-killing machine, it’s antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and can be used a plethora of ways. It’s a come-and-see kinda supplement. Everyone wants to knock it until they try it. For us, it has stopped an earache in it’s tracks, and knocked a cold out, well, cold.

How we use it:

We will take it once a day during cold/flu season or before we attend places with large crowds or where germs may be abundant.

When sick, we will take it multiple times a day.

Dosage info here.


Honey and cinnamon. I learned this trick from a friend, but now I call it my little Mary Poppins trick. {“A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!”} My kids’ think it’s a sweet treat, but they are fueling their little bodies with lots of health benefits.

Local honey and cinnamon together make an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant rich spoonful of goodness. Fighting allergies, cold and flu, regulating blood sugar levels, and fighting off UTIs are all benefits of this yummy remedy.

How we use it:

Pour honey into a spoon, sprinkle a little cinnamon on top, and enjoy!


This is not an ad. I could skip talking about Shakeology, knowing that most will roll their eyes and think that I am just trying to make a buck off of them. But it’s just not the case, and I would be leaving out a huge part of our healthcare regimen. Before I started drinking Shakeology, I was constantly tired and I struggled with constipation. I struggled with a constant sweet tooth, and although I used natural remedies in the area of illness, my daily nutrition was out of control.

Shakeology is not just a protein shake and it is not a weight-loss formula. It is made up of five different proprietary blends that has transformed our health from the inside out; a plant-based protein blend, a digestive blend, a blend of adaptogens, a blend of phytonutrients, and a blend of antioxidant-rich superfoods. I could go on and on about each of those, but it would take forever. Google those words {adaptogens, phytonutrients, antioxidants, digestive enzymes} and see what you discover. All. Good. Things. And all in one shake that tastes like dessert? Yes, please!

Tim and I drink it daily and our oldest three kids drink half a scoop several times a week. There is another shake called Daily Sunshine that I feel more comfortable giving Mase until he gets a bit older. Since drinking it, I have more sustained energy, my gut health is at it’s best, I have had skin allergies completely disappear, and I can’t remember the last time any of us have had a sick visit.

Let me say that again: We are a family of six and I can’t remember the last time any of us have had a sick visit. 

Knock it all you want. You do you and and we’ll do us. But it’s working for us, and I just want to share that with others.


I hope that you found some value in my Holistic Homeschool Mommy Show and Tell Time. I love sharing the things we have discovered that have changed our lives and health. Do you use any of these natural remedies? We’d love to hear your stories.

With love, Mal


Top 5 Tips for Having a Magical Vacation with Kids and Infants

If you’ve been following our blog for years, you know that we have talked about doing Disney with kids and infants on more than one occasion. However, many of those were written a couple of years ago, and it’s undeniable that having added even more kiddos to the mix, our parenting styles and Doing-Disney techniques have switched up a little bit. Not to mention, Disney has changed a lot since then then, as well. So I thought it would be a fun subject to revisit.

If you haven’t been following our blog for years, Tim and I have been married for 10 years and we have been to Disney every year, and often several times a year, ever since we said “I do”. We have four kids between the ages of seven and one, and all of them visited Walt Disney World for the first time before they were a year old. We have done Disney with infants and kids for the past seven years, and we are happy to say that Disney has been a consistently fun and exciting vacation, even with little ones in tow.

So how do we do Disney with four kids, keep everyone happy, and not lose our minds or run ourselves ragged? Glad you asked! Here are our Top 5 Tips for Having a Magical Vacation with Kids and Infants.


1. S T A Y   O N   S C H E D U L E

Does your child usually nap in the morning or afternoon? Are they used to snack time at 10am and dinner at 5pm? Stay on schedule. Yes, for us that means leaving the park each day after lunch and allowing our kids to have downtime in the room. Our youngest will still take naps while our oldest loves to hit the pool and splash pad with Dad. Allowing them to stay on schedule with their nap and meal times always makes for much happier hearts for them and us! Even now when we take our “adults only” Disney trips, we find ourselves taking breaks in the middle of the day. I mean, it is a vacation, right?! Don’t run your kids {and yourself!} ragged.

2. S T A Y   O N   P R O P E R T Y

And I would even take it a step further and say stay where it’s most convenient. Trust us, it’s worth the cost. For many families with young kids, that means staying at a resort near Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park. While any of the parks have attractions for guests of all ages, Magic Kingdom offers the most family friendly rides, attractions, and meet ‘n greets that young kids will love. The easiest way to stay on schedule is to make travel times between the park and your room as quick as possible. Magic Kingdom has five different lodging options that you can easily access by either bus, boat, or monorail. They are Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Wilderness Lodge, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. Each park has resorts that are more centrally located, but either way, staying anywhere on Walt Disney World property for your vacation will make your life with young kids run much smoother.

3. P L A N   A H E A D

The biggest complaint that people have with young kids is almost always wait times. We hear all the time about families that don’t plan ahead, and they end up having a miserable time, debating what to do next, where to eat, and standing in pointless lines. If you don’t know much about Disney, use a travel agent! Their services are free to you, and they can give you all of the best tips on where to eat and which rides and attractions you’ll need Fastpasses for. For example, if your kids want to eat in the Beast’s Castle at Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest restaurant, you’re going to need to make that reservation on the exact morning that your 180-day dining window opens up, because it books up quickly! Planning ahead and knowing what experiences you want to have will insure that you are able to do everything on your Disney bucket list.

4. T A L K   A B O U T   E X P E C T A T I O N S

Our kids love Disney, and they love to do everything in Disney. But we all know that it’s impossible to actually do everything all in one stay. As we are planning our trips, we are sure to ask our oldest three kids {ages three, five, and seven} what is the top thing they want to do during that vacation. The answers are usually all over the board; anywhere from eating a Mickey pretzel to riding Space Mountain. Our daughter’s answers are consistently meet ‘n greets, so we tell her to choose only one or two characters that she wants to meet most. As we plan, Tim and I try to accommodate each of their top experiences, and then explain to them that we’re not going to get to do everything. We’ve even had a few trips where we had to tell our thrill-seeking seven-year-old not to expect to ride all of the big rides, because we wanted to prioritize rides that we could all do together as a family, so that we don’t spend our day making the little one sit out on everything while we rider swap.

Another good expectation talk should revolve around souvenirs. Some trips we give them a budget and let them know they each have an allotted amount to spend. Other times, we will allow “one thing”, so amounts don’t necessarily come out evenly. But we have also had trips where we make it known that it is a no souvenir trip, and to not expect to bring home any toys or prizes. Either way, no matter their age, we’ve found that talking to them about what our expectations are for the trip, and allowing them to have a little input, keeps things a bit more peaceful as we experience the Place Where Dreams Come True.

5. R O P E    D R O P

What does rope drop mean? It means wake up and get to the parks before they open.

I know that there are families that will roll their eyes and say things like, “It’s vacation! I’m going to sleep in!” But if you are wanting to make the most out of your time, being at the park when it opens is how you will do that. The early morning hours are when you will have the best luck at hitting up rides that will have long wait times later in the day. The early morning hours are when you will avoid the bigger crowds and thick, humid Florida heat. Want to sleep? Take a nap from 1pm-3pm. I promise it will be a better use of your time.

Hope you found our Top 5 Tips for Having a Magical Vacation with Kids and Infants useful. Drop a comment below and let us know what your tips are for doing Disney with small children!

With love, Mal

A Disneyland Halloween

As you know, Tim is now a full-time travel agent with Travelmation LLC, and he specializes in Disney Destinations. 2017 has not only been a big year for us in profession, but also in Disney vacationing! Tim booked us our first ever trip to Disneyland this summer to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, and he just took another trip out to the Happiest Place on Earth with his fellow travel agent friend, Alston, this September.

While Tim and I were there this summer, we had such a great time spotting all the differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World. But this September, Tim got to see even more differences in the way the two parks celebrate the holidays!

Ever since we were married in 2007, Tim and I have vacationed in Walt Disney World every September, so seeing the Magic Kingdom, and parts of the other three parks, decked out in pumpkins and fall decor is something we are very used to experiencing. We adore all the not-so-scary adornments that garnish the storefronts of Main Street USA and it’s sister parks.

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However, when it comes to Halloween embellishments, the spooks end at a moderate amount of decorations, themed snacks, and new merchandise. Walt Disney World has zero ride or land overlays during it’s Halloween holiday festivities. Not so in Disneyland, and Tim was so stoked to be able to check out all the spooky fun of the west coast in person!




In addition to the well-placed pumpkin and and themed snack items, Disneyland goes above and beyond during the fall. Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout get complete ride overlays including brand new storylines, music, and according to Tim, even new smells!

Space Mountain’s overlay is pretty straight forward; a spookier soundtrack and some projections of ghosts are the only changes you’ll experience as you speed through space. 

Jack Skellington takes up residence at the Haunted Mansion during the holidays, and his Halloween-meets-Christmas overlay results in an almost completely different ride experience! As you pass by the Grand Ballroom scene in the Haunted Mansion, Oogie Boogie has taken over the party and a gingerbread house sits on the long dining table while the scrumptious smell of gingerbread fills the air. Where dancers once twirled and swirled around an empty dance floor, they now circle around the bottom of a huge dead Christmas tree. So much detail!



As for Mission Breakout, each evening starting at 5pm, it becomes Monsters After Dark, where monsters have taken over and Baby Groot was left behind during the escape! Now you join forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy and act as bait for the deadly beasts while Rocket and his friends save Baby Groot. Check out the ride through here! Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 8.23.20 AM.pngIn addition to the spooktacular delights of the ride overlays, all of Cars Land gets a Halloween tune up full of spooky details, while the stars of the popular films show up in their best Halloween costumes for meet and greets!  fullsizeoutput_1130





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Needless to say, we think that Disneyland wins the Halloween contest, hands down. Our next trip to visit the west coast magic isn’t until next June, but I am so excited to plan trips within the next couple of years to see all of the Disneyland fall {and hopefully Christmas!} fun for myself.

Have you visited Disneyland during the holidays? Tell us about it! We’d love to hear your trip reports.

With love, Mal

If you’re interested in getting a free, no-obligations quote on a Disneyland vacation so you can experience the Happiest Place on Earth for yourself, email tim@travelmation.net. 

Finding Our New Normal

21032471_351065225324486_5673816287062098968_nOh, hello! It’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it?

My blogging and vlogging have not left my mind since our new transition into self-employment life, but I think I had some unrealistic expectations of how our new normal would play out. I had built up in my mind this party-every-day life, where we would work a little, play a little {or a lot!}, and it was like that for a week or two. We were semi-productive, but mostly, we hung out around the house, hiked Stone Mountain, visited the Yellow Daisy Festival, and walked around the mall…it was awesome. And I honestly think it was good for us to take that time to breathe as a family after such a massive change.

But of course, that pace of life is unrealistic, and I think I am seeing the need for some more structure in our lives. So as we move forward, these are the top three things I am doing to find our New Normal.

1. Prioritizing!

We have a lot of things we are juggling right now; Tim’s travel work, my health and fitness business, homeschool, extracurriculars with the kids, blogging, vlogging, Tim is still instructing the drum line of a marching band and doing contract work for the church, we’re small group leaders, and not to mention we have a house to clean and manage and the holidays are coming up!

What needs to take a backseat for a season? What needs to be eliminated completely? What are our longterm goals? And what are the things that are going to get us there? In the words of Ronald Weasley, “She needs to sort out her priorities.”

I’m working on it, Ron.

2. Setting short-term and long-term goals and incentives.

Now that we are self-employed, we don’t necessarily have bosses telling us what we need to do each day. We don’t have set hours to keep, or even built-in to-do lists of what we need to accomplish. We are having to be very self-driven, so we are rising to the occasion.

Tim and I have been having chats about what we would like to accomplish both long-term and short-term, and I have even set up some visuals for Tim and the goals we have set for him monthly. So far, it has been pretty motivating! I’m really excited for him to reach his first short-term goal, and I think he’s on track to reach it this month! Go, baby, go!

3. Grace.

This one has been the hardest for me. Reminding myself on a daily basis to give myself grace is so. hard. It’s okay if the house doesn’t get cleaned. It’s okay if the laundry gets piled up. It’s even okay if we have to skip a day of homeschool every now and then. I think that when it comes to goals, I am a person of little patience, and I want to see us make huge strides in short steps…but life just doesn’t work that way, does it?

All things are cumulative, and the principle of reaping and sowing will always reign. As long as we continue to do the things, no matter how small, that are moving us towards the place we want to be, then progress is being made and we will get there. We are sowing the seeds of the life we want to live, and the harvest will come. Patience and perseverance. Patience and perseverance. Grace upon grace upon grace.

So what about you? Have you been forced to find a new normal in your life before? Let us know what steps you took to getting there.

With love, Mal

We Survived Hurricane Irma and All We Got Was a Magic Cookie Bar

We live just southwest of the metro Atlanta area, so for days we’ve been warned by meteorologists to hunker down and prepare for the worst as Hurricane Irma downgrades into a tropical storm and sweeps through our state. You know us Georgians, we know how to prepare for the worst. 

All the bread.

All the milk.

And apparently this time…all the snacks? I saw many of our social media friends stocking up their pantries with chips and candy bars. I had no idea this was a thing. I can be soooo behind the times. 

Well, we got our standard double loaf of bread from BJ’s and an extra bottle of water for our water cooler, but we skipped the milk because we don’t drink it. We pulled in all of our patio furniture and hoped for the best.

We spent all day long curled up on the couch, 

playing Mexican Train,


and Tim even whipped up his homemade chicken noodle soup! Mmm….

I worked out,

and we let the kids watch YouTube videos and play video games to their hearts’ content, assuming that we’d inevitably lose power. 

We waited and we waited until our waiters were sore. And they we all thought of something we hadn’t before…

Okay. I’ll stop rhyming with Grinch references, but essentially, nothing happened. 

By 5pm Tim was more antsy than a kid in Goofy’s Candy Company, so we ventured out into the great unknown {aka. Newnan} to see if we were the only ones to have missed the damage. One felled tree and a couple of strown branches were all we saw on our way to the local Taco Mac, where Tim promptly ordered the cider flight while Lorelai cried for the toys in the claw machine.

After dinner, our Disney-nostalgic sweet tooth took us to Target where we proceeded to buy all of the ingredients to The Roaring Fork’s Magic Cookie Bars. They just came out of the oven and they look and smell marvelous!

So, I guess we’re the lucky ones. We’ve seen friends within a thirty mile radius posting that they are without power and we’re over here baking Magic Cookie Bars! 

Overall, we’re thankful that everyone we know and love is safe. We’re continuing to pray for those that lost much to the devastation in Texas, Florida, and some parts of Georgia. This has been one heck of a hurricane season!

But as for us, well, we’re considering getting t-shirts made that say We Survived Hurricane Irma and All We Got Was a Magic Cookie Bar. 

With love, Mal 

My Son Was, Not Is, Adopted

I love talking about adoption and I love answering people’s questions. I’m not the type to take offense if they ask something that people in the adoption world would normally take offense at, so for me, no question is off limits. It brings me so much joy being able to share our story and shine light on the truths of adoption.

I feel like so many people still think of Lifetime movies when they think of adoption, with crazy birth moms that come looking for their babies after twenty-one years of no communication and bitter adoptees that hate their adoptive families…but real life {and real adoption} just isn’t like that! At. All. So I thought I would take some time to share some common misconceptions and incorrect adoption terminology.


The first thing I would like to share is that Mason was adopted, not is adopted. It sounds like such a small difference, but to an adoptee, it is a huge difference. This terminology walks the line between event and identity. Mason’s adoption was an event that happened in his life, not his identity. He is my son, not my adopted son.  His identity is in the Lord who created him and knows his every step before he takes it. His identity will be the man he becomes and the amazing character traits that he will grow to possess. His identity is not defined by the event that happened when he was two months old.


Another common phrase people use when asking questions is if he will know who his real mom is. Well, yes! {haha!} Because I am his real mom! As far as I know, I am not a ghost, a mannequin, or a robot, {and unfortunately, I’m also not a Disney princess}, so I’m pretty sure that makes me real. I am Mason’s real mom. This has never been too touchy of a subject for me, but just be mindful, because this can be hurtful and like a little dagger to the heart of a woman who struggles with infertility and chose adoption as a way to grow her family. Regardless of how our children come into our lives, we are mothers, real mothers, who love and care for our children unconditionally. The better way to ask that question is to use the term birth mother. And just so you know, birth mothers are real mothers, too.


There are so many more misconceptions out there about adoption, and one day I’d love to cover them all, but for now, the last one I’d like to cover is the misconception that birth mothers don’t care about, love, or remember their children after making an adoption plan. Birth mothers don’t give up their babies, they make an adoption plan and place them with a family. Birth mothers are brave, selfless souls that were able to set their own pride aside and make one of the hardest decisions a woman can make by giving her child the gift of a life that she knows she can’t provide at that time. There is nothing shameful about that decision. It’s a beautiful act of love, and birth mothers remember and think of their children for the rest of their lives.

We love having an open adoption with Mason’s brith mother. I love that I won’t have to feel helpless when he asks questions that I don’t have answers to about his birth family, because he will have her to fill the gaps. I love that I won’t have to mark “unknown” on all of his medical history, because we can ask her about what runs in his family tree. I love that he won’t grow up feeling abandoned, but instead know how loved he is by her because he will be able to hear it from her own lips, feel it in her own hugs.


Adoption has grown our hearts and minds tenfold since beginning the process. It has challenged us and changed us, and ultimately, made us better parents and better people.

With love, Mal