On the Road: Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

 

This month we touched a jellyfish, walked underneath a hammer head shark swimming right along above us and stood in awe at the weirdly awesome body of the sea horse dragon.  And oh yes, we saw an octopus.

 

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I heart aquariums.

We spent a week in the Tennessee mountains earlier this month and had the incredible opportunity to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in downtown Gatlinburg and spend a day exploring the aquarium so we could write a review about all that we saw and did there.

You guys – it’s just so cool.

 

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After seeing all of the news coverage about the terrible fires that destroyed so many homes and businesses in the mountain town recently, I was anxious to see first hand how the city fared.  You could see literal burned wood around the edges of the aquarium’s parking lot and I cannot imagine how close of a call it was for the safety of all of the people and also for the animals at the aquarium.

The day we visited was a weekday in early January and for us, that couldn’t have been more perfect.  Weekdays are almost always less crowded, and while there were plenty of guests in attendance, it was so pleasant to not be elbow to elbow with strangers and to know that we could spend as long as we liked gazing at the odd giant lobster/crab creature or admiring the most adorable penguins.  I recommend trying to visit most all attractions on weekdays with your children.

 

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The aquarium is easy to find and easy to park in the garage (but you do have to pay for parking) and easy to navigate right through at the beginning.

It’s hard to find anything negative to say about giant fish tanks filled with beautiful fish and touch tanks with rays and jellyfish and places to watch penguins and every other sea creature you could ever imagine – and dozens you’d probably rather not imagine.

 

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One of my favorite aspects of visiting aquariums is that it is an activity that absolutely every age enjoys.  Toddlers, teenagers – you name it.

We got there just in time to begin our tour with a shark feeding.  Those animals are plenty well-fed, that’s for sure.  Which is nice, because they’re still kind of creepy and I’d rather they never feel hungry for the people leaning over their area and admiring their sharky ways.  London and I did ask one of the aquarium employees how many cell phones dropped into the open waters and they laughed and said “plenty”.  We also couldn’t help but ask if any people had ever fallen in.  She assured us that no guest ever had, but employees had.  Hazard of the job, I suppose?

 

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For everyone at our house, except maybe Hawkeye, the best part of the aquarium is the tunnel.  If you’ve never been, you really must go.  You get to walk (or ride this handy slow moving conveyor belt) directly under the aquarium’s tank full of all the sea creatures.  It’s marvelous to watch them swim over you – to see their movements from that angle.  To witness their amazing fins and tails in action.  It’s astounding the variations of sea life and the subtle differences in all of the bazillions of fish that exist.  (I’m so technical.  Bazillions.)

 

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We also are suckers for the cool tanks you get to pop up in the middle of.  But seriously, it’s not just amusing – it’s so unusual to be up close and personal to the fish.  The color variety is incredible.  It seems impossible to imagine all of that glorious color just existing underwater, living and moving and eating and swimming.  I like being inches away from their bright colors and their funky shapes.  So many of them just look downright funny in their stripes and flat circles or bloats mouths or perfectly circular bodies.

 

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The penguin exhibit at Ripley’s is really well done.  You actually can even step outside and stand under one of the tanks in this certain way that allows the penguins to burst forth in swimming directly above your head, but in a way that feels like they are swimming straight toward you.  You feel somehow in the tank with them.  That was my favorite moment, I  think.  The first time it happened that a penguin shot toward me and went directly above my head, I jumped.  I hadn’t realized the angle of the tank allowed for such an immediate view of them.  Plus, penguins look so different when they swim.  So fluid and fast.  Also – one penguin was named Riley and was celebrating its birthday in January.  The penguins all wore tiny little name tags.  The kids and I got a real kick out of reading their names, which varied hilariously from names like Mike to names like Rowdy.  I’d be perfectly content to have a side job naming penguins.  Where do I apply?

 

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There is a snack bar inside the aquarium, but although the kids asked – of course, what kid can refuse the temptation of Icees? – I said no.  Aquariums pretty much smell like fish to me and I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy dining there, although I’m sure it was perfectly acceptable.

Naturally, you have to exit through the gift shop.  Who ever created that genius marketing scheme anyway?  Surely not a parent.  It wasn’t too bad, however, for an aquarium gift shop.  The stuffed animals were cute and not really overpriced.  It’s actually where we found a fedora that fit Berg’s head.  And was surprisingly cheap.  Who knew?  (Why has my eleven-year-old been wanting a fedora?  I don’t know.  Ask my brother.  Or Bergen’s friend Beckett.  I think they’re both to blame.)

There were several touch tanks through the aquarium.  You could touch horseshoe crabs – who did not seem to care one ounce what was happening in their lives.  You could touch various rays.  Which, as a toddler visiting this same aquarium, Mosely adored.  And – you could touch jellyfish.  That was super cool and a little bizarre.  The aquarium staff keeps the jellyfish extra cold so that all of the people touching them won’t damage their gel-like “skin”.  They felt sort of rubbery and smooth.  As weird as jellyfish are, and as painful as their sting can be, they’re kind of fantastic to look at as they glide and float through the water.

 

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We’ve visited the new aquarium in Georgia too and I think this Ripley’s Aquarium gives it a great run for its money.  Actually, I think I prefer Ripley’s to the Georgia one.  Ripley’s does lack that one gigantic tank with the huge shark or whale – I forget what is there – but otherwise, I’d pick Ripley’s if I was forced to choose.  From our house, the distance to Gatlinburg is less and the cost is also less.  Two strong factors.  But also, the Ripley’s Aquarium is just a day well-spent.  It’s a truly wonderful experience.

 

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I really do love the aquarium.  I could sit and watch the fish in the overhead tank for longer periods of time than most of my kids.  Except perhaps Otto.  He’s got a remarkable attention span if the word “fish” is involved.

If you make it over the mountain to Tennessee, tell Sally we said hello.  She’s a tremendously huge turtle.  Trust me, you can’t miss her.

 

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Five Finds Friday (brothers & fedoras & chocolate pie)

 

Fanfare.  Celebrations.  High fives and confetti.  You made it to Friday, you guys.

 

 

FUNNY

 

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a little time in the mountains of Tennessee (and I’ll share some of those stories next week).  While we were gone, our kind dog-loving buddies Tom and Erica kept our furry guy Ryder.

They genuinely love Ryder and that is seriously such a wonderful gift to our family when Ryder is well cared for when we are away.

Ryder went on hikes with them – they sent photos – and he walked the Swamp Rabbit Trail with them and even went out for pizza at our family’s favorite local pizza joint.  And, here’s the funny part, while Tom and Erica were dining at Sidewall another family with their dog was dining there too.  A family whose dog was also a golden doodle.

Apparently Ryder rather loved that family’s dog.  He gave the fellow pup hugs.  Multiple hugs.

 

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FASHIONABLE

 

Do actual real life people live in homes with bedrooms this perfect?

 

 

And are their children robots like Small Wonder who never play with Legos and never color and never spill random assortments of toy sin their bedroom and have never had a rock collection or a bug collection or a leaf collection?

I don’t know.

I love the print on that bedroom wall though.

In other “fashionable” news, Berg sure looks cool in a fedora – am I right?

 

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FLAVORFUL

 

Have I shared this chocolate pie recipe before?

I need sleep – I can’t remember.

Well.  It’s so delicious I will share it twice.  And eat it twice.

 

Photo From PioneerWoman.com

   Photo From PioneerWoman.com

 

I like that it makes such a generous pie filling amount that you can fill up several small cups with the filling and have delicious chocolate pudding.  So, that way, I can have a mini bowl of chocolate pudding warm before the pie is served later that evening.  Perfect.

 

FAITHFUL

 

In our provisions notebook that HannaH gave us we try to record daily evidence of the way God is caring for our family.

On one entry this week we had recorded that on that same day, last year, we were having a hard time affording our groceries and we wrote that we were grateful for the EBT card (yes – like electronic food stamps) and grateful that it paid for our groceries that week.  And we were grateful.

And – here we are – one year later – and we bought our own groceries.  No EBT card.

Provision.  Right in our cabinets.  Groceries purchased and filling our shelves.

God is continually providing.

 

FEELS

 

Family.  They’re so good to have around.

Last week I watched my brother being silly with my children.  Playing pool and teaching us new card games and giving the kids quarters to waste on Ms. Pacman

 

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I love seeing him make my kids laugh.  Reminds me of the years we grew up in the same house together – he and I.

Also – and I should have added this to the “fashionable” section – my sister-in-law made his shirt.  She MADE his shirt, for the love.

Family – they’re just your people.  

_____________________

 

 

the language my children speak

 

I don’t really have a gauge for how to write about my husband leaving our family.

Is there a code for what to include and what to leave out?

I hate divorce.

It’s easy to hate that.

Has God used this evil for good in the lives of my children and myself?

Absolutely and already.

Is divorce good?

Absolutely not.

The sadness for me personally is a bit removed, a little in the past.  I mean, the consequences feel never ending and there is no sentence I could ever write to encompass all of what I would like to say about those feelings and that pain.

But the feelings are very different for my children.

They reside in a neighborhood where I have never been.  An address that was never mine.

I cannot say I understand what it is like for my parents to be divorced.

I do not understand.

My father was married to my mother until the moment he and I sat in a small stale hospital room one cold Montana day in December, where his bride was painfully and slowly greeting the next life.

I grew up in some sort of magic rural bubble and I can remember exactly only one single high school friend whose parents were divorced.  Even in college, my closest friends somehow magically grew up in the same bubbles and all had families with both mom and dad still married to one another.

I never sat in a room and listened to my dad tell me he wasn’t coming home.

It isn’t a concept I can understand or imagine.

So I cannot fully understand my own children.  They speak a language foreign to me.

But a universal one as well.

The language of loss.

Of misplaced hope.

Of expectations severed.

Of failure and fear and heartache.

That’s a language we all know.

We want “this” but we get “that” instead.

It’s a language we all hope our children do not become well versed in until adulthood – right?

It’s not like Spanish – there are no bonus points for early sign ups and we are not excited to hear our toddlers becoming bilingual.

Instead, it’s a foreign language credit we’d rather put off.  One that can wait until the years of higher education, not the primary grades.

And yet.  Here we are, my kids and I.

Speaking and muddling through in the dark.  Words tainting their tongues like bitter berries.

Once they’ve heard the language, I can’t take it back from them.  I’ve looked for a rewind, but I’ve had no luck.

This language of loss.

But God.

Of course, I cannot complete this post without redirecting – my heart, maybe yours, definitely the hearts of the children I love – to the only safe place for their hearts to process these new words, this thrust-upon-them language.

God.  The healer of all wounds.  The One To Make Right All Wrongs.

The bridge builder.  The peacemaker.

The speaker of every language we will ever struggle to accept.

 

____________________________________

 

 

 

 

of the nonsensical and rambling variety . . .

 

Today a possum waddled (strolled?) right up to our literal back door.  I watched him.

He was disgusting.

But his absolute grossness did not stop me from making a science lesson out of the poor rodent look-alike.

I’ll spare you the photo since you might be reading this early in the morning  – but if you’re desperate to see it you can visit his unique horribleness on Facebook I suppose.  (I didn’t spare the photo there, I’m sorry to say.)

Also.  The photo revealed how weirdly odd my back “porch” area is.  Why are there two empty old glass bottles you may ask?  Oh – that’s because the kids found those glass bottles in the woods and they insist that those bottles are not, in fact, trash, but are – instead – treasures.  The shells by the side of the glass bottles and the uh – playing dead – Virginia opossum?  Oh – those are shells from our beach trip so many months ago that we just “have to save”.

Our lawn is precisely the reason why I don’t think we can ever live in a neighborhood, people.

We need to be a back woods family.  It’s true.

A lawn that no one notices and no one can see from the road.  An invisibility cloak.  That’s what our lawn needs.  And our house.  Maybe our entire lives.  (Do Life Invisibility Cloaks exist?)

It is constantly riddled with blankets from picnics and the tricycles we outgrew years ago.  A giant Jenga set that we really should store out of the weather and two beaten down soccer goals and a myriad of wooden swords and giant sticks masquerading as wooden swords and whatever the cat drug in last night – and the cat that drug whatever it was in.

We’re a mess.  

 

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But today the kids played “Adventurer, Princess & Prince” with their friends and we read the next to last chapter of Stuart Little together.  We ate three meals at our messy kitchen table.  (Although one meal was all ready to go until I realized that the chicken I was planning to prepare had been put in the freezer instead of the fridge and that was an unfortunate situation but we over emphasized the veggies and rice and were all just fine.)  I also saw my son walk out of the house with a plan and an ax, whilst wearing a coonskin cap.  And – I was forced to say sentences such as, “Listen, don’t swing a pipe with poop on the end at your brother, for the love.”  To which I added the super cool parent addendum of, “Also, listen – please don’t ever do anything that makes me say a sentence that includes the words poop on a pipe again.”

After we sat at our table and drew pictures of possums into our nature journals and read a few paragraphs about said possums, I quizzed the kids to see what they recalled.  I rewarded their recollections with marshmallows and chocolate chips that hannaH had left at our house before she left the country last week.

And so by the end of this rambling post you know that our yard is a wreck, possums are weird (Did you know their babies are born the size of a bee?  Marshmallows for you if you did!), there’s a pipe lying somewhere in our yard with poop on it, I forgot to ever find out what outdoor activity required a hatchet today and – side note – our kitchen table is still scattered with notebooks and colored pencils.

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time & sleep & our own hard things . . .

 

It’s seldom about the words.

(Although, occasionally it is.)

The reason that I most frequently miss posting a blog on any given evening is (almost always) about time.

There is simply never enough of it.

Which, I know, is a silly thing to say.

We all have the same amount of time.
There’s twenty-four hours in everyone’s day.
We can’t make time, but we can arrange time.
Time keeps on slipping, slipping into the future.
Time makes memories of us all.
There’s always enough time to do what matters most.
You make time for what matters.

And so on.

When I wrote this confessions post last week, it started off as mainly just a funny post.  And you guys shared The Funniest Things with me on Facebook.  Goodness, I have laughed at your lists and your chatter between the comments.

It has stayed a funny list.  But, Sarah shared some confessions that really had me wanting to high five her over in Alaska.  She talked about how she has this list of things she’d like to accomplish each day – shower, pray, read God’s word, dress her children, get dressed herself, keep a tidy house, wash her face at night – you know, kind of normal stuff but stuff that, if we all are remembering clearly from motherhood, particularly the years of young children – is actually a highly demanding list after all.

My children are bigger now, of course.  They dress themselves (mostly) and they help with chores around the house and I can shower without fearing for their safety (although, for the love, they STILL interrupt my showers with inane questions), but this “basic” list of to-do’s feeling never accomplished still feels the same.

It seems as if, on any given day, I cannot possibly serve THREE healthy meals at the table and shower and spend any alone time and teach school and maintain a writing “career” and write a blog post and clean the house and manage all the drive-here drive-there that five children require.

And, in fact, most days I cannot do all these things on the same day.

Something always has to give.

Usually, I find that it is sleep that I sacrifice.  I just give that one right up.  It’s been a steady struggle to sleep well for the past two years anyway, so it seems like an easy place to skimp.  But I know I am paying a price for my lack of rest and my lack of hours spent with my eyes closed.

I’ve decided to try to do better in that one area.  Just to attempt to go to bed at a reasonable (for me) time.  To leave the phone in the other room and to go to bed with a novel and lie in my bed at the proper time.  

But if I am to do that, some things will occasionally not get accomplished.  One day that might be the shower.  Some days it might be the healthy meals.  (Cereal Sundaes anyone?)  And some days – it’s probably going to be these blog posts.

So, if you are the worrying type, and you don’t see a post from me on some certain Monday or Thursday or whenever, let’s just assume I made a grown up decision to go to sleep on time instead.

And, it’s probably safe to assume, that it was a hard choice for me actually.  I like nights better than mornings.  I like writing better than sleeping.

Cheers to the new year and to doing hard things – even when the hard things seem like normal things that look like everyone else is accomplishing with ease.  So, cheers to doing our own hard things.

 

______________________________

 

 

Five Finds Friday (boots (what?), kettles & ice skates)

 

Every week, the feeling never changes.  The week was both slow and fast.  At the same time.  Reminds me of a quote by Oscar Wilde –

Does anyone ever realize life while they are living it?

 

 

FUNNY

 

Amazon Prime is not funny.  It’s fabulous.

And recently our family has met a new friend through Amazon Prime called the Firestick.  It’s not funny either.  No – it’s also fabulous.  It’s probably been out for ages, what do I know about anything having to do with technology?  The iCloud confounds me and I can never even find my charger cables, let alone download anything properly.  How do I even maintain this blog? It’s an actual mystery.

Anyway.  Firestick. It’s just this handy small device (that I’m probably destined to lose) that you “plug” in to the back of your television and it allows your Amazon Prime Video/Television to appear right up on your TV screen.  And – the best part is that you just take it with you so when you are at a hotel or such, then you can control the shows your children watch, as opposed to being inundated with bizarre advertisements and commercials and channel surfing.  You can also access whatever else you use through the Firestick – Netflix or YouTube or whatever.

I’m sure this is old news for most of you.  I’m sorry.  I’m just not trendy in that direction.

What was my point here even?

Oh yes.

Funny.

That’s what I was trying to make happen here.

Because of the Amazon FireStick, we were perusing the options in the “kids” category when we fell upon a show entitled “A Happy Family”.

When Riley was younger she had a dollhouse full of characters called “The Loving Family”.  This show is pretty much Riley playing with her dolls in that dollhouse.

I’m not kidding.

I’ve got this screenshot of an episode, of which we watched about eight minutes, with my jaw unhinged all that time.

 

 

This is literally a show where people are holding the feet of dolls, making the dolls walk and pick up stuff and move around their dollhouse, giving them voices with their own voices.  And.  That is the show.  That is the show on television.  People playing with dolls.

I can’t even.

 

FASHIONABLE

 

Of course I’m going to show you a boot.

I’m in counseling for my boot addiction – alright already?

 

Photo from NorthFace.com

 

Isn’t she so pretty?

I was at a NorthFace outlet this week.  They had this very boot available.  At a greatly reduced outlet price.  I was so excited.  The kids were “patiently” waiting.  Mosely was even helping me.  (More so to get me to move along at a speedier rate, but whatever.)  Alas.  So many sizes of this shoe – at 40% off – and none of those sizes my size.

PS  – There are no Boot Addiction Therapy Counseling Sessions.  

 

FLAVORFUL

 

Okay.  This isn’t exactly flavorful by itself, but it makes things flavorful.

And.  I love it.

It’s just a kettle.

 

 

I forget how I decided that I “needed” a kettle in my life and on my counter.  But I did.  And after asking the world of Facebook for their opinions, I chose this particular kettle based almost exclusively on a review by my friend Taylor who said she chose this one because the inside is completely stainless steel and no plastic at all touches the scalding hot water that boils inside the kettle.

Is this a necessary item?

Nah.  Of course not.  But I don’t own a microwave and my stovetop kettle has often (!) been left on for too long when I forget I am boiling water and well, that is straight up dangerous.  This boils water crazy fast, shuts itself off so I don’t start a fire in our kitchen and I use it multiple times a day – primarily for hot tea and hot cocoa.  The kids use it for their french press.  (What?  Your kids don’t have a french press?)  I’ve used it recently in adding boiling water to recipes, the bath tub and big batches of sweet tea too.  (Maybe you guys know other bonuses to use this little appliance for too?)

It made me a little sad that this is simply black, but the red one cost more and I couldn’t justify it this time.

I even packed this up for our most recent trip and took it along.  I’m just all about my nightly cup of “lemur tea”.  (That’s what the kids and I call the seasonal vanilla and cinnamon tea Trader Joe’s sells this time of year.  Yep, you guessed it.  There’s a lemur featured on the packaging.)

Oh – but that lemur tea is flavorful.  So.  There you have it.  Something flavorful!

 

 

FAITHFUL

 

This year we’ve been challenged and encouraged at church to begin the specific act and discipline of keeping a prayer journal.  (With basic regularity – no hard and fast rules.)

I love the idea and have encouraged the kids to try their hand at it too.  It’s so immensely beneficial to be reminded to see how God is working.  To train our eyes to see.  To record the movement.  To bring purpose to that aspect of our lives and our hearts.

I’m not reading their prayer journals – I want them to have that privately.  (Goodness knows, in a house like ours, privacy is a rare commodity.)  But I like seeing them take time and sit contemplatively for a few minutes each week.

It is with genuine fondness that I recall my own parents sitting quietly in my dad’s office, sharing an early morning cup of coffee and reading God’s word together.

I’m banking on God’s restorative powers in their hearts and lives as we all navigate our lives together.

 

FEELS

 

On the ice skating rink, after Berg’s sixty-eight fall, he was counting, I skated up to him.

My heart was just bursting with pride for this long legged, giant-footed (9!), boy of mine who was tumbling and laughing and always always getting back up.

I told him, with the utmost sincerity, “You aren’t special to me just because you are my son.  You are – for real – one of my absolute favorite human beings in this entire world!  I just love doing things with you.”

I mean it.  He’s a joy of person.  Upbeat and interesting.  Always up to try new things and just as eager to sit silently side by side and relish in the old things we already love too.

Adventuring with my children is pretty much the best part of my life.

 

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_______________________

 

 

 

confessions . . .

 

1.  When the kids run out of soap in the bathroom, I might wait for weeks to refill their dispenser.  I know they are just going to spill it anyway.

2.  I’m not really concerned with whether my children wear matching socks or not.

3.  If I have to pick between enforcing tooth brushing at either morning or night, I always choose night.

4.  Some dinners I don’t include vegetables on the menu.  Yes.  Sometimes giant bowls of macaroni & cheese only are what’s for dinner.

5.  I don’t always remember to purchase cat food.  Even though we own two cats.

6.  Showering daily is not a personal priority for me.

7.  I still think marshmallow fluff tastes good.

8.  I go to bed without making certain the sink is empty of dirty dishes.

9.  The ringer of my phone is constantly set to silent.

10.  I make “to do” lists and never finish them.

11.  I almost always forget to wash my face at night.

12.  Making my bed still feels like a sort of punishment.

13.  I like uneven lists.

Now it’s your turn . . .

 

__________________________

 

 

 

January’s Grove Collaborative Giveaway – it’s a good one

 

I can’t believe I almost forgot about this post!

I’ve been so busy with this and that, when I looked at my calendar for yesterday I noticed that I almost missed a really great Grove Collaborative Giveaway.

This one is legitimately too good to let pass by, so I’ll just start right in with the specifics.

 

 

Grove Collaborative is an online company – a store of sorts – that specifically carries home products, stuff for cleaning and washing and scrubbing and tending, you know.  But also bath and beauty products too.  (I guess the same tending and cleaning and scrubbing – but of your body and your face and your hair.  You get it.)  The products that I personally purchase routinely from Grove are primarily Mrs. Meyers because I already love them so.  (And I often purchase my facial moisturizer through here too.)

With Grove, you place your order and you sign up for a basic pantry type service.  In other words, it works a little like the Dollar Shave Club for example.  Each month you will get an email (or several, actually) and you will be directed to head to the Grove Collaborative website and to review your cart.  At that point you can either send your regular order on through (mine usually features dishwasher detergent, hand soap, dish soap and about every other month, the walnut scrubber sponges) or you can add to your order or subtract from your order or you can postpone your order for another month if you aren’t in need of any products.

It’s very very easy to remember – you get plenty of email alerts.  (You do need to check your email, of course.)  And you can quit the monthly routine at any time if you’d like or just push the deliveries out for as long as you’d like.

I’ve mentioned it before but the main reasons that I like using Grove Collaborative instead of heading to Target are that I never run out of items, they’re waiting for me and delivered regularly.  Also, I don’t waste extra money at Target.  Also, they are often cheaper than the prices at Target.  All reasons good enough for me.  And, also, I don’t have get in my car with five kids and leave my house.  Very good motivation indeed.

This month, if you have not yet ever tried Grove Collaborative yourself, this is the time to do it.  (I’m thinking about you, Sara – this is the deal worth trying this for.  You live too far away from a store to waste your gas money and your time running out of supplies!)

This month, for NEW customers, you receive . . . 

  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s Lotion
  • Free Grove Collaborative Cleaning Caddy
  • Free Grove Collaborative Walnut Scrubber Sponges
  • Free Shipping

 

 

Now, these really are all free.  But, as others have pointed out before, on your first Grove order, you will be asked to purchase a certain amount of other items to add to your cart.  So, again, these items are completely free, but your entire order is not completely free.  (Just like to be up front about these little details.)  You can choose whatever you want to buy of course.  I’m pretty confident there’s something on the website that you buy regularly and could use a restock of.  Or – something that you want to try.  You need to buy $20 worth of products to get your FREE stash listed above.

The cleaning caddy is a new offering and I think it is so cute.  And not at all limited to storing only cleaning supplies.  I’m thinking art supplies myself.  But I guess it could hold remotes or candy or straws or silverware or toothbrushes or you name it.  (I don’t know why I said candy – it just made me laugh.)

The walnut scrubber sponges are now my favorite.  They’ve replaced all of my other dish cleaning tools.  I keep one by the sink (in a cute little enamel container that was my mom’s from ages ago) and it never smells gross like other sponges do.  I don’t feel repulsed when I see it sitting there and I replace it when the brown side starts to get picked-over looking – which takes a surprisingly long time to happen.

You get to pick your scents for the Mrs. Meyers products.  I’m partial to lavender everything but I have tried a bluebell one recently and I love it.  The lotion is new and it’s coming with my next order.  I think that’ll be a great addition to the Mrs. Meyers family.

Now, all of you faithful already committed Grove Collaborative fans, this giveaway is certainly the best for the newcomers this month.  But, you DO get a little something something.  You get a free Mrs. Meyers hand soap added to your next order.

(I know.  I agree.  We want more.  Like that cute metal caddy.  I’m sorry.  I don’t make the rules for these campaigns.  Shoot, I don’t make the rules for much of anything.)

So – there you go.

It’s a great time to sign up for the first time for Grove Collaborative – that’s for sure.

For your FREE kit, click here.

For your FREE Mrs. Meyers hand soap, click here.

 

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Motherhood – The Club.

 

When you become a mother you’re an instant member of this club.

And you think it will be all inclusive.

I mean – the only requirement is to have a child, right?

 

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It’s kind of like that.

But then, um, not really.

It’s a unique kind of club.

A mixed bag of sorts.

A mess, really.

A club for certain.

One that can make you feel accepted and understood and,

at the same time,

a club that can feel so exclusive and unfriendly that you’d consider revoking your card.

 

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As mothers we sometimes think our decisions are on display – seen through a transparent window, judged and discussed.

And sometimes maybe they are.

But, if I’m honest, my best parenting decisions have never been about anyone else except my children and our family.

Now I’ve made some poor mothering decisions based on fear or pride.  Or frustration or appearances.  Or misplaced hope or a misplaced desire to impress someone else.

I’ll probably make some more for the same ridiculous reasons.

You might too.

But here’s hoping – for you and for me both – that more of our mothering choices will be made from fear of the Lord than from fear of man.  More of our choices will blossom from knowing our children well than from knowing what popular parenting fads are saying currently.

That I will take the time and the courage to look into the eyes and the hearts of each of my individual children and meet them right where they are.  That you will do that too.  And that, when you do, if it looks worlds apart from what my own child needs right then, that I can have the grace to give you a low high five and say “job well done, mom”.

Our children don’t look alike.  Our houses don’t alike.  It’s doubtful that what our kids will need will match up precisely either.

So – this is me, patting you on the back for tackling your kids’ issues the way you know you need to.  

Trust me, there isn’t anyone more equipped to be your child’s momma than you are.  (Even when that feels untrue.)

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