Dock the Boat

Grief shows up in the strangest ways.

Sometimes it’s eating a whole bag of Cheetos – in one afternoon.
Or maybe it’s instigating a huge argument with your spouse over whose turn it is to bathe the kids.
It might be popping a few Advil because your head won’t stop pounding
Or maybe it’s crawling into bed at 8:00 p.m.
and not getting out again until noon the next day.
Sometimes it’s serving cereal for dinner
Seven nights in a row
Or having that extra cocktail
Even though you have to work in the morning.
Sometimes it’s organizing your whole entire house
All of the closets and cupboards
And making 10 trips to Goodwill
Just to avoid thinking.
Sometimes it’s actually sitting down
And turning on a song
That you know will ignite the waterworks
And soaking in the pain
Rather than tapping your feet to the joyful beat.

Grief is a strange & unpredictable force – like a river that rages at times and calmly flows at other times.

It’s a part of us, the river, part of the experience necessary for life – as is the boat we cling to as the water bends us to its will; the boat that provides safety or is it, perhaps, captivity?

We could choose to row towards land; exit the boat & sink our weary feet into the mossy ground. Maybe even build a home – create a life with someone we love. A life beside the waters with the boat docked at shore; remembering our time on the river and grateful that the boat no longer serves as a life preserver or a prison. We might learn to dance again; slowly allowing our feet to reclaim their joy, a dance beside the cool, calm stream; a dance of remembrance and thankfulness as the river continues to ebb and flow.

There is a time for everything
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance.

Just keep livin.

How to do NYC on a Budget

Ryan and I recently had the opportunity to get away for a few days and escape to NYC. This was a dream destination of mine, and  I’m glad to have experienced it, but after going I’ve realized that I really enjoy my slower pace of life – even with 8 kids! This trip involved a little work and a little play so we were limited on how much we were able to squeeze into our days, but we did accomplish most of what we came to see; however, we were disappointed we didn’t make it to the 911 memorial.  We were in the area but just not understanding where it was and due to the language barrier of some of the people we asked, we gave up.  Up front admission – our airline tickets were free.  We were bumped on a flight last year and given with free tickets so that did help keep costs down significantly.


We stayed in an apartment we found on VRBO in the heart of Brooklyn. This place was amazing.  One bedroom with a full kitchen, full bath, and living space.  This was an up and coming area of Brooklyn (aka more affordable options), and we loved the diversity, the eclectic scene with cool restaurants, and organic markets and everyone (for the most part) was very friendly and helpful. The grocery store was a five minute walk and the subway station approximately 10 minutes away. We ate breakfast and a few dinners here to save money as well. This place cost $110 a night.


We purchased a metro card – a MUST.  We rode the subway constantly and paid $33 for a 7 day pass. The subway brought us anywhere we needed to go, and honestly was by far the most affordable way to travel (outside of walking which we did a lot).


Food is much more expensive in NYC – restaurants, groceries, everything – pricey. A deli sandwich is easily $20.  We bought groceries and cooked occasionally but we did find a few ways to save out on the town.  All over NYC there are food vendor trucks selling rice dishes – rice with chicken and veggies, rice with beef and veggies, you get the point.  These are huge bowls of food for $9.  Ryan and I split one and it was plenty of food.  Also, Chinatown is awesome for tons of food on the cheap.  Again, a whole meal for $9.00 that can easily be split or saved for another meal. Lunch is a much more affordable option.  We dined at Benitos for lunch (around 2:00) – a world famous Italian restaurant in Little Italy. The lunch special was huge and included a salad, a full pasta dish, and a full entree for $15.00.  We could have easily split this amazing meal and saved ourselves very sore stomachs, but we didn’t and skipped dinner instead. And finally, with a little research, there are happy hour deals everywhere – mostly on drinks and appetizers.


Broadway tickets. 

I can tell you how not to do this.  We visited numerous TKTS offices daily to check on ticket prices (TKTS offices are where they sell cheap Broadway tickets but you have to show up daily to check and purchase).  We didn’t really have a plan or a show in mind so we’d look at the selections and then decide to wait for another day.  Well, waiting turned into Monday, and if we were going to see a show it was our only remaining option and come to find out they don’t offer many shows on Mondays. TKTS was no longer an option.  We decided to see Wicked at 7:00 Monday evening.  We trekked on over to the Wicked ticket booth and begged for discounted tickets.  It didn’t work.  They told us there was a lottery that evening where we could win $30 tickets. YAY! And we were told we probably had a great chance at winning because Monday’s were never busy. YAY! This particular Monday had about 150 people vying for $30 tickets.  We didn’t win.  We paid full price for our tickets.  Live and Learn.


CHINATOWN.  T-Shirts 5 for $10. Hats 3 for $10. Cute little money holders and magnets $1.00. Enough said.


CHINATOWN. Couples massage $70. Best massage ever although I would recommend checking out the reviews on Travelocity first.  Most of the massage parlors do look a little bit seedy and some do have signs expressing their disgust for customers who have expectations for “extra” so… just be vigilant (maybe don’t let your loved one go alone, lol), and do the research.

Extra Freebies

  1. Stanton Island Ferry is free and offers a fantastic shot of the statue of liberty and all of downtown.
  2. Central Park is Free and you could get lost in there for hours and we did! Bring lots of water and food.
  3. Bring a refillable water bottle.  There are stations all over the city to refill.
  4. Brooklyn Bridge is free and fun
  5. Tram that goes over the Brooklyn Bridge is $3.00 a person.
  6. Always tons of free events in the parks – markets, craft shows, yoga, pick up games.
  7. And New Yorkers are much more friendly and willing to help than their reputation suggests – go ahead and ask, they’ll be happy to help.


Ok, that’s it from my experience!  Comment below if you have anything else to offer.  Best of travels to those of you headed to the big apple soon!

Just keep livin!

10 OCD Steps For Great Sleep


As promised last week, I’m going to share my extensive sleep routine. I have numerous OCD/Obsessive/Type A quirks (that’s what we’ll call them) and have never been a great sleeper until I stumbled upon these options and then slowly added them until I was miraculously sleeping throughout the night.

Ok, here goes.

1.Hug and kiss all of the kids good night at 8:00 p.m. Yes, ALL of our children retreat to their areas of the home at this time. Most (none) go to sleep immediately but instead read, draw, play Legos, watch television (the boys) – you get the point but our point as parents to 8 children is this, mom and dad need two hours of alone time to decompress, regroup, and relax before the circus begins all over again at 6 a.m.

2.Draw the room darkening shades and room darkening curtains.  I need pitch black without a trace of light in my room in order to sleep.

3.Watch Netflix with Ryan in bed until 9:30

4. 9:30 – take 1/2 a Unisome.  I started this when I was pregnant for Mabel and have never stopped.  Honestly, I’m not sure I actually need it anymore but who wants to take that chance?

5. take 1/2 tea magnesium calm in water

6. Make Yogi Sleepy tea and add 1/2 tea Reishi Mushroom.

7. Take CBD Tincture

8. Rub Hemp Balm wherever there’s pain (usually my feet and hip)

9. Drink tea while falling asleep to Friends (Yes, it has to be friends)

10. 10:30 – Fan on, lights out – Ryan’s job because I’m usually already asleep.



There ya have it! Yes, I’ve tried Valerian and Melatonin.  Both give me weird dreams. Maybe this routine will help someone else in need of a solid night of sleep.

On a different note, I really should have affiliate links for all of these products, but I don’t.  I’m horrible with details, and I don’t have the time to mess with it.  It’s been suggested on a number of occasions that I should pursue a marketing specialist and/or blog manager for monetizing options, SEO, picture layout, etc.  I’m open to this idea; however, the right person would have to be content with primarily working for a percentage of the profits at this point in my career. Maybe a stay at home mom who wants to make a little extra cash? A college kid who knows his stuff?  A retiree? Some thoughts. If you know someone who would be a great fit for a position like this, please send them my way at

Just keep livin!

(This post does contain affiliate links that I may receive compensation for).

A Birthday Wish for Luke

It’s Luke’s 15th birthday exactly one month from today. August 12, 2004 he came screaming into this world as he was gently lifted from the gaping hole in my belly. I held my breath & desperately prayed that he would defy every odd and please dear God, let him LIVE and he did! Hallelujah! and he not only lived but he thrived and progressed for almost 15 years! Praise Jesus! And as thankful as we are for his life and progression, the simple fact remains that as Luke ages and gets bigger and stronger and goes through puberty with lots of pent up testosterone flowing through his body, his needs have become quite intense, and it’s difficult to keep him satisfied, entertained, and at times, safe.

Continue reading “A Birthday Wish for Luke”