Summer Lovin', Have You a Bag (BIG MOMMY BEACH BAG GIVEAWAY!)

last year i gave away one of my Big Mommy Beach Bags to celebrate the end of summer (hooray for kids back in their learning cages!), but this year i figured it might be more useful to the winner and the world at large to offer a free custom bag at the beginning of summer.

what's that you say? it's only just spring? well maybe if you read almanacs and stuff. but i declare it to be summer when i get my first accidental sunburn and/or when the first hints of habitual swampass (aka humid short syndrome) start appearing. thusly, IT IS SUMMER.

as always, my pattern for this bag is totally free if you're into making your own, AND i sell these year round in my etsy shop, but once a year a freebie goes out to one lucky big mommy (children/largeness not necessary) and that time has come. 

let me just vouch for this bag. ours (the first one i ever made) is in its 3rd year of hard use and is still going so very strong. we do not approach a body of swimmable water without taking this beast along with us to haul every item that could conceivably be needed in a beach/pool scenario. it's large, in charge and has held up to all sorts of dukes' nonsense that we have put it through.

and in case you were wondering why i call it the "big mommy" bag...this is why.

the winner will get a Big Mommy Bag in the fabric of their choice from my current stock, and can add a letter applique and/or zipper if desired. last year's winner, erica, went with a lovely grey chevron fabric, a green E monogram and a zipper...what would you pick?

free shipping to the US will be included (i cannot offer free shipping worldwide, but if you win and are overseas i will gladly make you a free bag and if you're willing to pay the shipping overage...let's do it!).

one winner will be picked based on rafflecopter entries below and there are plenty of ways to get lots of entries.


*UPDATE: just made the "regram" entry option worth 5 entries since a regram is a big ask! (if you regrammed before i adjusted the # of entries, i will manually add extra to get you all 5 for that.)

*ANOTHER UPDATE: non facebook/IG/twitter people: a comment on this post will also count as an entry (you can enter it on the rafflecopter widget now after youve commented). also: what do you waste all of your time on?!?!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


i miss my meds

when you're pregnant, you can't take anxiety medicine. or at least that's what the doctors tell me (and i think i'd go off them anyway just cause it feels smarter...what with the tiny developing brain and all). 

i've been on zoloft (or the generic equivalent) since a little before getting pregnant with layla (stopping for that pregnancy). i recently told a friend who asked about going on "these types" of meds that it was like taking a multivitamin: there was really no difference day in, day out (unlike with, say aderall, the first molecule of which you feel hitting your brain and immediately making changes), but after like a month or so, you, and those around you, will probably have noticed an overall change.

it makes butterflies taste SO good.

for me, it feels like the scary jagged edges are off. my fuse is longer. i'm just the right amount of whelmed (rather than constantly OVER). there seems to be a whole extra reserve of grace in how i operate with the entire human populace (most felt by jesse and my kids). i've got the same amount on my plate, but all of a sudden i have a much roomier plate to accommodate it all (more room for CHEESE!)

i never noticed how much of a difference the medicine has made until i went off of it when i found out i was pregnant this time. usually when we are "trying" (giggle) i go off of it slowly, the recommended way where you take half a pill for awhile and then stop. but the timing of this pregnancy was slightly surprising and i ended up with-child sooner than expected so i just flat out stopped taking the zoloft after 3 straight years on it.

WOOOOO BOY how did i ever live without this stuff?  life now seems completely impossible, overwhelming and everything makes me angry. granted, some of this is probably adorable pregnancy hormones. but that crawling/strangley feeling creeping up my neck as i seem to have less and less emotional strength to give to my life-- that is familiar and has nothing to do with pregnancy. i remember this and it is just awful and crippling and satan.

now, as a jesus-person (official term), i know that i have access to christ's unlimited grace and that he wants to grow me in maturity and help me and that he is all i reeeeeeally need. but i also wear my seatbelt, get yearly pap tests, happily go to marriage counseling and use prescription glasses. those are all really great things that jesus gave the ingenious mind of man the power to invent. i just go ahead and put my zoloft right in there with the rest of them. it's not cheating, it's not subverting the will of god. it's using whatever tools i have access to to become more like him. if i could be all-natural, and smoke an organic basil doobie to get there, i would. until i find that recipe on pinterest: pharmaceuticals. and, the simple fact and fruit of my story is, when i am on zoloft, i am simply more like jesus than without it.

so what about now? i currently do not have access to this one tool (thanks to my fetal blocker). i was talking to jesse about this last night and he said, "yeah it's harder without it, but it's a good thing to go through." and i thought, THROAT PUNCH! no, i guess i actually agree. am i suffering without the help of the meds? yup. and the bible is pretty clear that suffering should be considered a good thing when it comes. i am spending a lot more of my relationship with jesus just straight up leaning HARD on him and begging him to carry me through the hairier of times when things get stressful and seem hopeless. and hey, thats a good thing. and it will be a good thing too when i'm back on my medicine. 

so that's what i'm using this season of life as a reminder of: he's making ALL THE THINGS work together for my good. whether it's a pill that does it in the background nice and simply, or a front-line assault (with me cowering behind him) against the lies that say i hate myself, my kids, my husband and my life. ALL THE THINGS for my good. can i trust that? like for really real? even when my analytical mind seems to find a million little lawyer-holes in the promise (what if i get paralyzed? what if jesse dies? what if my baby has a disability? what if zombie apocalypse? HOW ARE THOSE GOOD, GOD? I WANT ANSWERS! I WANT THE TRUTH!), do i have the faith enough to just lean in and believe? to believe that i really can't handle the truth; the one where he loves me so freaking scandalously much that all my little what-if's can't even touch and aren't even operating in the same dimension as the Good that he has planned for me and has already done for me.

i want to say yes (though really i'm more of a, "crap, i dunno, that sounds shady," right this minute). i am using this period to practice jumping into that YES more and more. flexing my sad little faith muscles and getting really sore in the process. i'm not gonna count down the days until i can swallow my favorite little pill again, because, as much of a difference as it makes, it's not where my really hope is (or at least should be).

UPDATE 9/24/14: I talked to my OB at the appointment following the writing of this post and she didnt hesistate to urge me to get right back on my dose. She said of all the meds Zoloft is most researched and the safest known during pregnancy, and that it was by far a better "risk" than this unstoppable anger/anxiety/stress/rage. I felt my life return to me after just a week or two back on the meds. Definitely talk to your doctor...there are options!


bacon peas

how about a super quick and easy recipe that will have your family members arguing over the last scoop of veggies (the actually happened last week. it was me versus judah, and i won out when i played the "the baby needs them!" card.)

judah is who i tried this recipe for the first time. he is our fussy eater. layla is down to party with whatever weird thing crosses her plate, but i have seen judah gag himself to barfing over a single mac n' cheese elbow (what child is this?!?!).

so imagine my surprise when he fell HARD for an english pea dish. the first time i had made these was last summer, and for some reason i forgot their huge success and didnt really make them again. and then judah joined a little pee-wee soccer league this spring and on his first day of practice they went around and said their name and their favorite food. i was shocked and thrilled when judah chirped out "bacon peas!" i couldnt believe that he remembered them from that long ago OR that i hadnt made them a part of the regular rotation since then.

they are now back in play enough that i was able to take a few pics so that i could share the love in hopes of reaching other families with VAC (vegetable averse children) syndrome.


INGREDIENTS  (can you guess?) 

-center cut bacon (4-6 slices, depending on how much you love it)
-a bag of frozen english peas (our family of 4 can take down a whole bag in one sitting, less aggessive folks may have leftovers)


1. cook the peas according to directions, set aside
2. start cooking your bacon in a skillet (not on a flat griddle)
3. when bacon is alllllllmost cooked crisp, pull it out and set aside to cool/drain on paper towels.
4. pour your cooked peas into the bacon pan (you should have a nice lil' puddle of bacon grease)
5. stir peas so that everyone gets a little greased up.
6. crumble your bacon strips into bits and toss in with the peas
7. stir a few times and then remove from heat, drain any extra grease, and serve. salt to taste.

am i a little embarrassed that my family would not eat green peas until i started cooking them in bacon fat? maybe. but mostly i'm just loving plowing through these myself. and when you think about it it's barely one slice of bacon (and, yes, its fat) per person. 

the bacon taste doesnt completely take over the peas; so it isnt like you're just eating hot, bacon-flavored dippin' dots. you still definitely taste the yummy green peas primarily, but they just seem so much more happy with their delicious, meaty partner in there with them giving them a charred, smoky taste rather than just the "boiled veggie" vibe they were giving off before.


watching our firstborn start to understand sin

I asked Jesse to write this last night since he was the one who actually experienced the breakthrough/down and had the cool conversation with Judah. It's really crazy cool because we have been lamenting lately the fact that when Judah does something really hurtful or even hateful to us or to Layla, that there is no actual recognition of having done something truly wrong. He does the classic kid thing of just rote repeating our words of apology because he "has" to, but rarely/never seems to actually empathize with or even appreciate the pain he has caused. We've been talking and praying about how to help him practice a heart of repentance that will really feel the depth of the hurt he can cause with his words/actions (and how to stay away from the line that crosses over into shaming him) since this is something crucial to a life with Jesus.

And I'll let Jesse tell you what happened last night.

Right before bedtime tonight Judah and Layla got into one of their classic fights.  Judah had the ipad and Layla was encroaching on his territory wanting to watch what he was watching after we got home from the Library.  But these days its a 50/50 chance whether Judah will be sweet and kind and allow her to cuddle up next to him, or punch her in the face and tell her to leave…

But tonight he just said, “I wish I didn’t have a sister.”

I heard it in the hall, but Keight made him go repeat it to me.  When he told me what he said, I informed him that he’d lost a love token (this system of rewarding jesus-like behavior that we've been using for a little over  year now), and that definitely wasn’t showing love to his sister.  And that seemed like the end of it…

But apparently little man’s wheels were still turning.  That guy is a thinker and a processor for sure.  We went on with the normal bedtime routine, PJs, reading a book, etc, but when it came time to get up into bed, Judah bonked his head on the way up into his nook, so I went up there to check on him.

He was sad because he bonked his head on something, but perhaps that also triggered a thought because he looked at me with tear-filled, innocent/guilty, 4 year old eyes and said, “Daddy, I don’t know why I’m so mean to people sometimes.  I don’t know why I’m so mean to Layla.  I don’t know how to change though, I don’t know why I punch her and hit her.”  And then he proceeded to descend into greater tears.

Now this was a really strange place for me as a dad, because my heart was breaking because of how sad he was, and because I too know how crummy it feels whenever you realize what a mean and hurtful person you can be, but to also feel trapped and unable to change… but at the same time… I was also incredibly proud of him. 

I was proud because what he was feeling seemed to be the beginning of some of the most important feelings that a person can wrestle with in this life. 

And then he said, “And God sees all the times that I’ve been so mean to Layla…” and he began to cry again and said tearfully, “And I don’t know what He’s gonna do!”

And I really had to fight back every instinct that I had at this point to reassure him that everything would be fine, and that God sees all the good things that he does too, and knows that he’s a good boy… because I knew that he was on the verge of realizing one of the most important truths that anyone can learn about themselves in this life… he was about to learn that he was a sinner.

Not because I told him so.  Not because anyone explained sin, or the 10 commandments to him… but because he felt it in his heart.  Because he knew that when God looked at his life… He wouldn’t be happy with what He found.   And it was so so sad.  And I was so sad… but at the same time, I knew that what was happening was so so important.

2 Cor. 7:9-10 says, …”yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

I’m so glad that God has been taking me back to those verses again and again, because I knew that what came next was the very most important thing.  Being sad about wrong doing is the right starting point… but where you go from there is absolutely crucial.  So much so that Paul says its actually a matter of life and death.

So I grabbed his hand and looked into his fearful eyes and asked Judah… “What do you think we should do, buddy?”

And he didn’t know.  I could tell that he was feeling the pressure of being trapped, of wanting and needing a way out… but also not seeing one.  He was hearing the message of the bad news, that wrong is wrong and that it deserves to be punished.  That HE deserved to be punished…

But since he had come to see that… it was also time for the Good News.

So I got to spend the next 5 minutes telling Judah about how we can ask God to forgive us, and know that He does because Jesus took the punishment that we deserve.  That Jesus took his wrong… so that he could be right.  And so that we can pray to God to not just forgive us, but also give us a new heart to love people like He does.

And there were some fun 4 year old moments, like when Judah wondered if Jesus and God were enough to look after all the kids in the world (“there’s like a hundred kids and only two [holds up two fingers] guys!”).  So we got to talk about how big God and Jesus are… not how tall they are… but how big their heart is… how big their love is.  And we got to talk about the Holy Spirit (don’t worry buddy, there are THREE guys!).

I told Judah about how Jesus had to die to make all of this possible.  How he took everyone’s punishment… (“even the desert people, and the jungle people?” he asked.)  And he wrestled with the sadness of Jesus dying for a while too.  And lamented how, with Jesus dying, the world was back down to just two guys to take care of everyone.

But then we got to talk about new life… eternal life… and the hope of a new world, without pain, and without death where we’ll get to do all sorts of fun and cool things like flying and exploring… but I told him I thought the best part will be that we’ll be able to be with our big God and His big love forever and always.

Judah thought the best part would be that we could live in Africa and speak Spanish.

We finished by praying together and Judah from his heart asked God to please forgive him for being so mean and hurtful to his sister.  And then he asked God to help give him a new heart for his sister to be able to love her, like God loves her.

And to that I said a big hearty, happy, and proud AMEN.


bread, ribs, eggplant, and not a recipe in sight

a handful of random:

-We went to Disney World for spring break last week. I am trying to summon the strength to write a post about it (after my near-death disney trip in december, i am harrowed by the mere thought) because it was a seriously rocking time. but if not, you must know this:  the 2 best restaurants in all of mickey's domain are: Flame Tree BBQ in animal kingdom (best ribs i've ever had, not even ashamed) and Be Our Guest in Magica Kingdom (go at 10:30 am for an early lunch with minimum wait...everything we had was legit wonderful food).

beneath the tree of life

-I am officially done with the first trimester. good riddance. 14 weeks finds me having gained 0 lbs since my first appointment (I have decided to not count those initial 10 lbs that happened in one instant after getting the positive test since the dr. never even knew about my real "before" weight), and yet being huge and soft everywhere. I have belly, enough that the rubber band trick on all of my pants is starting to fail, but its not the rock hard preg belly that is strong enough to push back against maternity elastic yet, leaving me looking like I'm wearing really unfortunately-designed Spanx with things being squeezed and spilling over. Fun times. But I'll take it any day because it comes with NO MORE DEATH NAUSEA. And what's insane? finding out the gender in less than a month! Junk's about to get REAL.

bring on the LANUGO!

they are insane about everything lessening besides the nausea. (artist's rendering of my motherly form)

-I added a link in the sidebar under my picture over yonder----> to support one of my best friend/hero's ministries. Angie is amazing and is a HUUUUUUUGE reason why i ever gave ministry, and even Jesus Himself, a chance. Her campus ministry, Bread, has an opportunity to buy a new house to operate from for a STEAL. This woman loves Jesus in a breathtakingly  committed and authentic way and is changing lives at Emory University just like she did mine at Georgia Tech. Any donation is totally tax deductible, BTW and FTW.

-We had to make the call recently on whether to register Judah for kindergarten or to let him to another 4 year old pre-k program. He's a late May (25th) birthday and he's a boy. My parents are lifelong educators, my dad working in admissions and then as headmaster for decades, and unhesitatingly recommended letting him have another year before starting. Everyone else we have asked about this has agreed. We have heard that with girls, you'd maybe send them on a little young (I started very early with an October bday and despite doing solidly academically and athletically despite my being behind in age, my parents said they always regretted not giving my another year of maturity), but with boys that it shouldnt even be given a second thought. 

So that's what we went with and decided to wait and let Judah man get another year of knowledge and muscle and be the oldest in his grade forevermore (like his daddy) rather than the youngest (like mama). Judah and Layla will be at the same preschool with each other for another year, and should enter big school only 1 grade apart when the time comes (and baby 3 will be at the same church program when i have to go back to work too). It's still hard for me not to second-guess and wonder about if he was starting Kindergarten this fall, especially with all my friends who i was pregnant with starting their 5 years olds. Keep telling me this is the right call!

another year to stop to smell the roses "horsey medicine" (re: weeds)

-I have been being rocked by the couples' small group Jesse and I are in, that he leads. We are studying Galatians, but it should probably really be called, "Hey, Keight, maybe you're not really a Christian after all" because it has just convicted my PANTS OFF about how bad i am about making the gospel about what I am doing/not doing right when it is truly the opposite: all that matter is what Christ did on my behalf and i cant add or subtract one iota from that. It's been utterly challenging and yet completely freeing to "learn" this truth and really try to let it sink it (despite all the insane systems and rules we have set up as a society and even as a church that convince us otherwise). I'm especially loving this in the middle of this Holy Week leading up to celebrating the actual event of that uber-victory of our Savior's on sunday. amen.

-We are reinstating the veggie garden in our backyard this year. We planned to have 5 shady tree culprits cut down to help us be more successful this year (what we learned last year sun =  important), but when we got quotes from tree removers for $300 and $2500 for the exact same job we got a little suspicious. No telling if the tree will make it down this year or will stunt another harvest. This year's crops: peas, jalapenos, roma tomatoes, carrots, okra (i'll never give up on my favorite veggie!), eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, and maybe watermelon. Stay tuned for disasters and small victories.

the only burpees you'll catch me near.

-We are thisclose to closing on the papers (oh the papers!) to refinance our mortgage. this is going to save us major major and maybe even allow enough wiggle room for an addition onto our tiny ranch? dare to dream. We tried to refinance last year but our appraisal came back dismally low (think worth 30% less than what we paid for it in 2006) so we couldnt do it. The appraiser came last friday and I was there to let him in. I was tickled pink we he said, "wow, youve done some major renovation in the kitchen recently, huh?" because no we havent! ALl original counters, cabinets, floors and other majors stuff. we HAVE however worked our butts off at all the little stuff and so hearing a professional think that those little touches were from big investment was thrilling. Of course, I am an idiot and told him "no we didnt really do anything big or expensive at all, just small improvements here and there." TO THE APPRAISER! fool woman. Deposit my  boner move, the result was wonderful as the appraisal value came back SO much higher than we had even hoped for so we are thrilled. the next step is getting a builder out to tell us if adding on is worth it versus buy or building somewhere new (tear...i dont know if i can leave this house!)

happy tuesday, fools.


that time we told the kids about the baby

we filmed this shortly before announcing it publicly (on the same day because the kids would have told everyone and everyone would have told the kids). this was before we knew it was just one baby and i was already experiencing multiples-paranoia. 

i added some notes where clarification or commentary was necessary.


love is an open door (only one though)

It started with a brutal insult from me to Jesse. 

We were in the car and I was singing screeching out my favorite of the Frozen soundtrack songs, "Love is an Open Door," the duet between Anna and Prince Hans (doy). 

Jinx. Jinx again!

Jesse, rather understandably (to a rational person, at least) jumped in on the boy part. I immediately and violently shushed him and barked, "No, stop! I want to sing it with him. I like his voice better."

And almost immediately after it was out of my mouth, I was like


See, I wanted to live out a little 2-minute fantasy wherein I play an ignored, shut-in, Nordic princess falling in love with a cartoon ginger prince (who, if you've seen the film....you know...) at my first ever ball. And in pursuing this little mental escape, I had just majorly taken a chunk out of the heart of my real life, forever husband AND managed to insult his singing voice in the process (he is a professional worship leader, soooo...extra wounding points landed there). 

It got me thinking about how often I do this. How often I innocently--for just a moment--wish my love story was something different, or had something more than what it actually does. It could be anything from "I wish I had met my husband in a really crazy, serendipitous way like Anna and Hans," to "my life would be so much more exciting if I was just Khaleesi Drogo."


Of course, we do this all the time. A huge part of the fun of books and TV and movies and putting yourself in the characters' place and imagining how you would walk through their story. There’s probably nothing wrong with that.

But I noticed in that one moment when I snapped at Jesse to butt out and leave me and Hans to our little interlude, in chasing that little escape, it had become wrong. I was actually resenting Jesse a little bit for being not that. "You aren't able to fulfill this little side-dream of mine, so just please shut up and let me pursue it elsewhere for a second, thank you."

I thought, "Isn't that just like a stereotypical American living in 2014?" (Maybe that's an unfair generalization, and I should just say, "isn't that just like me?"). In my actual everyday reality I have a husband who is faithful, attentive, hilarious, kind, hardworking (at home maybe even more than at work!), utterly committed to me, and also damn freakin' hot. I feel like 99.9% of women everywhere who have ever wanted a husband would be pretty happy to end up with a guy they could describe that way. And yet here I am trying to mentally cherry-pick for some fictional more, and being pretty lazily ungrateful for my real man in the process.

It made me see how dangerous it can be to look outside of your own love story for something that might be missing, for something more. 

Okay, sure, if it's 3 dragon eggs you're looking for, you're probably going to be alright. But what if what you're looking for is attentiveness because your husband never seems to have much time anymore for just pouring into you, but your neighbor or some guy at work hangs on your every word?

I think if that was me, I would be tempted to start to somehow convince myself that I could have both. My husband.....aaaaand maybe just the good feelings the attention from the other guy brought me too. And that just gets into a bucket full of yikes.
So after my horrible moment of insulting Jesse I decided to make a commitment to our love story. To stop daydreaming on "what it would be like if..." and spend time in and on our story. Our. One. Story

It might not be worth selling the movie rights, it might not have a single talking snowman or Targaryen in sight, and it--gasp--probably won't even make me "feel happy" a lot of the time, but it's the one that is real and it's the only one whose lead male character has actually vowed to give a crap about how that story turns out.

Maybe your prince or your love story isn't how you would have described him/it when you wrote the dream script of your life. Maybe you say, "yeah, easy for you to say, keight, since you have the guy of your dreams already. But what if I’m stuck in my story with someone i don’t even like anymore?" first of all, that has been me...LOTS of times. second of all, unless we are talking abuse or infidelity (and sometimes even then...y'all know I believe the restoring power of Jesus is seriously bananas and can do anything), I just don't see where it's ever going to be more profitable to pour yourself--your effort, attention, grace, everything--anywhere but back into your current marriage.

I know that this is a really simplistic view, and that it's far uglier, far more complex, and can feel far more hopeless than I’ve described. I just felt like, for a second, I got a really good glimpse of one of the ways satan can start to tempt my mind away from my own magical (that's not mushy baloney! 2 trying to become 1 is magic...straight up, playa) love story, and it was such a powerful moment of exposure to me, and so convicted me that I felt compelled to share.

It's hard. But I think it's always worth it. And that, my friends, is what she said.

We reclaimed that song, by the way. FOR US. It's officially a Keight & Jesse love song. So as you might expect, that track now plays a lot more like this in our car (except we don't call ourselves good-looking on YouTube).