life, craft, kids, crap…

Good Mama Skillz

When you’ve got to get clothes for the kids & you have coupons that expire today & your toddler starts hollering, “NO NO! BYE BYE!” the minute you enter the store, what’s a girl to do?

Great moms would have a talk about appropriate behavior, provide their child with an organic wood toy free of poison paint or varnish, and all would be well.

A Good mom asks the cashier to keep her selections while she leaves with her screaming child and buys him cinammon-sugar pretzel bites.

Messy, messy pretzel bites.

That keep him quiet during the rest of the shopping trip.


And then a good mom takes her son to the bathroom, strips him down, washes him from head to toe, and puts some of his new clothes on him.

Y’all, I’m not going to feel guilty if I’m not a great mom. I’ll settle for good. Good is actually more than good enough. We listen to so many voices that tell us that our choices aren’t right. That instead of feeding my hungry and cranky child sugary pretzel bites, I should have had homemade broccoli-kale bites and that my child should have been content with that.

You know what I’m content with?



A blurry selfie of me and my little man on a brief hug-break at the mall playground.

These are the things that are good and wonderful.

So are the leftover pretzel bites that I’m about to put down.

Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It

Two years ago I had the chance to go to Haiti. While we were there, we went to an orphanage. It was not much more than an old tent, some wooden benches, and concrete block dorms. At the time, I was pregnant with Little Mister, Peanut was 3, and Bean was 4. I met a little boy at the orphanage who let me carry him around all afternoon. He seemed to be sad and actually a little bit angry. He was about 3 or 4. I’d be sad and angry if I was a little boy who had to live there, too. I’ve prayed for him whenever he came to mind and asked God to rescue him, to give him a family, and to give him hope and a future.

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Two days ago, God brought him to my mind again. So, I started praying. But, instead of praying & then forgetting, He kept bringing this specific child to mind. That same night in the car, the song Kings & Queens by Audio Adrenaline came on. If you’re not familiar with it, the video is filled with Haitian orphans and the song talks about how God loves and values them and has a plan for each of them. Honestly, that song bugs cynical old me. I saw the orphanages. I’ve heard of the corruption. And so, when this song came on, even after God was prompting me to pray specifically for this little boy, I shut it off. I thought to myself: “That’s not realistic. Most of those kids won’t have a future.”

Tonight I opened Facebook and saw a smiling little boy on a friend’s feed. The caption said that his adoption from Haiti was complete & he was finally home. The name was the same. The age would be right. I looked again. It was the same little boy. Quickly I messaged my friend to ask if, indeed, this was the same boy I met at the orphanage who was now adopted by his friends.

He is.

I started bawling like a baby. God does not see the orphan and think of these children as ones without a future or a hope. God does not see them in their situation and stay silent. At the very time He was prompting me to pray, He was already working to answer the prayer. And, man, He has been good enough to show me that my cynical thoughts were so wrong. This sweetheart could have been adopted by someone in California, or Toledo, or not adopted at all. But, to be adopted by a friend of a friend and to have me check Facebook at just the time that these pictures were posted? Some might say He’s just showing off. I call it an amazing mercy.

In no way am I trying to say that I have had a piece of this little one’s story. Instead, my Father has used a boy that many would consider forgotten and unimportant to show me that He knows each of us, cares for each of us, and is working in each of our lives. He is not cynical. He does not give up.

In all of the pictures of this child now, he has such a beautiful smile! His eyes laugh and you can tell he feels such joy. Forever, my memories will have an addendum. See, I can’t think of this precious boy as the sad orphan any more. God has rescued him, God has given him a family, and God has given him hope and a future.

In our room, in a spot I see right before I go to sleep and right as I wake up is a frame with the second part of Isaiah 43:1 written in beautiful calligraphy: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine!” In the same way that this sweet boy has a new surname and a new family and is irrevocably theirs, when I accepted that  Christ died for me and defeated sin and death before being raised from the dead, I became wholly and irrevocably God’s. He called me by name. He redeemed me. I am His.

Easter Traditions

A friend and I were talking tonight about Easter activities and traditions to do at home. Let me clarify: Non-bunny and non-egg traditions. I’m not knocking those, but they are in abundance. We talked about Christmas & how there’s so many ways to incorporate Biblically-based traditions into the family. There’s nativity scenes, advent candles, meaningful songs, and tons of activities that we can do to make the holiday special and also meaningful. Add on to that the special food, fun parties, and other traditions and it’s no wonder that Christmas is the headliner around here. Oh, and there’s also those gifts. That kind of sticks with kids, too, right?

But, Easter? There’s baskets and eggs and bunnies and somehow they relate to Jesus and wearing scratchy dresses. I want to do something different.

Here’s the other thing: I want Easter to be spectacular around here. With only a few days left, I want there to be decor and traditions and a meal and all kinds of stuff. Since I can’t do it all, I don’t want to do any. And that’s not going to help. Last year we started with the Resurrection Eggs. In addition to actually going to the attic and getting the box down with those in it, I want to do just one other tradition. One other thing that’s meaningful and reminds our kids that Easter is about Jesus, who died on the cross to save us from our sins and rose again 3 days later, defeating sin and death and allowing a way to a relationship with our very Creator. I can’t have the expectation to do 20 things before Sunday, but I can do one. And then next year I can add one more. And another the year after that. Less pressure and stress this way, eh?

My friend was telling me about a Resurrection Scene (instead of a Nativity Scene) that she wanted to make with her kids. I think this is brilliant. What about y’all? Do you have any traditions in your family that help make Easter special?


A year and one day ago, Raylo & I still couldn’t agree on a name for our son. I had been dealing with lots of pre-term labor & spent most of my time sitting around. I didn’t think I’d make it anywhere near the scheduled c-section date. But, it was getting closer and we still didn’t have a name.

In the middle of the night, Peanut woke us up. After we settled her down & I took yet another pregnant-lady-middle-o-the-night-potty-break, Raylo looked at me and suggested a great option for Little Mister’s name. “I like it. Let’s go for it,” I said.

He must have overheard our conversation.

He must have heard it and said, “Well, I’ll finish this nap, but then I’m out of here. They’ve got a name for me, so I guess it’s time.” The next morning I woke up with real deal labor pains. By the evening, we had our sweet boy.

But, because he was early, he had some trouble breathing. So, he headed off to the NICU.


You’d never know it by the way he’s grown!


He’s been such a joy to us all! The girls play with him and fuss over him constantly. I was certain that his first words would be, “Back off!” But instead, it was “bye bye.” His next two words were their names.


Now he’s crawling and cruising & trying really hard to walk. I’m sure their affection for him will change when he is getting in their stuff!


And now, he’s one. One year of living and being loved. And what better way to celebrate than by eating a lot of cake?


In case you’re wondering if he liked it…?


Happy birthday, Little Mister!!!

Hopes for Revival

Tonight we had a meeting at church with Bill Elliff from The Summit church in North Little Rock. He had some very challenging words on prayer – specifically on praying for revival.

As I’ve seen the way the culture is turning further and further from God and as my kids have gotten older I have been afraid of how we were going to raise them to love God and reject the lies this culture packages so prettily. I’ve wanted to find a parcel of land, build a tall wall, and start a protected commune with only approved living with us. Keep the evil out and hide my children away. But I also know this isn’t reasonable or right. So, I prayed that I know how to train them to be in the world & not of it; to love Jesus above all else.

Tonight I was challenged to make that prayer a distant second to the more important one. Elliff shared the history of great revivals in America, detailing the stories of thousands of people coming to Christ every week. He then spoke of how a revival like this can change the very fabric of a nation. The culture that is so perverse and threatens to swallow the innocence of my children can change. With it, thousands or even millions can live changed lives full of hope.

God has challenged me to pray larger. (And to pray again what seems to man to be praying crazy.) Rather than praying for my children to be protected from this culture, He has challenged me to pray for a revival that will redeem the culture and this country.

One of the hopeful thoughts is this: in Scripture, every single time that Israel collectively humbled themselves & cried out for revival with one voice, God answered. Every. Single. Time. He can bring this change that to us seems crazy and impossible. With man, these things are impossible, but with God, all things are possible. That’s a promise straight from the Bible. (Matthew 19:26 says so.)

I’ve been using a great app called Day One to keep a family diary. I put a picture and a brief story from our day. Later I can print it out for us to see how they’ve grown & changed. I originally wrote this post in that diary, and as I did, I felt very strongly that I needed to publish it here as well. Tonight we also talked tonight about obedience even when we don’t understand. I’m not sure of the purpose in publishing, but I have told Him I’d obey. So, here you go. Maybe it will encourage others to pray for revival and hope. God has promised to answer when we call out to Him. Lets get to calling.

Letters to a Long-Neglected Friend

Dear Bloggity Blog Blog,

I remember where I was the first time I heard the term blog. I remember thinking it was a stupid, ugly word. It sounded like a gelatinous, villainous cousin of The Blob. Beware The Blog! He is coming! But, while I was overseas and honestly quite lonely for my friends at home (who must have been lonely for all of my stories and varied piffle), I met you.

For the record, you are neither gelatinous nor villainous.

Across the years I’ve attempted to make you a travelogue, a diary, a newsletter, a craft and quilting record, and a photo cache of my progeny. Recently I had inadvertently become what many aspire to be – and therefore do it well with whole-hearted intent and comfort in their role – I had become a Mommy Blogger.

I’m not dissing the Mommy Bloggers. I value and appreciate the Mommy Bloggers out there. I read some of them. I honor them. And I never cross them. NO ONE crosses the Mommy Bloggers. Perpetual time out or ruin may result.

But I wasn’t comfortable in the role of Mommy Blogger. I don’t want you, dear little wordy outlet, to be all about my children. For one thing, pretty much everything in my life is about these crazy darlings. I’ve chosen to structure my life around their growth and discipleship and I am very content with this role.

I didn’t want to become a Mommy Blogger mostly because my children are becoming old enough to care about what I say and show of them. My sweet Peanut quit dancing and making up songs for awhile because I was transcribing them on Facebook & she was hearing references to her private home performances while out in the world. My Bean knew her photos were being published somewhere and she didn’t want me to take them anymore.

I began to think: sure, they’ll have to get over embarrassing and endearing stories from their infancy, but at what age should their right to privacy become an issue?

This existential crisis of my blogging, the questions of purpose and reason, the impossible intersection of writing about my life that is consumed by children and yet not wanting my blog to be consumed by children, has led to a much-longer-than-expected hiatus.

But I’m back.

And I’m not sure where I’ll head from here.

I know I’ll still post pics of the kidlets because they are too dadgum cute. (It’s actually not fair for me to take them out into public.) And I’ll tell some stories because I’m too dadgum proud of them. But, you are not a blog devoted to the minutiae of their lives.

I won’t turn you into a serious blog. I’m just not a serious person. And there are enough seriously well-written serious blogs out there.

So, I’ll go back to writing piffle.

I guess the most important thing is that I will go back to writing.

Mandi B., the blogger known as mab

Oh, Crap

We had a great visit with the GI specialist today. Contrary to what Dr. Google had me believe, Little Man doesn’t have esophageal ulcers. Instead, he has an immature small intestine. It doesn’t work effectively. This means that more is going in than is coming out. To paraphrase: Poop.


Until his small intestine matures more, we’ll have to help him move out what ChubChub takes in. So, we’ve got some meds, he’s going to be enjoying lots of lovely prunes, there’s probiotics going on, and my friend is going to teach me colon massage. To preemptively answer some questions: No. I am NOT available to massage anyone’s colon that I didn’t give birth to. And, no, you don’t rub inside the colon, it’s a way to rub his belly to promote poopage. Yes, poopage is the correct technical term.

After we got home, Peanut saw a fortune cookie Raylo had left from lunch. She opened it and I think the message inside sums up Little Man’s new goals for life….


Thanks to all who have prayed for us! I am grateful that it’s an issue we can deal with easily and that it’s something he will grow out of!

Praying Crazy

I told y’all before that there’s some times I feel like praying crazy. Sometimes God answers with a yes & sometimes with a no. I still pray crazy.

I told y’all I would be praying that Little Mister’s appointment would get moved from the end of May to this week. Thank you to all of you who joined me in praying crazy. This afternoon I received a call that there was a cancellation tomorrow morning. So, the Little Man & I will be headed to the children’s hospital in Memphis tomorrow morning to see a specialist. I am exceedingly grateful for this appointment change!

Thanks so much to everyone who replied with advice, wisdom, & encouragement here & on Facebook. I’ll let y’all all know the update on him tomorrow night.

For now, will you pray crazy again with me? Will you pray that tomorrow we can have all necessary tests run & get the correct diagnosis?

God is certainly big enough to answer any prayer – no matter how crazy!

Revisiting Reflux

Some of y’all know that our Little Man has been having a really crappy time lately. I wanted to write here what’s going on because I think it’s the easiest way to tell the most people what’s going on.

Our sweet Little Man has reflux. Since Peanut introduced us to the world of constant spit up and back-arching painful screaming, we recognized it pretty quickly. But, he’s never spit up as much. (Non parents….. hang in there….. I have a point in discussing his spit up……) Instead, it stays in his esophagus & hurts twice as much.

He’s been on medication to control the acid & it’s worked pretty well for several months. But, the last two weeks have been different. He’s cried in tremendous pain and his back-arching has increased. He has these spells all through the day and night — which means that there is no sleep in the house. I knew something was wrong, so we went to the doc. He put him on a second reflux med — but it barely helped. Then, he added another med that prevents stomach spasms. It also makes him super sleepy, and I don’t like that. (Well, I like that at night because now he only wakes up twice instead of four or five times.)

The next step was an ultrasound of his kidneys & bladder. (There’s a family history of congenital kidney issues.) Those came up negative. I never have had such trouble figuring out what to pray before. I wanted to pray that the scan would show that nothing was wrong because I didn’t want anything to be wrong with his kidneys. But, if nothing was wrong with his kidneys, then that meant that something else was wrong that was causing such pain. So, should I pray that the scan showed nothing (meaning that we’d have to visit more doctors & look for another solution) or should I pray that the scan showed something (meaning that there was something wrong with his kidneys). It was a conundrum. I ended up just praying “God, please help & fix this. Thanks.”

But now I’m praying differently. Since his kidneys and bladder were fine, we’ve now been referred to a GI specialist. But, we can’t get in until late May. So, until then, I’ve got a baby in pain who can only sleep sitting up in his bouncy chair. To make room for this bouncy chair propped up in our bed and surrounded by pillows, Raylo has been regulated to the couch. No one gets much sleep. And, if my wonderful Mother In Law hadn’t been here, I don’t know how we would have made it this last week. (I’m planning on stealing the sparkplugs from her car so she can’t leave us….)

So, here’s the new prayer: I’m praying for either the children’s hospital in Memphis or in Little Rock to have an earlier appointment come available. Would you pray that with me? Also, any advice is welcome. (I personally think he’s got esophageal ulcers…. because a few Google searches have made me brilliant like that….) We’re already doing all of the typical reflux-control things and I’m nursing, so it’s not a formula issue. I’ve also significantly changed my diet (no caffeine, no milk) to help him. So, what else is there? I can do without sleep for awhile if it helps my sweet boy. Just as long as none of y’all expect me to communicate intelligently when you see me…..

Praying folks, please also pray for his comfort and for us to trust God in this. My tendency is to think of all of the horrible things that could maybe possibly be wrong. (Due to those Google searches, no doubt.)

I’ll update everyone when I can. Thanks.



I’m still here, holding my ever-growing Little Mister, surrounded by a mountain of laundry & chaos. I hate that all I post about lately is the kiddies. But, by choice I have made them my life. 🙂

Here’s some pics for everyone…


This is me with my progeny at my Bubbie’s wedding. Super fun time!


The girls were flower girls. I always wanted to be a flower girl. I am secretly jealous.


We rode a plane to get to Chicago for the wedding. First time for Little Mister, but also the first time for the girls in years. They don’t remember their previous flights. But I do. Yes, I remember the international flight with an 8 month old Bean when she refused to sleep…. That 36 hour time period still ranks in the top 5 most miserable experiences of my life….


We also rode the subway. This trip was quite an eye-opener for my kids who are used to this small Southern town.

In other news, we’ve really been enjoying the History Channel’s miniseries on The Bible. Today at Walmart I saw an ad for the DVD set. You can buy it now before the last episode is shown. The tag line: “buy it now and find out what happens next!” Um, you know, this true story has been around for 2000 years. I don’t think we need the DVD to tell us what happens next! Ha! But I am looking forward to watching it tomorrow night.

I hope your Easter is blessed!

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