Kind is Cool…er than Bullhorns

Pulling into church last week, we heard a man’s voice carrying through the parking lot.

As we looked to where the sound was coming from, we saw a dad with his wife and daughter, megaphone in one hand, doomsday poster in the other.


et cetera, et cetera.

Turns out our church isn’t special – we’re just one of several megachurches that is targeted by this group. It was our week for the…uh…Judgement Day public service announcement.

We got our boys inside and to their children’s worship. About 5 minutes into our own class, I leaned over to my sweet, non-confrontational husband and said, “I think I have to go out there and talk to those people.” To which he replied, “Please don’t.”

I laughed….on my way out the door.

I grabbed a few water bottles from the kitchen and headed outside.

Thankfully, there was a lull in church traffic, so the protestors were sitting down on the grass taking a break.

I squatted down next to them and asked, “So are you are guys from around here?”

The next several minutes were spent talking about living in Texas and being a parent. We didn’t venture much into what they were actually protesting; honestly, I didn’t care to hear. Rarely do productive conversations happen at the speaker end of a bullhorn.

One thing I did say was that our church – while not perfect – is made up of a whole lot of messed up people trying their best to follow a perfect Jesus. “It really is a pretty amazing place, full of lots of grace.”

“Well some of those ‘nice people’ have been very vindictive to us this morning.” the dad replied.

I resisted the urge to point out it was probably a direct response to his yelling unwarranted insults in their face. Instead I said, “Man, I’m sorry to hear that. You know, sometimes when we are met with aggression, we respond accordingly. But even if we disagree with each other, we can still do so in love. I hope you’ve seen more of that today than the other.”

We exchanged a few more pleasantries and ended our conversation shortly after.

As I was walking away I said, “Oh, by the way, I originally came out here to offer you guys water. It’s pretty hot today.”

The dad pointed to a pile of discarded water bottles on the ground and said, “Honestly, you’re about the 8th person to bring food or drinks out here. So.. thanks, but no thanks.”

I’ve never been prouder of our church as I was when I saw that pile of h2o.

When I got closer to the building, a few of our church security officers stopped me and asked if the family had been nice.

I told them yes, surprisingly.

“Oh, good,” they said. “You were the only person who wasn’t yelled away by a megaphone.”

It surprised me a little. Not that they yelled people away, but that I wasn’t one of those people.

Honestly, I think it helped that the family was sitting down relaxed when I approached. It probably also helped that they thought I was 16 years old.

Whatever it was (hello, divine intervention), I was so thankful for it.

Because as we drove up that morning and began unloading our kids, I watched as that teenage girl set up a video camera to record her dad yelling hateful, misguided statements at good, Jesus-loving people.

And as I watched her, I found myself hoping someone was responding graciously.

I hoped someone was responding differently.

I hoped someone was responding with kindness.

And then I felt God elbow me and whisper, “that someone could easily be you.”

Hope is great…but sometimes it needs flesh.

Because there will come a day when that girl begins to question the hate and the judgment her faith is based on. And when that day comes, I want her to be able to look back at her life and see real, actual faces of kindness in the midst of spitefulness. To see real, actual grace offered when it wasn’t deserved.

And you know what’s awesome? Whether she realized it or not…whether she’s even looking yet or not, she saw it on Sunday.

She saw 8 hands holding cold water bottles. 8 faces of grace. 8 examples of a better Jesus.

I think we buy into this idea that we have to have an opposing view. We always have to take a stand. And maybe sometimes we do.

But maybe sometimes we also just need to squat down and hand over some cold water. To be a kind face.

God can work with that. I’m praying he does.

In such a divided, polarized culture – from politics to religion to sleep-training methods – we can still choose kindness. Not a bull horn, not ambivalent silence, but kindness.

That’s my vote.

Kind 2016.


America’s Funniest Home Fails

One of our favorite pastimes as a family is watching America’s Funniest Home Videos on Sunday nights.

(You know, the show that is currently in it’s TWENTY-SEVENTH season. Yes. 27.

Only 49 fewer seasons than Law & Order.)

About 6 months ago I decided to try submitting one of our own home videos to the show. Not because the video was *that* funny, not because I was trying to win $1,000,000; simply because the thought of surprising our boys with a cameo on their favorite show sounded magical.

I opened my laptop, went to their website, and grabbed the first video in my files.

Once I got into the upload process, however, I panicked at the legal jargon. Specifically, the part about their ownership of your video upon submission.

What if the quality control team from AFV comes and destroys all copies of the video from our home?

What if our kid ends up in a commercial for Preparation H?!

Valid enough concerns that I didn’t finish the upload process.

You know when you’re shopping online and you leave something unpaid in your virtual shopping cart, you get an email saying, “Hey, girl…you sure you don’t want to buy those shoes?”

AFV apparently does the same thing.

I got no less than 12 emails over the next several weeks asking if I wanted to complete the consent forms for my video.

I kept deleting them.

And then one day I got a phone call and voicemail from LA.

“Hey, Sarah. This is Shannon from America’s Funniest Home Videos. We are preparing for our next season and would love to include your video…”

I called the number back.

shannon: This is Shannon.

me: Oh, wow. Hi. Uh. This is Sarah…with the video of the…you know, the 15-second…

shannon: Yes, hi, Sarah! We’d love to finish your consent forms to include the video on our upcoming show.

me: But will my kid be the new face of hemorrhoid cream?

shannon: What? No.

me: Ok then, let’s do this.

A few months went by after our conversation and I kinda forgot this whole event.

And then one day I got a phone call and voicemail from LA:

“Hey, Sarah. It’s Shannon from AFV. Your video will be aired this coming Sunday…”

It was at this point in the 6 month America’s Home Funniest Videos video submission journey that I finally told Taylor what I’d done: my master plan to surprise the boys…my free AFV t-shirt coming in the mail…I told it all.

We both dissolved into giggles.

Mostly because we knew our kids would flip out when they saw Alfonso Ribeiro and their brother on the screen at the same time.

We hosted a surprise AFV viewing party with our neighbors. We even had popcorn.

And when our 15-second home video was aired on national television in front of at least 36 grandmothers and 4 doctor’s office waiting rooms, this happened:

me, *pausing the show*: Boys!! Did you see that?! Who was that?!

beckett: Davis. ….I’ve seen that video before. Can you unpause it?

And that was that.

Turns out these youths don’t know the difference between screens. Like….between looking at the camera roll on your iPhone and being on a nationally televised show.



Whatever, boys. We are one of only about 2.3 billion videos on this prestigious, exclusive show. I’m going to wear my AFV t-shirt with pride.

And congratulations, famous Davis. As soon as you can learn to write I’ll get your autograph.

Learning to Unplug as a Family

Junior high is a rough time. It’s awkward, it’s pimply…you’re trying to figure out who you are and where you belong. You’re trying not to panic about your body parts that are growing and doing weird, new things.

Junior high is a lot of social experimentation. Not necessarily experimenting with drugs and alcohol, more like experimenting with friendships.

Learning what is kind vs. what hurts people’s feelings. Learning what traits draw others in vs. alienate the general population. Learning the difference between high-energy and just plain obnoxious.

I wouldn’t wish my junior high self on my worst enemy.


When I had a bad day in junior high – when I was super obnoxious and alienated everyone in the vicinity with my hyperactive energy – I got to go home, relax, maybe watch an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and start again the next day.

My social life took a break at 3pm and reconvened in the morning.


It. never. stops.

If social media is communication for teens….if social media is their social life, then as long as they have a phone in their possession, their social life never ends.

Their friends follow them home in their pocket. They sit with them on the couch. They hang out in their bedroom.

Their bad days don’t just last from 7:30am to 3pm, they last 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

They do a terrible job of unplugging.

Actually, let me rephrase that.

We do a terrible job of unplugging.

We can’t expect our kids to know how to unplug when we’re still replying to work emails at 10pm. We can’t expect them to turn it off when we spend every spare second mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.


starting small

I don’t have teenagers. I have small kids. But all too soon those kids will grow into junior high kids. And then high school kids.

And I don’t want to wait until we have an issue before we start setting technology boundaries.

And, really, I don’t want to wait until I see a screen addiction in my children before I start addressing the addiction in myself.

So here are a few of our family rules. It isn’t exhaustive, just some ideas that are helping us pave the way now for better conversations later.

Not yet for teenagers, for ourselves. For our family.

1. Tech-Free Zones

When my oldest was 3, we went to the park. I let him run up ahead and start playing on the playground while I finished up an email. He ran to the top of the slide, looked down at me and said, “Mommy – will you come play with me? You can bring your phone!”

Oh, ok, daggers in my heart.

Here’s the thing: I was emailing a friend of mine about a fundraiser we were having to support orphans in Africa. I mean, couldn’t have been doing anything better with my phone. But did my son see it that way? No. He saw a mom with a screen in front of her face.

It’s not about never being on your phone.

It’s about finding good times and places to use technology.

It’s about asking your spouse and your kids, “Hey, when am I on my phone when you wish I weren’t?” Turns out there’s always an answer.

Here are a few of our tech-free zones:

  • dinner table (both at home and at restaurants)
  • riding in the car with spouse
  • playing at the park
  • anywhere we play with our friends

2. Limit Double-Screening

If you’re going to watch tv, watch tv. If you’re going to play on the iPad, play on the iPad. If you’re going to read on the Kindle, read on the Kindle.

It’s ridiculous to play Candy Crush while watching tv while texting while watching YouTube videos. That’s a straight up self-control issue.

Cut the double, triple, quadruple screen time.

Choose one and go with it.

3. Move the Phone from the nightstand

Can you imagine what would happen if we reached for something other than our phone first thing in the morning?

Can you imagine if we started our day with our spouse and with our family instead of with the world? Work? Instagram?

When our kids see us make this a priority, it sets the stage for the later rule of no phones in your room overnight. Period. (Like, really. See this post.)

4. Make people more important than technology

When Daddy comes home from work, we put down the Kindle and run to greet him. When grandparents FaceTime, we pause the tv and talk to them. When friends are over, screens get turned off and put away.

We’re not on our devices all the time. Not even a lot, really. But if there is ever a choice between greeting someone we love and continuing to watch Paw Patrol, the screen will never win.

And if my kids have a hard time turning it off or putting it away without whining, we lose the privilege for a while.

People are more important than technology. Always.

Unplugging is hard. But watching our kids learn their value and identity from an online world they don’t know how to turn off is harder.

We’ve got to figure out how to unplug well now.

What rules do you have for your family?

impart your wisdom, oh interwebs.

Little Little Brother

“So the other day my son, David — I mean….Davis….”

– actual words that came out of my mouth

Being a third child is a struggle.

Being little little brother is definitely a struggle.

We had a BABY vs. WILD themed birthday party last month to celebrate one full year of his surviving the suburban wild.

It wasn’t until the day after his birthday that we realized he never opened his birthday present. His one, single birthday present.

David sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Even at his own birthday.

It’s not that we don’t love him. No. We adore that child.

The problem is that he’s our favorite toy.


He basically spent his first year being the most sought-after play thing in our home.

And, you know, toys just let you play with them. Sometimes you even misplace them because they’re so quiet and unassuming.

The one major difference between a normal toy and a baby toy, however, is that normal toys can be fixed and repainted and superglued.

Babies, as it turns out, cannot.

Well, I guess they can be painted.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 8.59.57 AM

But you get my point.

And when you are the object of your two-and-five-year-old brothers’ affection, things can get dicey.

Being little little brother means personal space is at a premium.


And by “premium”…


…I mean “not-at-all-ium”.


Being little little brother also means that you are held a lot.

….mostly against your will.


Some people refer to this as “harassment” or “unlawful imprisonment”.


I refer to it as “big love”.

Sometimes love hurts.


It’s just part of life. You learn to deal.


Right, little little brother?



Being little little brother also means you have one set of parents and one set of…uh…”helpers”.

Sometimes they’re helpful.

But not always.


They’re all about lending a hand.


Or “changing your diaper”.


(It mostly ends up with you naked as the day you were born which is not at all helpful. But they try.)

Sometimes they shove entire Matchbox cars in your mouth, with only the little shiny fender showing.

Other times the toddler unsuccessfully breastfeeds you.

They refuse to let little little brother go hungry.

Being little little brother means you don’t nap in your crib very often.

You end up squeezing naps in on the go.

In the car, for example.


Or walking into Chick-fil-A.


Or at the aquarium.


Or in the public pool surrounded by 800 of your closest friends.


You know, anywhere that’s nice and quiet and crib-like. Anywhere like that does just fine when you’re the little little brother.

It’s a hard job you have.

There are some upsides and some downsides.

Some wins and some broken clavicles.


Some “taking one for the team”.


But if we were to vote on the best part of it all, it’s that

Being little little brother means you have two big big brothers who love you wholeheartedly.

You have built-in best friends. #1 fans. Fierce protectors.


Brothers who love you because “he’s just so cute, mom. I think he’s my best buddy.”

Same, dude. SAME.


We sure do love you, little little brother.

Thanks for letting us poke and squeeze and sit and stand and costume and karate chop and squish and feed and bite you.

We do it all with the best of intentions.


Because They’re Worth Remembering

Direct quote from Beckett, the kid who cried actual tears recently because “mom PLEASE stop dancing in the car. it’s very unsafe to dance while operating a vehicle!”:

“Since I’m 5 now, can I just be one of the parents?”

He is – by far – the most responsible adult in our home.

He is always reminding me of the rules to ensure a safe and just home.

He is also always soaking up everything around him and asking ridiculously mature and insightful questions.

A few months ago he started asking if he could come to “big church” with us instead of kid’s Bible class. (Big church = adult worship + sermon. When the kids at our church hit a certain age, they all end up in “big church”, but he’s still young enough to qualify for kid’s worship.)

Our answer to that question will always be 100% yes.

Does his worship look a little wigglier than the person next to us? Yep. Does he sometimes ask embarrassing questions in loud whispers at quiet times? Uh huh. Does he have to pee at least once during every service? Of course.

But having him in “big church” with us? Watching him soak up the worship, the teaching, and the community? Easy yes.

So he’s been coming.

And periodically throughout the service we lean our heads together and discuss what’s going on. And why.

At the end of nearly every service, there is a baptism. Usually multiple. (99% of which are people we don’t know, one downside to a several-thousand-member church.)

We’ve talked about baptism and what it means, but we usually spend most of our time on things like “What does that communion cracker taste like? (Cardboard.) Can I just try it? (No.)” and “How come no one ever puts money in that bucket thing? (A little thing called ‘direct deposit’. Virtual money, amiright??).”

Baptism isn’t that big of a discussion point yet, which is why it caught me off guard a few days ago when Beckett randomly started talking about it in the car on the way to the library.

“Hey, Mom….I’ve been doing some thinking…”

*bracing myself for yet another conversation about why we will not be buying a Komodo dragon*

“…and I would really like to take pictures at church when people get baptized.”

Wait. What?

I thought it was kind of a random thought (and shocking, as it wasn’t related to reptiles or the animal kingdom), so I asked why.

“Well because sometimes I forget things, you know? And I just don’t want to ever forget those people. They are choosing to follow Jesus and I’m really excited for them and I just don’t want to forget that. I need to start taking a picture — no…a video! — of each person. So I can remember.

Do you think that would be okay, Mom?”

To which I replied, “………………..” because I had driven off the road and was in the fetal position sobbing hysterically into my shirtsleeve.

(Just kidding. I waited to do that until I called my husband later to retell the whole story.)

I told Beckett of COURSE that was okay. No — much better than okay. It was the single most Jesus-like thought I’d ever heard.

We talked about his idea a few more times throughout the weekend (his initiation) leading up to this morning.

And then, this morning. Ohhh mercy. This. morning.

First off, Beckett brought his own digital camera to church.

And then he sat through the whole service saying, “Is it ‘baptist’ time yet? Are the baptisms coming soon??”

And when “baptist time” finally came, he ran down the aisle to do this:


(Honestly, you guys, I’m hyperventilating a little bit at this picture.)

Are you kidding me, sweet child of mine.

While the rest of the world loses their minds over our differences – our skin colors, our political views, our sexuality – I’m sticking with this guy. He sees none of that. All he sees is someone worth remembering and celebrating for making the single most important decision of their life.

As great as I think he is, his unadulterated, pure heart points to an infinitely greater person.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing us glimpses of heaven through our children.

And Happy Jesus Birthday, Amy. Team Brooks is celebrating with you!

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

Bro-thday Bash

One year and one week ago, I was miserably, hugely pregnant with our 3rd. I didn’t care when he came out or how he came out, just that he came out.

So on the night of our firstborn’s 4th birthday, I didn’t even care when I started feeling signs of impending labor as I play skeeball at Chuck-e-Cheese.

And I certainly didn’t care when our baby finally made his grand entrance the next day, making him and his oldest brother 4 years and 1 day apart.

I still don’t care that their birthdays are back to back.

It’s fitting, actually, seeing as my husband and mine are 2 days apart…at the beginning of August.

With 4 out of our 5 family members’ birthdays this month, we’re all *very* birthdayed out by September. (Well, all but the toddler.)

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 2.46.17 PM

In our house, during this month, dual-celebration is necessary.

And last weekend we did just that.

We invited our friends and family over for the first annual Bro-thday Bash.


BRO-thday Bash (broh-th-dey baSH): noun
one party with two themes for two brothers with birthdays one day apart

Did you follow that?

Me either.

Construction theme for one kid, BABY vs. WILD [brothers] theme for the other.

9 families, 30 children.

It was mass chaos of the most festive kind.


For the big kids, the excavator and wrecking ball won the day.

(Shoutout to my brother who sells tractors and brought this bad boy home from work.)


For the babies, the teensy tiny canteens and kid corral were solid gold.

(As were the pictures on the mantle that displayed all the ways our favorite one year old “survived” the year. Between brotherly “love” [read: torture] and the little clavicle mishap, he is a true survivor of the suburban wild.)


Heaven knows I love a good party theme.

But even more than that, I love a good reason to celebrate.

When I look at my freshly-turned 5 year old’s face, I see 5 years worth of love and joy and memories and personality to celebrate. I see God’s goodness so clearly in this “big” boy, and I am overwhelmingly thankful He would give us such a precious gift.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 3.38.48 PM

And my freshly-turned 1 year old? Oh, mercy. I never experience God’s faithfulness more than when I see these big brown eyes. This little soul came so far out of left field (according to our plans, anyway); yet just a short year later, we cannot imagine a home or a heart without him.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 3.38.55 PM

I can hardly think of 2 better reasons to throw a party.

We are so, infinitely proud of you, little bros.

30 Reasons to Celebrate our Favorite 30 Year Old

August 7, 1986: our favorite man in the world was born.

30 years ago today.

What a beautiful life he has lived up until this point. I mean….he’s created 3 additional humans, among many other accomplishments.

We are opposite in many ways. (Ok, every way. And then some.)

I love talking. He loves silence.

I love chaos. He loves order.

I love spending time with 82,305,342 of my closest friends. He loves spending time with our family of 5.

I love big parties. He loves when people forget it’s his birthday.

Unfortunately he’s out of luck this birthday because THIRTY. It deserves extra attention.


So here it is.


  1. He is fiercely loyal. Once a friend, always a friend of Taylor’s.
  2. He can imagine with the best of them. I have a reputation for being the creative one, but THAT guy is the one who plays pretend with our boys like you wouldn’t believe.
  3. He desperately wants to be a storm chaser. (Nope.)
  4. He is logical. Period. Life just needs to make sense and add up. (Why he married me, a human with a shorted-out pinball machine for a mind, I have no idea but NO TAKE BACKS, SUCKAAA.)
  5. He makes perfectly uniform pancakes. They can all stack in a neat, nice pile because they are all exactly 4″ in diameter.
  6. He sees the positive in everything.
  7. He is wickedly smart.
  8. He always gets an appetizer, gets too full to eat his food, and then comments on the size of our check at dinner. And I love it.
  9. He is funny. Really funny. Whereas I travel with my own megaphone-voiced comedy routine, he is in the corner making hilarious comments to the person sitting next to him.
  10. He always knows an odd amount of celebrity gossip. He’s your go-to for who is dating who and what Rihanna’s new song is.
  11. He shows grace more than anyone I’ve ever met.
  12. He suffers from uncontrollable giggles at inappropriate times.
  13. He is kind to the core.
  14. He eats vegetables like a child. That is, to say, not at all. His gag reflex never aged past 4.
  15. He has a hipster inside to his accountant outside. His inside is pure manicured beard and Warby Parker glasses; his outside clean shaven business professional.
  16. He cares deeply for others. Especially those in need.
  17. He loves brainy nerd games.
  18. He is quite eloquent. Taylor uses approximately 0.02% the amount of words I do in our home, so when he does speak, we listen. And it’s always a wise, well-spoken thought.
  19. He still drives the truck he was given for his 16th birthday because “it still works”. A business executive with a 48 year old, rusted truck. *swoon*
  20. He is calm. (This is a big deal in our home.)
  21. He condones eating late night fast food as a second dinner while we Netflix.
  22. He will do whatever it takes to make the people he loves happy.
  23. He can’t keep a secret to save his life.
  24. He is a marketer’s dream. He once bought $400 worth of meat and seafood from a door to door salesman because “it seemed like a great deal”. (We don’t eat seafood. Also, no.)
  25. He makes a terrible disciplinarian. He’s way too nice.
  26. He is made of 50% human body parts, 50% Mexican food.
  27. He works hard and with integrity. (Kind of a rarity these days.)
  28. He is active on LinkedIn – the most social he’ll get on the internet.
  29. He drinks a Sonic cherry slush at least 4 times a week.
  30. He loves his family fiercely…and loves God even more.

It’s a good thing the numbers get bigger the older you get because I have about 3,023 more reasons to add.

We love you to the moon, Taylor Brooks.

And thank you, Lord, for this man and the family and legacy he is creating.


P.S. when 4 of your 5 family members have birthdays in August, you get burned out on cake.

Sometimes a lemon popsicle with a candle zip-tied to it is just what you need, which leads us to a bonus reason why we love Taylor:

31. He is very easy to please.


Celebrating Differences (and Teaching Our Kids to Do the Same)

“Dear ______, Stop _______.”

– the formula for titling your next culturally relevant blog post

These “open letters” are all. over. Facebook. All the time.

Have you seen them?

Something like:

Dear White People, Stop Saying “All Lives Matter”.

Dear Black People, Stop Protesting on Highways.

Dear Police Officers, Stop the Excessive Force.

Dear Everyone, Stop Assuming all Muslims are Terrorists.

Dear Republicans/Democrats/Liberals, Stop …..

Everyone wants to be treated equally (rightly so, obviously) yet we create all these rules and stipulations for how we relate to someone who is different than us. We have an army of writers and Facebloggers writing extensive bullet point lists of things each type of human can and can’t say, can and can’t do towards another type of human.

It leaves us in this awkward space where we either

can’t celebrate our differences because we can’t acknowledge our differences (“well I certainly don’t want to offend”),


think we are so different we can’t find a way to do anything together, let alone celebrate.

It’s exhausting.

It’s also overwhelming.

You can drown in the weight of trying to understand all the sadness and divisiveness, let alone trying to explain it to your kids.

Police killing unarmed citizens. Armed citizens killing police. Terrorists plowing down families with a bus. Terrorists shooting children at a McDonalds.

Not to mention politics. Oh my heavens.

Everyone is losing their ever-loving minds.

I mean…can we even move forward at this point or should we all just buy those Home Depot storm shelter bunker things and wait it out with our own kind until Jesus returns?

(I’d vote the latter but we tried the floor sample out at our last trip there and the metal bench is most uncomfortable.)

Loving Tangibly

Silence doesn’t really help. Feeling overwhelmed doesn’t really help. “Sending good thoughts” doesn’t really help. Writing blog posts about all the things someone else should quit doing doesn’t really help.

You know what would help? Doing. Learning about our differences and finding ways to celebrate others. Breaking our silence and loving tangibly.

And how about instead of pointing fingers here and there we start in our own homes?

It doesn’t have to be a series of life-changing events; simple intentionality can have a profound impact.

For instance, our home is ruled by a gaggle of volatile tiny humans, so our options for changing the world are somewhat limited.

But still.

We’re finding ways.

Here’s how:

  1. Praying through Ramadan

During the months of June/July, our family (along with our church and Mission Resource Network) prayed for different Muslim nations throughout the world.

Each day we watched a Prayercast video to learn about a specific country and to pray for the people of that nation.

It was a great way to expand our view of God’s kingdom. The boys loved seeing the colors and hearing the sounds of different people across the world, and it led to great discussions about how vast God’s love for ALL of His people is.

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Obviously Ramadan is over now, but the PrayerCast website has videos at the ready 24/7, a great activity to do solo or with kids or spouses or siblings or parents.

2. Thanking Law Enforcement

After the recent police shootings, we invited a few tiny friends over for a card-making play date.

We each made a stash of thank you cards to keep in our cars, ready to hand out when we see police officers in our area.

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A few days later, we spotted an officer in line at Chipotle. We gave him a card and thanked him for his service. He responded with polite appreciation. All in all, kind of anticlimactic.

Until we followed him to the parking lot a few minutes later.

There he sat, behind the wheel of his cruiser, staring at the cards.

As we were about to drive away, he rolled down his window and – with actual tears in his eyes – said, “I just want to thank you again for these. I can’t tell you how much this means.”

We went home and made 20 more.

3. Diversifying our Library

We have the whitest children known to man. But those boys will never – for one second – doubt our family’s love or our God’s love for people who look different than us.

One easy way to celebrate differences is through story.

Our current favorite picks of books about diversity are:

booksI Am Martin Luther King Jr by Brad Meltzer // We March by Shane W. Evans // The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler // Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

I could say more, but I’d be doing a disservice by not directing you to my friend Casey’s post on this subject instead: Books to Help You Discuss Race With Your Kids. It’s a fantastic list of age-appropriate books.

Loving others, you guys.

PULL YOURSELVES TOGETHER and let’s figure it out.

Whatever it looks like…however big or small, whether it’s white, black, brown, or blue…let’s find ways to love tangibly.

Survival of the Summertime

I see you, mom bloggers with 5 kids and enough time to not only create homemade sensory bins but to post a how-to that same afternoon. I see you.

And I’m wondering where the heck your kids are while you’re blogging, because they certainly aren’t in the room with you.

The hungriest my kids ever get is when I sit down at my computer and start typing. Or when I pick up the phone to actually talk to another reasonable human. It’s like instant starvation when my attention is diverted from their angel faces. Either that or all-out war with each other. They’re kind of the worst.

(Especially the toddler. Did you see the post about how often he yells the word “penis” in public? Because that’s still going strong.)

This summer has been an epic survival experiment.

3 boys, 4 and under. No schedule. Summertime energy. Speedy 10 month old. Mischievous toddler. Bored preschooler. Spotty Netflix connection. Water ban due to ruptured ear drum (cool story for another time).

It’s insanity of the best kind.

In fact, I documented one day this week. Maybe you can relate.

Daily Summer Schedule:

6:45AM – Toddler’s first breakfast. Sprinkles.


7:45AM – Toddler asks me to make “Sarah hair”. He means this:

sarah hair

(Another casualty of summer besides brain cells: hygiene.)

8:30AM – Toddler gets naked from the bottom down and hides in the closet.

9:00AM – Bathroom door left open; infant unrolls toilet paper.

toilet paper

9:30AM – Toddler takes bath in toilet.

toilet bath

10:00AM – Get everyone dressed for the day.

10:15AM – Toddler gets wet (?). And naked. Again.

naked toddler

1:00PM – Preschooler accidentally falls asleep (because “I’m not tired, it’s just that sometimes when I pretend I am tired I actually fall asleep”). Use SnapChat filters on sleeping child.

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2:45PM – Toddler tries to buckle himself in the car. Then asks for help. Then cries when he receives help because he wants to buckle himself with no help.

3:00PM – Grocery store run. Toddler is shirtless (?).


3:20PM – Impulse buy after toddler “tests out” the sticker portion of an unpurchased product.

impulse buy

4:00PM – Doctor the world’s most durable and well-loved plant with its third bandaid. Give thanks for the plant’s life after being potted and repotted and snapped in half at least 8 times since the end of school in May.


4:05PM – Plant succumbs to its injuries. Funeral for world’s most almost-durable and well-loved plant that miraculously stayed alive since May.

5:00PM – SnapChat husband about impending death if he does not return home quickly.

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 10.27.52 PM

6:45PM – Sibling bath. Install ear plugs (for ruptured ear drum). Lose earplugs. Find earplugs. Repeatedly state, “Ear plugs are not chewing gum.”


7:30PM – Bedtime. Sweet, heavenly silence.

7:33-8:12PM – Idle threats and/or bribery to make tiny humans lay in designated sleeping areas. Google plausibly of installing Benadryl misters along their ceiling.

9:15PM – Visit sleeping children. Experience a longing – despite all odds – to see their faces one more time.

Aaaaand repeat. Every day of summer.

Different variations of snack contraband, different injuries requiring bandaids (some plant, some human), but always ALWAYS with the naked toddler. And the toilet-paper obsessed baby. And the SnapChat filters. And the purchase of something we’ve ruined in the process of grocery shopping.

I feel like tiny humans need one of those warning labels stuck to them.

“Do not operate if you have any of the following conditions: heart disease, neck, back, or spine ailments, high blood pressure, or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

Maybe I’ll write my congressman to make that happen.

In the meantime: godspeed, fellow summer parenters.

We’ve got this.

(I think. Probably. At the very least, we’ll know soon enough if we don’t.)

Wildly Toddlerpropriate

“Teach them appropriate names for body parts,” they said.

“They’ll be more empowered,” they said.

You know what they didn’t say?

That a two year old yelling about his penis in a crowded public area is incredibly awkward.

Even more awkward is when you’re trying on clothes in a dressing room with running commentary in the background.

1st Favorite Son: “You look beautiful, my lady.” (?!?)

3rd Favorite Son: “MOMMY I SEE YOUR PENIS.”


Have I mentioned that my two year old suffers from Megaphone Voice? (He comes by it honestly, but still.)

Couple things.

  1. I do not have a penis. Nor did he see any body part remotely resembling one.
  2. This was yelled in a Target changing room which – if you really think about it – is absolutely perfect considering its current status as the hub of all things transgender controversial. I can almost hear the phone call later that afternoon. “I heard it with my own ears, Wanda! A mommy with a penis. Canyouevenbelieveit.”

(You’re welcome, people who haven’t yet boycotted Target. We successfully pushed those still on the fence right on over the edge which means more sizes of the 25% off summer sandals to choose from.)

And last week with said two year old?! I still break out in hives at the memory of his little sausage fingers pointing at a (fully-clothed) elderly gentleman in a nursing home and informing everyone within a 10 foot radius that he “yiked” his man parts*.

(*medically correct male anatomy name I can’t bring myself to type again)

So, {….slow clap…..}.

Thanks for the suggestion, medical community. Not only will my son be incredibly “well adjusted” and “comfortable in his own skin”, he’ll “empower” everyone else to feel incredibly uncomfortable.

Two year olds are such terrors.

Hilarious, wonderful, foul-mouthed little terrors.

When our first son was two, he dropped the F bomb every time he saw a “fire truck”. I thought he might’ve set the bar too high for future Brooks toddlers.

I was mistaken.

Because now that our second son is two, we’ve discovered that he cannot for the life of him (and the sheer delight of us) pronounce the word “popcorn”.

HIM: “me hab some pocketporn.”

ME: “popcorn. pop. corn.”

HIM: “pocketporn. pocket. porn.”



He’s, like, so good at being two (a professional toddler, if you will), his discretion leaves quite a bit to be desired, and we simply couldn’t adore this pork chop any more.