Expectations & Vacations


I have been learning over the last few years (you know, since marriage and kids) that my expectations can tank a day faster than I can blink.  And I’ve really experienced this during vacations with little ones.  Come on mama’s, who can relate?  =)
My husband got a great deal a while ago on a hotel in Flagstaff at the end of February.  Which ended up being the days that they got like 6-12″ of snow.  And our hotel only had 1 queen bed in a tiny little space.  And my daughter is used to sleeping in a pack n’ play in the closet (don’t ask), which of course hotels don’t have and the only space to put her pack n’ play is right in front of the sink about three feet from the bed so sleep for everyone seemed like a pipe dream.  And what can you realistically do in Flagstaff with a 3 & 1 year old when it’s snowing?

But, because I have had some really high expectations of vacations with littles before that were dashed to a smithereens, I intentionally entered into this one with VERY LOW expectations.  Like, we’ll play in the snow at least once, the baby will probably cry all night and we won’t get any sleep for 3 days and we’ll be stuck in the hotel room watching Curious George most of the day, every day.

And you know what happened?

First, we decided to move rooms, because at 4pm, we had the people below us come knock on our door and tell us the “STOMPING IS REALLY LOUD”.  Ahem.  I may have had to choke down a, “Well, ma’am, it’s a hotel and that kind of comes with the territory,  and it’s pretty hard to get a 3 and 1 year old walk quietly or keep still apart from tying them down and then you’ll have to deal with the screaming unless I gag them, and might I mention that it’s four in the afternoon? You can’t reasonably expect it to be super quiet at that time of day and can I offer you a pair of earplugs?”

I may have had to pray and let go of some stuff after that encounter.  Especially since we had already unpacked everything and now had to repack it all.  BUT…I knew it would be better than barking at the kids every 2 seconds to “Be quiet!  You’ll disturb the lady downstairs!”
Night one, I got like 2 hours of sleep in between trying to nurse G to sleep because she refused to sleep in her pack n’ play, and not wake her up as she’s sleeping sideways in our bed, but I asked the Lord for energy and I actually felt pretty good that day which was completely supernatural (because I get pretty grouchy at the 6 hours or less mark!)  Also I was taking Super C, and Inner Defense capsules, and dousing myself in oils preventatively, which I think really helped also!

But, the second and third nights were MUCH better.  I may still have had to sleep across the foot of the bed because G was taking my place in it, but still…many more hours of sleep than I thought!

We bundled the kids up (with our ragtag makeshift snow clothes cuz Phoenix dwellers!) and let them enjoy the snow three or four separate times.


Joseph so excited about whacking people with snow chunks. Mostly he would just rub it into your back!
Joseph so excited about whacking people with snow chunks. Mostly he would just rub it into your back!

We got everyone in swimsuits and bundled up and walked across to another building that housed a heated pool.  Before the trip when I heard they had a pool, I was planning on swimming everyday while we were there.  Once we got there and realized that it was in a separate building with no bathrooms, or changing rooms, and it was SNOWING, I re-evaluated and decided I still wanted to embrace the adventure and do it, but ONCE was enough!  =)
I am sooo glad we did though because it glass all around and super steamy inside and we could see it snowing and piling up as we were swimming which was pretty cool.  After awhile as as those piles of snow started falling off the roof, we decided we should probably head back to the safety and warmth of our room!




There was some Curious George watching, but we also made copious amounts of hot chocolate and cooked fajitas in our room (don’t tell anyone!) and enjoyed the heck out of the free hot breakfasts they offered, and drove around and played in the snow, and threw snowballs, and laughed like crazy.


Little princess in the snow

And before we left, we went to a park still covered in snow and swung and climbed, and threw more snowballs and overall, it was a much better success than I had hoped.  If I had let my expectations for it pile up though, I would have been grouchy and disappointed and frustrated.  Instead, most of the time I was able to embrace it and push through some of the wet, sometimes frustrating and uncomfortable things and just enjoy it.


Swinging in the snow!
Swinging in the snow!


Be careful of expectations.  I know firsthand where they can lead, but if we change our perspective and ideas about it, we can cultivate a grateful heart and a flexible spirit.  I’m not perfect at it by any means, but I’ve come a long way from a few years ago (in this area at least) and in looking back at this trip, I can do so with fond memories of making the most of what we had and enjoying each other.





A few practical tips:

-Mentally prepare and change your mindset to focusing on enjoying all the bits and pieces however they come and whatever they look like.

-Plan ahead for what food/toys/books/ect… you are packing for the car.

-Have enough but dole them out ONLY as needed!  Let them use their imaginations or zone out if they will.  Save the stuff for when you are going to pull your hair out or you have to keep one from waking up another!

-Have some HAPPY music and put it on when you need some extra energy or to help get out of a funk.  It really helps me.  Also, singing worship songs together helps me refocus.

-Be realistic about sleeping.  Mistake I made that first day was nursing G and she fell asleep on me for two hours and then wasn’t tired enough to sleep well that night.  Night sleep is the one you really want to go well.  If you have to skip a nap to make sure they are tired enough, so be it.  But, it also may take trial and error to figure out what is going to work.  So really, just don’t expect to sleep much!

-If you don’t sleep much, see if you can work it out with your spouse to take turns watching the kids so the other one can have a nap!

-Realize you probably can’t do all the things you would like to do.  Keep a list of options that you can choose from but DON’T expect to get to everything.

-Try to keep your room at least a little bit organized.  It helps with the chaos when you’re stuck in your room all day and trying to find the one lone sippy cup, or book that they wanted.

-Take a “Mommy Timeout”.  Even just five minutes to refocus can help me shift my attitude away from the grumpy place and back into the enjoying our time together and being grateful place.

-Reset the car before you go.  Clean out the trash, get everything re-organized and ready for the trip back.  You’ll be happy you did, I promise!

-You will probably be more tired when you get back than when you left.  Plan for that in your schedule.  Give yourself some down time after you get back so you can recover and re-enter.

-Give everyone grace.  Yourself, your husband, your kids.  Everyone is likely to get a little on edge at some point, but this is where we can practice extending grace!


What are some of your tips for traveling with little ones or letting go of expectations?  I’d love to hear some of your stories!


I hope these give you some helpful ideas for enjoying your next trip with littles or bigs even more!  =)

God bless!


Things I’m Loving: Fall/Winter Edition




1.  Wearing an apron

I think it was Edie Wadsworth that first opened my eyes to the happy homemaking power that comes with putting on an apron.  I haven’t worn one in a long time and this fall I finally donned my cheery red and yellow ladybug apron and immediately felt like the world had instantly improved and all the domestic kitchen chores that we do over and over again to keep our people fed and our homes in order were a good deal more enjoyable.  I’m not sure what it is.  This mystery of the apron’s powers, but I am a fan!  So let the homey holiday feelings come and try wearing one.


2.  Chocolate in my coffee



Oh my goodness.  This totally takes my coffee to the next level.  I need my coffee sweet and milky and I’m a back and forth coffee drinker, so sometimes I just cut it out altogether instead of settling for just ok tasting coffee.

Right now though, it’s fall and I just want fun drinks!  So this is my “recipe”:

-Put about a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder in the bottom of my mug.

-Pour coffee over the chocolate.

-Add your sweetener of choice.

-Pour in a nice glug of half & half ( or heavy whipping cream if you’re feeling really indulgent)

-Find a quiet place and SAVOR.

For me, this is making it so much better than just regular coffee.  More of a hot chocolate with a shot of coffee.  =)  And since budget constraints rule out a Starbucks run, this has become my treat to myself.


3.  The Holiday Instrumentals station on Pandora

I am highly sensitive to noise and music, even good stuff can quickly become noise to me, especially if I am trying to do or concentrate on something else.  This channel lets me have my Christmas music in the background without getting twitchy and irritable.


4.  Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God”

I LOVE this album!  Take my advice and go listen to it.  It’s broad and encompassing and fun and folksy in places but totally brings me to tears in others.  And it is such a unique perspective.


5.  Poldark

I wasn’t sure about this show at first.  It’s set in Cornwall England post Revolutionary War (which isn’t traditionally my favorite time period)  But it is such a great series!  We watched Season 1 on Amazon Prime and Season 2 is currently airing on PBS.

  It’s based on books by Winston Graham which I started reading and was amazed to find how closely the show follows the book.  There are some minor characters and scenes left out but nothing is really changed.  I think it’s probably the first time where I am enjoying the book and the show equally.

It’s a fascinating look at this time period in this particular area and there’s lots of galloping around horseback and amazing views of the sea.  I totally want to go live in Cornwall now.  And then I’ll go stand on the cliff overlooking the ocean while the wind whips my hair and dress….


6.  Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies



This is a great recipe!  Chock full of healthy ingredients, lightly sweetened with honey and perfectly filling.  The kids and I both love them and I made two or three batches before getting wise and tripling the recipe and freezing a bunch of them.  It was awesome.

It’s pretty flexible too.  I didn’t have quick oats so I ground up regular oats in my blender instead.  I also ran out of pumpkin seeds so I used sunflower seeds.  And I left the flax seeds whole instead of ground.  All the variations were great!

I take them to the park for snacks, or use them as a special treat for tea time.


7.  Tea Time



I was inspired by Sally Clarkson to start doing tea time with my three year old son.  He has his own special Peter Rabbit tea cup and plate and we use the aforementioned Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies as our tea time treat. 

He LOVES it.  He gets to help put the tea bags in and pour the water and take the bags out and he gets milk and a couple ice cubes in his tea and we sit at the kitchen table and read something while we sip our tea and eat our cookies.  It’s been great.  I don’t always get to it everyday, but the times we do we totally enjoy it.  Of course, he’s a three year old boy, so attention span is short (the food helps with this a bit) and inevitably tea gets spilled and sometimes there’s fussing but overall it’s been a great little resting place routine for us.


8.  Target Dollar Spot Paper Chains



I don’t think I’m alone in my love/weakness for the Target Dollar Spot.  A few weeks ago, I found packs of paper chain kits (in pretty shiny paper) and bought a couple.  Last night we put them together with my son and it was so EASY and added instant pretty fullness to the tree.  If you want to have a  long enough one to put around the whole tree, I would get at least 5 or 6.

In this season, I am all about simple and knowing what to do yourself and what’s not worth the hassle.  I could probably have cut the strips and stapled/taped them without too much trouble and I still might, but I like the pretty glittery paper and Joseph had fun.  So I’m calling it a win.


9.  Minimal Christmas Decor



Last year I read Kendra’s post over at the Lazy Genius Collective about decorating without wanting to punch something and it was awesome!  I went through my box of Christmas decorations and got rid of everything I didn’t like or that was in colors I hated.  It didn’t leave me with a lot of stuff you guys.  (I’d only been married for a few years so we hadn’t amassed a huge collection yet)

So this year, I pulled out my one large Christmas tote, and put a few things out.  Just a few.  And those few things have been MAKING MY DAYS!  I’m telling you, it’s amazing what a frosty garland, a centerpiece, and a couple TINY Christmas trees (one with lights, and one for $3 at Target) do for my downstairs/kitchen.  I’m loving it.  Over the last couple days I have pulled out a couple more pieces as I’ve felt like it.  But it was super easy, simple and not overwhelming.  Again, I’m calling a win!


10. My new Young Living Starter Kit


starter kit


Last year, I had a c-section with my daughter and my immune system tanked.  Two days after we left the hospital, I ended up with a blood clot and we had to load up everyone and go to the ER, which led to spending another night in the hospital (on my birthday no less!)  Then a few days after that my body went crazy with hives EVERYWHERE, I caught hand foot mouth disease from my son (which let me just tell you is NOT FUN as an adult!), and I was pretty much sick on and off for the entire fall/winter season.


This year, heading into September it felt really important to focus on building my immune system and being proactive about our health and wellness heading into fall.

I had already been using a few essential oils from Sprouts for about four years or so and knew about their benefits, but my use of them was spotty at best and mostly they just cluttered up my drawer.

I took a class at the library on essential oils for kids and got to try some of the Young Living oils.  I knew that I wanted to get their Thieves blend which is excellent for boosting the immune system and their Stress Away blend which smelled divine!

That’s when I saw an Instagram post by Edie and she was telling her Young Living story so I decided to go ahead and get the Starter Kit.


It is the BEST investment I have made for my health and wellness and I am totally LOVING it!  Along with a great variety of 11 oils, you get a couple on the go packs of their super antioxidant drink Ningxia Red (which deserves it’s own “I’m Loving It” for the energy it’s given me from Day ONE!), AND a diffuser.

I can totally tell the difference of quality in these oils from the ones I had been using.  It took me by surprise at how well they are working and what a difference they are making in how I feel.  And having such a variety means that I can use them in so many different ways all the time.

I have been diffusing Thieves and their Christmas blend pretty much 24/7 since I got it and it makes me sooo happy and my house smell sooo good AND as a bonus, I get to boot out a bunch of toxins in the candles and cleaners I would have been using!


Right now, they are giving a FREE bottle of Christmas Spirit to everyone who orders a Premium Starter Kit!


Starter Kit pic


If you would like to order a Premium Starter Kit and get wholesale pricing of 24% off all future orders, click here.  It will automatically fill in my ID #10338448 for Sponsor and Enroller.  Then you just choose which Starter Kit you want (I HIGHLY recommend the Premium Kit!) and you will be on your way to reaping the benefits of essential oils!

If you have any questions, email me at hlion23@gmail.com


And that is what I’m loving right now!

Let us know what you are loving in the comments.  Or hop over to my Facebook page and tell me!  =)


Have lovely Advent season!

God bless,


Fall & Gratitude


A few weeks ago now, I stepped out on our patio around seven in the morning and startled, exclaimed to my husband, “Honey! I feel coolness!” It wasn’t hot, or warm as it has been for months, but the air actually felt cool on my skin and bubbling up out of my soul from deep down came a “Thank God!”


I felt incredibly grateful for that one tiny thing. That small blessing of a break in the oppressive heat and the whisper of a change teasing my senses and instantly, my mind turned from the “Just hang on and get through the summer” mentality to all of the freshness of fall and the changing of seasons.


Of course, it was still hitting over a hundred degrees during the day but just that little bit of cool air in the mornings had me throwing open the windows for as long as I could and setting out a fall centerpiece my son and I threw together, and turning my mind toward the things I want to enjoy about fall. The warm spicy drinks, the apples, and pumpkins, and baked goods. The ability to actually spend time outside again.


It was funny how just that little breath seemed to give me renewed energy to clean and go through things and bring about more order. Go through the toys and the closets and give the kitchen a little more thorough cleaning than normal.


I re-organized the pantry and made applesauce. Tried a few scone recipes in my search for a great one, but they didn’t make the cut. (If anyone has a tried and true amazing one, let me know. I’m looking for a regular one and a gluten free option)


Now, the weather is cooling a bit more and we are only hitting the low 90’s and the mornings are almost chilly instead of just cool. We’ve had some rain and some cloudy days and we can be outside past nine.


I’ve been struggling for a while with a general morning grumpiness. If I don’t get enough sleep, my default is a bit of a grumpy attitude. Or too much noise without some oasis of solitude and quiet during the day will also do it. I find it far too easy to sink into a discontented and negative outlook. Perfectionism, and the harried pushy feelings of needing to do it all now, get our life together now, frequently overtake me.


But I’m finding that the remedy can be surprisingly simple.

“Give thanks with a grateful heart”, as the song goes.

I decided to start really taking stock of the hundreds and thousands of things I have to be thankful for. And not just thinking about them, but actually giving Him thanks.


Practicing and cultivating a grateful heart is turning out to be a good way for me to battle against all of the irritations and stresses of life. Intentionally looking for the joy and fun to be had, all the ways to really enjoy this journey has made a world of difference.


I’m also finding that finding ways to infuse the daily rhythms of our life with the wonderful things of each season has enhanced my enjoyment of them.


I’m looking at simple ways to tweak my menus to have more of a fall feel. Planning for the pumpkin picking, and harvest festivals, apple cider, pumpkin carving, hiking, and planting (for our area) so that they actually get scheduled into our lives has helped to give us things to look forward to and brings all the feelings of the season. I also started putting out some easy decorations and things to make our home feel more welcoming and cozy.


Intentionally ordering our life around the changing of the season has helped me to really see with fresh eyes all the things I take for granted and all the beauty and wonder of His creation. It helps me cultivate the grateful heart that I want to be the rule of my life instead of the exception.




It’s obviously been a month or more since I actually wrote the above, and we have entered November heading toward Thanksgiving. We are still waiting for it to get cold enough to wear sweaters during the day, and I am looking forward to it with glad anticipation.


Practicing gratitude hasn’t been easy and I have struggled some days with the overwhelm and daily irritations but when I intentionally let go of them and turn my mind toward taking it slow, enjoying my children and the rhythm and joys of the season and give Him thanks…well…it overflows and helps to wash away the negative.


Another small thing I’ve been enjoying that makes a big difference for me is turning on some good music (for me right now it is the Jazz Holiday station on Pandora or Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God” album) and diffusing some Thieves essential oil. It is such a great fall smelling blend and an amazing boost for the immune system! It sets a peaceful yet festive mood for me and I feel almost immediately calmer and more grounded with just those two things.


I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you can find ways to enjoy your season and see with new eyes all that we have to be grateful for!


**If you are interested in essential oils or would like more information about their benefits and uses, send me an email or comment below!  =)

God bless,