Remember Your Vacation with this Postcard Trick!

I road tripped 32 hours with a six year old and an eight year old and I lived to tell about it.  If you are anything like me, there are MANY THINGS about a family road trip you'd like to forget.  We will just agree here and not compare notes. This truth aside, what about those wonderful moments during a trip that fade to fog quickly after you have unpacked?  How can you remember all the little things that color the feeling of a past vacation?  I have a wonderfully unique tip from my dear friend Whitney Hibbits of Wildberry Sanctuary.  Of course I will share with it you: Keep your Vacation Memories with a POSTCARD QUADRANT!

Pick two all encompassing POSITIVE words or phrases for the top and right hand side titles, and two NEGATIVE (Or just plain funny) words or phrases for the left and bottom quadrant titles.  This is usually the most fun part.  One of Whitney's best was the word "Hecktrocity" .  I've also used a variety of colorful language.   After you pick your four titles,  plot moments and experiences from the trip in the left top quadrant for moderately troublesome, bottom left quadrant for things you wish weren't part of your vacation memory, the right top quadrant for the best of the best and the bottom right for not so great, maybe not sooo bad!
For example, in the "Estes Park 2017" postcard, my quadrants are Llama Petting, Sound of a River, Bear Mauling and Sound of Whining.  I plotted memorable but not so great parts of the trip (trying to figure our dinner logistics with 6 adults and two kids, our dog breaking through every barricade to get up on my uncle's bed...when he is allergic.) I also plotted the best parts ( Bear Lake Hike is upper Right  quadrant because it was smoother than Calypso Cascades Hike (lower right quadrant) where Libby was DONE twenty minutes from the best waterfall so we turned around and headed back to the car.)

Whitney shared this funny little thing she and her husband Richard use for their side trips and all in vacations.  It really resonated with me as a way to be intentional about vacations and my memory of them.  I have used this ever since...and often if I do not get the postcard made, I find the notes nearby and can apply it said postcard afterwards.  Whitney is cool for this but many, many other reasons. She brings out my wildness and is always encouraging. She is at times an old soul and then again a newborn free spirit.  She got my kids into every creek we passed and I try to remember this  wildness when my natural tendency is to keep things easy and tidy for me.  I miss having her closer, but she infiltrates my life with joy filled memories and wise adages like this postcard quadrant doohickey.


Should you find yourself near Barnardsville North Carolina, look her up and plan a visit to Wildberry Sanctuary where Whitney and her husband Richard help folks enjoy the wilderness playground of the hills, animals, honeybees and more. "Wildberry Sanctuary is a healing retreat offering summer day camps and therapeutic services for children in the foster system and their families, abused women and other people experiencing trauma.  We are located in the blue ridge mountains and want something that has the feel of our location, which translates to natural, rustic and healing. We have many structures made with weaving of branches, a creek that runs through the property and nearby forested area." Like their Facebook page, if you will!   Check out the views from Wildberry Sanctuary before it all began, here!



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Water Wars (NPR Michiana Chronicles WVPE 88.1 FM)

 You can listen to this radio essay by clicking here.



My family went to war this week with a neighboring house. We planned and prepared and plotted the attack.  We are civilized people and we warned them, we did the chivalrous things and then we told them how it was.  Although children should be shielded from all aspects of war, we used our innocent daughters to deliver the initial blow.  They carried the formal written challenge in a Turkish letter scroll carrier made of metal carved with filigree and finesse.  They chose matching dresses for their courier uniform.  They crossed the street and knocked politely.  (They did have to knock louder the second time, but they did not relent.) Our girls greeted the neighbor and stood outside after curtly stating “We will wait for your reply”.   The challenge was accepted.  The time of battle was set for 1:00pm July 4th, 2017.





You may realize I do not get out much.  I’m not too fun, I like things tidy and I’m the kind of mama who tries to avoid a mess.  I am a decent parent so I say “No” and “Clean that up” and “Eat your dinner, use your napkin why isn’t your napkin in your lapstoptalkingwithyourmouthful!”  I try to tip the balance in my favor occasionally.  For example;  I buy too many ice cream cones.  We go out in pajamas.  I bring home crafts and we fuss in the kitchen together.  I also have a secret: I like a good water balloon fight. 

I’ve purchased crummy cheap squirt guns that get ruined with sand at the beach, and we have struggled to fill water balloons at least once a summer. Then something happened:  Some company called Zuru made instant fills & seal water balloon kits (and charge the equivalent of college tuition for them).  I watched them in the stores all last year.  Too much money for something that would essentially last five minutes and then need to be cleaned up. Everything changed when we made our bi-annual Costco trip and they had 350 water balloons for $20.  The wheels began to turn and we declared war.  Or I sent a text message anyway:

US:  R u around this weekend?  There may be a family challenge pending.

THEM: Bring it. Down 1 kid so it’s even numbers

US: The House of Rochon may be challenged by the House of Novak to a water fight within the next  24 hours. 
I also included a Bitmoji of myself as Wonder Woman that said “BRACE YOURSELF”.  (If you do not yet “BITMOJI”, you might want to start!) 

I sent text messages to some of our other neighbors alerting them to the battle between the House of Novak and the House of Rochon.  I invited them to join in or to watch.  Many of our neighbors make the effort to connect regularly in large and small ways and it feels good to really know my neighbors.

My husband started looking over the directions for the water balloons, another daughter brought a laundry basket upstairs to hold our squishy, bulbous weapons.  My suggestion of running to Michaels for war paint was rejected.  The breakfast dishes weren’t going to wash themselves so I turned on Spotify and found the playlist “Epic War Songs for Glorious Motivation” and cranked up the volume.  Dishes aren’t exactly inspiring, but the music was.

Before long it was time to begin assembling munitions which included three mangy squirt guns in addition to our 350 Zuru water balloons in magic quick fill clusters.  My husband had the proper wrist finesse to detach the filled balloons, so he did that while I used our kid’s wagon to move laundry baskets of ammo across the street to our neighbors’ neighbor’s yard.  We set six year old Libby as the guard of the goods.  She sat in the wagon armed with a water balloon and a crummy squirt gun.  She was impossibly cute and ferocious. 


I made flower crowns for the Queen of both Households.  We got a selfie in them, which is great because they were decimated within five minutes.  I’d decreed the winner of this battle would be determined by which side was wettest and which crown was stolen first.  The crowns were just gone almost immediately and the House of Novak fell to their foe wetly with plopping sound effects.  There may have been a home court advantage in the form of a hose, but all is fair in love and war.  The House of Rochon offered us losers some pretty great brownies with whipped cream.  Brownies soften the sting of defeat. House of Rochon, prepare for a rematch…we can bring the brownies this time! 

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Haiku Challenge : FROGGY

Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments below!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

Oh! That leaf just moved?
(Upon closer inspection)
Garden Froggy JOY!

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : FROGGY

Let's hear your haiku!






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Haiku Challenge: SNARKY

Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments below!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

wit can be useful 
snarky is entertaining
unless against me!

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : SNARKY

Let's hear your haiku!






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Haiku Challenge Friday: PASSION

Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments below!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

A Passion Planner;
dirty or most useful tool?
Consider the source!

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : PASSION

Let's hear your haiku!






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How is Your Bucket? How to Win Friends and Influence Other Kids (NPR Michigan Chronicles WVPE 88.1 FM)


I’ve been struggling to find joy lately. I took the Facebook app off of my phone so I could control my exposure to…All The Things. I am staying engaged, I am in the resistance, but I need to keep myself balanced and encouraged.  I look for big ways to make an impact.  I am in groups and I am writing letters and I am making calls.  I marched in a local women’s march.  I am doing what I can to be positive but it is hard and I am often afraid.

Recently on the walk through our neighborhood to school, I was humbled and inspired by my seven year old daughter Portia.  She might pretend she is a ninja instead of unloading the dishwasher the fourth time I ask, but Man! She can deliver a sermon without preaching.

One of her friends, Isabel, was having a crummy day and it was affecting the mood of our little “walking school bus” enough that I just started walking way ahead with a few kids to avoid it all.  I saw that Portia lingered back with Isabel and her father, Lucas, who is one of my favorite people.  I kept going, not wanting to deal with the fray.  I was annoyed and dismissive.  Lucas came up to me and said “Portia is talking about Bucket filling?” I stopped still on the sidewalk.  Tears filled my eyes and I began to explain.

Not too long ago my family was in town to visit my Dad and we attended the Unitarian Church I grew up in.  The children’s moment there consisted of a dear lady named Cathy Duncan reading the book “Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids” By Carol McCloud.  The author talks about how everyone had a desire to be loved and appreciated and we carry around a ‘bucket’ of feelings.  When we make someone else feel good, we fill their “bucket”.  If we are unkind to someone we are dipping into their bucket and taking away their good feelings.  The book said some people try to fill their own bucket by taking from others, but it never, ever works well.  I find that many messages like this given to children are often even better aimed at adults. We need it more!


My daughters talked about being “bucketfillers” for weeks after they heard the story.  They looked for ways to help others, to apply the message.  I talked about it with my mentor and she gave me her copy of the book since her kids had outgrown it.  We thrilled together at the power of this positive concept.  I shared the book with my friend Karyn who leads our church’s Childrens’ Ministry and they liked the message so much they used the entire “Be a Bucketfiller” curriculum for weeks!  Many of us got our buckets filled by the kind words and actions of the kids learning to look for ways to fill other people’s buckets.

So back to the sidewalk.  There I was, supposedly every inch an adult, dismissing a little kid having a hard day.  I wanted to avoid the tantrum, their sad feelings, their littleness. I was guarding myself from it (and besides there was a parent there to deal with her).  My daughter did better.  My daughter engaged her friend with love, distracted her, told her about bucket filling.  As Portia’s kind and patient words lifted Isabel’s heart, I saw at once how effective this is.  We all started telling Isabel nice things about herself.  We told her what we admired.  We told her what we were proud of her for.  We all begin smiling.  We walked together and started telling the other kids in our group how they mattered, how they made us smile, how glad we were to know them. 

We were all lifted up, smiling, energized and full of joy.  Filling each other’s buckets filled our own lumpy and battered buckets.  A little child had to lead us, but she changed the course of our morning.  Instead of dismissing someone’s pain, she worked around it to fill a bucket and changed the world.  Her corner of it, anyway. 




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Haiku Challenge Friday: COFFEE

Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments below!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

The daily adventure
My coffee in microwave
Mom's scavenger hunt

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : COFFEE

Let's hear your haiku!






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Red Long Lasting Lipstick and Dentist Appointment Tangle: Who Wins? News at 11


Can your long-lasting lipstick make it through a dentist appointment? I'm a reasonable woman, I just want everything.  Especially my RED LIPS!  I've tried something new in long lasting lipstick this past week, and I figured if it could last through a dentist appointment at Dental Arts Group here in Valparaiso Indiana, it would be RAVE WORTHY! My two daughters and I all had appointments today for tooth cleaning and X-rays.  Portia crazily can tell you exactly which two teeth she got cavities in (J & K on their mouth map, if you wondered) and I already talked about my awesome Dentist at Dental Arts Group. 
And there was that other time I road tested long lasting lipstick and told the tale about the staying power of  a certain red Lipstain at a dentist appointment...  I forgot my phone today and really wanted to get evidence. Luckily, my dental hygienst Kathy took some quick snaps (AND A SELFIE) to document my (supposedly?) long lasting lipstick during our appointment.  Here is the beginning!


And of course here is a picture with my Heroine who sent the pictures to me!  Kathy....THANK YOU SO MUCH!  She was impressed with my long lasting lipstick and I think she'll be checking Christa out on Facebook!




So I would assume you have been to the dentist: X-rays, scraping, brushing, flossing... lost of rubber gloved fingers rubbing all over my red long lasting lipstick lips.  For 20 minutes or so.  Plus water, spitting, and a paper towel wipe because: Gross.


THIS is my long lasting lipstick AFTER all of that.  AFTER I tell you. 
Go ahead and start talking to my new best friend Christa Plew RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Please tell her about the Dentist Visit Blog Post on long lasting lipstick...she'll know. She isn't pushy, she shared lots of information and I feel good about my long lasting lipstick choice.  The Lipsense lip color is made in the USA and is gluten free which I thought was a dumb claim but someone said folks who cannot have ANY gluten value that.  They don't do animal testing, it's vegan and there is no whale blubber in the stuff. I'm against animal testing so this was a plus.


If you squint you can see one tiny fleck missing.  I threw gloss over the top of my fabulous long lasting lipstick and when on my merry...my VERY MERRY way.  I'm wearing Blu-Red color, if you are curious.  I use Glossy gloss over it but really think I'll prefer the matte. You can combine the colors to make your own custom color too...crazy eh?  But it makes sense...LIPSENSE!  Bwahahaha I am hilarious.



Below are pictures from the past week of wearing this new magical lip color.  I only have the red.  I do use the OOPs remover to get it off, tho I believe my Norwex makeup cloth would do it too.  (Another CRAZY thing that works so well...and I'd been a cynic.)








I want you to see it did  rub off on my waterline, this will happen with deep colors after eating oily food...or in the afternoon at least.  I just reapply to the blank space.  No biggie.  

The magic I have discovered is LIPSENSE long lasting lipstick.   (Well they call it lip color since it isn't a lip stain or lipstick).  Never mind about the selling points....trying it, wearing it to the dentist....proves for me I have at long last found what I want in lip color.  I have my red.  It doesn't smear or rub off.  Even at THE DENTIST!!!!!!!  I got all of my pesky questions answered by Christa Williams Plew who sells it.  

My girlfriend Holly mentioned this expensive but crazy longer lasting lipstick called Lipsense a few months ago.  (Christy is her lovely sister in law!)I'm thrilled with Lipsense lip color and hope you will get a kick out of this post.  I hope to save you a few months too, since I balked at the price.  I didn't think it would work on me since EVERY OTHER LONGWEAR splits off and chunks off and is gross and still gets on my drink glass. I'm ecstatic to be wrong.   Christa posts all sorts of fun videos  showing the lip colors range of awesomeness.  

I doubt if I will get freebies from her, I am not posting expecting anything...I simply wanted to solve this problem for anyone like me who wants to kiss folks, drink things, and smile while feeling they look their best and not having to worry about their lips!  I'd love to know what you think, what works for you, and any other non spam comment you might have!

THANK YOU for reading my blog!  I'm grateful for your time.


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Dear Little Unitarian Girl Told about Burning Fiery Hell by Christians

I am so sorry.  Sweet ten year old child, I am so sorry.  I heard from your Unitarian Church Sunday School teacher that your were sad and scared and confused by some things other kids at your school told you.  They said if you didn't believe in Jesus you were going to a fiery hell.  You were sharing this during Sunday School and were not sure what to think.   Your Sunday School teacher wasn't sure what to think.  Or what to say.  I am: I know what to say.

I am so sorry.  I do not know your name and I dislike the rampant blog posts with the "Dear Random Person" titles but I needed to share with you, and anyone else who is told they are going to hell, that I am so sorry your were told about Jesus like this.  It is wrong.  I have not died, and I am not sure about Heaven or Hell, but may I please tell you what I know as a woman who is a Christian?  May I tell you some things, Sweet Girl?
Akiane's Prince of Peace Portrait of Jesus ( painted by 8 yr old child of atheists who had never seen a pic or heard of Jesus but met Him in visions and dreams)

I believe there is a God who made us and loves us.  Every. single. one of us. You may choose not to believe this and I will still think you are a wonderful person full of light and joy.  We can talk about it or not talk about it, but I will respect our difference of opinion and enjoy you just as much.  

I believe love wins.  When any person of any age acts kindly and gently towards another person, they win, even if it is hard to tell from the outcome.  Acting out of love and kindness makes you a winner every. single. time.  The opposite is also true: acting out of anger, jealousy, fear or hatred makes that person lose.   It is always a bad choice, it does not make the person a bad person, but they do lose.  Every time. Only LOVE WINS.

I believe we are all learning all the time.  No one can know all things, no matter how educated or old that person is.  The bible says lots of things and church people say lots of things and most of it will not match up at all to the truth.  Each of us needs to learn all we can about all the things we can, and then listen to that soft, small voice of God to help us discern our path and choices.  I would encourage you to read the Bible in an engaging translation like NIV or NLT or the Messsage, other religious texts, and pay attention to everything in school.  You decide your own life path.  You choose your own spiritual path.  And noone knows everything.  Someday, when our lives are over, we will know the truth. 

You are precious, and you matter, and I am sorry about the Christians.





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