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I woke with a start to the sound of insistent beeping. Disoriented and confused, I sat up and looked across the hospital room to a nurse huddled over my daughter’s IV, and only then did the last 24 hours come flooding back to me. Madi’s puking in the middle of the night, which turned into a trip to urgent care, which turned into a trip to the emergency room, which turned into emergency surgery to remove her infected appendix.

The day had been a blur, everything happening so fast that I barely had time to process until the nurses told me they were going to take her into the operating room. As soon as she rounded the corner, I fell apart, crying all the way into the waiting room. My bravery gone, my positive demeanor demolished, all I could do was nervously sit and stare at the electronic board where her number was displayed…In Surgery…In Surgery…In Surgery…


We had the best possible result; the surgery went smoothly, her appendix was not ruptured, Madi was incredibly brave, and the hospital staff was professional and kind. But it was also terrifying to watch your kid struggle, and not be sure what the outcome was going to be.

Back to 3 a.m. All of that residual terror was washing over me, and I felt tears bubbling up again. But instead, I turned to my practice….of gratitude. I firmly believe that gratitude for God’s gifts is a practice, just like yoga. It is not something you ever perfect, but you have to work at it, day after day. My goal? Turn an occasional thank you into a regular habit and ultimately into a way of life that overflows with gratitude in both good and bad, in times of blessing and in times of pain.

So I lay there, watching the nurse work on Madi, and I started to work on my practice by thinking about God’s gifts…

  • Conscientious urgent care doctors that sent us directly to the ER
  • An amazing Children’s Hospital ten minutes from our home
  • A husband who works five minutes away from the hospital
  • Free WiFi in the hospital so Madi could FaceTime her best friend
  • Plenty of kids movies to distract the kids in the ER
  • Family to take Parker and Fiona away from the hospital
  • Cassie, the awesome nurse who explained the entire IV process to Madi
  • Having time to play chess with your oldest kid
  • A capable surgeon who inspired Madi’s confidence
  • Lots and lots of ice cream cups
  • Borrowed cell phone chargers
  • Visitors to raise our spirits
  • Doritos at midnight
  • A non-ruptured appendix
  • Emotional and prayer support from my social media “peeps”
  • Patience…lots of patience…

I started to calm down, and was able to doze back off to sleep for a few more hours. Yes, today we dealt with appendicitis, and who knows what tomorrow will bring. But what I do know that day by day, one bit of gratitude at a time, I will be able to face whatever comes my way.

Rachel Signature Random.jpg



It is the middle of summer vacation around here, which means that school supplies are starting to pop up in the grocery store aisles. I actually bought a few packs of markers today, which my children found very distressing. They are not ready to give up their lazy afternoons at the pool and wild jumping sessions on the trampoline, and frankly, neither am I.

But it did give me the idea to dig up some educational and fun apps for the kids to check out, just to start to tip their minds back towards school. My oldest daughter is in a three-week science camp right now, so it seemed like the right subject to focus my search. Here is what I found…


1. Fish Out of Water (Free for Apple & Android Devices): While this was one of the “game” apps I found, it actually has a lot to do with simple mechanics, as you carefully choose the right fish to launch out into the water and watch how many times they “skip”. We all had fun with this one, dodging jellyfish and fighting giant waves to get a perfect “10″!

2. Weird but True Facts (Free for Apple & Windows Devices): This little app from National Geographic Kids provides fun facts and wacky facts for your curious kids to absorb. You know, things like “A U.S. ice-cream shop sold insect-flavored ice cream”. The perfect nuggets of weirdness for those elementary school age kids. You get one fact pack for free, and can add on more with in-app purchases.

3. Max & Ruby! Science App (Free for Apple Devices): Perfect for the 5 and under crowd, this app focuses on Physical Science with their educational games. Connect the correct water pipes in Water Blast! and adjust ball trajectory with Ball-O-Rama! My almost-kindergartner loves this game. My one complaint…you get five levels for free, but I would have to cough up $3.99 for the full learning games.

4. My Incredible Body ($4,99 for Android, Apple & Windows Devices): I know…five bucks, right? But if your kids are at all interested in anatomy, this is THE app. It has amazing features like being able to zoom inside a 3-D view of an organ to see how it works and animated rides through the systems to see how blood flows or how lungs look while you are breathing. It is fascinating, engaging, and educational!

5. Wild Kratts World Adventure ($2.99 for Apple Devices): Designed for kids ages 4 – 8 (and 8 is probably a little too old), this app hits the life sciences with games in habitats around the globe. Woodpeckers hunt for beetles, dolphins clean up trash, and orangutans swing through the trees. Lots of animal facts, fun stickers, and NO in-app purchases round out the experience. I don’t think my kids will go back to the app over and over, but it’s a good, solid stand-by.

6. Sink or Float? (Free for Apple & Android Devices): All I have to say about this app is that my Mom and the kids spent a good half an hour cackling over this game. It’s simple…decide if the item (cupcake, scissors, eggplant) will sink or float, and then send it into the water. It doesn’t sound like it would be captivating, but somehow it is! We downloaded the free version, but you can buy the complete version for 99 cents.

7. Brain Pop Jr. (Free for Apple & Google Play Devices): We have had  the grown-up version of Brain Pop for a while; this version sports kid-sized characters in short animated videos on a variety of topics, ranging from Science to Art to Technology to Health and much more. A new video is available each week, along with quiz questions and activities. My 9-year-old is probably too old for it, but it is perfect for my younger two.

8. Despicable Me: Minion Rush (Free for Apple & Android Devices): This had to make the “fun” list, because my kids are obsessed with playing this “temple-run-ish” game and I am horrible at it. Doesn’t that make it the quintessential kid game? When your parents can’t figure it out…or they think finding the “fluffy unicorn” is ridiculous? My only beef with the game is that they really want you to spend money to upgrade your minion, and I have had to say “no”…loud and often.

Enjoy the rest of your summer…because fall is coming sooner than we think!

Rachel Signature Random.jpg


My friend Tami dubbed this “The Mix,” a few years ago.  It didn’t need a cute name like Puppy Chow or Nuts & Bolts to attract people to it….just calling it what it was…..The Mix…..was good enough.  Kind of like Madonna, Prince, or Cher.  Your kids will love this one and it’s something they can help make.  Plus, it’s bright and colorful and just looks like a sunny summer day.

You need four ingredients.


Plain M & M’s, Cocktail Peanuts, Colored Dinner Mints (GFS usually carries them), and cut up Strawberry Twizzlers (don’t use the pre made licorice nibs–they’re not as good in this–at all).  Use equal parts of all four ingredients.

Mix all together.


And then just try not to eat it all in one sitting.




Signature Maggie

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This DIY was inspired by a key-chain I saw online a few months ago.  I’m pretty happy with how it turned it, how simple it was, and how versatile it is all over my house.


I purchased a tree-trunk slice from my grocery store! for about $14.  It’s pretty wide (about 10-12” across) and pretty thick (about 4”) so it will work well as a tray, decorative center-piece, or candle-holder.  I already have a pretty large selection of craft paints, but if you don’t, you’ll need about seven or eight colors.  Additionally you’ll need washi tape to act as painters tape to create your pattern.  I use thin washi tape in order to get more color onto my tray.  The thicker the tape, the bigger the unpainted lines you’ll have when you take the tape off.  And lastly you’ll want the glossy finish Mod Podge.

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Tape off your tree trunk.  Don’t over-think it.

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Paint away.

Soon after you’re finished painting, remove the tape.  I never wait for my paint to dry all the way–you’ll risk peeling chunks of paint from your project if you wait to remove the tape until the paint is 100% dry.

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Allow the paint to finish drying for about 24 hours.

Finally, seal with mod-podge.  I get so nervous when I pour mod-podge onto a project–it never looks like it’s going to dry clear. It does, it does, it does.  I promise.

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Make sure to evenly spread the mod-podge and allow to dry for a few hours.  This will seal your paint.

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And as an added bonus–I can paint the other side of this slab of tree trunk whenever I feel like it and create a totally different look.  Two DIY’s for the price of one.  I’ll take it!

Signature Maggie

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