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What a Difference A Week Makes

What a Difference A Week Makes

It is always tough watching your little ones go through surgery. You want to take their pain away and there is nothing you can go there but be there and support them. For those of you who know our story, strabismus eye issues have plagued my identical twins, Joel and Caleb from birth. Early on I even wrote a few posts over at Little Four Eyes if you’re interested in reading about the early days of our journey.

Two weeks ago, Joel went in for his third strabismus eye surgery.

The little man was such a trooper. And recovery for this third surgery went fairly smooth. Sadly we are becoming pros at child outpatient surgery but a couple days home from school and a little TLC and he was back to his old self.

Today we had his two week check up and it went great!

Sticking with my intention to focus more on what I’m thankful for each day, I couldn’t help but be grateful as we headed home from his appointment.

Grateful for a wonderful team of doctors, nurses, and staff members who give every kid who comes through their door exceptional care.

Grateful for a happy, healthy kiddo who kept a positive outlook even when things were painful and no fun.

Grateful for an amazing support system of extended family and friends who pitched in to help us out that week, prayed for us, and checked in to see how everyone was doing.

And most of all, grateful for this wild, crazy, group of kiddos. This is about a week post surgery. I won’t post the pictures from the first couple of days post-surgery, but all I can say is what a difference a week makes!

My Focus for 2017

My Focus for 2017

2016 was a good year. I had interesting professional opportunities come my way. I engaged in volunteer activities I really enjoy. My family is happy, healthy, and thriving. I am blessed beyond measure. So why was 2016 a struggle for me? Why did I find myself regularly in a state of discontentment? Of restlessness? Fighting frustration and not knowing if I was focusing my efforts where I should be?

When I reflected back on the year and wrote my 2017 goals, I struggled with why these feelings kept creeping into my days when I have so very much to be thankful for. One thing kept coming to mind. And I have decided to make that word my focus for 2017.

Gratitude. (Or my lack there 0f) …


It is hard to admit when the reason something isn’t working is because of you. But I was sabotaging my own ability to enjoy my life in 2016 by not appreciating and cultivating what I have.

In 2017, my life will be lived through a new outlook. One of gratitude. One of thankfulness. One where I take time to be thankful for the many blessings in my life. And not only the blessings, but the failures. The disappointments that have been learning experiences and helped me to grow as a person.

Did you create 2017 goals? Two weeks into the New Year, are you already struggling with them? Try stepping back and taking some time to be grateful. Gratitude and thankfulness may be just the thing that you are looking for this year.


Missions, Donuts & Serving Together

Missions, Donuts & Serving Together

A couple weeks ago a missionary from the Dominican Republic visited my kids at school and talked about some of the work she is doing there. Her name is Jamielynn Tinkey.

I have never meat Jamielynn. But she had quite the impact on my kids. All three came home from school and wanted to have a lemonade stand to raise money to send to her and support her work. Since it is October and our street isn’t that busy, we settled on hosting a coffee hour at Church and sending her the money raised.

So they got to work. The colored signs and collected her prayer cards so they could tell others about who their money would be supporting.


Today was the day. They packed their signs and arrived at Church, eager to set things up.


It was so much fun to watch this come together because, apart from getting the donuts and making the coffee, this was all the boys. They picked someone they saw spreading the love of Jesus and wanted to help.

There is something really special about serving along side your family and watching it make sense to your kiddos. Today was such a blessing to be able to participate in for our family. I can’t wait to sit down with the boys and figure out our next project!

Thank you to Jamielynn and all our missionaries who spend tireless hours and energy in the field spreading the love of Jesus with those around the world. If you’d like to help too, here is a link to Jamielynn’s webpage.


Election Day Reflections

Election Day Reflections

Today is Election Day in the United States. And like so many others around our great nation, I was not looking forward to voting. Not only was I not looking forward to it, I was dreading it.

On my way to pick up my oldest from school, I gave myself a pep talk. I would vote after I picked him up. At least I would have it over with and have “done my duty.” Then I picked up an energetic kiddo with a smiling face wearing this homemade sticker.


Yes. Cute. You voted. I thought to myself as he excitedly told me about their school-wide election. I listened, happy he had a good day, and pulled into the polling place. I started to tell him about the voting process. But to my surprise, he already knew quite a bit.

My second grader told me about the primary process, our two main presidential parties, and who the candidates running for office were. Not only was I very impressed with what he’d learned in school, but it pulled me out of my woe is me election season funk.

I used to love politics. The history. The process. The opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself. The opportunity to work with my fellow America’s towards making our country a better place. Lately, those feelings have been replaced by ones of sadness, fear, and anger about the direction of national politics.

But listening to an enthusiastic second grader talk about our the election system that has served our country for years, I was reminded that my “duty” goes far beyond casting my ballot. It is about educating the next generation so they are prepared to take this country into the future. It is about living each day in kindness and service. It is respecting the system that is in place that countless American’s have died to protect. It is about being grateful for the freedoms and life we have. Many other countries are not as fortunate.

So, Happy Election Day! Regardless of the outcome, we are still a great nation. Full of hardworking, kind, and generous people. And may you rest comfortably knowing that your salvation is not determined by who wins the White House. 

We Survived the First Week!

We Survived the First Week!

It is back to school time in the McNary house. I’m happy to report we survived the first week and are still smiling just as big as they were in this picture taken on the first day. (Don’t they all look adorable in their uniforms?)


All three boys are in school full time now, which is different for me. I’ve enjoyed getting into the new routine. I’m amazed how productive I’ve been able to be in my virtual assistant work when they are in school. As well as having time to tackle other work and home projects that are going on.

I think we are all excited to get back into a routine. Homework hasn’t “officially” started for anyone, but knowing that second grade will bring more regular homework for Noah, we started to get into the routine of doing worksheets and reading right when we got home from school. I was expecting some push back, but was amazed how well all three are doing with it.IMG_1592

Other than that, we are not very exciting these days and I like it that way. We have yet to sign up for any “extra” activities for the fall, even though there has been talk of both Lego League and hockey. We’ll see how things go.

The boys have been great helpers in taking care of Garth, who requires more care and attention these days. He is celebrating his 13th birthday and slowing down quite a bit. He can’t go up and down the stairs as much anymore and needs hourly bathroom breaks. But he’s still a good dog and we love him. They boys are happy to shower their love and attention on him how they can. Caleb even shared his beloved blanket with Garth the other day.


I hope everyone has a wonderful week, whatever you have in store!

Top 10 Sci-Fi TV Shows

Top 10 Sci-Fi TV Shows

Top Sci-Fi TV Shows
By Lisa Hamm

I have a love for all things Science Fiction.  Whether it be a good book, movie, tv show, board game, you name it – I am hooked.  When my sister said that I could guest blog for her sometime, I don’t think this was exactly the topic she had in mind, but it’s the first topic that came to my mind.  And once the gears started turning, I couldn’t stop.   I had my list of top Sci-Fi shows written down literally within a few minutes and ran with it.  So I am happy to share with you, my top ten favorite Sci-Fi television shows.
Photo Credit: Star Trek

Star Trek: The Next Generation
It’s hard to only list a few reasons why TNG is one of my favorite Sci-Fi shows of all time. The cast is one big happy family which I absolutely love, and there is such a good mix of science fiction, space travel, comedy, and character development.  And I cannot fail to mention how dreamy Commander Riker is.  Second season got a whole lot better when he came back with that handsome beard.   A few of my favorite episodes to make sure you tune into: The Inner Light, The Naked Now, Captain’s Holiday, and anything with Q.  If you haven’t yet seen Star Trek: The Next Generation, please stop what you are doing and start watching.  It will be time well spent.

I stumbled across Eureka when I found it on Netflix a couple years ago and it quickly became one of my favorite science-fiction TV shows.  It follows Jack Carter and his daughter who get stuck in the town of Eureka.  The town has the world’s smartest people living there and they build all sorts of inventions for the government.  Picture the town of Mayberry and combine it with the Twilight Zone and you will have the wild, cozy little town of Eureka.

Firefly is a like a western set in space.  I still to this day do not understand why or how it was canceled but at least we have one season of pure goodness to enjoy over and over.  Plus a bonus movie, Serenity, at the end to finish off the story.  I’m still holding out hope that there will be A Firefly reunion sometime in my lifetime.

Warehouse 13
I discovered Warehouse 13 after I watched Eureka and was needing a new show to binge watch.  It’s a very quirky show and similar in nature to Eureka.   The show follows secret service agents who are assigned to a remote location so they can find supernatural objects that have been lost or misplaced.  One of the main characters, Pete Lattimer, gives the show a very pleasant comedic depth.

12 Monkeys
This SyFy Channel show follows James Cole who travels back in time to try and prevent a plague from destroying all of civilization.  Normally I despise time travel but this show executes it extremely well.  The second season just wrapped up and we finally found out who The Witness is.  Season three will not start until 2017 so we have quite a long ways to wait but if you have not seen the show it gives you time to get caught up so you can start watching at season three in the new year.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The Twilight Zone
The TV show that made me interested in all other Sci Fi shows and movies.  When I was younger I used to be scared to death of this show.  I’m not sure what changed or when, but I think I have seen every episode a few times now.  The story lines are so creative – it goes to show that a well written and executed television show can stand up regardless of how long ago it first aired.

The Guild
Technically The Guild isn’t a TV show, but is a web series.  And technically it’s not really Sci-FI, but it made my list anyway.  I found it on Netflix and watched the entire thing in a day since the episodes are so short.  It follows a group of people in the same guild, The Knights of Good, who play an online game together.  It’s completely ridiculous and hilarious – I would recommend giving it a try even if you aren’t a gamer.

Dr. Who
I don’t think a top science fiction TV show list would be complete without Doctor Who on it.  I started watching Doctor Who with the Rose Tyler episodes and was hooked.  The classic episodes are still on my list to watch and can’t wait to start those.

Battlestar Galactica
I am almost ashamed to admit that I just started watching this series a week ago since it’s always been such a popular Sci-Fi show.  I binge watched the entire mini series AND season one in a weekend (don’t judge) and am just starting season two.   I have been enjoying it so much that I decided to add it to the list.

Dark Matter
Dark Matter is a new show that airs on the Syfy channel on Friday nights.  The show follows a crew of criminals who wake up one day to find that all of their memories are erased and they cannot remember who they are or what their pass entailed.  The show is a bit more serious than a lot of the other science-fiction shows I like to watch but I still find it very enjoyable.  So far I enjoyed first season better than I am getting into season two but there are still a lot of episodes to come so we will stay tuned.

There you have it!  My top 10 Sci-Fi TV show list.  I am always looking for new shows to watch, so I would love to hear any suggestions of shows you have enjoyed.  Thanks for reading!



Lisa Hamm is Marie’s sister and BFF. She lives in Iowa with her hubby and two fur babies, Cooper and Riker. Lisa enjoys dogs, nature, reading, eating, coffee, old movies, musicals, and (obviously) all things Sci-Fi.

Torn Stuffed Animals, Sewing, and Love

Torn Stuffed Animals, Sewing, and Love

This past week on a family trip, the boys got some new stuffed animals from a local festival. Cute little dolphins. By the time we arrived back to the car, one dolphin already had a tear in it’s fin. The child with the torn dolphin asked if I could sew it. After telling them we could pick up a small sewing kit later that day, I had three enthusiastic boys asking a question that made me cringe …

Can we help sew it?!?!

Now while I love my kids and want to teach them new things, trying to teach three high energy boys to sew while tired from traveling didn’t seem very high on my to-do list. Especially when I could get the dolphin sewed my myself in five minutes.

But we did it.


All three sat.

All three patiently threaded a needle and made several stitches, lovingly sewing up the toy.

All three sewed.

Out of the three, Noah really enjoyed the process. A week later he continues to ask for things to sew and has picked up the little sewing kit at least once a day since we first bought it.

It taught me a valuable lesson in loving my kids. Don’t forget to love them with your time. Love them enough to let them do it themselves. Love them by sitting for the hour and teaching them to sew the dolphin I could have sewed in five minutes. Giving them the skills to succeed in life when I’m not around.

Love is such an ambiguous thing. We all give and receive love in different ways. Most of us tend to give love to others the way we like to receive love. For me, it’s always an ongoing process to remember to give love to others in ways that are meaningful to them.

Today’s challenge: Choose one person in your life. Think about how they like to be loved. And then, love them.

Celebrating August

Celebrating August

August is always a forgotten month for me. A month where I start to get excited for Fall and all that comes with it. So I always wish August away. Not on purpose. I just think past it. Thinking about what comes after it instead of savoring everything it has to offer me.

Because when you stop to think about it. August has some pretty good things going for it.

The final days of summer vacation to savor with the kids before school starts.


The days are still long. There is comfort when the sun stays awake for the same hours I do.

How about celebrating August this year instead of looking past it towards the things that are to come? Soaking up the warm days, the buzz of the cicadas outside the window, the sunlight lingering in the sky before it’s evening descent.


Celebrate the laughter, the love, the friendships around you.

So as the month rolls on and we start to transition to a new season (in weather and in life), take a minute to stop and enjoy. A minute to celebrate August.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

What is a Virtual Assistant?

Work / life balance. It has almost become a dirty word. How do you give your family the time and attention they deserve, while also contributing financially? How do you fulfill the needs of those around you, while still engaging in creative outlets that inspire and motivate you on a personal level?

While there are many ways to earn a flexible living, many promises of working from home prove too good to be true. Today, I wanted to share a little more about a flexible work from home option that has been a great fit for me in this season of life. Being a virtual assistant.


What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is an individual who does administrative tasks for a client from a remote location. This can include scheduling meetings, keeping calendars, booking travel, and/or organizing and scheduling social media campaigns. The exact tasks can be as unique as the relationship between the client and the virtual assistant.

How Does It Work?
There are a couple different ways one can work as a Virtual Assistant.

  • Work independently. Find clients and serve them within your own parameters.
  • Contract through an organization who will help you find clients and support your efforts.

I chose to contract through a company called eaHELP and I could not be more happy with that decision. eaHELP connects rockstar virtual assistants with individuals who are in need of administrative support. Not only do they connect you with clients, but they also connect you with the resources and tools you need to succeed. They give you structure, a sense of community, and continued encouragement in yourself and your work.

va 2

What I like about Virtual Assistant work:

  • The hours are flexible.
    I set the number of hours I want to take on.
  • The location is flexible.
    I work from my home office. I am there for my family when they need me. I can also take my work “on the road” and work via remote location when the situation is needed.
  • It can evolve with you.
    I currently work ten hours a week on virtual assistant work. I take comfort in knowing that if needed, those hours can increase or decrease.
  • It gives me structure to excel creatively in other avenues.
    The structure from my virtual assistant work helps me be more intentional about the other areas of my day. As I’m planning for my virtual assistant work, I also am sure to budget time for other endeavors, such as writing for the blog, family activities, and work for McNary Marketing & Design.

If you’re thinking that it may be time to take on a little something extra as the kids are getting ready to head back to school, consider giving virtual assistant work a try. I would be happy to tell you more about my experiences, or check out my friends at eaHELP. They are a great group to have in your corner. This fun and flexible work option might be just the thing you are looking for.

Taking the Time for Gratitude

Taking the Time for Gratitude

When I got my 2016 planner, it came with a gratitude journal. While I love the idea of journaling things I am grateful for, I have failed to get into the habit of sitting down and journaling on paper regularly. Since blogging is currently my preferred writing method of choice, I wanted to take a minute to stop and give thanks for some of my many blessings.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Summer Fun & Exiting my Comfort Zone.


We took a day trip to a local amusement park this month. My husband, Josh, and my Dad are usually the designated adults who ride the rides with the kids. But because of health issues with the family dog, Josh had to stay behind. So I rode more rides than I have in ages. While I was pretty nervous about this at first, it was a great time.

The Family Pet.


This is Garth. He is our thirteen year old beagle. We got him from an amazing beagle rescue when we lived in Virginia. Garth is getting up there in years and has had a rough couple weeks. He has a slipped disk in his back and has been having trouble walking. It is hard to watch those you love age and for us the family pet has been no exception. When you are going through a rough patch like this, it causes you to stop and reflect and be thankful for all the happy memories this pup has given us over the last eleven years.

Iowa’s Beauty.


A couple weekends ago, my hubby woke up and said, “Let’s go on a road trip.” Without having a real clear idea of where we were headed, we loaded up the kids and a picnic lunch and hit the road. It was amazing all of the beauty we found within our home state (without even having to try very hard). The picture above is one of the places we ended up. Pikes Peak State Park.

How you view the world is a choice. There will always be positive things happening. There will always be negative ones too. No matter what is going on in your life, there is beauty. There is love. There is something to be grateful for. Thank you for letting me share a few of mine with you today.

I’d love to hear what you are grateful for today in the comments.