Tuesday, August 16, 2011


so my girl turned six and started kindergarten. all in one week.

here she is.....

oops. sorry. here she is.

first day of school.

she's a daddy's girl. here's daddy with her on the first day of kindergarten....

sorry. this is daddy and her on the first day of kindergarten ~

she and her big second grader brother are big buds.

...they made homemade pizzas for our little family birthday party.....

darn it. i did it again.

this is her and her big brother hanging out in the kitchen.....oh. and the morning of her sixth birthday, i took the cutest picture of her in bed with her favorite doll.

aren't they cute? wrong picture again.

here she is with elizabeth. she is her favorite doll. today. tina turner is so 2007.

see, here's the thing. when i look at this girl, i see that baby. i see that two-year-old with the crinkly nose, curly hair and smile that melts your heart.

i can't help it.

this is what i see....

when i look at her.

they said don't blink. or you'll miss it.

...they were right.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another Moving Tale, Part 2

So we made it to south Georgia and life looked somewhat different for us.

For starters, I went from a full time working Mom to a full time stay-at-home-HOMESCHOOLING Mom.  I went from pining over never seeing my children to pining over having them under my feet 24/7 having them with me all the time!  Because we didn't know anyone, we went from having a rather full social calendar to enjoying quiet days together.  Just the five of us.  And it was.... nice.  Very nice.  It's like all the craziness, turmoil and stress of the prior year came to a screeching halt.  The noise was all turned off and suddenly there was silence.  And peace.  And tranquility.   And we got to know each other again.

We spent lazy days doing just what we wanted to do.  Usually in bare feet.

We sort of fell in love with each other.  All of us.  All over again.  Because we were all we had.

Looking back on our life that last year in Fairhope, I realize now that our family was falling apart.  It's clear to me now that God needed to pick us up....move us....and then start to put us together again.

And that's just what he did.  And that's probably why my prayers to stay there seemed to be unheard and unheeded.

And that was the answer to my Why?

Then, as is His way, He started blessing us in ways we don't deserve.  We made some precious friends, found a wonderful church....

And then.

And then.....

Much unlike before when we had no choice or voice in the decision to pack up and move....recently we were faced with a most unexpected opportunity to move again.  Much closer to "home."   The Gulf Coast.  Where we both spent our childhoods.  Where we met and married.  Where most of our memories were made.  Where our roots run deep.  And where we knew we always wanted to raise our family.

With heavy hearts and after much prayer and soul searching, we made the decision to leave this sweet, quiet and content life we were just starting to make here....and go home.

After struggling over whether we were making the right decision and not wanting to make any mistakes, and praying fervently for answers (and probably prodding God a little on how we wanted those answers to come), I had an epiphany...a revelation of sorts...and it came from Facebook of all places.  How 21st century of God to speak to me in that way!

It was a friend's status one morning, and it came from a friend of hers who apparently was struggling over whether or not to take a new job.  Her revelation was God saying (and I'm probably not quoting this just right...but here goes):

I created you for fellowship with me.  Take any job you like.

I'll save my own commentary on what this meant to me for another post but let's just say it put everything in perspective  and gave me peace that we really couldn't make the wrong decision.   I became grateful for the year of rest, restoration and healing for our family.  I began to get excited about what lies ahead for us.  And I think that I (call me Peter here) felt God's hand reaching out, grabbing me saying "Oh ye of little faith....why did you doubt?"

...and when they climbed into the boat, the winds died down. (Matthew 14:30-32)

As we are now looking at another pile upon pile of boxes, another moving van, and another season of starting over from scratch... and getting ready to climb in that boat again.... we are doing so much stronger than last time.  With greater faith.  And with a greater appreciation for answered (and unanswered) prayers.

Of course you do realize....I may be clinging to that verse up there more than ever and looking for a real boat to climb into since we will close on our new house just three weeks before hurricane season begins.

Oy vey.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another Moving Tale, Part 1

A little more than a year ago I painfully watched as movers packed up my house in Fairhope and loaded a moving van bound for south Georgia.  I looked on as they disassembled the baby bed  where I'd laid each of my they moved toys out of the playroom where I'd helped little hands mold playdough and stack blocks....and before I knew it I was standing in an empty house,  left with nothing but tears and memories....almost more than my heart could bear.

See, this move was not one of our making....or our choice.

In fact, we had no choice in it at all.   Things had had happened....and we were being sent down a road we would have never chosen to travel.  As I closed the door behind me and pulled out of the driveway for the last time, my heart hurt so that my entire body ached, and the tears flowed so freely and profusely that I could hardly see to drive.  I couldn't imagine what good might possibly lie ahead of those more than 300 miles we would be traveling to our new home in the next few days.  I couldn't imagine that there would be cherished memories to make.   Because in my grief for what seemed lost forever, I couldn't see beyond....

Don't get me wrong....I knew that the most important, cherished and adored treasures on this earth were coming with me ( and I don't mean my luggage or my shoes).    I knew that as long as the five of us were together we would be fine.  And I had a list a mile long of all I was grateful for ... It's not that.  It's just that....I loved...and I mean in Fairhope.  I had dreamed of living there for as long as I could remember, so as cliché and corny as it sounds, when we had the chance to move to that little Mayberry by the Bay in 2005 it was truly a dream come true.   I would have never left.  Ever.  Under any circumstances.

Well...Except one.  (Turns out you actually have to have a job in order to make money and pay your mortgage to live in your house in your dream town.  Who knew?  So if your company eliminates your job and you don't have one anymore, you might have to leave your dream town and move (far) away to go to where the job case you were wondering how that all works).

And when that happened it was like being hit upside the head with a 2 x 4 from behind while I was sitting peacefully and happily gazing out across Mobile Bay thinking "Life.  Is.  Good."  (not that I've actually ever been hit upside the head with a large piece of wood but I can only imagine it felt something like this.)   That blow happened in early 2009 and was followed by a couple of other near knock-outs, all making for a very, very bad year.  Very bad year indeed.  And I asked more than once (usually on my knees)..."Dear Lord....where did this come from?  And more importantly....Why?  Why?"

I didn't have any of those answers as I signed (with tears streaming down my face) the closing papers on my sweet house...or withdrew my sad little kindergartner from his wonderful school and said goodbye to his beloved teacher...or crossed two state lines to meet the moving van at a strange new house in a strange new town where we didn't know a soul.

But God began to replace my questions with calm, my grief with peace, and continually assured me that He had gone before me and would be with me, that He would never leave or forsake me... and I had no reason to be afraid or discouraged.  (Deut. 31:8).  Even though I didn't know why, He did.  And even though I'd been caught by surprise and hit from behind, He had not.

He knew this was coming.   And He knew where we were going.

And He was prepared.

...Stay tuned for Part 2

(this is kinda a mini-series.  or a sequel.  grab some popcorn and sweet tea and hurry back, y'all).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


So we took a quick trip last week back home to Alabama and the Gulf Coast.  It worked out that my folks were here so they took the two oldest ones back with them and we followed later that afternoon with the little one.

JUST the little one.

It was amazing how fast I was able to get us packed, loaded and on the road.  And even more amazing that I spent the better part of the trip facing forward.  As opposed to crossing every state line with my rear end plastered on the windshield while I'm hanging over the back seat filling water cups, passing around some sort of cheesey sea life inspired crackers or swatting at unruly passengers.

But the most incredible thing, y'all, is how much room we had in that van after we loaded up our luggage.  Room galore!

Part of it was because we only had this one small child with us.  Part of it is because said one small child is the third and final small child for us and we've learned a lot in the past seven and a half years.  A.  Lot.

We were laughing remembering the first road trip we took with our then four-month-old firstborn.  We were going to the mountains just north of Atlanta and we were going to be gone for about 5 days.  Judging by our cargo, however, one would have surmised we were heading into a remote area of the north pole for the frozen season and the only way we would have access to food and various other sundries would be via air drop.

At that time our family truckster was a Subaru Outback.  With plenty of room to pack for such a trip for a family of two and a quarter.  But for some reason we felt the need to purchase a cargo carrier.  To pack on top of the car what would not fit inside the car.  These items included:

A pack-n-play, full size stroller, Baby Bjorn carrier, grocery cart seat cover, portable high chair (he wasn't sitting up yet but he might start while on the trip, you know), Bumbo seat, various collection of toys, plastic bathtub, various collection of bathtub toys, bottles, bottle warmer, bulk package of baby wipes, baby wipes warmer, bulk package of diapers,  baby food (not sure he was eating solid foods yet never know), white sound machine, aquarium crib toy, exersaucer, swing and clothing that spanned the seasons because you never know what the weather will be like.

And the thing is....we were never going to be less than five miles from a super Walmart.

Seriously?  We were college educated people, y'all.  Even then.

So the other day it was nothing to pack for us and number three.  We threw a change of underwear and a piece of gum in a bag and left.


Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Fake House

So I'm not sure anyone has noticed but we haven't posted anything since Valentine's Day.

That was nearly three weeks ago.

When I realized how long it has been since I wrote anything...and how long it's been since I wanted to, I told Kim I wasn't sure I wanted to keep up this blog thing anymore.

First I thought I was just bored with it.  Then I thought I just didn't have time for it.  But then I saw that my heart  didn't seem to be in it anymore.  And not just writing on my own blog....but even reading some of the blogs I have followed for years.  I think I finally figured out what it is.

I'm tired of creating the fake house.

And I'm tired of visiting the fake house.

You know what the fake house is....right?  It's like when you know company is coming, so you run around like crazy cleaning....stowing and hiding all the clutter that normally fills your counters and causes you to trip coming in the front door.  You put out the pretty white monogrammed guest towels and hide the ugly blue ones that don't match and look faded or stained.  You light candles....turn on some cool background music....and use dishes that match and don't have Halloween pumpkins on them.  In June.

We all do it.  We know we do it.  Yet when we go over to a friend's house for dinner and observe this scene we come home and feel grossly inadequate.  Because we trip over four pairs of flip-flops when we walk through the door, we see an ugly, stained, faded (wet) towel thrown on our favorite chair and a stack of mismatched dirty pumpkin dishes in the sink.  In June.  There are no scented candles lit....just the aroma of wet dog.  And the only background music we hear is the kids seeing who can yell "poop" the loudest.

And we think.....Ugh.  Gross.  How come my house can't look like "theirs?"

What am I doing wrong?

And it's the same with blogs.

We all do it.  We know people are reading about our lives so we pick and choose what we share.  We post the best pictures.  Tell the best stories.  Oh sure .... we tell a few "horror" stories that reflect a bit of life in the trenches of motherhood.  But usually they are for the sake of comedy.  Because they are funny and you really can't make that stuff up.  But even those stories don't show what our lives are like on a daily basis.

Homeschool blogs are the worst.

Don't hang up on me yet.  I'm just being honest.

You read someone's homeschool blog and they have pictures of their kids sitting sweetly, quietly and very still, reading books....or working on a project.....or drawing a masterpiece....or playing a musical instrument.   And in that same post they share how they grind their own wheat, churn their own butter, sew their whole family's clothes, feed their kids steamed vegetables twice a day (and the kids LOVE them by the way), are multi-lingual and arrange all of their books according to the Dewey Decimal system.  And you remember just a little earlier at your own "school" when your child fell out in the floor practically in convulsions because you told him to work on his math worksheet while you attempted to scrape dried oatmeal off of the breakfast dishes so you could throw some frozen chicken nuggets at them for lunch.  You haven't had a shower and may or may not have brushed your teeth.  Your laundry room looks like it could be featured on "Hoarders" and you can tell from three rooms away the dog has left you a nice present to clean up.  Again.  Awesome.

And you think....Ugh.  Gross.  How come my house can't look like "theirs?"

Look.  I've done it too.  In fact, I posted this picture on Facebook the other day.

I thought about doing a post on this blog about how it was Dr. Seuss's birthday so we had a big celebration.....had green eggs and ham for lunch....made all these wonderful crafts and then sat around studying Dr. Seuss's greatest works all day.   Which we DID!  Sort of.  Truth is I didn't even think about it being Dr. Seuss's birthday until we picked the little one up at school and he had on his fancy hat and bowtie and I thought....well, crud.  I didn't do anything all morning in our "school" except assign math worksheets that caused convulsions.  So out of guilt, I ran in the store on the way home, bought some ham, came home and scrambled some eggs and made them look green with some spinach (hoping the kids would gobble them up and alleviate some guilt from feeding them frozen chicken nuggets for lunch every other day), quickly copied little one's hat and bowtie for the other two, took this picture, and then plopped them all in front of the Cat in the Hat MOVIE so I could get started on the laundry before the TLC crew showed up to film the next episode of Hoarders.

I'm serious, y'all!

Truth is, I try. Day in and day out I struggle to do it all.  I try to be creative in my homeschooling.  I try to keep a clean and tidy house.  I try to cook homemade healthy meals for my family.  I try to have us read more than we watch TV.  I try to find my children's passions and encourage them.  I try to find teachable moments in everything.  I try to savor every moment I have with them, knowing how quickly the time passes.  I try to live intentionally.  I try to be gracious.  Merciful.  Kind.  Loving.  Resourceful and industrious.  But what feels like more often than not, I fail.  So I get up the next morning and I try again.  And that, my friends, is what my life really and truly looks like on a daily basis.  Trying, and trying, and trying.....and praying.....and praying harder.....and trying some more.

Who wants to read about that?

All this to say....I'm not sure about this blog thing.  I'm not sure there's enough time in the day to continue to keep up the fake house, or keep peeking into others' houses (which may or may not be fake) and feeling generally bad about it.

Maybe we need to be more real and get out the ugly towels for each other sometimes.

What color are yours?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

Even though Kim and I have been gone from Birmingham for nearly 9 years, we still have many friends there and Birmingham holds a special place in our hearts.  In fact, we are planning a Mommy, Esq. retreat there sometime this spring and can't stop talking about all the places we will go and eat.

We're already fasting in preparation for such gluttony.

So...we were excited when the owner of this great website , Childcare Birmingham, contacted us to say hi and even more excited when they featured Kim's post from last summer about all the hot spots in Birmingham to hit with kids in tow.

If you live in the Birmingham area, be sure to check them out.  And if you do live near the 'ham and are a Mommy, Esq., give us a shout out and meet us for a falafel at Nabeel's!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

It's in the Eyes

So I know a few posts back I talked about One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  If you're already reading it, you'll get what I'm about to say.  If you aren't reading it yet, listen to me y'all....

read it.  READ it.  K?

Trust me.

As a friend of mine said when she started reading it...."she speaks to my heart."

I find myself reading and inside screaming "YES!"  "Yes, Ann....YES!"

It's like Ann (again....speaking as if we are friends, which I feel like we would be if we could) found a way to put into words what we....what I.....what all of us as Moms....have felt.  Dreamed of.  Wanted.  Strived for.  Pursued.  Cried over.  Felt guilty about.  Pined for.  Celebrated.

Does that make any sense?   Maybe not.

Listen to this .... from the book.....

The world I live in is loud and blurring and toilets plug and I get speeding tickets and the dog gets sick all over the back step and I forget everything and these six kids lean hard into me all day to teach and raise and lead and I fail hard and there are real souls that are at stake and how long do I really have to figure out how to live full of grace, full of joy - before these six beautiful children fly the coop and my mothering days fold up quiet?  How do you open the eyes to see how to take the daily, domestic, workday vortex and invert it into the dome of an everyday cathedral?

Just.  Wow.

Since I've been reading this book (and yes it's taking me much longer than usual....typically I devour books.  This one is to be savored.  Word.  By.  Word.) I've found that I look at my life...differently.

Like last night.  I was tired.  It had been a long day.  I didn't get a shower until a few minutes before my husband came home so I was clean and smelled good but u-u-ugly, know what I'm talking about?   Not a dab of makeup, hair hastily pulled back in a ponytail and mismatched sweats on.  With fuzzy socks.  I'm not sure how he restrained himself when he walked in the door but I digress.

I was just tired.  Laundry piled up, toys everywhere, kids running through the house chasing the dog, school books and papers strewn throughout the dining room, and a kitchen full of dirty dishes and we hadn't even eaten yet.  And I was already exhausted.  Bathtime, prayers and bedtime seemed a world away.

But as the buzzer went off on the dryer and I ran in to switch out the clothes, instead of dreading the folding and putting them away I found myself thinking, Oh thank you God that we have clothes!  Look at all these socks and underwear my children have.  And sweatshirts and pants.  And t-shirts.  And sweaters.  They will never know what it is to be cold because they don't have something warm to put on.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Then when I went into the kitchen to finish cooking, instead of focusing on the mess and all the work ahead of me in there, I thought, Oh but by the grace of God we have more food here in this kitchen than we could eat in the next month.  Not only do we have simple sustenance, but we have what we want....what we crave....we are so blessed.  So.  Blessed.

See where this is going?

You don't think you can find a blessing in changing diapers?  Ask the Mom who can't get out of bed to go to her crying baby and would give anything to change Just.  One.  More.  Diaper.  I know a beautiful and very real Mom like that.  Her name is Katherine Wolf and you can read all about her here. Be inspired.  And challenged.

Sometimes it's all in the way we see things.  Sometimes there's nothing wrong with our eyes.

We just need to focus.

I'll be heading over here on Sunday.

I do hope I see you there.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cold, Rainy Days

... are the best.

There's just something about a cold, dreary day that makes me happy.

Is that odd?

I feel inspired.  Creative.  Encouraged.

Because I know that after the rain, comes the sun.

And after winter, comes spring.


No need to rush it.  Or wish it away.

Rather, savor it.  Fix yourself a cup of tea, light a fire (or at least a candle), get a good book, turn on some music....

and rest.

At my house we like to get out every sheet and blanket we can find and build a fort in the den.  Sometimes we sit in the fort and eat popcorn.  We're crazy like that.

We look forward to days like this.  Because it's just not as much fun to build a fort in the den when the warm sunshine is beckoning you outside.

Days like this are a gift.

In more ways than one....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

She's Eating My Words (and everything else)

I said that nothing else was coming in our house that eats or poops.

She's eaten those words and spit them out.

She's learned to go outside to do her business.  That's good!

But then she sometimes immediately does it again.  Inside.

That's bad.

She chews up anything that isn't nailed down or doused with Tabasco sauce.  A few recent iPad cable, one Wii nunchuck, an SD card reader (no clue what that was but apparently was quite useful with video games and such), and one favorite pink polka dot flip flop.

That's bad.

But she has a sweet disposition, is highly agreeable, never whines, wags her tail when I put her food in front of her (eats every bite and never complains), sleeps all night and wipes her own bottom.

That's good!

(and more than I can say about some others in this house)

Sunday, January 16, 2011


So yeah I took a little blogging break but enjoyed being a lurker on my own blog!  Actually I took a mini cyber sabbatical and will probably do it again soon.  After the holidays I just felt so bleh.   I kept saying "I'm over it."  Over.  It.  It being too much spending....too much eating....too much time wasting....too much, too much, too much.  My brain, body, home and checking account were in overload.

All of a sudden I started focusing on all the junk in my life and in my home that needed to be tossed.  I decided to de-tox.  De-clutter.  And de-stress.

I've been a busy girl.

So far I have a couple of closets and drawers that actually have free space.  FREE SPACE, y'all.  Do you know how good it feels to see an empty shelf in your closet?  Or to be able to actually slide the hangers around, knowing that everything in there is actually something you wear on a regular basis???

I've also been baking again and looking for ways to make nearly everything from scratch that we consume.    Remember our Christmas list and how I wanted this?

And this?

Well I got both for Christmas!  And I love, love, LOVE my Kindle!  I stayed in bed all day long about two weeks ago reading The Help. I'm about three years behind on my reading but if you are too, READ THIS BOOK.  Especially if you're in bed sick all day.  And you aren't sick, fake it to stay in bed all day and read it.  I'd never do that of course.  I'm just sayin'.  Do whatcha gotta do.

As for the mixer, I've perfected my bread recipe and will post it soon.  It's full of sunflower seeds, flaxseed and .....wait for it.... BROWN RICE ground up into flour.   You will smile as your family devours it, knowing all the good stuff they're eating and they don't even know it.  I'm a fan of trickery.

One last random thought for today before I go.

I used to have a policy that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, would be coming into this house again that requires feeding, watering and sanitation services.

So much for that policy.  Look at this little Muppet.

Meet our new labradoodle.

We named her Cameron.  The die hard Auburn fan I'm married to calls her Cam.  And our smallest two legged baby calls her Camnewton.  It just rolls out like that....Camnewton.

War Eagle, y'all.