Fall Porch

Summer is well and truly over.  As much as I lament it’s absence when I am shivering on the soccer field at early morning games, I have had to say my goodbyes.  See ya in June, best season of the year.

But at least a new season brings with it cute porch decor!

Bought some mums, made a wreath, and sewed throw pillows for my rocking chairs with some fabric from my scrap pile. Hello Fall!

front porch
I really like the burlap ribbon amongst the flowers and leaves on my wreath (click image to enlarge). Copied mine from a compilation of different wreaths seen on Pinterest but especially this one.






Farewell, pink and purple.

My 10 year old has ditched all the pink and purple once decorating her room. She turned on those “little girl” colors fast enough to bring a tear to a Mama’s eye!

We sweetened up her new bedspread with some fabric bunting and tissue paper pom poms for quick,  inexpensive updated decor. Love this girl’s style.


Blue is my favorite color, too.  I may or may not sometimes take over that hammock for a prime reading spot when she’s in school.  Shhhhh…..



Morning Mommy


Y’all. I timed it. It takes me approximately 17 minutes to run a brush through my hair and slap on a bit of makeup, and transform from scary Picture A to normal Picture B.

So,  my dear middle school boys,  I apologize for perpetually dropping you off at Middle School as version A. I know it’s only 17 minutes. I know. I’m sorry.

For your early school career,  I upheld the unspoken contract that I would at least keep a dark, large pair of sunglasses, lip gloss, and a ballcap in the car,  in order to shield the world from scary version A, and also not scar your young psyches.

But now. Dude. Middle school starts flipping early. I feel like I deserve a medal for leaving the house at 6:45 to drive your precious selves to school thereby saving you an even earlier trip to the bus stop. I am going to continue to roll out of bed, stumble around, and sleepwalk myself to the van. (Except on the mornings your Dad does the sleepwalking.) (Which is good for you, because he’s way cuter and less embarrassing right outta bed.) The point is,  finding my sunglasses and hat is just way too hard.

So, the boys get Version A mom at drop off. In all its glory. Morning sun shining brightly upon that puffy face. And my daughter,  who doesn’t have to leave the house until 8:15 and thereby leaves time for my coffee to start working, gets the new and improved Version B mom and less trauma in her life. It is a tough, unjust world.

(I did stop myself from rolling down the window and yelling to the boys as I drove away “Hey! Boys! Look! It’s Emma walking in the building!!! Remember sweet Emma? We had dinner with her family this summer?!?”  My finger was literally on the button, but at the last minute I remembered that the boys would die of embarrassment if either version of  me yelled out the window about “sweet Emma” in front of the middle school. Be cool, mom.  Be cool.)

More than just eye rolls.


The eye roll moments in these tween years that communicate “I am very sophisticated and cool,  and you are neither funny nor smart” are, yes, a bit difficult.

But there’s so much good in these years too. Oh how much FUN when I look for it and take a break from “molding and shaping” and just accept her on her own terms.

I love seeing her passions develop. I absolutely LOVE when she introduces me to a great new song or gives me a synopsis of a new book in a way that makes me wanna read it.

I love watching her be sweet and nurturing to a select handful of younger neighborhood kids she absolutely adores.

She now has her own curling iron and she’s actually pretty great at fixing her hair 80% of the time. The other 20% she tries something “different” it looks to my old uncool eyes kinda wackadoo but I am trying to perfect the “smile and nod”. It’s her head after all.

Can we talk about fashion sense? We’re minimalist around here when it comes to wardrobe (both a budget decision, and a decision born out of my loathing of shopping), but she works it. I love how she puts an outfit together. (And other times….   smile and nod boys, smile and nod….)

She is learning it’s okay to make mistakes,  and learning that saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t have to taste so bitter. A meaningful I’m Sorry feels so much better than a pride-filled heart. Those lessons are tough,  I’m learning right alongside her.

As my boys have grown and entered middle school and the delicate/tumultuous teenage years, this blog certainly isn’t the place to share their pictures and stories. There’s a weird shift that happens anyway,  where so many of their stories are completely their own – happening apart and separate from me – that they sometimes chose to share with me. (And thank you Jesus for the times they do.) I hold that stuff close.

In the elementary years I feel a bit more freedom to write and document their/our lives and lessons and everyday joys. And thank goodness because looking back at old pictures and blog posts of the kids when they were Itty Bitties is such a treasure to me (probably only to me,  but that was,  I think,  the whole point of this thing anyway.)

All that to say that sometimes I do wonder what it says about me, that I snap pictures of this girl on a random Wednesday morning and post them with my thoughts about her on the cusp of 10 years old….Why exactly is it that I write and hit publish on this stuff? A lot of reasons actually, having to do with needing a writing outlet,  wanting to be known, wanting to share some part of myself with people I don’t have the privilege of living everyday life with,  wanting to in my way “tell of the goodness of the Lord!”,  hoping to communicate that joy and gladness live right alongside heartache and pain…. But mostly I keep posting this stuff because I know down the road I’ll be glad I did. Lord,  help me remember.


Easy DIY Gift

My current favorite easy and inexpensive DIY gift is a quote or scripture on a burlap frame.




Burlap Frame (Pack of two at Walmart, less than $5)

Spray Adhesive

Upholstery Tacks

Favorite quote/paper/printer

Create your quote using different fonts with a program like picmonkey.com.  Print, cut to size, spray with adhesive, stick to burlap, adorn with upholstery tacks.  This one I made for my husbands office, but for a babies room or friend it would be cute adorned with buttons or a bow and your favorite sweet quote printed on fun paper.




Finding Empathy

Aug 11th, 2015 Her first day of fourth grade!



I think it’s what happens when we sincerely ask the Lord to please PLEASE save us from ourselves and our tendency to judge.

My daughter is a smart, hard-working pleaser who is also occasionally a little distracted and scattered. Also a great description of her mother at age 9.

My first response when she left her homework folder in her desk at school was a lecture. “Make a plan to get it home! Everyday! Ask yourself everyday if you have what you need. Double check, there’s really no excuses….” But then I see her face,  full of disappointment in herself, and I am suddenly hurled thru time,  right back to the emotions of being in fourth grade and ONCE AGAIN turning in a perfect spelling test without my name on it. Minus 10 points. Again. Nine year old me was wrecked. “Why can’t I remember to do that?!?” I fully relive the frustration and bafflement. How can I get every word correct on every test, yet can’t remember a simple thing like putting my name on my paper?

So I exit that moment in my brain,  return to the present,  and by the grace of God skip the lecture and go with a hug.

Thank you Lord for the ways big and small that you are revealing hypocrisy in my heart and replacing it with grace. It feels Holy and special when it happens.  It does not feel like working to find empathy, it feels like being mysteriously and suddenly gifted it. I think these small moments are just practice, preparing me for the bigger moments, when my judgment of someone is messier and uglier and the grace-filled response costs much more and is harder to find. But I want that chance.

What is home anyway?

I have a really great life. A perfect life? No. I have certainly had heartache and loss; but I know God as healer and redeemer probably better than I know him in any other way, and he has been good to oversee my pain and certainly never waste it. Bumps in the road not withstanding, I really do get way down in my gut that my life is enviable. It humbles me. A good, good man who loves me.  Healthy kids.  Never missed a meal.  A family in Oklahoma who would do anything for me.

The one “hang up” and pity-party I keep revisiting in my adulthood, in spite of a full and joy-filled life, is my kids not being able to experience a strong sense of “hometown.” The crazy hometown pride, here’s where I from, it defines me in so many ways, I love it in spite of it’s flaws, yes please dress me in my high school colors 20 years later, that kind of home.  They may never feel about anywhere the way I feel about Oklahoma, because they’ve never been anywhere long enough.   And yes, that’s our bad. We did it. We keep moving them around the country.  Sometimes planned and exciting, sometimes unplanned and heartbreaking, but always landing somewhere where we eventually say, “Oh.  Yeah.  We get it now.  We trust you, Lord, with our whole lives. Thank you.”

So, my kids not having a home town, it’s a small grievance in an otherwise pretty charmed life.

I think I’m finally ready to let go of that heartache.  Here’s this burden Lord, I don’t want to carry it anymore. It’s time.  Now is the time partly because, let’s face it, my kids are age 13, 11, and 9. The one-hometown-for-their-whole-life ship has sailed. It’s ain’t happenin’ honey.

But also because the Lord has seen fit that now is the time for him to shine a gentle but very bright spotlight on my heart, and reveal the discontent there.  In short…he moved me to a military town.  So I have been given the precious chance of watching a handful of  families be moved, uprooted, have plans changed and changed again, all at the mercy of some higher up in an office somewhere sending them off to wherever the paperwork says to go.  They do it with joy and peace. They do it accepting the heartache that comes with saying goodbye, but without bitterness. If they feel a sense of loss over “home”, it’s not in a way that steals their joy.

So, this life of never being in one place long enough to lay down roots? It’s not the script we would have written.  But it’s okay.  Better than okay.  As I give up that wish and just go ahead and try and accept with joy that I didn’t get my way, I can more clearly see all the benefits of this life we’ve lived.

A friend once told me that my kids were “well on their way to becoming unflappable.”  It makes me tear up as I realize how true that is, and that I couldn’t have given them that gift with the life I would have planned had I been in charge. They’ve earned their grit the same way we have.  I’m grateful.

And I hope for them that someday they can process whatever heartache and unfulfilled wished-for-things they encounter in their own lives, and find the beauty in it.

So, you are all my witnesses that I am fully accepting this life of ours with joy: Dallas.  Lubbock.  Georgia.  And now, Lord willing for a good long while, Tennessee. I’m glad for the lessons, love, and beauty found in all of those places.



“Home is wherever I’m with you.”  A cliche by now, but also the God’s honest truth.  Home is the place that’s safe.  Home is where you are known, loved, celebrated, and accepted.  And we’ve always, always had that.  Always will.

Family History in the Kitchen



This Pepsi crate is stamped “Tulsa, OK”, and it’s something my Grandpa somehow acquired half a century ago.  I saw it on a shelf in my mom’s garage, and asked her for it.  (Thanks to lemonademakinmama for the idea to use it on my kitchen counter; I first saw it on her blog!)


The white milk glass pitcher was given to my grandparents as a wedding present in 1951.  I rescued it from their storage shed.  The Bowl of Fruit was painted by my daughter.


These “vintage” metal measuring spoons were one of several sets my Grandma had squirreled away in a drawer, and my mom brought them to me after I someone lost my plastic set in the most recent move.


These pyrex bowls were my Grandma’s too.  I don’t have a good story for how I acquired them.  I think I basically took them out of her cabinet, with permission. Smile.


Sweet little reminders of family all over my kitchen.

you oughta make a frittata




A quick story before we begin: For a good long bit I’ve had blog posts I’ve wanted to write in my head, and then I don’t write them because my photography abilities are about negative 17.

But here’s the deal…..I bought a fancy used DSLR camera.  I tried learning.  I didn’t enjoy it and I wasn’t very good at it.  So, I sold it.  The end.

So, the frittata! My new favorite go-to meal.   I have to write about the frittata even though my pictures don’t do it justice. (See story above.)  Do you know about frittatas? They are basically a crustless quiche and they’re perfect for using up veggies or leftover meat or whatever else you need to use up and get dinner on the table quick.  I like these instructions for ideas about what to include in your frittata, but the basic gist is this:

1.  In an oven proof skillet (cast iron if ya got it), saute your veggies on medium heat. For the picture above, I used onion, mushrooms, and spinach.  Salt liberally.

2. When veggies are soft, entirely cover them with shredded cheese.

3. When cheese has melted, whisk 9 eggs with a tablespoon of milk or half and half. Pour over cheese and veggies.

4. When eggs begin to set around the edges, transfer to 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.  Take out of oven and let rest for 5 or so minutes before cutting.  Done!


I have three kiddos.  One of them devours this dish heartily with much praise for the chef, asking for seconds. One child eats one serving without a lot of excitement, but eats it nonetheless.  And one scrapes off the egg and cheese layer, leaving the vegetables on the plate.  2 out of 3 ain’t bad people.


Joy in the Home When You’re Raising Tweens and Teens


PicMonkey Collage

Way back on Mother’s Day, our pastor asked, “What would your kids say if asked ‘Do you think Mom is fun?'” (I haven’t asked my kids yet. I’m a scaredy-cat.) It wasn’t a question posed to heap yet another responsibility on moms.  I know my tendency when I hear a question like that is to respond with a sarcastic, “Oh great, now in addition to laundry and dishes and taxi service I have to be a comedienne?!? Perfect.”  But the point of the question was to help us remember to find joy in this journey.  With all the tasks before us, and the job of raising polite, respectable, and competent humans, us moms can get weighed down and driven and forget to laugh and have fun.  Tweens and teens tend to be in a life stage where emotions run high, and frustration and quarreling (amongst siblings as well as with parents) can set a kind of bummer mood in the home sometimes.

I think I was pretty great at “fun” when my kids were young.  I mean, preschoolers think everything is giggle-worthy, right?  Anyone reading this for a while remembers when my kiddos were itty-bitty that I loved documenting the fun we had around this place. But some years have passed….and themed family nights just don’t quite go over the same with tweens and teens.

So how to cultivate joy and laughter with kids who are in this stage?  Hyper self-awareness and sensitivity toward being “laughed at” (even if that’s not your intent) can sometimes rule the day.

I think the very best, gut-busting laughter and joy happen spontaneously when our heart is right and we are trying to intentionally enjoy our kids instead of just manage them.  But I also think that in these tween/teen years, when attitudes are being addressed, rules are being challenged, and behaviors are being shaped, it’s good to try and bring some deliberate, intentional fun to the home.  Here are some things that seem to work to lift spirits around here:

– looking through old vacation pics together, sharing fun memories

– watching funny YouTube videos together

– give everyone a $5 bill and set them loose in Target

– no one ever says no to a spontaneous ice cream run

– making fun of old pictures of Mom and Dad from Jr. High and High School

– let them create the playlist for the car when you’re running errands

– nerf gun wars are still a hit

– making slow-mo videos

– anything spontaneous and out of the ordinary: Jump in the lake with clothes on, swim in the neighborhood pond, spray them down with the kitchen sink sprayer, agree to let them dumpster dive and build something with the old scrap wood they find…..Anytime they anticipate you will say “no” and you say “yes” instead generates good vibes!

-find some FUN games that you actually might enjoy a little.  As mom to a tween you’ve long said see ya later sucker to Candyland and Chutes and Ladders and GOOD RIDDANCE!  A favorite around here right now is Rummikub.

-give them some challenges that involve cold hard cash.  My brother-in-law recently offered my 13 year old a generous cash prize if he could solve a Rubik Cube within 3 days.  He successfully completed the challenge, and I didn’t hear “I’m bored” for 3 whole days!  Plus it was a great lesson in not giving up. Other challenge ideas would be finishing a book series within a certain amount of time (for reluctant readers), or running a mile within a certain time (for reluctant movers).

– other moms do cool stuff like play video games with their kids.  I have resolved this will never be me.  I just don’t even get it. Minecraft seems like the most boring thing on the planet to me.  I will occasionally submit to a 2 minute “okay, show me your new world you created” but that’s as much effort as I’m willing to give.  I’m out.

Yet again, this post is written for THIS mama writing it.  Here’s to enjoying my kids, finding joy in the journey, laughter, and FUN!