The Family

The Family

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Tunes

I used to be a morning person.

Then I had kids and stopped sleeping through the night. Morning now comes too early with me wishing for a few more hours, even minutes would be welcome, in bed.

This morning was no exception. I had two bright-eyed, rambunctious children laughing and running before I was able to sleepily swing my legs onto the floor to greet the morning rush.

I could feel the crankiness switching into high gear as soon as I made my way into the den and took a look at all the needles on the carpet. Matt and Jack were busy last night setting up the train around the tree while I graded speeches in the bedroom, so I had no idea the mess that awaited me. Vacuuming was not on my agenda today, much less before breakfast.

As I huffed and puffed my way to the laundry room to get the vacuum, the reality of what my attitude was doing set in. Of course there were needles on the carpet. WE HAVE A REAL CHRISTMAS TREE. What was I expecting?

So, before I had a chance to zap the joy right out of everyone's day and the merriness that SHOULD surround the Christmas season, I decided to put on some Christmas music.

I don't have an I-pod, but I do have an I-phone that works perfectly well when it comes to searching You Tube. I started with Jingle Bells, followed by Jingle Bell Rock. It didn't take long before I was in a jolly good mood.

I played some Bing Crosby, and it reminded me of the Christmas record I loved as a child  - Crosby's White Christmas, Winter Wonderland sung by Dolly Parton and The Muppets version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, among some other great Christmas songs, were on that record.

I realized Jack doesn't know many Christmas songs, so I decided this will be a good way to start out the mornings this next month.

I'm not sure what will be on our daily play list, but Elvis singing Silver Bells and Nat King Cole's Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and his version of 'O Holy Night are songs I could listen to over and over.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CSA Wednesday

On Wednesday we head to a local farm as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. There was no pick up last week because of Thanksgiving, and I was pleasantly surprised this afternoon when farmer Zach told me the pick ups would last for several more weeks!!!!

Here's what we got today:

Sweet Potatoes

Cabbage - eaten for supper and already gone

A whole lot of lettuce

More lettuce - it may look like cabbage; it's only a different kind of lettuce

More fresh eggs

Monday, November 26, 2012

First-Name Basis

If you read this often you know I have affectionate names for the three most important people in my life: the hubby, the little boy and baby girl (aka little priss.) Because I'm still fairly new to the blogging world, I was initially uncomfortable with referring to my children by their real names.

Now that I've been doing this for a few months, I'm starting to realize it would feel more genuine to me to refer to them as I do at home. So, in an effort to make what I write more personal, let me acquaint you with the loves of my life.

Matt is my husband of almost eight years. He seldom gets the attention he needs, and it's felt strange referring to him constantly as “the hubby.” I've never called him that to his face and while it served the purposes of anonymity here, I'd rather just call him Matt or refer to him as "my husband."

Jack is five. While he looks exactly like Matt, his personality is a mix of us both plus a whole lot of his own. He is incredibly quiet with strangers and people he isn’t used to being around, just like Matt, but like me, he’ll talk your ear off if he knows you. He loves to listen to and tell long stories - the scarier the better. He’s got my streak of temper and fear for which I am constantly berating myself for passing on these terrible traits. 

Mattie is our precious 16-month-old daughter. She’s a sweetheart, when she isn’t pitching a fit or trying to bang her head on the wall or floor in anger - that temper thing again. She's a dancing queen and gives the best kisses.

I'm going to keep the affectionate names for the pictures on the side, but in future posts I'll likely be using only first names.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Truth of an Image

Pictures don't always tell the real story.
They often show smiles when moments before angry words were exchanged.

They miss the mom behind the camera who might have just ruined the moment, and many before, by griping and complaining.

The don't show a little boy’s anger and frustration after getting in trouble for about the tenth time that day.

They don’t show the anguish this mom felt as she took these pictures because she couldn’t get that Facebook post from the night before out of her mind. It was the one where a new dad asked for prayers because his seven-week old daughter had died that Thanksgiving morning - you know those posts that leave you confused, doubting, aching and asking why, Why, WHY? What is the meaning of something so horrible?

The camera misses that.

But when the shutter snaps on the real moments of joy, laughter and love, it’s priceless.

There's the tiny dog lover getting kisses from the poodle.

There’s a brother and sister gleefully falling into the grass after endless rounds of Ring-Around-the-Rosie.

There’s the perfect sunset in Pensacola and peace within before a family gathers to share a meal.

There’s a walk through the trees with a daughter and a husband.

There’s gratitude, even after Thanksgiving is over. Even while thinking about those parents that likely buried their precious daughter today. Even while knowing today was flawed and messy. Even though gratitude isn’t always felt in the moment, but it piles into a great big heap of blessings when looking at the truth in the images at the end of the day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ocean Therapy

The smell of saltwater.

The white sand glistening in the sun.

And the food. Oh, the food. Louisiana Lagniappe last night and Fisherman's Wharf  tonight. To our delight, the little boy found the sharks hanging from the ceiling and the saltwater fish tank at Fisherman's Wharf to be even better than his popcorn shrimp.

While I still love a good seafood restaurant, I don't desire coming to the beach to bake in the sun as I did in my teenage and college years.

These days, I yearn for the serenity and calm of sitting beside the ocean and being able to just BE with my children with no demands on my time.

It's moments with a precious daughter leaning against me and squealing with delight as the cold waves gently break on her feet. 

It's the little boy digging to China and back.

And when that little boy asks if God is bigger than all of the waves and the endless sand and the creatures in this vast ocean, I know he is seeing it all so clearly. This life and all that it entails is the true marvel.

"Let us bless the Lord God living and true! Let us always render him praise, glory, honor, blessing, and all good things! Amen. Amen. So be it! So be it!"
                                                                                                         -St. Francis of Assisi

For this is what it's all about. This blog, these trips, this life. Not just this week or this month, but always thankful for the blessings, whether they are overflowing or barely noticeable, and giving thanks to the God who has done wonderful things.

And blessed to spend two days in Destin making memories with their grandmother. Blessed to have such wonderful and generous people in our lives that let us stay in their condo for free. Blessed to be together. Blessed to be reminded of the greatness of it all. 

Blessed to be a mother and know what love truly is.

Monday, November 19, 2012


I think the only way to describe the condo we are staying in right now is WOW!


Large Bedroom #1
Large Bedroom #2
Large Bedroom #3

Regular-sized bedroom #4


Bathroom #1
Bathroom #2 - I'm loving the shower curtain
I somehow missed snapping a picture of bathroom #3. It is by far the largest and also includes a HUGE bathtub.


The Front

The Back Patio

What you see from the back patio
 THE REST (Yes, there is more!):

The letters at the top say it all
A big thanks to the Brinsons (long-time friends of my mother-in-law and husband) for letting us stay.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Beach (in November?)

For all the preparation travel requires, and the weariness that can follow a trip, one of the many benefits is breaking the going-through-the-motions cycle that is a frequent contributor here in motherville.

It's been in full swing for two weeks, and a change of pace and scenery is needed to help me re-focus before the rush and madness of the holiday season officially begins.

I’m unable, and quite honestly unwilling at times, to respond to all the voices that surround me. I love his stories and multitude of questions, and I love that she now calls me “mommy,” but I’m distracted by much. Let's see, the grading overload that always accompanies the end of a semester, the sadness of a family falling apart, trying to keep up with everyone else's life on Facebook, not to mention the endless cleaning and cooking. 

Sound familiar?
I’m hoping that sitting in the cool gulf sand as the wind whips around us will charge my battery and mind.

It may not all go as planned (does it ever?). We've had one serious derailment already with a second looming in the background. 

I hope by Monday or Tuesday I'll be writing about castles in the sand.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday with the Girls

Lunch with the girls and an afternoon showing of Breaking Dawn.

What more is there to say?!?!

We laughed about being too old to think Taylor Lautner is a hottie - it would just be gross at our age. We laughed about Kellan Lutz (a.k.a. Emmett Cullen) being something of a ditz in real life. We laughed through the chessy and awkward parts of the movie.

Then it got serious, and I thought I was done with Twilight for good.

I'm a book purist, so the twist at the end had me ready to walk out. If you haven't seen it yet, don't despair. My opinion of the movie changed by the ending credits.

It was a good way to kick off Thanksgiving break, and a nice treat for a mom that usually makes it to the movies only to see kiddie flicks!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

CSA Wednesday

On Wednesday we head to a local farm to pick up produce as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here's what we got today:

  Collard Greens



Sweet Potatoes

I should add that the hubby walked in the door last Thursday night and surprised me with some squash and white radishes. After forgetting it the night before, he felt bad and met up with the farmer to get some.

I don't give the man near enough credit!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I'm That Girl

...that loves pop music.

...who seeks and desires to do what is right, but often falls short.

...that desperately wants to be creative, but is so not.

...who homeschools her kids and is still worried what others think of it.

...who was probably not very nice to you in high school, but has regretted it a thousand times since.

...that lets her kids sleep in her bed.

...who is awkward with small talk.

...that often gets on her high horse and speaks before thinking it all through.

...who once clung to the lie that it was possible to have it all.

...that blushes easily.

...who fights feelings of anger and resentment daily.

...that was terrified to have kids because of a poor relationship with her own mother.

...that is trying to hold tight to the joy and bliss of having two children rely on her for almost every need instead of focusing on the stress and, oftentimes, overwhelming nature of motherhood.

...whose tears don't come as easily as they once did, but sometimes wishes they would so that she might know this world hasn't done damage beyond repair.

...that still loves slasher movies.

...whose voice and hands shake when nervous.

...whose age says she's no longer a girl, but will always be a girl at heart.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Rainy Day

Rain and a Monday afternoon. The two fit well together.

I'm sure those on the East Coast would hope to never see rain again after Sandy. And when the winter comes and rain is in the forecast too often, it won't feel as pleasant.

But on a cloudy fall day in the South, it's a welcome sight.  Especially when the steady, comforting sound of rain has been absent for too long.

Lisa-Jo Baker over at The Gypsy Mama once wrote about how in the season of rain, to pray for more rain.

Even though it's not the season of rain here, I could go for a few more days like today. Being an indoor girl, I'll take any excuse I can to stay inside.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Slow Pace

The mother with her daughter and two sons.

The three college students armed with cameras to capture autumn.

The girl with purple hair riding her bike.

The man and woman standing to our right and trying, like the little boy, to coax the turtles to the surface, but drawing only fish nibbles to the stale bread.

The young, college-aged couple sitting on the swing.

The elderly couple and their friend.

The group that I can only assume was having a family reunion.

And us, just trying to do what matters most in life.

Like taking time to sift through the gravel.

Or catching a ride on the top of the world.

Like chuckling to a Prairie Home Companion in the car on the way to the park.

Or missing church because time got away from us, but still being able to listen to the sermon at home on the radio as I lay my head on my husband's chest to hear Brother George's message on loneliness that brought on a slow stream of tears.

Like stopping to hold my daughter's hand.

Or playing Legos and reading with my son.

It's moments like this, when I allow the day to set its own slow pace, that the loneliness that often creeps up on a tired and busy mother is best held at bay. These days of making sure we do a lot of "nothing" together helps better prepare my heart and mind for the busy days ahead and all that those days will bring.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Khan Academy

One of my brothers sent me a link a few days ago to an interesting Forbes Magazine article. The article was talking about a man named Salman Khan and his website that offers free tutorials on everything from math and science to US history and art history plus a WHOLE LOT more.

The site is a wonderful resource for any student AND any parent!

If you homeschool, it's a a great way to save money on curriculum. Most of the content is geared toward junior high and high school level subjects, but the math tutorials cover everything from basic addition to trigonometry.

The number line tutorial was incredibly helpful for me as I've been attempting to work on math with a kindergartener. We used the number line this week and found it to be more interactive and FUN for the little boy than just trying to memorize 2+2=4.

It's also a relief to this math-terrified momma to know there's a credible site that might prove valuable in the future when we get to the many things that are over my head when it comes to equations, variables and all that fun stuff.

The site is geared toward anyone with a need or desire to learn, not just home educators. I honestly don't think that's what Khan had in mind when he created the site, even though it works to our advantage.

Say your public-schooled child is struggling with her chemistry homework and you have no clue how to help. This site might provide the guidance and instructions you both need.

Say your private-schooled child did great in Algebra, but now he can't keep up with or understand his calculus teacher's explanations or teaching methods. This site might offer instructions on how to solve problems that he can understand.

So check out Khan Academy and see what you think!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

CSA Wednesday

On Wednesday we head to a local farm to pick up fresh produce as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here's what we got today:

Bok Choy - Still not sure what I want to do with this???


I'm loving all the eggs - a dozen won't last longer than 3 days in this house

We were also supposed to get squash, but the hubby thought the farmer was offering it to be nice. He's not the one that usually does the pick-up, and he didn't realize he was supposed to pick out the pieces himself.

So, we didn't get any.

Go figure.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

To the Polls

For everything that may be wrong with modern-day political campaigns, the democratic process of citizens casting a vote is the bright light at the end of the tunnel.

So early on this chilly November morning, with one child riding in her stroller and the other walking beside his sister asking a hundred questions, I headed into my polling station to cast mine.

The little boy was disappointed that we didn’t immediately find out the winner.

I imagine that voting seemed like a major let-down in his eyes. I mean we went and stood in line so that his mother could connect a few arrows on a sheet of paper to have the voting machine reject her ballot because she accidentally connected two lines in the same category. That meant she had to fill out another ballot and then, when finished, it was all done.

Nothing to show for it besides a sticker, and the sticker didn't even have a cool superhero or a dinosaur on it.

While it wasn’t exciting for him, I must admit that I get a giddy feeling every time I vote. Not that my vote matters much in terms of the electoral college in our state for most presidential elections. Nevertheless, it makes me feel like my one small voice contributed in some way.

Tonight we’re watching the numbers as they come in. 

The little boy knows who my vote was cast for. He’s pulling for the other guy, though, because he wants to add the number 45 to the list of presidents he routinely quizzes us all about.

If it was all that simple…

Saturday, November 3, 2012


In this month when thanks is openly given, today I find myself grateful for:

1. The canvas, the artist and his masterpiece

2. A little girl that twirls in the kitchen

3. A little boy that often sounds so grown up

4. A new twist on an old story

5. A win for our team

6. Restaurants that provide great food so this mom didn't have to cook

7. The way he delighted in slinging paint

8. The detergent and shampoo that helped get the paint out

9. The sweet taste of persimmons and this hand reaching out to grab them

10. The fallen leaves that must be raked, jumped in and piled once more to do it all again


11. The mysterious grouping of leaves that haven't left this spot in our driveway for days, despite the wind, in order to provide the perfect pile for a toddling babe to explore.

"This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes."
                                                -Psalm 118:23