need, want, hope, pray

All of a sudden, it is New Year's Eve. 

13 is my lucky number, so I was really thinking this past year was going to be amazing.  The bad news is that I wouldn't say it was AMAZING but the good news is that it was pretty good.  A glance at my facebook "year in review" reminds me that I am blessed in so many ways.

I don't really do New Year's Resolutions, but it is safe to say I *do* plan on making some healthy habit changes.  You know  - the usual stuff.  But since I am in the mood to post, I figure I can come up with at least 4 sentences to get me in the spirit of NYE:

In 2014, I NEED: to quit being lazy.  Get a hobby, get involved, take a walk, whatever.

In 2014, I WANT: to clean my closet and get rid of most of it.  I wear the same things over and over anyway!

In 2014, I HOPE: that everyone I love stays in good health.

In 2014, I PRAY: that I will continue to grow as a woman of faith.

And since I don't plan on leaving the house tonight but want to include a picture, here is a relevant photo from 6 or 7 (or more?) years ago.




November 8 – A family member. What is something that person does that makes your life better or easier?

Since today is Larry's birthday, it is only appropriate that I choose him.

I am thankful for his wisdom - you need advice?  He has it.  He will analyze the situation and tell you the truth, even if it isn't what you want to hear. 

I am thankful for his generosity - you need help?  He has it.  No matter how big or small, he is generous to a fault. 

I am thankful for his immaturity - you want to laugh at inappropriate times and feel like you're back in junior high?  Sit by him.  He is a prime example that growing old doesn't mean you have to grow up.  He reminds me to quit taking things so seriously and have a little fun.

I am thankful for his perseverance - you want to be encouraged to stay the course and not give up?  He will live by example and remind us that no matter where you come from, no matter what you've faced, you can get through it.

Happy birthday to the Magical White Guy who makes my life better every day! 


brother love

Well, this is an easy one! 

I don't know the story behind it (remind me to ask my parents!) but Neil Diamond's "Brother Love Traveling Salvation Show" is one of the theme songs for our family. 

For as long as I can remember, it has been sung at every BBQ.  The ladies sing all the halle-halle-halle-hallelujiah parts.  It is pretty awesome.

Here we are singing it as a family:

(and yes... there is a school bus in my parent's backyard.  My oldest brother bought it.  It has been converted to have beds, a stove, etc. for camping.)

Anytime I hear this song, it makes me grateful to have such an amazingly unique, weird, fun, music-loving, God-fearing, knee-slapping family.



A Month of Gratitude:  
November 4 – A person at work, present or past.

Spraying cotton. Babysitting. Tutoring. Waitressing. Waitressing. Waitressing. Nannying. Teaching kids. Teaching grownups. Those are the jobs I've held, give or take a few.

Today, I'll be thankful for my first "professional" coworker, Stephanie.

I graduated from college in mid-December one year and started teaching in January. I had just turned 23 and I had no idea what I was doing. I had the student teaching credentials, the portfolio, the syllabus template, and found out very quickly that I had NO CLUE what I was supposed to do with 32 teenagers at a time! Fortunately, Stephanie was knowledgable and supportive and helped me fake my way through it.

Stephanie is an organized, particular, perfectionist type person and she was exactly what I needed. We  built our program from 2 teachers to 4, and had a great time doing it. I think that one of my favorite memories was when we decided to do a "lock-in" with our student organization at school. This is how I know we were young.... Who willingly volunteers to stay overnight at school? The girls had so much fun... Office chair races down the hall, manicures, movies, and lots of snacks. The funniest part is that all these teenagers were asleep by 3am.... Stephanie and I were the only ones that stayed up all night. (Although in retrospect, it is probably because we did not want to sleep on a cold, hard floor. Plus, we were both single at the time, so I'm sure we had lots of boy drama to discuss.)

Time went by and we have both moved on from our positions, but I'll always be thankful that I spent those 6 years with her. We made a good team!



November 1 – A family member.

Today's prompt is tricky because I have a large family.  How do I only choose 3 people?  Fortunately, I posted about how thankful I am for my parents fairly recently, so that relieves a little of the pressure.

So I'm going to take a different direction.  I have three brothers.  They are all awesome in their own rights.  Adam is 3 years older than me, John is about 2 years younger, and Joseph is 7 years younger.  I could (and will, one day) do a post about each of them.  They all play the gee-tar and sing songs, as pictured below.

I love you brothers, but today, I'm thankful for your wives.  I have 3 amazing sisters-in-law, and they deserve a little time in the spotlight. 

APRIL:  I am thankful for April because she reminds us all to play and have fun.
She always finds something to giggle at.  She reminds us that we don't have to take everything so seriously.  She knows how to be silly, which is not a skill I have.  She is a great mom to six beautiful children and a supportive, devoted wife to my headstrong brother.  (and she doesn't look a day older than when we graduated high school together 17 years ago... no fair!)


April - thank you for your smiles, your light-hearted spirit and your loyalty to our family.  I think you've been around so long that it would be easy to take you for granted.  I really can't imagine life without you!

DEJAH:  I am thankful for Dejah because she doesn't do anything halfway.

If she is going to love you, she is going to love hard.  If she is your friend, you are the only person in the world.  If she works for you, she gives her all.  She didn't tiptoe into the family, she waltzed in and basically said, "Here I am, I'm here to stay, so you really don't have any choice but to love me."  And we do.

Dejah - thank you for living a life of passion.  Thank you for giving us all a chance even when we didn't want to give you one!  You knew what you were signing up for and you and you never batted an eyelid.  Plus, you are the classiest hot mess I've ever known. 

MELANIE:  I am thankful for Melanie because she makes me want to be a better person.

(It is very telling that she does not have a single picture on her facebook in which she is the sole subject.)  She is clever and quick and is constantly looking out for other people.  She has a way of living an incredibly admirable life without being judgy.  She isn't preachy, she is just so cute and humble and modest (and self-deprecating) that you can't help but want to know her secret.  (Which isn't a secret.... she wears her faith on her cardiganed sleeve.)
Melanie - thank you for being such a beautiful example of humility and grace.  I love that you go with the flow most of the time but stand strong and don't waver when things matter.  Shakespeare was talking about you when he wrote "Though she be but little, she is fierce!"  

I'm not sure how all 3 of my brothers found such beautiful, smart, talented and fun women, but I'm so glad they did.  xoxo


As we've discussed, funks have been running rampant. There is no better way to get over yourself than by serving others or by deliberately finding reasons to be thankful. My sister knows this better than anyone, so she decided to help by creating prompts for Blogtastic November: a month of Gratitude.

When? Every day throughout November - except weekends and on Thanksgiving Day. Cause ain’t nobody tryin’ to do all that! 

Each day, write one sentence or more about the prompt for the day. There are no rules. Skip, add, you're the boss.

“A family member” is listed three times, because it was too much pressure for me to only list it once.

Pictures are good, but not mandatory. Nothing is mandatory. 

November 1 – A family member. (If you want, mail a letter to that person today, just for the fun of it. Even if you live in the same house!)

November 4 – A person at work, present or past. (Oh, and SAHMs, you work with some little incredibles all day, sooo…).

November 5 – An experience you’ve had that made you appreciate being alive.

November – A friend at church or a club you attend. (Pray for her today -- I say "her," but know that I mean her/him, I just don't like to do that --  and text or Facebook to let her know that you're grateful she's in your life, and you're praying for her to have a great day.)

November – A song that, whenever you hear it, makes you grateful for something. What is the song, and what does it make you thankful for? (Play that song today. And dance around to it.)

November 8 – A family member. What is something that person does that makes your life better or easier?

November 11 – A freedom that you have that people in other parts of the world may not. Whatever it is, do it today, and give thanks to God that you can do it!

November 12 – The person that taught you to drive.

November 13 – Something that you see that makes you grateful for eye sight.

November 14 – A stranger. We have encounters with strangers every day, but occasionally one stands out. Who has impacted your life and will probably never know it?

November 15 – A friend in your neighborhood or area.  (Invite that person to dinner at your house.)

November 18 – A body part. (Draw a discreet "Thank you" sign - a word, a heart, a cross, a TY, something - on or near that body part today. Whenever you see it, give thanks for it today. I would steer clear of making marks on your face, however....)

November 19 – Something non-living. (Random add-on: At the end of your post today, write a sentence about the item you're grateful for in your refrigerator at this moment.)

November 20 – An animal.

November 21 – An old friend (yes, it is okay to list more than one if you have to. No rules. Just you.). CALL THIS PERSON TODAY. NO EXCUSES, and NO TEXT. Even if it's just to say "hey, not to be weird, but I just wanted to thank you for being in my life."

November 22 – A family member. What is one of your best memories with that person?

November 25 – A new friend.

November 26 – Your choice: A memory you're thankful to have OR a trip you've taken. Or, heck, do both if you feel like it. 

November 27 – Which one of your senses are you most grateful for?

November 28 – Thanksgiving! Get offline ALL DAY, and spend time with someone you love.  Don't text them, CALL THEM! Each and every one. :) If you’re not around someone you love, go serve someone who needs to feel love today. Give thanks for EVERYTHING today! God is SO good!

November 29 – Freebie. What are you grateful for TODAY?! (If you NEED a prompt today, tell us why you're thankful for technology. :) )



When I was a child, my mom used to make crossstitch kits for us. They were ziplock baggies with a swatch of the fabric, several colors of thread, a needle and a tiny plastic frame. We would make them on trips or church retreats. I remember one with hearts and one big cross. I wonder what happened to all of my creations.

I've discussed my lack of hobbies and my funky disposition and have finally decided that I am going to take up needlepoint or embroidery. I'm actually pretty excited about it and already have several things in mind that I want to make.  I have to do some research on what to buy to get started.... I looked up classes but they are at least $40 an hour!  You can buy really cute kits on etsy too, but they are pretty over-priced in my opinion.  Hopefully it is like riding a bike and will all come back to me!



I'm pretty sure it is not a good thing that I require a specific list of topics in order to produce a blog post. What's up with that? I guess there seems to be a funk epidemic going on. Family, friends, coworkers, myself... Nobody is immune. Bad or unpleasant or frustrating or sad or difficult things are a part of life, we all know that. I know life is good and usually preach unicorns and sunshine, but sometimes being a grownup is hard.

(Imagine a picture here. I would insert one if the iPad didn't make it s dang difficult.)

It has been natural to cling to two powerful things I learned as a child....

1. The prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. Even if you aren't Catholic, I'm pretty sure this prayer will make you feel safer and more at ease in any situation when there are bad vibes running amuck. I like to picture all the evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls bouncing up against some invisible force field, all frustrated that they couldn't get to the person they wanted. Suckers.

2. PALE GAS. This is the acronym my dad used to use when he taught about the seven deadly sins. Pride, Anger, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Avarice, Sloth. They are not just a movie plot, they will wreck you and everyone you love.  To be honest, I can't remember the seven virtues as easily. I bet everyone going through a funk can't either ....Which actually explains why there is an epidemic.  Guess I'd better get on that.

Next up... Unicorns and sunshine.


the road goes on forever

Wednesday, September 25: Write about a time you screwed up - a mistake you made. 

 One fall semester, I had a technical writing course.  It was sooooo easy that I seriously did not lift a finger that whole class.  I knew that as long as I showed up for the final exam and basically wrote my name I would get an A.

Robert Earl Keen was playing at "Roadhouse Rubys" (I think?) If you went to a Texas university and had any friends in any sort of fraternity or sorority, you loved Robert Earl Keen.  And Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Jack Ingram, Cross-Canadian Ragweed, the Great Divide, etc.  To this day, if I am in a bad mood, I will put some Pat Green on and sing along to the top of my lungs.  Anyway - I went to the REK concert and had waaaaay too much fun.  I was over-served. ;)

I'm sure I set my alarm, but I did NOT wake up in time for my final exam.  I may have been doing well in the class, but a zero would have fixed that....

Fortunately, I had chatted with a girl all semester and made a friend.  She finished her exam pretty quickly and as soon as she left the room, she called me.  (on my home phone - ha!) I guess I had gotten enough sleep at that point and managed to hear it ring.  She was all, "Um - are you going to come take your test?"  I probably mumbled "Oh my gosh, thank you!" and hung up on her.  I don't know if I even brushed my teeth, but I made it to my exam - over an hour late.  The professor let me take it (thank you!) and all ended well.

Moral of the story - don't be a fool and go out partying the night before finals.  But if you do, make sure you have some friends in the class.



Friday, September 20: React to this term: comfort. 

When I think of "reacting," I imagine that I need to say the first thing that comes to mind. So if I'm reacting to the word comfort, here are the first 2 things I thought of:

1. My mom's "hobo casserole." I don't think that is what we called it - I'm pretty sure my sister-in-law named it that out of pure disgust. It was potatoes, hot dogs and celery in a white roux. I'm guessing it evolved out of desperation one night when my mom realized she had to feed a family of 7 and only had a few potatoes, one hot dog and a stalk of celery. She made it work - and to this day, I bet my siblings and I would fight over who gets the most pieces of hot dogs on our plates. Memories of that one meal (always served in a 5 qt silver Dutch oven) remind me of home, of family, of warmth, of comfort.

2. Ill apologize in advance to my dad or brothers reading, but the other thing that came to mind is the beautiful action of unhooking my bra each night. Ahhhhhhhh - comfort.


a tale of roasted figs

Thursday, September 19: Creative writing day: write a (very short) fictional story that starts with this sentence: "To say I was dreading the dinner party would be the understatement of the century."

To say I was dreading the dinner party would be the understatement of the century.  Why on earth had I decided to plan this event?  It started innocently enough, I swear.  As I started getting things ready, I was certain it was destined to be a train wreck.  With carnage. 

I tugged on the thickest socks I could find and put my heels on.  I started clunking around the house, standing on my tippy-toes and basically trying to turn my feet every which way.  What was I thinking when I bought these?  Yes, they were amazing shoes.  But yes, they were also way too tight.  This wasn't going to be the sort of party where I could kick my shoes off once people got comfortable, so I knew I had to break them in if I wanted to wear them.  Sure - I had other shoes I could wear, but let's face it... appearances counted tonight and everyone knows that shoes can make all the difference. 
I hobbled my way into the kitchen, stopping to turn up the music along the way.  "Alight, already we'll all float on...." It doesn't matter how many times I hear that song, I always sing along to the top of my lungs.  
I  poured myself a glass of wine and propped my iPad against the tile back-splash.  I ignored my crumpled toes and scrolled to the roasted fig and goat cheese appetizer recipe I had "pinned" to my recipe board.  Her voice echoed at the back of my mind.... "Don't do anything fancy for us!  We are veggie and dip type of people!"   Yeah, right.  I'm sure she would have loved to see some Cool Ranch Doritos and crackers with a tub of spinach dip.  If I was being honest, that is what I wanted to do.... unwrap some Slim Jims, have one of those giant tubs of cheese balls and maybe something else that she would find unappealing - something chock full of GMOs, high fructose corn syrup and preservatives, just so I could hear her go on and on about how she would never put that sort of crap in her body.  But I'd gone to three different grocery stores to get the EXACT variety of figs (plus they looked delicious in the picture) so we were going to have roasted figs with goat cheese.  I had to admit that the menu I'd planned was pretty impressive, - especially on such short notice.  I only wished I would be enjoying with anyone other than this group of people.  

As I finished prepping the figs and got ready to stick them in the oven, my phone rang.  I tried to rinse the goat cheese off of my hands so I could grab the phone, but I don't move very fast when I'm wearing wool socks with 4 inch heels so I didn't get there quick enough.  I wiped my hands on the dishtowel and touched the screen to see whose call I missed.  When I saw his name, I couldn't believe it.  Why on earth would HE be calling?  "Maybe he'll leave a voicemail," I said out loud.  The 10 seconds it took for my phone to indicate that I had a message seemed like an eternity.  I had that weird feeling in the pit of my stomach and almost tossed the phone aside - why deal with it now if I could deal with it later?  But I knew I had to listen to it.  I dialed into my voicemail and prepared myself for the worst...


cameron indoor

Tuesday, September 17: A memory you would love to relive.

Man.  I just reviewied all the albums in my facebook and I don't think I can choose just one memory!  I've had some really amazing experiences, fun times, and cute kids to hang out with.

But for the purpose of this blog, I will say I'd like to relive Larry's most recent milestone birthday... primarily the gift-giving part!  I love to find the "perfect" gift, and I have to admit that I knocked this one out of the park.

Attending a basketball at Duke's Cameron Indoor Arena was something he'd always dreamed of.  So I bought him tickets and planned a trip.

Here he is opening the card I made him:

He was so confused at first, then speechless!  He was so excited, and it was contagious,

We went to North Carolina and got an extra treat when we realized the leaves were every color under the sun.  It was beautiful and every part of it was memorable.  It really was one of my favorite trips ever.


dadlee and patmom

Monday, September 16: Write a public love letter to someone in your life.

Dear Mom and Dad -

Just a quick (public) note of thanks.  I know now that I hit the jackpot when God decided I got to be YOUR daughter.  It's like I was in line to be assigned to a family and happened to be in the right place at the right time...... "As a special treat for being the 1 billionth baby this year, you get to be born to Lee and Patti!"  (insert confetti falling and angels blowing on noise-makers.)

Thank you for hiding our Easter baskets and making every holiday magical.

Thank you for pretending not to see my light on at night and letting me get lost in books.

Thank you, dad, for making me look every. single. thing. up in the encyclopedia.

Thank you, mom, for singing me to sleep when I was sick.  (and crushing my aspirin in milk or OJ when I couldn't swallow it.)

Thank you for making us eat together as a family every night, not allowing phone calls during dinner, and making us say "May I please be excused?" when we were done.

Thank you for making me wear that stupid back brace for my scoliosis and thank you for looking the other way when I just COULDN'T wear it to an event for fear that I'd be a social pariah. 

Thank you for finding money to bail me out when my bank account was $800 overdrawn.

Thank you for racking up credit card bills that you knew would take forever to pay off just so that we could travel and see our relatives. (Who knew I would get sentimental every time I pass a KOA kampground?)

Thank you for not looking at me with complete shock when I said I was going to try out for cheerleading.

Thank you for letting me wear my ridiculously short skirts but registering your displeasure nonetheless. ("The boys will definitely respect you for your mind when you're wearing THAT.....)

Thank you for giving me the freedom I "needed" and encouraging me to go ahead and live in the dorm even though college was only 15 miles from your house.

Thank you for being proud of my career path and reminding me to never say I am JUST a teacher.

Thank you for understanding when I decided I was going to try to make my way in the "big city," miles away from family.  

Let's be real - I could (and should) go on and on.  But instead, I will just thank you for being parents that I could never thank enough.  For being parents I am so proud to call my own. 

As you so poetically stated in my senior yearbook, " I thank my God every time I think of you." (Phil 1:3) It is my turn to say "ditto."  I hope you know how much you are loved and what a great job you've done from our perspective.   

All my love,
Your little lamb


say cheese

Friday, September 13: A self portrait

I'm barely sneaking this post in on time...

Works out well that I actually blow-dried my hair since it is my birthday.  I should have done something clever and actually drawn a self-portrait, but hey.  No rules on this blog challenge, remember?



Wednesday, September 11: Share links to your favorite online shops, preferably with a few photos of your favorite items in each shop.


I'm taking a little different direction with this prompt because I have way too many favorite online shops.  We could be here all day.  Instead, here are three things I WANT SO MUCH but will never get:

Spectrum Rug
Y'all.  This rug costs more than a car.  The size I would want is 5 figures.  Who has that much money?
I spotted this rug on some new TV game show and googled it. This is what it looks like in real life:

Gorgeous, right? 

The Florence clutch (Billy Reid for Coach)

 I saw this purse in my recent issue of Southern Living.  I kept looking it up online but it wasn't released - - - until this week. Here is the photo from the magazine that made me fall in love:

It is so simple and beautiful.  I love the pebbled blue texture and the fact that it isn't huge.  Maybe one of these days.

And finally, the kate spade new york Wickford Dinnerware collection:

Obviously I would never get these dishes because they're ridiculous.  But they are so fun and whimsical! I love the colors and think they are so classy (aside from the fact they are covered in weenie dogs.) I would also never get these dishes because the accent plates (the ones I really want) are $50 a piece.

So there you have it - a glimpse into they frivolous things I would buy if I ever got rich.