five finds friday (dutch babies and bad Halloween candy, beanies and avert brothers)


It’s November already, for the love.





Last week at Target I saw this.



It’s a joke – right?




Alright. I’ve got two.

One.  I love my Bogs boots.  They’re about three years old.  They’ve been looking rough and I was wondering what I could do to bring back their glory.  I wear them year round and they are my first choice for comfort and style.  I found this Wren’s Leather Cream on Amazon and took a chance.

Success!  They look so fantastic!  I will definitely be heading toward their products for all of my other leather care – furniture and shoes.



Two.  What do we think about these new messy bun beanies?

The name throws me because I don’t love the word beanie in reference to headwear, but I can get over that.  On one hand, I think these are sort of brilliant – an option to keep your hair up in the winter.  On the other hand, I can’t decide if I like the look or not.  Ultimately, I want to try one on for myself and see what I think in real life.





Also – many options this week.

One.  Here is a Halloween candy fail.



Peanut spread? 1x?  What is even happening here?

Two.  Also a Halloween fail.



Three.  Not a fail.  We love Sunday brunch.  And lately we love the Dutch Baby.  (Maybe I’ve shared it before.)

But this simple recipe requires so very little of me – in terms of ingredients, in terms of effort, in terms of time – and yet delivers so fully – in terms of taste, in terms of impressiveness in appearance, in terms of popularity amongst all of my people.  (And it’s so flexible – top it with whatever you have.  Peaches.  I wish I had some peaches to go with the Dutch Baby.)  And the name never fails to get a hearty chuckle out of Bergen.  So there’s that too.





I’ve been saying this in real life and in written words and in conversations with friends and family for as long as I can remember.

I think all Truth is God’s Truth.  You can find the Jesus is so much more than church and sacred readings and sanctioned events.

I found the holy in songs sung by the Avett Brothers last weekend while sitting in a full auditorium with my handsome and kind grown up nephew and a sweet friend and a couple thousand strangers.



For me, it was particularly evident in their song “No Hard Feelings”.

When my body won’t hold me anymore
And it finally lets me free
Will I be ready?
When my feet won’t walk another mile
And my lips give their last kiss goodbye
Will my hands be steady?
When I lay down my fears
My hopes and my doubts
The rings on my fingers
And the keys to my house
With no hard feelings
When the sun hangs low in the west
And the light in my chest
Won’t be kept held at bay any longer
When the jealousy fades away
And it’s ash and dust for cash and lust
And it’s just hallelujah
And love in thoughts and love in the words
Love in the songs they sing in the church
And no hard feelings
Lord knows they haven’t done
Much good for anyone
Kept me afraid and cold
With so much to have and hold
When my body won’t hold me anymore
And it finally lets me free
Where will I go?
Will the trade winds take me south
Through Georgia grain or tropical rain
Or snow from the heavens?
Will I join with the ocean blue
Or run into the savior true
And shake hands laughing
And walk through the night
Straight to the light
Holding the love I’ve known in my life
And no hard feelings
Lord knows they haven’t done
Much good for anyone
Kept me afraid and cold
With so much to have and hold
Under the curving sky
I’m finally learning why
It matters for me and you
To say it and mean it too
For life and its loveliness
And all of its ugliness
Good as it’s been to me
I have no enemies
I have no enemies
I have no enemies
I have no enemies




Last week Otto had to write a sentence that used several proper nouns.

He wrote this:










the questions. the answers.


Things change and get strange
With this movement of time.
It’s happening right now to you.

(Avett Brothers, Down With the Shine)

Each month, each week, each day, each hour – it’s the same and it’s different.

Time goes and it slips and it sloshes and it wraps me up in tangles and it finds me sitting at the kitchen table for hours making lesson plans and it pushes me into meetings for work and propels me down hiking trails with my children and it keeps me up late and has me rising early.

It’s time.  It’s balance.  It’s never enough and always too much.  And it’s the same for me and it’s the same for you.

There is no “doing it all”.  There is no “having it all”.  That’s a myth and a deception.  Something always has to give.  Something must take the backseat.  And I try to shift what that is, from time to time, through each season.  I try to rotate what gets gently stored higher on the shelf.  Sort of how I used to treat my stuffed animals as a kid – ever aware that someone was missing out, I would rotate the time I spent with them, apologizing to the stuffed bear and the underplayed with doll when it wasn’t their turn.  (This is actual truth – I’m hoping some other adult can relate to these childhood actions.)  I do the same now.  I try to close the computer down when one of my children says, “Mom, come look” and I try to close the book when I am invited to play a board game or sit on the porch with a friend or a child.

I ask myself the same questions over and over, day in and day out, situation after situation.

Do I want to raise up kind humans or do I want to raise up a business?

Do I want to make memories with my kids or do I want to make a name for myself?

Do I want to build a reputation or do I want to build a family?

The answers are surprisingly simple to me when I frame my life choices this way.

It’s what helps me to say no to writing another blog post or to agreeing to another project at work.  To taking on tasks that would benefit me professionally but train wreck my house.

I want to choose relationship over productivity.  And I am willing to pay the price that such a choice requires.







five finds friday – mostly a photo collection


It’s been a good week.  And a regular week.  A slow week and a fast week.

Things have been fine and things have been pleasant and things have been weird.

Right on track, I’d say.

I’m mostly going to use photos today.  Because I’ve both written and spoken a lot of words already this week.









When we visited the apple orchard in North Carolina we were talked into buying mountain grown sweet potatoes.  The staff told us they were the best sweet potatoes.  That they were stringless.  That growing them in the mountains soil made them better.

I wanted to believe.  (I’m especially prone to believe that the mountains make everything better.)

They were bright and delicious and surprisingly string free.  And they were such an easy dinner with the aid of the Instant Pot.

I followed this recipe – sweet potatoes in the instant pot.

And I asked Mosely to whip up this cinnamon honey butter.

Thumbs up all around.  (Except from Bergen, but maybe you remember that story from earlier this week.)




This one.  Faithful to the task at hand.  Faithful to work hard at her daily assignments.  Faithful to figure out a problem.

And God – faithful to bring her into my life.












you pick the story from our day: a beautiful & terrible world.


Which story should I tell you about my day?



The one where the kids and I sat on a gigantic rock outcropping behind poet Carl Sandburg’s house in Flat Rock, NC and read his poems to one another while the mountains and the trees listened in?



Or the one where my kids acted so ridiculous at the dinner table that one of them spewed lemonade all over his sweet potato?

Should I tell you about how we visited a new to us apple orchard and loved the dwarf trees and the views and the staff there?



Or should I tell you how my youngest son cried genuine tears when I made him write a poem of his own on the picturesque rock from the first story?

Maybe I could tell you how we ate lunch at one of our favorite shops in Hendersonville as a treat and had some of the best crunchy fried chicken I’ve had.

Or about the kid who almost lost her cool because I only bought an apple slush to share instead of her own individual slush.

How about how we all worked together to cook a delicious dinner of quinoa cakes with homemade tzatziki sauce and fresh from Justus Orchards sweet potatoes and freshly whipped up honey cinnamon butter?



Or about the fall out from when I said Nintendo time was over?

Maybe the story about how my twelve year old left the shower, professing to have already both washed and dried his hair in under thirty-five seconds.

Perhaps how when I asked Otto what his highs and lows were for the day as I tucked him in and he said, “High – playing Nintendo (after ALL of our adventures today) and his low was “walking up the hill to Carl Sandburg’s house” and cleaning the kitchen.

Maybe there’s space to tell the story of how we bought the biggest cabbage I have ever seen – weighing in at over EIGHT pounds.  (I don’t think I even care for cabbage.)



Or of how as we walked the trail back to our car we all talked about heaven.  And how I hope that my house in heaven (if it all shakes down like that) will look pretty much just like Connemara (Mr. Sandburg’s home) and how Mosely plans to live in the woods and cuddle with tigers and bears.  And how Bergen is so connected to this answer that he gives out a rare high five to Mosely and how that feels a little like heaven right then to me as their mom.



I don’t know.  Maybe just glossing over all these stories is enough for one day and one read.  It’s a beautiful and terrible world, isn’t it? And in one day I think I saw the rise and fall of both, in my heart, on my kids’ faces, in their words, in our trip up and over the mountain and back again to our starting point.

I think maybe Bergen inadvertently summed it all up accurately – the lovely and the ugly that one day can hold.



I asked Bergen the same question I asked Otto.  And his response was, “High – walking up the hill to Carl Sandburg’s house and low – eating a sweet potato that I lemonaded on.”  (Yep.  He used “lemonaded” as a verb.  Homeschool!)

That’s it though, isn’t it?  On one day – from sun up to sun down – we get to walk up a beautiful hill and we have to eat lemonade sweet potatoes.







Why What We Think About Our Sheriff’s Adultery Actually Matters


It’s been hard to ignore.

The news in our county here.  The local news.  Allegations about our county’s sheriff.  Accusations of sexual harassment and abuse.

I’m not saying I know the entire truth.  Only two people probably can say that.

The first articles and news stories written months ago were only about the accusations, the claims made by a former employee.  Now that a formal investigation has begun there was a statement made, a press release, words uttered by the sheriff himself, the man accused of sexual harassment and abuse of power.

The sheriff issued a statement admitting an “incident”.  Confessing to an extramarital affair.  A “slip of judgement” one local representative declared it.  The sheriff himself repeatedly called it “an encounter”.  (Euphemisms bother me.  Because they allow the listener – and the speaker – to hear something for less than it actually is.  To play it down.  Euphemisms take the sting out when the sting is what we all actually need to be reminded of.)

Again.  I do not know the entire truth.  None of the readers (nor probably writers) of these articles I’ve read know the entire truth either.

But I do know this:

People with upstanding moral character do not commit adultery.

People with upstanding moral character do not commit adultery, lie about it and then confess later.

There’s a real problem here.

And the problem isn’t just with the persons having the affair.

The reactions of local leaders and local government officials have been heavily featured in the articles and the news stories.  What does this judge think?  What does this representative think?  How about this lawmaker?  What do the taxpayers believe?  Apparently everyone’s opinion about this is making the news somehow.  (Probably because the lack of real information available or able to be discussed since a court case is pending.)

And here’s what some of those voices are saying, what some of the direct quotes from our county’s leaders and officials are.

Phrases like, “I’m not sure about his personal life, but he’s helped keep drugs off our streets” and “I don’t know what’s true here or not true, but I know he is a good sheriff and all of my experiences with him have been positive” and “I don’t really think his personal life matters, as long as he is a good sheriff”.

And reading all of those comments made me somehow angrier (and sadder) than reading about this young sheriff’s public confession of adultery that is sure to be train wrecking some young wife and mother quietly behind the closed doors of her home, in her kitchen at night and after tucking their children into bed.

It’s not that I am unsympathetic to his wife and to his children.  If you know me, you know that’s not true.  I ache for her.  For her picking up the pieces and for her talking to her children.  What is now and what is to come.

But my anger is for the mindset that has these comments being spoken.

You guys.  If this man makes terrible decisions in his personal life, this man will make terrible decisions in his professional life.  If a person’s motivations are selfish at home, then they’re selfish everywhere else too.  If you will abuse power (and a boss sleeping with an employee is always an abuse of power, as well as an abuse of the law) in one capacity at work, you will abuse power in another capacity at work.

You are not a “good sheriff” if you think your time in office should be spent seeking sexual pleasures from your subordinate.

We wonder why abuse is rampant.  Why in the news a story about a sex trafficking ring that includes literal infants has just been discovered and brought to light.  Why half of your Facebook feed is filled with women saying “me too” to indicate that they have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

It’s because we say out loud in public forums, “You can live any way you like, it won’t affect anyone”.


You cannot live any way you like and not eventually become that person everywhere.  If you think it is okay to use sex as a weapon or a tool at work, then you’ll think it’s okay to do that at home.  Or for co-workers to do that.  You’ll turn a blind eye when a disadvantaged person is mistreated or marginalized because you are convinced that people don’t count if they aren’t benefitting you.

Yes, it matters what your personal life is.  Yes, it matters what you do at home and what you do in the dark and how you wield your strength and your influence.

Goodness – what on earth are all of us as parents trying to teach our children?  Be kind to your siblings.  Lift up others when they’re down.  Pay attention to the lonely kids at your school.  Don’t be a bully.  Be fair.  Look out for those weaker than you.

We’re teaching that in the classroom and creating anti-bullying campaigns and initiatives and laws and yet, we adults say things like “It doesn’t matter what happens in your personal life, as long as you’re good at your job.”


That’s not true.

People in positions of power, our law makers and our law enforcers, they need to follow the law.  (We all need to follow the law.)  To live within the bounds of the law.  To pursue truth and to be the truth.

And the rest of us looking on need to not excuse immoral behavior, sexual relationships on the clock, condoning adultery, accepting the lie that we can compartmentalize our selfish choices and keep those choices from creating havoc and fall out for everyone around us.







Five Finds Friday (cozy pants & days you would live over again)


It started with such good intentions – this week.

Looking at the calendar I planned for a week of stay stay stay.  Life heard about that plan and laughed and instead I wound up with a week of go go go.

It’s alright but I feel as if I’m crawling across the finish line, except – the finish line really isn’t Friday, it’s more like Sunday and I’m not even close.

And there you have it, friends.  My week.





I like when my kids leave me written notes that begin with the request,

“Please read this with a British accent.”




I finally purchased a pair of lounging pants.  (I’m certain that’s not what they’re called.)

My eldest daughter calls them “joggers”.  Is that the appropriate word for pair of pants that I most certainly will never be doing any sort of jogging in?



I’ll mostly be watching This Is Us or reading a novel or, you know, lounging.  But I won’t be jogging.

Anyway.  I bought them at Old Navy and no wonder the world loves them.  They’re great.




Lately I’m all about the roasted potatoes and veggies.  It feels like autumn food to me.

What feels like autumn food to you?




Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.

I love that image.

It’s not just me – you are too.  If you have eyes to see and ears to hear.

My friend Mary recently shared this post and I loved it and found it so faithful and simple and perfectly beautiful and completely achievable, if we choose.





Two things.

  1.  This week one of the daily journal entries for my kids for school was to make a list of what makes them happy.  Bergen finds it difficult to fill his journal entry and to write enough to satisfy his demanding teacher.  But for this list, he filled four pages.  Four.  I think he had 152 items on his list.  And throughout the week he has been saying, “Oh, right – woods!  I forgot to put woods on my list of what makes me happy.”  All five of the kids wanted to take a turn to read out loud what they had written.  And all of that made me all kinds of happy.
  2. At lunch recently I spontaneously asked the kids if they could choose to relive any single day of their lives – but they couldn’t change one single thing about it – just to live it all over again, what day would they pick?  I loved hearing their answers.  And it was sweet how many of our days lined up with one another – and how many of the days we would relive took place at a magical spot in the Pike National Forest in Colorado called Lost Valley.








An Ode to Autumn


A simple part of our Nature Study for the past several years has been to simply pick a spot outside (each of us in a different location) each week and for just a short time to sit still and observe.  While you are observing you may lie still with your eyes closed or you may draw what you see or record what you hear or let nature inspire you to draw or create in some other manner.

Recently, this is what I heard and what I saw and what I wrote after one of our observation times.




When a bird makes a noise that distinct
I wish I had paid better attention to Sibley or Peterson or Bergen.

I’m as tone deaf to the distinctions in bird calls as I am to the differences in
soprano vs. alto vs. baritone.

But I can feel beauty
and I do appreciate the magic made

between the sounds of the wind chimes
and the breeze making music of the drying leaves
and that bird’s shrill repeated cry

that sounds like both
an emergency
a tribute.

Oh Autumn.
You sound as lovely as you look.








needy people


The day my friends and I visited Charleston we found street parking near the ice cream shop we wanted to visit.

The meter required actual coins and the four of us were digging around in our bags, searching for quarters and coming up mostly empty handed.

A lady was standing nearby as we hopped out of the car, wallets opened as we searched.

She said words to me but I had no idea what they were.  She was rather difficult to understand.  I stepped closer to her in an effort to understand what she was saying.  The mumbling was so thick her words were basically incoherent.  With my ear practically to her mouth, I asked once more, “Please repeat what you said, I’m having trouble hearing you.”

She said, with effort, “Please can you give me money.  I promise to buy food.  Pease can you give money.  I promise to buy food.”  And then she said it maybe two more times.

“Oh, look,” I said, “We don’t have any cash – we can’t even find quarters.  But we’ve just had a picnic so we have lots of food.  Hold on, I’ll get you a bag of food.”

I moved toward our car to get the oranges and crackers and whatever else I could find.

Her face fell.  Disappointed.  She spoke again.  “I’m a diabetic.”

“Okay,” I said.  But she was already moving on.

I didn’t have what she wanted.

And I’m not telling this story to point out the sad state this individual had found herself or placed herself or been propelled into.

Because we’re just like her – right?

I mean, I am just like her.

Incoherent.  Desperate.  Mumbling about what I want.  How I want my help to look.  What should be happening and what I need.

And sometimes, in so many ways, help is offered.

And I don’t want it.

Not that sort of help.

I don’t want healthy food, I want dollars to feed my addiction.

I don’t want what I need, I want what I want.

In a hundred ways told over a hundred times,

I’m asking for the wrong thing and when I’m offered the right thing I walk away.

That lady is picture of me and of you and of all the ways we turn down the gifts being handed to us.





Five Finds Friday (a t-shirt and a muffin and a quote)


I’ll give it a go this week.

Although I have enjoyed watching soccer and I know London has enjoyed playing it too, I am looking forward to not attending a practice two nights a week during dinner time.

I’m in literal shock that it is October and I am in some sort of consistent anger that the weather is so warm that my air conditioning is still on.

Hello Friday.  How are you?





In the store the other day, the kids and I saw these bath loofahs.



At first I thought it looked like marshmallows were inside the loofah.  Which seemed weird.

Turns out they are actually bits of soap.  Like – bits of leftover soap or something.  Maybe less weird than marshmallows, but not by much.




I saw this t-shirt on Instagram this week.

I’m not sure why, but I love it.

In fact, I love the entire line up.  I’ve never even tried on those little boot shoes – do they call them booties?  (I don’t care for that name.  Can we use another name?)

Anyway, I think this might be the season I want to try them on for myself.





Mosley’s chocolate chip muffins.

I was going to share the recipe.  But I can’t find it.  So you’ll have to just have the photo.



The kids tell her “These taste store-bought” which they find to be a tremendous compliment, not recognizing how lovely their food life actually is.

But they are really delicious.




It’s a long read but I think it’s a valuable one.

About freedom and humanity and treating others as we would like to be treated.

Ann Voskamp’s post entitled You’re As Free As You Set Others Free.




I love this quote by Mary Oliver.  (And I like writing on my walls.)






where we’ve been . . .


It’s a good thing my computer saves my password to sign into this blog.

I almost forgot it myself.

It’s been a busy couple a days y’all.

Here’s what I’ve been doing since last I wrote a post:

Of course teaching school.  (High school science say what?  I don’t even think the letters strung together make actual words on some of London’s biology book pages.  On the other hand, two real winners this year in the curriculum category are Visual Latin and Language Lessons.  All the thumbs up.)



Taking my youngest students to the cutest classroom on a farm.  A classroom alive with birds and fish and geckos and chameleons and yes, even a tarantula.  (Who, in my opinion, was far too alive.  So alive, in fact, that he had shed his disgusting skin and was eating it because he is disgusting and even as I type this and am reminded of his disgustingness I am making a scowling grossed out face all alone in my chair in our library.)



Getting up super duper before the sunshine early to ride to the beach with dear friends to celebrate Hilary’s 40th year of life.  And what a fun adventure it was.  Laughter and easy chatter and more ties that strengthen our bonds.  And ice cream.  Jeni’s Ice Cream.  My first ever trip to one of the actual stores.



Pulling off a surprise dinner with an out of town guest for Hilary – to cap off the 40th celebrations.  Because, you know, forty calls for pulling out all the stops.  Her backyard is picturesque and with a little this and a little that, it was a dreamy dinner spot.



(And all of those adventures and dinner out was supported back on the home front by generous chid care for which I am truly grateful.)

Spending a little time watching my eldest son acquire five stitches in his ankle from leaping out of a tree and on the downward landing catching a glass bottle and sending it shattering across the lawn.  (Poor fella.  The stitches are uncomfortable for sure, but the worst of it is the hole in the ball of his foot that no stitch can fix since it’s just as if a tiny ice cream scoop scooped out a serving of his foot and there’s a tidy hole remaining.  And that all sounds very disgusting now.  Disgusting in a similar manner as the tarantula skin.   All horrifying images for which I sincerely apologize although I have had to live all of them so maybe someone should be apologizing to me for the love.)



Finishing The Hunger Games and then speed reading Catching Fire, the sequel, because who knew those books were so engaging?

Trying to be a responsible pet owner and taking Puck to an early morning appointment for her to get spayed.  Why on earth have I fallen in love with this particular calico kitten?



Running errands and having meetings for work with marketing directors that are closer in age to my daughter than to me.  (Yes, in case you are wondering, that does indeed make me feel old.  Although he was a very nice human and I am glad to have met him.)

Attending soccer games early int morning with the rain lighting coming down and then again where the night darkens before the buzzer signifies the game’s end and it’s crazy hard to watch kids play soccer who can hardly see one another, let alone the ball.



And that’s basically a wrap — what have you guys been doing?






Love the words?

Thank you!

Feel free to share that love!