Family Values


The idea stemmed from a conversation, a comment to a conversation really.  (You never know when what you say will be the seed of an idea or the catalyst for change.)

This friend mentioned having a set of family values – a list of what matters in your house.  A core.

I loved that idea.

I’d like to think our family has always had a standard, a set of ideas and theories guiding our actions.  But the thought of actually taking the time to verbalize what those are, to write those down, really appealed to me.

The kids and I gathered in the library.  (That’s what I like to call the extra room in our home where I have two bookshelves and some comfy chairs.  It pleases me to label it thus.  I’d appreciate you all continuing to humor me in this matter.  Many thanks.)

Foolishly I made all five kids sit side by side on one sofa.  (Silliness ensued.)  I persevered and together we all made a short list of some truths that we all decided mattered the most to us – a list of what we think is most important in our family.  We had to weed through comments like “kids are in charge” and “we should watch more television” until we got to some ideas we deemed worthy.

We narrowed the list down to six – I wanted a tidy five, but we just weren’t willing to ditch any of these ideas.  And it isn’t that we are currently doing all of these perfectly, or that maybe we ever will do each of them perfectly, but that these six ideas are important to us.  They’re foundational to the life we’re all living inside these walls.  (And outside them too, of course.)  They’re cornerstone thoughts – a list of truths we want to lean into and to check our actions against.

Of course I wrote them all down and hung them on the wall in the dining room.  We’re going to need to have them close at hand to be reminded that we want to adhere to them.



These are the six truths we landed on as our family values.

We believe:

  1. You always have a choice.

(You are not to blame others for your actions.  Also as in, you get to decide how you will react to a situation, even if you cannot decide the situation.  You get to choose your attitude.  It’s the ultimate choice you get control over.  And maybe the only one.)

 2.  People matter more than stuff.

(Share your toys.  Don’t love your possessions more than your people.)

 3.  There is always space for laughter.

(I don’t know how to cope without this one.)

 4.  Being outside is good for your inside.

     5.  There is always enough.

(Enough food to share, enough room for people to sit at the table, enough beds to offer a guest a space.)

 6.  Home should be a refuge.







love languages and being thankful for the gifts given


It’s something that all mothers are inherently provided with ample opportunity to learn.  But all of humanity gets its share of readily available lessons too.

Love comes in different forms.  And you need to accept it in whatever form it takes.  Learn to see love in its many varied shapes and sizes.  And welcome it with open arms.

Sometimes, when you’re the mother of lots of littles, love feels sticky and usually is covered in both jam and magic marker.  Sometimes love looks like your spouse taking the kids to play outside or waking up early one morning so you can sleep in.  Love might look like your five-year old “helping” make lunch by fixing the sandwiches and making a colossal mess in his effort.

I remember reading a quote years ago by author Wally Lamb.


Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love.


I liked the quote then.  But I understand it even more now.

Even when love doesn’t speak your language, it’s still love and it’s still yours to accept or to turn away.

Remember that popular book years ago that made its rounds in certain circles?  The Five Love Languages?  I’ve had a little problem with that book.  I mean, I found it helpful in lots of ways.  It came in all sorts of forms.  Five Love Languages for Couples.  Five Love Languages for Teens.  Five Love Languages for Children.  For your grandma.  Your dog.  Your neighbor.  The Five Love Languages for the FedEX driver.

(Don’t even get started on all the endless variations of the Chicken Soup for the Soul franchising machine.)

I actually did like the concept of the book.  There was much to learn there.  I found it to be helpful in understanding the different ways we hear and offer love to those around us.  It was an aid in communication and understanding and it certainly had its place.

Here’s what the book basically promotes … there are five different ways we offer and understand love.  Categories like words of affection and quality time.  Gifts, acts of service and physical affection are the other three.  The author was suggesting that if the person you love doesn’t understand your love language, they might misinterpret how you are loving them and then feel unloved, even when you feel as if you are offering great love to them.

But if your love language is words of affirmation and someone gives you a gift, what kind of a fool are you if you are ungrateful?  “This doesn’t speak my love language.  Will you please write me a letter instead?  I need to know you really get me.”

Then the tool just becomes an avenue for you to be selfish and demanding, that love has to look like what you think love has to look like – and trust me, that’s not loving to anyone – to be demanding of how love arrives on your doorstep.  Come on person, just take the crock pot gift and make a roast already.

Sometimes the gift offering is actually about the giver.

I think this is predominantly true in motherhood and childhood.  Your child is presenting you with a quiet hour when what you really need is a hot meal.  Fine.  Look at what is actually happening in front of you.  Someone you love dearly is trying to serve you.  Can’t that be enough?

This is easier to type than it is to do.  And as mothers I find us especially susceptible to expect the gifts to look a certain way.  It seems particularly easy for us to be unable to recognize the offering for what it is – love, in a flower petal for our hair and the voluntary washing of a dish, even though they washed it the “wrong” way.

Eventually, when our response is half-hearted thankfulness, these little generous givers who we are raising, will stop presenting us with presents if our response always lacks wonder and appreciation, if we miss the giver and the heart wrapped up in the offering.

I spend most of my writing talking to myself.  So when I say the words – I often am the one needing the lesson.

Take what is being open-handed offered to you.  At face value.  Without demands or strings attached.  With a word on your lips that sounds like “thank you” and an attitude in your heart that looks like grateful.







Five Finds Friday (boys up to no good & can you help my family pick a dinner?)


This week has felt a day short.  Monday – path of totality day – appeared like a holiday, therefore the week soared along.  We had a bit of sickness too that shifted our gears and a field trip and a backseat car disaster involving said sickness.

In other random and irrelevant news, I started reading Steinbeck’s East of Eden.  The big kids are in a play next week.  I still haven’t seen The Glass Castle in theaters but I’m really looking forward to that.  Otto still hasn’t really acquired a taste for third grade.  The only subject he does without complaint is math.  (I’m not sure his genetics are right.)  We’ve been diffusing lime in the house lately because it smells nice but my friend told me it’s an appetite stimulant.    I’m starting to think she’s right.  I need to research what scents are appetite suppressants and maybe that’ll help curb this family’s grocery bill.





A couple of days ago I was sitting on the porch writing.  It was a quiet afternoon and all things were pleasantly still.

The sun was shining.

I heard a noise on the roof above my head and I looked up to see a short burst of water come cascading over the edge of the porch and drip down on to the bushes below.

Silence followed the water and I was mid-story, mid-deadline so I finished up what I was working on, fully intending to figure out the cause of the surprise water soon.

And then a few days passed.

(Whatever.  It’s true.)

Out of the blue, I remembered the water.

“Hey boys,” I began, explaining what had occurred and asking for their intel in the situation.



Two nonchalant-faced boys sat before me.

“Right, yeah – that was us,” they declared.  “We were just pouring the dead crawfish out the window upstairs on to the roof.  We figured we’d be able to watch a bird come grab him.”




I found this photo on my phone.

Of my daughter pretending she had bangs.



Thank goodness 90’s style bangs are not in fashion again – are they?





There are many reasons that my family has not ventured too far down the rabbit hole of organized sports.  I will not launch into those reasons currently.

But as London has just begun playing soccer for the first time with a local rec team, I am reminded of one reason.  The fact that whoever schedules these practices has apparently no concept of when families eat dinner together.



Our practices are from 6:30 to 7:30 two nights a week.  This makes dinner tricky.  I’d like to take over this week’s “flavorful” category with a  request – some suggestions of easy meals to have ready when we return home post-practice.  I’ll take crock pot ideas and any other good old stand-by meals that you can think of.

I’ll even take offers of you being at my house having dinner ready for us when we return home.

Or recipe ideas.





I’ve loved her entire album – Ellie Holcomb’s As Sure as the Sun.

But I especially like the lyrics of “Only Hope I’ve Got”.

I take all the gifts that You have given and I stake my claim like they’re my own,
Will You help me when I forget to remember, the good I’ve got is yours alone

Oh ’cause I don’t wanna tell some arrogant story
Or let myself believe I’m you!
I don’t wanna be a thief who’s stealing Your glory…
Will You help remind me of what is true? The ONLY hope I’ve got, it’s You,You.
It’s You, You

Or do I think I have anything to offer, when You have overcome the world?
Couldn’t take Your place, ’cause You’re the Author of the greatest love this world has known

Well it’s only by Your grace…
That I heard You whisper my name,
I don’t have the power to save – to change a heart,
Could You come and change my heart





I started making applesauce sort of late one evening.  I wanted to let it cook slowly in the crockpot all night while we slept and have it warm for breakfast.  I know it’s really better in the fall but the apples at Sky Top are already in and some of them on the counter were getting soft and I just decided I didn’t care if it was still August, I wanted warm applesauce for breakfast.

The house was quiet so I thought it was a good time to try out a podcast.  (I still don’t listen to many and I’d still love your suggestions of good ones.)

I somehow searched randomly and landed on this Oprah podcast.  I had never heard of it and had never listened to any of her podcasts. I didn’t even know she had a podcast.  I scrolled through and noticed one with Brene Brown.  That’s another name I have vaguely heard of but know nothing about and have read nothing about.

So don’t tell me if these names are controversial or if you have bad vibes about Oprah.  I don’t even care right now.

I just sat in my kitchen at nearly midnight, peeling and slicing apples, listening to what felt like some profound and beautiful and worthwhile thoughts and ideas and encouraging conversations.  It was fantastic.  So good, in fact, that when the first one finished and Oprah said there was a part two, I saw that I was already finished slicing and peeling and I had no more apples remaining, I just sat on a stool in my kitchen doing nothing and listened to the second podcast too.

I thought they were both incredible.

This is the first podcast.

And this is the second.








Beautiful Coloring: A Timberdoodle Review


School is back in session and I haven’t even snapped one single legitimate back-to-school photo for some reason.  Maybe because not every kid is always dressed in photo worthy attire at the same moment.  Or because our first days have been sort of anti-climatic.  (This morning I started the day out by artfully dropping a glass bowl full of hummus – shattering the glass across the entire kitchen floor.  Despite our careful clean up both Bergen and I have received glass splinters in our feet already today.  It was even hummus that I used real tahini in so it tasted top-notch.  I don’t know which made me more sad – the loss of the glass bowl or the loss of the hummus.)

We do a lot of reading aloud in our school day.  (The first week my throat always feels a little sore and I get tired of the sound of my own voice.)  Our history curriculum is primarily done as a family and we read novels together each day too, as well as our poetry study.  (This year we’re kicking it off with Anne of Green Gables and Carl Sandburg.  I am rather disappointed in my children’s lack of natural affection for my favorite red haired orphan.)

During read aloud times the kids draw in their journals each morning but once they’ve finished that assignment there is still usually more reading time than drawing needs.  Over the years we have tried different methods during the read aloud times.  Some of the kids knit or crochet or work with clay.  It really depends on the day and the project.

This year when Timberdoodle made available a unique coloring book for a review, I immediately thought of our read aloud times.



Beautiful Coloring is both a coloring book and an art instruction book.  I chose Piper to be this recipient of this treasure.  (For many reasons.  Timberdoodle offers this with the 4th grade curriculum set and Piper Finn is in the fourth grade.  Also, she gets loads of her life needs met in the form of hand-me-downs — clothing, shoes, notebooks, books etc.  She just usually isn’t handed the brand new first anything.  So this felt right.  She also loves coloring and drawing.)



It’s a guided book with easy to follow instructions that aid the student in basic color language and knowledge.  It teaches the color wheel and is divided into warm and cool colors and other categories.  Techniques are taught with each page and you first do a small sample of the design or color work, then you color a larger example.  It’s the perfect companion for both independent work and work to do quietly while listening to a story being read.

The paper is thick so the colors are not bleeding on to the next page, something that I find frustrating in other coloring books.  Piper is completely capable of reading and following the instructions herself, which I appreciate and value as she moves slowly on toward more and more independent work.




You can buy Beautiful Coloring on Timberdoodle’s website alone or in their fourth grade curriculum kit.  

The skills she is picking up she is transferring to other art projects that she does in her free time or as school assignments.  It’s the perfect niche fit for us.

It’s also straightforward and stand alone enough for any parent to purchase this – not just for homeschool – but for a low key art guide and coloring book to add to their child’s collection of quiet activity options.



As I was typing up my review, my little artist was looking over my shoulder.  “You can tell them that I like it because it’s fun,” she said.  And so I asked what she liked about it.  “I just like that it’s for school but you enjoy what you’re doing.”

Which maybe doesn’t say so much about the rest of school, but speaks well for Beautiful Coloring.







on shapes …… of houses and lives


On the way to soccer practice we drive through a tidy neighborhood.

It’s cute.  Full of squares.  Lots of squares.  Square houses.  Square screened-in back porches.  Square lawns.  Manicured lawns.  Lawns with the grass cut at an angle and a criss-cross pattern that just politely declares tidy.

Men younger than me are standing in their garages, near their garages, in their driveways in front of their garages.  In front of their tidy square garages.  Garages lined across the back with rectangular shelves housing square storage containers stacked high and in order, full of the organized stuff of their organized lives.  Stuff they Don’t Need Right Now.  Christmas decorations.  Autumn decorations.  It even looks color-coded.

I’m not quite old enough to be the mother of these nameless dudes who own these perfect squares, but I am definitely not a peer either.

I just don’t get it.

Will my own life ever look this tidy?

Did I read the wrong instructions manual?  Roll the dice and choose the wrong path to my own game of Life?  Am I just driving around in the wrong direction in my plastic green car with my pink and blue plastic pegs dotting the backseat?

I am forty-four years old and I have never owned my own home – not a square one nor a rectangle one nor a round one.

I can’t seem to find a house to purchase to save my life and the rectangles of my current lawn, shoot – of my entire life – keep losing their shape.  My squares won’t stay stacked and the colors aren’t even primary – they’re some sort of brownish black grayish blend you get when you just mix all the colors together at one time.

Where is my tidy square?

Who will teach me to mow my grass in two separate directions to create a pretty pattern?







the eclipse from my yard.


I closed my computer sometime around 7 pm Saturday night and I placed it on my desk.  I didn’t touch it again until Monday night around 10 pm.  That probably shouldn’t be a big deal – or an anything deal.  But, since typing out words is what I do for both profit and for pleasure, it kind of was a big deal.  In a miniature deal kind of way.  A laundry list of events and activity took place over that short time period.  Most of it eclipse related.

Living in the “path of totality” the hype was paramount.   Constant reminders to be aware of the traffic and to not burn your retinas to a crisp and to order your glasses in time and if you couldn’t locate any glasses than to be forced to purchase some for $15.  Stores were selling out of moon pies and I-85 had flashing signs urging caution on the roads and it was all a little apocalyptic crazy.

When I read stuff like that something happens to me.  I’m sure it’s a character flaw.  I just instantaneously think less of whatever is happening to cause all of the commotion.  I suddenly no longer want to participate.

Hannah had purchased eclipse glasses for the kids and I months ago.  I assumed we’d all watch it.  But I just couldn’t muster up all the excitement that I saw bubbling over everywhere else.

Our house was packed to capacity the night before – all beds and sofas taken by friends from out of town who wanted to sit in the path of totality.  We ate breakfast together.  Watched informative YouTube videos and live coverage on the west coast.  We ate lunch.  (Have you ever tasted a pickled green bean?  It has nothing to do with the eclipse, other than the fact that the eclipse is the day our family first tried them.  They’re delicious.)  And then it was our turn.  Chairs were put outside.  Eclipse glasses distributed.  The clouds were at first blocking the sun and we figured maybe that was they way it was going to go.




And then.  Well.  Then the show actually started.  The clouds breezed away and the moon crept its fantastic self right on over in front of the sun.

Y’all.  I couldn’t believe the magic.  There’s no exact describing it and I cannot even fully understand why it was so incredible and impressive to me.



The moon taking its bite out of the sun – that’s what Otto and Piper kept calling it.  The shadows shifting.  The sun fading.  The darkness coming.  A rooster crowed.  (That got our little crowd pretty stoked.)  The horses in the field across the street trotted themselves to the barn.  The temperature felt pleasantly mild. These gorgeous little dancing curves of sunlight and shadow sprinkled in the dirt under our familiar oak tree. Until finally, the moon blocked out all the light.  And Tom started sprinting toward the edge of the yard and half of us sprinted after him – to watch the glow of what looked like a sunset settle in front of Paris Mountain.  The totality.  All of the sun’s bold bright light covered by the moon.  It was like night.  In the middle of the afternoon.




The slow reintroduction of the sun back to its rightful order on the earth.  The light glowing and dreamy.

I kept staring through my flimsy little protective eye shields for all the remaining glimpses.  Bergen shouted his farewells to the eclipse, declaring “I shall miss thee, eclipse.”



And then it was done.  Complete.  Over.  The afternoon all regular again and the sky the same as we think it always is and the lawn emptied and the cars drove away and the kids and I had a quiet dinner in a quiet house.

I’m sure its beauty was in its rarity.  Its beauty in its unexpectedness, despite its predictability.  The surprise in finding out something that was actually not a surprise was indeed surprisingly delightful.






Five Finds Friday (funny lyrics & tea & feather earrings)


It’s been a full week.

Sometimes you can judge my busyness by the number of blog posts that I am able to send out.  This week I think I only wrote two.

Of course, sometimes the opposite is true.  Sometimes I take the time to write a blog post instead of doing laundry or sweeping the floor or planning school or going to bed on time.

So – basically what I’m saying is – no one knows.  You can’t tell anything.  It’s all a guess.  I’m not even sure myself.

What does it even matter, really?  Besides, it’s Friday and so here we are.





Misquoted and misunderstood song lyrics are one of my favorite genres of humor.

Are they a genre?

Lots of times the kids and I all share the way that we thought a song was going – the words our brains told us we were hearing, despite their high level of nonsense or their completely illogical nature.  And then, after we share what we thought we heard, we can’t seem to ever sing the song again without singing it the incorrect way.  It’s how many family jokes have developed.  We think one song is saying “beef, beef stew” in a gentle and crooning manner.  Another favorite is “if you need a wombat, just use mine” even though it’s highly improbable that any artist wrote a serious lyric about a wombat.  Another one we’ve misquoted for years is “are you caught in hurricane?” for this meaningful and inspirational song that we basically just ruin.

Driving home from one the many activities of our lives, we had a friend in the car who shared his misunderstood song lyric.  The song says “I’ve got that sunshine in my pocket …” but our young friend was convinced that instead it was sung like this – “I’ve got that sunshine in my backside”.

Please tell us your favorite misunderstood lyrics.  




I don’t even care how many times I talk about earrings in this space.  Earrings are my favorites.  Earrings and boots.  I have no explanation as to why this is true.  I don’t try to understand everything.

Noonday has a new line out apparently and in the last week I saw two of my friends wearing what I know will become some of my new favorite earrings for myself.  (When I get out of this expensive month of back to school August and decide how to spend the birthday money I keep hoarding.)


These have that touch of metallic which I just keep loving and they are light enough for me to wear while riding a horse or zip lining through the tree tops or, you know, all of my regular workaday activities.




I knew it was bound to happen.  The end was inevitable.

This week I finished my last cup of tea from the box of tea that I purchased in Colorado at Celestial Seasonings that quickly became my favorite tea.

Fireside Vanilla Spice.



I wept a cup of tea-sized tears as I sipped the last delicious bit.

The description online calls it a “taste of pure coziness”.  Man – they’re so right.  It is my nearly nightly ritual to have a cup of tea after the kids are in bed.  I sit in the same chair and I work while I sip.  Occasionally I skip the working part and hop right in bed with my cup of cozy and a good book.  (That’s my nightlife, people.  It’s as glamorous and as perfect as it sounds. I’m not complaining.)

I know I can order more tea online – although I have to buy $49 worth to get free shipping.  Even for me, that’s a whole lotta tea, folks.  And I’ve grown to abhor paying a shipping fee.

But it’s just a little extra sad knowing that I purchased it on our Colorado journey.  I guess that’s just another reason to head back west again as soon as humanly possible.




Faithful is a God who puts people in my path who will share their own uncomfortable story when I most need it.




Watching my girl succeed on stage.




Watching my brother play with my children.




Watching my “baby” sleep.












all of the questions. none of the solutions.


Yes, they’re hilarious and often times they are cute and occasionally they bake delicious cookies.



But seriously – nothing is flawless, am I right?

I mean, why – for the love of all things holy – can we not have ONE SINGLE FLAT SURFACE IN OUR HOME THAT IS NOT COVERED WITH RANDOM AND SUNDRY ITEMS?

I’m talking the stuff that comes out of kids’ pockets.  The things they “create” and then don’t know what to do with themselves.  The kite made out of construction paper  The rocks from a hike that have zero interesting things about them but if I dare to throw said plain rocks outside, someone will miss their beloved rocks and will let me know.  For the love.  Just one flat surface, people – that’s all I want.  The top of the lockers?  How about that one?  There is no reason on earth to put your novel for school on TOP of the locker when it has a perfectly reasonable home INSIDE the locker.  It’s why i bought them, for goodness sake.  Can you even imagine?  Why is this so hard?  Just open the locker.  Open it.  It doesn’t have a padlock – or even a little oh-so-tiring switch to lift up. It just pulls open.  The end.

The kitchen counter right beside the door.  It’s not just keys and pocket change.  I’m not living yet with kids who drive or have pocket change.  It’s I don’t know what – baseball cards and a wrench and why did any of my children have a wrench out anyway?  It’s one sock and a water bottle and sixteen bottle caps and I tell you what – these bottle caps are making me lose my mind.  The kids are obsessed wth them.  I gather that they represent some sort of currency – perhaps taking the place of the coal currency that was king last summer.  I don’t know.  I’m not their financial guru.  I serve in a different capacity here.  But if I see another bottle cap floating across the surface of my life, I am going to feed said bottle cap to the first child that walks past me.

Why are there children’s shoes constantly in MY bedroom?  I don’t wear size 5 smelly Keens.  And, speaking of stuff in my bedroom, I know that our bathroom has NO counter.  (As in, zero counter.  The sink is too tilted and small to even place a bottle of hand soap there.)  But does zero bathroom counter space mean that my bedroom should somehow become the collection place for all of the hairbrushes our household owns?

Don’t even get me started on the phenomenon of the one sock and one shoe that get found all over our house.  Do my kids go to social functions in one sock and one shoe?  Suddenly I’m thinking they must.  You’d tell me if that was occurring – right?

Then there’s the Legos – do they multiply under my feet but vanish when the kids want new ones?  This must be an accurate assumption.

I can’t answer all of these questions.  I can’t keep my counter surfaces clean and kid paraphernalia out of my own bedroom.  The Legos are never completely picked up and I will never understand why putting shoes away is so tricky.

There you have it – life with five kids.  It’s not tidy, that’s for certain.








keep looking up.


He probably said it two dozen times.  Actually, I’m sure it was said more often than that.

Keep looking up.

The words one of my friends said to me, to the kids, to our friend circle, when times were dark and The Ending was beginning.

Keep looking up.

Sometimes I don’t even think I had a clue what he meant.  And sometimes I understood it perfectly.

Last week the kids and I and some dear friends went hiking in North Carolina.  (Oh it was a gorgeous spot.  One that has long been on my list of places to visit and will now be on my list of places to see each season.)  It’s called Black Balsam and it’ll make you sing all of The Sound of Music lyrics.



We were above the tree line and the trail was clearly defined – usually.  The trail was actually sort of a rut that was often several feet deep, narrow and frequently bordered on both sides by tall shrubs and bending grass.

The trail was easy to follow, but because of the many rocks and uneven ground, the highs and the lows, the dips and the bumps, you really had to keep an eye on where you stepped one foot in front of the other.

The views were in all directions and sweeping panoramic vistas greeted your every glance.  You felt on top of the world and the mountains were that endlessly charming hazy blue that look like the best known filter available to mankind has been applied to your very eyeballs, making all the views seem perfect and dreamy.

Except I kept watching my feet.



I kept looking down, step by step by step.  Here’s a rock.  Here’s a step up.  Here’s a step down.  Here’s a hole.  All I was noticing was the path directly under my Chacos.



When I would finally look up, when a butterfly caught my eye and I followed its flittery travels across the tops of the flowering fields, I would almost have to hold my breath, the view was so spectacular.  I couldn’t NOT talk about it and I couldn’t open my mouth in fear of destroying the quiet beauty.



Keep looking up.

What on earth was I doing staring at my own two feet?

I know those two size eight point five roustabouts plenty well.

Why wasn’t I staring at what I hadn’t seen enough of yet?

Why wasn’t I looking up?



I was all caught up in staying on the path.  Not tripping.  Getting from Place A to Place B.  Making it across the mountain.  Following the trail.  Moving along quickly.

Not that I wanted to fall or get lost or stand still forever.

But I think mostly my feet could stay on the well-defined trail without my constant checking up on them.

I was missing out.  For the love.  Missing out on the bold white cloud that was shaped like a llama in a full sprint.  Missing out on the mountains stacked up in layers on the other mountains, looking every bit like a doctored photograph, too perfect to be real.  Missing out on the myriad of black butterflies – like the one that landed right on my son’s hand, much to his delight.  Missing out on the feeling of being on some sort of other planet, or a movie set, or some sort of magical bit of fairy land.

Keep looking up.

I sort of said something about my feet and the trail and looking down and missing out and looking up to my friend Sarah and she laughed.  “That’ll make the blog for sure.  That’s just begging to be written.”



And it was.  It is.  Just begging to be written.  Just begging to be remembered.

Too obvious to miss.

Except I kept missing it anyway.

I keep missing it anyway.

Not just on the trail, of course.   Not just at Black Balsam.

But here.  Today.  In my house and in my life.

Keep looking up.









Five Finds Friday (fries and hevel and gray hair)


This week has been pleasant – good weather, school progressing along nicely, the promise of the weekend on the horizon.  All good things.

And now it’s Friday.





Honestly, just living in this house with five kids who are becoming genuinely funny humans in their own rights has been so incredibly enjoyable.  We laugh.  A lot.  They’re just so comical.

I forget to write a lot of it down any longer.  (And I should work on that, I know.)

This week Piper Finn has been packing a lunch all week for her attendance at theatre camp.  One evening as she was filling her little bags with cheeze-its and strawberries and all the lunch friendly options, I noticed she had put in one of her bags about five cookies.  That seemed excessive for a nine year old’s lunch.  I said something to that effect.

Her eyes met mine, “Mom – I’m bringing these to share with Aubrey and Dani.  We love to share lunches.”

I shrugged, “Alright then.”

And London, with a grin she reserves for times when she thinks she’s being hilarious, said to me, “Hey Mom – speaking of inaccurate parental assumptions …” and then proceeded to tell me about another time earlier that I had jumped to a wrong conclusion.

I said they were funny, I didn’t always say they were appropriate.




Pretty sure I stretch this “fashionable” category all the time.

It’s too hard.  I don’t think about “fashion” very often.  I don’t know what that word even really means.

Today in the car the kids were looking at a parenting magazine that had come in the mail.  We laughed about the newest trends. Jeans ripped jagged and too short across the ankle.  Kids clothing that already has paint stains on it.  Hey guys, we damage our own clothing just fine by ourselves, thanks.

Also.  This week I noticed a generous amount of gray hairs.  On my head.

Who knew?

As London tried to console me, she kept saying, “You never noticed Mom because you never look at the top of your head.”

Actually though, I have not really needed genuine consoling.  I can’t even convince myself to care about those gray hairs.




Sometimes I like to write in places other than my home.

This week I tried out a new restaurant called LTO – it’s a burger bar and I think the initials stand for lettuce, tomato and onion.

It’s only been open for about three days and their staff was so kind.

I just wanted fries and a slush drink – both of which I got.  And both of which I was immensely pleased with.



Also – the water brought out something wild for me to try – blueberry ketchup!

Surpriseit’s delicious!

(Next time I want one of their ridiculously oversized milkshakes.  One of them has a cinnamon roll IN the shake – what?  They’re nearly $10 but I think my entire family can share one!)




Our family loves what The Bible Project does – their videos and their work.  It’s incredible.

This video about Ecclesiastes is spot on.



And – because after viewing that video it led us into viewing another Ecclesiastes video – I’m going to share BOTH of them.  Same general message in each, but created differently.  Both so moving and clarifying.  (This one starts out differently – give it a chance.  Watch til the end. It’s so important.)



Hevel.  It’s all hevel.




It’s possible I’ve featured my friend Beth’s works before.  Her penmanship is beautiful.

And now she has stickers!!



Right now you get one free with any order over $10.  I’m going to try to just give her $10 for a sticker of every style because I love them all.









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