Monday, August 31, 2015


Sometimes I feel strongly about certain things.  I decided to make a list of the things that have recently been my Favorites and Least Favorites.

FAV:  Reading.  I've been devouring books lately, which I love.  Last week I finished For The Love, by Jen Hatmaker.  It was SO good.  I laughed and cried a lot.  Read it.  Do what everyone, including me, is telling you to do.  There is a reason it is on the NY Times Bestseller list.

Least FAV:  Bags of marshmallows that are melted together.  I am currently fighting this battle in my home.  I know I should give up and buy more marshmallows, but I keep forgetting.  So, when I go to have my nightly s'more (kidding not kidding), I have to fight the sticky bag to get my marshmallows out.  I hate it.

FAV:  You have likely seen this video.  If not - watch it.  It is my life, except for the fact that I do actually eat there for "free."  I pay in other ways.  If you have seen it, take this opportunity to watch it again and enjoy the catchy beat.  Then go to eat at your local CFA.

Least FAV:  Driving in parking lots is one of my least favorite things to do.  This largely stems from my inability to share space well.  I get so frustrated with other cars and people.  And don't even get me started about "diagonal walkers."  I have to ask God for extra doses of grace and a reminder that whatever is making me in such a hurry is probably not worth the frustration.

FAV:  I love seeing the way God works in people's lives, and it is amazing to me when people are willing to be vulnerable and share their stories with the world.  These are dear friends, and this is the story of their first son, whom they lost.  Though it is obviously extremely painful, it is such a blessing to see the way that God has comforted them and is using their story.

Least FAV:  Dirty swim diapers.  Ick.  William seems to believe it is his personal mission to dirty every swim diaper he touches.  So gross.  But strangely dependable.

FAV:  My favorite moments are when everyone is calm, peaceful, happy and together.  These are r.a.r.e. and treasured.  My other favorite moments are when all children are asleep - just being honest.

Least FAV:  I hate it when my eyebrows get rubbed the wrong direction for any reason.  I immediately want to brush them back into place and comb them obsessively.

FAV:  In the vein of my love of reading, I've recently discovered Whispersync between Kindle and Audible, and it is my new FAV.  I can read the Kindle version at night and pick up where I left off on the audio version during the day when I have more stuff to do.  Here's a blog post by Modern Mrs. Darcy that explains it all and the finances of it - it is pretty amazing and can often be a great deal.

Least FAV:  Cilantro.  When I eat cilantro, I register a dirty flavor that I despise.  I have learned to work around this at most Mexican restaurants, especially since I cannot go a week without cheese dip of some sort.

FAV:  I love having friends that send me pictures of their mouse traps set up in my initials after I had a mouse in my car several months ago.  I seriously laughed so hard when I got this text.


I'll go ahead and end on that high note - hope your Monday is off to a great start!

Friday, August 28, 2015


After losing our cat last week, I was reminded of a whole heap of things.

It was my first time to lose a pet up close since childhood.  I knew it would be hard.  I also knew it was time when the time came, so I had peace in that decision.  But, it still was no fun to go through those motions of putting an animal to sleep.  Tears streamed down my face at the vet's office and many times in the days leading up to it.

Revisiting grief was an interesting and not wholly unpleasant experience.  Of course, I do not like grief.  But - being able to experience it reminds me of the circular nature of our human experience.  With love comes loss.  Grief is borne out of love, and it is worth loving, even knowing that it will not last forever.

The other thing that stood out to me last week was the way that I was enveloped in kindness by my friends and family.  Even though I was losing something that was not important to most of them, my people were so very gentle and gracious with me.  I was a bit amazed, to be honest.  There were tangible things like flowers and cheese dip (these people know me well), and there were so very many intangible things that showed up in texts or other messages with prayers being prayed for us and kind words.

It sounds a bit silly, because I already know I have really great friends and family.  But even still, people were so incredibly kind.  Really.  And it took my breath away to realize how well loved I am and how far kind words really do go.

As a general rule, I've grown in compassion and empathy as the years have passed.  Losing my dad (which was obviously far worse than losing my sweet cat) taught me what grief is for the first time in my life.  Since then, I hope that I have done a fair job of walking well beside people who are experiencing difficult times.  I am much more sensitive than I ever was before to when others are suffering.

That said, last week reminded me of how much kindness matters when you are hurting.  Each sweet word was like a bit of salve on my rather raw heart.  My grief was lessened by the ways others responded to me.

Nothing in this post is revolutionary, but living though something unpleasant again was a good reminder of what matters in life.  I learned all over again how wonderful it is to have dear friends and family (thank you all for your kindness to me!), and how far kindness really stretches.  It was an inspiration to me to be sensitive and aware to those around myself and to say something instead of just passing on by.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Today was a beautiful day.  I got everyone up and managed to make sure everyone was dressed and had roughly most of what they needed.  And I drove them there, and I did it all on time.  Which I think is a "First Day" miracle, because it is certainly not our all of the time norm.  I also marveled at the moment when I asked each child to take a picture, and they stepped in front of the wall and looked at the camera in turn.  It was sort of surreal.  And wonderful.


Everyone went cheerfully into their classes, which was really nice.  They were excited to be back, and it was so nice to drive away in a quiet car.  The morning disappeared quickly, as mornings tend to  do, but it was so nice to have the time and space to think and breathe and not have little people all up in my space.

Lily has been adjusting to first grade really well for the most part.  I think she is exhausted with the transition, but little by little, we are getting there.  She still LOVES riding the bus and sprints home once she's free.


The unstructured summer has had its perks, but I am heartily glad for the routine of fall!  We're glad to be back at it all.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Well, I've oft sung the praises of my dear bro-in-law (Luke Davis of Main Street Studios) who is the picture whisperer.  He manages to get amazing photos of my children every. single. time., which is no small feat when they are 6, 4, 2 and 2.  On our way back from Branson, we stopped in to Siloam Springs to get portraits of each child made.  I LOVE them all.  (The kids and the pictures.)


Lily has had a really loose front tooth for the past several weeks, and I was so nervous it would be out before these "Six-Year-Old" pictures.  I wanted one last round of pics with her sweet baby teeth smile, and I'm thrilled to get it.  Strangely enough, that tooth is still holding on - though only by a thread now.  She'll be missing those top two any day now.


Bella really is a natural in front of the camera.  She smiles sweetly and seems so charming.  You would never be able to imagine the kind of screaming she can produce while looking at these shots.  She will actually be turning five in a few short months, which is unfathomable, so I'm glad we have these pictures of precious "Four-Year-Old" Bella.


Violet is quite frankly a spit-fire, but she is also the most loving child ever.  And she loves Uncle Luke and turned on the smiles and laughs for him.  Our sweet "Two-Year-Old" Violet - I love to see the joy written all over her face in these shots.


Though William is actually quite smiley, he is more difficult to photograph, but Luke still manages somehow.  He did not want to sit in the orange chair - he wanted me to hold him.  He also wanted nothing to do with sitting on a step, but he did love running.  Our "Two-Year-Old" Chilliam totally makes me laugh with his antics.


And for good measure, here's one of the twins together.


Honestly, when I look through these pictures, they make my heart ache a bit - I can't believe these beautiful children have been entrusted to my care.  I am so thankful for each of them.  And, I'm so thankful to Luke for capturing their sweet spirits better than I ever could.

At the end, Luke took a pic of John and I in front of a new mural in downtown Siloam Springs.  Since John and I met, dated and married in that city, we think of it so fondly.  I love that we get to go back regularly visiting friends and family and JBU - it holds a special place in our heart!


(to see past pictures of our family by Main Street Studios, click here!)
(for more details on the girls clothes, here's a blog post about them!)

Friday, August 21, 2015


This week has been a bear on many fronts.  Transitioning into the school year, while a welcome change, also comes with its fair share of challenges.  How am I supposed to cope with getting up every morning at a certain time?  It's like I have to pretend to be an adult again every weekday, and I'm only half-way decent at it.  Here are some of this week's highs and lows.

High:  Last Saturday night we had a family date night that ended up being quite delicious and fun.  We ate at a favorite noodle restaurant downtown and then rode bikes by the river.  The weather was pleasant, and the children were *mostly* pleasant, which is a win for us.

("Rule for life: keep your shirt down."  Something we say a lot in our family.)
(The natives are getting restless.  Time to go.)

Low:  With school starting and the drama and grief involved in the decision to put our cat to sleep, I didn't get a lot of sleep.  There was also a lot of crying.  And my body freaked out a little and betrayed me into the land of congestion and break outs.  What a delightful response to stress.

High:  I don't use the double stroller much when we go places anymore, and instead I rely on the fact that the twins will cling to each other's hands.  This just doesn't get old to me.


Low:  Obviously, losing our cat was awful, but we did have some good moments this week.  She was mostly spending time in our closet, so I hung out in there with her.  The kids also joined me on several occasions.


High:  I went on an impromptu walk with a friend.  Since our bigs were in school, that meant we only had five kids four and under.  They were a bit unruly, but it was great to be able to talk and enjoy being outdoors.


Low:  While on this walk, a biker came up on our left, and I didn't know he was coming.  He tried to go around us, and instead, he fell, in slow motion, right next to me into a giant shrub.  I was mortified, but it also didn't feel like it could really be happening, since it happened so very s.l.o.w.l.y. The recovery was also slow and awkward as I continued to stand there and apologize.  All in all, there were terrible feelings for everyone involved.

High:  The weather took a turn towards AMAZINGness this week.  I know it probably won't last, but it has been so very pleasant.  We enjoyed a beautiful picnic at the park yesterday afternoon.


It is Friday, and the weekend is actually upon us, Praise be to King Jesus.  I'm hoping for rest and recovery in the midst of everything else.  Hope your weekend brings those as well!  (If you need them.  Otherwise, I hope your weekend brings endless fun and partying.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


There are a lot of things I could have titled this post that play on the fact that our cat's name was Hope and that Hope is now dead.  I certainly didn't think of this when I named the cat in the first place, but in the last place, it is sort of funny.  Hope was just shy of turning 12, and she was gifted to me by John on the very first Christmas that we were dating in 2003.  He was a brave and wonderful boyfriend.

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(that is one of the tassels from John's graduation regalia.  from undergrad - Hope went way back.)

I named her Hope, because she had an H on one of her soft calico sides, and because I needed hope.  My dad had passed away months earlier, and I was trying to figure out how to go on.  Hope became my sweet little companion who slept next to me so many nights of the last 12 years.  She grew up with John and I and followed us so many places.

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We were all babies together.  John and I learned how to take care of something together as Hope was shuttled between our homes in the very earliest of days before we were married.  We tackled fleas and worms and minor surgery (spaying) and faced my own psychotic fears of getting her declawed after doing internet research about it (almost always the worst idea) and it all being completely fine.  It really was good practice for parenting, with much lower stakes.

When we settled in Little Rock and welcomed another little kitty into our home, Hope eventually warmed completely to Francie, and they were best buddies.

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Hope didn't have the most welcoming persona to strangers, but she loved her people well (mostly me).  She tolerated our children and let them love on her.  If she didn't like it, she got up and left, which was totally her prerogative, and I couldn't blame her.  But often, she just stayed and liked to be near the action, if not apart of it.  Our children loved her very much.

(This is Bella showing how she and Hope have the same color blonde in places.)

Hope had a rapid and unexpected decline over the last month, and after several visits and a round of medications, the vet eventually concluded that it was very likely cancer.  We opted not to do surgery or chemo/radiation.  On Sunday night it became clear to me that she was not doing very well and after a last vet consultation on Monday afternoon, we made the decision to put her to sleep today.  We wanted a little time to say goodbye and prep the kiddos for what was happening.

I've been so sad this week and shed tons of tears, but I was glad to know the time we had and be able to enjoy it.  Lily has taken it hard, randomly breaking into tears and saying "Kitty!" and "I'm going to miss her."  It's meant a lot of talking about death and Heaven and what happens after we die.  We've been very up front with the girls, and I've been thankful for the questions and honesty and grieving together.


Our family and friends have been oh so gracious and kind this week, and I have really appreciated it. In some ways, it feels trivial to be this upset over the death of a cat.  But, she has been more than just a cat in my little world.  She's been my fur-friend, and she's seen so much of my life in the last 12 years and has never stopped loving me.  Pets are magnificent in their open-hearted, unblinking loyalty and love, and she always purred for me, even at the end.  She wanted to be near me no matter what.

(She was not supposed to be up on the hutch, but she looked so happy there, I decided to leave her.)

John and I took her to the vet's office this afternoon as I held her and wept.  It really is a family rite of passage to lose our first pet.  It feels like another stone on our path of togetherness, and John was so incredibly kind and gracious with me every step of the way.  We both shed tears sitting there petting her.  It was hard and certainly not flawless at the end, but I'm glad that she is no longer sick and suffering.  She was a good cat, and I'm so thankful for the comfort that she brought me in so many moments of the last 12 years.  She will be missed by us all.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Our first day of first grade is in the books.  When I woke Lily up, it was clear that sleeping in had been the norm for her and today was a bit of a rude awakening.  She did recover from the rocky start and got all ready for school.  This year, the school district opened up the uniform policy to include polo shirts of any color, and Lily chose purple for her first day.


This was actually her second round of pictures, because the first one was taken with her skirt backwards.  After remedying that, we headed to school where I walked her inside.  She immediately asked to play Lincoln Logs with the other kids and made herself at home.


Being the shameless suck up that I am, I brought cookies for the teacher.  I can't imagine how difficult teaching is, and I want to do whatever I can to bring a little fun to the big day.  As I left the room, I did tear up a bit, but nothing like last year when I went to the "Boo-hoo Breakfast" and actually boo-hooed.


Lily says that she had a great day.  She doesn't spill details easily, so I have to pry gently and step back when she is clearly tired of interrogation.  I let the kiddos have some screen time after school to detox a bit from all the stimulus.


We went out to dinner at Cracker Barrel to celebrate a great first day.


Here's hoping and praying for a great year!