This week.

I spent this week in Miami/Fort Lauderdale meeting the team at this software company I’m working for now. When I got home late last night, I found this sweet note the kids left for me on the fridge…

I’m taking off the rest of the day – checking the kids out of school to play hookie with me. It’s good to be home!

P.S. I owe a BIG thank you to Paw-Paw for helping Bryan with the kids in my absence, to AC’s mommy who drove Leah to volleyball games this week, and to Uncle Stevie who changed out the batteries in our fire alarms and removed our cat Dizzy’s latest “kill” from the driveway.

My big grown up baby…

When Leah was an itty bitty baby, I was amazed by each new skill she acquired – especially that first year. It was so crazy to see her go from a little peanut who slept all the time to an alert baby holding up her head, then holding her own bottle, then crawling and then walking… I would say, “Oooooh, you’re my big grown up baby!”

Uncle Stevie recently referred to Leah as a 45-year old IT consultant. I am not 45 years old!!! But Leah is a lot like me – she’s more like 44 year old me than 4th grade me for sure. She’s strong, confident and assertive. She is a benevolent dictator over the Fiefdom of Michael. (Bless him.) She is incredibly responsible and perceptive beyond her years. I wish Bryan and I could take credit for stellar parenting, but the truth is, Leah is her own person. Steve may think she is like me, but really, she’s like Leah.

My “big grown up baby” is very much a young lady in so many ways – but still a kid, too. I referred to her as a tween recently and she clarified that you’re not a tween until you turn 10, so she won’t be a tween until next month. Have I mentioned Leah is an absolutist who loves rules and sees the world in shades of black and white? In this way, she is not at all like her mama.

I’m proud of this sweet girl.

 

This month in the yard…

I’ve stalled on publishing this month’s post on my gardening efforts because I really need to pull some weeds. :)  I’m so happy with the Lantana, Cana Lillies and the little orange annuals out front. They all added so much color this year. I’m pleased also that the Crepe Myrtles we added and/or moved are all alive and blooming.

The most exciting thing happening in the yard right now is the massive growth of a mysterious – but really pretty – vine off the back patio. Any guesses as to what it is???

That was my good news.

Perhaps I expected too much, but overall, this year fell far short of my Southern Living inspired expectations of how colorful and lush our flowerbeds were going to be. I keep going back to my friend Robin’s comment: “It all looks purdy in the store, don’t it, Kim?” It all looks so easy in the magazine!!!

I really just want to swing in the hammock while surrounded by an ocean of color…

These silly purple coneflowers bloom sporadically. The plant next to this one has brown/dead flowers.

I’m already planning changes for next Spring, beginning with a thick layer of mulch to control weeds and moving the oversized Hostas and Cana Lillies. I am also going to scale back the selection of plants. I drove past a house the other day with landscaping that looked so simple, so beautiful and so colorful – beds full of Dwarf Hollies intermixed with Nandina and Loropetalum. Green, purple, orange and red for the Fall. Easy peasey. <SIGH>

The kitties enjoy it regardless…

Seven

My little man is 7 years old now – which is crazy, because he is my baby. As I blog, he is snuggled up with me in our big chair in the family room reading The Smithsonian Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles and Amphibians – a birthday gift from Uncle Hal & Aunt Glenna. This was Michael’s year for a “big” party with friends, but he opted for a sleepover with his best buddies instead of a bouncy house extravaganza with the whole class, etc. It was so very Michael and he had so much fun! We all did! After contemplating an “Indiana Jones” theme, Michael opted for “Jurassic Park” and Leah the party coordinator began making plans…

Michael insisted on baking the cake himself with just a little help from Mama.

Leah and Andrew decorated the cake with a big green dinosaur coming out of a pond and “happy bday” in red and yellow icing.

Michael loved his cake!

Michael designed our dinosaur themed centerpiece.

I drew a dinosaur for Michael which he corrected. (Apparently, I gave the T-Rex too many fingers!)

Leah and Andrew used bread ties to hang balloons from the chandelier.

Michael invited his grandparents, aunts and uncles as well – and we fed them an elegant dinner of Domino’s pizza with Coke and A&W because that’s what the birthday boy requested!

Michael loved all of his presents! They were all right up his alley.

Charlie had worked very hard on a card for Michael and some custom made “animal cards” that he’d drawn. He was so proud of his card and Michael really did appreciate it.

After dinner, the kids watched “Jurassic Park”. It scared the willies out of all of them so halfway through they switched to “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”. We had movie candy and popcorn to ensure they were entirely saturated with junk – apparently!

It was Charlie’s first sleepover and he did great!

On Saturday night, I took the kids to see “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. It was hilarious! That’s one of my favorite books to read with the kids, but Disney really ran with it. So good!

It was a great birthday. :)

Fall is in full swing…

I spend about 10 minutes on “seasonal decorating” every Fall and Spring. I know some people really get into it, but I am pretty happy with brown all year. I add some white in the Spring and some orange in the Fall and I am good. The exception to the rule is Christmas, of course.

Our house is a mess right now – not at all recovered from a weekend of entertaining. (Photos coming soon!) In these moments, I love to straighten up the family room, light a scented candle, and pretend the rest doesn’t exist! Ha! :)

Here’s a peek at Fall in our house…

I pulled out my favorite super cozy faux-fur throw to snuggle under while watching TV…

I decided to leave out the throw pillows we have been using since teal and brown are Fall colors – and I just like them.

I stuck this vase here to get it out of the way and decided to let it stay even though it’s technically my Spring time arrangement.

You know I like to ‘shop within my home’. I pulled this out of the big cabinet in my office (in the background of this photo). I’ve had all this for years but never combined it quite this way – so now my old stuff feels new again!

In the Spring and Summer, I keep a glass jar of sand and shells on this entry table – but in the Fall, I pull out this glass pumpkin filled with potpourri.

Fall can be defined by three things: colorful leaves, pumpkins, and football. What’s not to love?!?

This is supposed to be a picture of the flowers and basket that are here in the entry all year long – but my eye was drawn to the wireless router and power strip stuffed under the cabinet in the office. Nice, huh? Good thing no one pays me to blog!

This little man is 7 years old now…

Oh my goodness!

Grown-ups night(s) out…

Bryan and I have had not one, not two, but THREE nights out without the kids in the past week!!! This never, ever happens. It’s a Fall Break miracle, friends. I have long had a goal to go out at least once a month on our own – and frankly, we don’t always make our goal. This past week, both kids spent the night away twice so Bryan and I went out for Thai food both nights – but to two different places. Living life on the edge, as usual. Ha!

Last Friday night, we joined Andrew’s parents for a fundraiser party for a historical museum that was just incredibly beautifully done. The party was outdoors on a gorgeous, cool Fall evening, set among homesteads and barns preserved from the 1800s. I took so many pictures… Here are a few:

This was built in 2013! I just included it so you could see the sunset over the city.

The party had a Western theme! Dawn’s outfit was so amazing and David’s head dress was hilarious.

This is my idea of Western wear. Ha! I wore crazy black and white patterned ankle pants just like all the cowgirls who shop at Old Navy. ;)

There were tables and hay bales to sit on during dinner – a buffet of unique salsas, barbecue chicken and cornbread topped with fig preserves. I love the string lights that ran from tree to tree and house to barn.

There were also a couple of fire pits set up and a “smore station” with flavored hand-made marshmallows (!) and elegant toppings like white chocolate and Nutella. Haha! It was adorable.

A band was playing Bluegrass music, which is really not my thing, but they were great and managed to create a very relaxed feel. You could dance if you wanted to – and there was an instructor on hand leading line dances – or you could carry on a conversation without screaming over the noise. The vibe was great!

Whoever planned this party knocked it out of the park!

We stood by a pen talking for a while and the little cow kept sticking her nose through the fence to smell Bryan. I tease Bryan about his connection to animals because this kind of thing always seems to happen to him! 

Shameless selfie! I like this one – a lot. When Bryan is really cracked up he rocks back like this. :)

Welcome Max and Jumper!

After an exhaustive search for the ideal critters to join our family,  I am pleased to introduce you to Michael’s newest pets: Max and Jumper. We keep inadvertently naming our pets after my dad’s best friend. Yes, Paw-Paw actually has a friend named Dizzy Jumper. (Kidding!)

Max is a Bahaman Anole which is a lizard native to Cuba and the Bahamas. If he was Southern Baptist and had a doctorate in engineering, he would have three things in common with my dad’s friend, Max.

Jumper is a green tree frog, the “official amphibian” of both Louisiana and Georgia.

Michael set up an awesome tropical terrarium for them with places to hide and things to climb on. He picked out three small tropical plants from Lowes. The hiding spot is from PetCo and the stick came from our creek. The water bowl and half-log are leftover from Myrtle-the-hermit-crab.

Max and Jumper both eat crickets so we also have a cage full of tiny crickets in the garage. We even had to buy cricket food, if you can imagine.

On Saturday night, we were watching the Auburn-LSU game with my family and everyone was tense – maybe because so many top 10 teams lost on Saturday. I don’t know. Michael was trying so hard to talk with everyone about his terrarium and they were saying, “Uh huh,” and staring at the TV! It was hardly a gripping game. I finally said, “We’re up 31 to 7, could you people please go look at Michael’s terrarium?!?”  (I missed the gene that makes you lose your mind while watching a football game, so I enjoyed teasing them!!!)

Yes, Michael is wearing a Florida Gators jersey. #liberalparents #notraisedright

Since Michael enjoyed seeing so many videos on the care and keeping of various reptiles and amphibians, he decided to create his own instructional video which you can watch here.

Seasons of life!

I went to a Christian women’s conference last weekend in Birmingham that was a great experience: (1) it was 24 hours of bonding time with friends I cherish, (2) it was really uplifting, and (3) I came away with so much to think about: What has the Lord entrusted to you? Who is God calling you to be in this season? Those are question raised by two of the speakers that really resonated with me.

 

Here’s Leah serving…

In this current “season” of life, we are running from school and work to volleyball and soccer. Wash, rinse, repeat. Every day was full before I went back to work – but we are finding our groove. The trick is ensuring we block off time for nothingness so we can decompress as a family.

Here’s Michael going after #8…

A little boy at Michael’s soccer game saw his team score and dropped to his knees with his arms raised high and yelled, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” like this was the World Cup and not a U8 boys soccer game in the outfield of a baseball field at the neighborhood park. Last night, I was thinking about the dirty laundry, the sink full of dishes and that I had been 15 minutes late picking up Leah from German club yesterday… (yikes!) It occurred to me that everyone made it to their ballgames, got fed, bathed and tucked in, and there was milk for breakfast this morning. I should have dropped to my knees with my arms held high and shouted, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” that the day went mostly well!!!!! See, it’s all in how you look at life. #score #smallvictories #neverperfect

Help for the working mother…

I started a new job on Monday!!! I’m really happy because several friends who have been job hunting are starting new jobs as well – so it’s happiness all around! It’s great to be back at work – mostly. I actually missed the mental challenge and the interaction with colleagues – but of course, it makes life a little crazier because of the time constraints. I am free and the house is quiet from 7:30-3:00 which gives me 37.5 hours each week to work in peace. Once the kids are home, all bets are off, but I can get the rest of my work done in the afternoon/evening in between the kids activities, errands, dinner, baths-and-bedtime, etc.

We’ll find our groove in a few weeks – in the meantime, Paw-Paw has been incredibly helpful! He’s been coming over at 7:00 every morning to help me and then he takes Michael to school. He’s also tag-teaming with me on getting Michael to soccer or Leah to volleyball which is great since I don’t yet know how to be in two places at once!!! How did my parents raise three children who were all involved in completely different activities?!? They must have leaped for joy when both boys joined the same scout troop.

In theory, my parents moved here so we could be of help to them. So far, that is totally what we are doing – except the opposite. Ha! Dad asks me occasionally, “What did you do before we moved here?” Mom and Dad say they love that they are needed. Well, they are needed! That’s for sure. It’s so nice to have the help – and even more nice to spend more time together.