Summer Home Tour

I usually enjoy all four seasons here in The Cove, but this winter was sooooo cold and dreary that I got tired of it before it got tired of us. By the first week of March, I couldn’t take it any more! I was ready for green grass and leaves and sunshine and flowers! I put away our Fall/Winter decor and began freshening everything up for warmer weather and sunnier days…

Now, you know I love my brown with brown. It’s a four-season color for me. Haha! So, when I ‘redecorate’ from season to season, all I am really doing is swapping out my flower arrangements, linens and throw pillows (or just the covers). I don’t make major changes… I may buy a few things but mostly I ‘shop within our house’ by swapping out old favorites.


I lightened up the feel of the family room by storing the faux-fur throw, dark green candles and velvet throw pillows and replacing them with these white bird pillows and a new pouf.



One good thing about just liking what I like is that I hang on to things. In the Fall, the green glass vase and cinnamon colored silk flowers and berry sprigs will re-appear. This Summer, I am using my white vase and cream colored flowers with lavender. In the Fall, I will put away our jar of sand and shells from the beach and pull out some pumpkins.


 Ignore how desperately I need to re-pot that plant! It’s on my to-do list. I have been adding a few pops of white in this space but nothing major…


In the bedroom, I swap out our linens with the seasons… Nothing major but it really lightens up the room to store the cozy throws and down blankets in the Spring.

Michael is hiding because he wanted me to stop taking pictures so he could have my iPhone back to play games

I hope you enjoyed the tour!!!

Summer Camp II

Leah loves loves loves summer camp! You may have seen my post a couple weeks ago about her days upon days of packing and planning. Well, camp ended up being a great success. There were 6 girls in her cabin and 4 counselors. I loved that ratio! Leah’s favorite activities were “The Blob” (jumping off a tower onto a giant floating mattress in the lake), the zip line, archery and quiet time (of all things). We were very proud of her for winning a leadership award at the closing ceremony.

The camp is tucked up into the trees right on the lake. The facilities are pretty rustic, but it’s a gorgeous setting. Camp is supposed to be rustic though, right?

Did you see the pontoon boat in the background of the last photo? Leah told the funniest story about the boat breaking down while the kids were out on a cruise. It’s the only boat so the counselors told them to take off their shoes, tie the laces together and hang them around their necks because they were all about to swim to shore. Haha! Leah said they swam fifty yards and then had to hike back two miles through the woods. I love it!

This was Leah’s cabin. The camp director told them to choose plumbing or air conditioning. They chose plumbing! I am pretty sure that was the only actual option. They played a lot of pranks on the boys cabin but the boys got them back.

This is “The Blob”!!!


After Space Camp today, I took Linda and the big kids downtown for a tour of the Courthouse Square, Big Spring Park and the Twickenham historic district. It all began like this…

Linda – to me: “I really want to go to… uh… the hardware store…”

Me: “You want to go to Lowes?!?”

Gracious. She wanted to go to Harrison Brothers downtown – a hardware store that’s been on the square since 1897. I am clearly an ace tour guide.

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I managed to recall a few fun facts about Huntsville, like how it was the original capital of Alabama and the state constitution was signed here (even pointed in the general direction of the building). I also started to say how staggeringly wealthy Huntsville was before the Civil War, something I am learning about through a fascinating collection of letters between a girl at school in Paris and her family back in Huntsville in the 1840s: An Alabama School Girl in Paris.

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As we were strolling the courthouse square, the United Methodist Church bell tower began chiming the entire hymn “Oh How I Love Jesus” and I thought, Yup, we’re in Alabama!  I mean, forget chiming five times for five o’clock. We are nothing if not a city of over-achievers. Ha! Huntsville is a funny city – it’s such a melting pot of people from all over the country and all over the world – but I swear they all pick up the best of the South when they move here. They find God and monograms and college football and barbecued pulled pork and they embrace it. Am I wrong?!

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We walked through Big Spring Park, grabbed Pellegrinos by the art museum, and then stopped by the children’s museum long enough for the kids to get completely drenched in the fountain. All the while, we got cryptic information about Space Camp.

Mom: “So, what happened at Space Camp today?”

Kid: “We got free popcorn and Sprite!!”

Mom: “What did you learn about Space?

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Invariably, the kids answer our questions about Space Camp by telling us what they ate. The menu today included “monkey brains” and Leah was not sure if they were kidding so she got the pizza option.

After a little prodding, we found out they learned about the Hubble telescope today and saw  film about it in an IMAX dome theater. Also, they get ice cream at lunch every day! Haha!

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After strolling downtown, we drove through the Twickenham historic district to covet look at gorgeous antebellum homes. We made ourselves feel better thinking about the expense of heating and cooling an old house – and the maintenance. <wink>

Space Camp

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My friend Linda and I met in Dallas way back when I was young and single… another lifetime ago! We became fast friends and enjoyed working together at EDS and HP. We’ve found so much common ground in life from our careers to attitudes to faith and now even our parenting styles. She also loves to travel as much as I do! We have been everywhere together from Las Vegas to Savannah and London to Rome. In fact, we went to The Vatican together when Pope John Paul II had just died because we happened to be in town for a staff meeting. We’ve had some adventures over the years. This week is special because she brought her son Vaughn down to visit with us and go to Space Camp.

NASA’s presence in Huntsville goes back more than 50 years. Wehner von Braun and his team of German rocket scientists chose Huntsville as their home base when they came to the US following WW2. Apparently the mountains and trees reminded them more of home than White Sands, New Mexico. Imagine that!?! So they ditched the desert for the Tennessee Valley and thus Huntsville has more engineers per capita than Silicon Valley as well as a fine selection of German restaurants. (Vielen Dank, Herr Doktor von Braun!)

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Leah and Vaughn are learning all about modern aerospace engineering this week as they test out various simulators and experience g-force <cue the nausea> and some gyro-machine that pitches astronauts (and campers) around to simulate falling from extreme altitudes. Leah called that one “the vomitator”. Good times!

I’m already pitching Space Camp 2015 and 2016 to Linda… the Aviation Challenge and Robotics camps are pretty cool!


It’s all about camp right now… Leah came home from a week in the deep woods at sleep-away camp and turned right around to go to Space Camp. Michael went to football camp last week and this week it’s his turn to tromp around in the deep woods and swim in the lake. He’s day camping it though – no sleep-away camps for him yet. Here are a few pictures from a football camp run by our friend Eric who coached the 2013 and 2012 3A state football champions!!!

Hot, sweaty and happy!

Ain’t life grand?

Some friends invited us over for a neighborhood party on Saturday afternoon. Dave barbecued pulled pork and the best ribs I’ve ever had and everyone brought side dishes and desserts to share. We spent hours just chatting with friends while the kids ran circles around and through the house. It wasn’t hot. The bugs left us alone, mostly. It was fun and relaxing and just really, really nice to be with friends and look around at the mountains and the lake and the sky.

I sometimes wax on about life in a way that makes it all seem like sunshine with rainbows and puppies. But truthfully, sometimes it is sunshine with rainbows and puppies and I want to be sure to notice and stop to soak it all up and say, Yes! This is good! 

If I ignore how lucky we are to live as we do — in The Cove, in the US, in Europe, in so many places — it would feel disrespectful to decent people struggling to just exist amid violence and upheaval in places like Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, most of central Africa… There is such a long list of places where people don’t put on sundresses and have barbecued ribs and a cold beer with friends as they enjoy a summer sun set. I am super cheesy sometimes with all my swooning and ain’t life grand silliness — you’ll just have to pardon the cheese.

I sometimes think back to something my brother Steve said a couple years ago when Bryan and I thought we were about to move to Texas: “You’ll remember these years as the best time of your life.”

I think Steve was right.

Anyway, we didn’t move, which I guess means we are still enjoying the best time of our life. Ha!

Leah took the two pictures above and I took the one below of everyone talking. I’ve had my iPhone two years and just realized it will take panoramic shots. Good grief.

 Feeling blessed.


Happy Father’s Day, Bryan!

We celebrated Father’s Day this weekend with Daddy and both grandfathers. First, on Friday evening, we took dinner up to Bryan’s parents’ house and Papa P got to enjoy having all three of his kids there to celebrate! Then on Sunday, we celebrated again with Paw-Paw who also got to enjoy having all his kids present.

Leah picked out a sweet, sentimental card that she just loved and I could see Bryan did, too. It certainly captured her tender little heart.

A kiss for Daddy.

I posted one of my favorite pictures of Bryan and the kids to Facebook on Sunday…

Disney World 2012.

Happy Father’s Day, Bryan!!!

Summer Camp

Leah is at sleep-away camp this week… for the entire week! She has done mini-camps (just 3 nights away) for the past two summers and has been begging to stay for a week or even two! She was so excited that she packed her suitcase a week ago and then re-organized it several times.

I loved camp so much as a kid that I bought Leah a gigantic duffle bag when she was an infant so she would have it to take to camp. (I am a planner. This is what a planner does! It cannot be helped.) Leah concluded her wheelie-bag was too small and we moved everything into the gigantic duffle bag.

Leah’s dolls have been “at camp” for the past week. Leah told me that Beatrice is emailing with her mom and Julie is taking a nap. Like the bunk beds?

Leah made swimsuits out of socks and then Angie and Beatrice went “to the lake” (my bath tub) to swim. Leah’s camp is on a huge lake – they won’t be swimming in a pool! They also won’t have air conditioning! Or electronics!

Julie is suntanning and listening to the radio.

It’s all good at Camp American Girl.

Here’s Leah trying to fill out a questionnaire for her cabin counselor. The question: What scares you most? Leah said “nothing”. (Of course!) I’d say don’t show her any scary movies and she’ll be fine.

I told Uncle Stevie that all the cabin counselors were college girls and he said, “Oh nooooo!!!” I laughed and said there’s the difference between the girls you and I hung out with in college!!! Hahaha!!!

Leah’s counselors seemed like very sweet young women. 🙂

We got there early so she could pick a top bunk. Leah seems much older than two years ago when I dropped her off at this same camp the first time – two years ago. Mommy felt better about leaving her for a week – but I still miss her so much and it’s still day one!

I know she’ll have a great week!

House Crashing: Mom and Dad

My parents are mostly moved into their new place so I wanted to share a few pictures for their friends back in Auburn…


All of Mom’s potted plants survived the move!


Mom says, “Y’all come on in!

As you come in, Mom’s “parlor” is on the left. Dad wants to call it the reading room since all the books will be in there but so far we’re all still calling it Mom’s parlor.

They have so many pictures and knickknacks that there’s not room for all the books! We still need to work on this and unpack a couple boxes but it’s coming together.

Off the foyer to the right is the dining room. It’s all done!


My mom’s mother, Gladys, painted both of these scenes of Washington, DC after visiting my parents and Hal there in 1966. They lived in a high-rise in Arlington and Hal’s first word was “cars”. The traffic in DC has not improved since then!

Here’s Mom and Dad’s new room! They have a door out to the back porch.

Welcome to the family room! Like the “L” on the fireplace? Yes, I ordered that for them because I love the one on our fireplace! I’m trying to start a trend. 🙂

There’s a half-wall between the family room and the breakfast area.


I love this kitchen! It has tall cabinets, an island, granite counters and all stainless appliances. It’s just pretty!

Here’s how you know Mom has moved in — the duck is out!

This is a view from the family room into the kitchen.

Dad’s “man cave” is a mess because I told him I’d help him unpack the last boxes and we have been distracted by important things like going to the pool and I don’t know what! I picked out frames for all his diplomas because he’s never hung them up before – ever! Isn’t that goofy!? This one is for his PhD.

This is a cool certificate he got for speaking at a conference in Cairo in 1980/81.

OK, back to the breakfast area! We have some of the rooster decor up – the paintings Steve and I did for Dad. Steve’s is really good (duh) but I like mine, too!

They have a grill, their table and the glider next to the back door.

The other side of the back porch looks into the family room and has a door to the master bedroom. You may recognize these chairs from the lake house.

Dad and Michael are trying to grow a pineapple plant.

Dad hung up a bird feeder.

Bird bath and potted flowers.

Mom picked out two varieties of hydrangeas to plant in the flowerbed.

Dad has the flag up already! Of course.

And the best part is it’s close enough for the grandbabies to come over any time!

Fun with Orthodontia

My baby girl has braces! And they are teal and yellow! Haha

I’ve always been skeptical of this modern practice of kids getting braces twice. Seemed like a bit of a gimmick to me – but we’re good friends with our dentist and after getting the scoop from him and the orthodontist he referred Leah to, we decided to do this in two phases.

Of course, Leah thinks it’s pretty awesome. I’ll just say orthodontia has come a long way in the last 30 years. My orthodontist had a poster of Tom Selleck with braces glued to his teeth! Leah’s orthodontist has a really cool office with iPads and a Keurig in the waiting room. Works for me!

You know how much Leah loves her American Girl dolls. Well, I do, too – for a lot of reasons. A neighbor’s little girl is hearing-impaired and American Girl sent hearing aids for Molly’s doll. Isn’t that awesome? They make wheelchairs for their dolls and all kinds of bandages and casts for whatever a child may be experiencing… including braces and a headgear! How rocking is this?!?

Beatrice has braces!

And she has a headgear! (Leah gets hers next month.)

Angie got braces, too.

All good!

We have more American Girl goodness coming to the blog later this week. Up next: a tour of my parents’ new house!