Critter Mania

In August, Michael asked us if he could get a pet for his birthday which is coming up in October. He wants something that can live happily in his 10-gallon tank, so I told him to do some research and let me know what he thinks is best. (Michael loves to research!) Also, I said no snakes.

Well, eighty-bejillion hours of online research later, Michael still isn’t quite sure which little critter he wants, but he can talk to you at length about anoles, tortoises, turtles, skinks, iguanas, chameleons and all kinds of lizards. He knows how large various species of tortoise will be at maturity and can expound for ages on the pros and cons of leopard geckos vs. crested geckos. He is a little critter encyclopedia – and he wants to talk about nothing else. As of today, he has narrowed his search to small desert reptiles that are both docile and diurnal. (How sad is it that my 6 year old taught me the word ‘diurnal’?)

We have been to the pet store about once a week to look at everything they have…

Some of these little jokers are $15 and some are $100. I’ll be steering my little herpetologist towards a cheaper option in case the cats eat it! Yikes! Actually, they are all pretty cute. No one is as excited as Michael – suffice to say – but I can’t wait to bring home our little pet.

Now, which one will it be?!?

Open for business

Leah and Michael are always coming up with business ideas which I love because it gives me the chance to talk strategy with them. For example, Leah has been wanting to start a dog washing business. Awesome! I am sure several neighbors would gladly pay a kid $10 to wash their dog. I know I would!!! One small problem: Leah can’t hold Freddie still long enough to bathe him. She negotiated with Michael and Andrew to join her as partners but they still need me to hold the dog still. Mama says you can’t advertise to wash the neighbors’ dogs until you can successfully demonstrate your technique on Freddie – and this has slowed growth of their enterprise.

Michael has said for a year now that he wants to open a tea shop on our patio. Bryan and I have been talking him through supply and labor costs, revenues and profit. He decided I should pay for everything (right) but he wants to divide the revenues among all the employees. This is essentially the business model the kids followed the other day when they opened a snack shop in the driveway…

They charged me $1 for a small lemonade and threw in the “penot budr cracrs” for free.

Despite excellent signage, I was the only customer. A few dog walkers came by and waved but no one stopped for a snack.

Revenues = $1

Michael gave Leah fifty cents.

Fall is here!

Southern Living magazine says Fall is The South’s best season. I think I agree. Winter is ugly because we don’t get [enough] snow. Spring is pretty great. Summer is hot. Fall has football and colorful leaves. Fall for the win!!! <insert touchdown dance here>

“Go outside and play!” – Mom

“Meow.” – Claire

I love that our pets follow us wherever we go.

“Mommy!!! Help me get my foot up here!!!” – Michael

Freddie is always happy to go outside and play! Just as long as he’s with us, you know?

“Hey, pose for a picture…” – Mom


(Notice Dizzy is standing just on the outside of the fence watching us.)

My favorite tween.

Every morning, Michael and I tell Leah to “have a great day” as we leave to drive to his school. As we were driving away yesterday morning, he let out a big sigh and said, “I love her.”


Those are the moments, people.

It’s gonna be a good life…

I am constantly reminding myself to live in today. It never came naturally when I was young – I was always looking ahead with great anticipation to whatever came next: being a teenager, driving, college, grad school, career moves, marriage, babies, etc. I’m still wired to think waaaaaay ahead, but the older I get, it’s a mix of anticipation, excitement and concern. Preparation is a great catharsis, but I need to remind myself daily that, irrespective of my planning, God has us covered.

Living in the moment!

A week or so ago, we all went for a bike ride and I was listening to Michael singing The Black Eyed Peas, “I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night…” Since I ceased to be cool sometime in the 90s, I don’t know the lyrics and thought Michael was singing, “It’s gonna be a good life…” and I was reminding myself, yes, it’s gonna be a good life… despite the uncertainty of all the hard stuff. 

I needed to be in the moment. I needed to soak in how sweet it is to ride bikes down the sidewalk listening to Michael’s little voice – without getting too far ahead – without trying to figure out so much.

Gratitude is always in the moment.

Several years ago, a friend told me I am never allowed to complain about my hard day because we live in a pretty house. My initial reaction was, Shopping at Pottery Barn is our trade-off?!? I’ll swap it all for a trailer and a cure for MS!!! But then I understood what she was saying: at least you got the pretty house. Some folks are still trying to figure out what they got that’s good to go along with what they got that’s not. Don’t start thinking your life is hard. My friend helped care for a family member who died from ALS. She knows that life is both daunting and beautiful.

Kids have this figured out. They’re great at being right in the moment.

St Cecilia

When we bought our house, there was really only one thing I disliked about the house: the granite in the kitchen. I just think the pattern in the granite is busy and would have preferred something less colorful. The problem – then and now – is that granite is expensive to replace and it would feel wasteful to remove it anyway. I feel guilty about not liking it – like someone handed me chocolate cheesecake and I said I would prefer key lime pie.

Chocolate Cheesecake.

The kitchen is almost 10 years old now. It’s holding up very well considering the pets and children running amok around here – but we have some water damage from splashes around the sink and fridge and there are scuffs on the cabinets.

A view with the lights off… Very little natural light!!!

Have you ever taken photos of your house? A photo hides a multitude of sins. I lived in a 100 year old townhouse in England that looked adorable in pictures. It was tired and worn out in real life. Charming, yes – but worn out. Anyway, these iPhone shots of my kitchen don’t show you the wear – or the crumbs – or the sink full of dishes! Ha! Just looking at pictures, I’d think we should leave it alone. But the day is coming that we will need to refresh the cabinets with paint or stain…

A view of the kitchen with the lights on.

This photo makes the counters look almost green. They’re brown and gold – not green at all. The first photo I posted up top is the most accurate. Anyway, I am trying to figure out what will look best for 1-5 years from now when we do this project… because I like to plan ahead.

Check out my board on Pinterest with several kitchens that mixed St Cecilia granite with painted cabinets and tell me what you think!

Owls and gold in the office…

My office is completely “me”. I realize the whole house reflects my great love of brown with baskets, etc. But in my office, there are no compromises – it’s my corner of the house – and I love it in here. (Freddie does, too! But I can share.)

I have slowly been adding pops of gold and bronze in the past year or two – mostly via spray paint. (Of course!) First, there was the owl pencil holder, then an old lamp and picture frame and the footstool…

The other day, I was helping Mom pick out knobs for a table in her breakfast room and I spotted these pewter owl knobs. Owls! They were $3 on sale but they had a pretty cheesy ‘antiqued’ blue finish. Nothing a little spray paint can’t fix!

This had to go… boring hardware.

After surveying my inventory, I decided to use the FolkArt metallic paint that we found in the garage when we bought the house 7 years ago! Haha! I guess I hated to throw away a good can of spray paint? It worked very well, although it came out really thick and briefly clogged up.

My desk had 4 little round knobs. Owls are awesome, but 4 in a row would look silly, so I decided to put the two owls on the middle drawer and keep round knobs on the side drawers. (I painted all 4 gold so the old knobs would match the new ones.)

See, I don’t need fake ‘antiquing’… my desk is has authentic wear and tear! Ignore the scratches and dents, please.

I like how the color of the brassy gold matches from the two owls to the globe. Coincidentally, the style of owl is the same for the knob and my pencil cup. I don’t know it’s originally intended purpose but I think it was a flowerpot. I found it in the seasonal department of Hobby Lobby years ago. It was orange!

This is how it all turned out. I love it! The owls make the desk a bit more fun. This desk is only a few years old, but it gets a lot of use by the kids and me. It’s very strong – I stood on it today to reshuffle the paintings.

Here’s a quick view of the rest of the office:

I am already tired of the crazy fabric I put on the stool and lamp last year but that will be an easy fix!

Leah wants this mini sleeper sofa in her room for guests when she has a friend to sleep over. She may have to fight Freddie for it! Ha! I am rarely envious of people, but I am often envious of Freddie!!! Especially when I am working and he is snoring right by me!!!

Here’s my view from the sofa. This room gets a ton of light so it’s never dark in here – even with chocolate brown walls.

My favorite plant next to my favorite antique.

Speaking of office space, Bryan’s Man Cave is coming along! I got him a new TV this summer and a really cool bookcase that my brother Steve graciously assembled. Once we get in the hardwood floors and the new door, I will share pictures.


On a related note, it’s not just younger brothers who think underwear counts as an outfit… My brother Steve never has liked clothes very much so it may be genetic. I posted this to Facebook last year: Michael fishing in boxers – carrying on a family tradition.

Super Fudge

I loved Judy Blume books when I was a kid – but I couldn’t quite relate to Peter Hatcher’s complaints about his little brother in Tales of  4th Grade Nothing or its sequel series: Super Fudge, Double Fudge, Fudge-a-mania, etc. I was the youngest child – and, of course, not irritating at all – and I always desperately wanted a little brother!

Lucky Miss Leah!!! She has a little brother!!! Oh the joy!!!  

Leah loves Michael very much – with all her heart – but about half the time she wants to clobber him. Michael has already realized that singing, “Leah and Andrew sittin’ in a tree…” infuriates her. (She and Andrew are BFFs – period. I told her to just roll her eyes so her reaction is less rewarding – ?) Michael will positively torture her as a teenager. I can just picture him wanting to tag along on dates someday…

Using a fork is just soooooooo taxing.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve seen these pictures. Michael said to type in jungle man! I just wanted evidence of his manners for his senior/graduation slideshow someday! Or perhaps the rehearsal dinner for his wedding?

This is the stuff that bugs Leah now and will absolutely have her come un-done in a few more years when everything is “sooooo embarassing”…

Michael insisted on riding to the Chick-fil-A drive through wearing only underpants. I said, “What if the drive through worker says [in a sing song voice]: Underpants! Underpants!” Michael just shrugged and said he wouldn’t mind. So Leah and Andrew pulled their shirts over their faces. They said they were hiding their identities.

You can see how deeply offended Michael was by their reaction. (Ah, sweet satisfaction!) He’s going to have fun with this. Maybe I should buy Leah the Judy Blume boxed set?!?

Volleyball and Soccer

I am so happy about volleyball and soccer right now. You know why? Because Leah and Michael are really enjoying it! <insert happy dance>

Leah is the one in the pink hairband.

I really don’t know anything about volleyball so the learning curve is steep. What I do know is that I’m getting a lot of photos of Leah’s bootie!! Haha!! They haven’t gotten their uniforms yet as you can see…

Here’s Leah serving.

Leah’s team had their first couple of scrimmages last night and played really well! The pace was quick and exciting! Leah is strong and seems to be good at serving. I love that she’s totally into the game – so focused and still having fun!!!!! The other day, she asked me if there is a middle school volleyball team she can play on…

Their season starts next week. 🙂

Michael’s soccer team has already played two games! The other night, we had a full moon. Beautiful!

Michael is playing left fullback – my old position! He’s so excited here – jumping up and down as Charlie takes a shot at the ball (and/or the kid). Haha! Michael occasionally yells, “Defend the goooooaal!!!!!” in a tone reminiscent of a young Mel Gibson yelling “For Scotlaaaand!!!!!” in Braveheart.

Go Ninjas!!!

And… the cheering section clearly needs a heads up on the team colors!! Ha!!

This month in the yard: September

I opted against a zillion pictures of the yard this month since very little has changed in recent weeks… with one significant exception!

My “dead” River Birch tree is sprouting new growth! Yippee!

My Day Lillies have continued to bloom all summer but I’m learning it takes a copious amount of flowers to drench the beds in color a la Southern Living magazine. The flowerbed around the back patio looks pewny!!! Seriously, the Lemongrass looks like a feature plant – it now dwarfs the blueberries – and all my flowers are so small and spread apart that they disappear.


I have a lot of work to do in the years to come!

The Crepe Myrtle is starting to bloom!

These little annuals are still my favorites – so easy!

Freddie barks and growls at everyone who jogs by – if he doesn’t know them and/or they don’t pet him – and particularly if they have a dog. He is so obnoxious! I’ve learned recently some joggers think he is “mean”. I may need to put out a dog treat station with a little note explaining our rotten dog’s behavior: he will shut up if you pet him!

Claire likes stalking the butterflies that hover around the Lantana and Night Salvia.

The Hydrangeas still haven’t bloomed!!!