Seen and Heard: 7, in all its glory

I often say that Michael is 7 in all its glory. Here are a few reasons why…


Michael in the maternity section at Target.


Michael: “I still remember when I lived in your tummy. When I was an egg, I was right here. <points to my belly button> Then, when I hatched, I tumbled right down over here and that’s where I stayed. I was so cozy! The goo was so warm. And I was never hungry! I remember when Leah was born, she kicked me right before she got pulled out.”

Michael: “You’re still coming to college with me, right Mama?”


Michael: “Mommy, you don’t remember the parental control password, do you?”

Me: “Why? What are you doing?”

Michael: “I am trying to get on LegalZoom.”

Me: “What? Why would you need to go to LegalZoom?”

Michael: “I’m setting up my alligator catching business.”

Me: “Ahh. Well, when you’re 7, you don’t have to do all that paperwork to set up a business.”

Michael “Great! I’ll just send out postcards to advertise! <pause> Once my business is up and going, I am going to need a jet ski for better access to the alligators.”

Writing a screenplay with Charlie.


Paw-Paw showing Michael my high school senior picture: “Isn’t your mommy beautiful?”

Michael: “Mmmmm…. not really. So so. I don’t like her hair like that. It’s too big!”


Michael: “Mama, I love you. I’ve told you that a million times, but that’s OK because I love you a million.”

Me: “I love you right back.”

Michael: “You love me a billion.”

Unattended donuts will be sampled.


Michael: “I always tell people to call me if they see a snake, but no one ever calls me.”

Me: “What would you do if they called you?”

Michael: “Go catch the snake!!! My business is a dangerous reptile removal service!!! Now, if they call me about an adult anaconda, I’m going to need a helicopter. You really shouldn’t even mess with a baby anaconda – they are crazy fast! Crazy fast on land and crazy fast in water! And their bite is no joke!”

Grossing out his sister.

First time at the ballet. Please note false enthusiasm.


Michael – from the back seat as we are driving into town: “Look!!! I’m necked in the car!!! I’m necked in the car!!! I’m necked in the car!!! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!!!”

Leah: “MICHAEL!!! GET YOUR CLOTHES ON!!! <exasperated> Mommy, he really is naked.”


A photo of my flat, Andrew’s flip flops and Leah’s boots that Michael apparently took during church.


Michael – watching a documentary about early civilization and the Hebrew language: “Mama! They’re talking about the Baptists – God’s chosen people!”


Me: “Michael!!! Stop that and get in the house!”

Michael: “But I love to pee in snow! It melts!”

Michael with his new buddy, Wyatt, and their “mean” teacher.
(You’re buying that, right?)


Michael – headed upstairs: “I am going to set up my office.”


Michael was telling Nana that she is always sweet and Nana replied, “Oh, I bet your Mommy is like that, too.”

Michael – incredulous: “Ya think?!?!?! You should come to our house at bed time. Mommy is not sweet!

Still my sweet baby.


Snowpocalypse 2015: Alabama is closed

The Deep South has had a “snowpocalypse” the last couple of years which has spawned the hashtag #alabamaisclosed. Ha!!! Remember Atlanta and Birmingham last year when all the children were stuck at school overnight and all the cars were piled up on the freeways and interstates? Everything shuts down when we get a big snow down here because there’s no equipment to clear the roads – and because we panic. Despite the sense of exaggerated urgency and the rush on milk and bread, we do love our snow days!

The snow started coming down on Wednesday afternoon…

We got 8-11″ (20-28 cm) depending on who you ask…

The winter Freddie was a puppy (2010-2011) we had several big snows and he hated it! He does a little better every year, but all in all, Freddie likes to be warm and cozy in the house!

By Thursday afternoon, the sun was coming out and trying to melt it, although we still have quite a lot of snow today.

My parents’ house.

Michael had to run out into the snow Wednesday night in his pajamas. Southerners have no real fear of cold – unlike my European friends who would NEVER play in the snow without a coat and boots!

This is our back porch before the snow stopped falling! Even the hammock was covered!

Leah and Michael went night-sledding with our friend Andrew…

Then Leah and Andrew got up the next morning to go sledding again!

Our creek looked beautiful!

This is the new pergola! Nice shade for a warm sunny day! Ha!

Another view of our creek.

Too bad we don’t have this kind of camouflage/privacy all year long!


View across the golf course.

Golf cart path through a tunnel of Crepe Myrtles.

Michael and I spent a couple hours working on a “snow tower” yesterday afternoon.

We still have snow on the ground today but the roads are clear so the kids are back at school. <womp womp> It was so nice to have a couple days off to just play!!!

Rallying the troops

The biggest challenge in ensuring the success of Operation Organization 2015 is getting the troops aligned with my plan of attack on the mess that is our daily lives! Mommy cannot conquer this hill alone so we’re implementing positive reinforcements…

chore chart screenshot

Funny enough, the kids are excited about the new chore chart! They can earn a small allowance depending on the number of jobs they do each week. Hopefully they’ll get into it and want to earn more to save up for something. They’re really pretty good little helpers as it is.

PICK UP YOUR STUFF is the hill to climb, my friends, and it is nothing short of Kilimanjaro. Wish us luck!!!

Colors in our house…

sherwin williams colors in our houseI really didn’t want to clean the house on Saturday, so I sat looking at photos wistfully and reminiscing about the days before I started pulling the house apart to “organize” and before this storm blew through. Having the kids at home most of the week (2 sick days plus late starts and early closures for winter weather) meant the house was/is torn up!!! So, let’s discuss paint colors!

If you’ve ever visited our house, you’ll notice quickly how much I love brown!

The warmth of baskets and stained wood are so calming when combined with other neutrals. Most of our house is painted off this one color strip from Sherwin Williams. Sticking to a consistent color scheme makes for easy transitions in an open floor plan. Also – and this is important – I don’t like bright colors. Ha! You knew that, huh? Bryan feels the same way, which works well.

colorsinourhouse 1

We have Kilim Beige in the entry, hallways and upstairs – and at half strength in the family room. (Um, it’s half strength in the family room because a cheap painter dumped in some white paint for who knows what reason. Ha!) I am liking European white walls these days, so next time we paint, I may go half strength on Divine White as the primary color throughout the house. (Ooooh shakin’ it up!)

family room

even our pets match the decor

(just kidding)

my favorite spot to curl up and blog

The den and kitchen are both Steady Brown. It’s darker on the walls than on the color strip – but it makes  both of these rooms very warm and calming! Originally, they were both Kilim Beige and the color fell flat in each room. When we were renovating our starter home in Florida, a decorator friend said to me of our 1970s aqua blue tile bathroom, “Don’t fight it – go with it.” I took that advice then and again with our kitchen. The darker brown did help subdue the orangey cabinets.



The dining room and office are both Coconut Husk which is a nice chocolate color. Both rooms get good natural light so neither one feels cave-like. I think that’s the trick in using a dark color – ensuring you get good light in the room.


dining room

In this shot from last Fall, you can see how the Coconut Husk in the dining room (and in the background view of the office) looks against white trim and the Kilim Beige in the entry.

The master bedroom and bathroom are Hopsack. As with every dark color, it looks darker on the walls than on the strip. I was afraid it would just look “tan” very generically but it’s truly brown.

master bedroom

master bath

That’s our tour! Hope you liked it!

Forty five

We celebrated Bryan’s birthday in style – twice! First, Bryan’s parents who treated us all to a hibachi dinner…


Then we went home for a birthday cake that Leah made from scratch! I was a little concerned because she didn’t really have a recipe – she had jotted down notes while watching an episode of Farmhouse Rules on Food Network – but her cake was delicious!

Not to be outdone, Michael wanted to cook Bryan a special birthday dinner. Michael is a great cook for a 7 year old. He can make scrambled eggs all by himself, but a full meal would be a challenge. I encouraged him to make spaghetti and let his big sister help. Success!

Michael boiled the pasta. (Mommy poured out the boiling water.) Leah made turkey mini-meatballs and added a jar of Ragu sauce.

Michael also made the dessert. We went round in circles over his top secret chocolate pie recipe because he wouldn’t tell me what was in it and I’ll just say there have been some creative combinations in the past. Turns out, if you load a pie crust with chocolate chips and chunks of cookie dough and bake it, you get a top secret chocolate pie that’s pretty decadent!


The kids gave Bryan sweet cards and one of his favorite board games so they can play together.


The game is in almost daily use! It came in handy on this snowy day…

Seen and Heard: Nana and Paw-Paw

The generational gap between my kids and my parents is sometimes pretty hilarious. Here are a few things I’ve overheard recently:

Newlyweds – 1963

Paw-Paw: “There’s a great movie on AMC tonight with [name of actor I’ve never heard of]…”

Me: “Who?”

Paw-Paw: “Oh she’s a big star! Well, she was a big star before they started making the talkies.”

Me: “The talkies?!? Dad!!!”

Senior Year, 1951

Paw-Paw: “Kids! I got a great DVD for us to watch. It’s old cartoons from back when cartoons were more than just banging into each other — back when cartoons were clever!!”

Leah and Michael: <looking at Paw-Paw skeptically>

Paw-Paw: “It’ll be great! You know Foghorn Leghorn? Yosemite Sam?”

Leah – puzzled: “I know Yosemite National Park.”

Nana – to me – while extending her foot to show me her sandals: “Are these too floozie to wear to church?”

School, 1946-1953

Paw-Paw to Leah and Michael: “Sometimes you have to wonder if folks bought their drivers license at the Sears and Roebuck!!”

Michael: “Paw-Paw and Dizzy are just alike. They are both very active when they’re not napping.”


Paw-Paw: “Hey, Michael! Don’t forget your satchel!”


Dad was telling me today that SMH stands for ‘shaking my head’ in Internet speak. He’s totally on top of Internet slang thanks to the Inside the Auburn Tigers message board.


My little Michael is a piece of work. He’s smart and day dreamy – gracious – and sweet and very, very funny without meaning to be. His new teacher is slowly getting him figured out. The first day of school in January, she saw him scrunched down by the fence during recess and was concerned until she saw him hop up, flap his arms and fly away mimicking the sounds of a peregrine falcon. Ha! That’s Michael. He’s recruited a few other kids in class to play this game with him during recess where they pretend to be various animals – and he has a new friend named Wyatt who shares his love of reptiles and has a pet lizard!

The other day, Michael went to the store with me and shared all kinds of fascinating insights:

Michael – “Mommy, you remind me of a bearded dragon.”

Me – “Great. How do I remind you of a bearded dragon?”

Michael – “Because you’re both so cute!”

bearded dragon


The other day in the car, Michael and I were discussing whether Paw-Paw is smart. (Dad had made a comment earlier in the week about making good grades in school and Michael seemed surprised. Clearly, having a Ph.D. does not impress a 7 year old!!) Understand also that Michael watched a documentary with me last week on the mapping of the Neanderthal genome. Anyway, Michael was calling Paw-Paw’s intelligence into question…

Me: “Michael, listen. You’re smart because Daddy and I are smart and your grandparents are all smart.”

Michael: “I’m not buying it.”

Me: “That’s how that works!”

Michael: “I just come by it naturally.”

Me: “Yes, exactly – naturally – genetically.”

Michael: “Then I got it from my Neanderthal genes because we’ve recently learned they were much smarter than we’d thought!”

Sooooo… super impressed with cave art and use of tools but not so much with academic credentials. Gotcha!


Say cheese!

Let us now harken back to 8 months ago when we said hello to braces…

leahs braces b and a

 That was June!

This was Tuesday!

The orthodontist gave her a cup full of all the sticky candy and jaw breakers she hasn’t been allowed to have!

Instagram Love: @mackinink

I was an early adopter of social media – and early to ditch most of it, too. The only spaces where I play now are blogs, Pinterest and Instagram – mostly for creative inspiration, not so much to interact with friends. The social aspect of social media falls short for me – I like looking at my friends face to face. I mean, if your friends can’t ring your doorbell or call your cell, how do you know you’re friends? Old school, I know. #notcool #neverwas

My favorite bloggers are: Kate at Centsational Girl, Jennifer at Dimples & Tangles, Dana at HOUSE*TWEAKING, Jenny at Little Green Notebook, Carmel at Our Fifth House, and Joslyn at Simple Lovely. All of them are style savvy interior designers – either professionally or avocationally. I love their creativity and their thoughts on life, parenting, home, etc.

One of my favorite former bloggers, Karey Mackin, whose husband’s job has taken their family of five all over the globe, is posting mini-bloggie thoughts on Instagram. I loved her old blog posts about living in Jordan and Indonesia, so it’s great to hear her use of words and daily glass-half-full thoughts on life…


A favorite: “Yesterday was a jerk so I reported it as inappropriate. Let’s friend a new one today.”

What are you doing online these days? Thoughts on social media? Where do you play? I’m curious.

Speaking of public school…

One thing I really like about our public school is that the kids can take a lot of “enrichment” classes. Their core curriculum includes art, music, PE and a technology class where they’re learning fundamentals of programming. After school, they can have classes in Mandarin, Spanish, German, violin, viola, cello, piano, guitar, acting… And they can join clubs for science, math, robotics and chess competition. I can’t even remember what all is offered — it’s a lot!

This is Leah’s 4th year of German and Michael’s 2nd. Leah is also taking drama and… as of today… guitar lessons!!!