Quick update… and a Thanksgiving recap

I can’t figure out why WordPress ate the images on some of my blog posts and not on others, so I am going to give it one more try before I give up. Here is a super quick recap on Thanksgiving to replace the posts I lost:

We spent Thanksgiving Day with my father-in-law’s extended family: 52 people met at cousins Zach and Alyse’s new home. Their rooster was so gorgeous that he looks fake in this photo, but he was the real deal.

Not everyone made it into the group picture!

The kids loved seeing their cousins!

On Friday, we met with Bryan’s immediate family at his dad’s house and cooked together which is always so much fun!

Then on Saturday, we had round 3…

I hosted Thanksgiving for my family and we watched the Iron Bowl on TV.

We had a great time!

The merits of being alert and focused while driving…

I shared this on Facebook and wanted to share it here as well. My hope is that someone will read it and think about it and maybe be safer because of our experience.


The kids and I had a frightening experience tonight coming home from [the movie theater]. A car was speeding and lost control, bashing through a guard rail and flying up an embankment before going airborne into oncoming traffic. It was headed straight for us — like a rocket flying through the air. I slammed on the brakes and braced for impact. My little girl was screaming. By the grace of God, and an immeasurable margin, the car passed right in front of us, then hit the shoulder and flipped 3-4 times down a hillside.

In the difference of a split second, tonight would have had a different outcome. I got to tuck my babies in bed tonight — and the mama of a very lucky 23 year old girl gets to hold her daughter in the ER tonight. A seat belt saved her life. Being alert saved ours. I’m rattled and grateful.

Several months ago, I bought these “no phone zone” stickers for our cars, but hadn’t made a real commitment to actually sticking them on the car and making that pledge. I’m so grateful I was focused while driving tonight. My car is now officially a phone-free zone. Will you join me? Please think about it.

4.75in x 4.75in (121mm x 121mm) No Cell Phone Sign Vinyl Bumper Sticker Decal Window Stickers Decals Car

The stickers we got are $5.99 with free shipping from Amazon.

No Cell Phone Zone - Color Sticker - Decal - Die Cut

I found this one today. So cute — it looks like an iPhone! 🙂
It’s just $3.99 with free shipping from Amazon.

Grace for the win…

I think it’s time for us married people to huddle up and bust out our best cheers for better marriages and stronger families. Please hear me out: Marriage is hard. It may be different for you than for me, but none of us are lounging on bear skin rugs sipping wine in front of a roaring fire… Can we agree on that?

The news recently has shined a spotlight on infidelity. It makes me wish all these families who are reeling in heartbreak could suit up and rush the football field, busting through a paper banner that says F-A-M-I-L-Y so we could cheer for them and wave posters that say, We are rooting for you guys!!!

I think it matters how your friends respond when things are hard. Personally, I love it when my friends say, I love your family. It’s a different sentiment than just loving me. It tells me they are rooting for all four of us – for our little team. I keep thinking how meaningful it would be for every marriage in crisis to hear their friends and family say, We love you both. In the case of infidelity it means, We don’t think you’re pathetic for trying to forgive and stay together – and – We know sometimes good people make terrible mistakes. We need to cheer for the quarterback AND the running back because a Family wins or loses as a team.

For Bryan and me, the biggest struggle we face is an illness that wants to beat us down. Your struggles may be totally different, but to paraphrase Voltaire, you can’t pull out a scale and measure another man’s grief. It’s all hard, people. Marriage in all its forms is an enormous act of faith – and endurance. You and I don’t really want to swap out all our heartaches and problems, do we?

thewaywemet 1

Today, Bryan and I were featured on the Instagram account The Way We Met. I love our story and I love Bryan very much, but if you think we have it all figured out then you are nuts.

thewaywemet 2

The pressure-cooker of an incurable disease does not make a marriage easier. What does make it better is God’s faithfulness. He has never let us fall through his fingers and He never will. We see His love shining through our friends and family and it fills us up. I cannot over-state what that means for our lives. I want that kind of love and grace and encouragement for all these families dealing with whatever it may be.

I think we all need each other. Are you in?

Blueberry pickin’ in Tennessee

Bryan’s dad has a small orchard and wanted some extra hands to come pick blueberries this summer, so we rounded up the kids and headed to Tennessee. Leah’s friend Andrew was excited to come with us…

The weather that day was perfect – a high of 72˚ F (22˚ C). Michael wore his Christmas pajamas because they’re so comfy. Michael loves pajamas – especially these pajamas.

Jack the dog.

Blueberry picking is a little tedious. I have concluded the ones in the store are a bargain!

Andrew and Leah

Papa P


It’s serious work, folks.

I helped Papa unwrap and re-wrap netting around the bushes that helps ensure the birds don’t eat ALL the berries. Also, let’s pretend that I didn’t get tangled in the netting and was very helpful to this process.

Michael found a little frog…

It was a great day! We have been enjoying blueberry smoothies, blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry cake, blueberries in cereal and blueberry pie…

Stevie Food!

The other day, my brother Steve said he wanted to go grocery shopping and bring over food to cook dinner for all of us! (I swear he really was mean to me when we were kids, although he says it’s not true and he’s so sweet now that the kids won’t believe me!) Anyway, I was excited because he said he was going to make a recipe he hadn’t cooked for me in eons.

As Steve started cooking, I pulled out notes I’d taken at his house in Charlotte, NC back in 1999 when he first cooked this for me and our older brother Hal. I tried re-creating it a couple times over the years. The Pickapeppa sauce is the critical ingredient!

It’s unbelievable. You just have to try it.

Here’s a picture of my sweet girl Leah watching Stevie cooking – just because she’s adorable and this picture is so her and she’s growing up so stinking fast that I am going to blink and she’ll be driving back to college from a weekend home. <sigh> I love this girl. ❤

I love my sweet brother, too!

The Ancestry Wall

A few years ago, I got the idea of creating a gallery wall with old photos of Leah and Michael’s grandparents, great-grandparents and even great-great grandparents. I slowly began collecting old photos and various frames, referencing gallery walls on Pinterest for inspiration. Originally, all of this was going on a blank vertical space at the end of our staircase until I realized… it wouldn’t fit!

Scratch Plan A.

The professionals suggest that you lay it out ahead of time and create a paper template to stick to the wall – and use laser pointers for accurate alignment. I kept shuffling frames in the den floor over the course of a couple of weeks. (Silly, I know.) Michael walked in and said, “Mommy, why are you thinking about this so much? Just put them on the wall.”


So I walked over to the Plan B wall – the hallway off the kitchen and hung the picture of my grandfather with his teammates on the cotton mill village men’s baseball team. Then I picked up frames and hung them up one by one, quickly and without over-thinking it.

I love how it turned out!

There’s a story behind every picture and now the kids will have a visual to go along with stories about their great-grandfather Everett who was one of 9 boys, and their great-grandfather Harold who went to work in a cotton mill when he was 9 years old…

The wall also means my great-aunt Mattie and her husband Lonnie will be remembered even though they never had children to pass along their names or DNA.

I am in love with this wall.

Mama P

I posted this to Facebook last week and wanted to share it here:

Bryan’s mom, Tommye, passed away very peacefully early this morning as Bryan’s sisters sang to her. Today is Tommye and Earl’s 54th anniversary. I want my children to remember her this way – as the 74 year old who was 9 months post-diagnosis with incurable Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer who grabbed a boogie board while at the beach with her grandkids and headed into the Atlantic to show them how it’s done. She showed them so much more than how to boogie board that day and each day of her battle with cancer. Attitude is everything.

tommye boogie board

Mama P

1940 – 2015

Beach Pictures

Bryan calls any nice, dignified photo of our family “false advertising”! Ha! With that said, here are some of our best shots from sundown yesterday…


We haven’t been on vacation together in a decade!!! My parents used to have a lake house and we always spent July 4th together. This trip is reminiscent of the unscheduled, relaxed pace of those weeks at the lake. A week is not enough!


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!”