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.

Ralphie, our “pet” raccoon

There’s a raccoon living in a tree by our creek… just yards from our garage, and thus yards from the pet door, and therefore conveniently near a plentiful stash of Cat Chow. He’s been around for a few years now so we named him Ralphie, after the kid in A Christmas Story.

Late one night, I opened the garage door and literally called, “Here kitty, kitty,” before realizing this is not our cat Claire! Our pets are scared of Ralphie and stay far away from him. When I took this picture, our cat Dizzy was hiding up on a shelf. Ralphie tip toes past the cats but he runs from Freddie.

Freddie can always tell when Ralphie has come by because of the scent. I can always tell because I see something like this…

Funny enough, Ralphie prefers Cat Chow over Kibbles n’ Bits every time!!!

Raccoons can carry rabies, but as long as he is mellow and chilling peacefully in his little nest, he is welcome to drop by for a snack every once in a while.

Royals finish 3rd

The Royals came in third place in the city volleyball tournament. Apparently a baseball team with a similar name is good this year? Whatever. <wink>

Leah’s volleyball season wrapped up last week. They played their hearts out in the semifinals of the city tournament but lost by a hair – and a controversial call – to the team who went on to beat the undefeated team twice that night to go home in first place. It was a lot of fun – and surprisingly intense – for girls 10U rec league volleyball!

Here’s the Royals following their second win of the tournament which meant they would be coming back for a third night. At 5’7″ (and still 10 years old) Leah is the tallest girl in the league. I like what my cousin Mark had to say, “Surely there’s a D1 scholarship in here somewhere.” Ha! I wish! Leah is a good player and I’d love to see her continue to play as long as she is enjoying it like she is now!

Leah played really well in the semifinals. Serving is her strong suit. (It was “crazy sock day” at school so Leah left on her crazy socks for the game.)

Get this: There are 7 public middle schools in our city. The girls on the top three volleyball teams in the city are ALL zoned for Leah’s middle school.

Here are the kids saying, “Good game. Good game. Good game. Good game…”

Both grandfathers were in attendance! Leah has a big fake smile because she was really unhappy about losing that game.

The cheering section also included little brother Michael, BFF Andrew, his mom/my friend Dawn, and Uncle Stevie!

The very best part of volleyball was playing with AC! These two are so sweet together!

Leah’s friend Andrew helped me keep score at one game…

Front row: Reagan, Ava, Paige and Lydia
Back row: Coach E, Mikaela, AC and Leah

That’s all, folks!

Who has two thumbs and had fun today?

Coaching Michael’s football team was seriously the most fun I have had in a while! Listen, if you can spend time with your child and other sweet babies – and stir in football on top – how could it not be fun!?!

Michael is the biggest but not the oldest. He’ll be in this same age group next year! And yes, I’ve talked with him about the importance of Offensive Linemen. 🙂

The coach on the far left would do something funny at the end of each practice: He’d point at himself with his thumbs and say, “Who has two thumbs and had fun today? This guy! This guy!” It cracked me up – and it was so spot on!

Leah’s Tween Room Update

Inspiration for Leah's room...: We have been tweaking Leah’s room for about a year and it’s finally ready to reveal!!! The changes are small but dramatic and very “tween”.  Here was the inspiration photo I found on Pinterest… Isn’t it adorable?  I loved the bright pink against the aqua but my little tomboy said No, way! The final room ended up a bit different…

Leah and I both still loved her room the way we fixed it up 2-3 years ago, but the antique furniture (from her great-great-great grandparents) wasn’t up for the wear and tear of little kids. It needed to move to the guest room. I decided to buy her a good queen mattress to keep long term, rather than a twin for a platform bed or bunkbeds. That was a tough call – I know kids love bunkbeds. I didn’t want to buy little kid stuff because she’s growing up on me – fast – but I didn’t want to buy grownup stuff because people in this house still jump on the bed – and I need that to be OK because jumping on the bed is fun. So here is where we landed:

Leah now has a gallery wall with her paintings, pictures of her friends, and a cool photo I took of her boogie boarding at the beach that I enlarged to poster-size.

The headboard was a Craigslist find that I painted lime to match her quilt. The lime herringbone pillow covers are from Hobby Lobby.  The aqua sheets and study-buddy pillow, body pillow and the quilt are both from Target and the peace sign pillow is old but I think came from Justice. The little clip lamp for reading is from Ikea.

Brown Bear was Leah’s first teddy bear and is still her favorite.

OK, now you’ll see where the Pinterest inspiration came in…

Ikea’s Expedit/Kallax bookshelves are the best invention ever. Leah’s stuff is much more organized: baskets for school supplies, craft supplies, etc.

That’s the tour!!!

The Halloween Marathon

We did Halloween right – yet again this year! The marathon began with a chili supper and Trunk-or-Treat at church on Wednesday. (It’s mostly an outreach to the community but the kids from our church participate as well and it’s always a lot of fun!)

Michael was Harry Potter! Imagine that?

Here’s Leah as Katniss from “The Hunger Games”, Michael as Harry Potter, and our buddy Andrew as a bad guy from an anime series I’ve never heard of (which would be all anime series).

Here’s an action shot taken at church.

So the trick with Trunk-or-Treat is everyone decorates their trunk and brings candy so the kids can trick-or-treat around the parking lot. It’s a way of ensuring kids from not-so-safe neighborhoods get a chance to trick-or-treat. 🙂

Uncle Stevie had a lot of fun asking each kid what they were dressed as. Almost every little girl was a princess and most were either Anna or Elsa from Frozen. One toddler was dressed as Freddie Kruger. I kid you not. I didn’t know whether to laugh or run.

Bryan and Aunt Ginny estimated at least 200 kids came by!

The good times continued on Saturday when the kids went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood!

We have an annual tradition of trick-or-treating with our friend Andrew that dates back to kindergarten when he and Leah met. In recent years, the tradition includes Andrew’s dad driving the minivan while Andrew’s mom and I drink wine and the kids hop out at the houses that have the most intriguing decor to lure them to the door! Ha! Our kids make big claims every year about getting “knee deep in candy” and “going until midnight”. It never happens. The whole gig wraps up by 8:00 PM.


This Month in the Yard: October

I am way late on this month’s installment of “This Month in the Yard” so even though it’s pouring rain this morning, I ran outside and grabbed some pictures so I will have a record to compare against next year.

Prepare to not be impressed. I am planning to dig up half the yard in the Spring and move things to other locations with hopes it will all look better. Wish me luck!

Freddie says, “Happy Halloween!”

The neglected Coleus just grow and grow!

It’s amazing anything grows well in damp, dark brown clay, but the Begonias are still blooming and the Cleyera (shurbs) I planted here last Spring are happy. Hostas have always liked this shady spot, too.

Out. Of. Control.
The Lantana went CRAZY this year but I can’t bring myself to cut it back because the little flowers are so pretty. In the Spring, I plan to pare back this flowerbed significantly.

The Hostas and Lillies are withering and turning color along with the leaves on my Birch and Cherry trees.

Bryan’s blueberry bushes are beginning to change color. They should become a more vibrant red in the next few weeks…

The Cana Lilly continues to drag along. <womp womp>

This is the view off the back patio… On a sunny day, the hammock is hard to beat. My Loropetalum are very happy back here – growing like crazy. (That’s the purple shrub.)

Now, let’s run around the corner to my parents’ yard where the maple trees are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G this Fall!!!

Isn’t my mom a cutie?!?
(Photo cred to my sister-in-law, Glenna <3)

I haven’t been blogging as much lately and my only real excuse is that we have been busy with the daily churn of life.

Michael’s football season has wrapped and this week is the city tournament for Leah’s volleyball team. I hosted a party for my friend Dawn’s boutique a couple weekends ago and then ran away to Atlanta with Bryan’s sisters for a girl’s weekend of not so much, which is my all time favorite kind of weekend.

That’s all for now, folks!

Thoughts on decorating your home…

So after last week’s archaeological find reaffirmed my long-standing love of brown, I refreshed the family room by “shopping within our home”. (Moving things around.) Really Bryan started it when he decided the crazy-print chair from our bedroom is comfy and wanted it to be “his” chair in the family room. It clashed with all the orange and blue I’d brought in here for Fall – but – as you know, I only do “colors” on things like throw pillows that are really easy to swap out.

This chair is the exception in a house full of solid colors. It’s not Bryan’s style, but he’s a pragmatist who just wants to sit someplace to watch football on TV. (The sofa sits low so it’s hard for him to get up/down.)

You can see in these pictures how similar our home is to the inspiration scrapbook I put together in the 90s. Pulling together pictures helped me realize what was off-kilter in my first little apartment in Dallas so I could refine over time. I use Pinterest the same way today.

My philosophy on decorating is that your home should be very “you” or “y’all” stylistically while at the same time being functional, comfortable and durable so you can really live in it. I grew up with these kids who weren’t allowed in their pristine white ultra-modern living room or dining room. What’s the point of a picture perfect space your family can’t use?!? <insert eye roll here>

My philosophy on budgeting is to invest in furniture that you’ll keep forever and spend very little on decor that you’ll change out over the years. Our living room and dining room were empty for many years while we saved up – no regrets.

Most of our decor is from Target (baskets, lamps, candles), Hobby Lobby (pillow covers, seasonal items) or Ballard Designs (monogrammed pillows, curtains, lamp shades, rugs). I don’t comb the earth for this stuff, although I will if I ever win the lottery and have all that free time. 🙂

This is where I am sitting right now!!!

There are so many amazing home bloggers out there, but a few have really captured my eye with their style. My friend Joslyn’s home tour on Simple Lovely is simply lovely. She is insanely creative. I’m a big fan, too, of House Tweaking‘s clean, modern style – and I’m oddly drawn into the weird/creative combinations from Little Green Notebook. Also, the home tour for Chris Loves Julia is an amazing testament to the magical powers of renovating.

I’m curious, what influences your style?

A King Kong birthday for Michael…

After watching the Jack Black version of “King Kong” a few weeks ago, Michael said he wanted a King Kong birthday, so Leah obliged and made him a really, really cool birthday cake!

Here’s King Kong on a chocolate cake with icing trees, an icing waterfall and cupcake towers with “Anne Darrow” (a Polly Pocket) on top!

How can my baby be 8 years old?!?

I decorated our chalkboard.

We alternate which year the kids have a larger celebration (a party or a weekend getaway). This was Michael’s “family year” so he wanted us to eat lunch at his favorite restaurant, Red Robin.

Also, you can’t tell from the picture ABOVE but Michael wore his pajamas because, as he put it, “You should be comfortable on your birthday.”

Michael is touching a fossilized allosaurus tooth that we gave him for his birthday for his dinosaur fossil collection. He hates being told to smile for a picture… a daunting problem for an introverted child with a camera-happy mommy! 😐

Leah is really into “Dr. Who” so she made him a card that really only makes sense if you watch that show!

Michael and his buddy Brogan went to the movies and then camped out in Brogan’s yard to celebrate HIS birthday. They were born two days apart.

This is what I posted on Instagram on his birthday:

Michael was born, then he went to preschool and today he’s 8. That’s exactly how it happened and it was that fast! I hugged him and kissed him this morning and it was just like kissing his little forehead right when he was born and wrapped up like a little burrito… except this time he ran off to find his cleats for his football game. <big sigh>

Happy Birthday to my precious baby who’s all grown up!!

Flashback Friday: It’s 1995 all over again!

Long ago, in a time almost forgotten, people drew design inspiration from magazines that were printed on paper. I know – so weird! I was an avid reader of Architectural Digest and Elle Decor back in the day and used to love pulling out pages of my favorite images. I recently stumbled upon a scrapbook I’d put together 20 years ago and was stunned to see that my tastes have changed very little over the years! The pictures look soooooo much like my house and my Pinterest boards! Here’s a peek…

Oh yes, people! Brown’s back! Ha! I laughed when I saw this. Apparently, this was all the encouragement I needed…

I bought a table that looks exactly like this 2 years ago!!!

This looks very much like the ancestry wall I put in our hallway this summer.

My love of earth-tones, textures and natural materials was well entrenched by 1995. I saw lots of photos of seagrass furniture and sisal rugs on the pages of my scrapbook. Isn’t this room gorgeous, though?

This photo looks like the wall color and trim in our bedroom right now…

I had comments on most pages – often saying “brown with white” and “love all the browns”. Ha! How about that fax machine? I love the brass lamp.

This photo looks like the wall color and trim of our dining room.

This looks like the colors in my office – chocolate walls, off white curtains, brown stained furniture, lots of plants…

Apparently, I liked “wood, wood and more wood” before the days of actually having “wood, wood and more wood” in our kitchen, which sometimes seems a bit much.

In Bryan’s man cave, we have a cow hide rug over hard wood floors just like this.

And cube shelves… Now this part I remember. I have loved cube shelves since I first saw them in a friend’s apartment in Austria in 1993! And now both my kids have them in their bedrooms.

If anything, unearthing the scrapbook confirms for me that regardless how trends evolve, I know what I like. I sometimes get caught in the swirl of, “What if I do this and it looks really dated in a couple of years and I hate it?” We have a family friend in Auburn who loves seafoam green. It’s her signature color. I was just saying recently that her house has looked amazing since she first decorated it in 1987 because it’s classic and it reflects her style.

I’ll take a cue from Mrs. Dollar and stick with what I like. ❤