Making Some Summer Plans

Summer for SAH parents can sometimes mean exhaustion and boredom (for the kids, too!) as your excitement for the weather withers and your gladness to have the kids out of school wanes. I know I started out two weeks ago with glorious plans of doing ALL THE THINGS and I have yet to do most of them. So I’m making a list… and hoping to complete some of these things! If you need ideas to freshen up your summer, check these out, and try to cross a few off in the next couple of weeks to spice things up! 

Visit parks! This includes (and goes beyond) playgrounds, splash pads, hiking, picnics, and even local events! My town has MANY playgrounds and greenways (walking/running/biking trails), and it’s just a short drive to other fun places to hike or picnic. Also, some parks have concerts, evening movies, kids’ events, or farmers markets!

Speaking of that, farmers markets should get its own section. We’ve recently started spending Saturday mornings at one of the farmers markets here (Cobblestone Market in Old Salem) and we’ve had a great time buying local produce and meat, eating fresh baked goods, getting locally roasted coffee, and locally pressed juice. Hubby’s also in love with a lady who pickles… and she pickles everything. She also makes hot sauces. I’m actually worried he’s going to leave me for her if I don’t start pickling, too.

Visit a pet store. My kids keep talking about puppies, so this is actually on my “do it soon” list. We aren’t going to get a dog right now, but what a better way to let them play with puppies? And it’s free! It’s also educational to be able to see different fish, reptiles, and rodents, all of whom your kids might not get to see up close very often.

Visit children’s museums, and science museums. Our town has a great one of each, and the next city over also has a great children’s museum. They often aren’t too expensive, or if you know you’re going to spend a lot of time there, it’s a great thing to invest in and get a membership to. My kids LOVE (and I mean that) our local children’s museum, and Monday mornings are members only, so it’s less crowded!

Start a neighborhood camp. This is an idea that I think my kids will enjoy in the next couple of years. Getting together with other parents who are home with their kids, and choosing a couple of mornings or afternoons to have big playdates with planned activities (think water balloons, picnics, organized games -if they’re old enough- or anything else you can do in a backyard. You could also backyard camp overnight, if you’re up for that sort of thing (and your kids are old enough).

Go swimming. This could be at a pool, lake, pond, stream, river, or sprinkler, etc. Kids LOVE being in the water, floating, splashing, wading, fishing, or anything else they can think of! Discover parks near you that have streams or ponds. Even if it seems small and dinky to you, it could still be amazing for your littles!

Do some baking or cooking and let the kids take the lead! Homemade popsicles (find a kit at your grocery store!), easy muffins (this can be a way to get some fruit or a veggie in them), homemade ice cream, or anything else that sounds like a good summer snack. I’m OCD when it comes to making unnecessary messes in the kitchen, so it can be hard to let them help (I’m the queen of not wanting their sticky hands in it) but they love it so much!

Play old-school games. My kids have recently discovered hopscotch. They’ve always loved sidewalk chalk, but they had a great time trying to get their feet in the right spot, and hop on one foot for longer than one second. Who says things like hula-hoops and jump ropes can’t be fun still?

Grow something! This one is my personal favorite, maybe because we have a large garden. But sometimes all you need is a tomato plant or strawberry bush to get a green thumb going in your little ones. I find that my kids like the plants you just look at, but they love the plants that yield food! That gives them a different sort of interest in growing things.

Things Toddlers Say 

Happy Tuesday, friends! I’ve scheduled this post, so if it’s published, that means we are on the road today! We’re headed to visit family and friends in my hometown, and I knew I’d better schedule it or I’d never get it out there. ANYWAY- here’s the good stuff. There’s a few fun pictures to go with them, as well!


EK: Do you want your hood on?
Me: Nope.
EK: Well, your hair feels cold to me.

When we were in the mountains with family last week, J found this old school phone, and they sent it home with him. Here he is, showing me that he knows how to use it:

“This one goes on my ear and this one goes on my chin, Mommy.”

When I took the big kids to camp one morning…
J: But why are we leaving my daddy and my baby brother?!

New versions of “If you’re happy and you know it…”:
If you’re happy and you know it, eat your hand! (EK)
If you’re you’re happy and you know it, toot on your blankies! Toot, toot! (J)

J has always had a sensitive gag reflex, so this story didn’t really surprise me. The other morning, I was getting him into a clean diaper and clothes to go to camp. He started coughing, which escalated and turned into a fit, culminating in a huge burp, and then puke. I yelled for Hubby to come help me (since I had two handfuls of puke I was trying to get to the toilet with) and I think I scared J. When I got back and started cleaning him up, he said: “Mommy, I’m sorry I burped in your hand.” Gross, but sweet.

Hubby has a habit of calling the kids “silly hillbilly” when they do something silly. EK tries to say it, but ends up saying, “silly hobilly”. The other night, she cracked up and confused and called me a “funny hoe”. Of course everyone in the room (my mom and two friends were over) died laughing, and then she just called everyone “funny hoe” and “silly hoe” all night.

EK, one morning: I’m so tired. Last night, Barbie was calling me and texting me. She took a picture and sent it to me!

J, randomly: OMG mom! (He actually said the letters O M G, correctly and in the right order.)

You know your kids have been watching a lot of Despicable Me when this happens:


We’ve been immensely enjoying our pool membership so far this summer. EK is my fearless swimmer, and has been jumping off the “diamond board” every time we go.

I was teaching J and EK the high five game where you trick the other person (up high, down low, in the middle, too slow!) and they thought it was hilarious. J kept saying, “Do me to that! Do me to that, Mom!”

Helping Hubby cook by using the pinch bowl of salt…
EK: I accidentally ate the salt instead of putting it in the food and it hurt my mouth.

Me, looking at my smiling brood: Who’s a happy kid?!
EK: Meeeeeeow!

J, after a particularly gross poop: Mom, I’m really sorry I took a big poop this morning.

J: Can we go downstairs and watch a movie?
Me: Sure, that’s fine with me. Why don’t you go ahead? I’ll be down in a minute.
J: But Mom, the bigger tv is broken and the little tiny tv is on.
(He’s right. The bulb in our big tv burned out, so we have a smaller tv in its place till we fix it. And yes, I said bulb.)

Me: You’re a good boy, little guy.
J: Yeah, and El’ K is a good girl.
Me: That’s true. She is.

J: He’s in jail, Mommy!
Me: Actually, he was just dirty and I washed him in that bag.

Phew – that felt like a long one! I hope you enjoyed our funnies; come back every Tuesday for a few more!


Happy Monday! This week I’m writing my update today, and then leaving town tomorrow! There should be lots of pictures going up on my Instagram of our Roman adventures!

Smelling || tomato plants. They don’t smell exactly like tomatoes, but they’re still delicious. To me, the smell symbolizes summertime. The plants are so fragrant, and I associate them with being at home and working in my garden. Do yourself a favor, and next time you’re at Lowe’s or Home Depot, walk over to the garden section and take a whiff. It’s delightful.

Hoping || that my baby boy is better today. He ran a fever yesterday after church, and we just sat and snuggled all evening. While I enjoyed that, I could tell he wasn’t feeling great. My kids are thankfully rarely sick, so I worry a little bit more. Here’s hoping he is feeling better by the end of today!

Traveling || to Georgia! I am excited to go down to my home town this week for the first time since March. I’m seeing friends, family, eating at my favorite restaurant (I’ll have a Hoagie Carmichael on wheat, please.) and spending long, lazy days in my parents’ pool with the kids.

Baking || zucchini muffins! I did that silly thing again this year where I didn’t notice a zucchini in the garden until it was HUGE. The only thing to do then is scoop out the tough seeds and bake with it!

Well, that’s about it in my homestead. So, what are you up to? Have you traveled yet this summer?

8 Reasons I Might Be Getting Old

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

Y’all. I’m 30. I know that isn’t old, and I don’t really feel that old most of the time. I’m in pretty good shape, and I still have lots of friends that are a little younger than me. My kids keep me young, too. But every once in a while, I find myself doing something that makes me think, “Yikes! When did I get so old?!” And then I picture myself with gray-blue hair, in a rocking chair on my porch, yelling at the kids to get off my lawn. Here are a few things that make me feel a little old…

  1. I don’t understand hashtags. I use them. They’re often funny. But why? Do they even do anything on Facebook, or is it just Twitter and Instagram that use them properly? Who even came up with that idea?
  2. My spam folder is full of invites to join LinkedIn. Just for that reason, I won’t be exploring what LinkedIn is. 
  3. What even is Snapchat? Why? I downloaded it so that the kids and I could use those selfie filters to make funny faces. 
  4. I almost never wear heels anymore. No point; my feet hurt, I walk funny, I step on the kids, and it’s all downhill from there. 
  5. I check the weather every morning. No one likes to forget their umbrella and get caught in a downpour. (Cue shouting at the kids about getting a jacket.)
  6. I sometimes get offended by what “young people” are wearing. What do you mean those are considered okay to wear to school?! And no, that doesn’t match. 
  7. I get really frustrated about the state of the outside of my house. Examples: when there is dog poop in my yard (we don’t have a dog), when I miss a patch when mowing the grass, or when my garden needs pruning/weeding and I can’t get it done right then.
  8. I like to go to bed early. This isn’t really a blanket statement; I can late-night hang with the best of them. But if there’s not a real reason to stay up and do anything, I’m out like a light before 10pm. I’m more than happy to hop in bed with my Kindle and fall asleep before I get one paragraph finished. 

If I only did one or two of those things, I’d probably let it slide. But because I do all of them, and the list grows every time I turn around, I’ll just let myself ease into some shoes with orthotics, and drink an Ensure. 

The Awesome In Austin

Well, part 2 of our Texas travels last month is finally done! After a lovely weekend in Dallas, Hubby’s parents and the two of us rented a minivan (our first, ha!) and drove to Austin to Hubby’s uncle’s house. We spent two and a half days seeing Austin through the eyes of locals, and it was awesome!

Sunday evening, we had a nice meal at their home, in a surprisingly hilly neighborhood. Austin apparently has a less-than-flat terrain, and the next morning, after some breakfast tacos (here’s looking at you, Tacodeli!) we took a hike in a nearby park, called the “hill of life”, that led us to a stream. It just so happens that Austin has been getting an unusual amount of rain, and so the stream was more like a river. I still did a little wading!

Monday afternoon, we had a late lunch at Hopdoddy Burger Bar. I can’t say enough how creative and delicious that place was! They had great beers on tap (Hubby and I drank local beers) and awesome, creative burgers. They also had truffle fries (WOW!) that rounded off a big fat lunch quite nicely. It was really fun, delicious, and also good that we had a late lunch… Peak meal times are usually SLAMMED.

That evening, we headed downtown. First, we explored and had pre-dinner drinks at the Driskill, an historic hotel (1886!) and bar in downtown Austin. It was beautiful, authentically furnished, and made you feel transported in time. Everything was leather or cowhide, with a big Texas “lonestar” all over it!

We had dinner at Cantina Loredo, where delicious, modern Mexican food and creative, strong margaritas reigned. After dinner, we went bar hopping again with our cousins, and enjoyed ourselves immensely, seeing their usual places and meeting a few of their friends.

On our last half a day, we had breakfast at Texas Honey Ham – the baked potato hash was to die for – followed by a little exercise. We happened to pass Stevie Ray Vaughn on our way.

(As a point of interest, Austin had been getting so much rain, and continued to get it, that the next week, we received a picture of Stevie, up to his hips in water.)

We went back to the house, packed up and prepared for the airport, and had a last lunch at County Line on the Hill BBQ. I had heard of but never tried Texas BBQ, and I was not disappointed! I ate way more than I should have, but it was delicious, and had a gorgeous view to boot. It was the perfect last meal!

Overall, we had an amazing time in Austin with our sweet family, and I even came home with a perfect pair of boots. (Thanks, Cavender’s!)

Summer Reading List 

One thing I’ve always loved about summer is that there’s a little more time for reading. And when I say reading, I really mean reading for pleasure. I’ve always been a reader (thanks for passing that on to me, Mom!) and summer just feels like a good time to do it a lot. Even now when I’ve got three kids and WAY less free time than I’ve ever had, I feel a surge of hunger for books.

That being said, I’ve compiled a list of good summer reads if you’re looking for a new one. I’ve read all of these books, and loved them. Some are new, some not so much, but all great reads. Let me know if you’ve read these, or if you have suggestions for my summer reads this year!

One Mother to Another: This Is Just Between Us. My friend Melissa Mowry, who writes at One Mother to Another, wrote this book. It’s a collection of stories from her own life with two boys, and it’s amazing. It came out less than a month ago, and already has amazing reviews on Amazon. Check it out on your e-reader, too!American Wife, by Curtis Sittengren. I read this book several years ago, and the story still haunts me. It’s about an unlikely woman who becomes First Lady, and her struggle to stay true to herself and support her husband at the same time. So good!

Girl on the Train. I know this one is a little older (I was late to the game reading it last summer) but it’s still great. If you don’t normally jump on the “new, trendy book train”, you should make an exception for this. 

Deep Cries Out. Written by another writer I started reading online, Kristen Lavalley (whose blog inspired me to start my own) this is a 30-day devotional for moms in the trenches. They’re short, but deep and life-giving.

Yes Please. Amy Poehler’s memoir is still one of my favorite things I’ve read in the past few years. She’s hilarious, and I love her on screen and on the page. LOVE YOU, AMY!

Divergent. I know- young adult literature. But sometimes, you need a book (or series!) that sucks you in, keeps your attention, and isn’t so complicated to read. It’s a great vacation read! AND I always like to read he booms that movies are based on. Which leads me to…

Lord of the Rings. I’m actually reading this right now. It’s my third or fourth try, but the first time I’m actually enjoying it. Tolkien has always been laborious for me, but for some reason, this time I’m flying through and totally enjoying myself. So if you’ve tried and failed at LOTR in the past, I encourage you to give it another shot!

Well there’s a nice little list for you. What are you reading? Should I read it, too?!


Tuesday seems like a great day for a little update and a few pictures! I’m linking up with Becky at Choose Happy, and telling some stories from our week last week! Join us!

Traveling || to the mountains! Our closest mountains are only a little over an hour away, and so we try to go often. There’s also an attraction called Tweetsie Railroad, and the kids love it. Thomas the Tank Engine was there last week, so we stopped in!

Loving || some slightly cooler temperatures! It’s been a little cooler than June normally is here, and I know for a fact you haven’t heard me complain! When we woke up Friday morning in the mountains, I assumed it was just there… but when we got home that afternoon,it was cooler there as well!

Reading || Lord of the Rings. I know, I’m a hundred years late or so. I’ve actually picked Tolkein up at least five times in my life, and I’ve never made it very far into his writing. He’s so descriptive and elaborate in his writing that I get lost easily (don’t judge!) but I decided I’m going to do it. I am READING that trilogy if it takes me a year! And then I’ll think about whether to read the Hobbit.

Enjoying || a nice cut and color this morning. I didn’t really change anything, but it’s always nice to get freshened up! Especially because I have short hair, it gets wild pretty quickly.

(I sent that one to the hubs when he asked how it was going.)

Laughing || at this video I took of the bigs yesterday. I just can’t believe everything happened just so: costumes, J’s song, EK shouting over her brother, the whole thing had me dying.

Well, what’s going on in your life currently? Does your family enjoy Tweetsie?

Things Toddlers Say

What day is it?! TUESDAY!

What do we want?! THE FUNNIES!

Here they are, just like always! Enjoy!

Hubby told me J was reading books and playing with trains instead of napping. When he woke up, he told me: Daddy said, “NO MORE BOOKS!”

EK, during dinner: Oh! My panties is stretching me!

In the car, headed to the mountains…
Me: I see mountains!
EK: I see steam from dragons!

J, holding a bunch of grapes on the stem: Look, Mommy! It’s like a tree! Like a broccoli!

We stayed with some family for a night last week, and had a wonderful time. EK immediately took to Hubby’s aunt, and to her (adult) daughter. She called Debbie “Deedee” almost exclusively, and kept asking what “that girl’s” name was. It was Parker, but she just couldn’t wrap her head around it.

We hiked for a bit while in the mountains, and happended upon some wild flowers. EK said, “Mom! A secret garden!”

This family also had a dog, Eevie. Still very much a puppy, she thought J was a toy, the way he kept screaming and running around. They were fast friends even though every time J ran away, she chased him a little too quickly. There were many cries of, “She lick-ed me!” and “She is too fast!”

Ginna: What’s your name?
J: Joseph.
Ginna: What’s your last name?
J: Joe Joe.

Here is Edith, from Despicable Me, filing her nails like a teenager.

Hubby: Time for bed!
EK: Can you carry me?
Hubby: It’s not far; you can walk.
EK: (army crawls to her room)

On the way to the farmers’ market…
EK: I bet Mark (our farmer friend) will be at the farmers’ market!
Me: I bet you’re right! (We usually do see him there.)
EK: He prolly will be but I bet he won’t.
Hubby: Strong logic.

At Fathers Day lunch…
Me: Let’s all say one thing we love about Daddy since its Father’s Day!
EK: One thing we love about Daddy since its Father’s Day!
Me: Um, I’ll start. I love Daddy and I think he’s handsome!
EK: I love him because he cooks and he’s good about taking me on dates!
J: I love Daddy tocause I love him!
EK: And when it’s brothers day, I will say, “Happy brothers day, J! I love you!”

After interrupting me several times…
EK: Now that you’ve finished your sentence, I’ll let you borrow my ring!

Hope you enjoyed our antics! What are you kiddos talking about?

But Seriously, Lay Off Already. 

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.

I promise I’m not trying to push your buttons.

But I am trying to make you think.

Haven’t any parents out there ever lost sight of their toddlers for one second? I definitely have, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I mean, it happened at the farmers’ market on Saturday! I am human… Anytime, any place, that can happen. Young children are unpredictable, and can be downright sneaky. Even the most attentive parents can sometimes struggle to keep their kids within a safe distance. It doesn’t mean you haven’t taught your children enough about what’s safe and what’s not. It doesn’t mean you don’t pay enough attention to them. Young children just don’t have good understanding of what “safe” is, especially when they’ve never had a reason to be scared.

So what I’m really imploring you to do right now is think. What if it was you? Put yourself in the parents’ shoes… Your child fell into the gorilla cage, or was snatched up by an alligator while you were swimming together. Feel the fear, the sheer terror. Feel the guilt, that builds as you learn what the cause and effect of the situation will be. Feel the anger, that you’d like to place on something, someone, other than yourself or your child. Imagine the sadness, the overwhelming physical ache you’d feel if something was to actually happen to your child. 


When you’ve felt those feelings, or at least thought about it for a minute, are you mad at the parents? Or are you, like me, feeling sympathetic to their situation. If I lost one of my children, really lost them, I wouldn’t be able to go on. It wouldn’t matter to me your harsh opinions or your reprimands about what I should’ve been doing. 

I would be crushed

So if you have judgement to pass, ugly jokes to make, or a rude statement to post as your Facebook status about how that would never happen to your kids… Save it. Swallow it. Oppress the thought, and put yourself in the shoes of someone who has lost a child, for any reason. I promise you wouldn’t care what the reason was. Your life would be forever changed, and you’d be mourning that tiny soul for the rest of your life. 

I don’t have time for your judgement and harsh words. But I do have time for sympathy, prayers, and kindness. 

Fathers’ Day

I’m privileged to be married to the kindest, most patient father there’s ever been. He’s selfless, fun, giving, and loving with our kids, and I couldn’t be prouder to call him ours.

He routinely works late at night, but never complains about being woken up early to give snuggles, read books, or play trains. 

He teaches them about life and love and anything they come across. 
He disciplines them when they need it, it strength and love. He cuddles and sings and cooks and reads. He provides for them emotionally and in the physical realm, too. 

In short, I admire him as a dad and as a person. He is ultimate compliment to my crazy, my hard, my mad, and my difficult. He’s the perfect other side to all my personality, my parenting style, and my ever-fluctuating emotions. He is a rock, an encourager, a comedian (and sometimes jester), and a comforter. Happy Father’s Day, Hubby. I love you.