A Reminder

I had a little Christmas reminder this morning.  I woke up in the middle of the night to feed the baby.  During the day, I use pre-made bottles that I put in the bottle warmer, but at night, she’s hungry and we don’t have 5 minutes to wait.  So I just make a bottle fresh at that time.  When I turned on the sink no water came out.  My first thought was “oh no, they think we didn’t pay our bill!” But we did 🙂  My next thought was something was wrong with our house, and we were going to be out of water for awhile and have to pay big bucks to have someone come fix it.  I waited until a reasonable time in the morning to text my neighbor to ask if they had water.  They didn’t either!  Whew.  Turns out there was a water main break and a lot of people were out of water.  And thankfully it wasn’t out for too long either.  It came back on later in the morning.  I was texting my neighbor telling her how I had trouble making a bottle and had to use cold water and then the bottle warmer.  And that I should have run my dishwasher last night.  And I wanted to take a shower first thing this morning but now couldn’t.  And I was going to start my washing machine first thing this am, so now my plans to be productive were ruined.  She was super gracious and super kind and replied.  And then she said she was thinking about how blessed we are and all of those who don’t have running water.  Wow.  It hit me so hard.  I was sitting here thinking about how I wasn’t going to be able to sanitize my baby’s 12 (expensive brand) bottles in my sanitizing cycle in my sweet dishwasher.  And that my hair might just have to go another day without washing.  And our piles of laundry (because we have that many clothes) would go unwashed for awhile.  And I’m so thankful that she reminded me of what’s important.  I forget.  And I forget really quickly, too.  What makes it even worse is that my daughter used to not have water.  My own daughter lived the first part of her life without running water.  Every day.  She never knew what water was until she came to us.  And it scared her pretty badly for awhile. 

I have debated so much how much to share of our sweet Firecracker’s story.  On the one hand, her story is one of redemption and God’s love.  If you can’t see God’s hand and love and redemption all over her story, then you aren’t going to be able to see it anywhere.  He has cared for her and loved her when no one else has.  Part of me feels that it’s this amazing testimony that needs to be shared.  Because it’s amazing.  And so many people don’t even know this happens in our own city.  I didn’t.  But then part of me wants to fiercely protect our girl.  I don’t want people to know that she was disadvantaged.  I don’t want anyone to look down on her because she has had a hard life.  I don’t want people to judge her or see her as dirty because of her story and her first family.  I struggle with this.  I never want to write words that she will grow up to read and be embarrassed of.  I never want to write words that anyone could use to harm her.  But I want her story to be told.  And to be known.  And I never want her for one second of one day to doubt how much God loves her and how much we love her.  I never want her to think that because of her hard life, she is loved any less.  I want to use her life to teach her and others how beautiful God is.  And how he can take ashes and turn them into beauty.  That’s what He has done and continues to do for our Firecracker. 

So today I choose to share this precious part of her story with you.  Not because it’s dramatic and I want to up the drama on how bad she’s had it.  Trust me — there is nothing I could add to her story to add drama.  It’s all there.  And there are a lot of parts that I will never ever write here.  There are a lot of parts that are so sacred and for her to know when she’s ready.  But for right now, I share with you that to say that I am thankful God gives me reminders.  How quickly I forget of what life is like for so many, including what life was like for my own daughter. 

Today I pray you are safe and learning lessons of your own that make your heart grateful. 

favorites friday.

I don’t know if it’s because of the stage of life I’m in with 3 kids, or if it’s having a newborn, or if it’s summer, or what — but I have a lot of favorite things!  I want to share them with you!  So many of my favorite things have come from other people’s suggestions, so I want to start regularly sharing my favorites around here.  And I want to know your favorites, too!


We spend a lot of time on the go, and there is nothing that beats my Bob double stroller.  It is the mac daddy of all strollers.  It is the king of all strollers, and it makes my life so much easier.  We can do any combination of children in there.  It’s delightful.

To go with it, I have a few accessories ::

–  the handlebar console for water, iPhone, keys, and the millions of kid accessories
–  the Duallie snack tray — crucial for kids snacks and drinks and peace 🙂
–  the infant car seat adapter that makes popping the baby’s carseat in and out so easy!
–  the Mommy Hook — my favorite way to keep track of all my bags while we’re moving around.

This bird feeder!!  We are obsessed with it at our house.  It is so fun to watch birds come right up to the window!  And it works great as a distractor.  If someone starts to get upset, I can say “hey, look at the bird feeder” and immediately they are on to something better and productive.  Seriously the best 8 bucks I’ve spent.  Seriously!  Get this.

In case you’re wondering how I get all of these things, two words — Amazon Prime.  Have you heard of it?  Do you use it?  It’s amazing!  We’ve been using it since Jack was born, and it’s awesome.  I get my diapers delivered.  Any time I need something, I go on Amazon and it’s there and usually with free 2 day shipping.  I don’t even have to leave my house, which is especially important since taking 3 kids shopping is a challenge.  Try it if you are at all curious.  You won’t regret it!


Like I mentioned the other day, my favorite show right now.  So good.  And free if you’re on Amazon Prime.



And to watch that show on my TV, that isn’t smart, we have the Amazon Fire stick.  We can watch all of the Amazon Prime videos plus our Amazon library on our TV!  It’s fantastic.  We have a constant repeat of Frozen, Despicable Me, Monsters Inc., Disney movies, and when I’m able to sit at watch TV alone, the Good Wife.


So I want to know, what are your favorite things right now?  



{I am part of the Amazon affiliate program and links listed to Amazon products are associated with it.}


Part of the fun newborn phase means more tv watching.  At least it does for me.  I remember watching several new series when Jack was a teeny babe, and wouldn’t you know I have plenty of tv time now with our baby.  When I’m up late, early, or during the night, I turn on the tv.  It might not be the best thing, but it helps keep me awake.  So I’m on a roll with a steady stream of my current favorite shows.

My very favorite show right now is the Good Wife.  I keep trying to get my friends to watch it, so we can talk about it.  I also always watch reruns of some of my old favorites — Seinfeld, Gilmore Girls.  I enjoy the Middle more and more as I have more children.  I watched some rerun from Mother’s Day a few years ago, and it was spot on.  Because I just can’t stop, I’m still watching the Bachelorette.  It’s disgusting.  Yet I watch.

I like turning off my mind to watch tv.  I also like multitasking, so I will often have the tv on but will have no clue what I’m watching.  This drives Tommy crazy.  He will frequently talk about a commercial we saw, but I never saw it because I was multitasking 🙂

A few things I’m going to try to do this summer include reading more!  Less tv, more reading.  That’s better for you right?

What are some of your favorite shows?  Any I NEED to start watching??

day 5 // what a day + where our hope is.

So technically this post is going up at 1 am on the 6th; however, I am backdating this post to the 5th because I’m still operating in the 5th mode and today has been crazy so I’m just getting this to post.  Also, I have had computer problems for the last hour and a half and just got my computer turned on.  I’m new to the MacBook Pro world — have always had PCs before.  I’ve had a lot of issues with my Macbook not turning on.  Does anyone know if this is a common problem?  I don’t know much about computers.  And on another note, I want to wish my friend Deanna a very happy birthday today!  She is one of my oldest, best, lifelong friends — and I think we’ve been friends for 25 years now!  Happy birthday, Dee!

Today was a really fun day!  We woke up and decided to do something fun.  So we gave Jack a few options, and he chose to go to Dollywood.  In a random occurrence, both of my siblings were able to come with us!  So Aunt Z, Uncle Baggee, and Becca piled in the van and we all went to Dollywood.  It was the perfect day for it!  Not too crowded and a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  The weather was perfect.  Jack rode his first roller coaster.  I couldn’t believe he was tall enough.  If I could put emoticons in here I would load it up with them.  Ones that express how terrified I was and that I couldn’t believe it.  I even asked a woman working it if it was “really ok [with a little wink]” for him to ride it.  Apparently the standard heights they set up aren’t good enough for me.  But he rode it and had a blast on it!  Such a fun day.  He also requested the water ride, which means the River Rampage.  A classic that Linds, Bud, and I haven’t ridden together in probably close to 15 years.  You know what kind of rides you don’t have to wait in line for in the fall?  Water rides.  I debated the whole way to the ride and I was super nervous because I thought it might be a bad decision to ride it when it’s cooler out.  But Z assured me that it was nearly 70 degrees, the sun was shining, and the water would be warm from the end of summer.  So we rode it.  And Jack loved it and got totally soaked.  Then Tommy paid $5 for a “dryer”, which I put in quotes because I’m pretty sure the only thing it dried was his wallet out of money.  Thankfully I had a change of clothes for Jack so we were able to get him dried off.  The rest of us walked around in soaking wet jeans for the rest of the day.  But it really wasn’t cold in the sun.

We were planning to leave there around 5 because Tommy and I wanted to go see our friends’ new baby — their rainbow baby — this evening.  But we got caught up at Dollywood, and apparently behind the mad rush of everyone leaving when they closed at 6, so it took awhile to get out.  On the way home I checked my phone and saw that our friends’ new baby was being admitted to the hospital.  And my heart sank.  So fast.  I couldn’t believe it.  They had finally gotten their sweet baby and had just brought him home and been able to introduce him to his brother.  And just like that he’s sick and put in the hospital.  I knew it would be especially hard for my friend because last time she had a baby in that hospital, her baby died.  So I went to see her but had some issues getting in there.  Because it was later in the day the front doors were locked.  So I went through the ER and had to check in with a security guard who informed me I could not visit.  Once I told him the name he checked his role but didn’t have their names on there.  So I stood there with big ol’ 32 oz. Cokes in hand telling him to look again and that I had stuff to bring my friend.  He said “nope, I can’t let you up.  and this isn’t exactly a lot of fun for me.”  I was desperate because I had a phone charger for her and her phone was dead.  Very important things.  So when he made another comment about this not being his idea of a good time, I said something along the lines of yes, I understand that.  It’s not my idea of a good time either.  My son is at home and cried because he didn’t want me to leave the house, and the Good Wife is on and I’d rather be sitting on my couch watching it and eating ice cream.  But I’m here because my friend’s 3 day old baby was admitted, and last year she had a baby in this hospital who died.  And last year my baby died.  So this is a big deal.  And I have her phone charger.

At that point the tears started coming, and he either felt bad for me, thought I was crazy, or just wanted me to stop talking because his demeanor changed and he said he would see what he could do if I would wait.  So I stepped outside because that ER was insane with people and I have a little bit of a compromised immune system.  And I sat down on the pavement outside the ER, and I just cried.  The tears just flowed.  I’m so sad for Ray and Julie.  My heart is heavy for them as they endure this hardship, and I know the uncertainty of their sweet baby’s health is so scary.  Why some people endure so much and others don’t is something I don’t think I will understand.  Julie and I talked about this on Friday.  But I think in those moments outside the ER I just grieved for their Nora and for our Gabriel.  With tears filling my eyes and running down my cheeks I just wept for our babies.  To have to fight my way in to see my friend who I’m so bonded to because both of our babies died was one of those things that caught up with me in the moment.  One of those things that made me overwhelmingly sad.  So I sat on the sidewalk and cried.  And then I knocked over one of the Cokes and it poured out all over the concrete in an instance, and I cried some more.  Then I pulled myself up — like I’ve done so many times in the past year and a half — wiped the running mascara off my face as much as possible, and walked back in.  The security guard let me in, and I gave Julie her phone charger.

As I drove home tonight I cried some more just thinking about things.  Thinking about life.  One of the things I was afraid of after Gabriel died was that I would forget.  Not him — I knew I would never forget him — but that I would forget my desperation at that time.  Because as broken and awful and miserable as losing a loved one is, there’s something beautiful about being so low that every breath you breathe is a desperate need for God.  I knew that as time went on that would go away, and it did.  Tonight reminded me of our desperate need for God every day.  If our hope is in anywhere but Him, we will be crushed.  While things move smoothly in life I tend to forget my state of desperation, where as a little over a year ago I walked in it every day.  Seeing a little tiny, new person laying there completely helpless — totally in the hands of God, reminded me of how He holds us and how we need him every day.

*Please pray for our friends and their sweet baby boy.

31 days of beautiful.

Happy October, friends!  It’s Fall.  It’s going to feel like it soon, and before we know it this month will have flown by just as quickly as all of the others have in this year.  This time of year is certainly crazy, isn’t it?  I feel like it’s our busiest season yet.  We are doing more, reaching further, and finding ourselves busier than ever.  Some of that is good and maybe some not so much.  So before this month just slips away in the chaos, I want to be intentional about it.  I want to remember something significant from this month.  I want to have challenged myself to reach beyond the day to day and really be.  Be present.  Be intentional.  Be challenged.

And so it’s for these reasons that I love this challenge and am joining in with the Nester as she writes for 31 days in the month of October.  I joined in last year for the first time, knowing exactly what my topic needed to be.  You can find my 31 days of hope from last year here.  This year I am excited for my second go at 31 days of writing as I write every day this month on the topic of ::


Why beautiful?  

This year’s topic wasn’t as obvious to me.  And truthfully, I’ve not been brainstorming it for all that long!  Because the fact that it is October is completely blowing me away.  Before I knew it, it was the very end of September, and I had to kick it in to gear to get this going.  Ever since I took the summer off from blogging, I’ve been out of my regular rhythm.  And while I certainly enjoy posting, I also found so many other things to fill my time.  I am hoping that this October challenge will help me to get back on track and back in this space.  I miss you all!

So while I was pondering my topic ideas, this one came to me.  It’s not perfect, it’s not definitive, and it’s so broad that I’m not sure where I’ll go.  But you can certainly expect to see a home project or two, a recipe or two, a beautiful picture, a beautiful story, and all of the random things that pour out of my heart, mind, and mouth.

My real goal in this topic to look and see what is beautiful in this life all around me.  And I look forward to having the month of October to do that.

Thanks for joining me here!  I hope you will follow along on these 31 days of beautiful.

Day 1//  31 days of beautiful

Day 2//  beautiful in pictures

Day 3//  just beautiful

Day 4//  the beautiful part of sports

Day 5//  what a day + where our hope is [aka: the story of how I cry to a security guard]  

Day 6//  who I watched

Day 7//  beautiful to you

Day 8//

Day 9//

Day 10//

Day 11//

Day 12//

Day 13//

Day 14//

Day 15//

Day 16//

Day 17//

Day 18//

Day 19//

Day 20//

Day 21//

Day 22//

Day 23//

Day 24//

Day 25//

Day 26//

Day 27//

Day 28//

Day 29//

Day 30//

Day 31//


so long september.

How is it possible that the last day of September is wrapping up?  The sun has gone down, and the last little bit of light is hanging on to the day.  September is almost over and with it comes the arrival of October.  I do not know how September, or really this whole year, has gone by so fast.  Also, it shocked me when I got on here and saw that it had been a couple of weeks since I posted.  Wow.  Time is flying by!

I wanted to share that I am going to be joining in with the Nester for her 31 days challenge again this year.  Tomorrow I will start my first post as an introduction + share my topic.  I’m excited!  This will be fun and certainly challenging for me to write every day of the month, especially since my blogging has been scarce since my summer break.

Here are a few pictures of what we’ve been up to lately //

lately.babyjack lately.gocards

lately.jackanddkdk lately.jackatTJs

Jack is such a good helper!  He helps me so much!  Grocery shopping, errands, stuff around the house.  He has been extra helpful lately, and I’m so thankful for him.  I sold a bunch of stuff in a big consignment sale around here this week, so going through all of the baby stuff was fun for Jack.  He liked pretending he was a baby.  He also was a super awesome amazing helper dropping stuff off which took us over 3 hours.  Misery.  I complained way more than Jack.  Plus he had a sweet ride.  Last week my parents went to Chicago and got to see the whole Cubs/Cards series.  Jack and I wore our Cards gear to support, and we are so happy the Cards won their division.  Whew, it was close.

So let’s catch up back here tomorrow for day 1!

it’s monday again + non-toy gifts.

This is going to get old, but wow, last week was crazy!  It just keeps happening.  Some how, the older Jack gets, the more we’re involved in, the busier we get.  And fall makes it that much worse!  Fall is my very favorite season — and yesterday felt like fall!  It was cool.  It was 59 degrees when we got dressed for church.  Jack wore a light sweater with elbow patches — ahhh!!  I wore boots and light sweater.  LOVELY.  I love fall!  All of that to say, we have been running around like crazy it feels like.  Last week was a blur, but we are good and had many good things happen.

Friday evening Jack and Tommy spent some time together — it was sweet!  Tommy has started taking Jack golfing.  Jack loves it!  It’s fun for them to spend time together, and I think Tommy has been waiting for this for awhile.  Saturday morning we woke up early to head downtown for a 5K.  It was the Sprint for the Prints 5K for Precious Prints.  A really great cause — they help provide comfort to families like ours who lose a child, so we were happy to support them.  It definitely is something that we would have loved to have for Gabriel.  Our friends the Parrishes, who we met last year after they lost their baby, did a video for Precious Prints [I shared on my facebook page a couple of weeks ago] and are a family who has a charm of their daughter’s thumbprint.  Jack rode in his stroller and then ran through the finish line with us.  He loved the 5K!  It’s right up his alley.  Afterwards, he checked out the food and had a bag of Cheetos, an orange, 2 donuts, and a water bottle.  Gotta refuel.

weekend 5k

Then we headed home to set up for Tommy’s sister and brother in law’s going away party that we hosted.  They move to Nebraska today, so we had a fun time Saturday afternoon celebrating them with all their people.  Then we went to mom and dad’s for burgers and came home, put Jack to bed and watched the Tennessee game.  It was a full day!  And so fun.  We will really miss Molly and Drew but are so happy for them and this big move in their lives.

weekend going away weekend molly and drew weekend party

So we had a great weekend, lots of fun celebrating and hanging out, and resting and playing on Sunday.  A great weekend!  Now on to a new week.  Today I’m over at the Knoxville Moms Blog sharing one of my very favorite list posts to date — 25 non-toy gifts for kids.  I’m ALL about this.  Head on over there and check it out!

non-toy gifts for kids

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!  Did it feel like fall where you are??

good reads for your monday.

I had this post 3/4 of the way written and it got deleted.  So this is version 2.0 and I can basically guarantee you it won’t be as good.  Fair warning.


cardinals fan happy Monday from the cutest Cardinals fan!


Happy Monday morning!  I already know this is going to be a better week because our little guy went to bed at a normal time last night.  His sleep has been very off between summer, turning 3 and dropping naps, and then starting back to school.  His little body can’t tell if he’s exhausted or rested, which I can tell his little body that he’s exhausted but that doesn’t seem to help.  So his scattered sleep habits have left us all walking around like sleep zombies for the better part of 3 weeks.  After being up from 11 pm to 3 am on Saturday night and realizing that that was not unusual, we decided things had to change.  I googled my little heart out looking for sleep tips and ways to help him.  Tommy and I sat down yesterday and hashed out a plan and then later shared it with Jack.  He thought it sounded like a good plan for Tommy and me, but wasn’t 100% on board with it himself.  We think he’ll come around 😉   The little man went down at 7:30 and it was celebration worthy!  Sure I had to go back up a bunch to settle him when he woke but progress is progress.


My first draft of this lovely Monday post had a whole bunch of other stuff about reading and how I’m not awesome at it.  It was long and drawn out, so I will eliminate it from version 2.  The summary is that I’m not awesome at reading but wish I was.  Which segued quite nicely into this section of stuff I read over the weekend that I hope you enjoy on this lovely Monday …



There’s been a lot of talk about extroverts and introverts lately.  All of this talk led to my discovery of my own vert.  I never know whether I was an extrovert or introvert because I wasn’t shy but I also wasn’t really social.  I have always liked being around people and doing things with my friends but have also needed time at home, alone.  Low and behold twenty something years later I learned I’m a bit of a mix with but with a little more introvert.  I was kind of surprised but not when I learned that it’s where you get your energy from.  If I’ve been super social [for me], it wears me out and I just have to be home to recover.  I used to think that was so silly, but I’m glad to know it’s just introvercy [?? not a real word].  This post is good.  I can relate to several things — specifically the phone, the down time, and avoiding shows that call for audience participation — I mean really, is there anything worse than that??


The Vols are back!  Watch out.  Will it be a perfect season?  No.  Of course not.  But it’s so fun to have exciting football Saturdays again.  Our team is exciting, we have a great coach, and he is a genius with the whole “brick by brick” stuff.  Go Vols!!


Whenever I start to feel like I’m a stuff manager, I immediately get rid of all the stuff.  We don’t need stuff.  We have plenty of it.  I don’t want to spend my life managing stuff.  I want to live and be in relationships and grow with others.  Not manage stuff.  Love this post.  **If you only have time to read one thing today, read this.  It makes me feel like taking a deep breath, looking around and saying it’s ok.  And now I’m going to go get rid of more stuff.


Check out my post from last Monday over on Knoxville Moms Blog.  I shared about UT game day traditions — it’s football time in Tennessee!


Thanks so much for sharing about your summers.  I really enjoyed reading what you were up to and some of the high points.  What I want to know today is — are you an introvert or an extrovert??

blog post needs to be a blog post baby.

I couldn’t think of a post title today, so I asked Jack.  Today’s post title is brought to you by my favorite little 3 year old.  He should probably start doing marketing for Project Gabriel — cause he is good.  


Today has been a long day.  Yesterday was a long day.  We are in a more challenging season.  Three is hard, but not in an attitude defiant way, but more in a sleep challenges, and earlier fears recurring way.  Not sure if that’s a three year old thing or other things, but I’m learning a lot about our little kiddo and us and parenting.  


The holiday on Monday really threw me off course.  I don’t know what day of the week it is and between that and the sleep deprivation, I’m lucky I’ve showed up anywhere I’m supposed to be this week.  This will be one of those weeks when I’m happy it’s over.  Come on weekend!  Two more days this week and then we get another weekend.  We are doing lots of work around our house right now, so our weekends are looking more like working on the house time and less like hanging out doing what we want time.  But since we enjoy working on our house, that works out OK!  


Before I ramble on anymore tonight, I’m going to wrap this post up.  I hope you are having a good week and don’t feel as disoriented as I do.  And for some awesomeness today, here’s what my Timehop picture from 3 years ago was the other day.  I love this little guy and his adorableness so much!  


back in action.

I can’t believe it’s been a whole summer already.  A packed full, active, adventurous summer has gone by, and I haven’t shared much of any of it here.  It’s been a good break.  At first I missed writing posts so much that something would happen and I would immediately think I need to blog about this!  But as the summer went on that quickly slipped my mind, and here were are on September 2nd [!!!!] and I’m all like here we go back to blogging.  It’s good though.  I definitely missed being active on the blog, but mostly just missed you all!  


JT at the beach
One of my favorite pictures of Jack from this summer.  My sweet boy!  


I want to share some of the stuff we were up to this summer — I won’t bore you with every detail — but some of our more fun things.  Plus we’ve been busy working on our house.  We’ve been making it a little more us and a little less standard, which we always love to do.  So I have plenty to share from that.  But first I want to hear how your summer was!!  What was the biggest thing that happened for you this summer?  The most fun that you had?  Your best adventure?  Or most disgusting moment — like the time I dropped my phone in the hazardous waste basket at the doctors office after just having a procedure done.  Not even kidding.  



I would love to hear from you all!  Share in the comments below, email me, or share on facebook.  Can’t wait to catch up with you!  Happy fall is on the way to you!