Tuesday, October 30, 2018


More of the Write 31 Days Challenge....

Today's one word prompt-moment

Actually this was Fridays prompt but since I didn't get there I'm using it today.
I'm allowed.

So where were we?
My thirties. The second half. (You'll find Part 1 here).

We left North Jersey at the end of Daughter1's kindergarten year. Hubs was so ready to let go of the crazy insane commute he was making and the crazy insane interest rate we were paying on our mortgage (remember not everything about the early 90's was fabulous) and he was especially excited for a new work challenge. Plus Annapolis. Who wouldn't want to live there?

I had mixed feelings. That's how I roll when you say 'we're moving'. I do love a clean slate, fresh start but I also love warm and familiar. I was settled with my babies and my friends and my house without air conditioning. Moving means change and I always have to resist before I march headlong.

But I marched headlong because that's what you do, and I fell in love with the town beside the Bay.

With our new house and our little cul-de-sac with kids spilling out everywhere and hubs ten minute commute. With the sweet school nearby and our church down the road. Piano lessons every Tuesday and ballet class in Maryland Hall. Girl scouts, family camping, Disney World. The swingset out back and homework at the kitchen table. Blue crabs picked by tiny hands on a warm summer day.

New people, new places, new experiences.

No social media.
Real life in real time.

I went back to work part time in my thirties. My girls were in all day school then and the preschool Daughter2 had attended was looking for a teacher two days a week. The Director knew I had a background in education so she approached me about a job. I remember thinking, 'Work? Wait...what?? How in the world can I work? Am I capable of managing a room full of four year olds?'

I think this is sometimes a side effect of being a stay-at-home mom. You forget a few things about yourself. Never mind that once upon a time I had a caseload approaching 90...when it came to working outside the home I was rusty.

But I was also ready.

This little school and the people in it were so dear and the work hours meshed so well with my own girls school I said yes. My second year there I taught three days a week and the year after that half day kindergarten. The staff was wonderful and I enjoyed interacting with the parents too. Five is my absolute favorite age, the perfect mixture of curiosity, sweetness, and mischief, and getting back in the classroom reminded me I was good at this sort of work.

I think if I could pick any age to be forever it would be 35. That's the age where I really and truly got completely comfortable in my own skin. Where I fully acknowledged my strengths and abilities and put them to use. In motherhood. In the world of work. In the volunteer community that makes the world go round. If I had to choose one word to describe these years my word would be 'satisfying'.

So what are some take aways from this decade?

Change adds things to your life you didn't know were missing.

Treasure your parents.

Perfection is overrated so stop chasing it.

Say yes to things that feed your soul.

Save for retirement.

The value of a good night's sleep cannot be overstated.

Get the babysitter. Tag along on that work trip with your husband. Leave the grandparents in charge and get away with the one you married. One day in the not so distant future you'll be 'just us' again.

Make room in your day and life for seeing the small things.

You don't have to have it all figured out.

Pray. Seek wisdom. You are loved by the God who sees and you're not doing this thing--parenting, relationships, work, life, everything--alone.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


Still at that 31 Day Writing Challenge....

Today's prompt-capture

I went ahead and skipped yesterday's prompt because the word was 'brief'. Y'all I wouldn't even know where to begin-ha! Today's one word prompt is capture and since I've been meaning to come back here and 'capture' my thirties in a blog post this works.

Back when I hosted the weekly Wednesday Hodgepodge I asked people to describe their 20's in one sentence, and then later to do the same for their 30's. Since one sentence is never enough for me I wrote a whole post about my 20's (here). I wanted to do the same for my 30's and today is going to be that day.

So, it's been a while. What do I remember about my thirties? How does that decade look from a vantage point some twenty years down the road?

I turned thirty just a few days after giving birth to my second daughter. If you'd asked me then I'd have said I felt every bit my age and then some. Baby girl was an absolute beauty and she loved her mama so much she did not ever ever ever want me too far from reach. She sleeps like it's her job now, but those early months were sort of a par-tay whoop whoop all night long.

And I was tired for the first half of my thirties.

You know there's a very short window in motherhood where you actually get to sleep the way you want to sleep and not the way your children dictate you sleep. That window opens up about the time your children are between the ages of 5 and 15. For the rest of your parental life sleep will be interrupted either by babies needing to be fed, changed and soothed, toddlers needing water or the potty or to climb in bed with mom for no reason at all, or by teenagers who drive cars and college students living just out of reach. Then all of a sudden they're all grown up and sure you could sleep if only your own body would let you.

Actually I think I might make this two posts because life is chock-a-block full of experiences, feelings, and lessons learned in your thirties. We'll do the first five years today, and somehow I'll make the second five fit tomorrow's prompt. Or Monday's prompt. Or sometime.

When my thirties began we were living in a tiny little town in the far northern tip of NJ. Hubs had a brutal commute to work and on top of that was traveling a ridiculous amount of the time so sometimes it felt like I was living there and he was living at the office or Newark Airport. Almost weekly a car service would show up at our door at 3 am so he could make a 6 am flight or some such nonsense and hey, no wonder we were tired.

We were involved in a church in a nearby town and it was here I attended my first Women's Bible Study group. The women in that group were a Godsend to me in those early exhausting days of parenting. My faith grew here by leaps and bounds, and the love and support I felt from these women helped me navigate one of the hardest seasons of my life, the loss of my dad.

I don't think we have any idea how the loss of a parent will shape and change us in the years to come, but it does. My dad enjoyed his grandchildren so much and all these years later I still feel sad that he didn't get to watch them grow up or know them as the enchanting young adults they are today. He left a legacy of faith and courage though and these are gifts you treasure with an ever deepening sense of gratitude as the years roll by.

Daughter1 turned three years old and after a scary episode of mono ended she was finally able to start preschool. Every Tuesday and Thursday we moms would linger in the hallway as we dropped our littles off for class. Then we'd all kind of shuffle off alone to our own homes and repeat the ritual at pickup. I became friendly with one of the moms because our daughters had latched on to one another from the word GO, and she and I decided together we'd organize an informal coffee morning.

So we invited all the moms to come to my house the next week for coffee and cake while our preschoolers were in school. Most of us had a toddler or a babe in arms too, so everyone came and brought their babies and it was the beginning of a wonderful weekly play group/mom support system that carried on through Daughter 1's kindergarten year which is when we moved.

We moved in my thirties. Nobody's surprised are they? More about that in the second half of the decade writeup, because today I'm remembering what it felt like to be 32.

To have babies who fit in the crook of my arm and who snuggled up close on the couch.

There was that time a bear got in the garage, the wonky steel swingset perched somewhat precariously on the side of our back hill, the maple tree that turned the prettiest shade of red I've ever seen.

There were birthday parties on the brick patio, bicycles with training wheels, and home made ice cream.

Fourteen country miles to the nearest McDonalds, three trips to the ER for stitches (hello Daughter2!), weekend walks through apple orchards, the A.T. trail, Central Park and Waywayanda.

A pacifier smile, the silky edge of a well loved blankie, the color pink.

Blonde curls and books and freshly bathed girls.

A full day. A full life. A full heart.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


You wouldn't know it to read here but I am still sortakinda participating in the October writing challenge called 31 Days To Telling Your Story. For the record, mine is less 31 Days and more something of an abridged version. Still calling it a win though, because even at less than 31 I've already blogged more this month than last.

Has anyone noticed how I spend the whole first paragraph of every single post explaining why I'm not on top of things here?

I printed out the list of prompts at the beginning of the month and have been picking and choosing as the mood strikes. Since I missed the last ten prompts (!?!) I have quite a few to choose from today-


Today's one word prompt-audience

When you blog you're supposed to have a niche, if you want to be successful at it anyway. I've blogged in this space quite happily for over nine years now, but I've never really had a niche. Unless  you count blabbing on about everything under the sun in which case I'm a success-ha!

My blog is often all over the map in terms of content, but one thing that has remained constant is my target audience. Who are the people in my head when I put words to paper?

My girls.

c. 2009

My girls who were university students when I hit publish on that very first post and who are now adult women with lives of their own.

When I started blogging it surprised me to learn there were people I didn't know reading what I wrote. That something I said resonated and made them think differently or anew about their own story. One of the most frequent comments I've heard from readers through the years has been, 'What you said? Well I feel the same way."

While our stories are uniquely our own there are threads woven throughout that connect us to one another. I love that, and am so grateful for the many ways our lives intersect with each other. I think about those readers when I write, but my litmus test for hitting publish or save and think it over has always been my girls.

All my blog words are filtered through them. Not literally of course, but as I write I'm always hyper aware of the way my words will leap off the page and into their brains, their hearts, their memories. What do I want them to know about me? About my childhood? About how I see the world and my place in it? About the challenges of growing older? The world around me? About my faith, my fears, my failures?

I love being a mother and I don't care if I'm defined as such. It's been my greatest joy and privilege to adore and nurture these amazing women from the very first moments of their lives. Over time I've come to see blogging as a gift. A way to share parts of myself with my daughters as they reach the milestones I've left behind.

I also know that by telling my story here, by putting all the many moving parts of my life into words on a page I've opened a window for them into who I am apart from the word mom.

My audience has learned a lot about me in this space-

I've learned a lot about me too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Say When

Hanging on by my fingernails, but still trying to squeeze in 20ish posts before the end of October as part of the 31 Days To Telling Your Story Writing Challenge. It's going to be tight, but I like to think I work well under pressure. Today I'm going with yesterday's prompt because I like to keep you guessing. Also, I missed yesterday.

Our one word prompt-when

As in when it's time for a day in the life kind of catch up on the blog. That needs to happen here periodically or my head will explode from all the things.

So what's been happening here lately?

boat riding
wedding planning
porch sitting
football fanning

crock pot cooking
Neflix streaming
concert going
whole house cleaning

quiet praying
sunset gazing

dinner out
dinner in
talk in real time
soak up face time

neighborhood gathering
pickle ball playing
wine tasting
fund raising

and no 'rithmetic

We've been at home 23 days in a row which honestly feels like some kind of small miracle. We popped into the nearby small big city once or twice and took a leisurely drive over to Asheville one afternoon to meet up with friends passing through, but those were all in keeping with the slower pace that is our Autumn.


As in say when you've had enough trekking and packing and busy-ing and admit you need a month to stay put, slow down, think deep and notice small.

Say when.

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Continuing with the 31 Days To Telling Your Story Challenge with prompts by Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday.

Today's prompt-door

Back in 2012 I was participating in a month long photo challenge and one of the word prompts was door. I remember writing that post (you can read it here) and how much I enjoyed looking back at some of the doors hubs and I have walked through in our married life. We'd had eight homes by then and have added two more doors to the mix since.

I guess we never stop opening doors.

I liked that post. Writing out our moves in timeline form helped me see with the clarity of hindsight how one seemingly random place we called home was not so random after all. How one stop in the road of life taught us things, grew us up, made us ready for the next.

Almost two years ago we walked through door number ten.

This house.

The one we could only imagine would stand where the trees grew thick and the red clay ran deep.

The one we built from the ground up.

We live here now.
It's home.

Two years ago we opened the door and once again invited change into our lives, perhaps more change than any move we'd made previously.

Location, lifestyle, people, circumstance.

Most of the pictures I take here are from the back side of my house because the view is lovely there. You see that's the thing about doors, both the literal and the proverbial...

You have to open them to know what's on the other side.

And wherever that door leads you...well as they say round here, you'll need to sit a spell. Put your feet up, pour some coffee, catch your breath.

Of all the many moves we've made, I've probably resisted this last one the most. I blame it on mid-life, the empty nest, this unsettled feeling I have most days of not knowing quite who I am in this new season of life.

So I write about it, and it helps. I read what I wrote in seasons past and rest in the knowledge God is still teaching me things.

Still growing me up.

Still making me ready to swing wide the doors in front of me and walk on through. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018


We're in Day 9 of the 31 Days To Telling Your Story challenge. Or Day 4 if you're me, but I think I told you I was aiming for 20. Possibly overly optimistic on my part, but I'm going to try.

The thing is some of these word prompts are hard. When I blog I like to tell stories. There are other bloggers out there sharing deep bits of wisdom and I'm just over here talking about my grandson and what I ate for dinner and in general giving you too much information about the everyday ordinary.

Secretly I think many of us are longing to read about ordinary. It makes the world seem a little less harsh. Hmmm...maybe I shouldn't have skipped Saturday's one word prompt which was 'belong'.

Let's move on because I'm supposed to do this in five minutes flat. Ish.

Today's prompt-Inspire

Our house faces east. I think it's east? That's where the sun rises, yes? I'm kidding hubs! He knows directions are not my thing, so he might not believe me when I say I know this, but I know this. When we were walking lots in search of a home site some three years ago we purposely looked for a lot that would allow our house to face towards the east.

In other words we opted to wake up with the sun rising out our back door. I'm an early bird so I rarely miss the sunrise. If you follow me on Instagram you know I post too many pictures of the sky at dawn, especially this time of year. October skies are the best y'all.

We have a picture perfect view of the sunrise from our back porch which is where I head first thing every morning. One day last week hubs suggested we get up extra early and take the boat out so we could watch the sun come up from the middle of the lake.

Best morning ever.

We brought our coffee in a thermos and a blanket for our lap and sat in the quiet stillness of a morning not yet broken.

The sky at sunrise inspires me. A visual reminder that every day is filled with fresh mercies. That it's never too late to be kind, seek forgiveness, try again. Start.

I've seen a lot of sunrises and one thing I've observed is that a few clouds in the sky somehow make the beauty more beautiful.

Pretty sure there's a metaphor right there for the taking. 

Friday, October 5, 2018


Back for more of the 31 Day Write Challenge using the Five Minute Friday prompts (found here). Since today is an actual Friday our prompt was a surprise. Also on Fridays we stick to the 'exactly five minutes of writing' rule, so here we go-

Today's prompt-share

I know the theme of this month's Five Minute Free Write is 31 Days to Telling Your Story, but when I read the word the first thing that came to mind was my sister. We're a year apart and she's the one who taught me to share. Forced me to share?

We shared a bedroom, clothes, friends, secrets, my mother's attention, and the third seat in the family station wagon. We giggled, we fought, we compromised. We gave and we took. We teased and consoled. We tormented and loved. We were different in a thousand ways, yet the same in a thousand more. We argued, we forgave, and we grew. Sharing is caring or so the saying goes, and I agree it is that. It's also hard, sacrificial, and quite often easier said than done.

Sometimes when I write here I become so aware of what I'm thankful for. Today it's my family. For parents who led by example. Who loved us and taught us to share.

For my siblings. My people. My real life ensemble cast.

The ones with the magic and memory of our shared childhood story written on their hearts the way it's written on mine.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Continuing with the Write 31 Days Challenge using prompts published over on the Five Minute Friday website. This month's theme is 31 Days To Telling Your Story.  Tough not to dive a little deep with this word today so here we go-

Today's prompt-believe

One reason I blog less these days is because the online world is so incredibly noisy. Deafening most days, and I don't want to add to the din. Social media started as something fun, a connector in so many wonderful and unexpected ways, but it's rare we see it as such in 2018.

My blog has never been a place of controversy and that's deliberate on my part. I want to invite people in with a smile and a cup of tea because that's who I am and I want my writing to reflect that. I know what I believe but I'm not about to hit you over the head with it because why?

I think knowing what we believe is important, knowing why we believe it equally so. In a world filled with too many opinions, controversy for the sake of controversy, fake news, exaggerated news, bandwagons that people pile on, name calling people who have piled on the other bandwagon, how do we know what to believe? Who is right and who is wrong and does it matter? Where does truth live? Is peace in the middle of the mess even possible?

I could write here about how belief in God makes sense to me. How I can look at the incredible order of the universe, the amazingly complex design of a single cell, or the way we humans know instinctively there is good and evil in this world and belief in God makes sense.

But for me it's more than that. What I hold dear, what I believe, has it's roots dug way down deep into my soul. Faith instilled in me as a small child, but claimed as my own through the years and the miles. With every change and challenge, every difficult situation and every ordinary day, in all the beauty and the goodness too, I've seen what I learned as a little girl about who God is and how He loves played out in the circumstances of my own life.

And I believe.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

What's Your Story?

Well. It has been a long time since I've been here. Long time in the blog world, but I guess only two weeks in real time. For those of you who don't know, the blog world is like dog years where a single day equals something like a hundred. All that to say it feels like this little corner needs a good dusting, and since I'm feeling a lot out of sync with my words I'm going to jump back in with a 31-day writing party.

Go big or go home, right?

Every October there's something on the Internet called the Write 31 Days Challenge, where writers pick a topic and write one post on that topic every day of the month. (you'll find details here). In conjunction with that Kate Motaung (host of Five Minute Friday) will be posting 31 days of five minute free write prompts to help motivate and inspire us to stay the course. Her theme? 31 Days to Telling Your Story...because we all have one.

I'll just say right off the bat, mine will be more like a 20-day writing party because I know me and I know my calendar. Case in point it's October 2nd so I'm already a day behind. Or right on track if I aim for 20 so 20 it is. Some of my posts will be true five-minute entries, some will be more. I'm giving anyone who wants to try it permission to do the same.

Today's one word prompt-story

What's my story? I'm not so sure these days. This middle age thing is trickier to navigate than I had anticipated. Question-am I still middle aged?

I'm going to say yes. The first half of our lives are pretty well defined, or at least mine was. College-work-marriage-work-babies-work-volunteer-teenagers-volunteer-launch young adults out into the world-now what?

Yes, now what?

Technically we fall into the 'retired' category except we're young. Ish. Young to be retired anyway. Too young. Life is flying by and I just want to hit the pause button for a minute while we catch our breath and take stock of where we are and where we've been and where in the world we're going.

Have you ever read a book and somewhere in the middle lost sight of how the main character arrived in the place they are now? When you do it helps to go back and re-read earlier chapters in order to make sense of the present.

Stories are composed of five different elements-setting, character, plot, conflict, and theme. A good author weaves these elements together in ways the reader might not have anticipated. He keeps the story moving forward until the very last page. While I too often want to be the sole author of my own story I can read back through earlier chapters and find myself there.  Not as the author, but as the main character in a story not yet finished.

God is writing my story in ways I cannot predict but know I can trust. He has plunked me down in settings too numerous to mention, peopled the plot with characters and conflict and an overarching theme of His amazing grace.

With every turn of the page He is growing the main character into the person He created her to be.