Meeting Smokey X and Well Wishes to the Vols

We went to the Vol Walk yesterday and had THE BEST TIME. It all started when we met Smokey X.

Meeting Smokey X Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: November 2009

We lived in Amarillo in 2009, so that meant holidays were planned with a lot of traveling. For Thanksgiving, we drove to Chattanooga to spend the week with Chuck’s family and it afforded us the blessing of seeing some of our favorite friends. Continue reading

Jeremy and Jackson on Children’s Sunday

Our sweet boys participated in Children’s Sunday at our church a few weeks ago. Jackson read scripture and Jeremy gave a three-minute meditation alongside five other young people. The sound is not fantastic, so in the video I’ve provided subtitles. I apologize if the words fly by too fast. Perhaps between the sound and captions you can get the gist of what Jeremy is saying.

For those of you who turn your nose down at photos and videos taken during a church service, I don’t mean to offend you. Simply, a mom needs footage of events like these.

(Turn up the volume! Also, move your cursor off-screen so the video frame will disappear and you can read the captions. Or, you can maximize the video to full-screen and read them that way.)

The Wire and Favorite Photos

I’m down to it. The wire. The end of the semester. Everything’s about to be due and I’m feeling the pressure.

In the next three weeks I must complete a synopsis of both my novel and one I’ve read this semester (they are not easy to write), a mock query letter, an essay about the pros and cons of traditional versus self-publishing, a fifteen-page introductory paper for the novel, a mock dust jacket for the novel, and – oh yeah – the novel. Even though the rough draft is finished, it’s not tidy. It’s fraught with misspellings and needs a good going-over.  The errors have mostly to do with fast typing. It’s maddening.

I’ve been a lucky little photographer lately and have enjoyed a smattering of photo sessions with wonderful people. That blessing will continue over the next few weeks and, honestly, I’m grateful because it allows me to be creative in a way that has nothing to do with graduate school. Here are a few of my recent favorites:  Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Jeremy’s first soccer season

In honor of his successful soccer season, I thought I’d share a photo from his first full soccer season at four and a half years old. In the picture with him is Owen, also four years old (freshly four, since this photo was taken in March 2008).

Don’t you love how the shirt goes down to his knees? CUTENESS.

Jeremy's first soccer season

Photo session: Karin, Ethan, and Sidney


When you’ve known a set of kids since their birth, it’s a treat to take pictures of them as they grow. Karin and her children are special to me, to our whole family actually, not just because we’ve been through many life stages together, but because through all of it we’ve keep our promise to be there for one another no matter what.

They were overdue for updated family photos, so it was my birthday gift to Karin capture their lives at this very moment.

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Undefeated and Preaching on Sunday

It’s times like these that I want to laugh when people ask if my boys get enough socialization, as if homeschooling means we never leave the house.

Jeremy had his eighth and final soccer game of the season on Saturday, which they won, therefore the Blue Bombers finished the season undefeated. Jeremy couldn’t be more pleased since last year’s football experience was the exact opposite – they never won a single game. He worked his tail off and his coach made the remark that Jeremy is one of the players who showed the most improvement.  Continue reading

Throw Way Back Thursday: 39 Am Schonberg Strasse

I was going through some old photos on my computer yesterday and came across pictures of our house in Grafenwöhr, Germany. At the time, it was still West Germany, so we’re talking late-80s here, right before the Berlin Wall came down. Continue reading

Scouting with my model

I’ve been enjoying some photo sessions lately so looking for new spots to shoot has been on my mind. On Monday I asked Jackson to be my model and we went to a new spot that I thought would look gorgeous in the evening sun. I have a special family in mind for this place, so I wanted to make sure my instincts were right. Continue reading

A Debbie Downer on Election Day

I used to love politics. I used to be on fire about it. I used to watch the news and read the news and scream at the news. I used to read commentary and do research and feel like I was working towards a deeper understanding of my role in our government. I always encouraged people to vote with that quintessential language, “Your vote counts! Be heard!”

Somewhere along the way my give-a-damn broke. Now I hate politics, I don’t watch the news, and I only read a very small selection of carefully chosen stories online and an even smaller number of commentaries. I question everything – the facts, the point of view, the source. I don’t know who to believe, yet I firmly believe that we are all royally screwed.

I am the Debbie Downer of American Politics. Continue reading

My Do Not Eat List and the Tennessee Vols

First, the food. I finally went to the allergist to figure out why I cannot get a grip on food. For a long time, specifically since 2009, I’ve been trying to discern which foods rip my stomach apart and which ones don’t. After reading The G-Free Diet, I was sure that gluten was the culprit. I cut out all wheat products the week before Thanksgiving in 2009 and saw a significant improvement in my digestion. I thought I’d figured it out, but over time it’s proven ineffective and I’ve spent a lot of time complaining to Chuck about why I consistently don’t feel well.

Sick of hearing it, he told me last month, “I’m done listening to your complaining. Go to the allergist.” Lovingly, of course.

So I did. She pricked my skin with more than 150 environmental and food allergens. Measured against my body’s reaction to histamine, seventeen different foods showed a reaction. SEVENTEEN. Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Halloween 2007 with Nana

Jackson was one and Jeremy was four, so their stamina for trick-or-treating was minimal. We dressed up the boys and spent the evening at Chuck’s parents’ house where Nana and Papaw took their grandsons trick-or-treating to a few houses on their street.

Tomorrow will mark four years since Chuck’s mother passed away. It’s a robbery, in my opinion, for the boys to have lost someone who loved them so dearly.

Dragon and Spiderman in 2007

Halloween 2007

Nana and her grandsons

Insert panic here

Suddenly we’re at the end of October. As I type, my bacon and goat cheese grits aren’t sitting well as my stomach is turning inside itself with worry. I have six weeks left in the semester, which means I have six weeks to finish the novel, edit it, design the front and back matter, write a synopsis, and complete a fifteen-page companion paper to introduce the project, explain my process, and cite sources of influence.

I also have to complete four big assignments for Genre Writing, homeschool the kids, do a few photos shoots, and say hi to Chuck every once in a while.

There’s a temptation to pull back and say no to certain things, but that’s really hard to do when you love everything you’re doing. I mean, when I’m taking photos like this, I don’t want to say no:

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(By the way, if any of you know to whom this sweet baby belongs, DO NOT talk about this photo to the baby’s grandmother, unless you want to spoil her Christmas present surprise.) Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Durango 2009

When autumn rolled around during our first year in Amarillo, we were starving for sweeping mountains of bright color. We were missing autumn in east Tennessee and there were only a few older neighborhoods in Amarillo that had the kind of trees we wanted to see. On what felt like a whim, we packed up the kids and escaped to Durango, Colorado, in search of fall foliage and to ride the Narrow Gauge Railroad to Silverton. Continue reading

Writing Designing Reading Photographing

When I haven’t been talking to Jeremy about abortion, Monica Lewinsky, or what it means to give the middle finger, I’ve super busy with lots of creative and exciting projects. First and foremost is the novel. I just hit 121,000 words, which is still painfully long, but I refuse to cut anything until I’m done getting all of my words out. My goal is to finish by mid-November so I can print everything out and edit over Thanksgiving. It’s a reasonable goal as long as I keep this momentum. The end is close, so I have no more excuses to give. Also, I’ve convinced a few folks to be pseudo-editors on my behalf, though I’m happy to have a few more, if any of you are interested. I cannot open that circle too wide, though. Too much input is… too much.

I’m also working on a few design projects, so InDesign and Photoshop are opened daily. They love the attention.

Reading-wise, I’m about to finish a fantasy novel that is both boring and ridiculous. I appreciate a sensible effort to create a world of possibility in another realm, but if none of the proper names of people and places are easily enunciated, I’m entirely turned off. My eyes glaze over and I want to surrender. Unfortunately, I can’t stop reading it since it’s part of my Genre Writing class. When I’m not reading about goblins and elves, I’m reading a unique story called Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician by Daniel Wallace, who also wrote Big Fish. (Remember the 2003 movie with Ewan McGregor? Yeah, same writer.) I’m nearly finished, so I’ll post a review soon. It’s one of the books I picked up at The Lantern in Georgetown.

Finally, there’s some photography going on around here, which TOTALLY ROCKS MY SOCKS OFF. What a fun hobby, you guys! I just love taking pictures of happy people and giving them something to keep forever. My last session was with a family we know from church. There were laughs all around. Continue reading

So Jeremy asked about abortion.

Really. He keeps me on my toes.

I’m sure he’s heard the word before, not because abortion is our regular dinner conversation, but because he is always listening to everything going on around him. Case in point: we usually listening to sports talk radio in the afternoons, and there have been times in recent years when we’ve turned it off, like when Penn State was all over the news in 2011. We censor when we need to.

I’d been doing a good job of censoring the radio recently since voting on Amendment 1 in Tennessee has been a heated issue for weeks now. Whenever I sensed a commercial coming on telling us to vote yes or no, I’d flip the station. However, my reflexes weren’t so good the other day and as soon as the woman’s voice came over the airwaves, “Many flock to Tennessee for abortions–” Jeremy chimed in, “Mom, what’s abortion?”

Great. Fan-freaking-tastic.

Continue reading

TBT: The first race

Running The Middle Half with Lesli was special, not only because it was held in the city where we met, but also because I credit her with getting me into running races. She ran her first half marathon in 2006 and I was so inspired by it that I wanted to do the same thing.

She joined me for my first (her second) and together we ran the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville on April 28, 2007. Had Lesli not tested her own will to run 13.1 miles, I’m not sure I would have.

Gotta love the picture quality from an old Samsung flip phone:

First half marathon

Photos from Corey and Gwen’s wedding

The primary reason we went to Washington DC last month was so that I could stand next to my oldest, dearest friend at her wedding. Since I was busy holding a bouquet and all, I couldn’t take my own photos. Here a few I snagged from her photographer.

Out of all the lovely pictures, this one captures our 22-year friendship perfectly. It’s my fave:

Best friends

This one is a close second:

Corey and Me on her wedding day Continue reading

Book Review: Left Neglected

The synopsis of Left Neglected prepares you for the accident. Sarah is a busy working mother of three, living the high life in Boston, working her tail off to give her children private school, a house in a prestigious neighborhood, and a vacation home in Vermont where they ski in the winter months. Her job demands her attention all day, every day, so much that she’s doing business in bed at night and in the car on the way to the drop-off line. And so it goes: Sarah crashes her car while fiddling on her cell phone and suffers a traumatic brain injury.

Left Neglected

Originally I thought Sarah would have the sort of brain injury that led to paralysis and perhaps she’d end up neglected by family members or hospital staff, but that’s not how it turned out. Her injury resulted in what’s called Left Neglect, a condition in which your brain quite literally does not recognize the left side of anything, including your own body. You don’t eat the food on the left side of your plate, you don’t see the left side of a room, and your left arm and leg become lifeless (not paralyzed, just ignored). It is a condition closely connected with stroke victims, but it’s entirely possible to have Left Neglect as a result of illness or a traumatic brain injury.

But back to Sarah. Of course her life is turned upside down from this event. She was speeding through life and it was brought to a complete halt. The book chronicles the year following her accident as she navigated rehab, relationships, and accepting the inevitable: her life was never going to be the same.

The story is written in first person, so we spend a lot of time in Sarah’s head, an essential component for a story about brain injury. Though there’s a bit of predictability at the end, I thought it was a well-writing cautionary tale about what life could look like if we all don’t slow down.

Medal No. 12 and Race Report

The odds were not in my favor. I’d not trained as well as I should have and whatever is spawning in East Tennessee right now invaded my sinuses with a massive army. The pressure in my ears is unreal. Chuck’s work travel schedule interrupted my travel plans to Middle Tennessee and that meant childcare had to be rearranged. And then there was tons upon tons of rain.

After sorting out a list of details and we were finally the road to Murfreesboro, Lesli and I encountered a large dog in the road who wasn’t fazed by interstate traffic. Even though I swerved to miss him and all the traffic swerved to miss me, I wondered if the Universe was trying to tell us something. The forecast for race day was wet with the potential for thunder and lightning. They won’t cancel the race for rain, but they would for storms. How annoying would that be after all we’d already endured!

We made it in time to pick up our bibs and enjoy dinner with friends. Take that, Universe!

With Lesli after packet pick up

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Throwback Thursday: Baby Major

Our blue tick will be two years old in December and he’s topped out at 75 pounds. He’s turned into a fabulous running buddy and is fiercely loyal to our family. It is a miracle that this is the dog we ended up with, especially since his puppy phase was mostly miserable. Caring for him was like having eight toddlers with sharp teeth.

I took Major to the vet today for yet another ear problem. He’s prone to yeast infections in his ears so we got new medicine to remedy it. When the vet assistant came in the room, she said, “I just looked through his chart and he was only seven pounds when we first saw him!”

Yep. I remember that.

TBT January 23, 2013

The line between paranoid and cautious

On my run in the country this evening I was approached by three people in a pick-up truck – two men, one older than the other, and a young girl in the cab. Major didn’t bark or growl, but I was immediately struck with fear. Before the driver said a word, I thought, Am I about to get shot?

He was polite. He even excused himself for interrupting my run.

“Have you seen a brown pit bull mix running around?” he asked.

I shook my head, wishing I’d brought my cell phone. “No, I don’t think so.”

“He’s been gone about an hour and we think he’s nearby.”

I shook my head again and shrugged. I watched the driver reach his hand towards the console and again I thought, Is this when I get shot? Or is this an abduction?

Continue reading