Must Paint

I think this is pretty typical of creatives, so I know I’m not alone in my absurdities. There are times, which feel mostly random, when I cannot function with any sort of productivity because I’m distracted by the urge to make something. My left brain halts and retreats while my right brain strips down and streaks across the ball field. My hands fidget while they wait to be utilized and I become overtly irritated if I can’t find something for them to do. I’ll pace and snack until I give over entirely to my creative energy. I write, I cook, I rearrange furniture. I’ve been known to storm about the house looking for things to organize. This is generally when the boys’ toy bins get an overhaul.

But sometimes that’s just not enough.

When I got back from Santa Fe, I told Chuck that I was feeling overwhelmed with the burden to MAKE and DO STUFF. I wanted to run 20 miles, I wanted work on my novel, I wanted to paint the library…

Oh yes! Let’s paint the library. In a day. By myself.

The boring dark brown walls of the library weren’t a regret, but they weren’t inspiring either. I love color, lots of it, particularly in an enclosed creative space that’s entirely mine. I’ve always had pops of color in this room, but against the brown walls, it still felt dull.


Brown, brown, boring brown.


I woke up yesterday morning and started pacing the house almost immediately. This was inconvenient since I have two papers to write (one five-pager, one ten-pager), plus plenty to read, but I couldn’t focus on any of it. MUST MAKE STUFF, growled my right brain. FINE, I said.

The boys and I were back and forth from Home Depot in less than an hour. I got all the furniture moved out of the room in another hour. By noon, I was painting the walls plum (called “Baritone” by Behr).


YES! Color! My right brain danced a jig.

I painted all day, sorted through homeschool curriculum while it dried, and moved everything back in the room after dinner. By 10 p.m., I was back at my desk checking message boards for graduate school. My shoulders, while sore, had finally relaxed. The creative energy was expelled and I could focus on everything else without my right brain stomping and screaming like a toddler.

purple and orange wall

The empty wall space behind the desk is for my graduate degree. Fingers crossed.

my corner

The plum walls look bright in the evening and dark in the daytime, which just shows you how important lighting is.

Corner with portrait

I think Salem needs a throw rug, don’t you?
Aw Salem


Savannah and Jesup

If you’re at all familiar with south Georgia, you’re probably wondering why we added Jesup to our vacation. It’s an old railroad town, a blip on the map between Atlanta and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s surrounded by timber companies, peanut farms, and peach stands on the side of the road, flanked by corridors of mossy oaks and magnolia trees. It’s small and unmentionable, but it’s also the primary setting for my novel.

Welcome to Jesup

A good chunk of the book is also set in Savannah, so the first two days of our vacation were spent in both cities. The boys were graciously patient while I observed and absorbed everything. I pinpointed houses, streets, and other places that make certain plot points plausible. It was immensely gratifying to discover my instincts were correct in numerous ways. As I told Chuck in the car, I’ve gotten a hundred little confirmations that I’m doing the right thing. I had to choke back tears of joy.

I fully realize that I’m wholehearted attached to a project that may never see daylight, but if I were to ignore it, that void would dwell in me indefinitely. Some of you understand what I mean.

So here are bits of Savannah. Jackson’s pirate photo is the best:

Home Improvements

We’ve spent the last few weeks tending to home improvements –

Strike that.

Chuck has been doing a lot of home improvements lately and I’m having a great time seeing the results.  He built an entire headboard/shelving unit for our bedroom and installed two screen doors (one more laborious than the other).

Screen door

Then we got a bug in our pants and decided to paint the builder-grade kitchen cabinets and the boys’ nasty bathroom walls, which are the biggest tasks for the week. I’ll help Chuck as much as possible, but I also need to submit a third short story and turn in a monologue for screen writing by Friday. Oh yeah, and get ready for GIRLS WEEKEND! HURRAY!

To accomplish these things, I’ve put the boys on a modified version of spring break that involves a couple of days off and light school work on the other days.  They responded positively with screams and hollers.

Before we say goodbye, I wanted to tell you that I’ve imported all the posts from my old Xanga blog (circa 2005-2010) so I can officially delete it from the Interwebs. That means everything will be in one place. I’m not sure if I’ll make it all public, but most of it will be – like this little gem from January 2010 and photos from Jackson’s birth and adoption.

P.S. I’ve been told that if you subscribe via email you’ll receive an update every time I make an old post public. I apologize in advance for the onslaught of emails! It won’t hurt my feelings if you delete them in bulk.

Maternity shoot in the woods

Meet Jenni, my hair colorist. She is the charming young woman who keeps the gray away and happens to be in the third trimester of her first pregnancy. She is already beautiful, so this shoot was a snap. As soon as her daughter makes her arrival, I’ll invite myself over to their house.

To sharpen my photography skills,  I’m always approaching people to be my guinea pigs. It’s a little odd to say, “Hey, can I take pictures of you?” but so far everyone has been a good sport. I learn new techniques every time. I appreciate that so many have been willing to indulge me.

Jenni's belly1

Jenni's belly2

Jenni's belly3

Jenni's belly4

Jenni's belly6

Jenni's belly7

Jenni's belly5

Jenni's belly8

So, who’s next? Shoot me an email if you’re interested.  (P.S. You don’t have to be pregnant, just willing.)

Headboard and Shelving

We’ve been without a headboard since moving into this house nearly three years ago because we put the log bed in Jackson’s room. (Chuck built the log bed for us in 1999 and it now serves as the guest bed when folks come to visit.) We’ve spent months on Pinterest and other websites looking for inspiration. The original plan was a simple angled headboard. Then it blew up to much more.

Once he had the sketch, he bought the wood and got started measuring, cutting, and sanding.

Headboard in progress

Once it was put together, he painted it a soft gray/white to go well with our gray walls and  installed lighting above and below the top shelf.


I selected the fabric for the angled headboard, which was really my only involvement.

Headboard He installed the headboard on Saturday, anchoring it to the wall.

Installing the headboard

It’s so beautiful, though I knew it would be. There’s no before picture (my mistake!) but all you have to imagine is a blank, gray wall. It was void of anything, so it was literally a clean slate.

Finished bedroom 1 The canvas photo was taken at Hug Point during our anniversary trip last October. We were laying on a grassy knoll above a waterfall that flows into the Pacific Ocean.

Finished bedroom 2I love that he builds stuff.  And I love that he’s already looking for inspiration for his next project: a sliding bookcase as a secret door.

Winter in the Great Smoky Mountains


We drove through the national park yesterday to see what winter did to the mountains. Beauty! Icy! Cold!

Pictures are behind the cut. Enjoy.

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Charleston in Pictures, Part Two

As I ignore “Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater!” and other exclamations blowing my way from the boys’ bedrooms, I offer another batch of photos from Charleston.

_DSC0206 _DSC0213 _DSC0222 _DSC0228 _DSC0229 _DSC0243 _DSC0246 _DSC0265 _DSC0290 _DSC0292 _DSC0297Just in case I didn’t know I was home from vacation, the dog made sure to vomit his dinner on the living room carpet last night and chew up one of Jeremy’s Star Wars cups. He’s sweet to welcome me home so appropriately.

Charleston in Pictures, Part One

Karin and I had a wonderful time on the coast of South Carolina, and in lieu of trying to describe everything with words, I’ll talk in pictures.

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To be brief:

- Last night’s Maundy Thursday service was profound for us. Having never recognized the Last Supper as it originally occurred, having never seen a church’s chancel stripped of all its decoration, having never felt the cold sorrow of a silent congregation in thought over Jesus’ arrest and impending sentence, I didn’t know what to expect. Chuck and I were both very  moved by it, while both boys sat more quietly and thoughtfully than ever. Before this week, we’d not observed Holy Week at all, at least not with any sort of special mid-week church service or personal rituals. Easter has always been about the resurrection, of course, but we’ve since discovered that you cannot truly know the impact of Easter morning until you’ve felt the sorrow of the days preceding it.

- The boys and I are going to begin an intensive school schedule on Monday and it will last throughout all of April. Jackson is mostly done with his curriculum, so really my efforts will be directed towards Jeremy to complete his third grade year by mid-May. This is because I am starting graduate school in mid-May and I really don’t want our assignments to overlap. I may be efficient and organized, but I’m not crazy. We need to finish one before we start the other.

- Major had his splint removed this week though he’s still hobbling around like he’s injured. The Mommy Guilt continues. Our poor puppy just cannot catch a break. He’s still adorable as can be.

See how we’re not letting him on the furniture?

Buddies- And finally, this is an incredible video for which I wish I could take credit. Some people are so creative! The woman who made it gives this brief description: I asked a six year old what my movie should be about, and this is what he told me.

The video is a seven-minute commitment, but it’s really worth watching. The child is a little speck of wisdom, particularly when he says, “You just think of something else until the nervous has gone out of you.”

At least bookmark it so you can watch it later.

The Science of Procrastination

I won’t completely out myself and tell you the specific areas in which I’m procrastinating, but I will admit that I’m having a hard time doing some things I really need to do. What in the world is that about? This isn’t my usual deal. I’m not typically so… lazy. I have this insane list of tasks to accomplish but my mouse keeps clicking on Pinterest, other blogs, random links… I’m trying to relax and enjoy my surfing but I KNOW this is only feeding the rebellion. Must. Stop. Surfing.

Don’t you know I found a video on the science behind procrastination.

If you are reading this blog, then you are probably in the same boat as me. Let’s commiserate.

Happy Weekend to you! Now go do what you’re supposed to be doing!

Take Me There

This video is old news for all the Chattanooga people, but not for the rest of you. WOW. It’s so well done! There is something to be said for quality.

At first, I couldn’t tell if this was footage of real people, because honestly it reminded me of the Madurodam in Holland (a miniatures park). But no, this is real.

I don’t particularly want to live in Chattanooga again, but it’s very nostalgic. It’s where Chuck and I became an Us and where we started a family. We have precious friends and family there, and every time we go back to visit, I replay scenes in my head from high school and college and get all warm and fuzzy.

Enjoy and Happy Weekend!

Wonder Mom

I was given my birthday gift last week when I stumbled upon it (oops!) so yesterday was all about the cards. Many of you sent sweet cards that had me in stitches or feeling nostalgic. But I have to say that my favorite cards are the ones drawn by my boys.

Their personalities are summed up so perfectly on these pieces of paper.

Jeremy drew me and him in the backyard, representing how much work we’ve been doing over the last few weeks. Of course, we’re smiling and loving every minute of it. (He and I are drawn in yellow crayon, so it’s a little hard to see.) Still, he drew this picture with a lot of thought and wanted to be told how well done it was.

And now Jack. My imaginative little guy does not like drawing, coloring or anything of the sort, but he’ll muster through it for a birthday card. He drew us as superheroes. Nothing fancy, just happy faces and labels. However, he ran out of room to write “Wonder Woman” so he simplified by writing “Wonder Mom.” Don’t you love that we’re holding hands? Sweet Jackson. So uncomplicated and affectionate.

These are keepers.

Ramshackle Gingerbread

This year I resolved to spend as little money as possible on the annual Gingerbread House, simply because I’ve been known to overdo it and have mounds of leftover candy laying around until Easter. (Here is last year’s house. All of those M&Ms wound up on my hips.) So, I selected seven one-dollar bags of non-threatening candy and decided to find other decorating solutions from the pantry (like cereal and Annie’s Chocolate Chip Bunnies). The result is a make-shift gingerbread house that looks… okay. Jeremy and Jackson love it, which is the point, but I know we could do better. Considering I spent $7 on the project, I won’t complain.

Plus, there’s no leftover candy. My waistline thanks me.

Welcome, Friday!

It’s going to be a super duper weekend for a number of reasons – the first being that it’s Girls Weekend. Susan and Lesli (with Henry) will be here tonight. (The estrogen-testosterone balance won’t be as lopsided as it usually is in this house.) We’ll lay low since Baby Henry can’t join us for cocktails so I suspect we’ll do more lounging in the living room than hanging in the lounge. Still, Girls Weekend is one of the events I look forward to most each season.

The weather is entirely autumn. It’s been rainy, chilly, and the fall colors are so vibrant. Out every window is a lovely view. Salem is loving it, too.

Finally, it’s Halloween weekend! The boys are so excited! Chuck carved our pumpkin last night (with power tools!) and we made some Halloween crafts this morning during school. I hope we can make it to Boo at the Zoo at some point, too.

I hope you all have a fabulously fantastic weekend! I plan to.

PS. Someone knows my love language. :)

Tailgate and the Fall Wall

One of my favorite features of the new-to-us Volvo is that it has a mini-tailgate. I have a lot of memories that involve conversations had while sitting on a tailgate (though it’s always been in the back of a truck), so to have a tailgate again is both nostalgic and handy.

This week we made collages out of autumn leaves, acorns and other things we found outside. I also had a dying bouquet of fall flowers from which to pick. Jeremy and I had fun arranging our Fall Wall but one person in particular isn’t really “into” crafts.

Can you guess who?

Home to Autumn

After a week in warm, sunny Florida, it was really nice to come home to autumn. East Tennessee is beautiful right now, so we decided to go for a drive through Cades Cove yesterday to see the fall colors.

(This first video is for Michele.)

[Song credit: The Decemberists, “January Hymn”]

Driving the scenic loop around Cades Cove gave us an opportunity to see animals like deer and wild turkeys, and the stable horses getting their exercise.


On our way home Chuck remarked that thousands of people have to drive hundreds of miles to come here, but not us. The Great Smoky Mountains are only 20 minutes away from our house. It’s a little dream come true.

Like Florida on our last night of vacation, Tennessee gave us a colorful “goodnight” on the way home.

Yotel and the Delano Homestead

We were fortunate to have a handful of people to stay with while on our vacation – Lesli and Jimmy, Aunt Debbie and Uncle Bob, and my parents – but while Chuck and I were away on mini-trip without the kids, we elected to stay in out-of-the-ordinary places.

In fact, that’s usually how we like to travel. Why stay in a boring hotel when you can sleep in a room from the future, where you have to check in via computer at Mission Control?

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I’d drink tea for this.

I don’t drink tea, hot or cold, which I fully understand is wrong and offensive since I was born and raised in the South. But I’d totally choke down some afternoon tea if I could have these tea towels for tea time.

Happy Royal Wedding Day, fellow lovers of the British Monarchy! I’m totally hooked.  (Need a wedding program? Go here.) I woke up just in time to watch Miss Middleton walk down the aisle to marry her prince. She looked so lovely and he so handsome. Would’ve been an amazing time to be in London.

Oh the charm of Etsy

I stumbled upon MarkHed Designs as my Etsy treasure hunt continues. I adore quaint, simple jewelry, and these have a touch of cleverness. Oh I’m so tempted!

After dropping Jeremy off at school this morning Jack and I exchanged this conversation:

J2: Mommy, I like Halloween. Halloween is my favorite.

Me: Oh yeah?

J2: Yeah. I’m gonna be Anakin again, or IronMan, or Spider-Man, or Batman, or sumping like that… What do you want to be for Halloween?

Me: A Tennessee resident.




Happy Weekend! And if you happen to get the February issue of Amarillo Magazine this weekend, take a look at page 40.

Love Makes a Family

I’ve continued to seek and find on Etsy this week and stumbled upon these adorable nursery prints from Barking Bird Art. I love how simple line drawings are, especially when paired with a muted color palette.

Because it takes love to make a family (and in our case, a subsequent court date), this one is my fave:

You can see the full line of nursery art pieces here.

And do not read into the “nursery” flavor of this post. That ship has sailed, people.