Blog Challenge Day 14: What’s in my bag?

This is random, but okay.

What’s in my handbag?

Instead of pulling out the usual stuff (wallet, car keys), I pulled out five things that seem the tiniest bit interesting.

whats in my bag

  1. Baggie of candy corn and pumpkins. Only in October do I carry these treats around in my purse. I like to have them when I’m sitting at stop lights or in a meeting or at any other random point when my brain spikes.
  2. Small notepad and pen. This is must for any writer, or at least for any writer with . There have been many times when an idea surfaced and I was far away from my computer. It could be a sentence of dialogue, a plot point, or even a name I hear in public that I might want to use in a story. Occasionally the notebook comes in handy for quick grocery lists and whatnot. I realize some people use apps on their phones for this sort of list-making, but I prefer the old-fashioned way of using pen and paper.
  3. Blueberry Muffin Larabar. You never know when you’re going to be hungry. Though I must not have been hungry recently because this Larabar has been flattened from being at the bottom of my purse for months.
  4. Hand sanitizer. Two specific activities prompt me to use hand sanitizer – pumping gas and grocery shopping. All the touching, all the germs. I shudder.
  5. Security ID cards for co-op. We joined a new co-op this year and we’re all loving it. It has improved our homeschooling experience tenfold for several reasons, but one thing I like in particular is the organization’s safety measures. To enter and exit the building, we have to swipe our ID cards. There is safety and order where there could be chaos. Music to my ears.

Blog Challenge Day 5: My guilty pleasure

What’s my guilty pleasure?

Do I have to pick just one? Nope.

YouTube videos. All kinds. Beauty gurus, BookTubers, TED talks, photographers, whoever sounds like they know what they’re talking about. Sometimes I pay close attention, but sometimes the videos are on in the background. It’s not entirely mindless because I almost always walk away having learned something. Why guilty? It sounds like a time waster.

Food. All kinds. Sweet foods, salty foods, savory foods. To be completely specific, I could eat a package of Double Stuf Oreos in one sitting and I spend most of October eating candy corn, but neither of those are the wisest choices in the world.

God Help Me Candy Corn

In the past, food has a problem for me, and if I’m entirely truthful, it can still be a problem if I’m not totally straight in the head. BUT, I try to see food as two things: 1) Nourishment, and 2) Celebratory companions. Why guilty? Oh, gluttony, I guess. But life is too short to eat bad food. Eat well, friends!

Bookstores. That’s a no-brainer, right? Why guilty? The library is the better choice economically, but you have to give all the books back. Where’s the fun in that?

Wine. Pinot Grigio, nothing pretentious, but not too cheap. Why guilty? Southern Baptist residual guilt.

Trips with the hubs. Marriage is hard, right? I mean, it can get crazy hard sometimes just because life in general can get hard. One thing Chuck and I realized a while back is that time away together is like a shot of adrenaline for our relationship. It’s like carb-loading before a long race. It gives us a big boost and reminds us why we agreed to this marriage thing to begin with. Whether it’s a long weekend or nine days in the Pacific Northwest, getting out of town with my husband is a guilty pleasure that never gets old. Why guilty? Because shouldn’t we be spending that money on our kids?


Flying out

Throwback to camping, and hello autumn

Hey, remember when we used to go camping? Circa 2012?

Millers and Prichards

I am so ready for this again.

It’s nearly my favorite month and there’s much to look forward to. Our wedding anniversary, SEC conference football, an evening with Liz Gilbert. My heart swells at the thought.

Come October 1, I’ll officially be in the holiday spirit – the sort of spirit that enjoys eating copious amounts Brach’s candy corn while ignoring tooth pain. The kind of spirit that burns autumn harvest candles and orders Salted Caramel Mochas. The kind of spirit that opens up all the windows in the house so the temperature drops to brisk 60 degrees. Hello fuzzy blankets and wool socks! Hello boots and skinny jeans! Hello chili on the stove and slow-cooked roast in the oven!

Hello, autumn. I’m so glad you finally showed up.


Happy Birthday, Salem!

Salem used to be a shop cat in Amarillo, Texas, and before that he was a stray. When I got him two years ago the veterinarian said he was probably five or six years old, based on his size and teeth. Is today really Salem’s birthday? I have no clue, but we sure like spoiling our Halloween cat on October 31. We need no other reason!

Yes, we sang to him. He was annoyed, but that’s pretty much his default disposition.I found this Halloween card at the store a while ago and fully intended to send it to someone, but then I decided I couldn’t let it go because it so perfectly suited us.

Have fun trick-or-treating tonight! I’ll have pictures of my other boys tomorrow.


Camp at Indian Boundary

On a great recommendation, we set off for Indian Boundary on Thursday afternoon. We haven’t camped since we went to Hyde Memorial Park outside Santa Fe (which was one of our favorite trips ever), so we’ve been very eager to go. October is the best time of year to camp in East Tennessee, so we got right to it. Indian Boundary is just south of us in Cherokee National Forest. (More photos behind the cut!)

Continue reading “Camp at Indian Boundary”


It seems like there are a lot of fall breaks going on around us, so I’ve decided we’ll also take a day (or two) off for fun. One of the things I learned very quickly last year is that homeschooling requires a lot of balance, specifically in the areas of time, attention, and effort. We need to be focused and diligent, but also adventuresome and spontaneous. We need structure and guidelines, but also curiosity and exploration. I love that we have the freedom to run down rabbit trails if we want to.

Balance is important for me too, because if all I ever focused on was their curriculum and schedule, I’d be bored, bitter and bossy. Like anyone, I need my own space to run or read, to write or create. The boys need downtime with room to breathe and run wild. For our family, there is no better place to find balance than in the woods, and I can smell the campfire already.

Yes, I’m taking my candy corn.

Wrestling Penguins

So there we were, me and Jack, eating candy corn and watching the penguins. Jeremy was in his science class learning about gravity by dropping unfertilized eggs off a bridge with the rest of his zoo class friends. Jack and I were enjoying some time together. Just us.

While I’m relaxing and lining up candy corn pieces on my leg, I casually look over at Jackson, who has his nose pressed up against the glass of the penguin exhibit.

“Mom, WHAT are they DOING?” he asks.

“What do you mean?” I say. The penguins look like they’re just standing there, probably bored, but I get up anyway and walk to the glass where Jackson is standing.

Oh. Now I see.

“Well,” I pause, considering my words. “It looks like they’re wrestling.”

“Wrestling?!?” he laughs. “That’s weird.”

“Yes, it is,” I gulp, not ready to define “wrestling” to a six-year-old, as it pertains to girls and boys and all of that jittering between them.

“Hey, let’s go see the red panda!” I say.

“Okay!” he replies. And off we went, giving the penguins some privacy and saving myself from a scary conversation.

The Best Month

Welcome, October! You are loved in this house.

The boys are already talking about Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating plans, but I’m having none of that just yet because I plan to enjoy all the other 30 days of October first. Yesterday I brought out the ceramic and blown-glass pumpkins from the holiday containers, as well as the faux autumn leaf garland and pumpkin spiced candles. Fall is here, and I’m not going to wish it away so fast just to get to Halloween.

This truly is the best month to be in east Tennessee. Spring time is a close second, but there is nothing like watching ripe green summer leaves turn every shade of orange, red and yellow.  The temperatures are perfect for open windows, evenings on the front porch and star gazing. (Camping trip to come!)

Halloween will certainly be celebrated, especially because our favorite feline will turn another year older and we wouldn’t miss an opportunity to spoil him rotten.  Of course, we don’t know Salem’s real birthday, but October 31 seemed appropriate, so I declared it as such.
But first, there is much to do in the way of visiting pumpkin patches and getting lost in corn mazes. There’s also an anniversary to celebrate (12 years!), friends to visit, and a slew of great football games to watch. Happy Best Month of the Year! Let’s celebrate with a new bag of candy corn, shall we?

Viva la Candy Corn

I was fooling myself by thinking I could wait until October to buy candy corn. Life is too short to wait until October. The boys keep stealing from my stash, which is wholly unacceptable in this house. It wasn’t entirely hidden but it was on my desk and that’s a VERY clear indication that the candy corn is MINE all MINE. Also, a certain nine-year-old keeps snatching the pumpkins, WHICH ARE MY FAVORITE, and as soon as I catch him in the act it’s all over for him. He’ll be pulling from his piggy bank to buy me a new bag.

Don’t think I won’t make him.

A Humble Prayer

Dear God,

I saw the fall decor outside at Kroger today. You know how I love it. All of those pumpkins and mums and haystacks. Every September I have this problem, and here we are all over again. There I was with grocery money in hand and instead of going straight to the milk and soy creamer I considered buying cornstalks instead. How beautiful will my porch look with cornstalks flanking the front door! Did You see the UT orange mums, Lord? Five pallets of them! I mean seriously. You knew just what I wanted when You created a mum the perfect shade of orange.

Lord, I’m on a budget. This means I need Your all-powerful, super duper strength to keep my spending efforts on food to feed my family, not autumn decor to impress the neighbors. This means I can’t go to Hobby Lobby unless I have money from heaven to blow. (Is that a possibility, Lord?) It’s nearing my favorite month, oh God, and it will be especially difficult to hold back. I pray You keep me focused, Lord, so that I may not bankrupt my family on wooden scarecrow yard stakes and pumpkin-scented candles. I don’t need a new harvest flag to welcome people to my home because last year’s flag is sufficient enough. I am trying to be content.

And Lord, please limit my access to Martha Stewart’s website, because that woman does not help me at all.

Most humbly and desperately,


P.S. To show my sincerity, I have limited myself to only buying candy corn during the month of October. As you know, Chuck did not know about that rule, and therefore already bought candy corn to make me happy. And so to make him happy, I ate some. You understand, I’m sure.

I was trying to wait until October.

If y’all know me in real life, or if we’re longtime friends on Facebook, then you probably know about my candy corn problem.

It’s bad.

It’s so bad that I gave myself a rule this year: No candy corn until October. No mid-September sugar coma.

Then Chuck went to Target. He thought he was being nice.

In other news, I’m planning a baby shower, which I haven’t done since Pinterest was created, so I’m completely engrossed in all the new ideas out there for event planning. Oh Internet, you are so creative!