Autumn 2019

More has gone on here than our trip to England and Wales, so it would be a shame to make it seem like that’s been the entirety of our October and November. It would be terrible if you missed Jackson’s Halloween costume when he dressed up at a retired clown.

He and his friend, Libby, trick-or-treated together again this year, and Jackson received many compliments on his costume!

Jeremy competed in another chess tournament and brought home two more trophies. Between soccer and chess, the shelves in his bedroom are filling up quickly!

In early November, we went to see Ryan Bingham at the Tennessee Theatre, which was a fancy venue for his style of music, I have to say. But that meant Corey came to visit and that’s always worthwhile!

The following weekend we took a quick trip to Chattanooga to celebrate Matt’s 41st birthday, which meant I got some time with Amy!

We became instant friends after Matt started dating her in 2000. So much of my early years of motherhood unfolded alongside Amy’s. Now, whenever we squeeze in a visit, we unload all the toils and joys of raising teenagers, which is a far cry from naptimes, midnight feedings, and what happened on the latest episode of The Backyardigans.

These three have been friends since middle and high school.

In other news, Jackson wrapped his fall session of equine therapy, and Jeremy finally got a proper haircut. I decided it was time he started seeing my stylist. His hair deserves it, after all.

Peak colors didn’t show up in East Tennessee until early November, but when they finally popped, they were bright and vibrant. I snapped this photo while on a run one foggy morning.

Lastly, we had a brief and glorious snowfall that dropped the same day as Disney+. It was a Tuesday, but it felt just like Christmas morning. Somehow we managed to do some school work.

However, I did notice that this was the first year that the boys didn’t race to play in the snow upon waking up. The last time we had a decent snowfall was January of this year. It was gorgeous, and the boys couldn’t wait to play in it. This time, however, they didn’t mention sledding or a snowball fight. They didn’t even have the curiosity to go outside and touch the flakes. It felt significant, like a piece of their childhood was over.

Maybe that won’t be the case if we get another big snowfall, something grander and long-lasting. Or maybe it means I need to suit up and go out with them.

Thanksgiving is this week, and we’re going to have a full house of family members on Thursday. For the first time in 20 years, we’re mixing sides. We’ve always taken turns – Thanksgiving with one side, Christmas with the other. We’re on the same rotation as my sister and her family, and doing it this way kept holidays fair and uncomplicated.

But as family members have passed away, and others have moved closer to us, it seems silly to keep things separated. We can all be together. We can all share the table. On Thursday, we’ll have ten people here, and I’m happy to cook for all of them.

East Tennessee Autumn

Despite the drizzle, we spent yesterday afternoon in the mountains. Chuck did a bit of fly fishing and the boys threw rocks in the Little River. We hiked a little. Mostly, we enjoyed the scenery. It won’t be like this for much longer.















Autumnal Sunday Afternoon

We’ve gone to this corn maze every year since moving back to East Tennessee. I’m sure there are other good ones in the area, but we are creatures of habit.

It pains me to acknowledge that October is nearly over. It just flew by and I’m fighting a little sadness about it. To cope, I’m focusing on what’s coming down the road, namely the holidays, seeing my family, and NaNoWriMo.

Neighborhood foliage



Problem solving in the maze

Bringing up the back

Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater. Jeremy strayed off the path.

Cheater cheater pumpkin eater

bumble bee

fall colors 2015

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.


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 “Throwback Thursday: Durango 2009”

Plotting on a walk

This is our neighborhood. Well, sort of. It’s the space behind our actual neighborhood where I like to walk Major. Recently, it’s been in this space that I’ve created much of novel’s plot. It’s nearly four miles to the end and back, and the time it takes  to circle around depends on whether I’m walking or running, or if Major gets sidetracked by squirrels and curious cows.

East Tennessee is most beautiful right now, so I thought you should see it.    camera_20131107163836374_20131107171647368NaNoWriMo Word Count to date: 20,350 (out of 50,000)


We were sitting at the dinner table Tuesday night when Jeremy noticed through the patio window that the sunset was particularly bright – so bright that it was casting an incredible light on all the autumn leaves in its path. I spun around to look for myself and immediately popped up from the chair to grab my camera.

A red and orange sunset is always beautiful, but a purple and pink sunset is truly magnificent.As the sun tucked further down behind the horizon, a gray shadow rose along the tree line. All of that bright red faded away within minutes.

I  autumn in Tennessee. Happy Weekend and Go Vols!

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”

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?

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.

Math Time

Both boys do very well with math, so as long as attitudes are in check, math time is smooth sailing.

We’ve had three days of rain and cool temperatures, which has been so delightful. The windows have been open all day to let in the sweet aroma of autumn. This is the very best time of year – chili on the stove, football on TV and leaves rustling outside in the wind.

I’m well aware that summer could creep back at any moment, but I’m choosing to ignore that.

The Best Shade of Orange

It’s that time of year – almost. We’re a week and a half away from the start of Tennessee football, so it was time to show our support. I’ve waited all year to spend autumn in east Tennessee – for the foliage, for the festivals and for football. We’re working on scoring tickets without having to sell one of the children to afford them.

I’m back to spending mornings on the back deck now that the overnight temperatures are dropping. Summer was too smothering, but yesterday it was a delightful 59 and today it was 65. It won’t be long until the leaves start to change and then I suspect we’ll do a lot of school work outside. Wouldn’t you?

Another Trip to Maxwell’s

I joined Jeremy on his field trip to Maxwell’s Pumpkin Farm last Friday, which was a blast as usual, especially when there were only a few of us on the jumping pillow and I could really spread out and get some height on my jumps. (Don’t worry. I took turns.)

The only thing missing from the field trip was colder weather. Once the sun was overhead, all the running around made us parched and sweaty. Still, it’s my favorite Amarillo spot to be in autumn. If you’re local and haven’t been yet, you have just two weekends left.

My favorite photo from the day is the wheelbarrow of pumpkins collected by Jeremy’s class. Each student got to peruse the pumpkin patch and choose a little one to take home. I followed Jeremy but gave no direction or opinion on his pumpkin of choice. His is the tiny green one, and after showing it to me, he said, “I like it because it’s different.” I couldn’t agree more.