In the path of totality

We were some of the lucky ones whose house was situated in the path of totality, so a handful of friends from Knoxville and Chattanooga joined us for the eclipse yesterday. Before the solar party got started, the boys played outside and got all hot and sweaty. We had plenty of water and pizza to keep everyone hydrated and happy.

They each had glasses, so occasionally they’d stop to check the status of the moon’s progress.

Before totality hit, our neighbor rode over on her horse, which was a huge treat for all of us.

You don’t go into a total eclipse thinking you’ll also get to pet a horse!

Catherine was excited to feed Shera some clover.

As the time neared for totality, we all gathered on the back patio for a good view.

Right before the moon fully covered the sun, all the kids jumped on the retaining wall.

We reached totality! I wish I’d had the forethought to videotape everyone’s reactions. All the “oohs” and “ahhs” from kids and adults alike…

Glasses off! I didn’t want to use a flash and ruin the view, so this photo was taken with only the dimmest light from the dark sky:

What a treat! We witnessed something that can’t be described with ordinary words. While science explains a total eclipse with accuracy, I felt we experienced God’s creativity at its finest.

And since I never make it into these photos, thank you, Karin, for capturing this one!

Catherine was less interested in the eclipse and more interested in exploring my house and enjoying snacks. I didn’t mind one bit! Love her!

Thanks to everyone who joined us! We were happy to have you!

Signs of Life Day Fifteen

When the day is as ordinary as today was, finding goodness can be challenging. I had little interaction with the outside world. School went along this morning as usual. I watched a bit of news, wrote a story, sorted through emails. Nothing extraordinary happened, and if nothing extraordinary happens for the rest of the evening, Wednesday will close out as a forgettable day. 

Yet when 6:30 p.m. rolled around, I felt a sudden rush of gratitude. My husband and children gathered into the kitchen. Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, and broccoli were placed on mismatched plates. The nightly game of Blokus began, and Salem took his place on the table as Overlord.

This is dinner time in our home.

My introverted, sentimental self loves these enclosed moments, when it’s just the four of us (or six, if you count the pets). Our dinner routine is important to me. It is a big deposit in the childhood memory banks of my boys.

I can just hear Thanksgiving dinner 20 years from now:

“Remember when we played that board game every night at dinner and Mom and Dad always won?”

“Yeah, they teamed up against us!”

“I know! So unfair!” 

But they’ll laugh and tease us and know full well that they won plenty of times, particularly into the second year when their strategy skills improved. They will remember sitting at the table together, with Salem giving us the side-eye and waiting for his own dinner. They’ll remember how I cooked more often than not and that I loved the spontaneous baking of cookies that happened when I was in a happy mood. 

I hope they will look back at family dinner and recall it as actually was: a priority. 

This is my life, and while some days are uneventful and mundane, I am thankful for it. This is stuff is so simple, but oh, it is so good.

Signs of Life is a blog series I’m writing for February 2017. It was born out of desire to replace the negativity and despair that’s been bogging down our friendships, families, and communities after a tumultuous election season. This series won’t solve the world’s problems, but I hope it will create a speck of light and positivity when and where it is needed. 

Signs of Life Days Eleven and Twelve

The weekend was exactly what I hoped for. Sleeping in, lots of reading, plenty of time for exercise… The weird February weather translated to time spent outside – a run the Greenway and lesson planning on the porch.

On Sunday we took the tennis rackets and bag of tennis balls my grandfather gave us in January and made a solid attempt at playing. We’re all terrible and none of us know how to keep score, so we just whacked the ball back and forth until we were tired.

In between these wonderful memory-making moments were maddening political developments and a friend’s family crisis, events that pulled me straight out of a lovely moment and reminded me that life is hard and fragile.

Even very little things, like an overtired, grumpy teenager and a ten year old whose emotional development is a few years behind, challenged my mood and ability to see the good.

But I persisted, because I have to, because as a mother and homeschooler and anxious person, it’s too easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of everyday life, which isn’t productive, healthy, or helpful.

Instead, I must choose to find the good, to keep it in the forefront, and let it serve as a placeholder for when I’m tempted to dwell in the dark. If I don’t choose this, then I’m down, down, down, and then I bring down those around me.

It is true, at least in this household, that the woman sets the temperature of the room.  

Signs of Life is a blog series I’m writing for February 2017. It was born out of desire to replace the negativity and despair that’s been bogging down our friendships, families, and communities after a tumultuous election season. This series won’t solve the world’s problems, but I hope it will create a speck of light and positivity when and where it is needed. 

To Charleston and Back

Since Jeremy went to Disney World, we decided to take Jackson on a mini-trip to Charleston so he could have a memorable spring break too. Not knowing what to expect, he reveled in being the only child for a few days and staying in a hotel. He kept his fingers crossed that we’d visit books stores and the Charleston library. (We did!)

Charleston is beautiful, and though the temperatures were not ideal, we were happy to have lots of sunshine and low-key crowds. Chuck fished, Jackson jumped waves, and I took pictures of all of it.

Here’s the first photo dump.

A walk through Charleston

Anchor house

Jackson at Folly Beach

Wing span

Sandy feet

Catching sting rays

Ships

cobblestone

Washington Square

There’s no way that Charleston can be compared to Disney World (which Jeremy is loving, by the way), but there is something very special about spending one-on-one time with your kids. They are much more enjoyable when their personalities are allowed to shine, when there isn’t competition for attention or sibling rivalry to cast a shadow on a family vacation. Jackson was a delight, happy to go here or there, a little tired after a lot of walking, but nothing that an ice cream cone couldn’t fix.

Blue Bicycle Books Late afternoon on Folly Pink and white pompoms Southern mansion

A walk through the college

Have fun with your kids

If you know us personally, then you know we take humor very seriously. We rarely do anything without incorporating something funny, or in most cases, adding some element of prank on the kids.

Take, for example, a simple thing like washing the car. The boys are really interested in earning money right now, so we had them help Chuck in the driveway on Sunday. They were good sports and super helpful. Fantastic! We made sure not to miss the opportunity to thank them properly.

Water prank1 Water Prank2 Water prank3 Water prank4 Water prank5 I’m not sure there’s a better photo than this next one: Jeremy is ticked and offended. Jackson is shocked and screaming. Chuck is having the time of his life.Water prank6Pissed:
Water prank7Crying:
Water prank8 Hysterically laughing:Water prank9 No worries. They’re fine. They’re used to it. In fact, they should’ve known better! Water prank10