Making a home (Thanksgiving)

Homemaking. It's an actual title, a task, a balance that I have come to appreciate. That holidays and homes and meals and memories don't just come about. That my mother worked hard behind the scenes for decades pulling off the cozy, warm memories of my childhood. I've come to understand the balance it takes to cook and clean and organize and pack and travel gracefully while also pausing to kiss cheeks and toss footballs and bake cookies and watch Charlie Brown with patience, knowing that it will mean staying up later and losing some sleep so that it all comes together seamlessly. It's a mother's job. So yesterday we mixed grocery store errands with the children's museum, piles of laundry with a donut date and washing the dog with cookie baking. And at 6:00 the counter was covered in flour, Christmas music was playing and Loulie asked me to stop cooking to dance with her. I'm pretty sure this is why people have children. 
Today began with racing through downtown (Loulie's first with her own race number), trying to pack while Loulie keeps calling me in the room to watch the parade and heading to Augusta in just a few minutes. And I am overwhelmed with thankfulness; for this home, for this girl, for this family.
Here are a few pictures of our pre Thanksgiving with Bert's family in Highlands. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you too feel overwhelmed today with thankfulness for the blessings of family, friends and the constant grace of our Heavenly Father.


Summer Reads (June/July/August)

I have had this post sitting in my feed waiting to be published for three months now. Can we say lazy?! I pretty much kept up with my new years resolution but have slowed down some this fall with my three books per month goal. This summer gave me some must reads. Behind the Beautiful Forevers will change your life or at least your outlook on your place in the world. And Jeannette Walls second book did not disappoint either!

Bringing Up Girls
by James Dobson
Finished in June

If you have a daughter, this is possibly the scariest book you will ever read. Dobson of "Focus On the Family" obviously writes from a Christian perspective but really everyone could benefit from his research and point of view. It took him twice as long to write as Bringing up Boys with hundreds more pages of research. He discusses everything from Disney's billion dollar princess industry to protecting our daughters on the internet to discussing promiscuity. I found it fascinating as well as applicable. Don't expect to finish overnight. This is one I highlighted and dog eared to death in hope to go back to my notes again and again.
The House I Loved
The House I Loved
by Tatiana de Rosnay
Finished the first week of July

Historical fiction is my absolute favorite genre and I'm drawn to books having to do with French culture so this has been on my reading list for a few months. This was a simple and sweet story. I didn't know much about Napoleon's vision for a new Paris so I liked hearing about a time before the city was the romantic capital we think of today.  I think the reason I am drawn to historical fiction is because it often reveals how the same problems/situations/arguments/norms span across time. They may vary but an underlying similarity is always there. You could easily compare the main character's fear of moving forward, of change, of a new city, of new ideals to the same fears that we are facing in America today, especially during an election year. I related to the character's desire to hold on to the past, her desire to fight big government and her love for what she hoped was her staked out territory in a big and changing city. Not a must read, but definitely worth picking up if you enjoy any of the topics mentioned.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
by Katherine Boo
Finished at the end of July

I could write about five posts on this book alone! I picked it up at the library because after reading so much fiction set in India or around the Indian culture (Jhumpa Lahiri is one of my favs), I thought it would be interesting to really delve into some non-fiction. It was a long one so I almost returned it after one chapter and reaching my due date. I can tell you that finishing it was well worth the eight dollars in late fees. Written by an American who married an Indian man, moved to India and fell in love with its culture; Boo submerges herself in the slum life of Mumbai's under city. She tells the tale of several real life characters while throwing at you questions of morality, human suffering, economic growth, and how EVERYONE is affected by the global market. It was enlightening, haunting, fascinating and something I still cannot quit thinking about. I think everyone should read this just to have the experience of living beyond their front door. Go out, read it and call me--I would love to do a book club on this one. I loved it!

Half Broke Horses
by Jeannette Walls
Listened to on cd mid August

If you read The Glass Castle, the this should be on top of your reading list. After being constantly stopped in the street, at book readings, and being emailed all the time about her less than normal mother; Walls set out to write a book explaining her mother's life. The more she and her mother talked however, it became clear that her mother's story could not be separated from her grandmother's. After some coaxing from her mother, Walls decided to write a book based on the life of her grandmother.

Where We Belong
by Emily Giffin
Finished the very first of August

I have loved Emily Giffin since she first introduced us to Darcy and Rachel in Something Borrowed (don't see the movie, get the book). She never disappoints and I have been excited about this book since April and just waiting for it to hit the shelf on July 31st.  Called the modern day Jane Austen, she truly writes how a woman wants to read. Though her stories are everyday concerns or issues women may deal with, she has such a fresh point of view and somehow always makes it a page turner. I finished the book in a day. Not thought provoking but a perfect summer read, one I might pick up again. I love it when a book creates a place you might want to go back to. And not to give anything away--it covers one of my favorite topics.

The Mermaid Chair
by Sue Monk Kidd
Finished last week of August

I thought this book was more recent than early millenium and for some reason the the tone seemed older than that. I listened to this on book cd while painting the upstairs for two days so I wasn't able to completely delve into it. Good book, good plot, not a life changer. I would suggest as a beach read but not in a Dorothy Benton Frank kind of way--much better than that. 


All good things..(a list)

1. The election is over. I am moving on. If I see one more post on politics, I think my brain will implode. You do not normally find me saying things like this, but I think it is time for some surface conversation and some good wine. Kind of thankful that some good, thoughtless movies are coming out next week. Thank you Judd Apatow and the overrated cast from Twilight.

2. So I have been sporting a barking cough for a month now. The upside is that my abs feel tight (read feel not are). The downside is that it has taken three rounds of antibiotics and two doctor visits to figure out that I have pneumonia.  My window sill looks like that of an 88 year old woman with the amount of meds I am on. Praying for a speedy recovery and that this last antibiotic kills it all off cause we all know mama can't be sick.

3. I have given up soft drinks!!! This is a major accomplishment here people. When you leave your house, child in tow, just to get a Coke Zero; there is a problem. I got kind of convicted about this addiction when Loulie kept asking for sips of my grown up drink. I would tell her it was so bad for her to which she one day responded "Why you drinking it?" Hmm--exactly! So I gave up all the chemical ridden, splenda infused, carbonated crack beverages and am now chemical free in the beverage department. Coffee you ask?--I will NEVER give up coffee! Loulie Bug--I did this for you and yet it is me benefitting in the long run too.
*Side note--I still majorly jones for just a hit the same time everyday.

4. After debating for five years, we have finally installed windows in our 60 year old house. I say we loosely; meaning Bert has installed them and I have patiently put up with all the tools, dust, and mess that comes with a home improvement project. I'm pretty impressed with his skills. Lowe's quoted us $15,000 to install the windows so Bert watched some online videos, read a few directions and did it himself. I had no idea windows could change my life so much! I can actually open them on a beautiful day, for now there is not a water stain or mark of dust on them and our power bill has already gone down 150%. Not to mention the look of our house has improved immensely!

5. I have about 1,000,000 books I want to share. I haven't even posted on my summer reads yet but I have finished some MUST READS lately that I am dying to have someone to discuss them with. I kept up with my NY resolution to read three books a month through August and now I'm lagging a bit. I did get in the mail the most beautiful coffee table book the other day. I found it in a store in Mt Pleasant for $60, went home and found it on Amazon for $2.75!!! I love it and look through it at night during commercials. 

6. While I have been writing this, Loulie has put her baby to bed and is now saying prayers with her. Melt my heart! Crazy how they can make you want to pull your hair out one minute and then make you want to have 10 the next. Since right before this, she was meowing at me from the time out chair after throwing her breakfast at the dog. Like I said, it all spins on a dime.

That's all for now--back with Halloween, mountain, and festival pictures. Writing all this down somehow aligns me--I need this outlet.


When in doubt, use the words of those wiser than yourself

Tonight half the country will go to bed disappointed and discouraged. Regardless of whether you lean to the right or to the left, I think this election has left people on both sides discouraged over the general behavior of friends, co-workers, family, and the number one offender--Facebook friends. (Doesn't anyone have a filter anymore?!) I haven't posted anything political so far. Do we all agree that social media needs to be as shallow as possible for the next few weeks--let's stick to pictures of kids and narcissistic vacation photos shall we? Your dog in a Halloween costume--that's what I want to see when I'm surfing through my newsfeed in the DMV line. ;)
But after seeing so many opinions and spending the last several months researching candidates and topics, I opened my book before bed and landed on this...

Dear Lord, you have sent me into your world to preach your word. So often the problems of the world seem complex and intricate that your word strikes me as embarrassingly simple. Many times I feel tongue tied in the company of people who are dealing with the world's social and economic problems.
But you, O Lord, said, "Be clever as serpents and innocent as doves."Let me retain innocence and simplicity in the midst of this complex world. I realize that I have to be informed, that I have to study the many aspects of the problems facing the world, and that I have to try to understand as well as possible the dynamics of our contemporary society. But what really counts is that all this information, knowledge, and insight allow me to speak more clearly and unambiguously your truthful word. Do not allow evil powers to seduce me with the complexities of the world's problems, but give me the strength to think clearly, speak freely, and act boldly in your service. Give me the courage to show the dove in a world so full of serpents."---Henri Nouwen

Thank you Mr. Nouwen. You took my thoughts and ordered them much more eloquently. The perfect prayer whispered at the perfect moment. I thought others might need to hear it too. A reminder that we serve a Sovereign, Just and Almighty God. To put all ill thoughts and negativity aside. To wake up tomorrow and act boldly in is service.



It will not always be this way but it just so happens that the beginning of preschool, first day of ballet and Loulie's birthday fall within days of each other. I know she gets older/bigger/more grown up everyday but having all these tangible reminders at once kind of sends me into an emotional tailspin. I may have been the only mother who cried in the hallway the first day of school while my child happily walked right in. The difference this year is that we've done most of this before--I felt seasoned. I wasn't the new kid on the block anymore. And Loulie--she inherited her mother's nerd genes and loves school! I hope it stays this way and that she's always so excited to see her friends and teachers.

 Beginning about 6 months ago, Loulie started asking about her birthday party. EV-E-RY-DAY. Her main requests: 1) that it be an Ariel party at the beach, 2) that she have an Ariel cake and 3) that all her friends be there to sing her happy birthday. She talked about this so much that I began to get a little nervous that our plans would not meet her expectations. Then I remembered that she is just 3 and to keep it low key. So we had a little beach picnic with a few of her little friends at my parents' house. Bert's landlord lent us his golf cart to shuttle tired kids back and forth.I packed sandwiches and fruit in sandbuckets for lunch. I am no party planner and entertaining a pack full of littles kind of scares me. But thankfully mother nature cooperated and the day went off without a hitch.
 Another of Loulie's requests was to BE Ariel (WTH!) so we found some mermaid fabric to make her this dress and headband. I may have lost my fingerprints in the process but she felt so beautiful so whats a few burns?

 Loulie and her friend, Madison in the picture below, are fourth and third generation Sullivan's Island neighbors. So fun to have all of them there!
 I'm just going to go ahead and make the most biased comment ever--these four are the sweetest girls you will ever meet. They partied long after the other guests left, pretending to be mermaids. Below is a shot of them resting on the beach after just being saved from a fisherman's net. I don't know where they come up with this stuff but it makes my heart glad for Loulie to have sweet girlfriends to play with. I am so thankful for them and their parents.

 The actual day of her birthday we made cake batter pancakes (pinterest fail) and had a few presents all set up. She didn't ask for anything but we had hinted at a kitchen. Bert and I were all excited with cameras ready to see the look on her face when she walked in. She walked right past it, sat down and started eating. Finally, we we like 'So, um, do you notice ANYTHING?!" Completely surprised, Loulie goes "That's for ME?" Best money we've ever spent. She has logged hours in her little kitchen that is no so little. I think I am about to move the kitchen table out to accommodate Loulie's furniture. (Never say never--I always promised I wouldn't let children's toys take over my house)

There aren't really words to express what it's like watching someone grow up. The gratitude I have to God for making us her parents, for loaning us His child--it's overwhelming. I wanted Loulie to feel loved and special and appreciated for  the kind daughter she is and for how proud she makes us. I think we accomplished that.


Easing Back In

The irony of this whole blogging hobby is the more you have to write about, the less time you have to write it. Life has been so, so full of blessings lately but I have also been tired trying to keep up. Bert stays on me for taking on too much and saying YES to everyone. (I'll go ahead and put on record that I said no to two people at the beginning of September.) I get wrapped up in wanting to live in the moment, enjoying these lightning speed years of Loulie being little and discovering so much all at once with, but also wanting to document it all; record each funny saying, photograph all the funny fashion statements, as well as remember the thoughts going on in my own mind. It's a ying and yang this new era of technology and the opportunity to create in so many ways. 
So I'm easing back in--giving myself grace in not writing every day or every week (obviously) but trying to record the stuff that inspires me hopefully before it escapes my mind and we're moving on to the next memory. So for the next couple of weeks, I'll be all out of chronological order. (Yes, I can do this. Oldest, Type A children can be spontaneous and out of order. Right?!) Catching up or reminiscing, I'll call it both. 
In the meantime....



Loulie is on vacation

I am actually sitting in bed with a cup of coffee reading blogs with the Today Show in the background. I think the last time I did this was 2003. I got in late last night from Atlanta where Loulie and I met up with my mother, stayed in a "castle", ate at my favorite restaurant and hit a few of our favorite shopping spots. We are so not shoppers but once or twice a year I love to just look around, get ideas and show Loulie pretty things. These days everything is somehow correlated to what a princess would use. The winding stairs at Boxwoods?-- just like what Belle walked down. The bathtub at the hotel?--what Ariel took a bath in. We were there a mere 24hrs but it was fun. So fun to be with my mother and my daughter doing girly things in one of my favorite places. Our whole reason for being there was to meet up with my mother so that she could take Loulie for a few days. So yesterday afternoon in the kindest way possible Loulie told me to beat it and the two of them headed off for Camp Lovey.
While it was momentarily upsetting to watch my child carelessly leave me, I am so grateful to my mother for spending these few days with her so I can get some work done. I also love that the two of them are so close and that Loulie's idea of the perfect vacation is to go to KnoxvilleTennessee (all one word in Loulie dialect) to hang out with Lovey and GDaddyBoy.
I am going to enjoy these next few moments of listening to the rain fall, sipping my coffee and reading before I close my computer and hit the longest to do list EVER!

Stay dry friends!


Where the Past Meets the Prsent

It might sound trivial to some that we got away for a long weekend but it is a big deal for Bert to leave town for four days in the summer, something he has not done in over three years. But one of my favorite people in the world invited us to her farm in GA to spend time with friends and after stewing over it, we decided we could leave work and make a tour of it. So from Charleston to Macon to Newnan to Atlanta to Highlands and back to Charleston we went. 

We took a little vacation and it did my heart well.....

-to see my nephews playing with Loulie late into the night. They could be way too cool to play with their baby cousin but their hearts are just too good for that. Instead they surprised her with presents and attention and playtime with their stuff. To say that I am thankful that they love her the way they do is an understatement. I only hope someone else out there is raising boys this well because William and Lukie are setting some high standards.

-to see my college friends' children and Loulie playing together, to spend time with longtime (I don't use 'old' anymore) friends and to enjoy the insanely good food and scenery at my friend's home.

-to take Loulie to Atlanta for the first time. If she had been a teenager, she would have rolled her eyes every five seconds with our trip down memory lane. "there's where daddy went to college. There's mama's first office," etc, etc.

-to hear Loulie Giglio preach at Passion City Church.

- to experience Loulie's first "Castle"(hotel) stay. She is still talking about her princess castle with a pool  and elevator that she is going to live in at college. I also managed to squeeze in a little Ikea stop. I'll admit, it did my heart well to stock up on a few things--Bert's, it did not. He looks like he may cry in the picture leaving the store. I will be hard pressed to get him back there again.

- to hike and play with Loulie in the mountains. The nice part about vacation is not having anything else to do so there are no "I'll be right there" or "Wait just a minute." We were able to hike and play and eat at our leisure and see some pretty views along the way.



So, we finally went on a vacation. It did my heart well. I think I needed a change of scenery and some rest to get me through a hot, slow August. It wasn't Disney or Europe or out west; but it was exactly what we needed.

P.S. I know you noticed my circa 1998 Gloria Rae luggage. Don't knock it, you know you had some too. I obviously need  a new suitcase. Or maybe I'll hold on to it another half decade. Then will it be considered retro vintage?