Wearing, Eating, Listening, Reading

Wearing. Winter makes me want to wear bright colors. I get tired of gray and black and beige. My sweater is from ThredUP

My college roommate says don't buy something unless it makes your heart do 10 million flips. Don't you think that's great advice for discovering your true style? These stripes definitely had my heart flippin.

Eating. We had this creamy white chicken chili for dinner the other night, and I give it 5 stars. I used salsa verde instead of green chilis. Also, I double or triple every recipe I make because we eat a lot.

Listening. Megyn Kelly's podcast! I'm a huge fan. The most recent episode I recommend is #462 about the terrible Idaho murders. It's tragic and fascinating. MK has a way of reminding the listener about the humanity of the victims. Also, I appreciate her commentary on the royals. 

Reading. I'm almost finished with Jane Eyre, and I've enjoyed it. Next on my list is The Six Wives of Henry VII.  I hope it's good because it's a long one.

What are you wearing, eating, listening to and reading?


Farewell, 2022

I'd like to take a moment to ponder 2022.

For me, it started with a dry January, which quickly devolved into "damp" January. My friend renamed our challenge as we agreed that skipping the booze at restaurants was too high of a standard.

Also, we all had Covid...again.

By February, I was aggressively working my way out of our homeschooling situation. George and I had the sweetest semester, though we slugged through some really challenging days. Ultimately, with lots of prayer and hot chocolate from the Vintage Cafe, we prevailed! 

On Valentine's Day, I discovered I was pregnant with baby #5. And there began my love affair with breakfast sandwiches, which lasted the entire pregnancy. 

Early March, Stephen finished constructing what we now call the "middle room," a cozy office/sitting room. We painted it green and put a giant TV over that fireplace. I love it so much.

By Easter we knew that our bonus baby was a GIRL. This was thrilling news, even to the brothers. 

We surprised them by filling up a 5th Easter basket with PINK everything. 

In April, we officially gained a teenager! 13

Around this time I started showing. I'm 16 weeks along in this picture.

And speaking of 16, in May  - we celebrated our 16th anniversary. 

As soon as school let out, we ventured to Cape San Blas for a few days, stopping on our way to visit Stephen's grandmother. The kids loved seeing Muh and begged us to stop again on our way home.

We made this an activities trip, boating and fishing, lots of restaurants, etc, knowing that next year we would have an eight month old. 

In June, our 3 oldest went to camp for 3 1/2 weeks. While they were away Caroline spent time with both sets of grandparents. This was a glorious sabbatical for me. I was able to nest like my hair was on fire. I sorted, organized, cleaned, and rested. 

Late July, we began our back to school preparations. In a wave of frugality, I sharpened the used colored pencils instead of buying new ones. I also rounded up all the binders we already had. 

Early August was back to school. The first day felt monumental. I had officially hung up my homeschooling hat and bridged the gap between quitting school and restarting. I'm so proud of them.

And I'm pretty proud of myself, too.

Fall semester was packed with the end of pregnancy, lunches, snacks, after school activities, sports, homework, etc. 

Stephen and Laurie ran cross country and George played Y football. 
Here is my standard sports fan "uniform."
Very European chic in my dress and sneakers, don't you think? 

I treasure this picture of Stephen and Laurie. They are so different, but share the same circles. It is sweet to see them together. Also, it makes me laugh because Stephen despises tank tops. 

George made a whole new group of friends on the football field, which now has turned into a neighborhood gang. The other day he informed me "the parents have no idea where we are or what we are doing." Ha.

In September my sister and best friends threw me the loveliest baby shower. It truly warmed my heart and encouraged me. They treated me like this was my first baby, reminding me that every baby is a miracle, a gift, and worthy of celebrating BIG. 

Early October Stephen "convinced" me to hire some cleaning ladies. Physically, I couldn't anymore. These women are angels on earth. They make toilet paper bows and arrange the kids' stuffed animals in cute and surprising ways. 

With a clean house, 4 kids in school, cross country and football season wrapping up, it was time for 

Jill is like my grandchild, not that I'm too old to be her mom. It's a perspective change, the notion that she is not of any inconvenience. She is pure love and joy. With every feed, every diaper change, I think what a privilege. I have so much more patience and grace for myself than 26 year old new-mom-me.

Halloween rolled around so of course we took our traditional picture with mums and our newest pumpkin. 

November launched the holiday season with lots of good food, time with family, school performances, and parties.

For Thanksgiving we spent 4 days with Stephen's family. 

We went the park, watched football, made gingerbread houses, and had lots of conversations over coffee.

We came home and busted out our Christmas pj's, got our tree, and put on our game face for December, which was totally crazy as always.

Laurie + cousins in the school play. 

As December progressed and each activity fell off the calendar, things eventually got quieter. 

We road tripped to Jackson to visit family and see the Sound of Music at a local theatre. 
Caroline has not stopped singing Sound of Music songs since. She's a sucker for a musical. 

Finally, Christmas morning came and went. That afternoon I put on a movie and slept through the entire thing, relieved that I had actually survived -- the day and the season and the year.

2022,  like any other year, had its disappointments, temper tantrums, terrible days, and wasted time. But overall, we made progress. We grew literally as a family, but also in maturity and depth as people. We added more layers to our stories.

Earlier this week I pulled out a stack of old journals that spanned more than a decade. I couldn't believe how God had answered so many prayers. There were times we were stressed about money and career, babies, illnesses, interpersonal conflicts. It was amazing to see how many of our concerns were resolved and how we had changed in the process. I was reminded that there is a God and he hears our prayers! 

Cheers to 2023! I have 2 resolutions: 12 dates, 12 books.

I want to go on 12 dates with my husband and I want listen to 12 audiobooks, the only way I can read successfully these days.

What about you? How was '22? What ya got going for 2023?



October 14, 2022 Jill Miriam Spooner got born. 

I don't quite know how to share about her birth. It was surreal. I honestly could not believe that I was doing it all again, the pregnancy and delivery.

I was more in awe of the whole process this time. We grow people. What in the world?! 

Her birth day was a Friday morning, and she was delivered via scheduled C-section, my 5th.  

The verse I carried with me into surgery was Luke 12:7 

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

She was born pink and perfect, weighing 8lbs 5oz.

Her name, Jill, is for my mother in law, a truly lovely and deserving person. 

Jill - short, classic, and feminine. I love it.

As for Miriam - we just really liked it and felt Jill needed a 3 syllable middle name to balance the 1 short - Jill.

Stephen was by my side, of course. Not his first rodeo. 

There is no better day than the day your baby is born. Truly a miracle every time.

Proud Papa

This was the very first birth I got to do skin to skin, which means I held her immediately after delivery in the recovery room. It was so sweet to have these early moments together. 

I'm drugged and happy in this photo. Relieved.

The gang's all here. Meeting the siblings.

Aunt Lu, Millie, and James (my niece and nephew) were our first visitors the next morning. James requested the "Big Cousin" shirt for his birthday. He rocked it.

Aunt Lu brought coffee, and I needed it. 


Big sister Caroline!

and Laurie

my 3 girls

Then came the brothers.


and George

and grandparents

 Here's Jill and Jill.

We watched some Auburn football. War Eagle!

Some of my best memories are in the hospital with Stephen after the birth of our babies. 

I think this was the first time she opened her eyes, all packed up and ready to head home. 

My postpartum nurse is the daughter of one of the nurses I used to work with. This felt full circle and beautifully tied together my previous births with this experience. Her mom took care of me when I had the other babies.

*side note: I wanted to walk out of the hospital, holding the baby like Kate Middleton (and I tried to), but they made me sit in a wheel chair and baby in the car seat. Not as romantic. 

Finally HOME!

Caroline snapped this photo of me starting what's been dubbed the 4th trimester.

Life is good.  I'm beyond grateful. Jill is now 2 months old and she's a sweet and good baby. 

At age 39 with 4 older children, I have the gift of perspective, knowing that this little ball of joy will be a teenager in 5 minutes. There is nothing I'd rather be doing right now than being her mama. What a joy and privilege.  

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