Summer Staples


Every spring we plant zinnia seeds. I get the biggest rush making a bouquet from my own cuttings. They are so easy to grow. All you need is a patch of grass or a pot, water, and lots of sunshine.


If I find myself running errands in the afternoon, I love nothing more than to grab a coffee from the Vintage Cafe. 


Literally, nothing better. Throw on a little feta, fresh herbs, vinaigrette salad dressing or olive oil, salt, pepper. The end. 


This is the easiest way to protect little faces. Realistically, I'm not gonna reapply if I have to hold my kids down and get my hands dirty.

What are your summer staples? Jean shorts? Old movies? Linen sheets? 

It's the little things. 


The 4th + Welcome Home from Camp CAKE

Do you have any 4th of July traditions? We usually go to my sister's pool for the afternoon and eat barbecue nachos or something equally as good. We deck out in our patriotic garb and the kids end up doing some sort of parade or 4th of July "show." 

It's one of my favorite holidays. I LOVE THIS LAND, and I am so grateful to live here!


Following the 4th, on the 6th, we retrieved our older 2 kids from camp. They were gone for 3.5 weeks! This mama is happy to have us all under one roof again. 

While they were gone I had a bit of an identity crisis. Suddenly I had so much less responsibility -- kidwise. Who am I? Why was I put on this earth? 

Now that they are all home again I am so busy and overwhelmed. I'm cranking out huge batches of taco meat and my washer has. not. stopped. in three days. It's hilarious to imagine all that questioning and deep thinking I was doing 2 weeks ago.

And because no homecoming is complete without a cake, I made this easy chocolate chip one. 

It lasted 5 minutes. It's SO good!

great picture, right? 

1 box yellow cake mix 
2 3 oz boxes instant vanilla pudding 
4 eggs 
1 tablespoon vanilla 
8 oz sour cream 
1 cup oil 
1/4 cup water 
8 oz chocolate chips 

bake in a greased bundt pan at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes



How did you all fair during the pandemic/lockdown/Covid-19? Was it wild or what? Is it still going? 

I remember feeling nervous in early March last year. 

Church was the first thing officially canceled. Then schools said don't come back after spring break. One by one, things fell off the calendar. 

Next, 15 days to slow the spread. 

We started zooming. Zoom Sunday school. Zoom ballet. Zoom speech therapy. I hate zoom.

We began sneaking around with friends, having drinks in dark yards. Was this really happening?

My brother's wedding was scheduled for early May. He and his fiancé moved it up to early April because better to go ahead and get married in quarantine than wait this thing out. Turns out it was the right decision.

homemade alcohol wipes, let me know if you want the recipe

Funnily enough, that weekend was the absolute peak of the pandemic hysteria. Both governors of our states issued lockdowns and travel restrictions. 

But this is AMERICA! Forgive us, we did not stay home and save lives that weekend. We loaded up the fam in our SUV and with wind blowing in our hair -- we crossed the state line without incident. 

rehearsal dinner

It's fun to tell the tale now, but there was heightened anxiety. We had never done this before, defied the government during a lockdown. My fear was getting in trouble with the authorities and being fined some arbitrary amount -- or worse, carted off to jail!

Side story: we left all the kids' wedding clothes at home on our bed. And by we, I mean Stephen. As soon as we realized it, without hesitation he said he would drive 4 hours back home and get them. Of course, I told him absolutely no, but his willingness to drive a total of 12 hours to Jackson to Montgomery to Jackson is proof that he has a heart of gold. 

We made do...without proper clothes. The wedding was beautiful in their backyard, perfect weather, immediate family, a preacher, and a photographer. Some things you just can't miss, and your only baby brother getting married is one of them! Pandemics be damned.

Then there was the worst Easter ever. The weather was hot, humid, and cloudy. No church. 

And that's when we snapped. We were DONE with Covid. 

We formed our Covid family. Us and a few others broke quarantine (again). We went to the lake, the beach, the pool, we had pizzas on Sunday nights, gathered on the 4th of July. We had a blast, quite frankly. No one got Covid. These are the people I want to be with when the world ends.

Summer camps were canceled. Everything was canceled. Masks mandates were in full force. By early fall 2020, things were back but not normal. 

Hop forward to November. People actually started getting Covid, people we knew. We had lots of exposures. Our family Thanksgiving plans were canceled. It got real. 

In December, Stephen tested positive. Somehow I did not get it. Crazy, right?

In January, I got it -- the VIRUS-- from a totally different exposure. Three of our kids got it as well. I was thrilled to have natural immunity. 

Early on during this whole ordeal, my mom mailed me a copy of this essay by C.S. Lewis, On Living in an Atomic Age. It's a good read. Probably need to keep it on file.

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