Put this House in Order - Addressing Pain Points

Recently I addressed two pain points in my home, and I'm super proud of myself. 

1. The pencil/pen situation. 

We do homework at the kitchen table, and I use a corner of my kitchen countertop as a pseudo office. I label food containers and Ziplocks with black-only Sharpies. Guess what I don't need? A gold paint pen. So why has one been inhabiting my pencil jar for the past 2 years? Don't know.

I gave our pencil cup a makeover and our quality of life has remarkably improved. I was irritated, rummaging for the right pen or pencil. No more.

How pretty! And functional.

Now this pencil cup houses the essentials: pencils for homework, red pen for making corrections, black pens for lists, a Sharpie, a highlighter, and a pencil sharpener.

2. Reading to kids. The pain point - where to read and where is the book? When we settle down to read in the evenings, I want to be comfortable and I don't want to spend 10 minutes looking for our ongoing chapter book. Call it off if we can't get started right away. That's my policy.

To combat these problems, I put together a book basket in my bedroom with our favorites and our current reads, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (George) and Ramona and her Mother (Caroline). 

I'm much more likely to read to my children if I can be in my own bed and the book is right there!

I alternate reading to George and Caroline every other night. That's realistic in this season, and I hope to keep it up after the baby is born. It is such a comfort and it ends the day on a happy note. I happen to love both of these books which also makes it easier. 

It can feel like a big fuss to curate our home life, but it is worth it to take a few minutes and address some trouble spots. 

I discovered a quote I like while reading the book, Living Forever Chic. The author shares a wise word from her best friend, Anne-Fransoise de Saint Saens-Henner, mother of 6. 

"If I didn't keep everything in order, I could never enjoy my life. I have to be disciplined, otherwise I would have no time for myself. I would have no time to sit here and drink a glass of wine and chat with you."

Can I get an Amen?


How to DRESS pregnant

When I was expecting Caroline, I stumbled across a group of European mommy bloggers and Instagrammers who were literally the most chic people I had ever seen in my life. I would share links, but this was 7 years ago, and most of them have gone on to do different things. 

Here was my take away from my encounter with these chic strangers -- They dressed so beautifully durning pregnancy, mostly wearing dresses. Fortunately, there's never been a better time to claim the dress as your signature maternity look. You can find flowy, waistless dresses at every shop. Bye bye, maternity jeans and tops with ruching. 

I've worn dresses this entire pregnancy, so much so that pants feel weird on my legs. Who's up for a fashion show? 

Hello toilet with child's dirty clothes on the floor.

Now I'm starting to think about what I'm going to wear in the 4th trimester. So far, I have a couple of pair of these pajamas, which are really great. 

What are your thoughts on maternity wear? 
I almost titled this post: Pregnant Women Shouldn't Wear Jeans


Back to School Breakfast Menu

Back to school hits ya in the face all at once -- school, homework, tutoring, sports practices, church activities. And then there's the usual sickness, doctors' appointments, orthodontists' appointments, vet visits, dog surgeries, haircuts, etc. And laundry and food. 


Here's how I've managed breakfast.

The challenges: It's hard to please all of the people all of the time. I don't want the children eating cereal every day. I don't want to waste food. I don't want to be a short order cook.

The goals: I want them to eat a variety of simple, nutritious foods.  I want to get some protein in their diet before school and depend less on breads, toasts, muffins, and cereal. I want to know what we are having for breakfast and stay stocked with groceries.  I do not want to fly by the seat of my pants.

The solution: a menu

I have been working this menu for about 3 weeks and it is blessing my soul. 


Monday: eggs + toast

Tuesday: smoothies, bagels + cream cheese

Wednesday: cheese grits

Thursday: cereal + fruit

Friday: sausage biscuits

The original menu had cheese toast instead of bagels + cream cheese and oatmeal instead of cereal, but those both got REJECTED hard. 

I told them they were all communists, especially for not liking oatmeal. What is wrong with you people?! 

I also have a school lunch menu and I will work on sharing that. 


Prepping for Baby #5

The count down is on. Mid October will be here in 5 minutes, so I finally decided to get ready for this baby. 

I have a carseat, diapers, and a crib. 

That's pretty much what ya need to get started, right? And a few onesies! 

I'm remembering back to my list of baby essentials and freezer meals.....7 years ago.

32 + weeks

Mini Boden had a sale and I could not resist these. Look at this packaging. Details matter.

It's getting too real. 

We do not have a bedroom or even a closet nursery, so this babe will be sleeping in our room for the unforeseeable future. Wishing and hoping and praying for a good sleeper.

See that dark corner over my shoulder? We cleaned it up a bit this weekend. Baby's going in the corner.

I found this dresser at my favorite flea market over the weekend to hold all her little baby things. Crib still needs to be set up. 

I am excited, anxious, and very close to the GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME stage. 


Back to School

We are back in school, baby! 

My emotions got the best of me when I snapped this picture. Hopefully my children understood that I was crying happy, sentimental tears. God has been faithful to see us through homeschooling, career changes, and a surprise, but blessedly uneventful pregnancy.

My 11 year old gave me a serious talking to about not getting emotional "at the school." I did ok.

I relished the first day home alone, making myself a real lunch and eating in a quiet house. 

First day of pick up, they were all smiles and good reports x 4!

I'm working HARD on establishing good routines. A family of 5 kids needs order. 
Speaking of large families, ever seen Yours, Mine, and Ours? It's so good. 

Our after school routine goes like this: 

backpacks in lockers
lunch boxes to the kitchen
WASH YOUR HANDS I'm a stickler for this with a newborn coming.
change clothes
snack + free time + homework + activities 

The afternoons are go go go, but it's all good things. We have jumped into cross country and football practices. 

Caroline put this picnic snack together while we waited out a cross country practice last week.

I think Friday night Little Ceasar's is going to be our go-to this season. By the end of the week, 
I. am. done. I think we all are, right?

Here's a tip. Order and pay online at LC. They pop it in a warming drawer and you can just walk in and grab it. No transaction required. 

I'm signing off with my sweet, little 1st grader. We had a rare afternoon just the two of us. We enjoyed a warm chocolate chip cookie + an iced latte + a chocolate muffin and "light" conversation.

"Are God and Jesus the same?" 
"When did Jesus go to heaven?"


Bye, summer

Summer, you were good to us. 

I know we technically have until September 21st to call summer, but school started today, and so summer vacation has come to a close. We had a full and happy time. Our cup runneth over. 

We swam. We grew tomatoes. We camped. We beached.

Stephen and I had a kid sabbatical with all 4 of them gone for a week! 

This next season of life is going to be different. First of all,  I will not be homeschooling any of my children for the first time in 3 years. Last year, I had George with me. I treasure that year and all the one on one time we had together.

They will all be at the same school. Hallelujah! This has never happened before. My game face is on for carpool, packed lunches, homework, after school sports, and early bedtimes. 

I am so excited for us. I think it's going to be a really fun season. 

Also, different about this year...we are having a BABY, a girl, in October. 

When we found out we were expecting, Stephen said, "Well, I never really wanted to be an empty nester."
Looks like we bought ourselves 18 more years. 

This baby is a bonus baby, a family baby. I'm sure when she arrives we won't be able to imagine life before...just like with all the others. 

Caroline is thrilled to be a big sister! When she was born, my oldest was her age, going into 1st grade. 

I write this post hoping and wishing that I might resurrect my blog in this next chapter. With school age kids gone for the day and a baby at home, I'm craving a outlet. A few of you flatter me and tell me you've missed it (SWM). You've mentioned that you occasionally refer back to old posts. What a compliment! 

With the trend down in blogging + having older kids, it is a challenge to write. Most days I've used up all my brain power. Blogging was easier with little kids. Not sure why. 

I leave you with a belly pic. My friend, Caroline, snapped this of me on the 4th of July. She said, "I bet you don't have many pictures of yourself pregnant with your 5th child." 

She's right. Thank you, Caroline! 

Okay, that's all for now. 
See ya later. 


Skilling up - Laundry and Dishes

I've recently had 2 discoveries in the homemaking department. 

1. Laundry is much easier when I wash each person's clothing in their own personal and exclusive load. 

Because the children shower in our bathroom, naturally that's where the dirty laundry lands. Prior to implementing the new system, we had a family hamper. As a result, each load was one big soup of everybody's laundry. 

With that system, folding and putting away was irritating. I had to go to each room every time.

I don't know what inspired the new way -- to give each person their own load. I'm pretty sure y'all do this and have been holding out on me. Regardless, it is now our standard practice. 

This new way takes discipline, getting everyone to carry their dirty laundry to their hamper. BUT...it is so much simpler in the end. I dare say it's a serene experience to pull a load from the dryer, knowing all the items belong to one individual. Usually, I fold and let children put away. 

2. My dishwasher has a 60 minute cycle. 

Our old dishwasher would not properly clean dishes unless you ran it on the longest cycle. When we replaced it, it was deep in my psyche that clean dishes = longest cycle. By default I ran the new one on the marathon wash, 180+ minutes.

The long cycle routinely backed up the kitchen. But I didn't know any different! So one day on a whim, I tried the shortest cycle. And boom. I converted to a short cycle gal. My kitchen is much more efficient now!

My point in my sharing this newfound knowledge is .... sometimes, you can reinvent the wheel. You can hack it. These revelations have me looking at other pain points in our home and routines.

What about you? Can you relate to any of this?


I discovered the term skilling up from one of my favorite podcast Homemaker Chic


2 Front Pots

Caroline and I planted some violas a few weeks ago, and I have officially made the switch from pansies to violas as my winter flower of choice. They are perkier. 

When they start looking sad, I will transition to impatiens or begonias for late spring/early summer. I try to keep my two pots by our front door looking fresh. It's the first thing you see when you walk up, and it communicates that I somewhat have it together even though I don't. 

We are years into a construction project, and the last bit is to replace some front siding and paint the house. It doesn't help that the guy we hired is mostly a no show. We are weary of it looking so bad for so long. The planters are getting me though. 

If you're feeling down about your space, I highly recommend getting a couple of big planters and going for it. 


Two Soups

I'm relishing January things, which for me means cleaning up and cleaning out, sitting by the fire, and making soups.  

I'm sharing two good ones today.

First, Budget Bytes' Zuppa Toscana. This was a big hit with the kids. My oldest even took the leftovers for school lunch. Look at all that gorgeous kale!

I also recommend the Pioneer Woman's veggie chili. My sister put me onto this one. I skip the corn flour - tried it, prefer without. A lot of chopping is required, so get ya a good podcast. 

Favorite toppings: goat cheese or sour cream, avocado, and cilantro. 

My kids didn't love this one as much. More for me! 


Another favorite January indulgence -- I LOVE a cold walk. Is there anything more invigorating?! We've all heard the expression, "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing." 

I have to give myself a pep talk every. single. time. But once I'm bundled up and out there...it's great. 

How do you spend your winters?



Before Christmas my mom and dad took us to Memphis to see **HAMILTION**!! 

The enthusiasm for this trip was not equally distributed among family members. 
A certain 9 y.o. boy, who shall remain nameless, would have rather stayed home and grilled squirrel. I told him we were building his character, dragging him to a nice hotel, making him eat in restaurants, etc.

"There's no such thing as fun for the whole family," a concept my mother in law once shared years ago. I think she got it from a comic strip. Truer words were never spoken.

city slickers

This was a walking trip. We parked our car on Friday night and didn't see it till departure. I loved frolicking around downtown. I feel a connection with Memphis. One of my best friends from college is from there, and I have loads of good memories going to visit her and her fam.

Stephen tried to convince me to rent a scooter. I said no I needed to practice on open land first.

I adore a glass champagne and it was double good in the lobby of the Peabody.

feeling so French

We saw the ducks and bought some surprisingly affordable souvenirs in the gift shop.

 historic motel where MLK Jr. was killed

drinks on the rooftop bar

professional photo bomber 

The show was fantastic. We've listened to the music and watched the original cast on Disney numerous times. I was worried I might be a little disappointed, but quite the opposite. I appreciated how the cast added there on whimsy and personality to the show. 

in route to the Orpheum 

The theater was gorgeous and a good time was had by all but one. 👎

It was bonus that my aunt and uncle, Lynn and Steve, could join us! We always love being with them. We're spoiled.

Thanks, Lovie and Doc for an extra large time.

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