Getting Ready

Deep breath.

I was going to do a picture through the years sort of thing for Amanda today but it would require too much time to scan the pictures in and it’s something that I might not recover from emotionally anyway. This is a lot harder than I thought it would be and I’m really dreading this trip. I’m happy that we get to see family and friends and we have to be there for Amanda but part of me wishes that I didn’t have to walk through this.

Parenting is hard.

Letting go is harder.

But letting go is what we’re working toward from the day they’re born. It’s the only way to parent them well.

I could say, “I’m too young for this” or even, “I’m too old for this”, although neither is true. It has nothing to do with my age and has everything to do with my heart being broken. But because I love Amanda so much I will walk through this knowing that I will cry a lot and I will miss her so much but I’m not alone.

God is with me.

God is with us.

Amanda has been through so much to get her to this point. You may not know this but going to college is a point of surrender for her. And I know He is with her.

I thought this morning, “I love her so much” and I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “I love her too”. I know He does and it’s my comfort. And I trust Him with her. I’ve said that we’re leaving Amanda in the care of SEU but it isn’t true. We’re leaving her in the care of my Father and I trust him to take care of her.

Deep breath.


Something New!

Last week during the little adventure that Chloe and I took, I stumbled upon a little clearance patio table. It was half price plus another 25 percent off. It wasn’t super-cute, rather it looked like my neighbors pool furniture from the ’80’s. But it was a table and it was cheap! Then my phone rang. It was the hubs with some news about something or other and I was able to present my table purchase for approval (I hadn’t intended on purchasing a table that day) and he did the math and figure it should be $24. Sold! When I got to the register it ended up ringing up for the regular sale price but I explained that it was supposed to be another 25 percent off and I think he must have given me a percentage off besides that (possibly because it rang up wrong?) so it was $24 out the door. Ahem, I didn’t realize that it rhymed…at the time. Haha…I’m stopping now.

Here’s Trav putting it together. Which he did in about 10 minutes. He’s really good at that kind of thing.

He hates having his picture taken but I like this one. He’s pretty cute.

This is one of my sunflowers. I thought it was funny that it was almost exactly half open. I love it when they’re blooming. A few days ago I saw a hummingbird sipping nectar from some of these flowers. I just stood there drinking it all in. I didn’t rush to find my camera because I knew I’d miss it.

Here’s my new table.

It was dark by the time it was all together. What’s that you say? Those chairs are rusty? Well, I never! How did I not notice that? Kidding. I bought those cushions last year and knew I needed to refinish the chairs but wasn’t in a hurry so they didn’t get done at all. It’s probably a good idea for me to hurry. Now of course, it’s my goal to do the table and chairs at the same time so they all match. Which will likely happen sometime after we get back from taking Amanda to college.

Oh, and did you notice the sunflower wall? Oh yeah! I didn’t plant any of those, the birds did last year. I actually pulled out a bunch and that was after I’d dug out the entire garden. These things are unstoppable I tell ‘ya! It makes a really great screen between our patio and our neighbors house. The neighbor on our left is a really nice guy but I like to sunbathe and our houses are too close for comfort. A fence would be great but that’s not happening right now. So the sunflowers will do.

It was about 78 degrees at 10 yesterday morning so I thought I’d read my Bible and sip coffee outside…at my new table. Yay!

Approximately 5 minutes after I took this picture the sun came out and started baking me. I tried to keep reading but had to try to shield my eyes from the glare. I was defeated. But autumn is coming. Now if I could just somehow score a deal on a firepit…

A Bunch of Stuff

I was just uploading a bunch of photos to my computer and realized that I’d taken a lot of pictures that I intended to blog about. Overwhelming people with pictures is sort of a specialty of mine so I figure I’ll just stop typing once I get overwhelmed by the pictures.

Dance camp…seriously fun! We had to be at church by 9 every morning which was really good practice for getting Chloe to school by around 8:30 since it’s at the same place. I never actually made it on time. It’s difficult in the morning since Travis and I both have to get in the shower and so if either of us takes our time at all it really messes things up. We just need to practice. It’s not like when I used to take Chloe to school and I just wore my pj’s. There was no way I was walking into church like that.

Halle didn’t actually “get” most of the dance moves but she had such a great time. During the performance the teenage girls that were helping would quickly drag her to wherever she was supposed to be. I had to laugh.

This is the best shot I could get of her face since my camera isn’t really made for action shots. The instructors at church are offering very reasonably priced dance lessons for the fall semester and I really hope that we’re able to let her do it. I’d love for her to be able to learn technique because I think that would really help her.

Chloe and I had while Halle was dancing. She really ate up the one-on-one time with me. We went to Michaels, which I hadn’t been to in forever. And she and I *loved* it. There were so many art supplies and cake decorating supplies and other things that she and I are interested in. We both liked it better than Joann. But it’s probably because I’m not a big fan of sewing. Then we went to Rooms to Go…because it was next door and we had time to kill. Then Home Depot…because it was next door and we had time to kill. I realize that we don’t live that far away and I could have gone home but there are so many places that I think I’d like to go to and we never actually end up going there.

Friday. Wow! Travis and I tried to prepare for Amanda moving back in but we couldn’t have imagined how.much.stuff. she has. She had even sold the majority of her furniture. And since we don’t have a garage, there was just no place to put everything. Halle was kicked out of her room and she’s sleeping in a sleeping bag on Chloe’s floor. Overall, the girls have been really sweet about it all but Halle wasn’t really happy about the new sleeping arrangement. So I promised her a first-ever trip to Krispy Kreme to help make up for it.

We went out Saturday and we wanted to watch the sunset from a lookout point that we visited before we ever moved to Franklin. And it had changed…a lot.

There was graffiti and broken beer bottles and obscenities painted onto the walls and curb. Yes, in Franklin. It was really disappointing. So we left and took the girls to Krispy Kreme instead.

The loved it, of course. And I couldn’t eat anything (which is a *really* good thing, I think) but it was nice for us to sit and talk and watch them make doughnuts.

And I think that’s enough for today. Now, I’m going to research and (hopefully) purchase the girls homeschool books. Is it that time again already?



My, my, my…these last few weeks have been a lot of things. The good, the bad, the ugly all somehow wrapped into something beautiful. A friend asked last week, “So what’s going on?” Basically, what huge thing is happening that’s turned everything upside down? And I really struggled to put into words things that are happening. And while a few things are external, things we can see, a lot more of it has been internal, a chipping away at so many things. It’s just a season of change for us and as much as I want change, as much as I want God’s will to be done in us, change is hard.

And it’s good. Really, really, really good. Again, mostly it’s internal. It’s not something you can stick in the bank. But I can see it and it’s amazing. I can honestly say that I have never been more excited about God’s timing than I am right now. His plans for us are good and rushing things (like I always try to do) isn’t helpful. He wants a completed work. And I’m really, truly excited about that.

Over the last couple of years I have been emptied of everything both good and bad and I’m being filled back up with so many good things. I’m really excited about painting again. It doesn’t have to be daily but painting at all is good. I’m writing for fun (besides blogging) and am really enjoying it. I bought a very girly, super-cute journal and I’m handwriting a story. Mostly because staring at a blank computer page seems like it would be soul-draining. Plus, at some point, it will give my girls something to read and it seems more special since it’s handwritten.

Music will still be part of my life because it’s just part of who I am. I’m not sure in what capacity. When I was a kid it was the only thing that I ever thought or dreamed of. Being a singer on stage was the greatest thing ever to me. But I’m coming to realize that there are many other things that I love to do and I don’t have to be completely one dimensional as far as interests. I am certain of one thing though. Whatever I do, it’s going to be artsy. I’ve tried to not be the artsy girl. I’ve tried to be more serious and it’s mostly because I’m not taken seriously. It just comes with the female, blond-ish haired, blue-eyed territory. Not by people that know me, but by those that don’t. I have a story I could illustrate with but I won’t. I could say that it doesn’t bug me but it does. I’ve just decided that I’m going to go with my strengths.

I’ve tried to be interested in the things that I thought were noble or academic or pleasing to other people. Or (and this is a big one) what I thought would be pleasing to God (“Surely if I do *this* it will make God happy!”) And while I do want to minister to people in whatever capacity the Lord gives me, I found that I’m really interested in flowers. And art. And cottages. And glass doorknobs. And I have to think that being what God made me to be instead of what I think that people want me to be  has to be okay with Him. He made me this way. And if I’m not Mother Theresa, He’s okay with that. Because He only called Mother Theresa to do what He asked of her.

I suppose it’s pretty obvious that I’ve really struggled with this.  Being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom that paints and writes and cooks and bakes is not how I saw myself. I wanted to do more. And “more” is a whole other subject. But for me, that’s a trap and a snare. The guilt of not “achieving” something tangible. But even when I was doing something “tangible” all I thought of was my kids, gardening, cottages, and glass doorknobs.

And for now I’ll leave it at that.


Last week was busy. This week is busy. And I’ve barely even thought about writing.

Halle is in dance camp at church Tuesday-Thursday this week and it means that I’m up at 6:30 (yep, that’s *am*) to get things together to get us out the door. This is the very, very, very first thing that she’s ever done without Chloe.

Halle has always been my daredevil/extreme introvert/very mommy clingy girl (hmmm, kind of like Amanda only more extreme) and so I said a prayer before I went to sleep asking the Lord to help her feel secure and at ease. I knew she wanted to do this. She’s asked about dancing a lot in the past few months and I thought this would be a great opportunity for her to dance, get some energy out (she’s so high energy that she often just runs the halls because she can’t help it) and it would also give Chloe and I some real one-on-one time for 5 hours a day, 3 days this week.

My sweet Chloe has sort of gotten a raw deal since Halle has been born. She was 3 1/2 when Halle came along and that was pretty much the end of one-on-one time with her. Today gave us a chance to catch-up and she could be the center of attention. She got chocolate milk and pop tarts, some girly type clothing items and she got to eat at Wendy’s. She was singing and giggling and she and Halle got to spend some time apart. They do well together, but since we homeschool those girls are together 24-7 and everybody needs a break sometimes.

Tomorrow is going to look the same although we probably won’t run as many errands. Seriously, we did 5 hours of errands. Whew! And I think I’ll call it a day. Oh, and blueberry lime tea? You should totally try it.


So, I’ve realized something about myself lately that I thought you might find interesting…

I don’t actually like squash.

So why grow it? I’m not sure. I think I read that it was easy to grow and I wanted to grow something that I could actually eat. And then I remembered that I actually, really hate cooked squash. It’s gross and slimy and it doesn’t really taste like anything except gross slimy-ness. The only way I really like it is raw, in a salad. That way it’s just sort of crunchy and there are a bunch of other flavors that I do like plus salad dressing so I put it on my salad. Travis is fine either way. I mean, I could call him Mikey but that would confuse him for at least 15 seconds. Really, that guy eats anything I make. Even if I don’t like it.

A couple of nights ago I decided to actually use the squash I picked so I made some brown rice, shredded the squash (so as not to get any slimy seeds), and added some chicken andouille chicken sausage and basil. And honestly, I could barely swallow it. I hated it. Travis? He loved it. And I decided to stop trying to make myself eat things I hate. Eating (for me at least) is difficult enough. I like broccoli. That’s good, right?

I think I’m going to rip out the squash plants and make an herb garden. I’m actually having real trouble with cilantro. Who would have thought? Herbs are supposed to be really easy.

Something that is easy? Bugs. Not the ones you’re thinking…but these cute little guys.

I didn’t notice until I uploaded the photo that It’s blurry. But they’ve all been eaten so I can’t take another one. Such is the life of a bug shaped scone. More scone-ish than actual scone. They’re gluten free after all.

This sweet little buggy pan was on clearance for under $6 at Target and had originally been $23. Nice.

It wasn’t dirty when I bought it. And you know what? It was so much fun! I’ve realized (I had help realizing) that it’s been a really long time since I’ve had any fun. It’s a long sob story that I’ll skip but the jist of it is that I haven’t really been cooking or baking or singing or creating or painting or taking long walks in the city I love or anything else that I enjoy in a really long time.  And then I picked up this cake pan. You should have heard the girls squealing over it. That is fun in itself, my friends!

Often it really is the little things…

Two and Two

It’s approximately two weeks until Amanda moves back in with us and two weeks until school starts for her. I have purging and rearranging to do although I’m not sure what I’ll purge. I did that just recently. She’s selling all of her stuff though and that will make it easier. Three adults and one bathroom will not be easy but I have a feeling that she’ll be working so much that we won’t see her a lot. Although I wish that wasn’t the case.

It’s just kind of crazy the way it all happened. A week and a half ago she called me and was frustrated about something, or everything really. And I threw it out there, “Why don’t you go to Southeastern for a semester and see what happens?” That’s a very simplified paraphrase. It was much more passionate than that because I’m nothing if not passionate. And she called back a little while later and said, “Mom, I’m really considering what you said.” I was shocked! I never expected it to stick. Really. I’d just mentioned it a week prior and she told me unequivocally that she was never, ever going to go to college. God has a way of bringing us to the end of ourselves though. She feels like she’s at a dead end here and Travis and I agree with her.

But I am really going to miss her.

So, this season has gotten a lot more stressful. And also a lot more exciting. We really hadn’t planned on taking any kind of vacation this summer and now I see why. I’m looking forward to going to Florida…even if it is in August…bleh!

Some funny things…

I told her that she could leave her pea coats at home. She asked (somewhat shocked), “Won’t I need them in November?” I laughed and laughed.

She has very wavy, very thick hair. I was able to reminisce about my bad hair year. 8:30 classes + Florida summer humidity= seriously bad hair. We rarely get that type of humidity here. And for that I’m thankful.

Bunk beds. The dorms have them. My 21 year old is not overly excited.

Some exciting things…


She’ll be really close to family and friends.

Disney! Whaaat? We haven’t been to Disney since she was 9. It’s kind of sad really.

Downtown Disney or whatever they call it these days. It’s really her most favorite place.

And maybe we’ll visit more often now. She’s planning on studying communications/theatre/film (not sure how all that works yet) and so there will be shows and she will be in them. And we’re not missing it. I’m really, really glad we homeschool because we can take a trip if we need to. And I’ll just go ahead and throw out the obvious…we’re not moving back. I figured I’d add it before anyone got hopeful…or nervous for that matter. I love Florida and I love our family but Tennessee is where we’ve made our home. Although I always pictured myself living in North Carolina 😉

And now I should wrap up this Amanda-centric post. I have a ton of scholarship applications to help her with in addition to keeping the house running. But I’ll leave you with this really fun site (if you haven’t seen it already). Pinterest. It is seriously fun and very helpful. A few years ago I found the plans for my dream house…and then I lost it. I searched 24 pages of Southern Living’s website to find it to no avail. I did find several other really cool house plans and pinned them to my board so I don’t lose them. This is my favorite, I think. Or maybe this one. I do love Cape Cod style. I’m dreaming of some land in the Natchez Trace area. Yeah, I know, it’s pricey out there. But you never know, sometimes dreams come true.

Of Squash and Such

I don’t grow a lot of things. I’ve tried to grow lots of things. I’ve had success with a few things.

That is my gardening story. I had such high hopes for pumpkins and it was just not meant to be. I did actually grow a couple of them but it took so much effort and cost about $40 each for them, I finally threw up the white flag. It just wasn’t worth the time or effort. I have had some decent success with squash lately. I was nervous because the plants look so much like pumpkins. Oh, right, they’re both gourds! It was a light bulb moment..kidding. Actually it was a bad memories moment and if I’d remembered that I would probably have not planted it.

Do you know what this is?

This is what happens when you take your camera from a 70 degree house to the great outdoors when it’s 90 degrees. It was around 9am. That doesn’t happen very often in Tennessee. And I’m thankful for that.

These guys are what’s for dinner. I haven’t decided how to cook them yet although we usually grill them.

The smallest one was probably picked too early but it was an accident.

I found vine borers on my plants a couple of days ago and had bad dreams about them that night. Yesterday I picked one off and smooshed it. I’ve found a couple of recommendations for dealing with them which  I might try but I’m also going to plant some more seeds. I read that the vine borer season ends in July so I might be able to grow some without having to worry about them. I’m also going to look into some cool weather crops like kale and broccoli.

I love, love, love just going outside and plucking off a bit of basil to toss into a dish. I wouldn’t even think of it if I wasn’t growing any. I did that last night and Travis said, “The basil is subtle but appreciated.” That made me happy.

These are dahlias from a friend’s garden. She brought them to life group to share and I think they may become one of my new favorites. My sunflower garden is in full swing again too. I love them but they do block a lot of light and space from my garden area so I might have to do something else with them next year.

Some of you may be wondering, given Amanda’s recent announcement, why I’m not blogging about that. It’s because she’s excited but also overwhelmed. I’d love to tell the story but there’s actually a level of excitement that I can’t cross because she doesn’t need that right now. I have to be subdued-excited for now. And I’m fine with that.

The Long Awaited Gluten Free Post

I wrote that in my sarcasm font you know. I realize that you probably weren’t sitting at your computer waiting for me to post this. I have debated a bit about whether or not to even write about it. Then I got a frantic call from my mom wanting to know where in the world to start with the whole gluten free thing. The next day I got a call from my dad wondering if there was any way to not spend so much on bread. There isn’t. So, here’s the gluten free saga as it pertains to me.

I apologize if you’ve read this before.

I was sick for over 9 years. There were many, many days that I couldn’t even get off the couch. I felt like the biggest slacker mom in the world and I was wracked with guilt at times. Doctors couldn’t tell me what was wrong so I quit asking them and I really wondered if I would ever feel well again. I was diagnosed with insulin resistance (a precursor to full-on diabetes), and hormone imbalance. My doctor put me on the highest dose of Metformin available expecting that the insulin resistance would reverse and it didn’t. But I felt horrible all the time because it kept my blood sugar so low. I was a literal wreck because of that and the hormone imbalance made me feel like I was losing it. I was so irritable but that seems so tame to say considering I felt like a ticking time bomb, and it was a constant struggle to not snap at my husband and kids. Travis said that he didn’t really notice. I’m going to give the Holy Spirit props on that one. I also strongly suspected adrenal fatigue due to chronic stress and my allergies were getting worse and worse. I was so tired all the time that it was often hard to breathe. I could sleep for 4 or 5 hours during the day at times and then sleep for 10-12 hours at night. It was debilitating fatigue. That’s the best way I can describe it.

My doctor was a pharmacist before she became an M.D. and was never hesitant to prescribe something. I don’t like having prescriptions for symptoms because I know there has to be a root cause somewhere. What’s the root cause? I had to find another way because even with meds I still felt sick. I told my Dr. that I felt sick all the time and she finally just looked at me and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” So, I decided to ditch the Metformin since it made me feel terrible and since I wasn’t actually diabetic. I read that Metformin was 30-ish percent effective for reversing insulin resistance and that diet and exercise were 50-ish percent effective. So I went for it.

That was over a year ago and I started eating low-carb which meant no bread. Then I found some research on gluten intolerance and how that could make someone insulin resistant and could also cause a hormone imbalance. It took months for me to figure out all the triggers and things that are hidden in food, like modified food starch. But slowly things started to really turn around.

I should probably say that I don’t eat gluten and that’s pretty much the extent of my dietary restrictions. I’m not egg free, casein free, nut free, dairy free, vegan, etc. I say that because a lot of websites and things devoted to gluten free are also all of the above. A friend of mine asked recently what websites and things I read for recipes and I told her that I didn’t. And later I checked out a website but the recipes call for egg substitutes and almond milk or coconut milk and a myriad of other ingredients that I’m not going to go out and buy. Eating gluten free has changed my health drastically but since I have no other health issues with food of which I’m aware, it seems like going to such great lengths to change other things puts me in a type of slavery to food. I realize that not everyone sees it that way but I do. I do realize that there are probable health benefits to eliminating other things but I question where it ends. I’m just a girl that can’t eat gluten. If that resonates with you then you might find some of this other information helpful. If not then there are dozens of other gluten free sites that will fit the bill.

I haven’t been much of a label reader in the past. If food on the shelf looked good I bought it. In the last year or so though I’ve turned into a full-on label reader. I have to and Travis does too. He’s actually saved me from eating something I shouldn’t have on a few occasions. And sometimes he takes it more seriously than I do. It was really hard for us as a couple when I was so sick and neither of us ever wants to go back to that. So here’s the nuts and bolts of things that I’ve found that I can and can’t eat.

Udi’s bread is by far the best. I tried other brands because Udi’s is a little pricey but they’re kind of gross. The texture was like sandy pound cake and fell apart when I tried to make a sandwich. I still don’t eat Udi’s bread without toasting it because it’s a bit dry but it holds together for a sandwich and I like it toasted with butter. Or butter and honey.

Pamela’s mixes are, in my opinion, the best out there. The cake just tastes like cake. And the chocolate cake is really to die for. I like to put chocolate chips in the mix. Her pancake mix is fabulous and you can make a lot of different things with it. I’ve used the scone recipe several times and it’s good but they don’t really have the texture of a scone. It’s more like muffins only kind of dry. They’re good with coffee though.

Bob’s Red Mill products are good too but I prefer Pamela’s. Bob’s is my go-to for gluten free oats though. Gluten free oats? Yep, these oats are grown away from wheat fields and so they aren’t contaminated. I made a gluten free blueberry crisp recently using them and it was really good.

And yes, these are all mixes. When Travis and I first got married I didn’t really cook or bake at all. And then we were really broke and a bag of flour is really cheap and you can make lots of things with it. As I started baking from scratch I found out that homemade treats taste a million times better than things that are boxed and full of preservatives. So I baked and learned and tried different things and achieved a level of baking that I was happy with. And now the wind has been taken out of my sails and I feel like I have to learn to bake and cook all over again. Quite honestly, I haven’t really felt like it. I mean, what soup can’t be turned into something spectacular when started with a roux? Homemade muffins are wonderful. But gluten-free baking is complicated by the different types of flours that you have to use to get a bread type product. I’m sure they have them all at Whole Foods but I’m just not up for it right now.

I have found though that gluten free mixes, even mainstream brands like Betty Crocker, don’t have things like hydrogenated oils. So in that regard I feel fine using mixes.

All-in-all I think that eating gluten free has made me eat healthier overall. How? Because nearly every junk food that I’m very fond of has gluten in it. My favorite BBQ chips, Doritos (the regular nacho cheese), Nestle Crunch bars, Whoppers (the candy and the burger), etc. Basically anything that’s malted I can’t eat. Malted barley flour is found in chips, Twizzlers has wheat flour (not that I liked those anyway), and I’ve found modified food starch in jelly beans. By law it’s supposed to be listed as wheat but even if it isn’t I stay away from it because I have a bad reaction to it. I do eat it if it is listed as modified corn starch or modified food starch (corn) or potato.

Oh, my friend Mary saved me too. She found wheat listed in crab that she was going to use for soup one night when Travis and I were visiting. It really means a lot to me that my friends really take it seriously too. They watched me struggle so much and I feel very fortunate that they see the difference and don’t want me to be sick again. I think that for anyone with food issues one of the worst feelings is to not be taken seriously.

So that’s a partial list. I don’t expect this to turn into a food blog. Mostly because I like to write about other things too. Occasionally though, I will probably blog about gluten free food…like cupcakes filled with custard and topped with buttercream.