Category: I love being a mommy

day 18: a year of memories

Every year for Christmas, I make photo books for our daughters.

Today was the day I compiled them for Randa & KK. I’ve learned a bit about how to theme them, group photos, and weed through hundreds of easy-to-take-with-my-phone sweet, fun, and silly moments from the year… but it is still hard to whittle it down to 20ish pages.

I’m so thankful for the memories made in 2013.memories3

~ for friends who had us over or invited us out.
~ for people who came to this very state for a visit.
memories1~ for the amazing Capriotti family reunion  in June.
~ for that trip to Chicagoland back in the New Year (I can’t believe it’s been that long)
memories4~ for neighbors who became friends
~ for friends who became family
memories2~ for family who shared summer Friday nights at Chipotle and summer Wednesday nights at Movies Under the Stars and a whole lot of other times.

I took a break from this project long enough to frame the girls’ new school pictures. This is always its own stroll down memory lane as I lay out all their older photos and compare the babies that used to be to the little girls who are growing so very quickly:randa2013

randa-memorieskk-memories  kk2013

…I’m thankful for these smiles being captured, and for the hope of more memories to be made. Our best days are still ahead!

it begins and ends with a mouse

Our kids have seen their share of this beautiful country. They were still in diapers when we started traveling on a “steel horse,” and KK was barely a month old for her first plane ride. They’ve done mountains and prairies and of course, the ocean. They have considered at least 5 cities home, or a home away from home.

And don’t even get them started on Disney World, thank you.

Because we have a share in the Disney Vacation Club, KK and Randa have been to WDW an obnoxious number of times in their short lives. Their Daddy and I have fed their addiction happily. After all, the time share allows us to stay in amazing places for relatively low prices, and once you buy an annual pass and stretch it across several trips, and it’s never the same twice and…

Yes. But even so, the trip we were to make last week just didn’t make sense right now. Tickets are expensive and so is eating with Princesses… so we decided to postpone and do something different.

We did something totally different.

After a very specific internet search, we found a place that was affordable, simple, scenic, and would allow us to give the girls a first time experience we’d all been craving: a real horseback ride.

Our 3 nights and 2.5 days at Sunburst Stables flew by quickly, but were filled with big breakfasts, many animals to play with, snuggly movie time on the couch, books to read, NO CELLS OR INTERNET, feeding peacocks on the front porch, a total of 12 fish caught, laughing as we explored LAKE BURTON, and one unforgettable trail ride.

On our last night there, after the girls were already asleep in their sweet loft bedroom and Rod and I were re-watching a favorite movie (Dan In Real Life), we discovered a little friend scurrying through the kitchen.

A mouse.

I never saw him save for a blur, but I’m going to call him Mickey. It was good for us to discover a different kind of magic together.

IMG_3758Time to feed the peacocks!

KK's first fishKK’s first fish

Randa's first fishRanda’s first fish

their first cowboyMichael… their first time meeting a real cowboy :)


IMG_3760Take multimedia away, and your children might just spend an entire evening pretending to be Avengers and seeing how big they could make their hair…

Beautiful Lake Burton!

IMG_3681Just a swingin’

I absolutely fell in love with Dixie the Wonderful Stable Dog

IMG_3714For those of you who know Rod’s song… yes, the whole time they were doing thing,
I was singing, “I’m going fishin’ with the Fisher of Men…”

IMG_3677These little piggies…

IMG_3725The trail ride took us right past our cabin, aptly named “Horse Whisper.”

IMG_3683They’re better at conversation than at checkers… #lifeskills

IMG_3707One of these goats peed on me…

I will never, ever forget riding with her for the first time. Our horse was named Bo. He was a little stubborn and a lot of fun, just like his riders!

Their horse was named Nemo… surefooted and gorgeous like his riders.

Loved everything about our time together!

IMG_3726 IMG_3743

IMG_3737IMG_3719There are a few views that rival that of the ocean…

The 3rd Day of School

For various reasons, both draining and exhilarating, the first weekend of the school year wore me out.

But this morning…

Oh, this morning:

On the third day of school, the first Monday, we turn to routine, which for us means that when Daddy isn’t out of town, he takes the girls to school. He likes to. (This is reason #EleventyBillionandTen why he is my love, my best friend, and my hero). And quite frankly, I do not enjoy it. The traffic disturbs my calm. The difference this year, today, of course, is that he not only took Randa, but KK too.

I gave extra kisses, and watched them drive away, and closed the door, and leaned on it, and sang a few bars of the “Hallelujah” chorus as I beheld this sight:


That’s right…me, my house, alone. Oh, the plans we had! The things we did!

Right. I did manage to drink an entire cup of coffee while it was mostly warm and watch an episode of Damages (catching up on everything after the first season) while I was in my jammies. Exhilarating, y’all! But while I did that, I also cleaned the kitchen, straightened up the girls’ rooms, changed the sheets on their bunk beds, folded a load of laundry, cleaned my closet, and…

Well, I planned on what I will do with that one hour and fifteen minute time block for the rest of the entire year!

I do have specific plans… I don’t want to be all legalistic about it, but I will try to keep that hour time for me, and not just errands and chores, so hopefully, at least 3 hours a week will be spent on writing and exercising. Both are key to my health!

Other observations from today:

mannyI actually love Mondays. This has much to do with loving my job, probably for the first time in my adult life…really, really enjoying what I do, and feeling comfortable in it, feeling freedom in it, feeling supported in it.

I still get a lot of questions about what I do: I work on the staff of our beloved church, journey. After the theatre sailed on, I was honored to be asked to remain and work for the church. I’m not totally sure what my title is, but I stopped caring a few months ago :) I work on the website, social media, publications, and communications, and I also assist the Executive Pastor, and sometimes the Generations/Youth pastor and sometimes the Lead Pastors, in all sorts of things…. project managing, resource creating, hunting down 50 pounds of chicken thighs for the village employee luncheon, cleaning a toilet or two, whatever. I model my work after Manny Trillo, a utility player who spent some of his best years on the Chicago Cubs playing short stop and third and outfield and generally rocking Wrigley. If it needs to be done, and I can do it, or find someone to do it, bring it. And Mondays on a church staff, especially after a great day like yesterday, are just fun. Crazy, but fun!


My children, like me, are night owls. They look like this every morning, yet they hit the ground running off that school bus in the afternoon and they don’t want to go to bed. Help me, Rhonda! Maybe the end of daylight savings will actually help this year…?

Playdates are the bomb. Dot com. We used to be pros at these. The moves have hurt us. But now, we have enough friends in the neighborhood (and elsewhere) to make these impromptu gatherings happen. It’s a win-win for all of us.

Homework time can be pretty awesome, at least on the first day. Today I got to observe Randa rocking her addition and doing better in her reading, in spite of the fact that we pretty much blew off formal summer reading for our special brand of practice (signs, brochures, menus…) And KK did not have any formal homework, but she did practice writing her name in proper case and read her first school library book with her Daddy. She is a much more focused and intense learner than Randa, who prefers to sound out words while looking away and dancing. It will be “interesting” to see how this all plays out through the years…

“Surprise!” We will never be normal people. This was confirmed once again on Saturday, when I was with my future daughter-in-law as she chose a beautiful and far-from-conventional wedding dress for their big day. It was re-confirmed today when I tried to be a Cool Mom. I had 10 minutes from the time I got home from work to get to the bus stop, which is a half mile away. KK really wanted to ride her bike, so I started off at a brisk walk, trying to juggle both the girls’ bikes. I made it to the end of our street before I realized it was awkward…with a side of awkward. So I waved to the guys finishing a new house there and told them I was leaving the bikes for a few minutes, and then proceeded to walk/jog the rest of the way, in my jeans and flip-flops (It was around 88 degrees, which we are calling “fall-like” weather here. To say I was sweating at the end of all this is like saying Miley Cyrus caused a few raised eyebrows last night). Anyway, I made it to the bus stop with 2 minutes to spare, and the girls actually did not complain the whole way home. What was awesome though, is that about 2 blocks from home, the construction workers rounded the corner with our bikes in the trailer, and delivered them to the girls! How cool is that? I love nice people! I will take that over normal any day…

There are benefits to being awkward weirdos. Feel free to ask me about this, or about my feelings on the Ben Affleck as Batman news. Happy 3rd day of school… or happy Monday, whatever the case may be.

the end of an era, you might say

That’s what Monica called it, so it works for me…

This morning was likely the last we all woke up with Paige living under our roof.



It’s different than leaving for college. She’ll be going to college…but she left to start her life.

Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about
Who’s never left home, who’s never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

She left 2 years ago to do the college thing… the one she’d always talked about. That was much scarier and traumatic. We were so new in town. There was no one here to say goodbye. There was no one here to miss her like we do. There was no one to offer understanding and solace.

This time is so different. We are all older, wiser, and more familiar. Paige was sent off with dinners and cupcakes and even a concert at the beach last night (I mean, it wasn’t actually in her honor, but still….)

So today has basically been a hodge-podge of quieter emotions and some reflection… about how much Paige is like her daddy (almost stoic in the face of emotional circumstances), about how this feels like she’s never coming back (I predicted a pastorate over a cowboy church in Montana…we’ll see), about how neat it is to see her through the eyes of our mutual friends as they bid her farewell and offer her support in her ministry endeavors, about how our nest is now half-empty, and we have ways to go…


It was also a hodge-podge of our usual pop culture quotables. My day started with “The Living Years,” originally Mike & The Mechanics and recently/beautifully by The Isaacs. It quicly turned into Many Friends Quotes, namely from the episodes about Rachel moving out of Monica’s apartment (“IT’S THE END OF AN ERA…YOU MIGHT SAY!”) And finally, as we hugged goodbye, I couldn’t help but warble in my nearly-gone voice the lyrics of the Dixie Chicks first hit, because:

She needs wide open spaces,
room to make the big mistakes.
She needs new-ew-ew faces,
she knows the high stakes…

It was fun. Really.

And there were pictures… from a sisters’ goodbye, a little breakfast we got to have just with Rod, Paige, and me, and from this evening…when the little girls chose hot dogs and pool time to drown their proverbial sorrows. They’re all gonna be alright! <smile>
p-girls2 p-dad3 p-dad2 p-dad p-kelly

grand bittersweetness

I love the social media trend of “Throwback Thursday.” Usually, rather than trying to find time to scan old pictures for uploading, it sends me Googling through my own online presence for what was just a few years ago.

Since our ventures in business and ministry, our moves, and our small children makes it seem like our lives change dramatically all the time, finding stark differences in recent history is not hard…

girls2009These two little girls existed in 2009. They are so OLD now in comparison to four years ago…


randa2009Also in 2009, they embraced The Sound of Music. This is 3 year old Miranda dancing and singing in the backyard as Maria Von Trapp. They were obsessed with the movie and the songs. I still am!


kkbday12009 was also full-on HOME OFFICE mode in our house as we prepared for the first Branson Gospel Music Convention. KK was newly two. She still likes to “work” at my desk (even though we got her one of her own). She will be a CEO, perhaps of the world, and look spectacular while doing so!


TheGrandTheatre.usShifting gears completely, today I am switching the website of The Grand Theatre to forward directly to our church website. The sun has set on The Grand. I have gone through my mourning period into one of peace and relief. It was a wonderful season, a wonderful set of little dreams come true in some of the concerts Rod and I got to promote together, a wonderful chance to work the family-friendly entertainment world, … and know that while it has many wonderful points, it’s probably not for me. My mind might be for business, but my heart is for relationship, and Jerry McGuire I am not. I am so grateful for the opportunities we had at The Grand, the connections and memories made. It truly was entertainment on a grander scale!