Grief and Grace.

Grief and Grace.

Remember all that amazing behaving I told you about that my kids did while we were on the Appalachian Trail? Remember how I told you they all got along and didn’t complain and had a fantastic attitude?

Appalachian Trail Newfound Gap

Yeah well, that behavior was soul suckingly absent when we went to get a Christmas tree last Saturday. Like, non existent. Like, at one point I thought ‘these are the most ill behaved children on the face of the earth.’

For real, it was bad. I don’t know. I think part of the problem can be blamed on me. I have REALLY high expectations every year when we go to get our tree. When I was a kid we had mind blowingly awesome Christmases. And I know I’m bragging here but it’s my birthday so…so there. Our Christmases were just crazy good.

When I was little when it came time to get our tree we would just walk out our back door and into the woods where we would find the biggest cedar we could. We’d cut it down and drag it back home where Mom would be waiting for us with hot chocolate. Y’all my parents nailed it at Christmas. And Spring. And Summer. And, of yeah, Fall. My Mom would stand on the back porch and put up this big show about how the tree was too big and it wasn’t going to fit. It was always a time I remember my parents being ‘cute’ together. And no one ever argued or complained…at least, that’s how I remember it. Now, granted I’m the absolute best at always remembering things way better than they were but, regardless, it was a really special time every year.

So, having read that, ya think I might have some unrealistic expectations of how perfect our yearly trip to the tree farm should be? Oh yeah, definitely. Last Saturday was busy but we had just enough time to squeeze in a trip to Trim a Tree in Athens to get a tree.

As we loaded everyone up in the car the complaining started. ‘I want to play the X-Box.’ ‘It’s too cold.’ ‘Can you just leave me here?’ and so on and so forth. Even Stella was complaining.

I knew that my hopes were too high to start with but, for the love, I don’t expect perfection but I would like to be able to go without listening to kids complain about HAVING TO DO SOMETHING FUN!

I got so upset at the little miscreants that I yelled something along the lines of ‘we’re creating happy memories here! Be glad about it!’ in a really MEAN tone.

If you think that’s bad you should have seen Billy! He got so mad he pulled the car over and yelled something so horrible at Henry that I’ve flat out blocked it from my mind! Seriously, I have no clue what he said. We felt bad – we’d gone too far. The kids felt bad – they knew they’d gone too far.

It was just downright ugly.

Billy stopped the car AGAIN and apologized to everyone as so did I. The kids apologized and Stella piped up from the back ‘Daddy, you weren’t using self control.’ Self control is a big word with the preschool set. So, thanks for that Mrs Ford.

So when everything goes wrong you’ve got two options: abandon ship or plug the leak. This time we chose to try and plug the leak. We continued on to Athens with raw and wounded hearts but determined to give each other grace and the gift of new beginnings.

And, ya know what? It worked. I don’t know whether it was the fresh air or the fresh attitudes but when we got there everyone was a whole lot happier.

IMG_7072Maybe not as happy as this big ole dog on his bed of branches but pretty dang happy.

Trim a Tree Farm Athens AlWho knows? Maybe one day the minions will talk about how much fun we used to have going to cut down a tree. Maybe they won’t even remember the car having to be pulled over twice.

I don’t know. Probably the best I can hope for is that they remember that the car WAS pulled over twice. The first for grief and the second for grace.

Let’s Just Keep Going

Let’s Just Keep Going

Isn’t the word captivated just the best? Captivated: to attract and hold by charm, beauty, or excellence. Hmmm, well, when you put it that way it sounds a little creepy. That’s unfortunate. Thanks for nothing, Webster’s.

Too bad. I still love the word.

Ya know what captivates me? Patrick Rothfuss, the Thanksgiving sandwich at Moes, fat babies, girls that can do pull ups, Regular Show, hippos, the Avett Brothers…

THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL. If you aren’t familiar with it it’s a marked trail that runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine – two thousand two hundred miles.

I’m just a wee bit obsessed with it. I’ve been reading a ton about it lately. I gobbled AWOL on the Appalachian Trail up this year and absolutely loved it.

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

I also read Wild by Cheryl Strayed and even though it’s not technically about the Appalachian Trail the book still hiked in that general direction.

I stalk the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Facebook page every day like a crazy person. 

So, I’ve wanted to set my sneakers on the A.T. for awhile now.

Last week we are were in the Smokies and it was the only thing on my MUST DO list. Here are everyone else’s ‘must dos’

Billy: Eat at the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge because, hello, peach cobbler. Jamie: Ripley’s Believe it Or Not because, hey there tourist trap. Hank: The Track because, in his own words, ‘I’ve been drinking lots of milk and am finally tall enough to drive on the Wild Woody by myself.” Stella: The Aquarium because sharks and penguins and those things that feel funny when you touch them.

I just can’t even tell you how the words Appalachian Trail make me feel. Well, like singing – that is, if I was the kinda person that went around bursting into song.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it did NOT disappoint. We chose to get on the trail at Newfound Gap.

This picture…I mean, just the idea that you can get on this trail and end up in Maine. It’s just beautiful. And I know any road or direction can technically take you somewhere amazing but there is just something about the A.T. that gets me. Or that I get.

Appalachian Trail Sign

I wasn’t the only one. James could not stop staring at this sign.

“So, if we just kept going we’d end up in Maine? Mom! Let’s just keep going! Why not? Seriously! Mom! Why not? We can homeschool on the trail! Stella will keep up. I’ll help! We have to do it! We can be thru hikers!”


“Let’s just keep going!” He must have said it fifty times that day.

As we began to hike up the mountain the kids would ask us about every other hiker we passed. ‘Do you think they are a thru hiker?’ They asked it with reverence and awe. A thru hiker is someone that gets on the trail in Georgia and ends in Maine – hiking the whole trail. Of course you can also hike it the reverse way but it’s not as popular.

All you have to do is follow the white marks.


The kids did SO WELL hiking.


Now keeping them going instead of stopping to look at every interesting thing on the trail was troublesome – it had snowed recently and they wanted to touch every piece of ice on the mountain. That’s what happens when you raise kids in Alabama. One snowflake is THE BEST THING EVER.


And it was just one of those days, ya know? The kids got along, no one whined, and we just owned it. It was trail magic.

Appalachian Trail Newfound Gap

Magical and muddy.

The AT, y’all! Breathtaking!!!

Appalachian Trail View

Haha…funny story. Billy propped the iPhone up on a rock to take a timed group shot of us and right before the picture took the phone flipped over. So we got a lovely shot of some trees.

IMG_6853Thankfully a hiker appeared in the next couple seconds and took a pic of us.


See that fuzzy section around my middle? That’s where I photoshopped my roll out.

Here’s the before:


Me and photoshop are really good friends.

One day me and the Appalachian Trail are gonna be really good friends too.


Ya know what doesn’t help? The blogs of people that have actually thru hiked with their kids because that makes me believe that it’s actually possible. Like, we could do it. We could take the kids out of school, Billy could take a leave of absence from his job, and we could hike it.


 What are you getting us into, Woman? 

I don’t know, Hank..

All I know is that time is absolutely flying by. And you people are only little for a tiny blip on the radar of my lifetime and I don’t want to waste this blip.

So…maybe we should just keep going.





Minted and the Sea Cucumber

Minted and the Sea Cucumber

Well, hey there Christmas. You kinda snuck in early this year, didn’t you? I won’t even lie, y’all. I had some Christmas decorations out BEFORE Thanksgiving. It’s true and lightning didn’t even fall from the sky because of it.


The only thing I haven’t done yet is get my Christmas Cards ordered…

I say ‘ordered’ instead of ‘sent out’ because, true story, one year I sent them out in February. 

…and this year I’m going to use Minted.

Have you looked at Minted? It is so fantastic. It’s a place for independent designers to showcase their goods. Stationery, fabric, home decor and on and on.

And since its Cyber Monday they have an awesome sale going on!


How adorable are these cards?


And look! Chalkboard!


I know in twenty years we’ll look back and say ‘why were we all so obsessed with chevrons and chalkboard paint in the…What are we calling this decade – the teens…but I love it anyway.


Oh, who am I kidding. As much as I love these bold one picture Christmas cards there’s no way I’d actually be able to pick just one.

That’s why I’ll just have to go with something like this!


Minted does FREE recipient address printing and it looks SO GOOD! Believe me, it looks nothing like what you get done other places. I always have big plans of writing really neatly and then ten cards in and I start to visualize Mrs Baker, my fifth grade teacher, standing over my desk saying ‘Too Sloppy!’

So, free recipient address printing indeed!

What’s this have to do with a Sea Cucumber? Nothing – except that one threw up on me in Key West in June and things like that are the reason I don’t send out those uber sappy christmas letters.


I don’t know. Maybe it could work.

“In June, I had the opportunity to experience a sea cucumber defending itself against what it thought was a predator. As a result I was coated in a lovely odiferous liquid.”

Nah…let’s just stick to the cards.

Because, for real, HOW STINKING CUTE.