February. Does anyone look forward to it? I tried to, but much like most, I kept a steady mental countdown to March – and somehow the final day snuck up on me!

We’re ready for spring – and most importantly the anniversary of Zack’s birth!! We won’t even see him on his birthday (his 30th!), but boy! are we glad he was born!! BUT SEE! I’ve already begun talking about March without even recapping February. Sorry, February…

So much will be left out of this post, but here are some of the moments I bothered to photograph – ha!

Really sellin’ this one.

We began the month by spending an afternoon at the river on a particularly calm, very cold day. It’s usually very very windy where we live. Have to jump while the air is still. The rest of February rotated between very warm and very very cold days. I believe all four seasons were experienced.

Slow meals to go with slow school days.

It was still too dry in the house, in my opinion, for playing with clay. The girls disagreed (or don’t mind dry hands?), so they made that their handwork during our reading time. In the evening, Mae crocheted while her and I read separate chapter books that would not interest Rae.

Mountain Born is about a boy, Peter, who raises a lamb. Living the dream…

We began February reading Swiss Family Robinson, and I think it’s our favorite book to date. So much imagination sparked and such great conversation came out of it. The girls still mention it randomly. We actually completed three chapter books just in the first seven days – not a typical feat.

We began The Green Ember (the first in a book series), but the timing wasn’t right for such a long book. We kept getting distracted, so I read it alone in my free time. I’m starting the second book tonight! We may begin it again this summer, but for now, I’ll just [highly] recommend it for those around 5th grade and older.

I also read The Cutting Season – not a junior fiction novel! What?!?- The librarian recommended it and snuck it into our stack of American girl novels and various children’s books. I completed all 384 pages in one day, only stopping to cook meals! It was so good.

B became very attached to me. He was always underfoot…actually, he was typically lying directly on my feet. I like him the least, but even now as I type this, he is lying on my feet. Sweet boy. I’ll enjoy his much more when he is too old and fat to mess with my things.

Rae caught a cold – most likely brought on by my stellar parenting the day I took them to the ‘icy river.” So, while Mae was at crochet lessons, Rae ditched preschool and helped me buy a new shower faucet – and fixins.

On our way out we wandered through the plants (We can’t help ourselves!). Rae asked if she could buy Daddy a plant for his classroom. Well, after this experience, I couldn’t say no now could I?

Later, while replacing the faucet, we discovered the plumbing had been installed by a child. Not the best news.

My space-admiring daughter was so giddy watching the Falcon Heavy launch and landing! We also researched the purpose of building something like the Falcon Heavy and related topics. I’m sure we’ll dig into this more another time, but it was a good start.

^ Pastel drawings and more science by way of Khan Academy lectures while waiting for lunch to get out of the oven.

I took the camera out to capture our ladies (who are all laying now!). The one just above realized I had no food and moved on with her very busy life…

Noticed George on my way back to the house. It’s hard to photograph our pets in a way they don’t look like shadows. Looks mighty regal, doesn’t he?

Mae invented a faster way to transport ice cream from your hands to your face (no spoon required!). Zack is alllll about this. Her favorite right now is ice cream made with coconut milk and caramel.

Over the course of the month, she came up with ideas for around one billion inventions. She never stops dreaming. We watched Tomorrowland this month as well. She had a lot in common with the main character and adored the concept of dreamers. She still stops me at random when she notices a dreamer (someone who invents, studies, finds or creates beauty, etc.). I plan on ordering them their very own Tomorrowland pins soon.

^ One of those warm days I spoke of ^

Good golly, that face. We drove with the windows down a lot this month, so the wind could flirt with our bare arms.

While waiting for Rae’s class to dismiss, Mae and I had a straw fight. First one to unwrap the other’s straw with sheer force won – loser had their nose picked by the winner with the winning straw. Thought for sure she would win. She put up quite the fight.

My older brother came for a long weekend! You can read about that here.

Less importantly, that very same weekend, the girls got to see Peter Rabbit.

Some valentine highlights.


One morning while cooking breakfast for Rae and I, Mae said, “Mom, can you get two plates?” Then proceeded to whisper under her breath, “These eggs have a destiny…” I love everything about this girl!!

On a particularly cold day, the girls and I wandered around the library and an antique store. They literally gasped when they saw that photo (newspaper clipping?) of Abe Lincoln. A lady peaked over the wall to make sure everyone was okay. Ha! They stared for quite a while.

One of quite a few trips to ‘The Diamond Store.”

We’re eager to plant things! Rae has to smell everything, always has. (That word, everything, is not used lightly.) She had to smell each stick to see if it smelled like the fruit in the photo. Sadly, they all smelled like sticks.

Mae drug me over to this situation. Left Daddy and Rae wondering where we ran off to. I wonder if she’ll always have an interest in pandas.

Rae’s penguin. I like this very much. Zack liked it too, so she drew one for him to take to his classroom.

Her interest in Star Wars is holding steady.

The girls spent so much time – sometimes entire days – outside.

Mae started her own compost, planted things, including this onion above that began sprouting in the pantry. They built things, cleaned up the yard and even ate quite a few lunches with dirt covered hands.

More selfies while waiting for Rae, ’cause who doesn’t absolutely love a selfie?? amiright?

BUT! matching gray eyes, hair out of her face and dirt under her nails. AND! we’re sittin’ reeeeeal close. Just how I like it.

Happy March, everyone!


My older brother lives in Washington state with his lovely (and very pregnant) wife, Megahn, and their son, Solomon. While we see my younger brother, Benjamin, at least twice a year, we are only able to see Joseph once every few years. Simply due to distance.

After my Dad’s issues in December, they came up with a way for Joe to visit him (and us, too, of course) – and that day finally came this past Friday.

We arrived in St. Louis shortly before he did and met up with him for supper.

My girls didn’t remember him, but they immediately became very attached!

We have siblings who are twins, but my mom has always called us the twins. I’ve got a crooked nose and he has a beard, but we look very similar – we even share the same waist size! Ha!

The way she looks at him. Good gracious.

They live at an equal understanding of all things silly. It’s wonderful to witness these two together. My brothers really own up to their titles of Uncle.

We filled out Saturday morning with my nephews’ basketball games.

Rae showed Grandma her General Hux toy (and his “backpack”). She was very impressed.

Rae came down with some kind of stomach bug later that day. Poor thing. She plowed through the rest of the festivities well, though.

We’re not used to sunshine in February…

Sunday morning, we took the girls to see Peter Rabbit. That sign is pretty accurate – he was quite the rascal. The English humor had Zack and I rolling, while the girls adored everything about the animals, naturally.

Afterward, we took the girls out for lunch, where I cradled my seven year old as if she were a much younger, smaller child.

Don’t listen to that face, she loved it, I just know it.

Before heading home Sunday evening, we met up with Joe at Vovo’s house. They had all gone to church and lunch together earlier that day, while we played hooky at the theater with pukey-mic-puke-face.

He heads home tomorrow. Boy, do I wish I could sneak back into the city to see him off!

Thanks so much for traveling all this way, Joe. – and thanks, Megahn for making it happen!


We got our first field trip of 2018 taken care of last week!

The girls spent quite a bit of time last fall learning about Abraham Lincoln. A subject they requested. We finally had some time to breathe and decided to fill that breath with a treck to Illinois.

My friend from high school, Ven, and her boys joined us. So grateful for the company and conversation!!

This girl, agh! She soaked every bit up. She was so happy to be in this place.

Zack and I brought her here when she was a year and a half old, or so. She obviously didn’t remember a thing, but it was so nice from my perspective seeing her observe everything this time around. Grasping the importance of his accomplishments.

With the exception of the logs she sat on, Rae looked at everything with her eyes not her hands! Such a hard task for a five-year-old.

^ Just look at her!! Inspecting every inch.


Rae strolled through at a brisk pace…until she got here. She stared at Abe for a good long while, as I stared at her for a good long while.

Above: an outhouse with THREE toilets. All at different heights! You know you’ve made it when…

We toured Lincoln’s home. It’s just down the road from the museum -and its free! His tomb is free also but it was raining and getting cold, so we skipped that.

His home still has some original things in it. Doors, a toilet, wallpaper in one of the rooms, and the banister. Oh, that beautiful banister.

Now, between Lincoln’s stories of loss and achievement, the slaves’ own stories and watching my girls experiencing it all, I got tear boulders lodged in my ducts quite a few times throughout the day – BUT none quite so large as the ones brought about by that generically crafted banister.

As we neared the portion of the home tour where it was time to head on upstairs, the guide mentioned that the banister was original to the home.

“It’s as close to shaking the hand of Abe Lincoln himself as you can get!” 

I could see Mae hold her breath. Her smile grew and her gaze made it over to mine. I knew what she was thinking. Boulders began to form.

As we rounded the corner into the foyer, her eyes grew. I made sure to walk behind her. She slowly raised her hand, making sure to never take her eyes off the banister. She slowly walked up the staircase. I knew she was imagining Abraham Lincoln walking up those very steps holding onto that very banister. She was in heaven. As a result, I was too.

Before heading to my mother-in-law’s for the night. We braved the great ice storm of 2018 (apparently it’s not too early in the year to proclaim such a thing), and enjoyed a “fancy meal” at McAllister’s together. Just me and my ‘gails’.

As we waited for our fancy food to arrive, we received several texts and calls from people making sure we were still alive. We were. As we made the five-minute journey to Shari’s we saw no ice and had the roads all to ourselves. Not a bad way to end the day!

– Mae (on the left) is holding her face like that for the photo. I held the phone up for a ridiculous length of time to see how long she’d hold it. She didn’t budge. Definitely, her Daddy’s girl…


Anytime they’re outside Mae calls it adventuring, or “enventuring.” Today we went enventuring.

The girls discovered it was warm again today (When will it get cold??). They packed their backpacks with notebooks, snacks, water bottles, and tupperware for “collecting nature,” then ran up to me and shouted, “Can we go to the park!?” Who could say no…

We lasted at the table just long enough to unpack everything they brought, ooh and ahh at the view, and eat one apple and one orange. Then, Momma got cold so we had to move along into the woods. My favorite part.

Ugh. That smile says it all, doesn’t it? She is at her best out of doors.

Really, who isn’t?

Rae yelled, “Poison Ivy!” at each green thing we passed. It’s not that warm here…

She also stole some moss from the State Park. Oops. It was a gift for me since moss is my favorite (and we didn’t get caught!), so, I’m gonna let it slide.

We didn’t’ find any antlers, cool rocks, bugs, or mushrooms, but as you can see, they didn’t seem to care.

Notice Rae’s backpack bum? We laughed pretty hard about that throughout our hike.


Hope its warm tomorrow so we can do this all over again. AND! since I’m apparently a whimp, I’ll bring a bigger coat so they can stay longer without having to hear Momma gripe.


Zack and I have sponsored the same boy for 12 years now, through Compassion. I can’t say enough good things about them. Honestly, I can’t think of a bad thing to say.

Compassion has sent an “experience” around the country and thankfully ended up five minutes from my mother-in-law’s house (a couple hours from our home). I decided to take the girls there to give them a look into the lives of far less fortunate kids from around the world.

We often have discussions about what it is like for others in the world and how great we have it here in the states (even our poor and homeless), but this took it to a new level for them, which was the intention.

So, you wear headphones that are connected to an iPhone. There are narrations which guide you through each story – one room equals one part of their life’s story. They have a kids version with fewer sound effects and a toned down bit for gory situations. I’m glad we opted for that with the girls.

We learned about a girl (now a woman) from the Philippines, and a boy (now a man) from Kenya. The girls and I both agreed that the story of the girl, Kiwi, will stick with us.

The rooms were set up as authentically as possible (I think they did a great job!).

Of course, we didn’t experience the smells that come with poverty, floods, etc. or feel the deep fear children experience in these situations. We didn’t have rain pouring down on us through the sags of tarp roofs or holes in the tin roof. We didn’t feel the pit of starvation or feel hopeless about what our night or our tomorrow will be.

We did get to have deep meaningful, enlightening conversions on our long drive home, we do have fresh daily outlooks of the blessing we’ve been given each day, and we will remember those less fortunate in our prayers. It’s easy to get focused on only what is close to home when we pray. We don’t need a name or a face to pray for someone across the globe…or those in our own town we’ve never met who are living in crippling conditions.

So glad we didn’t back out, save the gas and spare ourselves the long hours on the road.


Mae had her third ever recital this past Monday night. She has expressed a dream of being on stage from the time she was two. She has never once been nervous before a show. So grateful it has not only become a reality but that she is pretty dadgum terrific.

She makes our dirty ol’ porch look mighty classy, don’t she? Untied laces and all.

Seriously. These two. This will surely be, forever, one of my favorite photos.

We made our traditional trip to the neighbors to show off the incredible costume.

Of course, Rae was being a crumbum.

For all of Mae’s recitals, Rae has been a not so nice human being. A real so-and-so. Supportive right up until the moment she realizes she’ll have to sit still (and, God forbid, remain quiet!) for the next 45 minutes.

Thankfully, it didn’t bring Mae’s spirits down!

Another tradition – post-recital meal at Lee’s! She doesn’t like chicken (or any kind of meat), but she does like hot apples and honey on a warm roll!

So excited to see what she has for us next spring!!


This month has been the greatest!! You are both now fully able (and willing) to enjoy all that comes with the Christmas season.

For your birthday’s this year, you both wanted to spend any money you received on each other. For Christmas, it seems you have plenty of thoughts on what you’d like for yourselves. However, you both did great choosing the perfect items to gift each other. So grateful I get to live right smack dab in the middle of your relationship. The nosy, opinionated third wheel.

You are both able to bake cookies from scratch. Mae even knows how to set the oven correctly. Rae, at this point, you don’t get to mix cookie dough – sorry, Babe. You tend to stick your hands in at every stage…even the slimy ones. BUT! you can help once the dough is fully mixed!

You each jump at the chance to take charge of our daily advent lesson. Thankfully taking turns between two isn’t so bad. Four sentences in and Rae has made her way to the piano and is playing Mary had a Little Lamb above Momma’s words. Never fails. Sitting still for minutes at a time is hard.

You both take full advantage of having so many occasions to ‘get fancy.’ Dresses, tights, skirts, clicky shoes, broaches (yes, you both totally adored broaches), nail polish, hair spray, cheek sparkles, ear muffs, and peacoats – BRING IT!

I have tried to mix up our Christmas music as much as possible – without wandering into current pop renditions – and so far, ya’ll aren’t even a “tweensy” bit sick of the merriment.  I need a break now and again – so thanks for smiling through the detours.

The two of you sang a duet at church for the Festival of Talents. A talent show where kids could show off the gifts the Lord has given them. Ya’ll sang Jingle Bells. The entire thing. It was so good! No one paused to remember words, cried, ran off stage or even developed rosy nervous cheeks like Momma surely would’ve. While you both have so many talents, I’m glad you chose this one. It got you, Rae, out of your comfort zone (singing out loud on stage in front of several people!) and allowed the two of you to grow and work together for the Lord.

We have gifts under the tree (yours for each other), and the stockings are full. Thanks for not peeking!

Right now, I’ve got to slap some lipstick on your face, Mae, as we’re nearly out the door for your Christmas Recital!


Thanksgiving. Mmmm, boy.

This past month, the girls and I tediously studied the who, whys, and hows behind our Thanksgiving celebrations here in America. I feel like we earned our platter-sized plate of food. Probably my favorite Thanksgiving meal of all time. Had there been ham and feijoada in the mix, it would’ve been perfection!

The girls adored spending time with their cousins. They ran all over that house giggling at very unnatural octaves and even did some caroling (at normal octaves)- until they noticed we were watching them.

Our second visit involved my side of the family. Boy cousins play very differently, hah!

Our annual-when-we’re-in-the-area post-meal walk was so so great. Perfect fall weather, gorgeous sunset, sweet dog tagging along, and not a single child got tired halfway through forcing us to lug them back to the house on our hip.



We celebrated Rae’s birthday in quite a few ways, all simple and quiet, over a few days time. She couldn’t think of a single activity she wanted to do for her birthday. I’m sure she would’ve enjoyed a movie at the theater, but there wasn’t anything good out. She was hoping for Paddington 2, but no such luck.

SO! My mother-in-law came for a visit with gifts in tow and we had a quiet day together at the house. We got her gifts as well since she didn’t pick an activity.

She received Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig toys, as well as a C-3PO (“Sweepio”) figurine.

The girls jumped right in and began playing and coloring in her Paw Patrol books and playing with the Peppa Pig toys. Mae graciously dealt with the pesky packaging.

It was a perfect fall day out. Rae opted for snuggles with Grandma on the deck instead of taking a nap. I’m sure Grandma appreciated this moment.

My mom sent this card (along with $$!) She slept with it and carried it around for a few days.

Her school gave her a crown and sang to her. – and she didn’t cry at the attention!

On her actual birthday, the girls watched Troll Hunters by the fire – per her request.

We still did a bit of school work, but she doesn’t do much at home on pre-school days. Since it was her birthday, she really just had to listen to Mae’s lesson and skipped the work accompanying it, but she still chimed in with plenty of questions.

She received a package from Grandma Dee, “DeeDee,” on her actual birthday as well. Couldn’t have timed it better!