Posts tagged ‘Abby’


The summer we drive a billion miles – update #2

So it turned out to not be exactly a billion miles.

60 days. 21 states. 7,142 miles. 7 beaches. 3 state parks. 1 diaper change on the Jersey Turnpike.

We’re officially home. Physically at least. Transitioning back emotionally into regular life is taking a little longer than unpacking the suitcases. But we’re here and we’re thankful.

I kind of have all the feelings right now that come with being overwhelmed so I haven’t sorted much out via words yet. Here is what I do know.


The drive back from Vermont was a bit of a scouting expedition for us as we’ve always considered a possible move to the East Coast. We crossed some places off our list and added a few others and spent a good deal of time discussing what we want our life to look like regardless of where we go to sleep each night. The slow route home was a fantastic way to debrief together after camp.


Everyone has asked how the girls handled the trip. Truthfully, they were amazing. Sure, Emma got fussy at nap times and Abby thought she was entitled to way more junk food than we allowed, but never once did we threaten to pull the car over or find ourselves trying to swat them from the front seat. I will admit to daydreaming about throwing a Frozen and/or Elmo DVD out the window in at least two states.


We had a lovely family stay in our home while we were gone. (They’ll be missionaries in Japan in a few short weeks and if you’d like to support them financially or prayerfully, I’d love to connect you – start here.) Before leaving, I thought it might feel strange to have someone else living in our house with our things. Nope. Didn’t bother me one bit. If Matt and our babies are with me, I’m good. Stuff is overrated and home really is wherever we’re together.


Headphones are a gift from God. (See above for Frozen and Elmo reference.) And I don’t mean headphones for the kids. No, no, no. Headphones for me means those kid movies can play and those kids can scream (they call it singing and we agree to disagree) and I can gaze out the windshield at beautiful scenery with Drew Holcomb as my soundtrack.


I was able to kiss my husband and run into the ocean with my daughters on beaches from Maine to Florida. It doesn’t get much better than that.


It’s not like we were in a third world country or anything but I’m unbelievably stressed by the choices that come with being home. So many restaurants, stores, roads, etc. I’ve always felt panicky in crowds or malls so it’s not like I left with a stellar track record, but I wasn’t expecting a few months to make such a difference.


Trader Joes. If every town had a Trader Joes, we would never need to buy fast food and road trips would be at least 87% better than they already are.


If ever you should find yourself choosing two movies to take with you as you spend a few months with absolutely zero access to a kitchen, may I recommend that you do not pack Julie & Julia or Waitress. Whatever you do, don’t take both.


Emma still asks daily to go see, pet, feed, and ride the horses. It is adorable and heartbreaking. I need someone local to have a horse or two who could use some extra attention. In case you need proof of her abilities, Emma did receive an award for being the best cheerleader during the horse show at camp.


For as happy as I am to be in our house where we can each go into a different area when we want to, I miss falling asleep with all my people in the same room. I miss being awake in the wee hours and only having to turn my head to see and count my three biggest blessings.


Most of this last leg involved beaches so many photos look the same but I’ll throw a few here anyway.





Abby jumps

Emma's hat

family shot




clear waters

they sleep

the three amigos



NC footprints


Beaufort, SC

beach walk


grass land





emma & mommy

burger queens

sand kids

ocean surveyor




abby ocean



low country

mud baths

beach chairs
FL sunset


The summer we drive a billion miles – update #1

For a variety of reasons that simply add up to doing what is best for us as a family, we broke camp a few weeks earlier than we had planned. As you’re reading this, we’re beginning our next adventure. We’ll be spending some much hoped for time in Virginia with family before heading to the coast of North Carolina. From there, we’ll be beach bums all the way until we make a right turn in Jacksonville.

We haven’t had much in the way of internet access so I thought it would be easiest to throw some words and a slew of photos together here. What’s an old dusty blog good for if not this?

*Disclaimer: the ramblings are just that and in no specific order and the images are all courtesy of my phone since I somehow broke my camera shortly after leaving Texas. All I can say is the best camera is the one that’s available. And if it happens to fit in your pocket while you’re running down a hill chasing a toddler, even better.


I love access roads. Access roads, access roads, access roads.


In the cabin that sloped simultaneously to the north, west, and south, the whole of it together smaller than our living room at home, there was no lock on the door. The thin slab of wood had a wide enough gap at the bottom to allow us to watch one evening as a mouse ran right under it and into our midst. That poorly hung lumber was all which separated the “us” from the “them” of the world. Mouse aside, I’ll take the sound of a slamming screen door over a deadbolt for ever and ever, amen.


There is nothing like being surrounded by twenty year olds to make me thankful I’m not twenty anymore. And also to make me regret skipping out on the gym the past few years.


Today Abby was reading a book and said she didn’t understand something. “It says her parents got divorced. What does that mean?” Maybe in our current culture eight years is an eternity to stay innocent to the concept – after all, I was so much younger than she when one home became two – but it still made me sad to tell her. So I explained in the simplest of terms and when she replied in shock, “But how does that work?” I answered with the only truth I know. “Not well.”


I have allowed over nine hundred emails to go unopened and unanswered. As far as I can tell, my lack of response didn’t stop the world from turning.


Being completely removed from friends and family, not waving to them across produce bins or chatting in a coffee line, makes conversation all the sweeter. Having to drive ten miles to use a phone prioritizes for you. Forget social networks and scrolling through what three hundred friends ate for lunch. When time is short, filling every second of it with your best friend’s voice is the only way to go.


The first day it broke eighty degrees we discovered that building against the side of a mountain doesn’t exactly allow for a breeze to move through the rooms. I laid on the unfinished wood floors planning to exert the least energy possible. If I could have found a way to not touch anything – to float in the air – I would have. But then Emma crawled on top of me. Belly to belly with the ringlets in her hair damp and her skin sticky, she laid there as though clinging to me would save her from the heat. It didn’t. So while sweat pooled beneath us, I scratched her back and we breathed in unison and I felt the weight of my last baby as I hadn’t in nearly a year.


If I could bottle my grandmother’s laughter, I would travel the world offering it up as the cure for homesickness.


I always imagined our girls did their growing when I was busy. For work or pleasure, each time I left, I came back and they were bigger, taller, smarter. Maybe if I didn’t leave, I thought. I have not been away from Emma for more than two combined hours in the last six weeks and even though I watched her every waking moment, I still blinked and she still shed a bit more of her smallness. Time slowed but it most definitely did not stop. Her hair is longer, her clothes shorter, and her opinions stronger than when we arrived. No matter how tiny the home, how simple the life, how devoted the parent, babies just don’t keep.


Mice 2-6 were much less tolerated – though they caused significantly less screaming – than the earliest explorer, Mouse 1. Mouse 7’s attempt to carry away the Children’s Motrin bottle felt like a personal attack.


There are different types of country people. I am Texas country. I prefer to float down rivers and I use barbecue as both a noun and verb. Church steeples and stadium lights feel like welcome home banners. I believe the sky should be filled with stars, tea with ice and sugar, and the Fourth of July with parades. Fences are meant to keep livestock in, not neighbors out, ma’am and sir go hand in hand with please and thank you, and knowing someone isn’t a prerequisite for waving at them.


I am in my mid-thirties and I still have no clue what professional path I should be traveling. My talents feel cobbled together and I constantly hover between forty nine and fifty one percent – too ambitious for this, not nearly motivated enough for that. It’s the pressure of choosing one and leaving the rest behind that paralyzes.


Toys are overrated. Both girls brought a baby doll, paper and crayons, and a few books from home. My mom was wonderful enough to send some building blocks for rainy days. They danced and sang and sorted rocks. Chipmunks and squirrels were chased, frogs and snails captured, and dandelions were wished upon. Sure, Matt and I have Madeline and Goodnight Moon memorized, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.


I fell head over heels, madly in love with Matt on a simple little road trip to Austin. It was the stripped-down genius of sitting side by side for hours without distraction or pretense that let me see him clearly. Fourteen years and thirty states later, there is still no one else I’d rather spend my life – or car – with.


After dinner one evening, Abby looked overwhelmed. I pulled her aside and in a rush of words she exhaled, “There’s a banquet and Liam asked me to go and can I say no?” A quick response of, “Yes! Oh, sweet girl, you can always say no!” caused her tears to overflow and her shoulders to visibly relax as she sobbed out, “I can?!” with as much joy and relief as I have ever witnessed. She ran off to play and I gave thanks for a daughter who spoke up rather than soldiered on. I wonder how many grownups are living weighed down by the forgetting that we too can always say no?


Our family is spoiled. Not solely with the tangible trappings of our home but with the community we belong to. The people themselves – the kindness and the gatherings and the conversations punctuated by scripture. Some might call it blessed but a tenth of what we have would be worthy of that claim. The fullness of it goes above and beyond.


For as much as Vermont isn’t our place and this specific camp isn’t our future, there are things I fell in love with and will miss. The wildflowers blooming in so many different colors and the way storm clouds sink down to hug the mountains and dance through the valleys. The flash of a white birch tree growing amidst all the green. Being so removed from traffic that hearing a truck downshift is startling. Forty degree mornings. Streams and ponds that appear out of nowhere and gardens that grow without a watering schedule. Letting Abby leave the house with only a promise to show up for the next meal and not worrying once about her crossing roads or encountering strangers. Letting Emma ride unbuckled in the front seat. Looking into the eyes of twenty-six horses and seeing twenty-six different personalities staring back at me. Most of all- sweet friends who will finish the summer and then scatter back to their homes in England, Connecticut, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Scotland, and the Ukraine.


Vermont sunset

emma and the garden

there was a chipmunk under that swing

Woodstock, VT

4th of July

covered bridge


matt, emma, oliver, and teddy

birch trees

bobble head emma

tractor fun

emma making wishes

Montpelier, VT

lacrosse stance


honest abe

emma rides pippen

community garden in the mountains

emma lou

country store

Warren, VT

wood barns

dancing at the carnival

relaxing on the swings

swinging sisters

abby's maine sand dollar

maine smiles

tiny frog, tiny toes

abby and the ark

looking down at the horse ring

more wishes

abby and jack

at a maine beach

Kennenbunkport, MA


Saco, MA

hotel living

the path

carnival sugar

abby riding jack

the view out our window

emma in the fields

us (tiny version)



her first push pop

Norwich University, VT

Norwich University, VT

emma and friends

masked abby

beach baby

Burlington, VT

rain gear

abby and teddy

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It is a fact that I come from a long line of dirt lovers. There is plenty of family history that’s unknown, but our passion for the earth is well documented.

My great-grandfather had an old icebox on his property that he kept stocked with soil and earthworms. The worms were meant to be used as bait for fishing, but he understood my love of turning the dirt simply to watch those little guys wiggle. The soil was rich and dark and beckoned you to reach out and touch it.

I really don’t remember any toys at my grandparents house (except for The Spirograph which might have been the best toy ever) but we were never bored.

We went outside. We climbed trees. We rode the tractor. We found arrowheads. We chased chickens. We caught grasshoppers. We planted, watered and weeded the garden. We got dirty. And we loved every minute of it.

We only have one child and yet we seem to own more toys than most families with a slew of kids. And nothing makes me happier than when she abandons all of those brightly-colored, age-appropriate, educationally-advancing, noise-making gadgets to go dig in the dirt with me.


Just Another Day

Her commitment to the animal extractor profession is slightly shaken by her love of tutus and tights.

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Speechless. Almost.

There are no words for what it’s like to come home to a husband sans shirt sleeves and a daughter acting like Dumb Donald:

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But there are plenty of words that almost do it justice:

love. joy. amusement. charm. bliss. affection. devotion. humor. comfort. delight. wonder. life.

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Bluebonnet Love

More proof that winter really is over- bluebonnets!

Our kid can’t get enough of them. I’m seriously considering planting our own patch for next year. The ladybugs were an added bonus.

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Toddler Theology

Soaking up the sunshine during a drive through town, Abby piped up from the backseat:

“Mommy, what does faith mean?”

Oh man… what’s the simplest way I can put this for her?

“It means believing in God, baby.”

Not a second later she responded:

“Is disobeying not believing in God?”

If only she could simplify all those philosophy classes I took.

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” – John 6:29


Record Breaking Fun

With a record breaking twelve inches of snow, we’ve filled our time by making thumbprint Valentine’s Day cards, cooking homemade Zuppa Toscana soup and banana walnut bread, building snowmen and igloos, snowboarding, and drinking hot chocolate.

I can’t imagine having this type of weather for weeks on end, but the past 48 hours have been pretty wonderful.

(You should be able to click on the photos if you want to enlarge them.)

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Toddler Theology

The first conversation of our morning:

A: Hey Mommy- guess what.

Me: What, baby?

A: It’s always going to be Jesus’ birthday. On Christmas, it’ll be Jesus’ birthday. On Saturday, it’ll be Jesus’ birthday. On Halloween, it’ll be Jesus’ birthday. On Tuesday, it’ll be Jesus’ birthday. On Thursday… On Sunday… On Wednesday… On summertime… On Monday… On Easter… On my birthday… On Friday, it’ll be Jesus’ birthday.

Me: You’re right.

A: Yep. And everyone is part of Jesus’ family… even you, and me, and Daddy. You know God died on the cross for us, and chose to get back up, right?

Me: Yes, I know that… but thanks for reminding me.

A: Sure. Hey, can I have some of your lipstick?

“At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

– Matthew 11:25-26

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