Business As Usual

Business As Usual

Right before we left the states to head back to the Middle East we had a microscopic bit of snow in our city. Our boys learned then that homeschooling has its advantages and disadvantages. While our cousins were at home curled up on the couch watching movies, we were in the school room handling business as usual.

However, there are also great advantages to homeschooling. One of those advantages being, no matter where we are, we can carry on with school. And when you travel as much as we do, that’s a pretty great incentive.

We have been living in a hotel for a little longer than originally anticipated so it was imperative that we resume our school schedule, even if for no other reason than to bring some order to our day.

We’ve set up a nice little system here in the hotel and Taylor Academy is in full swing. We eat breakfast and then work together to clean the table off and get school started. When lunch time rolls around we put the school away and prepare lunch. After lunch we clean up the table again and drag the school books back out. Finally, when we finish school for the day, we put all the books away and transition to dinner…again. Doesn’t that just sound delightful?

I must admit that my OCD nature gets tested regularly by the fact that we don’t have a designated “school room.”

I try to stay as organized as possible by creating neat stacks for each of the boys but when the laundry drying area doubles as a bookshelf, things can get cluttered. 
And no need to worry about the fact that the majority of our school supplies are still packed in our tubs. We may not have the necessary supplies but we are getting by just fine. You’d be surprised how resourceful I can be when backed against a wall. I’m encouraging myself with the idea that once we get settled in our home and have the school room set back up the schooling will practically take care of itself. And today I’m choosing to live in that reality so please don’t spoil it for me.

A New Look for the New Adventure

A New Look for the New Adventure

We left Birmingham with 21 checked bags, three backpacks, a stroller, two carseats and 7 carry-ons.

We arrived back in our city last week with all but one of our suitcases. After 27 hours of travel from point A to point B we finally made it.
The boys are absolute rock stars when it comes to saying goodbye, navigating airports, sleeping on the plane and eating airplane food.

Me….not so much. Which is why I passed out on my sweet husband in the Paris airport and left him to wrangle my jet lagging brood.

We are eagerly anticipating the new adventures that are around the corner. I personally look forward to documenting them here on the blog.

The new adventures necessitated a new look so the blog got a little facelift courtesy of the Etsy shop Graphics Candy who is not only incredibly talented but overwhelmingly kind and patient to work with.

You can still find me here at but since we haven’t been a family of six for nearly three years I needed to make a few minor changes. I hope you enjoy the new look and the upcoming excitement. We’ve only been here eleven days and the list of things that I want to etch in my blogging memory are already spilling over in my head. I can’t wait to share them with you.

Emergency Passport, Atlanta and College Football

Emergency Passport, Atlanta and College Football

“When are you leaving?”

It’s the question we get asked multiple times per day. We originally planned to be gone the first of the year, but things don’t always go as planned.

We’ve been waiting on our visas to arrive and were thrilled to finally get them in the mail this week. Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long when we realized that one of the boy’s passports wasn’t in the envelope with the rest. And we always travel with all of our boys. 😉

We called the embassy the next day to try and figure out what had happened only for them to tell us they mailed all of the passports back to us. That’s a problem.

Now we either sit back and hope our 7 year old’s passport arrives…or we can take matters into our own hands.

We  decided the latter and needed to get a replacement passport as soon as possible. We called the US Passport Agency and made an appointment for the following day….in Atlanta. Both parents have to be present to receive a child’s passport so we woke up early the next morning and loaded up the boys for a road trip. Our appointment was in the morning and the sweet people at the agency told us to come back later that afternoon to pick up the newly prepared passport. So, we found ourselves in Atlanta for the day and needed something to do. No need to worry- there are plenty of things to do in ATL.

It has been fascinating to watch our boys become slightly obsessed with football this Fall. With that said- we decided to head over to the College Football Hall of Fame. 

The boys practiced their skills in the obstacle course.

Got in the game withe the virtual reality stadium.

And even had a chance to test their skills as a college football announcer.

I literally had to drag the boys out at closing time. If you have a football fan in your life, this is the place to go.

We closed out the day by picking up the brand new passport. So, for those keeping count at home– we have an unforeseen trip to ATL, emergency passport for the eight year old, a solid day at the College Football Hall of Fame… and an upcoming departure back to our home in the Middle East in the days to come.

And the winner is….

And the winner is….

The votes have been counted and the results are in.

Brook’s apartment ornament received 60 votes.

Britten’s Hermosa Beach ornament received 12 votes.

Two people declared the 2016 competition a tie.

I’m over the moon excited that I have secured bragging rights for 2017 but fully expect Britten to reclaim his title in the days ahead.

Ornament Swap 2016

Ornament Swap 2016

Last week our yearly Christmas date night and ornament swap went down.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about then take two minutes to get up to speed by reading the short explanation of our Christmas tradition.

The anticipation and build up was evident for many weeks leading up to our date night. Britten and I didn’t miss an opportunity to talk trash or taunt each other with the assurance that our ornament would win this year.

I’ll let you decide who you think came away with the win.

Here is the story behind the ornaments…

1. This past summer we took our first vacation sans kids since 2006 and I’m still not sure why we waited so long to do so. It was an amazing week touring L.A., riding bikes through Venice Beach and watching the Crossfit Games. One of our favorite nights during the trip was the night we went to Hermosa Beach, ate pizza at a little hole in the wall and sat for hours on the beach with our feet in the sand talking about life and dreaming about the future. As parents of many little guys, the opportunity to talk face to face with no interruptions doesn’t come often, which made this particular night such a gift. It was a night we both want to remember for a long time. Thanks to this ornament, we can remember it every Christmas when we hang the Hermosa Beach ornament on the tree. 

2. We have lived in 1,569, I mean a few different homes in our marriage. Each home was special and unique in it’s own way, but after a while it’s difficult to remember the various homes and what you treasure about each one. However, there are a few that have made an eternal impression on our lives. Our home in 2016 is one of those. The six story apartment building. The street name. The parking space under the building. The double glass door going into the lobby. The date we arrived. The city in which we lived. All those and more will be remembered each year that we pull out this hand painted Christmas ornament.

**If you’re wondering, the top two right hand windows were our home in 2016. And we also had the upper area which was the outside space for our kids to frolic. 

In my humble opinion, it was a strong year for Christmas ornaments and we will treasure both of these for years to come, but I’m leaving the final outcome of this year’s contest in the hands of my readers.

Notice I didn’t tell you who bought each ornament. That was on purpose. If you would, take a second to decide which ornament you think won this year and cast your vote. We look forward to gloating and basking in our success upon hearing the results.

What Makes A Gifted Homemaker

What Makes A Gifted Homemaker

I was recently talking with a friend when she nonchalantly referred to me as a gifted homemaker. Homemaking wasn’t the main focus of the conversation so I chose not to derail things by shifting gears.  However, the comment got my attention and caused me to linger on the subject a little longer in my head.

I’ve never really considered myself a gifted homemaker. So for a few days I tumbled thoughts around in my head like a favorite pair of jeans bouncing around in the dryer. I thought a lot about the different homes we’ve lived in, the numerous homes we’ve visited and even the home I dream of having someday.

I tried to pinpoint the specific details about the homes that belong to what I consider “gifted homemakers” but I couldn’t find a common thread. I couldn’t figure out exactly what makes someone a gifted homemaker. Is it a beautiful home? Is it the ability to decorate with the latest trends? Does a woman have to be gifted in the areas of organization? Do you need a large house so you can host and entertain often? To be a gifted homemaker do you have to channel your inner Joanna Gaines? I wasn’t exactly sure what makes someone gifted in the area of homemaking.

We recently traveled to Georgia for a few days away. Some friends in the area graciously offered their home to us while her family stayed with in-laws. Our party of seven took up residence in their home and when we left on Sunday I was in awe of her “homemaking skills.” After our little weekend get away it all came together- I was finally aware of exactly what makes a gifted homemaker. I jotted down a few specific things about her home that I hope to soon replicate in my own.

5. Homes do not have to be massive.  I’m in no way saying that you can’t have an enormous home and still be a gifted homemaker– you certainly can. However, the size of your home doesn’t matter one tiny bit.

4. Home decor should be a reflection of your personality, not the popular design trends.  Trends and styles come and go but unfortunately style isn’t eternal. It’s only a matter of time before the shiplap, reclaimed wood and open floor plans that dominate the interior design world of today will be out of style and dated. Instead of following the trends, I want the inside of my home to reflect who I am and what our lives are about.

There are several young children in my friend Christy’s home and little glimpses of their personalities and daily lives can be seen in every room of the house. Being in her home gave me better insight into her family and her heart.

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3. Your home should be a delicate reflection of who you are and what you value most in this life.

You can’t be in my friend’s home for more than a few minutes without knowing what in her life is most important. Eight years, and four kids, later her wedding photographs and marriage certificate serve as a reminder of a lifelong covenant.


2. Homes are to be lived in. This one doesn’t come easy for me. I tend to function better when beds are made, throw pillows are fluffed and closet doors are closed. I’m going to blame it on my suppressed OCD but seriously…the struggle is real.

My mom once told me about a friend that fluffed the throw pillows on her couch 2-3 times a day to keep them looking pristine. She was one day diagnosed with cancer and decided that life was too short to spend fluffing throw pillows. With tears in her eyes she recounted the wasted time she had spent fluffing throw pillows instead of living the life she had been given. She vowed to use her final days to truly live in her house and never waste the time the Lord had given fluffing pillows.

Her story reminds me to walk past the throw pillows that are tossed on the floor and embrace the days I have with my family.

1. Our homes should be a refuge from the craziness of this world– a place where you can meet with God regularly.

The combination of those things I mentioned before made my time in my friend’s home so enjoyable, but there was something else that made me want to be in her house. The Spirit of the Lord dwelt within the walls of her home and I found myself wanting to linger there a little longer.

Early one morning I was the only one awake. I tiptoed, ever so quietly, into the living room and opened my Bible. As I flipped through the pages, dimly illuminated by the lamplight I was reminded of  2 Chronicles 7:15-16…

Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

The oversized comfy chair beckoned me to procrastinate the day’s to do list and dwell in the presence of the Lord. It was sitting in that chair that I realized the Spirit of the Lord dwelled in that home and above all else, that’s what made me want to be there.

I’m not putting this here to serve as a cozy home checklist. It’s here to remind me of what I truly cherish in a home. In a few short weeks we will begin to search for our 13th home in 13 years of marriage and as often as I’m asking the Lord for outdoor space for our boys and enough space to create a schoolroom, I’m asking that His name will be in our home forever.

Our Jesse Tree

Our Jesse Tree

Today I posted a picture of our Jesse Tree on social media which led to a number of  text messages and comments asking about the tree. The process is so completely simple and underwhelming that I decided to snap a few pictures and throw together a quick how to.

My amazing husband has a list of talents and abilities that could quite possibly shut down the world wide web but handy man is nowhere on the list. Taking that into consideration, I try and choose projects that do not solicit his assistance. Make sense?

If you happen to have a handy husband then don’t let him read this post because he will balk at the elementary way I’ve gone about this little project and rightfully so. Not to mention, he can probably come up with something way better.

But for those of you that just want a simple task you can finish by yourself in a single afternoon…I’m your girl.

Supply List: two boards, 25 upholstery tacks, paint/stain, nails, hammer, Plaster of Paris, bucket, cloth, ribbon, ornaments

You’ll need to make a quick trip to Lowe’s for two pieces of wood. Our Jesse tree comes up to my hip and to have one approximately that height you will need two boards, one 17 inches long and the other 33. Not to mention, if you’re super kind to the guy in the wood section at Lowe’s he will totally cut the pieces to the dimensions you request.


Paint or stain the boards to your liking and nail them together in the shape of a cross.

Of all the steps, this next one is the most tedious. You’ll need to figure out the spacing of your upholstery tacks so that all 25 of them will fit nicely on your cross. It’s up to you how you place them so just go with whatever works.

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Pour the liquid plaster into the bucket and stand the cross up in the center of the plaster. I secured ours to our back porch deck with a rope so it would dry without me standing out there holding it for 8 hours.


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Your cross will more than likely be secure in the bucket once the plaster has dried but over the years ours has worked it’s way out so I just slide it back into the hole.

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Use the cloth to wrap around the bucket and secure it with the ribbon.

We are currently using this book to guide our family worship times but there are several more options out there. Before you order anything just make sure whatever you order lines up with what you believe because there are variations in the material based on the author.

I ordered our wooden ornaments many years ago from Etsy and couldn’t find the exact set but this one seems to be the same thing and even comes with a booklet explaining each ornament and the story that goes along with it.


We go through one story each day during the month of December with the hopes of our boys being able to recall the story, using the pictures on the ornaments as reminders. It has grown to be my favorite Christmas tradition and a great accountability tool for slowing down each day in December to retrace the genealogy of Jesus and behold the beauty of the Gospel.

Wondering Why Wednesday

Wondering Why Wednesday

Another installment of “Wondering Why Wednesday!”


Why does my 5 year old continue to tell me this is not his baby brother’s sock. In case you were wondering, I gave up and just let him wear the stinkin’ sock.