It Happened One Thursday.


The date was October 1, and we were trying to get out of town.

Not right away, which was good as I hadn’t packed for anyone. But in the afternoon, leaving town was the plan.

Ali was going to my Mom’s for the weekend, and Chris, Noah and I were going to Atlanta for the annual trek to “Pop’s Race.”

But things had to be done first.

School, for one.


Packing for people to go in separate directions.

So we began with school. It was early – I felt confident that I could accomplish all that the day needed. There were hours ahead of me! I had this.

After school, we drove to Target to get necessaries for our journeys. Ali needed to pick out a birthday present for her best friend, as she would be attending her spend-the-night birthday party while we were gone. And I needed things – because who doesn’t need things at Target?

No one. That’s who.

I’d grabbed half the things when my calendar on my phone beeped naggingly.

I didn’t remember having plans.

Then again, I didn’t remember the last time I’d checked my calendar, either.

I looked at the reminder. Children’s Theatre! We had a field trip starting in half an hour and I had completely forgotten about it. We’d missed the last play due to a nasty cold virus we’d passed around our family for two weeks – I could not stomach flushing another $21 of theatre investment.

So I sped up.

“Mommy! Why are you walking so fast?”

“We can’t keep up with you!!”

I grabbed a gift bag for the present, ran through the book aisle looking for the set Ali wanted to get her friend to no avail, sprinted to the checkout, and paid. No present – I would worry about that teensy detail later.

Miraculously, the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru line next door hadn’t cranked up to its usual lunchtime frenzy yet, so I got the kids some chicken and sped downtown to adequately provide my children culture and sophistication.

Somehow, we made it to the play, The Reluctant Dragon, with 15 minutes to spare. Most likely because I key in every calendar entry 30 minutes early to plan on the fact that I will not look at my calendar, but whatever.

That 15 minutes gave my children ample time to be impatient, antsy, and far too wiggly for the theatre.

And then, right as the play began, Noah began to cough. Except not a cough – it was the juicy tuberculosis-meets-croup cough he’d had on and off for a month, in fact the very same cough that prevented us from attending the last Children’s Theatre play.

He did not sound uncontagious in the least.

And we were sitting on the second row.

I am positive that he coughed right on The Reluctant Dragon himself at some point, which might (rightfully) make him reluctant to act in children’s plays in the future.

On one side, I had friends. I whispered apologetically that he wasn’t contagious – he just couldn’t shake the cough.

On Noah’s other side, far out of my whisper-reach, were strangers. And the child closest to Noah was leaning on his mother to get as far away from Noah’s nasty lungs as possible.

The cough continued, without stopping, and becoming more urgent, throughout the entire play. The entire play which I did not watch but instead spent strategizing and restrategizing how I could get him out of the theatre without disturbing other people, but to no avail. We were solidly locked in. And there were no intermissions or breaks in the action during which it would be acceptable for me to cross in front of someone.

Could I jump over the row of chairs in front of me, which were all empty, to escape that way?

I was wearing a sundress. There was zero possible way to accomplish that awkward escape without showing my underthings to The Reluctant Dragon.

(Who, incidentally, had a very disturbing underthing problem of his own going on, as his costume was clearly designed for those not sitting on the second row.)

As I tried to not stare at the Dragon’s leggings-as-pants barely made PG-13 by a shimmering thongish covering of dragon scales, I willed the play to end so I could get my child out of this harrowing cough situation.

After approximately 2,357 coughs, they took their bows.

But then there was Q&A with the audience. And again zero ways for me to escape (gracefully.)

Noah sounded at this point as if he was certainly dying of a medieval plague that might have wiped out even the most reluctant of dragons.

Finally finally FINALLY, the questions ended. I pushed my children down the aisle and up the stairs, smushing them into the crowds of parents and children leaving the theatre, attempting to get out before anything worse occurred.

Except that I failed.

Because at that moment, as we were on the carpeted stairs amidst hoards of people, Noah’s cough reached the apex of its theatrical act.

And he phlegm-vomited a pile of ooze right on the stairs.

I panicked.

In half a second my mind went through all the contents of my purse. Did I have anything to clean this up??

I did not.

Except for maybe a feminine product but mopping up a pile of phlegm with a tampon did not seem like it would abate my humiliation one tiny bit.

Meanwhile, the hoards were pressing into us from every side – we had to move or risk theatre trampling.

I apologized in general to all of the people that had been pressing into my little brood at that moment and…I walked up those steps.

The guilt of leaving a pile of phlegm on the stairs beat my brow all day. THIS is the way I repay the arts? THIS is the kind of person I am?

Oh, the horror.

A truly good person would have tamponed that little mess right off the floor.

But I stuffed my humiliation and remembered that I had to get my family out of town. I raced to the bookstore for that present. As Ali browsed, I fretted. I had not planned on the oh-so-pleasurable theater outing when I thought I had plenty of time, and I still had 100% of our packing to accomplish. Ali took her time picking out books, then decided at the last minute that she’d rather get her friend a Lego set – something we could have easily grabbed during our Target sprint.

But no matter.

We drove home, Noah having zero traces of a cough OF COURSE, and I packed in a frenzy. I now only had an hour until Chris was to be home and we were to leave.

As I was packing the very last thing (I hoped), my neighbor and her two kids stopped by. Then my other neighbors saw that we were having a party and they walked over. And I found myself, a mere half hour before it was time to leave town, with a playdate at my house for six kids and three adults.

Because why not? I mean my son had only just phlegmed all over The Arts.

Chris drove up, the neighbors scattered, and we left.

And I managed to relax my shoulders sometime around the state line.

All The Answers: Staring at my Innards.

You guys have so many questions. Good questions. Piercing questions. Fun questions. Thank God not a single political question. Let’s continue where we left off yesterday, and be sure to hang around until the end of the post to see visual evidence of my shortcomings.

Aadrw (Darcy) asked,

Are blog conferences worth attending?

It totally depends on your personality and what you want out of it. I never got too much out of the sessions, so was really going for the relationships. I attended BlogHer for four years in a row and struggled to interact, but did gain a handful of new friends. I went to a local conference, Y’all Connect, for the next two years and highly enjoyed interacting. Turns out, I’m more outgoing when engaging with local people than I am with national people that I’m not connected to on an ongoing basis. At the national conference, there were just too many people, and of those people, very few that I was already connected to. At the local one, we all knew who each other were so it was like a big party.

But if you’re the rare unicorn that is an Extroverted Blogger, by all means go to a national conference – you’ll have the time of your life.

You’ve done wonderful work with your local ministry via photography – any updates on how all that’s going in Birmingham?

Thanks! It’s going well. Picture Birmingham has been able to donate over $8,000 to The WellHouse, along with another $1,200 to Mission Birmingham through our joint calendar project (2016 calendars are newly available, by the way.) I would LOVE to be able to donate more and am working on different angles and products so that I can raise more money to rescue victims of human trafficking.

The WellHouse is growing tremendously and can now house more women than ever. They have rescued over 40 young ladies this year, and have assisted law enforcement officials in arresting at least three of the traffickers. They have helped these women regain their identification, get health care, spiritual and emotional healing, GED and college educations, and job and life skills training. They also rescue women nationally – not just locally. They have a hotline 800 number that they spread far and wide, and have rescued as far away as Washington.

The trafficking industry is a 32 BILLION dollar industry, and is staggering in its reach and deceptiveness – especially to our children and teens. There is so much more fighting that needs to be done. But every woman that The WellHouse rescues is one person’s horror story that is finally over.

The current products I’m offering are Prints, Calendars, Note Cards, Postcards, curated collections, a black and white collection, and gallery wrap canvases. I can also do privately labeled note cards or postcards for businesses (or individuals), and am always willing to get by-request photographs of specific places, along with helping to create advertising products for corporations. My products are for sale online at my website, along with several stores in town – Naked Art Gallery, Urban Standard, Smith’s Variety, and Alabama Goods. I would also love to get my products into more stores to continue spreading the opportunities to provide hope for the women that The WellHouse rescues. As always, 100% of Picture Birmingham profits go to The WellHouse.

Jen asked,

What does your average day look like? Seriously, how do you get so much done? (Please don’t answer that parenting/wifing (I’m pretty sure that’s a word), running crazy mileage, blogging, photography, and homeschooling are so effortless for you, you wish you had more accounting clients to fill the gaps.)

Uh, NO. I typically exist in a panic because of all of the things I’m not getting done that desperately need to get done. I also ignore many things that shouldn’t be ignored, like cooking regularly and dishes and decluttering and not letting my children leave crap all over the house and the car and the front yard. My life is a mess. I promise. Sometimes I clean up that mess, sometimes I don’t. Most of the time I don’t.

But, my typical day, on a school day:

– Ali wakes me up at 8am, then wakes up her brother (I am blessed with children that sleep late and I never squander that blessing by rising early.)

– Ali helps me get breakfast together (maybe my secret is that Ali does all the work. SHE’S the efficient one. She typically has already read two books and written in her diary before she wakes me up.)

– At about 9am, we start school. And surprise, Ali is efficient and gets her school done very quickly. We’re usually done by noon. I do school with Noah intermittently while Ali is doing independent work.

– After lunch, we sometimes go on a hike or errands, depending on if we’re feeling like it and what we need to get done.We also have several neighbors that we’re close to and often play with.

– Historically, we’ve started nap and quiet time around 2pm, and it lasts till 4:30 or 5. Noah is newly no longer napping and isn’t great at quiet time (Ali adores her quiet time, being the truest introvert), so I’m looking into possibly restructuring this, but it hurts me to think about. Between 2-5 is my time to blog, answer emails (also terrible at that lately), get Chris’ company’s accounting done (there’s really not much), and update Picture Birmingham. I prefer these activities to be quiet and uninterrupted. Noah does not.

– Chris comes home around 5:30-6pm, and we eat at home or go out to eat. He also often sends me to run or catch a sunset before dinner.

– The kids go to bed around 8:30.

– Chris and I sit together like slugs, talking, watching TV, listening to podcasts, and looking at our phones until nearly midnight. Unless Chris has work to do, we rarely do anything industrious after the children are in bed.

(Notice there’s really just no time for chores.)

aroe02 asked,

What does your husband do for work? I need to send mine back to school, eventually, and it appears (through blog-land eyes) that it was a good career choice. Not his company/salary, but more like what was his degree in, and did he stay in that field kind of info. Thanks :)

He has a degree in Civil Engineering and does Structural Steel Detailing. But for the record, Birmingham is one of the top most affordable cities to live in (and most beautiful and wonderful all the way around), and we live in the county (outside of “good” school districts), so we’re able to be efficient with our resources.

Kyla asked,

How do you find the time to blog? I recently had my 3rd kid and can’t imagine a day when the laundry and dishes were all done and I had time to sit and write. I am not efficient apparently.

It has become much, much harder over the past couple of years. My brain doesn’t work as efficiently or creatively as it used to (thanks, Dysautonomia), and life is just busier. The best moments of blogging for me is when I have a great story to tell and it just flows. I am able to write and edit very quickly. But other times it’s like pulling glue out of my brain to type a single word. And also, as stated before, laundry and dishes get the boot so that I have time to write.

While I’m on the subject of my housekeeping failures, Sarah asked as a follow-up question on the first questions post for a house tour. After chuckling to myself how my house tour would look compared to most blogger’s house tours, I snapped a couple pictures for her – #nofilter, y’all.

Here’s my office. Epicenter of blogging, Picture Birmingham, random kid’s art projects, and voluminous amounts of crap.


My kitchen table has the remains of some random craft project Ali embarked on and either didn’t finish or clean up after herself or both.


The “catch-all” counter in my kitchen – a stack of magazines I’ll probably never read, a few butt-ends of bread loaves, apples, finger paints my kids have been begging me to let them use, and iPhone chargers – of course. Oh and a completely well-placed beach shovel. Because why not.


And the dining room table is the school table. Sometimes I clean it off for the weekend. But definitely not during the week.


So now you know from where I steal all my time. From being a responsible, neat adult.

I have one more day of questions left to answer, so if you want anything added to the last post of ever-unimportant opinions, ask quickly.

The Fruits of Laziness.

I am not the best at adulting.

My office looks like The Room of Requirement, my dishes are never completely done, and the other day I looked up from bed and saw a pile of clean diapers on our dresser – and Noah has been potty-trained for at least two years.

Chris joins me in admitting to not being the best adulter.

Light bulbs take weeks to get changed, we shove garbage down into the bag with greater pressure than a car crusher, and yard work is right out.

(My Mother, who is an actual Master Gardener by certification, often drops by and plants things out of pity – but only things that she has researched and ensured cannot be killed.)

We manage to cover over segments of our bad adulting by paying for lawn service and having a cleaning crew of angels come every other week. But they know all of our secrets of bad adulting. If my cleaning ladies weren’t so adorable and understanding, I’m sure they’d have conversations like,

“I wonder if she ever plans on moving that pile of diapers. Isn’t Noah almost five?”

“I know right?? And how about this junk mail that’s been on her end table for six months? You think she even sees it anymore?”

“I’m sure she doesn’t. Ew! I just found another moldy sippy cup! I wonder how long this one’s been here…”

So yeah. Don’t look for me to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens anytime soon.

One area of our general life maintenance that we often let slip is the back of our backyard. We play in our front yard, and the back-backyard desperately desires to be a natural area, boasting weeds that can grow faster than those old ladies in the grocery store claim children grow (“Enjoy every second because in a blink they’ll be married!” <BLINK BLINK BLINK> “YOU ARE A LIAR, Old Lady!!”), and a natural ecosystem that begs us to let it be. For instance, if we didn’t let our back-backyard go wild the summer of 2011, where would Yard Bunny have raised her beautiful babies? We provided a home for a family AND the perfect observational Science lesson for Ali. All by not doing yard work.


So, although some years we’ve fought it back better than others, 2015 was not one of those years. Between sickness and surgery and house flooding and all the other blessings this year has brought us, the back-backyard was not high on the priority list, so it reverted back into natural ecosystem mode – perhaps thicker than it has ever been.

For reference, this Dandelion-like plant in comparison to my 5’5” self – make sure you note the top of the plant by its white fronds:

IMG_2719 copy

I told you it can GROW SOME SERIOUS STUFF, y’all.

But the other day, as I was driving into the garage, I caught sight of something out of place in the back-backyard. I walked out there, thinking that SURELY it wasn’t what I thought it was, then eagerly yelled for the children to come see.


We. Had our own pumpkin patch.


Growing around and encircling a large tree branch that had fallen during our mini-tornado (that we’d never bothered to remove because ADULTING) was a giant Pumpkin vine, sprawling in every direction.


It boasted of one perfect, medium-sized white pumpkin on the outside, two more equally-sized white pumpkins behind the branch, many large flowers giving the hope of future pumpkins, and Fred the Cat as a guard for our Secret Garden.


My first thought was one of Great Relief…

We are growing our own pumpkin patch this year so there is NO WAY I will find myself in another Pumpkin Patch Disaster! When we are ready for pumpkining there will be no lines, no hot hay ride, and no interminable waiting. We will walk out to our backyard and pluck a pumpkin! Maybe we should offer a pumpkin patch field trip for our equally-traumatized friends…

My second thought was one of curiosity. How exactly had we ended up with a pumpkin patch? They’re not exactly a common weed indigenous to these parts…

I discussed this mystery with Chris the evening after our discovery, and slowly, we were both able to piece together how this little yard miracle had occurred.

Last year, we had bought some pumpkins. Said pumpkins got moldy (much like these 2010 pumpkins) and for some reason, instead of throwing them in the trash like normal people, we threw them out into our natural area…

(Because ADULTING.)

And those said pumpkins made babies like bunnies. Because clearly, our natural area is an aphrodisiac for pumpkins and rabbits alike.


So the moral of this story is: when you let things go, fantastically surprising things come back to you. So quit adulting and let life grow how it wants.