Well, friends. We’re still working away at getting licensed and doing our best to take our checklist(s) (last I counted, I was up to five checklists) one thing at a time. We passed our fire inspection last week and are on our way to passing our health inspection. The things that still need to be done before we can pass that include: adding mulch or other soft landing zone at the end our slide, address an open spot on the playset from which a child can fall, drill holes in the bottom of our tire swing so there isn’t any standing water, find a window baby gate thing to stop a child from breaking the glass and falling out of one of our second story bedroom windows, and a few others.

It’ll be a relief to have those inspections passed, that’s for sure! I’m hoping to finish our online training this week, read one of our required books, set up our fingerprinting appointments, set up our observation hours (we have to observe another foster family for 8 hrs), and a few other things.

We have our pre-service home visit from our agency on Friday (which requires…yep, another checklist), which kind of marks the beginning of the end for our licensure. Which makes my head swim, to be honest.

In the meantime, here are a few photos of what we’ve been working through!



You’ll have to excuse the thousands of pictures I’m about to throw at ya, but since I haven’t blogged in a hundred weeks, it’s the least I can do. Jude started soccer a few weeks ago, about which Shawn and I were a little nervous. He desperately wanted to do karate instead, so I wasn’t sure how his lack of enthusiasm would translate during practices and games.

As it turns out, we had nothing about which to worry! Jude does an awesome job being engaged and involved and (with some reminding) paying attention to what’s going on. It’s cool to see him making huge strides and getting better with each practice and game, and I’m so proud of how he conducts himself on the team. He’s a hard worker and a team player, and that’s exactly what I was hoping he’d learn this soccer season. Plus, he sleeps a REALLY well after all that running!

We hope to put Cohen on a team next season, but for now he’s a wonderful encourager (or courager as he calls it) and snack guarder. During practices he likes to “go for a run” several times over, so he always sleeps well too. It’s a win/win/win/win!



























A look at the blog posts of yesteryear…


google settles all of our arguments

How sad is that? Allow me to illustrate.

We had an ongoing debate as to how the brand of “I can’t believe it’s not butter” is referred in England. Why would we debate something so ridiculous, you ask? In our weird, convoluted way I think we’re flirting. Or maybe we’re just bored. I haven’t decided yet.

My vote was that the English version was called, “Butter – or is it?” Twenty minutes of google searching later, we found this:

Shawn: 1
Jen: 0

Now, there’s something that you need to know about my husband. He sees the world in cartoon characters. I would say with 70% of the people we meet, he will later tell me, “That person looks like such and such cartoon character,” and it’s usually a Muppet. Early in our relationship, when I showed up to class wearing a turtleneck sweater and my black rimmed glassed, he told me I looked like a Sexy Velma.

I’m still unsure if that was a compliment or not.

Several months ago, Shawn called Bug “Dopey.” You would think that after knowing Shawn for almost eight years now, I would know that his cartoon character to actual person analogies are pretty accurate, but I still disputed the fact that our son looks like Dopey. We googled a picture of Dopey, and well…you be the judge:

Shawn: 2
Jen: 0
One night, Shawn and I started debating whether Frisch’s Big Boy is referred to primarily as Frisch’s or Big Boy. This may or may not have been spurred on by the fact that my hair was doing a weird flip that Shawn said looked like Big Boy’s hair.
I told Shawn he was crazy, and that Big Boy is the name of the mascot,Frisch’s is the name of the restaurant. Shawn asserts that the biggest sign in front of the restaurant says “Big Boy,” on it – so it is therefore referred to as Big Boy. I assert that’s ridiculous. You don’t just refer to McDonald’s as The Golden Arches because that’s their sign. Nobody says, “Let’s go to The Golden Arches,” without everyone else replying, “Dude, it’s called McDonald’s.”

A few google searches later, we found out that apparently referring to the restaurant as “Frisch’s” is a peculiarity specific to the Cincinnati area. Kind of like beating the Steelers a few weeks ago, but whatever. We won’t go there.

Shawn: 3

Jen: 0
Just this morning, as I was putting food on Bug’s highchair tray for him to eat, I told him that he was getting a smorgasborg of food. Except that I was in random-baby-talk mode, which means I said something like, “J.Bug, look at you! You’re getting a smorgasborg of food! That’s right, kiddo - Smorg. Ess. Borg.”

Shawn looked at me like I was all cute and amusing, and said, “What’d you call it?” I answered, “A smorgesborg. Why?”

Honey,” he said (very patronizingly, I might add), “It’s smorgasbord…with a D.” We argued for a minute, with me making the point that I happen to be the reader of the family and am really the familial authority on how things are pronounced.

And then Shawn brought up the fact that until I was in late high school, I thought hors devours was pronounced, “oars day vores.” In my house, we just called ‘em snacks, so I had only read the word, and never heard it pronounced.
Since there’s really no way to reply to that fact with dignity, I just said, “We’ll see.” I can’t lie. Hitting up google to settle this debate was one of the first things I did. Let’s just say

Shawn: 4

Jen: 0

Oh google. At once both a good and reliable friend and myprovingshawnwrong nemesis.


boo for the flu

Good News: I’ve lost five pounds in two days.

Bad News: It’s because I feel like someone’s taking a Roto Rooter to my gut and having a field day.

Good News: Shawn was able to work from home today so that I’m not puking up my guts AND trying to take care of Bug.

Bad News: Poor guy (both guys, actually) will most likely get this, too. We’re trying to be super careful and me and Lysol are bffs right now, but you just can’t be this close to a sicky and not get it, too.

Good News: Tamiflu is amazing. I’ve never had the stuff before, and I’m already feeling so much better after only having been taking it it for less than 24 hours.

Bad News: The stuff cost us $50. Plus a $25 copay for the doctor’s visit. If Jude and Bug get this, we’ll be out $225 for sickness. Getting sick is just not in our budget – but whatcha gonna do?

Ironically – I refused to get a flu shot last week because we didn’t have the $25 in our budget, even though Shawn kept telling me I needed it. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but $25 is less than $75.

Shawn: 5
Jen: 0

A look at blog posts of yesteryear…


bug goes to college

From Friday through Sunday this past weekend, we took some of our high school students on a college tour of (relatively) nearby Christian colleges. We began with Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, KY, traveled on to Cincinnati Christian University in Cincinnati, OH, and then drove to Johnson Bible College in Knoxville, TN.

Because my version of our weekend would be boring and filled with thoughts about tuition prices, FAFSA information, and ratio of teachers and students, I thought I’d let Jude tell you himself about his weekend. Keep in mind that this was the first student ministry trip on which we’ve taken Bug that didn’t involve him being fed from the umbilical cord and falling asleep when I started walking. Believe it or not, they’re a lot more work outside the womb. So without further ado, allow me to present to you…J.Bug…

So this past weekend, we did a whole lot of driving. Mommy kept saying that she was so worried that I was going to be fussy and cry a whole lot. I think it’s really funny to prove her wrong, though. We drove from home to Kentucky. I had a lot of fun on that part of the trip! My good friend Katie got me to take a whole entire two naps in my carseat by putting her hand next to my face – one of my favorite things EVAH!

We got to KCU, and after we went to chapel (which I slept through most of), Mommy and Daddy took us to Pizza Hut. Mommy started to tell me that was where Daddy worked to earn money for their honeymoon, but that was when I put my fingers in my ears and shouted, “La La La La La!” Gross, Mommy. Gross. But I took my fingers out of my ears to get some pizza crust, which is delicious, by the way.

And then Mommy and Daddy showed me the bench where they sat and talked a lot. Whatever. They talk all the time – what’s so special ’bout sitting on a bench and talking?

We took a walk around campus. Oh great. Does this mean I’m engaged to Mommy? Or DADDY?! Oh man – can you handle how funny I am?

And hey – check out my pretty sweet carseat cover. I can’t read yet, but I’m pretty sure those words say, “Most Amazing Baby Ever.”

The people at KCU apparently didn’t want an 11 month old staying in the dorms (and I had big plans for those college kids…big plans), so Mommy and I stayed in a hotel room that night. Mommy was super excited and thought she’d get a lot of sleep. But seriously – I was at a college! Hello!? Party! I kept her up pretty much all night…that woman just does not know how to party.
We got up super early (or stayed up super late…depending on how you look at it) to drive from Kentucky to Cincinnati. We heard someone talk, but I really enjoyed crawling on the chairs in the back of the room. Seriously, if I had to pick a college based on its chairs, CCU would definitely win.
CCU was so nice and fed us a lunch of something called Skyline Chili. Mommy was way too excited about this stuff, it was weirding me out a little bit.

They made me try it. My thoughts?

And THEN we got to go to a mall, and I got to see my Grammy andGrampy! I was so excited that they met us to hang out!

Grammy won me a Chick Fil A cow that I played with on the trip back.Grammys and Grampys are the best.

After that, we went to a church in Cincinnati. On our way there, Mommy gave me some puffs. I haven’t had these kind before, but they are YUMMY! As you can see, I was very interested in “reading” the ingredients.

After church, we hit the road for Knoxville. We stopped to eat dinner, and after that, Mommy and Daddy put me in my pajamas and let me crawl around a little while we were waiting on the students to finish dinner. (Mommy note – the van was parked and completely off.)

Then Mommy put me in my carseat, read me a book, prayed for me, and tried to get me to fall asleep. I think she was trying to trick me into thinking it was bedtime. Seriously, though. I’m an entire 11 months old. I know the difference between a 15 passenger van with high school kids in it and my crib and dark room. You’re not dealing with a 5 month old here. I didn’t really sleep much, and was so excited when we got to Johnson! Mommy, Daddy, and I had our own dorm room (far away from the other kids and college students), and I was so excited to be awake at midnight! That hasn’t happened in months!

I learned that college dorms have lots of drawers, and I just so happen to LOVE drawers! If that’s what college is all about – sign me UP!

Once again, I was so excited about college (and those drawers…oh those drawers!) that I couldn’t sleep! I let Mommy and Daddy have four or five hours, and I even talked (…err…cried) them into taking them into the bed with them. I’ve been working on that sweetness for months, and they finally caved.

I was excited to wake up the next morning and see the campus, though. I was going for the “college kid during finals week” look.

Mommy let me crawl around with just my diaper on for awhile, which was awesome! Nothin’ makes me happier than diaper playtime. Mommy kept saying that she and Daddy were going to move into my dorm room just like that night if I didn’t behave. I don’t know what she’s talking about. Mommy and Daddy are the most fun people I know. I think it’d be pretty sweet to have them with me in college (but Daddy said no way. he said they’re going to have a big party and lots of dates when i’m in college).

After our campus tour (they did NOT point out the super cool drawers. apparently they don’t know how to attract prospective students) we hit the road again. I thought I’d give Daddy a break and drive for little bit….

…but apparently you can’t randomly play with sticks and gears and stuff when you’re driving. So I left that part up to Daddy. Apparently he hasn’t seen me driving my lion.

Besides, I had some serious fussing to do.

But really, if I trapped YOU in a carseat for stretches of five hours at a time, you might be a little cranky, too.

So Mommy took a ridiculous amount of pictures because at least the camera was amusing me. I’ll spare you, though, and only show you a couple.

And then the kids in the backseat started making me laugh. Oh man – they are hilarious! I hope you have some high school kids in your life, because they are seriously too funny. Especially the guys – there’s nothing better than high school guys looking ridiculous in public just to make me smile.

I was so happy to be home, in my own bed, with my own puppy, and playing with my own toys – you have no idea! And I think I’ll do just fine when the time comes for me to go to college. It turns out that all I have to do is smile really big and show people my four teeth, and I have them wrapped around my finger. Professors, students, college presidents…yeah…this college thing is going to be a snap.
 A Letter to Bug,
Dear Bug,

Yesterday, kiddo, you turned eleven months old. This is ridiculous. As much as I try to keep you from growing up, you seem intent on doing so. Crazy kid.

You know, as each month goes by, Daddy and I keep saying, “This is our favorite stage. No wait, THIS is our favorite stage. No actually, THIS is our favorite stage.” So I say with a grain of salt that this past month has been my favorite. MommyDaddy love seeing your personality – your sweet, independent, hard working, stubborn, cuddly, funny, entertaining personality, and we love watching you as you learn and grow. You’re such a blessing to us, sweet Bug, and we’re so glad you’re a part of our life.

In the past month, you seem to have grown by leaps and bounds, but perhaps my favorite area of growth is your ability to play games by noticing repetition. You and I play a particularly fun game (to you, at least) that involves the lid to your bottle. Notice that it doesn’t involve any of the myriad of toys we own – but a bottle lid. You take the lid of the bottle, and holding in laughs, hand it to me. I pretend to take a sip, and say, “Mmmm! That was delicious!” and hand it back to you. You giggle and try to put the bottle lid on the top of my head. I put it on my head, and laughing your little hiney off, you climb up to get it down. Then I put it on top of your head, and you giggle and shake your head to get it down. Then we start all over again. J. Bug, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing than playing that sweet game with you.

You’re also starting to recognize people and get excited about seeing friends. You love laughing at silly faces people make at you, and you get a kick out of making people smile at you (especially when we’re standing in line and you can make strangers smile). You love to be held, but you also get antsy when you can’t get down and explore the world around you.

Speaking of which, you’re walking around holding onto our fingers and starting to stand on your own for a few seconds at a time. I seriously can’t believe that you’re going to be one whole entire year old in four weeks. One year! In four weeks, you’ll no longer be drinking formula or using bottles. In four weeks, we’ll stop referring to your age in months. In four weeks, Daddy and I are going to celebrate one of the most important days of our lives. In four weeks, you’ll be one year old.

So today, J. Bug, when you are eleven months old, I want to make sure you know that we love you very much. We love you more than you could possibly imagine. You are cherished, wanted, adored, and loved. I want you to know that when we tell you, “no,” when we don’t give you what you want because you’re throwing a fit, and when we let you cry sometimes, that we do those things because we love you. We love you so much that we don’t want you to get hurt and we want you to haveboundaries.

When you get older there will be so many times that you’ll be mad at us because we don’t let you do or have something. There will be times that you’ll think we’re purposefully making your life miserable, or that you’ll think we’re unfair and mean. It’s okay for you to be angry at us, but I just want you to know that the reason we don’t let you have everything you want and the reason we let you experience the consequences to your actions is because we love you SO very much. You can’t do anything to earn our love, J. Bug, and you can’t do anything to lose it. We love you because. Because we do.


Daddy and Mommy

A look at blog posts of yesteryear…

a morning with Bug…

Subtitled: Chasing Bug around for an hour with a camera

Like most kids his age, Bug is all over the place when it comes to playtime and will hardly stay in one spot for for than a minute. I thought it’d be fun to document what he does and where he goes within about a fifty minute time span.

“What? You’re going to be following me around with that camera? Fine, if you must.”
“Sheesh. Papparazzi.”

We have three of these cute little bins that stay under Bug’s crib. Since he especially loves pulling things out right now, these are perfect for him to pull out whatever he likes.

But today, he decided he’d rather join his toys.

So into the toy bin he went

“Hey look at me! I’m in my toy bin!”

…and then the toy bin fell over. And because this was just a few hours after the never to be spoken of again incident, I was very careful to cushion his fall.

“Take that, you toy bin!”

A couple of minutes later, Bug scoots out of his room, into the hallway (where our giant dog likes to hang out and protect Bug. And by “protect,” I mean bark at imaginary intruders while he’s napping).

Apparently this is the magical hat that makes you look exactly like Daddy when you put it on.

Bored by the hats and books, we move into Mommy’s and Daddy’s room…

Where the guitar is!

Chubby baby fingers pluckin’ on some strings makes me so happy…

…And then it’s time to visit the baby in the mirror…who is hilarious, by the way.

And a darn good kisser, too.

Then Bug moved too quickly from our bedroom to the living room for me to get a picture, but it was apparantly lion time.

…and apparently Vodka time as well. Just kidding, we’d never give our kid Vodka. We’re straight Whiskey folks here.

And thenBug found his first wasp. It’s normally Daddy’s job to kill the critters, but since it was just the two of us, I did a fine job and got rid of that wasp in one smack! Ironically, this was just a few hours after the pest defense guy came and sprayed. Personally, I think he sprays kool-aid around the edges of our home.

Shawn had put a gate in the entrance of our kitchen because Bug has disovered a passionate love for Coletrane’s food and our garbage can. J. Bug thought it was hilarious when I stepped over the gate. So I kept doing it. Back and forth. Over that gate. Just to see that smile. Totally
worth it.

Bug loves his “cruising around the coffee table” time. After I shot this picture, Bug headed straight towards our power cords, and was none too happy when I pulled him away. He threw quite the fit, which meant he was sleepy, so alas – the papparazi took a break.


the joy of a straw

Bug loves straws. They thrill his little heart like no other…

He also really likes taking what he enjoys putting in his mouth, and putting it in MY mouth. It’s like he’s thinking, “If I really like chewing on this, then Mommy will LOVE it!”

And while chewing on a straw isn’t necessarily my thang…I’ll do just about anything to see that sweet smile.

flashback friday

A look at blog posts of yesteryear…


and the award

for worst Mom of the year goes to

Yes folks, that’s right! Jen not only had a short fuse for Bug yesterday because he was trying to type on her computer while she had a million thing to do for work, but – on several occasions was heard saying, “ugh! Bug!” as she swooped in to stop him from poking his eye out/eating dog food/standing up on the edge of the toilet, and all sorts of normal 10 month old stuff that absolutely did not warrant her level of frustration.

However, ladies and gentlemen, we here at the WMA (Worst Mom Academy) do recognize those behaviors alone do not qualify one has a truly horrendously awful Mom. No, friends, Jen earned her title by putting her son down to sleep in a crib that had not yet been lowered. That should have been lowered at least a month ago. Yes, folks, Jen’s ten month old son fell (or jumped – the fact that she doesn’t know which one earns her bonus points) over the side of the crib. Jen heard a bump and then she heard Jude’s panicked cry. Upon entering the nursery, Jen discovered Bug on the floor, crying his scared little heart out. Please welcome Jen M. as she receives her Worst Mom of the Year Award!

Oh gosh, I’m so dishonored to have been chosen from such a group of truly awful Moms! Well, first of all I would like to thank my two jobs for stressing me out and my sad inability to handle stress in a productive way. I would like to thank my friend from the 6th grade – Tricia Bauman - for doing a cherry bomb on the trampoline one evening that caused me to go flying off the trampoline, straight onto my head. If it hadn’t been for Tricia, I would’ve never experienced aconcussion, and wouldn’t have known the signs to look for in Jude. Thank you, Tricia – I couldn’t have done this without you. Umm…who else? Who else? Oh! I’d like to thank my husband for calming me down when I called him in a panic, and I would like to thank Mike Bennett for rushing over to lower the crib. And finally, of course, I’d like to thank Bug for being the sweetest little daredevil I’ve ever met, and for smiling a huge grin and lunging towards me as I cried – sure that I’d given you permanent brain damage. (holding up award that is a bronzed figurine of OctoMom) This award will be stuffed in the back of my closet, hopefully to never be seen again, and this incident will never be spoken of again unless the conversation starts with, “My kiddo did that too, and has not suffered any long term brain damage.” Thank you, WMA, this has truly been a dishonor. 

I should add here that Bug seems to be perfectly fine and none the worse for his attempts at sky diving. He got a little cut on the side of his nose and has some small bruising right above that. The blood scared me, but it seems to be just a tiny cut. Bug’s crib is now sufficiently lowered, I’m sufficiently humbled and embarrassed, and Jude hassufficiently stopped being a daredevil not been phased in the least.

update-itty dog
Yeah well, you try coming up with a more creative name for a family update.

So while you may pretend to be interested in hearing how Shawn and I met and ultimately fell in love…you may tolerate my musings on southern culture …and you may even repress groans at my attempts atweight loss, you can’t fool me. I happen to know the real reason you visit this blog.

That’s right. You actually visit this blog for all the cuteness your monitor can handle.

So this sickness thing seems to be taking its toll on our little family. First Bug and I got it. Then we started to get better. Then Shawn got it. And now it appears that Bug and I have it again. Or we got something new. Either way – it’s no fun and produces lots of neediness andwhininess. And that’s just me.

Other than the occasional snot factory and need for extra snuggles, Bug’s doing ridiculously well. We took him to our doctor early last week for his fever (just a nasty cold…nothin’ we can do but the occasional Children’s Benadryl), and found out that he’s still in the 1st percentile. He’s 16lbs 12oz. As opposed to earlier freak outs concerns I had, I can see clearly that he’s developing just fine and is obviously just a small baby. Still, it was nice to know that he hasn’t dropped off the growth chart entirely.

J. Bug gets closer to walking with each passing day – which is simultaneously exciting and frightening. His favorite game is “PullEverythingOutofEveryDrawerICanFindAndThrowItOnTheFloor.” No kidding, if he could talk – that’s totally what he’d call it.

His hair has now grown to sensitive indie rock star lengths, which is downright adorable. He hasn’t gotten called a girl yet, but I’m just waiting. It’s okay though, the pain will fuel his song writing.

Speaking of songs and indie rock star, Bug loves my guitar. He’s even figured out how to strum with his cute little chubby fingers, and will work on plucking the strings when the guitar is standing upright. Shawn is thoroughly musical, and I play a little guitar and can sing on pitch when nobody is listening, so we aren’t surprised to see Bug already drawn to musical instruments. Still – we’re trying to be intentional about letting him explore and love whatever he loves. Even if that means he loves huntin’ and fishin’.

And J. Bug has also figured out how to wave. The first time he did it, he looked at his hand like he couldn’t figure out how it was moving on his own, and then held it straight up in the air to show me what it was doing. Of course – he doesn’t wave when we’re saying “hello” or, “goodbye.” From what I can tell, waving means, “Oooh - this food is yummy! Gimmie some more!” in Bug-language.

And that’s just fine with me.

flashback friday

A look at blog posts of yesteryear…


the sickies and other stuff

It looks like Bug and I both have the sickies. He’s been running and on again – off again fever for a few days and is coughing pathetically, and I’m a little achy and have a sore throat like nobody’s business. We took Jude to the Doctor yesterday because – quite frankly – I’m a little paranoid about this whole swine flu thing.
And can I just say that I’m refusing to call it H1N1? Apparently several months back, people were thinking that swine flu was contracted by eating pork, and the pork industry was seeing a decrease in sales. So the media decided to call it H1N1 so as not to confuse us. This leads me to conclude two things:

1. Americans are stupid. All you had to do was watch the news for two minutes to see that the swine flu was not contracted by eating pork. Pick up a paper, people!

2. The media is also stupid, and I’m a little obnoxious about being told what to do. Seriously. When the news anchor on our local channel says, “don’t change the channel, we’ll be back after the break,” my usual response is, “You don’t change the channel. Don’t tell me what to do,” with a very indiginant presssing of the channel button. That’ll show him, huh?

So, because I feel like the media is telling me to call it H1N1, I’m continuing to call it Swine Flu. Fight the man, friends, fight the man.

So Bug and I are sick, and poor Shawn is left trying to care for two pathetic sickies (and will most likely end up sick himself), and we’re just trying to putter through this week as best as we can. Oh, and it looks like Bug does not, in fact, have swine flu – just a bad cold that will likely develop into an ear infection.

Bugs begun standing up by himself every once in awhile! The first time he did it, he and I were in his bedroom, playing on the floor. I was reading him a book, and he was completely ignoring me and playing with his blocks. He crawled over to my knee, pulled himself to standing, let go of my knee, and stood for a good four seconds before he fell down to his cute cloth diapered butt. Of course I gasped, and squealed, “Bug! Do you know what a big deal that is?!” He acted all nonchalant and wrinkled his brow like, “Seriously, Mommy. If you keep reacting like that, I’m just gonna stop reaching milestones, alright?”
And Bug has also begun dancing, but only when he’s sitting down. If you give him a musical toy when he’s sitting, he starts rocking back and forth and grinnin’ like it’s the best thing ever. And you know what? It is.

Just because I’m so excited, I feel the need to share with you this:


You see, Bug has some pudgy feet. It’s one of the first things the nurses commented on after he was born, and getting shoes to fit those feet is not easy…or cheap. I’ve basically been keeping him barefoot or in socks most of the time, but I’ve known the day is coming when he’ll be walking and will need some kind of foot apparel for those Flinstone feet (Shawn’s words…not mine!). Shawn and I have checked out a few stores, but it is seriously expensive to buy baby shoes – especially in sizes large enough for Bug to wear.

Which would be why I was so excited to receive that in the mail. A ton of shoes from J. Bug’s cousin, Noah! Thank you, Noah, for sharing your super adorable shoes with Jude! Everyone comments on how cute they are, and Uncle Shawn and Aunt Jen are thrilled to not have to spend so much money on Bug’s footwear!

And finally, I’d just like to share a pacifier clip I made for Bug. The colors chosen for this clip may or may not have something to do with Shawn’s NFL loyalties.

So here’s hoping your family is making it through this season of everyone being sick a little better than ours!


a norther’s guide to southern culture

You wouldn’t think that moving from Indiana to North Carolina would’ve been much of a change in culture. After all, in my area of Indiana, schools were closed for the Opening Day of Hunting Season, and the Ford vs. Chevy truck debate was alive and well. In fact, my first ever job was shucking corn in Indiana corn fields for a summer. I’m no stranger to the “country” culture, and so I thought I was prepared for our move to North Carolina over four years ago. Besides, I reasoned, we were moving to Winston-Salem…which was on the northern most part of NC…which was practically Virginia…which was practically Pennsylvania…which was definitely the north. Oh my friends, was I wrong. Was I ever wrong.

It’s an entirely different world down here. Let’s start with the vernacular, shall we?

Bless ‘er heart

You may not realize it, but somewhere there’s a verse that goes something like, “If ye do so choose to gossip, ye only need to end your gossipy tidbits with ‘bless her heart,’ and it will be like ye never gossiped in the first place.” I know, they didn’t share that part with us northerners in church, but everybody knows southerners are closer to God anyway.


It’s pretty obvious, but it’s crazy how easily that one slips into your vocabulary.

Showin’ Out

I can’t lie, I’m still not 100% sure what this means. Southern friends, would you like to comment? It seems to be used most when referring to children, and usually when they’re misbehaving. As in, “Shew, we had to leave Target ’cause Bug sure was showin’ out.”

Wide Open

See, the southerns have a great capacity to say something harsh in a way that makes you want to thank them. It’s like pouring sugar on brussel sprouts, and the phrase, “wide open” definitely falls into that category. It’s basically a nice way to say, “she crazy.”


Apparently the word “purse” is a little outdated down here. I’ve been told that “pocketbook” or “handbag” are how you may correctly refer to whatever you choose to carry your keys in.

Now moving on, let’s discuss the food…


I don’t know exactly what they are, but I do know 1)They’re gross and 2)It’s not an outdated stereotype…people down here really do eat them.

Sweet Tea and Barbecue

These two things get lumped into the “things southerns are abnormally fanatical about” catagory. I could take or leave both these, but I dare not utter that out loud.

Chick Fil A

Oh, Chick Fil A. Me and a #1 on wheat with diet pepsi have kind of a thing going. Just trust me. Oh, sweet Chick Fil A.

Everything is better on a biscuit

This isn’t a particular food persay – just a generally held belief system. Grits, gravy, barbecue, chicken, coleslaw, beef…if you want to take your food up a notch…put her on a biscuit!

Okay, so if you come to visit, you are now prepared to speak southern-ese and can adequately navigate your way around a menu. But, you ask, what about the deeper cultural differences? Let’s discuss the two that stand out most (to me, at least).

Friendliness and Genuineness

People down here are super friendly – it would not be strange for someone I barely knew to come up to me in the supermarket and say, “Hey! How ya’ll doin’? How’s that baby of yours? You guys doin’ okay?” and it’s not an easy task to navigate from Sunday School to the worship center on Sundays with all of the, “how’re you?”s and “what’s goin’ on?”s. I love that when I have family visiting, they are never without someone making conversation with them when we’re with friends.

In the north, if you’re walking and are passing someone walking in the opposite direction, you stare at the ground until you pass. If you know them, you might venture a curt nod and “hello,” but you’re just as likely to completely ignore them. If you do that in the south, people will think you’re either clinically depressed or just plain rude.

The double edged sword of this friendliness is that – in my experience – southerners can be very difficult to get to know. It’s not an easy task to crack through someone’s veneer of friendliness and get to who they really are and how they really feel about things.

Jesus is still alright by me (Jesus is still alright, oh yeah)

Oh, excuse me. I thought it was 1992 there for a second.

Having faith – especially Christian faith – is surprisingly acceptable in the south. Northerners tend to have a much stronger separation of “church and state,” and the weekly church go-er is the exception, not the rule. Shawn and I are still shocked when we see news coverage of churches or the things people are doing because of their faith. Most of the teachers in the public school system down here are Christians, whereas Christian teachers are a minority in the north.

Again – this has both a good side and a bad side. There are five churches on every corner, and it can sometimes be difficult to ask people to step outside their complacent view of God and church. It’s a widely held view that going to church every Sunday makes you a good person, which means you’ll get into heaven (regardless of how life is lived outside the church walls)- and truthfully – that’s not easy to combat. On the other hand, it’s encouraging to know that Bug has a great chance of being taught by Christian teachers, and that he’s very likely to have strong Christian influences in almost every arena of his life.

So there you have it – my humble and completely incomplete northerner’s guide to the southern culture. So ya’ll go grab your grits, put ‘em on a biscuit, and drink up that sweet tea. Bless yer ever lovin’ heart.

A look at blog posts from yesteryear…


a letter to bug

Drooly McDroolerson. Most of your shirts get soaked by noon.

Checking out the fountain at Kernel Kustards with Daddy

Sweet J. Bug,
Today, my son, you are ten whole entire months old, and you’re getting cuter and cuter by the day. I’m pretty sure that by the time you’re a year old you’ll be so cute that Daddy and I won’t even be able to stand it. We’re watching you change before our eyes and grow in independence and personality. Do you know what you did just this morning? Probably not – you’re gonna be like, nine years old when you read this and will have no idea what I’m talking about.

So let me tell you. I needed to put some socks on your pudgy little feet before we left the house, so I sat down on the floor, a few feet away from you. I said, “Come here, bug,” and you came a-crawling on over. You pulled up into my lap, turned yourself around, and then sat right smack in my lap and let me put your socks on your feet. I know, I know…it doesn’t SEEM like a big deal (hopefully you’ve got the socks thing down by the time you’re reading this), but it is. Right there…before my eyes…you grew up.

So let’s talk about some of my favorite memories of the past month, okay? Well first of all, you started saying, “deh deh,” this month, which thrilled your Daddy’s heart. And don’t think I haven’t noticed that you say, “Mmmmaaa,” with a distinct whine in your voice, whereas you whisper, “deh deh,” with a quiet reverence. Hmph.

One of my other favorite memories was going to a Pool Party with you in late August. You looked pretty sweet in your board shorts and swim diaper, and baby – you LOVED the water. You loved splashing and kicking (and splashing…and splashing…and splashing some more) and would’ve done it all day had I let you. You even did great when you got splashed! You’re quite the water bug, and if you continue to be for years to come, I think we’ll have some swim meets in our future.

MommyDaddy love watching you push your lion around right now, too. You can really motor with that thing, and sometimes you’ll be all the way down the hall before we realize you took off! Sometimes you take one hand and put it on the back of the lion, and then the other and put it on the front, and you kind of side step your way through the house. It’s super cute to watch you do that and try to get your lion into tight spaces. It looks like you’re parallel parking, and you take it very seriously. Daddy says all that side stepping is good practice for being a short stop…but we’ll see what you end up loving.

You’re getting better and better at getting to where you want to go, and there’s not much that you’re not able to reach. You’ve certainly figured out how to open the drawer on the end table and reach straight for our outlets and cords. You have a special fondness for “helping” me sew by pushing on the foot pedal of my sewing machine.

You’re also ever-so-close to popping through two of your top teeth. I can actually see them pushing on the gums, so I’m excited that they’re going to come through any day now. Goodness – you’ll look so old when you get them! I’ve really just been hit this month with how quickly you’re growing. It’s wonderful to see you conquering milestones like they’re nothin’, and I love watching you grow into the little man God’s created for you to be, but sometimes I like to just hold you tightly, take a deep whiff of your baby smelling hair, and kiss those sweet baby cheeks until you insist on being released. I love to see your chubby baby hands holding on tightly to my finger, because I know that one day that hand will be bigger than mine, and that feeling is a little bittersweet.

Happy ten month birthday, Bug. Daddy and I are proud of you, and we can’t wait to see what God does in you, through you, around you, and in spite of you. We love you, sweet boy.


waking up in Vegas

Let me just get this out of the way – this isn’t the latest installment of our love story. I have never woken up in Vegas…or gone to sleep in Vegas…or even been to Vegas.

Most of the time when I’m driving, I’m either 1)On the phone with my Mom (I know…I know…I’m getting one of those little ear devices so it’s more safe) 2) Listening to my iPod, or 3)Listening to NPR (nerd alert!).

But last night, on my way home from church, I decided I wanted to hear something different. So I started station hopping – looking for something fun with which I could sing along. I found our local top forty hits station, and figured that was just about the right place for such a fun, sing along-able song.

Then I heard a song that made my face contort like I’d just smelled a skunk. Some of these profound and insightful lyrics include,

You gotta help me out, it’s all a blur last night. We need a taxi, ’cause you’re hung over and I’m broke. I lost my fake ID, but you lost the motel key. Spare me your freakin dirty looks, now don’t blame me.You wanna cash out, and get the he** outta town. Don’t be a baby, remember what you told me.
Shut up and put your money where your mouth is. That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas. Get up and shake the glitter off your clothes now, that’s what you get for waking up in Vegas.

Wow. Seriously?

I’m fairly certain I got gonorrhea just from listening to that.


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