Category Archives: family life

Comma Queens

Actual conversation at our house:

K – I just wrote a course description for my elective.

M – Really? I want to read it. [reads] Are you going to teach impressionable children your irrational hatred of the oxford comma?

K – Of course, they have to learn to be real journalists. Journalists don’t use oxford commas.

M – But print is dead!

* * *

You should have heard him when he found out I taught my fourth graders about interrobangs.


Since this blog was down for most of 2014, I wasn’t able to write about all we experienced. We loved Memphis, our incredible community there, and our brick bungalow. But by February everything was changing.

Michael accepted a job teaching at a historic boys’ school in Nashville. After a frantic season of interviews, visits, testing and applications, the dust settled and Kate was enrolled at the sister school (which starts in 5th grade.) I accepted a 4th grade teaching position at a PK-6th grade feeder school and Lexi is a student there as well. We rented out our house to three teachers and found a place in Nashville.

I’d love to end this story with “we all lived happily ever after” but that’s not entirely the truth. It takes time to settle in. Being a stranger in a strange land isn’t new to us, and that is a comfort. But our family and friends have suffered great losses and we have felt far away and alone.

At the same time, new beginnings are filled with hope and promise. Our new lives are full of new opportunities for each of us. We look back fondly on our time in Memphis, reminded of how God was with us and provided community. We know we will see his goodness in the land of the living.

We are spending New Year’s Eve traveling back from visiting family; a trip we extended to meet our brand-new niece. Holding a newborn is a good reminder that the world is filled with possibility.

My hope is that 2015 is the year we fall in love with Nashville. At minimum, our goal is to join a church and settle in. That always helps.



These nine girls go to six or seven different schools (public, private and homeschool) and live in many different neighborhoods. To my knowledge, not a single girl attends Church of the Holy Communion, which sponsored the team. Half of them had never even played basketball before. But together, they won 9 basketball games and finished the season undefeated.

There is something very Memphis about how a group of girls—black and white, from Midtown to Cordova—worked together and did something they will never forget. Some games were blowouts; some were nailbiters. Everyone contributed. When it came time to name their team, they chose the Grizzlies, because that’s how Memphis girls roll.

Of course, a great deal of credit must be given to their excellent coach, who used his 1 hour a week of practice time to teach fundamentals, build camaraderie among the girls, and inspire a love for the game. Even when we had another commitment, Lexi never wanted to miss a minute.

Thank you, Memphis, for this sweet memory and for an amazing first season of basketball for Lexi. Maybe we will be sitting in the stands of a varsity game someday, telling this story about one of the reasons Lexi fell in love with the game. She’s a Tar Heel born and bred, but she learned to play in the city of grit and grind.

As Seen on TV

I have spent most of my time working in classrooms and as a freelancer, so there are moments in my new job that tickle me simply by being new but stereotypical, like the sort of thing I am used to seeing on television.

For example, everyone was concerned about the affects of the government shutdown. We receive no federal funding, but we are hosting a golf tournament at a military owned course Friday. Oops. Good thing the course is revenue generating so it isn’t affected.

Then I sent a normal email to the publications committee and got an auto-reply from an attorney who works for a government agency in Memphis, letting me know she’d reply when the government reopened. A good reminder that the craziness in Washington does impact people all over the country.

I worked from home today and the printer had my proof ready so he couriered it over. Kind of cool to have something brought to my door.

Yes, we have a water cooler. We don’t really talk about television shows, though.

It’s funny the way that seeing offices in television and movies really has prepared me for some of what my job requires and helped me to navigate it with more ease. If only all of life were more like a sitcom and I could use the laugh track to move things along and depend on repetitive trope to provide the vast majority of conflict and resolution so I’d always know how things were going to turn out.

But that’s just not the way life works. And furthermore, as much as it sometimes pains me to admit, I’m not the star of the show. The story of the world moves on with or without my active participation. I’m but one human among billions and the world does not revolve around me. Most of the time, I know that’s a good thing.

A Round-Up

The last six weeks have been crazy busy.

My sweet sister Laura married a great man we all love and it was a great day for all of us.

We bought a new car that we all love. It’s perfect for our family.

I’m settling into my new job, which I really enjoy, and keeping the freelance plates spinnings for now.

Michael and the kids are settling into another school year.

I celebrated another birthday and survived falling off my bike — it actually made me feel pretty awesome to get that out of the way.

Lexi and Kate had an amazing lemonade stand where they sold fresh squeezed lemonade for $.50 and made over $60 in less than two hours for the annual fund at school. They love their hand-me-down, very official stand and plan to use it regularly.

They’d love it if you joined in by donating online. It’s easy, and this is the last week.

To be honest, not all the things that have made life busy have been wonderful and fun. But I am grateful for family, friends and all the good gifts that we enjoy. I am choosing to focus on the good and the true and the beautiful.

Everything Hurts

After fifteen or more years of complete cycling negligence, I bought a bike this weekend. I love it so much that I have reposted this picture from my bike shop several times, a picture that was taken from a squatting angle that is particularly unflattering and featuring an outfit chosen for the utility of riding home.



I did ride home from the shop and then to work both of the days I went into the office this week. Though I remember putting some miles on a pink Schwinn with a banana seat in my childhood, I wasn’t an avid cyclist as a teenager, so I feel like I am embarking on a whole new adventure.

Before riding a bike to work, I believed that midtown and downtown were relatively flat. Now I know about every hill, as well as where to find a decaying carcass and dirty diapers left in the bike lane. Which circle of hell would Dante send those who leave dirty diapers in the street?

Bike commuting is it’s own challenge. I hope to order a pannier soon, but for right now I am bungeeing my bag to my back rack. A bag that has work clothes carefully rolled, a lunch and my laptop and various cords. It’s not lightweight. I am supposed to get a new computer at work and once I can leave the laptop at home, it should be a little bit better. Luckily, I can store my bike in my office and the building security showed me how to access and use the freight elevator. I do miss the thrill of the ultra modern elevators in the lobby.

Another challenge: I don’t know anything about bike maintenance. I do know that if you use a bike for transportation, you need to be able to do some basic repairs like fixing a flat. So I went to my bike shop for a free class and a Ghost River Golden Ale. I learned a lot. Going to test my skills with the girls’ bikes, which both have flats.

Right now, I’m just tired and sore. My office building is just less than 3.5 miles from our house, so I am a little ashamed to admit that. But I am hoping that I round the corner on that soon.

In this time where everything feels new, I can’t wait to get to the routine where biking to work isn’t hard, I have found time to read again and the rest of my life (meal planning, cooking, doing stuff for myself) falls back into place.


Alas, I have not solved the Midtown mysteries from last week. However, I did find a job. I guess I can live with a little mystery.

I’m excited to be the new Director of Communications for our local bar association. I think it’s a great fit for me overall and I will grow and learn in this position as I use my skills in writing, editing, design and social media. I will be producing six magazines a year, as well as more regular communications (social media, email newsletters, etc.)

One of the coolest things about the job is that it is downtown and I love that part of the city. Expect more photos of trolleys. We only live 3 miles away, so I hope to get a bike and commute that way sometimes, particularly when the weather is nice. Our street is just a block off a designated bike route and the whole way is flat, so I really have no excuses once I have a bike and some basic knowledge of how to take care of it.

I start my new job tomorrow, and school starts back up again for the kids and Michael in two weeks. Possibility awaits all of us as we embark on new adventures. The start of a new school year always makes me hopeful. Fun to be starting so close to their start date.

Calling Encyclopedia Brown and Nate the Great

Encyclopedia_Brown,_Boy_Detective_(1963)It’s only Tuesday evening, but the week feels cloaked in mystery.

It all started at 7 a.m. yesterday morning. I hadn’t gotten any sleep at all, but I had planned to run and since I had not ran at all last week, I decided to go ahead and run lest I continue in a state of perpetual excuses. In a non-insomniac state, I am the world’s slowest runner, so I did not have high expectations for my performance, but getting out there at all was better than nothing. About 1.25 miles into my run, I had stopped to walk a bit and a man yelled out his car window at me, “Kristen, you need to pick up the pace!”

I have no idea who it was. The car was unfamiliar to me. I queried Michael and several friends, no one could identify the car in question.

Then, this evening, I asked the girls if they wanted to take a walk with me. They agreed, but wanted to ride their bikes instead. When we got their bikes out, I noticed something peculiar. There were tatters of red, white and blue crepe paper streamers left in Lexi’s spokes. Our street has a really adorable 4th of July bike parade but we were out of town. We participated last year, but this bike was a Christmas gift. Apparently, someone borrowed the bike(s) from our garage, decorated them for the parade and returned them. Perhaps a neighbor had friends come over and they needed something to ride? I don’t mind, and am glad they found their way home, but I’d love to hear the story.

These situations are both intriguing to me. Maybe Kate and Lexi will take up my case.

On Surf Lessons and Trying New Things

When we went to the beach a few weeks ago, Kate and Lexi had their first surf lesson.

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They have been interested in surfing for a long time and dreamed of having a chance to try it for themselves. Most people in Memphis and Birmingham go to the Gulf when they go to the beach, but we always go to the Atlantic with my family. I figured we should take advantage of the upside of the longer drive and give them a little something to remember. It started with a long walk to the beach, carrying their boards.

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They patiently learned all the things you need to learn on the beach. They did safety exercises and practiced good posture. They tried a few things from just a few yards out, getting a feel for the board under their feet. Then we watched as the instructor led them out far from the shore.

From what I could tell, a lot of surfing is waiting. The rest of it is hard work, paddling and fighting the waves. It is scary to be out far beyond the breakers, even if you have an surf board to hang on to and an experienced instructor. (It’s pretty terrifying for those watching from the beach as well.)

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Then there are the few seconds you have to find your balance as you try to get on your feet. I wish you could see the delight on Kate’s face when she realized she was really surfing.


Trying new things is not easy. Watching Kate and Lexi learn to surf was thrilling and frightening and humbling all at once.

The whole experience made me start thinking about this latest round of job hunting. It’s hard to put myself out there and be willing to fail. But like a child who dreams of catching a wave and popping up onto her feet, I must be prepared to fall and to let the waves beat me. Only then will I know the true delight of doing what I only hoped I could. Thankful for these two, parenting them is a constant education.

Kate is 9

Happy Birthday dear Kate! We are so proud that you are ours and admire your kindness, tenacity and sense of wonder.


A little interview, for fun.

What was the best thing about being 8? Chariot Races, the Olympics and studying ancient Greece.

What are you most proud of learning? How to write in cursive.

What was the best book you read? Detectives in Togas.

What is your favorite song? “Home” by Phillip Phillips

What is your favorite tv show? Jessie

What are you looking forward to about being 9? Being a junior bridesmaid.

What college do you want to go to? UNC.

Do you think you’ll get married when you grow up? Have any kids? Yes, I think I’ll get married and have three kids.

What do you want to be when you grow up? A scientist.

Happy Birthday, Lexi!

Happy Birthday to Lexi who is SEVEN today! She is full of life and navigates all kinds of situations with ease: diligent in the classroom, tenacious on the soccer field, fun with friends. I am proud to be her mom.

A little interview:

What was the best thing about being 6? Starting first grade.

What are you most proud of learning? How to do cartwheels.

What was the best book you read? The one I am reading right now, Absolutely Lucy by Ilene Cooper.

What is your favorite song? I like too many to choose.

What is your favorite tv show? Shake it Up!

What are you looking forward to about being 7? Going to the beach on vacation.

What college do you want to go to? I’m only seven, Mom.

Do you think you’ll get married when you grow up? Have any kids? Yes, I think I’ll get married and have one kid.

What do you want to be when you grow up? A rockstar when I am a teenager and a veterinarian when I am an adult.

Putting Myself Out There

I’ve been applying for jobs for a while. Applying for jobs is one of the anxiety-producing, dehumanizing and frustrating things I have ever encountered. Every single job application is an opportunity to feel like fourth grade kickball — never picked first.

I woke up this morning, ate a bowl of cereal, drank some coffee and culled through emails. Then I started through my list of job seeking websites. All of the sudden, I had a feeling deep in my bones. If I don’t try, I am already rejected. I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up. Instead of feeling like I was opening myself up for rejection, I felt like I was opening myself up to new opportunities.

It has been refreshing and lovely. Hoping this feeling sticks around for a little while.