Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I promise to post some Christmas pictures soon.
But we left the camera at the in-laws and haven't drummed up the energy to go get it yet.

We have been being lazy.
And being Merry.
And being lazy some more.

I finally grabbed a free minute to give myself a Christmas manicure.

My son may or may not have fallen asleep right on the hardwood floor today from complete exhaustion after what I am referring to as Christmas Explosion Weekend.

I may or may not have just left all the wrapping paper strewn about right in the middle of the living room for an entire day and a half.

I finally found time to actually start reading Harry Potter. Yes, I'm a little behind The Rest of the World.

I was actually relieved to have grapefruit and oatmeal for breakfast this morning after the last few days of what I am referring to as Extreme Christmas Sugar Explosion.

We are snuggled up together on couches, watching lots of good movies, surrounded by good books and copious amounts of free time, napping spontaneously. 

I think it is safe to assume we are perfectly happy enjoying The Post Christmas Glow.

We hope you are too!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And Stop.

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

What a week this has been.  It has been a week where the To Do List was longer than the hours in the days allowed.  We have our first of three home study visits tomorrow.  Tomorrow.  That would be three days before Christmas if anyone is counting.  As if the Christmas To Dos weren't enough, add to that the panic of someone coming to your home with the sole intent of judging you on it.  I mean, aren't we always secretly afraid that guests are doing that anyway?  Hello, stress.  Hello, fighting back the good enoughs and big enoughs and clean enoughs.  I have cleaned and organized, taken bags to the Goodwill, rearranged, cleaned some more, stored some things in my parents basement, and, oh, cleaned and organized a few more times.  

But somehow God has made a way.

He provided just enough hours in the day. 

He blessed me with an encouraging husband who reminded me each day that the love in our home in what they are actually judging us on.  And we have plenty of that. 

He gracefully and quietly led me to this post.  Oh, how I have clung to those words today.

He brought forth kinds words from friends who gently let me know they were praying.

He provided a break in the midst of the chaos for Christmas shopping and quality long-lost time with good, good college friends in town for the holidays.  Just what I needed.

He answered my prayer of desperation to help me get up on time this morning by causing the button on my alarm clock to get stuck.  Literally.  I'm not joking!  My Father has a great sense of humor.

And in the craze of cleaning and organizing like there is no tomorrow, He gently reminded me of the purpose behind it all when I answered the phone tonight to hear, "Hi, Mama.  I'm bored.  I miss you."

So now, with a clean house, tired feet, and a happy heart, I am satisfied to stop, rest, and trust in Him.  Though the To Dos have pushed out time that I would have loved to have spent in quiet stillness reflecting on this season, God has chosen to teach me in another way over the last few weeks by quietly and compassionately meeting every need.  Just when I think I can't do any more or give any more or go any more, He has provided just what I needed.  Isn't that just what this season is about?  Remembering that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And that "at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly."  Christ humbly came in weakness as a baby to ultimately make our weakness perfect in his strength.  What powerful truth for ears that so desperately needed to hear it and a heart that so desperately needed to learn it. 

Here's to Christmas Weekend of finally stopping, finally resting, and learning to trust in the Lord's perfect ways. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Taking Back My Kitchen

Life has been a little crazy.  Have I mentioned that?  Oh, three or four times?  Sorry.  I tend to repeat myself these days; mostly because I can't remember who I said what to when.  We've been a little bit busy.

But this is the week.  Not because it's Christmas Week.  But really sort of because this is the first time in about, oh, three or four months that I haven't had a standing appointment, practice, game, training class, Bible study, or school event every single night of the week.  This week, the busiest holiday week of the year, ironically, we are home every night!  So I'm using the time to get my house in order and take back my kitchen.  I've declared it - no eating out this week (except for that one night when my college roomie will be in town all the way from Texas!).  No take out chinese food.  No chik-fil-a. 

Yesterday after school I made WHO Bread in my new-to-me breadmaker.  It made for some yummy toast this morning.

And we actually had dinner.  At the table!  Woo-hoo!

Tonight I'm making soup for dinner, which will last for a couple lunches too.

I may even make a batch of Shannon's granola just because.  I'm just crazy like that. (Shannon, do you know that I still make your granola? I think about you every time!),

And finally, on Friday, I'll be preparing for our annual Christmas Eve Breakfast at my house.  A tradition I love and that I took over for my grandmother a couple years ago.  I feel very honored that everyone piles up in our house to kick off the Christmas celebration.  I love the different spirit that is in the air on that morning.  The chill that waves through the air as people come in the door.  The coffee brewing, Christmas music in the background, the smell of cinnamon buns, and a lit up Christmas tree at 9:30 a.m. It makes my heart oh so happy.  This year I'm making Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Buns and my grandmother's Sausage and Egg Casserole. 

Bring on the Holidays!  I may not be ready yet, but my kitchen sure is.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Watching and Learning

Since I'm embarking on this great adventure of becoming Mama to teenage boy, I have been watching more closely.  I teach teenage boys all day long you know, and I have found myself becoming more observant in my own classroom of just how do those crazy little volitile minds work.  Some of it I knew, but have never had to make application.  Some of it just plain out right baffles me.  Teenage girls I get.  Obviously I have my own experience to draw from there, plus the countless hours I have put in in ministry to this population.  And coaching cheerleading helps a little on that front.  But boys.  Boys are all new to me.  And so I find myself fascinated trying to soak it all in.

For instance, I engaged a boy in my 4th period class in conversation for approximately 10 whole minutes before class started on his skin care routine (we did do some grammar that day as well, before you think we wasted the entire class...).  But he was in a craze about one small little pimple that just had to go before the big important night where he would be seeing some girl.  He wanted to know, "What should I do, Mrs. Herndon?"  Walk through it with me, I said.  "Clearsil this.  Neutrogena, that...But is it going to go away in time?"  Oh, the drama.

Last Friday I gave the assignment to, over the weekend, write about what you did using so many action verbs, so many adjectives, etc. At first I was just mindlessly reading and grading these papers, but then my mind started to hang on some of them.  This was a window into their home lives.  I was drawn to my seemingly most happy, most successful students who I know have good relationships with their parents.  What were their lives like outside of school?  What do they do with their time? It was actually very plain and simple.  There was talk of eating dinner with their family, watching movies, going to get a Christmas tree, working on some homework, having a few friends over.  It was a very sharp contrast to students I have whose lives are on the fringe.  A sense of normalcy and just wanting and liking being home with their parents was such a desireable thing. 

And then there are wrestling matches.  I'm becoming quite the pro at this whole Team Mom thing you know.  And each week I am baffled that this boy wants to sit with me in front of all of his friends.  Chooses to ride home with us instead of riding the bus with all of his friends.  I look around and see the other boys with parents there doing the same thing.  Sitting with Mom.  Sitting with Dad.  There is another student on the wrestling team whose parents are MIA.  Last night he turned around to me and said, "Did you get to see my match?"  "No I missed it!" I said.  And he proceeded to tell me about it play by play.  And when that wasn't good enough, he found someone who had videoed it.  "You gotta watch!" And so we sat side by side and he showed me, play by play, pausing and rewinding, until I was completely up to speed. 

I guess it is not all that surprising a discovery to make.  And yet it makes this job of parenting hold even more weight than we ever imagined because it does not decrease or diminish with the age of the child like some tend to think.  I will be honest and say that I was a little afraid. I feared that starting with a teenager and not a baby was not going to fulfill this mothering heart that God has put in me because really, how much would a teenage boy actually want a mom anyway?  But it's only been a few short weeks - for goodness sake we are not even the "official" parents yet! - and already I'm seeing it. I'm learning it.

And so just when I think I have made my adult self too available, just when I think I have not been "cool enough," just when I think I have crossed the line and am going to completely embarass these boys by actually paying attention to them, I have learned that this is exactly what they want.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Five Things Friday...I mean Tuesday

Patrick went out of town this weekend.
Hello, California! (And, um, hello I was jealous.)
While he did have a lot of business to attend to, he did send me this picture.

But I did enjoy a little "me" time over the weekend.
Here's a Five Things Summary of how I spent my time:

I caught up on this show:

I started reading this:
(right on point with my "Bronte Book at Christmas Time" tradition)

I sat here and happily did a lot of Christmas shopping with a huge cup of coffee in my hand.

I have been putting this in every cup of coffee lately and it's so yummy:

And I made this for dinner:
Chicken Pot Pie
This is not my picture.  I actually forgot to take a picture before I had eaten over half of it.  Oops.

This is my favorite thing that I know how to cook!
Sadly, Patrick is not the biggest fan of Anything Pot Pie, so I really only make it when he is out of town or working late for couple days in a row and thus will not be eating dinner with me.
It is loosely based on a recipe I got out of Real Simple at one point, but adapted and changed it over time.
It's really easy!

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe:
1 lb. chicken breasts (I used tenderloins), cut in small chunks
4 carrots, diced
bunch of green onions, diced
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. flour
1/2 c. white wine
1 c. 2% milk
1 c. frozen peas
3/4 to 1 c. frozen corn
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 refrigerated pie crust
(I used a store bought one, but you could certainly make your own!)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Saute the chicken in 1 tbsp. of the oil until browned.  Pull out of pan.
3. Add remaining 2 tbsp. of oil and saute the carrots and green onions about 5 min. until the carrots are soft.
4. Sprinkle the flour over and cook for about 1 minute.
5. Add the wine to the pan and combine with the veggies and flour to thicken.  Simmer a couple minutes.
6. Stir in the milk.  The sauce should thicken pretty quickly.  Once it thickens add the chicken back in, along with the frozen veggies, thyme, and salt and pepper.  Allow everything to heat back through.
7. Pour into a pie pan.  Drape your pie crust overtop and press along the edges to the pan to seal.  Cut a few vent slits in the center.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the crust is golden.

And I would be remiss if I did not say that I am SO PROUD of my foster son,
who won his very first wrestling match this past weekend!
(He is the one being goofy on the left...
The one on the right is a wrestler from our school that won the entire tournament!)


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The First Overnight

We had our first overnight visitation.  And the second one two days later.  The first weekend in December always brings the annual Herndon Family Christmas Tree Hunt with it (pictures to come).  So we headed up to Floyd for the day to the family campsite.  And this year, there were three of us, which was new and different and very nice.

We found the perfect tree.

We made a campfire.

We ate s'mores.

It was a good day.

And then we came home, made spaghetti for dinner, and settled in for the evening. 

But things were a little different.  Suddenly there was math homework to do and bedtimes to impose and a shower schedule to figure out.  There was a new person in my spot on the couch.  Another lunch to pack for the morning.  And no leftovers from dinner thanks to one famished teenage boy. (Dear Lord, what is going to happen to my grocery bill?!)

But last night we did it all over again and it was a little more comfortable.  And so it goes and will continue to do so, we hope. 

We are on the last leg of our certification process and then things will speed along much more quickly.  All we have left is the three week homestudy, and we have been told we are next on the list! We are so thankful that, so far, this process has been so smooth.  I can only say that it is thanks to your prayers and the Lord's hand in it all.  We are so grateful.  Thank you all for being such good friends to us and checking in on us during this time!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, C.S. Lewis.

To a man whom I can't wait to meet when our days are no longer numbered.
A thinker.
A storyteller.
A lover of the Lord.

I can't wait to have our cup of coffee together when real life becomes the Promised Land,
the Narnia that truly exists.
Because of what he has taught me.
and divine Joy.

Praise the Lord for great men of faith
that point to Him for years to come,
even after they have gone to be with our Great God,
in a world that so desperately needs it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Five Things Friday

This Friday, instead of stuff, I decided to pick five things I'm thankful for.  It was an easy list to make.

1. For getting to be a part of two large, amazing families. 

2. That my husband liked my from-scratch pumpkin pie.  And told me so.

3. For college friends being in town and close by.  And for awesome breakfast food while we caught up on life!

4. For an extra-comfy overstuffed couch that is perfect for watching movies.

5. For the priviledge of being called Mama for the first time :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Best Weekend

Can you believe that we took our sweet boy all the way to Rocky Top and took ABSOLUTELY NO PICTURES?  I am already a failure as a parent... ::sigh::  I will get better at this, right?

But despite no photo evidence, we will commit this past weekend to memory as our first little family trip.

The background checks came back and we debated over plans for our first off campus visit.  Patrick and I went back and forth for days over whether to play it low-key or go for spectacular.  In the end, spectacular just simply won out.  Isn't that just the way it should be?

We surprised our 15-year-old, football-loving, Hokie-fan foster son by taking him all the way to his first ever Vols game. 

We told him we were going hiking, which is truly hilarious if you know Patrick and I.  And hike we did...all the way across downtown Knoxville to Neyland Stadium! The look on his face was priceless.  He was in awe.  

We give all the glory to the Lord for working out the most perfect day.  The weather could not have been better.  The game was one for the records.  I mean, seriously, overtime? An interception on the 4th down and a 95-yard run for the win?  And then the flag on the play.  The suspense.  The agony. The chanting with all the fans.  And finally, the whole stadium erupting at the overturned call and the winning touchdown was good.  It could not have been any more exciting!  The four hour drive up and back.  The larger than life hotdog he came back with at halftime with Patrick grinning by his side.  It was a great, great day.  The perfect mix of excitement, downtime, one-on-one time, and togetherness.

But to hear the words, "This was the best weekend of my life," was the biggest blessing.   To see him at school on Monday morning proudly sporting the T-shirt we bought him, to share some inside jokes, to laugh about my bad driving at 2:00 in the morning, that's what it's all about, right? 

To have the honor to serve in this amazing way is the spectacular part.  To share the love of Christ through relationships that He has brought together is the real gift. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five Things Friday

Every once in a while my friend Amanda shares five things she's loving at the moment.
I thought I'd be a copy-cat and share mine too.
Amanda, you should do a link up!
(And you should come home, so we can catch up in person!)

Anyways, here's five things I'm loving at the moment!

You know how much I love Mad Men.  This is like the next best thing!  And my love affair with lipstick and coiffed hair continues.

I may or may not have had a peppermint mocha almost every day this week. Whoops.
I did work out each day, too.  That counts for something, right?

 I'm a little behind on reading the best sellers.  I think this book was all the rage a few years ago but I picked it up at the library book sale this summer for $2.00.  It's written from the perspective of a child with autism.  I have taught/am teaching children on the spectrum, and it gives some insight into their thinking even though it is fictional.  Check it out!

 See those boots right there in the center?  I have those!  And I love them.  They are comfy and cute.  And they were affordable too.

I haven't actually cooked anything out of this but I found it at a discount outlet for a steal.  I've been flipping through it and marking some things I want to try.  Seems like a lot of simple, go-to recipes.

Happy Weekend!
What are five things you're loving these days?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Today I'm just so thankful.  My cup runneth over.

Thankful for...

kind, generous friends.


peaceful ninth graders (for once!).

a smooth day.

good news.

answered prayers.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The nerd in me is about to explode.

Mumford and Sons music combined with my all-time favorite book Wuthering Heights?
Yes please.

Here's the trailer for the movie, which began showing in UK cinemas on Friday.
Mumford and Sons was asked by director Andrea Arnold to write a piece for the movie, and so they did.  It's called "The Enemy." And it is awesome.

Friday, November 11, 2011

5 Happy Things on Friday

1. Red cups at Starbucks....Christmas is offically on its way!

2. Doughnuts and movies in class today for hard working students. (Bless their little hearts, they have no idea that we are starting a paper on Monday...)

3. I am officially the "Wrestling Team Mom."  They've even ordered me a pink bedazzled T-shirt!  Apparently the job requires mass quantities of rice krispy treats.

4. Did you know that Thanksgiving is in two weeks?  What?!

5. Weekend full of fun things:  Christmas shopping with my mama, coffee with friends, dinner with family, worship on Sunday.  I'm in love with the weekend.

Happy Friday, y'all!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Finally...A Free Saturday

After a busy, busy, busy but good weekend a week ago, we had a more slow-going Saturday this time around.  I love me a free Saturday.  Love.

Here's all the good parts:

1.  Sleeping in.

2. Impromptu breakfast at a local diner with mom and grandparents.

3. A stop by the farmer's market.  Picking up a bag of end-of-the-season tomatoes for a dollar!

4. A day in the kitchen baking cookies, cleaning out the fridge, radio blaring, and making a salad.

5. Spaghetti dinner with our boy.  Talking football, going through family photos, and feeling a little more comfortable.

6. A win for our Vols!  Finally.

7. Catching up on a week's worth of TV and a cup of coffee with my husband. 

8. Setting the clocks back and an extra hour of sleep.  Desperately needed.

Horay for the weekend!  Can I get an amen?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Long Weekend

We took a long weekend this past weekend.  It. Was. So. Good.  Can I stress that a little more?  SO. GOOD.  So. Good. Like, do-we-really-have-to-go-home? kinda good.  

We left Thursday night.  I got a SUBSTITUTE for Friday.  Which meant Thursday was my Friday.  Awesome sauce.  Because I was seriously done by Thursday.  It was one of those weeks.

We took our time getting to Richmond, stopping in to see a good friend in Stauton along the way.

On Friday, we slept in.  Well, by slept in, I mean Patrick slept in.  I slept "later than normal," but got up to lounge around, drink coffee, finish my book, and watch TV.  So, really it was just as good.  We meandered to lunch around 1:30 and then slipped in Barnes and Noble for a good long while to check out books and read magazines.  We are nerds, I know.  Don't judge.

There may or may not have been a much needed afternoon nap to recover from all the activity of getting up and dressed and reading books.  It was rough, you know.

We stopped by the mall later on that evening and wandered around.  Someone was really happy with our trip to Brookstone.  Yes, the shoes are off. 

We had pizza for dinner and made our way back to the hotel.

Saturday was really hard on us, what with sleeping until 11:00 and having no where to be and all...  :)

We met Betty Cabell for lunch at Can-Can.  We caught up on all things running and lip liner and new hair colors and our foster parent news.  It was excellent.

And then, I went shopping.  Because my husband is wonderful and loves me very much, he sent me to the mall on my own (instead of coming along and whining and rushing me).  It was fabulous.  I went to Ann Taylor Loft four times, because I could.  I tried on a million things in H&M and bought nothing, because I could.  I got starbucks and sat at a table by myself for a few minutes, relishing the glory of alone time and not having to answer to a million 14-year-olds calling "Mrs. Herndon" for the 400,000th time.  It was lovely.

That night we got sandwiches and DQ blizzards and watched the Vols get crushed by Alabama (sad face). 

On Sunday, we made a stop by Trader Joes, our favorite, and headed home.  We got a bunch of stuff accomplished around the house, which made us feel like rockstars, especially after spending the whole weekend being lazy. 

Overall, it was a fabulous and much needed rest.  We are so easily pleased.  We were happy just to be away and to be with each other.  We are not sure how much of this precious alone time with have left in our future, so we are reveling in every. single. minute.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Because we all need more blogs to read...

I'll admit, I'm a little addicted to my Google Reader.  Blogs have become my magazines in many ways.  They are what I look to first for inspiration for our home, recipes, and projects, and many that I read center around only those subjects.  I skim these quickly when they are in my reader, mostly scanning for gorgeous house pictures or yummy recipes.  There are some great ideas out there! 
But there are a handful of blogs that I follow that I pour over.  Many of the women whose words I read often do not even know how their thoughts and voices on this daily walk of faith, have helped me find my own.  They have inspired me to reevaluate the way do daily life, the way I keep my home, and the purpose behind all of it.  I wanted to share some of those with you all in case you, like me, need a little daily dose of distraction encouragement today:

Handmade Recess - I love this series she is doing now on Deliberate Joy. 

Life in Grace - Edie and her family recently lost their family home due to a tragic fire.  She is now sharing the rebuilding process.  Edie's theology and faith inspire me.  She's so spot on all on the time.  And she has the most beautiful new home!

Whatever - Meg is a stay-at-home mom and a photographer.  She is so real, and that's why I love reading her blog.  She shares her struggles with everything from fixing dinner to hard questions of faith in a way that is so easy to relate to.  She's also very crafty, and I am not.  She is inspiring.

Small Notebook - I'm not sure of Rachel's faith, but I appreciate her perspective on life.  As someone who struggles hard with the sin of materialism, Rachel is so encouraging on the topic of simplifying your life.  She talks about everything from simplifying your wardrobe and your home, but also includes really great discussion on simplifying relationships and family life as well. 

And finally, because she is hilarious...

Big Mama -  I love how she writes.  I love how her words drip with sarcasm and dry humor.  But she is also a woman of faith, which is very evident in the way she orders her days and seeks to be a Godly mother to her little girl.  I love how she finds humor and joy in the small things!

Hope you enjoy these reads as much as I do! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Savoring Saturday

Today was so good.

And on the topic of hurrying, we did none of that.

We spent the day slowing down, relaxing, and savoring each little bit of time spent together:

-Sleeping until 9:30 (late for me!) and slowly sipping a warm cup of coffee.

-My awesome husband scheduled me a surprise professional massage. I didn't even know I needed this.  I found out that I desperately needed it.  It was amazing.

-Having lunch together down on the market.

-Catching up on a little missed TV.

-Watching the Vols play and snuggling with sweet nephews and niece.

-A spontaneous late-night venture to our favorite mexican restaurant in town.  Chatting and laughing and catching up over chips and salsa in our private little booth.

-Finishing a good book while curled up in my warm bed.

-Anticipating worshipping my Father in the morning.

I can't imagine a better Saturday.

Friday, October 14, 2011

On Hurrying and Joy

Lately I have found myself in hurry mode.  I find myself, at the very least, in a mindset of rush, rush rush --hurrying to get to the next thing.  And to what end?  I then find myself at "the next thing" and there I am rushing again onto the next, and so on and so forth.  A couple of years ago I was confronted on this issue by pastor and author John Ortberg in his book, The Life You've Always Wanted.  I found his words on the same subject in an article that I came across today.  See if this sounds like you too:

Not long after moving to Chicago, I called a wise friend to ask for some spiritual direction. I described the pace of life in my current ministry. The church where I serve tends to move at a fast clip. I also told him about our rhythms of family life: we are in the van-driving, soccer-league, piano-lesson, school-orientation-night years. I told him about the present condition of my heart, as best I could discern it. What did I need to do, I asked him, to be spiritually healthy?

Long pause.

"You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life," he said at last.

Another long pause.

"Okay, I've written that one down," I told him, a little impatiently. "That's a good one. Now what else is there?" I had many things to do, and this was a long-distance call, so I was anxious to cram as many units of spiritual wisdom into the least amount of time possible.

Can I get an amen?  I mean, surely I'm not alone in this, right?

But here's the deal:  I think that when we live life in this mindset, we deprive ourselves of joy.  In fact, I would venture to say that this is surely a tactic of the enemy to steal the joy from our lives.  When we're always moving on to the next thing, then we are not really in the moment.  Our eyes are not focused on what the Lord is doing right now, right here, and so we miss some things. Ortberg says that, "the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them."

I have found that the things that bring real joy in life are in the little things--the random moments and conversations where we stop and laugh with people.  Or stop and really find out how someone is doing.  Really doing.  Or stop and appreciate the beauty around us.  When we are in hurry mode, these are the things we miss. 

In his book, Desiring God, John Piper says that "God is most glorified when we are most satisfied with Him."  So really, when we miss these moments of joy because of our need to get to the next thing, we are not just missing out on joy but we are ultimately stealing God's glory.  Friends, this is why hurrying has to be a sin.  This is why we need to, as Ortberg says, "ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives."  This is why we need to deliberately slow down.  In the slowing down, we will deliberately cultivate joy.  We will see what God is doing and we will be able to give him the glory that He is due. 

It's not easy; that's for sure.  I have found that I have to purposefully, in the moment, slow down and actually say to myself, "Savor this." 

It means that everything you have planned for a day may not get done.

For me, it means building five minutes of downtime into my lesson plans so that I don't spend  every single moment of class hurrying through content to beat the bell. 

It means that I have to stop living for 7th period and start living in the moments with my students in every class.  Even on a Monday.

It means focusing intently on enjoying and savoring time spent with my husband as just the two of us now and not letting my impatience to have our boy with us hurry these moments by.

It has meant fasting from magazines and blogs and facebook on occasion so that I don't get caught up in what others are doing so much that I begin to compare and hurry our life along to match theirs.

Sometimes it means getting in the slow lane at the grocery store on purpose, just to practice the discipline of "ruthlessly eliminating hurry."

What about you?  Is hurry a struggle for you?  Can we make a small commitment to one another to slow down a little more and savor the little moments where real joy can be found?  I need a little accountability here.  To God be the glory and for the sake of our joy in Him!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Good Day and A Recipe

This has been a lonnnnng week.  As in, I thought yesterday was Thursday and today was Friday.  It was a rude awakening.  And it has been busy.  Something to do almost every night.

But today was just one of those good days.  It was one of those days filled with small things, but all the small things just seemed to add up perfectly.

(Maybe it was the second cup of coffee?)

We have officially started Romeo and Juliet and I got through my lesson perfectly in every class today for the first time all year.

I decided to give up and just laugh with my crazy 6th period instead of trying to make them stop talking.

An out of the blue heart-warming conversation with our boy after school.  He is requesting a lime-green bedroom.  He said, "The minute you guys are able to come get me, I'm ready."  And then I melted into a puddle on the floor.

I had just enough time to grab a power nap before heading off to the JV football game.

I spent the evening enjoying time with my cheerleaders and being silly with them.

And finally, a student that I was SURE hated me and my class and was going to give me the cold shoulder for the entire school year, saw me walking by after the game on his way to the locker room and yelled me name so loudly and started waving that the whole football team turned around and started waving too.  I am calling that a small step for man, and a giant leap for teacher-kind.

And now for a recipe.  The biggest indication that my life is starting to spin crazily out of my control is that I stop cooking, grocery shopping, packing lunch, and generally anything that has to do with preparing food on a daily basis.  Chicken nugget day is a saving grace in these moments.  But yesterday I made a pot roast.  And it was dang good.  I got this out of Southern Living magazine last year, which my grandmother gives me regularly.  God bless my grandma.  She is awesome.  This is really easy and you can do it in the crockpot!  I have been making it for a while now.
1 package fresh mushrooms
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 3-4 lb. roast (I used sirloin, but I think you could use any beef roast)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14 oz. can beef broth
1 envelope of french onion soup mix
Put the onions on the bottom of the crockpot. Then layer the mushrooms. Set the roast on top of all that. Sprinkle the roast with pepper and the french onion soup mix. Dump the tomato sauce and the beef broth in and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Ok, this next part is optional but it takes the whole thing up a notch: When the roast is done, take it out and put it on a platter or something. Cover with foil to keep it warm. Into the crockpot with all the juices and mushrooms and onions, put 3 Tbsp. tomato paste and 1 tsp. of Italian seasoning. Mix 2 Tbsp. cornstarch in 2 Tbsp. water. Add to crockpot. Stir it all together and cook it on High for 30 min. It makes this awesome gravy/sauce with the mushrooms and onions in it to pour over the roast.
The first time I ever made this for dinner I served it with mashed potatoes and peas.  You should absolutely do this.  It will make you feel like a rockstar.  And the leftovers are even better.  It will make chicken nugget day look like chopped liver! 
So, here's to a good day, pot roast leftovers and all!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


We spent last weekend cleaning out our junk room.

Actually it is Junk Room #2.  It's the worse of the two.

It's the kind of junk room that you literally open the door, throw whatever you have in your hand that you don't have any place for in the rest of your house inside, and close the door really quickly so you don't have to look at the mess for too long.

It's the room in which we ran out of paint in the midst of the paint job three years ago and never finished.

Junk Room #2 is slowing becoming an office.  Slowly.

That's because Junk Room #1 is slowly (even more slowly...like maybe even just in thought so far) becoming a bedroom.

Junk Room #1 is also affectionately known as Patrick's office.  If you have ever been to our house, you might also know this room as "The Noah's Ark Room" because it was once a nursery to the previous owners.  There are big, weird animals painted on the walls.  I think they will seriously creep out a teenage boy.  I mean seriously they creep me out just a tad. 

We have also decided that this may be the kick in the pants we needed to put in that second full  bathroom in the basement that we have been talking about for four years.  Which means moving the laundry room out of that space, which means maybe moving a wall to create a laundry space somewhere else.

And then my head starts to spin.

And I start to think that maybe we really have gone and lost our minds.

We spent a date night tonight having dinner at Chik-Fil-A and walking around Lowe's looking at new interior doors and bathroom sinks.  I reminded Patrick that our soon-to-be foster son may be at the Homecoming dance with a girl this very moment and that all situations that fall under that category will henceforth be his area to patrol once this boy is living in our house.  I just don't know if I can handle those conversations.  This is all becoming a little more real. 

It becomes a little more real when this kid, who last year I barely knew, comes in each morning and sits by my desk and tells me about his day.  Or checks in with me before heading off to football practice in the afternoon.  Or looks back at us from the sidelines to see if we're there on Friday night.

And so we do the only thing that we know to do, which is to begin to ready our house and rearrange a few rooms. 

But really, it is only metaphorical for the rearranging that is happening and is going to happen in our lives--happening in our minds and hearts already. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

On Big Decisions and Quite a Change

Well,  I have not been completely honest with you all.   I blamed my lack of posting on my lack of motivation and promised to fully update you and, well, I haven't done that.  And I can't go on updating you on what we've been up to until I tell you our little piece of news that's going to completely change everything in our lives around quite a bit.

No, I'm not pregnant.

(You can exhale now.)

But we are going to become parents in a different sense very soon. 

Patrick and I made the huge decision to become foster parents to a 15 year-old boy.  This boy sat in the front row of my 7th period class just last year.  At that point in time, of course, I had no idea what God was up to and the path He would be slowly leading us down for the next year.  I can look back now and see His hand in it all along the way and it makes me smile.  And laugh to myself a little bit at the sense of humor He has.  Patrick is happy to report that our first child will come potty-trained and hopefully will be some pretty stiff competition in College Football for the Wii.  No, in truth, fostering is something that we have been praying about and thinking about for a while, and, though we thought it would happen much later on in life, the way God has worked out this very situation--the timing, the connection, down to the exact day--can only be the work of His hands. 

So there are some big changes afoot! 

We are cleaning out rooms and moving things around to give this boy a room of his own.

I'm looking at football schedules and wrestling practices and trying to make sure the PSATs happen somewhere in between.

We're trying to refresh our brains for Algebra 1 Part 2 homework.

I'm contemplating what my answer will be when people see us in public and don't know and wonder if I gave birth to a child at the age of 12. 

There are lots of questions.  Few answers.  But we are relying on the strength of our Father and the plan he has for our little family.  Each little step we take daily confirms that this is something He has for us.

The story is a long one and I promise you will hear it over time as we know more details and feel more comfortable in these new roles.  I want it recorded so that I can go back and pour over this time and see what the Lord has done.  In the meantime, you can pray for us!  I'm sure we will all need it as we embark on this new little adventure.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Return to Routine and the Restoration of Sanity

Do not get me wrong, I LOVE my summers off.  I love the fact that I can sleep in (even though I rarely did).  I love the fact that I can stay in PJs for as long as I want.  I love the fact that I can drink my morning coffee out of a real mug, on the couch, spending as much time in the Word or just reading a good book as I want. 

But as much as I love all of that, I tend to flounder when there is no set routine.  And so, when school starts it feels eerily similar to a News Years holiday.  Resolutions are made.  Closets are cleaned out.  And the comfort of a new and yet familiar routine starts to take shape.

This year, the start of my year was the smoothest yet.  Four years in, I am mostly comfortable with my content, though I have changed it around and added new things here in there.  I no longer feel the insecurity of the new teacher mentality (most days).  And this year, I am finding more time and peace in my days.  For one thing, I have the greatest schedule this year.  I teach two classes and then have team planning, two more and then lunch, one more, and then I end my day with my planning period.  I wasn't sure how I was going to like it, but I LOVE it.  I love ending my day on such a peaceful note and I'm finding that I am motivated enough to get the room ready for the next day and get started on some kind of grading.

Another new thing about this year is that I have cut my cheerleading coaching in half.  Patrick and I made the decision for me to sit out of competition coaching this year.  Though I loved it, the amount of time spent after school in practice would put me behind on grading so much so that last year it took me almost until Christmas to really get back on the ball.  And, um, apparently, I was not such a nice person to be around in September or October?  My sweet husband comfronted me on this in a very loving way.  The truth is, I was spending my days merely getting by and I was completely exhausted by the evening.  So this new found time after school to jump start on grading and planning for the next day is making me feel so on my game.  I know I am better for it. 

The days are falling into a good routine.  I'm blessed to have a job that I enjoy so much.  I have time to spend with my husband each day.  I'm finding time to fix dinner pretty regularly, keep our house in a relatively manageable state, and I don't have to wait until November to work out.  Life is pretty good at the moment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On Blog Silence

::tap tap:: Is this thing on?

Anyone still out there?

Is that crickets I hear chirping?

You know it's bad when your own husband says, "Are you ever going to update our blog?  I'm mean, I don't even know what's going on in our lives when you don't keep that thing up..."

So let me offer my formal apologies to the (four? five?) friends that keep up with us this way.  And to my mother and my grandmother, my most avid readers and, ironically, the ones who probably don't even need to read at all because, well, you are already in the know! 

We are alive.

I have not been buried under a stack of textbooks and papers and pom-poms.  Thank you for your concern.

Over the past month and a half things have flitted through my mind and I say to myself, "I should post about this!"  And I know I talked about doing some Top 5 lists and I still plan on doing that so that my list-maker/OCD self will be pacified.  But truthfully I just really haven't been motivated.  Maybe it was the extra time I found for myself in August with only coaching cheerleading part-time this year?  Maybe it was preparing for a new school year to start?  Maybe it was the three days I spent in the dark on our couch in the living room watching Friday Night Lights on autoplay? Is it ok to admit that?  Are you embarassed for me?  Is it normal to want to be Tami Taylor in real life? 

Anyhoo, I'm back.  And I have lots to discuss and update you on and report. 

Thank you for your patience as I sort through the last few weeks and catch you up to speed over the next few posts.  And thanks for those of you who have checked in on me and told me you missed my blogging!  It means a lot to hear people tell me that they actually care about what I have to say here. 

So here's to the end of another blog silence!  I'm declaring it.  And I mean it this time.

For realsies.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Staunton Abbey

One of our good, good friends stepped into the exciting and unknown last week.

Something he has been excited to do for a long time.

And finally all the pieces fell into place.

Friends, I introduce you to:

A gourmet wine, cheese and chocolate (yes, I said CHOCOLATE) shop located in Staunton, Virginia.

If you are headed that way and/or will be passing through, you should go!

We drove up for the pre-opening party and were so glad.
I ate the chocolate in the car on the drive home.
For real.

Go getcha some.  You will not be sad.

Billy, we are so proud and excited for you!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Top 5 Favorite Beauty Products

Today, because I just came home from running errands with my mom,
one of which included picking up some more makeup remover...

Because it was Free Gift Day at the Clinique counter and I was awarded a new cosmetic bag with lots of free goodies...

Because this inevitably led to the cleaning out of my old cosmetic bag, paring it down to the essentials and the meticulous cleaning off all of my little pots and tubes with all-purpose cleaner and paper towels because I am seriously OCD...

And finally, because i just cleaned my makeup brushes for the first time ever
(I know, right?)...

I bring you, the five people who care to read my blog, my five favorite beauty products.
These are the ones I continue to use over time and don't discard or switch brands on every so often.
These are my staples.
This stuff is the bomb.  I use it at least once a day and sometimes more than that if I have had an unfortunate incident of mascara run.  It is gentle and does not affect my contact lenses at all.
I am the lipstick queen.  Seriously.  Ask any of my college friends and they will give it to you straight.  I loved lipstick before it was cool to love lipstick.  I loved it even when all the magazines and beauty people were telling you that "lipgloss is so much better."  I never believed that lie.  And this is good stuff. I used to use this stuff in high school.  And then I discovered it again in college.  And recently I have rediscovered it for the third time in my life and have pledged to never turn away from it again.  It outlasts an entire day of ninth grade, approximately 12 cups of coffee, a workout, and sometimes even a full night's sleep.
For most of my life I have been an OPI girl, but I have recently started loving Essie.  Though I believe OPI has better darker red colors, Essie is great for neutrals and pastels.  I am recently loving "Nice is Nice," a nice lilac color.  I have gotten tons of compliments on it (Yes, mostly from high school girls, but they should know, right?).
I have been using this stuff for years.  I have really sensitive skin and this foundation does a great job.  It is very natural looking, feels great, has SPF in it, and is actually good for your skin (or so I have read?).  I love, love, love it. 
I actually bought this to put on my hand after a pretty bad kitchen burn but started putting it on my face after washing it.  It says it fights against fine lines and wrinkles (I can't believe I am actually old enough to think about preventing fine lines and wrinkles, but that is another blog post all together...).  It smells so good and is also really good for your cuticles and it last FOREVER because a drop is seriously all you need.

And there you have it.

This has actually led to thinking about my other "Top 5" things.
Top 5 Favorite Books
Top 5 Favorite Places in Town
Top 5 Things to Have in Your Desk when you Teach Ninth Grade
Maybe some other blog posts in the making...

What are your favorite products?

Saturday, August 6, 2011


So we've been a little MIA in the blogosphere... Sorry about that.
We've been a little busy with a lot of family and wedding and goodbyes and celebrations and, you know, living life to the brim!

At the very beginning of July, we had yet another family wedding.  Congrats to Andy and Jessica!

We've been camping and swimming and eating a lot of s'mores.

And we took a vacation!
We spent a whole week in D.C. sightseeing, catching up with Aunt Suzanne, visiting the National Zoo, grabbing a few precious minutes with Jan and Lucy and baby Joel, and hanging out with Dave and Katie.

And we made a little stop by the Grotto, where Patrick proposed to me on my birthday 5 years ago!

And finally, we were sad to say goodbye to the Australians.  We really enjoyed getting to spend so much time over the summer with them.  We are already saying, "Have they really already come and gone?"  We looked forward to their coming for so many months, it's hard to believe they have already gone.  
We miss you guys!! And love you lots!  

Is it really August already???

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First Fruits

Four zucchini and a handful of hot peppers!

 I sauteed my very first home-grown zucchini with an onion, a little garlic and ginger, red pepper flakes and a splash of soy sauce.  Yum!

And we have at least 30 green tomatoes on the vine!  Who's up for some salsa?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We Did It

We cancelled cable. That's right, folks. We are officially cable free at the Herndons.  This, however, does not mean we are TV free. We took simplemom's advice and ordered a Roku, a small box that manages subscriptions such as Hulu, Netflix and many others.  It hooks up to your TV and operates off of the internet, either wirelessly or hard wired. I love this for many reasons:
1. It is MUCH cheaper. We are saving over $70 a month!
2. There are actually more choices for things to watch and you can watch on your own schedule.
3. You can go back and watch older shows. For instance, I am rewatching Arrested Development, which I love.
4. Finally, it makes you much more purposeful about what you are watching. There is no mindless surfing and no just having the tv on for background noise or getting sucked in. You sit down to watch what you want and then you are done. It is making us use our time much more wisely!

I am finding myself reading more and just enjoying the quiet.  Which is a good thing because my summer reading list keeps growing!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Family Pictures

While we had everyone in town, we took some family pictures.
We met at the duck pond
and I had one of my highschoolers who wants to study photojournalism come and play!
(It pays to know people.)
Thanks Maggie!

A pretty good lookin' crew if I do say so myself.

Monday, June 27, 2011

We went to a wedding.

And forgot the camera!
But I did play around with a fun app on my new Android phone.

It was a 1920s theme so I tried to play around with some of the photo effects.
My mom and dad with the bride.

My cousin Maddie and her new husband Paul are actors. They have recently moved from New York City to L.A. We are praying they make it big!

 Dave and Katie.

 Neva and Granddad.

It was fun catching up with family from my dad's side that we don't get to see that often!

Congrats to Maddie and Paul!