Hazel Turns 3 (a.k.a.- the draft from 2017 I never published until 2018)

Looks like I’ve found myself with a nearly 2 year old blog draft. Rather than leave it unpublished forever, I’m hitting the button to make it official. I will say this though about Hazel’s 3rd Paw Patrol Birthday Party– It was the year momma forgot the candles. Additionally, we had none in the cabinet from birthdays past secretly hiding. So, in a pinch, I reached in a drawer and pulled out the Advent candles, hence Hazel having three, quite large and at various levels of burnt, purple candles. LoL

“Leaving Hearts, and Heartache, in London”

Over the summer I took a really special trip with some even more special gal pals. I’ve been wanting to share “formally” about the trip, other than some pictures on Facebook, but I knew that I had written a piece on the trip for a magazine, East of the City, so I didn’t want to share before that launched. Finally, the time has come and the submission is published, complete with a few snapshots from the journey. Here is the link to the online edition of the magazine: http://3dfv9j22sqvp2g8b542tgzv2.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/Sept_Oct_18.pdf (it is also in print, but obviously I can’t share that with you, so digital must do!) Even though I have put the screen shots here, you will want to connect to the link and scroll to pages 18 and 19 for my portion, for it will be much easier to read! Additionally, I wanted to include a few more pictures here, which I will add after the story. London 1

London 2c

London 3

It’s Been a Bit

Okay, it has been more than a “bit.” It’s been over a year. Sad, sad times here in the world of my blog. I have so much to say and so little time to say it….or should I say I don’t prioritize it in the time I do have. I taught the lesson to our youth on Sunday at church and the lesson linked to some ideas I wanted to share that also happened to be on my blog, titled “And He Clothed Them.” It was then that a) I came face to face with the fact of my non-posting status and b) that I realized some students legitimately looked at me slightly confused when I said the word BLOG. Dear Lord. I guess I truly am that old.

Alas, I’ve updated our header and the “about” section. In the changing of the header, I have no idea how I got the header to be so HUGE. And…I can’t currently undo it. In the same vein as crafting a huge header, I also removed the tab to choose “about.” Go figure. However, have no fear! There is a link for that: https://thevfiles.wordpress.com/about/  (and here also contains a few new pictures! yay!)

Despite your fears, (or hopes maybe, depending on your view of us. LoL), we are alive and well. Happy, sometimes stressed, unbalanced at times, and tired most days from living the joy of life.

I challenge myself to NOT wait another year before putting anything else out here. Surely I can make that happen.

Back to School 2017


Yet again, we’ve started back to school this month. This years marks my 13th year teaching, in some form or fashion, and it starts Daniel’s 5th grade year, Wesley’s 3rd grade year, plus it greets our very first preschool/Mother’s Day Out year for Hazel (none of our other kiddos did any pre-k official schooling, so we are newbies to this!). So far, we are doing well with our new teachers and routines, although we still feel a little wobbly on some aspects.

I’m teaching a few new courses this semester, so there is a bit of growing happening for me in that respect. I feel like one of the courses, a 400/senior level English course is right up my alley and plays to my teaching strengths, yet having never taught it previously there is a tremendous amount of planning involved.

Daniel is being greeted with high exceptions, being he and the other 5th graders are the oldest kids in the school. This allows him to be a part of IMG_1286some cool tasks, like Kindergarten tour guides of sorts. For the first two weeks he welcomed them out of their cars and held their hands, if needed, covered them with umbrellas, if necessary, and spoke kindly to them in order to help them feel safe at their new school. He kept a kindergarten tally of sorts, noting how many little kids he was able to help. The whole concept did wonders for his self-esteem. He was also really good at it, and this is coming from other mommas that saw him helping and working with the K-kids, sometimes even their own. It did my heart wonders to hear of his gentle spirit. We tell them to “Love God, Love Others,” and it is nice to see that in practice, even at his little elementary school. Speaking of, this is his LAST year in elementary! How in the world did that happen?


Wesley is handling 3rd grade like a pro. He is already ahead of the game in some respects, simply because he never wants his older brother to know things he doesn’t. This fact makes him learn cursive, beg for multiplication tables, and read the biggest books he can find. He has already begun to see some of the new possibilities afforded to him as he advances in grade levels, so I know he is going to love this school year.

IMG_1295 2



Hazel is attending the MDO a few blocks from the campus at which I teach. So far, she loved every minute and could care less if I come or go most days. She’s pretty certain of herself and doesn’t mind entering into a new space, most days. I sorta feel like the loser preschool mom cause all too often I have already forgotten something involved with her new little routine


or expectations, but I am sure I will soon figure it all out……just in time for something in it to change. If you can convince her to tell you what she did at her school the two days she goes, you will likely hear something about one of the “brothers” in her class that also likes Paw Patrol. She won’t say his name, and yes she calls him brother, cause that is simply her way of referencing the fact it is another boy. I can’t wait to see all the little ways in which she grows, mentally and spiritually.


Turns out, Daddy didn’t start school this year at all in August, although that hasn’t always been the case. He is, however, continuing on with his thriving business and therapy practice. Some days, being small business owners and entrepreneurs takes a heavy toll, but mostly being able to work how he wants and when he wants is the ideal he has always hoped for in his profession.

So, look at me! I posted about starting school August 1st actually IN the month of August! Much better than last year……..when I posted about it in DECEMBER!

Happy back to school for you and yours!

Ephesians 5:25

Yesterday, I dropped my phone in the pool. It was underwater for about 4-6 seconds. Currently, it sits in a bag of rice, hopefully drying out into a workable condition…..or at least a condition that allows me to get my photos off. We aren’t just talking about a few photos folks, we are talking about 2 years worth of photos. And no, you don’t have to say it. I know I am an idiot.

I had for a while a bit of computer storage issues, where my hard drive was basically full. Adding pictures to the computer wasn’t possible, and along with the near full storage, I was having some major processing issues. Thomas made it so I could up the size of my hard drive, exchanging on Mac for another. That was nearly 6 months ago. Ask me if I’ve uploaded my photos. Wait, on second thought, don’t; you know the answer.

As the phone sits in rice and I wonder if or when I will get those pictures back, I think of all the memories that are located in a digital form on that phone. Yes, I upload to Instagram, some to Facebook, and I text images to friends, but that is just a fraction of the moments. Outside of those glimpses, there is also some audio of my mom telling me she loves me. After she passed, I looked into my deleted voice messages (which I didn’t really know was a thing) and found one where she was healthy and returned it to “live” and then saved it into a digital memo.

I may have had some auto updates to the cloud, and all the data and content could be safe. Unfortunately, we aren’t 100% sure on that yet, for part of the sign-in confirmation consists of a text with a verification code sent to your phone, which as I’ve noted sits in a bag of rice, turned off, and perhaps permanently broken. We’ve sent the code to Thomas’s phone, but per Apple, it can be “several days” until he gets the code, since he is not the registered phone. Darn safety measures.

When I told Thomas what happened, I was pretty upset, obviously. I was able to text him via my computer. He immediately went into a mode to help find solutions. Often, this “fix it” mentality can be frustrating, but in this particular case, it is just what I needed. Fortunately, my phone is available for upgrade and the new iPhone 7 is waterproof up to a few meters for about 30 minutes. So, if I am idiot enough for this to happen again, I will be saved to some degree. He researched some apps that have proven themselves successful at recovery of damaged files and content off phones that are possessed like people like me. He came home after work and hugged me. He didn’t say anything other than it will be okay, and then after a few minutes of making sure I was okay, laughing at jokes I was cracking about myself over the disaster I have created, he did kindly state, “This is why I wanted to get you a waterproof case.” But take note it was said with love, not condemnation.

Basically minutes after he got home, the college students we lead a Bible study for started showing up at the house. Together, we all made fun of me. “Oh wait, Summer doesn’t know what we are talking about because she doesn’t have a phone to get the texts!” “Just ask Summer to take a picture of it for you!” and so forth and so on. Meanwhile, I’m laughing but also internally beating myself up, telling myself this is a first world problem and I should get over it; true problems really exist and this is not one of them. Yet…..it is still important to me, and therefore it was important to Thomas.

This morning, he sent me a few texts checking in on my day, which I was able to receive through my computer. He was kind. He was patient. He was loving.

Then, before lunch, while playing hide and seek with Hazel, the doorbell rang. I looked out the window upstairs and saw a glimpse of a delivery truck with an image that looked familiar. Okay, to be honest, Hazel was hiding in my closet, I knew where she was, so I was washing my face while counting (cause Momma’s gotta work with the time that they have) and my glasses were off. The glimpse out the window with my -5.75 vision showed a white blur of a van with some red and yellow, yet even with that limited view, I had an idea of what I was looking at. I was pretty certain it was an Edible Arrangements van.

I threw my glasses on and sprinted downstairs. Meanwhile, Hazel starts yelling for me, howling and crying. I open the door and see a confirmation of an Edible Arrangement in the woman’s hand, and Hazel immediately appears at the top of the stairs screaming for me. The lure of the present in front of me made me want to ignore Hazel, yet her yells were so obnoxious, I turned to attend to her, at which point she began to bounce on her butt and fall down the last three stairs.

I picked her up. The middle aged woman at my door just stared at me. Hazel clung to me with passion, and I began asking the lady who sent this to me. She dryly responded. “There is a card. It should say. I need you to sign for this.”

Now, you’ve got to understand how important and amazing an Edible Arrangement seems to me. It was for real a dream come true the day my friends sent me one after mom died. That’s the only one I have ever received, up until this point.


I sprint with Hazel on my hip and arrangement in my hand into the kitchen.  The boys flock around me, gathering to see who we should thank for this glorious gift. I read the card, which says, “Something sweet to remind you that not everything is sour right now. I love you.” Beautiful isn’t it? Yet, no name. The boys say, “BUT WHO IS IT FROM????” I tell them since the person loves me it must be daddy, to which Daniel responds, “Or maybe it is some other guy that loves you that doesn’t know you are married.” I laughed so much at that, for if some guy knows me and doesn’t know I am married, he is not very bright or observant, and therefore he is not my cup of tea.

And, of course, I immediately wanted to take a picture and send a thank you text to Thomas…..yet the phone is still in rice. We do have an ipad, so I took a picture with that, and then we immediately began devouring the delicious fruit. It didn’t take long for us to consume everything but a few pieces of mango.


And as I ate the fruit, enjoying the sweet taste and having juice drip down my hands, the following verse came to mind: “5For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.”


Y’all, he loves me, as Christ loved the church. Here I am, irresponsible. Here I am, neglectful. Here I am, in the wrong, full of disappointment in myself, lingering on sentimental earthly treasures rather than caring about the eternal. And what does Thomas do? He loves me. Not just does he love me, but he rewards me in the process. He goes above and beyond to comfort my heart and formulate a plan to bring me back into joy. And that, friends, is exactly what the Lord does for us. He sees us and knows we are hurting, perhaps even over something that we could have or should have prevented. The Lord has every right to let us melt in our situation, be consumed by it and confirmed in our ignorance. Yet, He loves us more. He loves us so much that he will come down in those moments, not mention how he told us so, not treat us how we would treat him, full of berating and complaints, but rather He comes to us, hugs us, and gives us a gift of comfort.

Thank you Lord for a man that understand how you love. May we all grow in that understanding, via Edible Arrangements, wet phone, and hurting hearts, if that is what it takes.19554536_10154665154581765_3944910709871293308_n.jpg

Spring Break 2017

Last week was our spring break. This meant the boys didn’t have school and momma didn’t have to teach her two day that week.

The break began with a Friday night dinner out for Thomas’s birthday. We ordered the mega meal, that had some sort of specific name that I no longer remember, based off the premise of “you won’t have to cook dinner for a few days.” Indeed, the not having to cook thing ended up being true, and we were still all able to eat like kings in celebration. To quote Wesley, “I’ve eaten ribs……and now I’m a man!”

The next day, Saturday, we had some winter weather! The snow fell quickly and melted nearly as fast. We were able to manage a pretty intense family snowball fight, which ultimately resulted in me having a sore arm from throwing so many for intensely for so long. I don’t know if I should be ashamed or proud of myself.

Sunday we went to celebrate Thomas’s, as well as Austin’s, birthday. It was a nice time with everyone laughing and eating spaghetti. I swear my boys can eat their weight in nana’s spaghetti. After all the partying, Thomas and I got into the car and drove home, leaving the kids there with Nana and Grandpa Tom!

This leaving of said children resulted in a Monday and Tuesday of Thomas being off work, me not teaching, the kids being gone, and us just enjoying the presence of one another in our own home, seeing a movie in the theater, sleeping late and eating dinner out at odd hours with no worries, and spending longer times in the hot tub. Indeed, miracles do still happen.

Wednesday I picked the kiddos up from the grandparents, where they played hours of monopoly, too many games of sequence, visited a museum, and ultimately were loved beyond measure. When traveling home, we stopped at our favorite bookstore, selling back some books and grabbing more with our store credit to add to our collections. Hazel zonked out for her nap on the way home. 

Thursday we finally had nicer weather, so I took the boys hiking while Hazel stayed home with Thomas. We had such a good time, and it is rare that we are able to get out without little sister. The boys do certainly deserve some big kid time, where we don’t have to cater to what the littlest needs or wants. After hiking, we visited another bookstore, cause obviously we have an addiction.

Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, the kids played with friends while I attended a meeting, and we spent the rest of the day reading books and working on rubix cubes  (the boys, not me…..I hate the things. LoL). The kids also watched Storks, which Hazel determined to be a scary movie because of the wolves.

Saturday we had nice weather again, so we played outside, rode bikes, shot water guns, shot the bow and arrow, laid in the hammock, played video games, and other relaxing feats.

Sunday the family went to church while I skipped out to have some solo time logging some miles on a local trail. I also had some grading to complete that I had put off for far too long during break. We also went to visit family and get one last hoorah in before settling back into routines.

That’s that! Spring Break 2017 in the books, snow and all!



This weekend I went to Florida to say goodbye to Henry, my dear childhood best friend’s 3 year old son who left this world all too soon. Rebecca and Dan honored their son in such beautiful ways. There were so many precious details that spoke deeply of their love.

She said it best, right after his birth, “There’s a piece of your heart and spirit that swells to make room for this new love in your life. That’s why it hurts so much when your little one is threatened or hurt in any way. Because this piece of you is them. Even though they’re no longer physically inside of you, there is still a space carved out for them in your soul” 

Henry, you are no longer physically with us, you are in the arm of our Savior, but you’ve carved out such deep spots in our souls that will never be filled. May we all see you in the sunrise and feel in you in sunset. You truly are your momma’s sunshine.


Hello There Ol’ Blog!

Turns out, I still have a blog…..despite the fact I haven’t posted in 6 months. It’s not from lack of desire of ideas. It’s really just about time and priorities. We’ve been super busy, in many amazing ways, in the past few months. I feel like trying to update on everything would just turn into a big post of rambling though. Maybe hitting the highlights wont be so bad? Let’s see…..

The boys started a new school year in August. 4th grade and 2nd. 

 I also started my school year in August. I’m back with the same university for my second year. I still teach the college courses two days a week, and I am keeping occupied but happy with my role. 

September brought things like car pool lines, football games, and road races. 

October brought the full on crazy. At some point we had the idea we wanted to sell our house. The market where we live is “hot” and we wanted to take advantage of it. Our home was wonderful but lacked some things we really desire, mostly land and an extra bedroom. October meant moving, which wasn’t a bad thing at all, but the timing was not quite what we planned. Moving day arrived directly after a couple’s trip away and immediately before Thomas went out of town for a conference and I went out of town separately for a half marathon. 

Our home is older but completely remodeled inside, which basically translate to us not having work to do, which is fabulous cause we honestly don’t have the life space for improvements. We have just shy of 5 acres, mature trees, a pool, and lots of wildlife to give us joy. 

Moving almost killed us. It’s not like we were newbies to the process (this made our 9th move as a married couple in 13 years together). But, alas, the last home was the longest we lived anywhere, we added another human to our family while there, and several things from my mom’s estate made it to our place when hers was sold. 

November allowed for us to get a little settled. Thanksgiving and Daniel’s 10th Harry Potter themed birthday were the biggest parts of the month. 

And now it is December! We’ve yet to put up our Christmas decorations but it will happen. It’s only the 4th so we’ve got a little bit of time! We’re excited to be hosting my dad’s side of the family for Christmas at our new home this year, which is exactly one of the reasons we wanted to make the move. 

That’s that. Hopefully it won’t take me 6 months to post next. 😒

Wesley Turns 7!

This middle child turned 7 on Sunday. SEVEN. 

This guy had his actual day of celebration all planned out. I convinced him to pace out some of the fun, so we still owe him a dinner at Olive Garden. 

We did take him to get the coveted “Birthday Pancake” as seen on TV from IHOP. Turns out those specific pancakes were no longer on the menu, for it was a limited time special that he saw and desired months ago, but all it is really is sprinkles and whipped cream so they made for him anyway. 

HHe actually didn’t eat but one pancake from his kids meal, cause he ate the eggs and bacon. It sure was a lot of food!

We then went to church and after I taught our youth, I came home while the rest of our crew stayed for the second portion of church. Because Wesley’s birthday always seems to get lost in the end of school, our anniversary, and our church VBS, we didn’t decide to celebrate his birthday on his birthday until three days before. For better or for worse, he has had his “theme” in mind for months, so he didn’t have to think about things much. I had heard his plan for some time but hadn’t done anything about it. 

Regardless, we were able to pull off a fun celebration, complete with an anti-gravity “Reese’s” themed cake and cupcakes, family, pizza balls, silly string, and tons of fruit. 

He enjoyed his day, he loved all his gifts, and he’s another year older, just like that! 

 So that’s his day!  

 Side notes: I didn’t take any pictures with our good camera, just my phone, and I regret that. Also, as I’ve typed this on my phone, I’ve had to stop about 34 times thanks to Hazel, so now I suddenly remember why this blog isn’t updated much anymore 😝).

Growing Up, The Wesley Version

Our middle child is growing up, as most kids tend to do. Of late, he done some new and awesome things that I figured needed to be recorded in digital form!

Wesley just finished his first ever organized sport participation. His first venture into basketball was a fun one for our family. Even though he never even attempted a single shot on goal, he showed a true knowledge grasp of the sport. After a game ended, he would provide commentary that was wise, especially considering this was his first year playing. “Momma, #7 was big, so everyone wanted to pass to him. I always knew he was going to get it, so that was how I stole the ball” or “If you ran fast past Greyson, you could get open and make a good pass” were the type of phrases common from him. He hustled big time, always fighting for the ball but never being mean. He never got comfortable shooting, which was disappointing, but as one of the youngest in the league and also one of the smallest, I could see his reservations. I’m looking forward to what my future baller might be able to accomplish.

 After nearly three full years, Wesley has graduated out of speech services. Thomas and I are very proud of him, for learning how to say words and sounds correctly was at times a big struggle for him. Being such a fantastic and far above grade level reader that sometimes dropped middle sounds or struggled with blends was very frustrating for him. After lots of practice and support, it has been determined by his pathologist that he is improved enough and self corrects enough to  end the extra help.

 Recently he’s shown some great focus and concentration in way of building with Keva blocks. Let me just say, these stress me out, and I lose patience quickly.  The boys, however, both have enjoyed building with them at the local children’s museum that their uncles got them a membership to for Christmas. With Wesley having a personality more like mine, I was impressed with his adeptness, and obviously he took some pride in himself as well.   On school picture day, the boy dressed himself with precision and care. He was most certainly one of the best dressed (read likely over-dressed) kiddo in his 1st grade class.   For Valentine’s Day, he crafted his own box for the classroom party, all based off his ideas. Those people on the box are his “puppets” that he creates regularly. He is the founder of an unofficial school “puppet club” where they fold, design, and theoretically sell their puppets. Sometimes the purchase price is a pencil, even though the hope is for a nickel. He’s got classmates working for him and his big buddy Ganies to assemble a great stockpile of puppets for all of mankind, apparently.

The army of clone trooper puppets crafted by the puppet club in the matter of a few days. Send all your nickels now!

 The amount of love and concern Wesley has for his little sister is quite incredible. As he grows older, you can tell he feels a sense of responsibility to her. He wants to make her laugh when she is sad, help her learn how to do tasks, even ones that are above her capabilities. He just adores her, and honestly the feeling is pretty mutual back at him (and Daniel too of course!)  So, there you go. A tiny update on the growing middle child. See, here’s proof they don’t always get forgotten 😝