Life in Every Limb

Summer Fun Update

I’ll be honest–it’s getting harder to come up with something to do every day, and now I am laboring under Lorelei and William’s expectations as well.  It’s not that I don’t have plenty of ideas–I have a page-long list, in fact–it’s having ideas that fit in with the weather, our finances, my energy level, and whatever else I have to accomplish on a given day.  So here’s what we did this week:
On Monday, we went to the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, which I have written about before.  This place is one of Knoxville’s best-kept secrets, a true treasure.
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There are lots of new paths since I was last year and although the spring flowers are gone, there were wild flowers, trees (with identifying markers, too, so you can learn something while you walk), and, most exciting to me because I’ve never seen one, a small wheat field!
Tuesday I had to scrap my original plans because something came up, so I took the kids to Wild Love Bakehouse for a treat.  I kid you not, this place in nationally renowned and if you come to Knoxville you will want to pay it a visit.
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After our treat, which we shared with friendly sparrows on the porch, we walked down the steps to investigate one of my favorite places–Mid Mod Collective.  I cannot afford one stick of the restored vintage furniture they sell here but boy do I wish I could.  They also have retro knickknacks and even vintage clothing.  Mostly it’s just fun to browse and feel like you’ve gone back in time.
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Mid Mod Collective shares space with The Book Eddy, a vintage book store that’s occupied various spaces in Knoxville over the past 20 years or so.  We had a great time browsing there.  My big finds were a board game from my high school years and a 1945 edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette.
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These places are all located in the Old North Knoxville historical district so our last activity was to spend a little time driving around the nearby neighborhoods and talking architecture (Victorian and Craftsman, for the most part).  Lorelei is obsessed with House Hunters recently and had asked me about Mid-century Modern, which gave me the idea for these activities in the first place.  Who says television can’t be educational?
We visited the Knoxville Museum of Art on Wednesday.  The museum is free, there is abundant free parking, and besides their permanent collection and the local artists they showcase there is always a new exhibit to see.

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The KMA Gardens


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Lorelei playing with a giant Lite-Brite


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Posing with one of their favorite pictures, a painting of the Grand Canyon by Daingerfield


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Looking at one of the Thorne Miniatures


Take special note of that last picture.  The Thorne Miniatures are absolutely amazing and the KMA is fortunate to have nine of them.  They were housed in the Dulin Gallery, predecessor to the KMA, when I was a child, and I am not the only one to have fond memories of them judging by the reaction when I shared pictures of them on Facebook.
I don’t have any pictures of our Thursday jaunt, which had to be a short one due to a dentist appointment.  I took the kids to Starbucks for Frappucinos, using up some gift cards I’d been carrying around!  They had never set foot in one before, so this was actually more exciting than I thought it would be.  Then we went to the Dollar Tree, which is always a hit.
Friday’s fun consisted of our drive to Beech Mountain, North Carolina, where we are vacationing with friends.  I couldn’t take any pictures since I was driving but WOW was it a beautiful trip.  I’m sure I’ll have lots to share when I write this up next week.
Catch up on our other summer adventures here, here, and here!

WINC: A Wine Club for You (Sponsored)

I’m back again with a new US Family Guide offer that I am pretty sure y’all are going to like! I’ve been chosen to partner with a wine delivery club, which means (you guessed it!) FREE WINE for me, in exchange for promoting an offer to my readers and offering my honest opinion after I get my wine.
Here is what I have been asked to tell you about Winc:
Winc is not your traditional wine club: we are a direct-distribution global wine company that personalizes the entire wine experience.  We are perfecting how wine is made, distributed, perceived and purchased via our Palate Profile quiz that recommends wine based on your unique tastes and enjoyed by a new generation of wine drinkers. It takes the hassle and guesswork out of picking a bottle from your local liquor store and delivers the perfect bottles directly to your doorstep. We do all this as part of our quest to improve the experience for consumers, create a platform for artisanal winemaking, and build a grape-to-glass supply chain that’s sustainable for the planet. No more intimidating language and steep price points, and more joy in the act of sharing a bottle.
wine, wine delivery, subscription, coupon, offer, deal
My Readers Save $22 Off Your First Month of Winc!  Winc offers 4 personalized wines each month. Bottles start at $13 each. 
Go to: www.trywinc.com/usfamilyguide
I’ll be back, as always, to let you know what I think after my bottles arrive.

More Summer Fun

Well, this has been a busy week!
John and I got back from Georgetown Sunday evening, and I was right back into summer adventures with the kids the following day, when we visited McClung Museum.  This is a mostly unsung treasure on the University of Tennessee campus.  The kids have been there many times but it had been a few years.  Notable to me is that they now take time to read the descriptions on the displays.  We spent two solid hours here.  I loved the temporary exhibit, “Pick Your Poison,” an historical treatment of recreational drug and alcohol use, but as always it was the Egypt exhibit that enthralled Lorelei and William.
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Tuesday was hiking day, and because we got a late start we kept it very local, heading to Melton Hill Park about ten minutes away.  William thought it was beautiful although he decried the level of garbage we encountered along the woodland trails, this being the type of park where teenagers (and others) congregate to do sketchy things.  It was also super hot that day and I really thought I might collapse but I soldiered on.
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Wednesday, as I mentioned before, we have a standing appointment in the morning.  Plus William had yet another dentist appointment that afternoon.  So we again kept it close to where we were already going to be and visited the KARM thrift store in Bearden.  I don’t know if it’s weird but my kids love thrift stores.  On Wednesday I got to have a little summer fun of my own when my cousin quite unexpectedly invited me to go to a Journey/Def Leppard concert!  She was nuts about Journey when we were teenagers and I thought she might have a heart attack!
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Thursday was animal day this week (Lorelei and William think every day should b e animal day).  We went to the zoo.  William and I had an appointment at 9:00 a.m. to talk to the volunteer coordinator about his plans to volunteer there next year.  This forced us to get there really early and we discovered this is a delightful time to visit the zoo while escaping the afternoon heat.  We also experimented with letting William wander around by himself some in preparation for dropping off at the zoo to spend the day there alone sometime soon.

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Lorelei and William look for the otters


Today, Friday, I begged off because I was lunching with a friend and attending funeral services later, and also needed time to get work done.  And tomorrow we are hitting the Farmer’s Market again, this time with Emily along.  I think William would enjoy it but I’m not sure whether we will be able to talk him into it.  I’m guessing not.
Tune in next week–I’ve got at least one really exciting thing planned!

Thoughts from a Reunion

Though one cannot always remember exactly why one has been happy, there is no forgetting that one was. (from Good-bye to the Mezzogiorno by W.H. Auden)
I am writing this in the blessed coolness of my hotel room as I recover from a long, hot, and humid but nevertheless fun and illuminating day on the campus of Georgetown University, where we are attending John’s 30 year reunion.
Georgetown balloons.jpg
I’ve written about other reunions here, here, here, here, and here, and I may yet write up this one in a play-by-play fashion, including all the many pictures I’ve been taking.  But this is not that post.
No, today I want to write about thoughts and feelings while they are still fresh in my mind.  I feel like I’ve been having a somewhat profound experience and since I’m not–alas–18 any more, I’m afraid I’ll forget it if I don’t write it down.
We are staying in the Key Bridge Marriott, which is relevant because 30 years ago I was a waitress in the restaurant here.  And now I’m staying in a room on the 7th floor, so I’ve both literally and figuratively moved up!  And of course I’ve told every single person I’ve interacted with in the hotel about my association with it–partly to explain why I am openly staring strangely at things (because a lot has changed in 20 years, y’all!).
Anyway, what I noticed last night as we were eating our late dinner in the hotel bar was that I was giddily happy.  Couldn’t-stop-smiling-happy.  And I remember that I USED TO BE LIKE THAT ALL THE TIME.
I’m not like that all the time any more.  In fact, I am hardly ever like that.  If I’m tipsy, maybe, or I’m excited about flowers blooming at the beginning of spring.  But being super cheerful used to be an intrinsic part of who I was to the point that I remember writing an essay about it. I’m always telling my kids (and other people lucky enough to be the object of my sanctimonious rants) that being happy is NOT the point of life.  And I do believe that, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t WANT to be happy.  Where did this dour person come from and how can I get that giddy girl back?
We spent most of today in lectures, because that’s how geeky Georgetown grads are.  We come back to school to have more school.  And also to remember when we used to sit around having smart thoughts and intelligent discussions for fun.  We had several such conversations with total strangers today which is a thing you can do at Georgetown because literally everyone is an intellectual and says words like hermeneutic and heuristic and expects you will understand.
I surprised myself by being able to stay mostly awake for all the lectures, even though I was actually sitting down in the middle of the afternoon.  They were all wonderful and maybe I will tell you more about them later, but for now I want to focus on some of my takeaways from the last two.
Professor Glavin of the English Department, whose classes I somehow missed when I was an undergrad, talked about a memoir he’d written and in that context told us that we shouldn’t berate ourselves for all our life decisions.  That most of the time we make good decisions, the best ones we can make with the information available to us.  That we just don’t have access to all the information, because that’s how life is.  That life is a series of parabolas, with upward arcs leading inevitably to failures, that maybe we learn from before we start the next one.  That was comforting, his next point less so:  that our lives are crossed by meridians–moments of before and after–and that we can never go back across them.  He was talking not just of his book but very obviously of what he expected many of us might be feeling as we attended a reunion at a very different Georgetown from the one we attended.
From here we went to another lecture that focused on personal development and on finding your purpose.  We were asked to think about moments when we were happy, really in the moment, feeling a sense of “flow.”  Frankly I was getting a little sleepy so I didn’t get everything that was being said, but I was left with an impression that goes along well with some other work I’ve been doing lately on spiritual gifts (about which more later)–that everyone needs to be doing work that fulfills their special purpose.  If they don’t, they will never really be happy OR successful.
The first half or maybe more of my life is over (which is something I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time).  I can’t go back to my college days (obviously), but I need to figure out what I am supposed to be doing with the rest of my life–and even more important, how to find the time to do that.  Maybe that will bring some of my giddiness back too.  We shall see.

john and leslie at Georgetown Reunion

Standing in the spot where we first met

The Summer Fun Continues . . .

The first full week of summer break is coming to a close so I thought I’d give y’all an update on our summer of fun.
Sundays are already busy, with the day half gone by the time we get home from 11:30 Mass, plus John and I have a standing meeting on Sunday afternoons, so Sunday is getting no additional fun.  Sorry, kids!
Monday was Memorial Day, so we had a cookout.
Even though we already had an appointment with an oral surgeon Tuesday morning, and I was getting my hair cut in the afternoon, I kept my promise of having some fun, which the kids are already beginning to count on!  Since the oral surgeon is in Oak Ridge, we made a stop at the University of Tennessee Arboretum just down the road, a place I have had on my list for a long time.  There are specimen gardens and many short and easy nature trails.
UT Arboretum 1UT Arboretum 2
The kids especially enjoyed that many trees were marked by type so that we learned to identify a few of them.  They also learned about chestnut blight, which upset William very much.
Wednesday we have a standing morning appointment.  I decided we would do a few things in the area in which we would be as a result.  So we went to the closest Goodwill, one of their favorite things to do.  We followed that up with a trip to McKay’s, the used book store.  Then on the way home we made another ice cream stop–along with running a few errands.  The deal is, we do one fun thing and one chore each time.
This was not a typical week, because Thursday John and I left for Washington, D.C. to attend his 30 year reunion at Georgetown University.  So the rest of this week is devoted to us having fun (and I promise we are!).  But the kids are already asking what we will be doing next week.  Stay tuned!

The Ring I Always Wanted: Sponsored Review

I told y’all a few weeks ago that I was going to be getting a ring from Mama’s Jewelry in exchange for my honest opinion here.  Well, it arrived last week and here is my honest opinion:  I LOVE IT!
ring
The ordering process for this was only hard because there were so many choices.  There are many, many styles.  There are different metals available.  You can upgrade to actual gemstones if you want.  And if you’d rather have some other form of jewelry, you can do that too.
My ring is sterling silver plate.  I didn’t choose to upgrade anything.  I did have to pay an upcharge because my fingers are fat.  I don’t like that, but I’m used to having to do it for clothes already so it’s not like it’s a practice that is unique to Mama’s Jewelry.  If your fingers are NOT fat, you will pay only $69 for this ring.
You can have as many as ten birthstones in this ring, should you be blessed with a large family.  Because I have only six children, they filled in the extra space with synthetic diamonds–this happens to be my own birthstone, which makes it even better!
I’m especially happy to have this ring because I was able to include a stone in remembrance of our last baby, who was miscarried.  I love having that tangible reminder right there on my finger.
The only thing I don’t like about my ring is that two of my children just had to be born in the same month.  It bothers me that two of the stones are the same, but at least they aren’t next to each other!
Save $10 with Code_ MAMAS10

Womanhood: Made in God's Image

In my first religion class as a freshman at Knoxville Catholic High School, I was introduced to the concepts of literalism and contextualism in interpreting the Bible.  I was excited to learn about all the symbolism in the Genesis creation stories, some of which directly relates to the passage above.
Our textbook said when the Biblical writer said that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, he wanted to express that she was equal in dignity with Adam–not from his head to rule over him, not from his feet to be trampled on.
Read the rest at Everyday Ediths!

Getting Back to Old-school Blogging

Sometimes I think back to when I first started this blog–eight years ago, if you can believe it!  I didn’t have a clue.  I didn’t know how to get people to read it.  I didn’t know anything about branding.  I had never heard of SEO.  I didn’t make pinnable images.  I didn’t have a Facebook Page.
If you aren’t a blogger, you may not even understand the first paragraph.  If you are, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Like it or not, if you want people to read what you write, all that stuff matters.  And it’s hard work, and takes time that you could be devoting to writing, and sometimes it just sucks the soul right out of you, to be honest.
I like writing guest posts, and participating in blog hops.  I like writing reviews and getting free things. I love what I am learning about branding and want my blog to be what it needs to be in order to open the door to future opportunities for me.
BUT . . . I also just love writing, telling stories, ranting about whatever, letting y’all know what I am doing and what I think about things.  I don’t like it when my stories don’t get told because I don’t have the time to edit pictures and create a featured image.
So this summer I am going to conduct a little experiment in less is more.  Yes, I am still going to do all that blogger stuff I mentioned above.  But not all the time.  Sometimes I am going to do what I am doing right now, just sharing thoughts and feelings with y’all the way I used to.  I hope that you will read and share even without all the bells and whistles, but even if you don’t, I will be WRITING instead of mostly not writing.  This will be my own little summer adventure!

Why We Can't Have a 70s Summer and What We Are Doing Instead

You’ve probably seen posts like this and this extolling the virtues of the summers of yore and planning to recreate them.  Heck, I might even have written a post like that myself.
Now, don’t get me wrong–I loved my childhood summers.  It sounds idyllic when I talk about it, and I really think it was.  I remember sleeping late and watching game shows, daily swims at the neighborhood pool, long walks around the subdivision, wearing bathing suits while riding our bikes, chasing lighting bugs and playing games outdoors in the dark, the hum of the streetlights and the songs of the cicadas.  I’d love to go back and do it all again.
But that neighborhood pool shut down years ago, and we live in a neighborhood that comprises three cul-de-sacs.  My kids don’t have friends their age nearby, plus they are also antisocial and frankly don’t care.  It’s also about ten degrees hotter then it was during my childhood and we don’t have a shady yard like the one I grew up with.
I’m all for leaving kids unsupervised and unscheduled while I live my own life, but kids nowadays when left to their own devices are apt to fill that unscheduled time with actual devices.  William likes his computer, Lorelei likes the videos on her phone, and they both like watching movies way more than they are going to like spending time outside in the blazing 90 degree heat.  They do play outside, I promise–but with much more interesting things to do inside than existed back when there were four t.v. channels on a good day, they aren’t going to want to spend a whole day out there.
So this summer I am going to get up early and try to get as much done and then in the afternoons I am going to take them on some kind of adventure.  Some of them will be longer than others but the goal is to do something every weekday so that we don’t all spend the day staring at screens.
School let out Wednesday and our first adventure, a tradition for the last day of school for as long as I can remember, was going out for ice cream.


Thursday I surprised them with a trip to Little Ponderosa Zoo and Rescue.

Friday we checked out the University of Tennessee Trial Gardens.

I’m not insisting they accompany me on the Saturday adventure, since that’s usually my day to do as I please, but Lorelei chose to come with me to the Farmers’ Market this morning.
market 1
I have many more mini-adventures planned, and I’ll keep y’all updated.  It won’t be a 70s summer, but I think it will be a good summer.

Fighting Fear with Faith

Before the last couple of years, worry and anxiety were never challenges for me.  I have the kind of mind that just doesn’t hold on the those kinds of things.  Unlike my husband, who is consumed with worry pretty much all the time, making him miserable, I have always been able to put problems aside to deal with whatever is right in front of me.
But more recently, I’ve suffered from anxiety of the free-floating variety.
Read the reset at Everyday Ediths.

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