Fall Living Room Tour

As my About Me page dictates, I looooooooooooooooooove fall!  I love everything about it!

I’m a snuggler – fall’s good for that!

I love pumpkin – fall’s good for that!

I love football – fall’s good for that!

I love overcast weather – fall’s good for that!

I love all things cozy – fall’s good for that!

I love hot coffee – well, anytime’s good for that but – fall’s good for that!

With this chilly, overcast day making it REALLY feel autumnal, I decided to take you on a little living room tour, fall style.  Here are a few things I love that make it feel cozy in our family room.

I am a lover of words so I have a few fun, chatty prints scattered about our living space.

crate and prints

It’s fall ya’ll

I don’t know why I’m so drawn to that apples one, but I have quite an affinity for it.  It might just stay up post-Christmas, too.

Wrexy hand-painted these pilgrims and indians when he was around 9 years old and I think they’re adorable (like him).

pilgrims and indians

The first Thanksgiving on a single shelf

I put them out last year but had them on our coffee table.  I’m thinking they work better up high so little hands aren’t too tempted.  This one is my favorite



the indian momma with her little papoose baby.  Aren’t they sweet?

Our picture window needed a little color (color is GOOD!) so I made this felt leaf garland that I think turned out pretty cute.


See that overcast goodness outside?!

These were super simple to make!  I just free-handed a leaf shape, traced it onto multiple colors of felt and cut them out.  Then, I had Wrex thread the yarn through the leaves (that felt can be kinda tough to poke through.)  Told ya it was simple!  ;)

Told ya it was simple!

Thankful for the hubs

I really dig reclaimed wood and I think this tree is so fun.  I always have something hanging from the hooks and the twine, so for fall, I just did a berry wreath and a few more seasonal prints (that I’m betting little Wryder will attempt to pull down as he’s in his circle of neglect jumper.)  We’ll use the actual branches come November when we add leaves to make a thankful tree.

tree wall

If a tree grows in a living room…

Yes, yes indeed.

Yes, yes indeed.

This is above Sawyer’s and my desk where we do our preschool and computer work.  I think the girl in the leaves is super cute; she’s just kinda whimsical and trendy and nonchalant all rolled into one.  Plus, she has curly hair – who doesn’t love a girl with curly hair?  Sawyer is in love with that little jack-o-lantern, so I put it where she can see it during our lessons.



There are other random pumpkins in a few more nooks and crannies around the room, too.

You can't have fall without pumpkins

You can’t have fall without pumpkins

All of these warm oranges and reds make it feel extra cozy in here.  Now if only I had a fireplace…and some Red Raider football on TV……….

Happy Birthday to Goo-Goo!

78 years ago today, Marilyn Maxine Waite was born in Winfield, Kansas.  20 years later, she became Maxine Rusk (upon marrying Arlos) and 27 years later…she became Grandma.  Wrex was her first grandchild and they share such a sweet, sweet bond.

w and g

He loves his Granny!

Some of Wrexy’s best and favorite memories are of days spent with Grandma.  He’d go for weeks at a time down to their ranch in Kansas during the summer.  She always cooked his favorite foods and always had a horse lined up for him to ride while he was there.  (She knew the way to his heart, for sure!)

She's always up for an adventure!

She’s always up for an adventure!

I am so incredibly thankful that I get to share Granny right along with the rest of the family.  (I’ve mentioned that I’ve married well, yes?)  She’s a drippy-sweet extrovert who’s gorgeous – inside and out –  and who is always ladylike and put together, no matter the occasion.

3 of 4 generations

3 of 4 generations

She can read and write stories like nobody’s business and is the best person I know at staying in touch with people.  She truly is one of the most generous, engaging, big-hearted, optimistic, beautiful people on the planet!

Look at the love in her eyes

Look at the love in her eyes

She is one of our biggest supporters, prayer warriors, cheerleaders, encouragers and exhorters!  (What would we do without this woman?!)  She loves the Lord and is definitely leaving a legacy of the fear of the Lord with her children and her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren.

With 2 of her greats, Sawyer and Breckyn

With 2 of her greats, Sawyer and Breckyn

Grandma actually has quite a few names – Grandma Rusk, Granny, Maxine, Great Granny Max…but Sawyer’s favorite is Goo Goo!  One of the grandkids named her that early on and 20 some-odd years later, it’s still sticking!  Sawyer ADORES her Grandma Rusk!  They’ve had the sweetest, sincerest little bond since Sawyer was a tiny, tiny babe.

3 weeks old

3 weeks old

Goo-Goo is always at the ready to make memories with her family and to pour into them in any way she can.  There is no task too messy or time-consuming; no activity too big or small that she won’t participate in to show love to her kiddos and grand-kiddos.

Easter eggs

Easter eggs



We love you so very much and are honored to be a part of your heritage.  You have loved us and cared for us and supported us in so many ways and we are forever grateful for you.  We pray that you are showered with love today, on your birthday…a day that the world most certainly changed for the better.  We love you!

A Little Gloom for your Friday

This weather looks like my heart feels.  It just feels so heavy, sinking really, for our country.  I watched this video last night after I had scrolled through the latest headlines.  While it’s a funny take on the state of the union, it’s not really funny, right?

We live in a broken society with a broken system in a broken world and all the public policy in the universe won’t be able to “fix” us.  (Ever been to the DMV or wondered why UPS and FedEx can be profitable organizations but the USPS can’t?!  Our government has yet to prove that it can do anything with excellence.)

We need Jesus.  We need our Congressmen and women to need Jesus.  We need our Senators to need Jesus.  We need our President to need Jesus.  We need people to lay aside their pride and be willing to humble themselves for the greater good instead of their party or for the instant gratification of “what can I get for myself for ‘free’ TODAY.”  We HAVE to look further down the line than just 2013 or 2014 or even 2020.  What kind of financial decisions are we making today and how will they impact us in 10 years?  20 years?  50 years?  We HAVE to look past the short term and towards the long term.  This is one of the plights of our society; we all want everything that makes us happy and we want it NOW.  Who cares what that looks like in 10 years – I’m living in today and that’s what matters.  Uh, no.  We live in community, not a vacuum; every choice I make affects someone other than me and vice versa, and those effects can be felt today or 20 years from today.  We have to look past the short term and towards the long term.

It’s not JUST the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that needs to go revision.  It’s our budget, it’s our gun legislation, it’s our social security system, it’s our abortion laws, it’s our tax laws, it’s our prison systems, it’s our welfare system, it’s our farm subsidy system – it’s our government, in general.  Now, I’m not saying I want it to be perfect.  That’s a completely unrealistic goal because it won’t ever be – see paragraph two.  But I do think they owe it to the people to function as designed.  It was created to be FOR the people and BY the people; it was created to ensure that we weren’t subjected to tyranny ever again…and dare I say, we’re close?  And we’re partly to blame.

We can’t keep just handing over right after right after right to a broken system.  The return on our input will be broken.  And we?  We will be a people who got something in the short term that didn’t really benefit us because it didn’t benefit us in the long term.  We can’t continue to  keep the mentality that, “someone else will say something” or “this is so wrong/off/ridiculous/out of line, surely it won’t pass” or “we’re so far gone, who cares.”  We have to take a stand for our freedoms so that we can continue to have those liberties.

I don’t mean to sound like Debbie Downer here.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE America and I praise the Lord that He chose me to live here but we HAVE to make choices to continue to ensure our rights are protected.  There is no freedom when you’re saddled in debt.  (I’ve been there.  I would know.)  There is no freedom when you have no free will or choice.  (Read the Word.  It’s pretty clear about that).  There is no freedom when when you don’t EXERCISE that right to free choice.  We can’t stand idly by and think that someone else will fight for us.

I encourage you to take a stand today.  Write an email or letter to your senators/congressmen and women.  Let them know how you feel about what’s going on in Congress and with the Affordable Care Act and with other legislation.  Encourage them to think about the long term effects of the decisions they are making.  Inspire them to make decisions that unify us and not divide us.  They may not receive, or respond to, your messages until after the shutdown (sigh) but let your voice be heard regardless.

Nebraskans, find information to write your Senators here:  http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=NE

And here’s contact information for your Congressmen:  http://www.contactingthecongress.org/cgi-bin/newseek.cgi?site=ctc2011&state=ne

Coloradoans, find information to write your Senators here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=CO

Congressmen, here:  http://www.contactingthecongress.org/cgi-bin/newseek.cgi?site=ctc2011&state=co

Above all, pray for our nation.  Pray for our President.  He has a BIG job, yes?  Pray he does it well; with humility, common sense, respect, unity, mercy, grace, forethought, thought for the future, thought of our kids.  He’s a broken, sinful, self-deceiful human being just like his Supreme Court, just like his Congress, just like his Senate…just like me.  And just like me, they need Jesus.  He IS the only answer, the only “fix,” the only policy or legislation that can repair the system.  Pray we choose Him.

Pancake Kind of Morning

When you’ve had a late night the evening prior and everyone wakes up a little bit later than normal…

When it’s 40 degrees outside, skies are overcast and the air is oh so fresh and crisp…

When daddy doesn’t have to leave to go to work until noon…

It’s DEFINITELY a pancake kind of morning!

I’ve tried and experimented and tossed out and tweaked a lot of different pancake recipes and this one is our fave, hands down!  We’re not big fans of huge, thick pancakes that you have to drench in syrup and chew and chew and chew to get down, so these are a bit on the thinner side.

Buttermilk Pancakes - makes 24 CD sized pancakes

3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Heat griddle to 350.  Mix all ingredients well, but avoid over-mixing.  Let rest for a few minutes while the griddle gets hot.
Batter up!

Batter up!

Then, spoon onto hot griddle (I like to use a 1/4 cup measuring cup) and when half-cooked, flip ‘em over!  Serve with warm maple syrup…

Apparently, it's still too early...

Apparently, it’s still too early…

and eat them with a cute boy or girl!

Sawyer’s not a big sweet eater (what?!  I know.  Who in the heck are her real parents?!?) but she can put some pancakes away!  So can her daddy.  After I set these on the table, he said, “Where are the ones for you guys?”

Gone gone

Daddy-size serving

Try ‘em out and let me know what you think OR if you think we might like your recipe even better, share it in the comments section.  Pretty sure Wrexy won’t mind a little taste testing…


On Monday, I turned the big 3 – 1.  That doesn’t sound as cool as the big 3 – 0 does it?  Yeah, I didn’t think so either.  I was thinking about my birthday and I vividly remember my dad turning 34, which really is just around the corner.  There was a TV station in Lubbock at the time – and I’m pretty sure it was the PBS station where my brother and I got our daily Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow fixes – that was called KJTV-34.  I remember thinking my dad was sooooo cool because he was 34, like the TV station – ha!  I’m getting awfully close to that number, even though that memory feels like it happened just yesterday…

I was SUPER blessed by a ton of sweet, humbling comments on my Facebook page! Thank you to all of you that took the time to send me a message – it really made my day!

The biggest surprise was a beautifully written blog all about yours truly from my “on call” mom.  I told you to check out her blog in my first post, and I really hope you take the time to do so.  She has this magnificent, prose-like way with words that I do not have.  I think I’m more hard fact than pretty fluff, while she seems to do both of these things (in the same post, mind you) incredibly well.

Anyways, I’m beginning to think that I should’ve had her write my About Me page.  From what I hear, she captured me well.  It’s hard sometimes (for me at least) to really believe these things about myself and be ok enough with what I think I do well or who I really am and put it out there for the world to see, so THANK YOU for helping do that for me.  You honored me and blessed me and moved me to (sweet) tears.  Love you…forever.

As I become a veteran of my 30’s, I want this year to be even better than the last.  How in the world could that possibly be…possible?

So, in an effort to make it more of a binding contract of sorts, here’s a list of a six things I’d like to accomplish (or at least get closer to making real) this year…

1.) Answer the phone more.  I’m not a big fan of talking on the phone.  I’m a much better in-person person than an over-the-phone one.  Plus, during the day, I’m usually crazy busy a little busy running around with my two little cuties (who do come first vs. the phone – they’re my job and I LOVE it!)  My call log often looks like this:


Can you tell I have a favorite?

Now, Wrex’s?  Oh good gravy.  It’s NUTS!  He might have 45 phone calls…by 5:00 pm TODAY.  So even though I don’t anticipate my log looking like his, nor do I want it to, it’s something I’d like to get better at.  I often think, “I don’t have time to have a 20 minute conversation so I just won’t answer” or “Gosh, it’s been so long since we’ve talked, this might be awkward, so I just won’t answer” or “Do they REALLY want to talk to ME?” or – no really, I could keep going!  Does anyone else do this?!  I think it’s the introvert in me that just finds it almost painful sometimes.  But, I also want to honor those that do call to have a real conversation.  I think so often our voices get lost in Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and Instagram and blogs and texts that we forget how to have a real, verbal conversation and I don’t want that to be lost on my kids, so?  Better start with me.  (As I was typing this Grandma Rusk called.  I had to giggle.  Lord, you’re funny.  Just so you know, I answered…and was glad I did.)

2.) Send more snail mail.  I used to be REALLY good at sending mail.  Then, I had children and email and Facebook became simpler and much quicker (especially when you live 2 miles from your mailbox and 20 miles from town.)  But don’t you just LOVE get real mail??  I don’t mean postcard reminders to bring something to the potluck and I certainly don’t mean bills (ugh); I’m talking handwritten letters or cards or invitations.  Last week, I received this dandy in the mail…


Check out that penmanship!

Is that not just gorgeous?!  The time and effort that went into making this just makes you feel special!  It screams, “You were worth the ache in my hand, the marker stains on my fingertips and the supper I had to buy because I didn’t have time to make anything!”  I want to get back to sending real mail because who in the world wouldn’t want to receive something like that?  (This is for my bestie’s baby shower, by the way.  I have NO DOUBT it will be a grand affair!)

3.) Spend less time on Facebook.  Facebook and I have such a love-hate relationship.  I love that I can keep in touch with so many people, so quickly.  We don’t have any family in the state, so it’s a good way to keep up with what they’re doing and vice versa.  Friends, too!  We left a ton of people we love back in Denver and it’s such an easy way to touch base and stay up to date with what’s going on there.  But, and this is a BIG but, I hate how it sucks me in and cunningly encourages me to see the “new stories” because God forbid we miss a second of SOMEONE ELSE’S life.  Ugh.  Spend less time here, for sure, and much more time doing ANYTHING else.

4.) Take more pictures with ME in them. I’m sure you’ve all read this before and if you haven’t, take the time to do so.  (Geez, I’ve given you a lot to read in this post!)  It really is a good read and something that I’ve found hard to do.  One, because it’s usually just the kids and I during the day so it’s a little hard to get on the other side of the camera.  Two, because I often fall victim to that mentality of, “I don’t look great, I’ll get one later,” but “later” rarely happens.  I don’t ever remember looking at pictures of me with either of my parents and thinking they looked tacky or sloppy.  I do remember looking at those pictures and thinking of what good times they were and I suspect my kids will do the same.  Get yourself on the otherside of that camera!  Have Wrex help you!

5.) Wear my yoga pants less.  (I’m sitting here rolling my eyes that I just typed that…mainly out of rebellion – ha!)  They’re just so comfy! Plus, when you’re chasing around two kids all day AND, again, you live 20 miles from civilization and thus get VERY few visitors, it’s easy to just stay in your PJ’s all day.  Don’t get me wrong, there are DEFINITELY days where that’s ok, but maybe not everyday?  I’d like to just start a new habit of being a little more put together, especially for the hubs.  Men are visual creatures and I’d really like to honor him in that way.  He’s a hottie; I gotta try and keep up!  (Note: He’s never mentioned me needing to do this, just so we’re clear.)  Good thing I got some jeans for my birthday.

6.) Gain more freedom. Oh, how I want more freedom from the things that ensnare and confuse me and lie to me and make me forget the Truth!  I want to be delivered from those demons that paralyze and render me useless.  I want to combat the one who comes to kill, steal and destroy.  I want to be FREE.  I want to return to the joy of salvation.  I want life and life abundantly!

So, here’s to being 31…and hopefully accomplishing this list before I’m 34…

Tiny Dancer

While I get all giddy at all the lovey-doveyness of weddings, Sawyer enjoys them for a different set of reasons.

1.) Pop, Coke, soda – whatever you want to call it.  She had her first Shirley Temple this weekend.


Sugary pop + sugary syrup = win win!

It was a hit!  And provided much needed fuel for…

2.) dancing.


Check out that form

This girl loves, I mean LOVES to dance!  She danced with her uncles…


Cutting a rug with Uncle Warner

and her cousins…


Twirling with cousin Angelina

and random guests that I’ve never met until the wedding day.


Two of her favorite dance partners

By 9:00, she was whooped and ASKED to go home and go to bed – ha!  But not before another one of these…


Need. More. Fuel.

In the car, she informed us she wasn’t tired anymore.  We drove up one more exit and then saw this…



Oh, be still my heart….

Long Line of Love

Oh, weddings, how I heart thee!  I’m a BIG fan of marriage…and not just because mine rocks.  (As fabulous as he is and as fault-free as I am (ahem) we still work at it every day.)  I love the covenant concept – let’s talk about this more in depth one day, k?  I love how two, individual people really can become one, unified soul.  I love the tradition and the symbolism and the blending of families and lives.  Plus, who doesn’t love a good family reunion/detail-rich party/opportunity to get dolled up and cut a rug?

This weekend, we traveled to south central Nebraska for our cousin’s wedding. Isn’t this cake gorgeous?



The lovely couple was incredibly hospitable and had put so much care into every last detail.  It was a beautiful celebration!

The bride and groom

Mr. and Mrs.

The groom comes from a long line of love.  There are many, many years of sound, successful marriage in his family tree – something that’s a rarity in today’s society, sadly.  Grandad and Grandma Phipps were celebrated as the couple with the longest marriage in attendance – 59 years!  THAT is something to celebrate, with a spotlight dance, no less!

PicMonkey Collage

59 years, people!

I know my little family has been blessed by their love for each other.  I’m sure that they would  admit that everyday hasn’t always been rainbows and roses, but I bet a lot of them have, simply because they’ve never given up on each other.  They’re a team.  Their marriage means something to them.  It’s something that they have put value on; it has worth.  It hasn’t been something that they’ve tossed aside because of a difference of opinions or hurt feelings, and I pray those same things for the newlyweds.

We bless your marriage, in the name of Jesus.  We pray that you would put Him FIRST and your marriage second and that nothing would disrupt that order.  We pray that you would live your lives as one and that you’d be each other’s biggest cheerleaders and number one fans.  We pray that your marriage would be a testament of the love of God to those around you.  We pray that you would have fun together and that you’d always enjoy each other’s company.  We pray that you outlast the elder Phipps’ and continue leaving this legacy of love and the sanctity of marriage for the generations after you.

We, too, come from that same long line of love and can’t wait for our kids to say that one day, too.  Wrexy introduced this song to me when we were dating and it’s still so sweet to my ears.  A little more love for a Tuesday morning…

Long Line of Love



Because the World Needs Another Blogger, Right?

I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.  Psalm 9:1

Earlier this summer, I felt the desire to start a blog.  I know what you’re thinking.  The world doesn’t need another blogger.  But my heart had been inundated with moments I didn’t want to forget.  I wanted to have a place where I could leave a written account of the memories we’re making with our kiddos, because I always THINK I’ll remember every cute or witty thing they say or do without writing it down, but alas, I do not.  The desire to blog wasn’t fleeting.  It didn’t feel like a, “Oh-that-could-be-something-fun-to-do-in-all-of-this-spare-time-I-have” {insert sarcastic huff here} kind of a thing – it felt like a push from the Lord; a Holy Spirit nudge of sorts. (more…)

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