Wednesday, May 22, 2024

nostalgic summers


Happy Wednesday to you, friends! I was catching up on blog reading over the weekend and was inspired to write this post by my friend Debbie over at her blog, Millie's Cozy Cottage. I wanted to share some of my favorite nostalgic summer memories, along with some things that I love to do right now that my sons are grown. Stay tuned, because I want you to chime in at the end of the post! I'll get started with the things I love about summer, starting with when I was a young girl. 

When I was young, my dad worked for man who owned several vacation properties, including a condo in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Every few weekends, we would load up in Dad's car and head to the lake. The condo was right on the lake, in a place called Beacon Manor; we would swim, and ride on the pontoon boat. Dad would motor out to a cove, and we would have a picnic lunch and spend the day swimming in the beautiful and clean lake. It was the best way to spend a summer weekend, and it's why to this day I am a lake person. It's also why I love to read books set in the summer and involving a lake, like the one you'll see pictured down toward the bottom of this post. These books bring back all kinds of nostalgic memories for me! Sometimes on these weekends it was just Dad and me, sometimes it was Dad, Trish, and me, and other times it was Dad, a friend of mine, and me. If I took a friend, it was almost always Stacy, who is pictured above. Later on it would sometimes be Dad, Sandy, Trish, Angie, and me...but more about that in a few minutes.

Left to right in the picture above are Dad, Sandy, my best friend from birth Stacy, and her mom Barbara. Either I took the picture or Stacy's dad Larry did, but we were both there as well, even if we aren't pictured. 

This was her dad, Larry. I loved this man and how he loved people! I can hear his voice as I look at this picture. It's hard to imagine her parents being in Heaven now. 

Hot Springs would eventually be the place where Dad met Sandy, my step-mom; it happened while he was teaching me how to dive into the deep end. I'd just mastered my best dive yet, and when I went to ask if he'd seen it, he was nowhere to be found! Well, not really, but he was talking to this pretty lady in a striped bathing suit like the one you see above; she had long red hair and she was wearing a swimsuit just like this one above and maybe even the same huge beach hat. 

Sandy was there staying in her dad's condo for the weekend, which was something she did regularly in the summer with my now step-sister Angie. Sandy's family "just so happened" to own a condo in the same building as the one we used, Beacon Manor. When she wasn't at the lake, Sandy lived about fifteen minutes away from Dad's house; they started dating a few weeks after they first met, and a few years later, they eloped to marry either at Lake Tahoe or in Reno, Nevada, where Dad always went for work trips. You see why Hot Springs holds such a special place in my heart! Angie was probably with Sandy on that summer trip when they met, but I can't remember for certain. I also have a stepbrother named Rod, but he didn't live at home with them anymore.

Back then summer meant going to the lake, making our annual vacation to Jacksonville (Florida), friends and fireworks, late night swims, Capri Sun pouch drinks, Kool Aid galore, roller skating, going to the mall, listening to music on the boom boxes that we all had, Goldfish crackers, amusement park rides with friends, looking for boys driving in Jeeps (🀣 I wish I was kidding), movies at the theater or drive-in, talking on the phone half the night, and making requests for songs on the radio.

When the boys were little, we loved to load up the car and head to mom-in-love's neighborhood pool to swim. Sometimes it was just the four of them and me, but most of the time we had extras. Some summers we would take weekend trips to the same Hot Springs that I mentioned earlier. We loved taking them and they loved being out on the lake. For them summer meant tons of friends over at our house, late night movies and playing basketball or jumping on the trampoline, 24/7 snacks and drinks, church camps, summer mission trips, vacation Bible school which later turned into backyard kids clubs, summer bucket lists, late night swims at Mimi's and Papa's house, Big Daddy's inaugural slip-n-slide into summer and grilling out and then swimming at his and Nana's, going to see their dad's emergency vehicles at the SCSO base, and did I mention all the snacks?!

Summer to me will always include me being in a body of water; I'm not particular at all and will swim anywhere! I am so grateful to start this summer off with swimming at friends' houses who live nearby, and whose dogs Jonah is watching. One is a neighbor across the street where I swam on Monday morning, then again that night, then last night, and hopefully again today! The other house is a few streets over at his best friend's parent's house; we'll have access to their pool this weekend and part of next week, then the next weekend and two weeks after we'll be back watching the neighbor's dogs. 

They have the sweetest dogs and the most beautiful tropical flowers in their backyard, like this hibiscus above. 

Summer still means nostalgic movies to me, like my favorite movie of all time, Dirty Dancing. 

Summer will always bring back memories of the driveway at home looking like this; I can hear their laughter as I look at this picture.

Summer will always bring back memories of the long days and nights spent out on our trampoline. We would sit out there for hours, back in those days, just talking and jumping on occasion. Crash loved it as much as the boys did; look at his spry young self when he was one year old! Also, know that this picture is the proof of why he now has bionic body parts. 🀣 He wore his little body out with all the jumping that he loved to do like in this picture above! 

Speaking of Crash, I remember fondly taking him on sunset drives last year and will do the same this summer. He loves to ride and to sniff the air! We drove to a park on this particular night and watched the sun go down. 

He used to love going to Mimi's house with us! The boys and I loved to swim together, have picnics in different parks in our area, and we always looked forward to our Fridays with my Dad. We did fun things each week and had so much fun on those outings. We loved the zoo, the children's museum, and sometimes we'd go downtown and let the boys run around through sprinklers that were in a pretty part of the city. On days when it was too hot to be outside, we would see a movie or we'd go to an indoor museum and recline in the chairs in the planetarium while they learned about stars and planets; without fail, every time we did this, Dad and I would both fall asleep, because it was dark and cool inside there. One time we swam with Dad in my neighbor's pool! I had a slight heart attack when he dove into the deep end; the boys and I were all positioned in the deep end surrounding him, in case we needed to rescue him. 🀣 Of course he was fine, doing a perfect dive into the deep end at a young eighty-three years of age. 

You've read about and seen this tree before, but to me, the unofficial start of summer is when this Golden Rain Drop tree starts to bloom with these yellow flowers. This resides on my church's property, and the flowering blooms last part of May, all of June, and by the first of July, they're drying up and falling off for another season. 

Summer means reading all of the summery books!

Summer is the scent of coconut, sunscreen, or anything beach related. 

Summer is doing fun things that I normally wouldn't do in the other times of year, like taking mini road trips with Dad or dining al fresco as much as possible while the weather is still nice. Now that everyone is grown up, summer means that I travel with a girlfriend now, or I'll drove alone to meet my friend at the beach. As sad as that may sound, I promise that I actually love this phase of life; who'd have thought that the late forties would be so much fun and provide me with so much energy?? I am truly loving life at the moment, and living my best life as a wife, a mom of adult sons, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. This summer I hope to make it to the beach once! I would love to take a quick weekend trip with Todd to Hot Springs, Arkansas; I would love to make a one night or day trip to Columbia, Tennessee with my mom and sisterTrish, and I'm flying to Denver for three nights in July. 

It's your turn now; what does summer mean to you? I'd love to hear some of your favorite memories from years gone by and learn whether or not you have plans this summer. Thanks for reading my blog, friends! Love to all. 

Jenn πŸ’™πŸ’š

P.s. Check out our stunning hydrangeas! Summer will also always mean beautiful flowers like these two pictures below. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

new purchases, a wardrobe refresh, & some tricks that I've learned

Happy Tuesday, friends! (Bill, you may want to skip this post.) It's no secret that I've been updating my wardrobe lately; I thought I'd share the things I've learned in ordering through a company like Shein, I'll share who I follow who inspires me on Instagram, and I'll explain how I found my own personal style and how I stick with that look by know what I love and what looks best on me. 

First up is this t-shirt that I recently bought from the company LOVELLX. It sounds risquΓ©, but I promise it's legit. It took two weeks to get here, but I love it and what it says: Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). I could definitely wear this out and probably will, but mostly I bought it to use as some of my lounging clothes on days that I'm home. I don't really wear pajamas at home, but I sleep in a nightgown that's short each night. When I'm at home on Mondays, I love to be comfy and yet also decent if someone were to drop by. And on that note of being decent, here are the bras that I love to wear all the time. I decided that life was too short to wear bras that I hate and made the change one year ago in June. It was life changing, and I couldn't be happier! Mom, I'm talking to you! Click on those links if you want to see them on Amazon.

Here is the first favorite dress that I ordered from Shein. Here is my trick to Shein: if you have any curve whatsoever to your body, meaning that if you are above a size ten or twelve, then you need to looking at the Shein "curve". The regular sizes are tiny, and even a small person would probably need to size up. I've learned that when I order from the curve part of Shein, I can size up one just in case, and it fits perfectly. My goal is for it to NOT fit like a glove 🀣 and for it to fit comfortably and in a flowy way. I'm normally an XL or 1X, and I got the 2X in these dresses, and they were perfect. 

I love this one too; it's white with a blue stripe. I have this in two other patterns: one is white with black stripes and the other is black white white stripes. After these arrived last week, I ordered four more: one is denim blue with buttons down the front, another one like the first picture that's a wedgewood blue color, one that's white with pink and orange, and a white button down dress. 

Here's the white one with pink and orange. 

This black dress is an Amazon dress that I bought in both the black and a beautiful royal blue.  I paid attention to the measurements and because I wanted it to flow and not fit tightly, I ordered both in the 2x size. Mrs. Kari Clark has been influencing me on both Instagram and Facebook; if you follow her on FB, she posts the clickable link in the comments section. She is about my age and size, except that she's taller. 

These dresses in black, hot pink, and turquoise are from Walmart! These are what I used to replace the dresses like the one you see pictured below. I ordered these in 2x as well. Also, when I saw how much I loved the black one that I received first, I promptly ordered the other two colors. I love them both! It dawned on me that my favorite color is blue, and I didn't have any of it in my closet! I do now with this turquoise dress and the royal blue one from Amazon.

Another tip that I have is to add another piece to give your outfit some color or dimension. I love this old kimono that I bought from Amazon a few years ago; I'm sure you can find something similar. 

This is the same Walmart dress from Walmart that you see pictured above. 

This is the Amazon shirt that I bought and that's a cover-up! I bought it as an actual cover-up in hot pink, but this one I bought to wear as a shirt. I love it with the white pants that are fitted!

I recently bought myself some new pants to replace the ones that were older. These are from J. Jill, and while I don't always spend this amount on a pair of pants, I do believe that quality counts. These wash and wear like a dream, down to the satin lined pockets that I fell in love with! I wish I'd sized down in these, because they're a little too baggy, but they are very comfortable. I bought these in white and gray. 

These are this pair of jeans that I love from Dillard's; the brand is Westbound. These are on my wish
list! I love this top, but it was purchased at a boutique a few weeks ago; it's the Umgee brand that I love so much. 

And here is my closet that I cleaned out last week and that inspired this post. Here are a few things that I would recommend to someone wanting to update their look:

  • take an honest assessment of yourself and decide what you love about your body and play that up, meaning that if you have great legs, wear some shorter dresses with strappy heeled sandals
  • have a source for inspiration, whether someone you know in real life, someone you follow on Instagram, or if it's Pinterest
  • decide what you want your style to be by choosing only the things that you love

For instance, I love for things to fit loosely, so I love flowy tops or dresses, and I have to be comfortable 100% of the time. You'll never hear me sacrificing comfort for style, so I never even wear shoes that hurt! There are great shoes out there for people who have problems with their ankles or feet that are stylish and comfortable. 

My example of this are these black strappy sandals with a wooden heal by Dansko.

  • when you buy something, make sure it's only something you love
  • when you bring in a new item, consider taking an older item out and giving it away
  • use jewelry as accessories, whether earrings, rings, necklaces to layer or a stack of bracelets
  • embrace whatever you love or don't love about yourself and don't fight it (I'm thinking of my own naturally curly hair that I used to fight to tame)...this could be related to hair, body shape, or rosy cheeks (again, I'm thinking of myself on that last one) 
  • know your colors that are best on your skin tone, and consider your eyes and hair
  • sometimes the bigger the earrings, the better

Do you have any tips that you'd like to add for us in the comments? I'd love to hear from you! Thanks for reading my blog today, friends. I'm linking up with Joanne for today's post; I'll see you back here tomorrow. Love to all! 

Jenn πŸ–€

Monday, May 20, 2024

Hello Monday -- a mini road trip with my 93 year old dad


Happy Monday, friends! I'm linking up with Holly and Sarah for today's post. I hope you had a good weekend! I thought I'd share about what I did with my dad on Friday. If you're my friend on social media, then you've already seen these, but I wanted to put them here for my friends who read and aren't on socials. 

I had an appointment in Jackson, Tennessee on Friday morning at eleven; when I realized the time I'd been given, I decided it would make for a perfect outing with my dad! He loves to travel, and they really just don't do much of that these days because of his age and how hard it is on him. This was the perfect solution to getting away, even if only for the day. I picked him up at 9:30, then we were on the road ten minutes later. Jackson is one hour away from Memphis, and is also where I attended college. Back then it was called Lambuth University, but now it's University of Memphis at Lambuth. I was excited to see this again with my dad, and to walk down memory lane, so to speak. For the rest of this post, I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

It's funny how when 29 years go by, you forget lots of things, like how beautiful the campus is. The flowers and trees are meticulously kept, and I was impressed. 

This building pictured above is the student union, where I ate most of my meals. I also remember doing a lot of eating late at night at Perkin's for a midnight study session.

This was our chapel where we had our weekly meetings. I have always had a thing for church steeples!

I loved doing this with my dad! It was such a sweet time, and a day I'll always remember. 

I love the huge trees all over campus!

This was a little amphitheater type place right outside the chapel.

This is a U of M Tiger (their mascot) similar to the ones that we have all over the city of Memphis. 

I was in front of my old dorm, Carney Johnston Hall. I spent many an hour out on those steps talking with friends late into the night!

I lived on the third floor of this dorm. My roommate was my high school friend Angel, and our suitemates were Maryann and Angela. 

As much as I loved seeing the campus this past weekend, and meeting the few friends that I made while I was there, college was not for me, and I came home before I finished. Being away from home wasn't anything that I liked; I went home every single weekend, except for the few that Mom made me stay on campus so that I could bond with my friends there. She was smart to do that, by the way! I should have stayed there every weekend, truth be told; if I had, maybe things would have been different. 

But then again, they probably wouldn't have been any different at all. I told Dad that I felt peer pressure to go to college while I was still in high school. I remember being in a class and us having to go around the room telling where we wanted to go to college and what we wanted to do afterward. I was embarrassed to answer this question, because all I ever wanted to be was a wife and mom. My mom was (still is) the best mom, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps! But because I was ashamed to admit that, I told everyone that I would be attending Lambuth and pursuing a degree in elementary education. While that's a great career, it was never meant to be for me. I left for school in the fall of 1995, Todd proposed to me in October of the same year, and one year after that we were married on October 4, 1996. I came home and worked full time when I decided to quit school, and I've never once regretted my decision!

Because of that, I've always felt self conscious about telling people that I was "just" a wife and stay at home mom, because our society made us feel like that wasn't enough. Shame on them, though! While working outside of the home is great for some families, it was best for my family that I was able to be at home with them. I always did some type of part-time work, like giving kids rides to and from school everyday that I was compensated for, but I was mostly at home with them all the time. I started working part-time at their elementary school when Jonah and Noah entered Kindergarten, and Graham and Drew were in fourth and fifth grades; I was their lunch lady and was in charge of about 600 students as they ate lunch each day in three shifts. I loved that job! I loved getting to know all their friends and being such a big part of their day. Once I started homeschooling, I stopped working completely, only going back part-time in the fall of 2022 after Jonah and Noah graduated. 

While I'm thankful that I had the experience of this beautiful campus, I am most grateful that the Lord allowed me to have my dream job of being a wife and mom. I have loved taking care of our sons and I also love the phase of life that we're in now, as they're all grown up and living their best adult lives. I'm  very thankful that I got to see this place again with my dad. It was wonderful being able to show him the places where a lot of my memories happened. I will always, always, always cherish the day that this was in my heart. I consider myself extremely blessed to have what will now be a core memory for myself in later years. 

Thanks for reading my blog, friends, and traveling back to my college with me. I hope you enjoyed the visit! Love to all.

Jenn πŸ’š

nostalgic summers

  Happy Wednesday to you, friends! I was catching up on blog reading over the weekend and was inspired to write this post by my friend Debbi...