It was the Last

It was a Monday. It was this Monday; not by date, but as it falls. The Monday between celebrating his fifth birthday with friends and celebrating it for real. It was a normal day, full of tutoring, preschool, and soccer practice. However, it was different. It was the day it all sunk in. It was the day it hit me that we might not, in fact, be ruling out that something was wrong. It was the day I spent the afternoon on the phone with my mom and some good friends in the peds field; the day I teetered between waiting for his scheduled Wednesday doctor’s appointment or rushing in for something sooner.

We didn’t know it that day, but that Monday was the last of that chapter of our lives. It was the last of a childhood where our son could eat or run without worry. The last of eating foods without immediately knowing their carb count. The last of dropping him off with friends carefree. It was the last of the days where a car nap was just a car nap. It was the last of so many things.

But it was also the last of a time where we didn’t know how strong our son was. A time where we didn’t know just exactly how kind and compassionate he was. The last of any question about the support system we have and how much they will rally around us. The last of any misunderstanding about the lengths you will go as a parent to keep your child safe and healthy.

Mom and Boy

As we draw closer to our one year mark, the words a dear friend’s mom shared with us in the hospital ring in my ears, “It will alter your life, but it won’t end your life.” I’m grateful every day for those words. I’m grateful on the days when it’s hard and we don’t understand what his blood sugar is doing, and the days when it’s textbook and “easy.” I thank God every day for this sweet boy of ours. I’m so grateful he’s mine.


Back to School | Back to Cool

(Do you remember that commercial? No? Just me? Okay, then.)

Well, the boy and I have officially survived our first week of school–and by survived, I mean thrived. We have had a great week all around. We both enjoy where we are, we haven’t been tired or stressed out. We are making great time in the mornings. Overall, I am completely surprised at how well it has gone. I’d be lying if I said I spent the summer looking forward to going back to work outside our home full-time.

However, here it is, Friday night after our first week, and I’m good. I’m not sad or wishing it were different or counting down days. While we all spend more time apart, our time together is more focused and intentional. Just this evening, the boy and I camped out on the living room floor with movies, pajamas, pizza, and brownies. We were focused on each other. He told me about things that happened at school this week. He asked about how my school was going. We talked, laughed, snuggled up close, and enjoyed. We agreed on a little later bed time, and then I laid with him for a while when I tucked him into bed.

Pizza Pajama Picnic

Because I only work a half-day on Friday, Mr. Gray and I have set that time aside for a date lunch. It’s in pen in our calendars. It’s a gimme-date, one we don’t have to arrange or work for. As we rode to the restaurant, we talked about how we thought the week had gone. (Quick back story: I had a TON of anxiety leading up to this week thinking about being gone four and a half days a week and how I would fit everything into that schedule.) We reflected on what had worked well and what needed changing, but most of all, we were in total agreement that overall, it was a success.

“It all seems manageable,” he said.

“Yeah, but that’s where it’ll get you,” I replied, “once you think you’ve gotten to a point of manageable and start to slack on the systems that you put in place to manage it, you lose the control. We can’t let the snooze button creep in on us.” And it’s totally true. Feeling like it’s all under control leads to letting the standards slide, and then it’s overwhelming.

I’ve gone a full week logging more hours than I’ve been out of our home in six years, and I have only been tired once. I hit a wall Thursday afternoon as the day was winding down, but it was nothing that a few jumping jacks and brain exercises with the kids (who were also hitting their max) couldn’t fix. I have had time to rest, relax, and wind down every single day. I know it’s only been a week, but historically, this is the most tiring week of teaching for me. I’m calling it a win–even if soccer is fast-approaching and it might all change soon.

So what are we doing that’s working, anyway? (Monday and Wednesday mornings, I work out before all of this and return home at 6:00 to pick up where I would be if it were a “regular” day and I were just waking.) We start our day early, prep the day before, and get everything finished before we stop in the evenings.

Our typical day:

  • 5:30: Wake up, get myself dressed and ready (4:30 Monday and Wednesday); Mr. Gray wakes up, gets dressed, makes the boy’s breakfast
  • 6:30: Wake the boy for breakfast and TV (I sit and visit with him for a bit and then gather everything for the day during this time.)
  • 7:00: TV off; clear table; get dressed; morning “because you live here” chores (I put his dishes in the dishwasher and start it then start the washing machine after he throws his pajamas in there.)
  • 7:20: out the door
  • 7:30: deliver the boy to school; text coffee shop
  • 7:32: swing through coffee drive thru
  • 7:38: arrive at school
  • 8:00: teach
  • 3:10: dismiss students; leave for car rider line
  • 3:25: get the boy; post office, bank, town errands, etc.
  • 3:45: home; snack homework (I unload both of our lunch boxes and start repacking them for the next day. If we are having leftovers from supper, I wait to finish them until after supper. If not, I usually go ahead and pack them all the way before sticking them in the fridge. I check the boy’s daily folder, initial homework info, throw the load of laundry from the morning into the dryer, unload the dishwasher, and then print or look up anything I need for my class the next day.)
  • 5:00: Mr. Gray home. We are completely finished with everything by the time Mr. Gray walks in the door. Then we play in the yard, ride the golf cart, play a game, build with Lego, or whatever we want to do from there.
  • 7:00: supper, bath, playtime or TV time, read (everyone’s dirty clothes from the day are delivered straight to the laundry room)
  • 8:30: bed time (The boy heads off to bed, and then we hang out, chat, catch up on the day, watch a show or read until our bed time.)
  • 11:00(ish): sugar check (As long as all is well, we have been able to cut out the 2:00-ish check, which has been quite helpful for our sleeping habits!)

It sounds crazy, but it works for us. We are able to optimize our time on task and minimize the lolligagging. Nonna got the boy from school today because he had an early release (earlier than my half-day), and he still walked right in, got out his homework, and got to work. It’s the precedent we have set, and I’m hopeful it’ll carry us through a successful year. Spending the hour when we get home to really focus saves us so much time in the long run.

Does you family thrive in a system? What works for you? s

Tomorrow Will Be Different

Today, he built Lego sets and ate chocolate chip pancakes bigger than his head, but tomorrow will be different. Today, we lounged around, not a worry in the world, but tomorrow will be different. Today, we traveled and talked and rode in the car for hours, but tomorrow will be different.


Tomorrow he’ll enter a new world, a new season, and a new time. Tomorrow, he won’t be just my sweet little boy; he’ll be a big kindergartener in a new place. Tomorrow, he’ll settle into a new routine, but it won’t be ours. It’ll be his–on his own. He’ll listen, learn, lead, and love. He’ll become more of his own person. He’ll continue to make us proud.

So, tonight, when he says, “Just sleep with me for a little bit,” I will when I usually don’t. Because tomorrow will be different.

And, tonight, when he squeezes my hand and says that he loves me more, I won’t dispute it. Because tomorrow will be different.

Tonight, when I peek in for that last little look before I go to bed, tears will stream down my face. Because tomorrow will be different.

Happy Camper

If you’ve been following along on social media, you know we set out to finish up the camper project this summer. Primarily, we use our camper as a bedroom during football season since our group has outgrown the house we stay in for game weekends. However, last summer, Mr. Gray decided we should spruce up the exterior. (If I were good at re-doing and remodeling things, this is where a before photo would be.)

Vintage Camper RedoThe mint exterior really spruced it up, and all of a sudden, I was bummed we didn’t get to do anything with the canopy or do dream about new interior.

time lapse | time lapse | football season | time lapse

When we brought the camper home after last football season, we had plans to rip out the kitchen for more space, paint a little, and work on the canopy.

(Insert before photo here. You can do it. Dated camper interior. Burgundy. Dark green. Patterns. Laminate. Fake metal. Fake wood.)

Mr. Gray got to work on removing the kitchen while I started thinking of affordable ways to give the rest a facelift. Spray paint. That’s the answer. The affordable way to do anything is to spray paint it. For about $4.00 a can, you can work on the canopy, the cushions, and any other dated upholstered surfaces that can be physically removed. I bought a twin sheet set for $8.00 and made valances out of that. It was the perfect width for all the windows, and I just cut them all to match, hemmed the tops for the rod, and the bottoms to finish the edge.

Vintage Camper Redo RemodelWe had a space where the vent was removed that Mr. Gray secured from outside the camper, but it needed something for the inside. The boy and I created a cute wall hanging with a $3.00 canvas from Hobby Lobby and paint and stickers we already had.

Interior Camper Redo  RV Remodel on a BudgetI painted the refrigerator with chalk paint, not because I love it, but because we were out of black oil-based paint, and I knew that would be an easy fix for a focal point. We already had the paint on hand, which was an added bonus!

Vintage Camper Remodel on a BudgetPlus, now for football season, we can #BTHOeveryone and change it weekly!

The original divider curtain was a very heavy green lined number, so I switched it for a shower curtain in the new color scheme. The ribbon tie-back replaced the original cumbersome get up that was there, and now it’s cute and easier to use.

Old Camper Remodel on a Tight BudgetThe cushions are simply spray painted black. A word of excitement: the pattern will show throw adding a great look. It gives the cushion some dimension, despite the quick fix. It changes the texture of the fabric a little, but nothing outrageous. Had I had the time, I would have rubbed them with a wire brush or sanded them lightly. When you head to work as the sun is going down the night before you set out on an adventure, though, you do what you can and worry about the rest later!

Yeah, that's our backyard. Isn't it great?
Yeah, that’s our backyard. Isn’t it great?

I had one last idea that I wanted to finish late last night after being inspired by some metallic spray paint I found in the storage shed.

Camper Remodel DIY I channeled my inner throw pillows, and went to town. (Really, these are my throw pillows; inside my house.)

Spray Painting a Camper Canopy DIY

I taped off some abstract triangles, went to spraying, and waited for the reveal this morning.

DIY Camper Spray Paint Canopy

Be on the lookout for the full exterior shot on social media once we set up camp! I love the way it all turned out!

Vintage Camper DIY Remodel Redo Paint Camper Cushions Canopy
Uh, apparently my panoramic shot was a little shaky.


Start at Home

I’m not big on the news. It’s far away; I can remove myself and allow a little head-in-the-sand time. It’s not that I’m unaware, but I’m ashamedly able to pull myself out of situations and convince myself those problems don’t belong to me and my small town life. While my husband spends his time listening to BBC, NPR, and sermons from various pastors we follow, I spend my time listening to KLOVE or Kidz Bop with the occasional top 40 hit thrown in there for good measure.

This time, it’s different, though. Those could have been my friends or their kids. It might have been children I love and care about as my own. It could have been one of my friends, simply because of the color of their skin. This time, it was far too close to home to turn away. I can’t bury my head in the sand for this one. Because for me, while I might not be about news, I am about love. I’m called to love those around me. I’m called to love my enemies. I’m called to love first. To give the benefit of the doubt first. To teach my son the same. These friends I mentioned, they’re his friends, too. They’re people he loves and cares about. They’re people he would be devastated if something happened to. He doesn’t know or care what color their skin is; he loves them because they’re his friends.

Hays and LBD

This morning, I watched this.

(Go on, I’ll wait. It’s worth it.)

I don’t have a systemic solution. I don’t have a great idea for how to move forward from here. What I do have is a little boy I am called to teach, mold, and shape. I can him teach to treat others–all others–well. I can teach him to love the people around him. I can teach him to serve as Jesus did. I can teach him to pray for his friends and classmates. We can start at home. Undoubtedly, we are called to.

We can start at home. Click To Tweet

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” –Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Time to Lean

I’m an emotional person. I cry often, love big, and feel deeply. Lately, though, my heart has been even more raw than usual–and not necessarily in a good way.

I see new pregnancy announcements or adoption matches and have begun to think, amid my joy for them, “Why not us? Why isn’t it our turn?”

I watch our son with younger children and know what an amazing big brother he is going to be. He is ready. He is longing for a “baby sister” of his own.

Big Brother


I was reading an article this morning, though, and I realized I’m going about it all wrong. I’m not leaning into God and waiting patiently, learning through the refinement. I’m trying to make it mine. I’m finding ways I can find us a baby. News flash, Jolie: God knows your baby. He knows everything about her and when she will join this family. What she looks like, what her name is, and how many hairs are on her head. She is not mine to find. She is mine to receive. (And, she might not be a she!) He knows. I can’t do this myself. My control, my planning, my desires don’t walk out this call. Saying yes to the Lord is how we walk in this call. We know He has called us to this. We know our family is to grow through adoption, but not of our own means, of His.

So, I will let my joy be joy and my sorrow be sorrow, but I won’t spend my time fixing things. I will lean in and listen, so that I may have more of Jesus as I prepare to be a mom for the second time. I will go before the Lord, prepare my heart, and wait on Him. His timing is perfect–there is nothing I can do to speed it up or slow it down. So I will wait, and I will grow in the wait. I won’t waste the wait.

Tuesday Ten: I’m Not Sure I Still Know How to Write Complete Sentences Edition

I keep thinking I’ll write a new post. I come over to tell you all about all the things (or at least write them down for my own recollection), and nothing comes out. I mean, I didn’t even write an ode to my husband or a recap of our anniversary trip.

The cursor blinks. The page stays white. I get distracted and move on. We’ll try this. Short blurbs. Maybe that will break the ice.

  1. I saw the cutest Fourth of July tank on Instagram this morning. I almost ordered it. I waited. I went to the post office, and tada–a new Fourth of July shirt. You know, the one I ordered last week. At least I won’t have two.
  2. We got Schlitterbahn season passes this year. So far, it’s the best thing ever. Free parking. You can take food. It’s pretty much perfect (and definitely not a paid ad). Slide Races at Schlitterbahn IMG_8337
  3. My husband was visiting with a lady in a restaurant Sunday evening, said who I was, and she responded that she knew me from my blog. (HAHAHAHA!) What kind of alternate universe is this?
  4. I think I’m becoming a little spoiled now that the majority of my work can be done from my phone instead of my computer. I feel so free. Lots of other changes are coming in that realm, but for now, I feel like I’m kind of “off” for a bit. It’s really new–and nice.
  5. The boy has been taking piano lessons, and I’m completely in awe of how his teacher teaches. I wish my lessons had been that involved when I was younger. (Side note: a friend of hers saw that she knew me and recognized me from Purpose Box. HA! I guess putting yourself all over the internet might have its perks–or something.)
  6. I miss my bike. I still have yet to make it to get a new tube after “the flat,” and I really want to ride. Ahhh, small town living.
  7. I just got an email about a Christmas event. It’s June–not even July. June.
  8. Mr. Gray is working on some of the summer projects we had for the camper this week. Hopefully we get them finished up quickly and can take it somewhere before we haul it back to College Station for football (yesssss–football!) in the fall. Where are your favorite camping spots?
  9. Did you know you can get a free custom The Gray Matters-designed print if you sign up for our emails? Yep. It’s pretty cute. My friend Meg at Clappping Dog Media designed it for me. Sign up. Check it out.
  10. If Destin were on my calendar for tomorrow, I wouldn’t complain. Maybe I should look into booking that.

The Happy Recap

After an emotional last week at Happy House (for me, not him), we had a wonderful graduation ceremony (where I didn’t cry at all). He sang his heart out and put on quite the show.



Then we moved to his art display in the classroom and quickly walked out without making eye contact with Mrs. Kristi (tears were definitely starting to try to well up at that point).


We headed out for supper to celebrate after.


His last day came and went just as quickly as it came. We had a fun lunch together, and they spent their day watching movies and jumping in the bounce houses.

IMG_7291Before we left, Mrs. Kristi’s son asked if we had seen his message for the kids on the board in the classroom. We hadn’t, so we walked back over. Cue the tears. It matched their theme for the year and the place we are in life so well.


For several years now, I have started and ended the boy’s school year with an interview. I’ve missed a few here and there, but for the most part, I’ve got ’em. Check out the last one for Happy House!

I love his words of wisdom for the new comers!

Oh, the memories we have in this school. From his first day (2013) to his last (2016), Happy House will always hold a special place in our heart.


Past interviews:

Apparently first day of school wasn’t my strong point. Oops!

The Case for a Playroom

A couple of weeks ago, I had an epiphany about why I couldn’t turn our extra room into a guest room. I kept the door shut, blocking out the boxes and the chaos, unless Mr. Gray was ironing or I was grabbing something off the printer.

Across the short hallway, our son’s room was filled with toys and Legos that he had to put away every night before bed. His creative processes and pretend play had to stop because I didn’t like tucking him into bed in a messy room (this is two-fold: my own need to go to bed with a tidy house but also a need to not trip and die in the middle of the night when we go in to check his sugar).

One night as we got ready to say prayers, the three of us were all piled into the boy’s bed, and I reminded him to straighten or pick up something first thing in the morning. Mr. Gray gave me a look and quietly said, “Lay off the room a little.” It was just what I needed to realize that the room situation didn’t really portray the “yes mom” model I generally go for. I prefer to pick my battles, say yes when I can, and let the boy explore and learn. Sure, there are boundaries and confines, but mostly, yes works.

Thursday at lunch, with a living room full of trucks, tractors, Peppa Pig’s camper van, and who knows what else (no Legos because I banned those from the living room), I said to Mr. Gray, “Maybe we should make that extra room a playroom.” By 6:00 that evening, it was.

Should my kid have a playroom

I’m pretty sure it’s the best idea I’ve ever had. Until it got better.

You see, that first night, he kept bringing toys into the living room to play so he could watch TV. He still had to break down take apart, and completely stop what he was doing when it was time for bed. Sure, he just threw it all in the room and closed the door, but he couldn’t continue the next day or anything.

Nonna had a small TV, and we had a Blu-ray player that I wanted out of the living room anyway, so we decided to try a TV in the playroom.

Should I have a TV in the playroom

Now, if you had told me EVER that I would be a proponent of putting a TV in the playroom, I would have laughed and called you crazy. But here’s the thing: he goes in there, turns on a show, listens to it, and plays (and plays and plays). He pauses it when he walks out or comes to eat, but he’s not generally focused on it. He is engrossed in his play. He is able to play well when he has a space to play, pretend, and elaborate. When we have to leave or stop or go to bed, he can leave what he’s doing and finish later.

Now when I walk into his bedroom to tuck him in, I am not flustered or frustrated with the explosion of toys that’s going on. It’s calm, peaceful, a place to work at his desk or rest. Things are in their place, and there isn’t a whole lot of reason for them not to be. It has completely changed the demeanor of our bedtime routine for the better. And I can read a book peacefully in the living room without having to block out Peppa’s accent.

Peace a Quiet for Mom

It’s a win-win.

On Gifts: End of School, Or Otherwise

I saw a Facebook post this week from a mom who was so disgusted that a parent of another child sent an end of the year treat to school. Whether it was typical “mom” ranting on Facebook or this mom genuinely felt it was in poor taste to send a “treat for everything,” I’ll never know, but what I do know is this: I’m that mom.

Giving gifts is one of my gifts. I’m all about being punny. I enjoy making cute printables and curling ribbons. I love creating. My son enjoys taking treats to his friends and being generous. It’s a win-win for our family.

Do I expect that everyone should do that? No. Not at all. Do I think you’re less of a mom than I am because you don’t? Nope. Not even a touch. I enjoy it. It’s worth the investment of my time. Maybe it’s not your jam. That’s totally okay.

I, however, had a blast working on these little goodies for my son’s school friends.

For less than $5.00, I had treats for the whole class. A pack of water, a box of single-serve Kool Aid packets, double-sided tape, and some curling ribbon was all it took!

End of School Treats

You can print the tags here (they’re set up for printing on business cards to save you the cutting; I just happened to be completely out of them when I got home, though).

So whether you’re the treat mom, the anti-treat mom, or somewhere in between, use your gifts. And know that there’s no right way to do this parenting gig. We’re all just doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

Previous end of year ideas:

  • Water balloons
  • Beach balls (This was hilarious because another mom and I did the exact same thing–and neither of us found the idea on Pinterest!)