One day in May

I’ve been showing you a lot of other people’s lives lately, so how about I show you some of mine? A day-in-the-life of my own.

Lyle’s up first, and Jeff gets up not long after. He bikes in to work and changes there into his work clothes. I took this photo from the bed, where I was still hitting snooze.

Lyle and Owen Meany joined me…Owen hoping to snuggle with me and Lyle hoping to get me out of bed.

I handed off the camera to Lyle for some shots.

When I got out to the kitchen, Jeff was finishing up his spinach omelet before heading off.

Lyle and I have been writing notes back and forth on this board. On the chalkboard side, which faces out toward the living room, we write the name of who the message is for (so you know when to go look), and on the back—the whiteboard side—we write our note. The night before I’d told him good luck at Field Day and said I’d see him there. His note to me that morning read, “Mom, You’re coming? Well I hope you see me!”

It’s a short drive to school, but there’s always traffic at this time of morning.

Drop-off line. Lyle likes to get there early so usually we don’t have much of a line here. If you get here closer to when school starts, though, the line gets long.

I went back home and did some work on the computer for a while.

And then I took a nap. I stayed up waaaay too late the night before.

Guess who else loves naps?

Burrito for lunch while I did more work at my desk.

Went in to get dressed and found these two still sleeping where I’d left them.

Field Day at school! They had the school’s art car—a van that they spend the year decorating for Houston’s Art Car Parade each year—blasting music. (They won first place in the youth category for the car this year—WOOHOO!)

Lyle in the potato sack race.

Lyle’s teacher blasting the kids with water guns.

Handing out popsicles to the hot but excited kids.

Lyle with two of his best buddies

Field Day ended around 2:30, and Lyle and I headed out. On the way to the car we walked past the hot dog stand that the Dads’ Club had set up, and so we got Lyle a hot dog because he was, he said, STARVING.

Then we went shopping for a birthday gift for a friend.

And the toy store was near Whole Foods, so I decided to stop in there because they sell the chocolate bars I love.

Only when we got inside, I discovered they were completely OUT of the kind I like! They had others from the same brand (Theo) but they didn’t have salted dark chocolate or dark chocolate with salted almonds. So I bought a couple other salted dark chocolate bars from other brands. So far I’ve only opened one—it’s okay but not as awesome as Theo. Not all dark chocolate bars are equal, I learned.

The cats were ready for their afternoon feeding. They always come out to the kitchen as soon as I get home with Lyle.

I went in to take a shower since I was sweaty and covered in sunscreen.

Guess who followed me in and entertained me for a bit.

We all know I like selfies.

Jeff got home from work and showered, and then we were ready to head out to dinner. Our Friday tradition is to eat dinner out somewhere.

Jeff working the camera.

A couple shots out the windshield as I drove. Considering I wasn’t even looking at how they were framed or composed, I really like how these came out.

Our destination…P.F. Chang’s. Because I love me some lettuce wraps and ma pao tofu.

And their szechuan bloody mary.

And that basically ended our day.

To compare, you can take a peek at an ordinary day from almost exactly three years ago.

Sarah Wilkerson - SUCH a fabulous day! I was totally sucked in — thanks for sharing your life here! <3 Gorgeously captured as always.May 4, 2015 – 10:01 pm

Karen - Thank you, Sarah!! 🙂May 5, 2015 – 1:24 pm

Lauren Mitchell - Any day that involves cats, naps, field day and PF Changs sounds good to me 🙂 These are beautiful.May 6, 2015 – 9:21 am

Karen - Thanks, Lauren!May 6, 2015 – 10:29 am

Brittney before 8am

We shot Brittney’s session on a Saturday morning. Her in-laws were in town from Baton Rouge because Brittney’s youngest son was being baptized the next morning.

So here’s a Saturday morning of breakfast and babies and grandparents.

When I got there, Brittney and her husband were starting to make breakfast, and everyone else was asleep still.


What happens in Brittney’s house before 8am. Read what she says about her morning over on the Houston Moms Blog today.

Brittney Ford - Love, love, love these Karen! Thank you!!!May 3, 2015 – 1:52 pm

Nostalgia ahead: spring break road trip

I’m finally getting around to writing about our spring break trip, which was a different kind of trip than usual for me. The goal was to visit my dad’s grave in Illinois to see the headstone, which was put in last summer, along with a military marker.

Originally Lyle & I were going to fly up, rent a car, spend one night, and fly back the next day, but then my mom said she’d be interested in doing it as a road trip, and suggested we stop at my grandmother’s house in Missouri on the way there & back (to avoid having to get hotel rooms). So this became our spring break trip.

I had not been back to this part of Missouri since my grandad’s funeral in 1995. It’s not near anything. There is no easy way to fly in for a visit. I’ve seen my grandmother many times in that time—she has visited me in places I’ve lived, and she’s visited Dallas at holidays when I was in town, and most recently she’s been living near my mom in a nursing home in Dallas, so I visit when I’m visiting my mom. But I hadn’t been back to her house.

So this seemed like the perfect opportunity for some visits to places from my past and a chance to show them to Lyle.

Standing in my mom’s driveway, waiting to hit the road.
First stop in Missouri was a relative’s house…one of my mom’s cousins, Berthini. She’d made cookies for us.

I just called it our first stop in Missouri, but this was actually Arkansas. The town my mom grew up in was very (very) close to the border. It’s all Missouri to me. These are small towns where everyone knows everyone and it seems like nearly everyone is related somehow.

My mom & Berthini talk regularly by phone. She’s one of my mom’s main sources of information about all the Missouri peeps.
Lyle was fascinated by country life. He asked if we could go outside and explore while my mom and Berthini were catching up. This was him trying to get their attention through the window. (They never noticed him.)
When we went outside, Berthini came out to point out how far we could safely go, I guess, without trespassing. No other homes were visible from hers, and she pointed down the road toward the way we came from and said, “That’s my land up to the top of that hill, and then all the way over to that creek bed, and then”—indicating a fence way in the distance the other direction—“to that fence.” Lyle looked at me and asked, “ALL OF THAT IS OURS?” I said, it’s all HERS, yes. I asked him how he would like to live someplace like that, and he said he thought it would be awesome. There was so much space to run around! You could play so many games outside on all that land!

After an hour or so, we left Berthini’s and drove on to Tucker, Missouri. Talk about a small town. Can you even call Tucker a town? I’m not sure. When my mom was growing up, 13 people lived there. All named Tucker. I’m not sure how many live there now. Fewer than 13. Tucker is a lot of land, a few gravel roads and houses, one church, and one abandoned general store.
First stop was the house my mom grew up in. Which burned to the ground several years ago. This is all that’s left. My grandparents had lived there for 50 years before they sold it and moved to town. (“Town” is Doniphan, a town of 1,997 people. My mom says, “Just give them a few more years and they’ll get all the way to 2000!”) There are rumors that the people who bought the house set fire to it on purpose to try to collect insurance money. But no one seems to know anything for sure.

I’d known about the fire, but it was still so surreal to see a pile of rubble where my grandparents’ house was supposed to be.
The little wooden shed is all that’s still there.
And a few yards down the road is the old general store, which my grandparents owned & ran for years. It was originally called Tucker Brothers (run by my granddad and his brother), and then when the brothers married, their wives became owners as well. I spent a lot of time in this store as a kid. They sold it in the 80s and it’s now abandoned.
Across the street, the church.
And a mule. Donkey? (How do you tell?)
And a few more yards down the road, the cemetery. I’m related to pretty much everyone in it.
Tucker is at the end of Z highway.
It was Lyle’s first time to see where my grandmother used to live. This is her house in town. The neighbors keep an eye on it. My mom says she needs to go up and clean stuff out. Lyle thought it was pretty cool to see her space.
And then the next day, we were on to Illinois. Bridge over the Mississippi River, which my brother & I used to love crossing.
The military marker at the foot of my dad’s grave.
The headstone.
Sacked out in the hotel in Vincennes, Indiana, nearest town with hotels. (About 10 miles from Lawrenceville.) There is one (new-ish) B&B in Lawrenceville that we discovered when we were there for the funeral last year, but they don’t allow kids under 12. Boo.
Lawrenceville breakfast the next morning…this was a half-order of pancakes. What.
One last visit to my dad’s grave.
Back in Doniphan at my grandmother’s house again for that night. We’d brought along Clue and Connect Four to play in the evenings.
And on our way back to Texas the next day we stopped at a cemetery in Arkansas where my great-grandparents are buried.
And then we came home. I don’t know when I will make it back to Lawrenceville again to visit my dad’s grave. But even though it’s not an easy place to get to, it still feels like the right place for him to be.

Kristy before 8am


What a weekday morning at home looks like for Kristy and her 2-year-old daughter. Read about her morning on her post on the Houston Moms Blog.

Before 8am {Kristy} | Houston Moms Blog - […] more pictures and a peek into Karen’s perspective of the shoot, be sure to check out her post here. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the posts within this amazing series as […]April 28, 2015 – 11:44 am

Jill before 8am

Jill’s morning went pretty quick as she and her husband got dressed and ready for work. Talya, her 2 1/2-year-old daughter, was not a fan of having a stranger in her house so early in the morning, and I think she was a little clingier than usual to her mom because I was there.

So here’s what happens at Jill’s house before 8am. When I got there, Talya wasn’t awake yet. Jill was up and her husband was showering.

My favorite part of this photo is the balloon on the ceiling.

Getting her hair done in the bathroom, but the weird lady with the camera is in there too!!!

He asked her, “Did I get it all off?”

I’ve already forgotten what the injustice was, but I love this photo.


To read Jill’s take on her morning routine, check out her post on the Houston Moms Blog today.

Before 8am {Jill} | Houston Moms Blog - […] see Karen’s perspective from her Before 8am morning with us, check out her blog post here.  And don’t forget to check out the rest of the posts within this amazing series as […]April 18, 2015 – 6:01 am

Alice C - What a sweet series! I particularly love the last one.April 27, 2015 – 6:53 pm

Karen - Thanks, Alice, for looking and commenting! 🙂April 27, 2015 – 8:09 pm

Sarah Wilkerson - This series is absolutely brilliant, and this set is no exception – wonderful!!April 30, 2015 – 2:15 pm

Karen - Thanks, Sarah!!April 30, 2015 – 4:33 pm