First, listen to ‘Simple’ by our local Emily Ann Roberts!


Awaking again at my leisure, not too early and not too late, I get to sip at my fresh cup of French Roast and browse the internet. Again, we have no plans for the day. We’re in no rush to get out of our pj’s or even eat breakfast. And, the biggest decision will be what to eat for dinner.

Summer is wonderful….simple. It’s exciting, and slow. It’s hot, humid air and cool, fresh water. It’s friends, and silence. It’s fresh veggies, and treats. It’s books, and Netflix. Yes, and we love it all!

In less than a week, Brody has another MRI. This one will around 8 months instead of the scheduled 6 months. When we called to make the appointment months ago, she was that booked up. And when the receptionist put me on hold to ask Dr. Savage if it was ok to wait this long, she came back on the line to ask if he’s having any symptoms. No (knock on wood), I replied, so we are some of the lucky ones who can wait. Of course we want her dedicating her time to those who cannot wait; Brody was that emergency patient once.

It’s nerve-wracking every time, indeed. It seems like an eternity and only yesterday we were in that waiting room at Children’s. So, there is anxiety again. This has been the longest break so we are out of practice. It’s sneaking up, but Brody doesn’t even realize it. He’s living his simple day-to-day life….blessings.

Yesterday, we did a quick day-trip to Frozen Head, sticking to my plan of a good ole’ Tennessee summer, a simple summer. Brody’s best friends are 13, almost 14, and 11. They spent the afternoon wading through the shallow creek, flipping rocks and searching for crawdads. The sound of the creek and woods was all you could hear; no one was there. It was quiet, slow, and most definitely simple. What’s great is that they are that easily entertained. Kids are quite simple too, even 13 year olds!

It takes less junk (entertainment systems, devices, toys, gadgets, bells and whistles) than parents realize to keep our kids happy. They ended the day by all chasing and catching fireflies and jumping on the trampoline in the dark.

Brody’s diagnosis 2 years ago changed me in many, many ways. One of those is that I realize we don’t have to stay busy-busy to not be bored. So, our summers will be different than most. No camps. No schedule. We won’t have an outing every day. We will do whatever we feel like that day. We’ll be spontaneous, a little bored, lazy, and just see what happens. Because so far, it’s working out for us.

Just like I believe this Monday will work out for us too. Simple.





Summer camp


Sunny days are just around the corner. Freedom and fun await. With trips to plan and bags to pack, what are you going to do with your kids this summer? What will your summer hold?

There are so many good options in and around Knoxville now. There’s Tate’s, Webb camp, Ijams, and School of Rock to name a few. VBS, swim team, dance camps, cheer, baseball, soccer, football, and any sport….. You name it and I bet you can find it. Whether it be the arts or sports, there are so many fun options.

When I was growing up, my summer days did not include camps. I never went to sleep-away camp. And, my family didn’t have the extra cash to pay for entertainment camps. Most days were spent hanging at the pool with my best friends. That’s it. That simple. Slumber parties, a trip to the beach, a boat ride on the lake, and playing. I was not deprived but it would seem so when I look at the norm today.

In this culture, we are conditioned to be led by schedules, structure, and deadlines. (I’m not immune!) The busier, the better! (or is it?) With all the craziness that the school year brings, especially the insane month of May, we welcome slow starts and easy ends to the day. And, I just don’t believe there’s some big benefit to filling the short summer months with schedules. Yet, I know this is not the norm.


What I’m thinking is truly beneficial for our children and families is actually spending time together. Instead to signing up for a different camp every week and cramming the days, what about creating some creative time and  quieter outings for your family? Maybe we should even just take it easy and see what happens. Not having a schedule is not so bad. I know not every family has this option because many working parents don’t have a choice. But, many who do don’t take this route.

It’s not that parents don’t want to spend time with their kids, right?! One reason is because it’s just become the norm. What camps are you signing up for? It’s just what we do. And, then there are parents who don’t know what to do with their children or feel more comfortable having someone else plan every day of the week. Some parents just want to wear the kids out! Some kids really do want to play with their friends at camp and ask to go. And, many want to make sure to keep up with the Jones’.

Now, it could be worse. Kids are getting socially stimulated, while also staying active. And, I’d bet they’re having a little fun too! Camps sound fun to me too! Children who have the privilege of attending a camp are better off than having an electronic device babysit them all summer and sitting inside. There are certainly more wasteful ways to spend the summer!

But if we take a moment to reflect, we’d realize that kids grow up too fast. We want and need to spend time with them because they’ll be gone before we know it. And, we want to continue to steal time imprinting our values on them. With the influence of social media and the abundance of external factors that influence our children, it’s now more than ever that we need time with our children, not time away.

It will be nice to spend the mornings at a slower pace and see what the day brings. Maybe we don’t every week but don’t be afraid to slow it down a bit and explore together. What if our summer camp includes:

  • Reading in pj’s
  • Cooking 3 real meals a day
  • Doing a book study together
  • Exploring a new hiking trail
  • Playing in a creek
  • Going on a long bike ride downtown
  • Hearing some free WDVX music
  • Visiting a new park
  • Mountain biking at Baker’s Preserve
  • Wandering around at Ijams
  • Making a day at the Zoo, the KMA, the Muse, or the Oak Ridge Children’s museum
  • Volunteering
  • Lounging at the pool
  • Hanging in the hammock
  • Planning a lemonade stand for a charity
  • Planting a garden
  • Climbing a tree
  • Getting to know our neighbors better
  • Getting to know each other better

There’s no shortage of family-friendly activities in and around Knoxville, or even in our own backyards! There’s the saying, the family that prays together stays together. But, I also believe:

A family that plays together, stays together.


Bring on summer!

And, the best new toy goes to……

With these cooler than average temps, along with my exhaustion, it doesn’t quite feel like summer yet.  The kids are still a little hung over from the school year too. The pools are open but the water must be freezing. And, as always, I anticipate taking the first week or so to work out the kinks as the sweet siblings adjust to being around each other every day! They’ll eventually get over the desire to pick at each other every second of the day too. But, we’ll get there….

I must say, though, that one new ‘toy’ has seriously impressed me so far this summer and got me in the mood:

*the ENO hammock*

This end-of-the-year gift has kept Brody and the boys next door outside most of the weekend. These simple, colorful hammocks are easy to put up and take down so the kids do it all themselves. What’s better is that they’ve lazed in those bad boys all weekend. If only I could hear their conversations…what in the world do they chat about all that time?

They found a perfect spot in our small backyard in between the shaded Hemlock trees. The spot looked so inviting that I actually had to give it a try today. Staring up at the leaves, curled out with a cool breeze helped me understand the allure. Simple and peaceful. Cozy and restful. I would definitely recommend.

In fact, these suckers went back to REI for the second time this weekend to purchase a second one because who wants to hear siblings whine more than necessary about not sharing!? Now, we have 2 to travel to the mountains, the dessert, or even just the backyard in this summer. Swinging back and forth, staring up at the blue sky, and slowing down is just what we need to get us in the mood. Bring on summer!

*still 25% off this weekend at REI!


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