Bundle of Joy

I grew up with dogs. We always, always had a dog.

Once we had a cat and I hugged him too hard and he scratched me, so he…went somewhere. Not sure where.

But mostly, the dogs. My parents had a golden retriever named Missy when I was small, and truthfully? That dog has been the standard to which every dog I’ve ever met has been held.

I loved her. I still remember the day she died, how I was broken and sad and very confused. I was eight.

I never expected to have a dog as great as Missy. There have been close contenders, but none really fit.

Except now we have this dog.

His name is Rocky and every dog should be born just like him – trained and sassy and asskicking awesome.

about the running

I’m actually a bit proud of myself. I have been running consistently for over a month. This is kind of a big deal…for me, if for no one else.

I’m not pretending to be great. I’m really slow and normally I hate the entire time I’m out there in the ground – to – galaxy humid soup air, but I feel so great when I do it. Endorphins or whatever, I like it. I count the hours until I can go again.

Josh doesn’t get it. He says I’m overdoing, which I’m not. I recognize muscle twinges and I don’t push myself too hard. I quit if I need to. It’s just something I enjoy.

Lucy likes it too. A friend loaned me her jogging stroller until her new baby could use it (which is pretty soon…I probably should try and get one of my own. They’re just so expensive.) and Lucy and I spend chunks of time waving at birds, cars, rocks, cornfields.

I really want to get into it, you know? I want to run events and know what the shit a power gel is. To think of my shoes in terms of miles instead of colors.

I think I can do this. Really.

I’ll keep you posted.

We clean up nice

So I told you that my friend Addie took our pictures.  

I expected them to be good, I mean I’ve seen Addie’s work.  

What I did NOT expect was for them to be so breathtaking that I actually cried.  




Never has a photo more completely summed up my life.  

Worth more than 1,000 words

I made a great many friends when I was in college the first time. Friends I’ve kept throughout the years – one who I married and unmarried, and many others who I will never ever be without. 
Not many of them live nearby, though. It makes for long gobetweens in visits, calls, talks. I end up keeping tabs on people through Facebook and email.
It’s a type of friendship that I don’t really think has been pioneered exactly. It’s a far cry from the world of Beaches, all Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey waiting weeks for responses…I can have indepth conversations, exchange pictures, and gossip just like we were in the dorms again, all with a little bit of wireless internet. 
One of those friends is named Addie.
You guys, Addie is straight up one of the most wonderful people in the world. From the time I spent with her in 1999, to exchanging emails and watching from afar as each of her children has been born or found, she has always been a constant. Someone who I know won’t judge or sugarcoat. She is a treasure.

Addie has a photography business. Like many photographers starting out, she works a full time job and she only really has time for her work on the weekends. We’ve talked for years about getting together and making some pictures, but it’s just never happened. Conflicts and time and whatnot.
Until last weekend. We all packed up and squashed into Dan’s truck, drove 45 minutes to an abandoned motel, and prepared to grin and pose.
I hate having my picture taken. I hate it because I always feel self-conscious and fat, my chin is too pointy and my teeth are too big.
But we did it. Addie was sweet and gracious and put up with our weirdness. She had fantastic ideas and she made us feel so…normal. Which is difficult with a family like ours.
When my pictures are tweaked and awesome, I’ll show you. A whole post of pictures.
But until then, I just wanted you to know about my friend Addie, because I seriously love her and I don’t feel like I convey it enough. Also, go and like her on Facebook. It’s worth it just to see all the pictures she posts.

Friday night glam

Josh and I have said countless times how we were going to go to high school football games.

The weather’s perfect, football’s great, lalala.

We have maybe gone to one high school football game (aside from when we lived in Jackson and we were ALWAYS at those damn private school games).

Last night we intended to go, and then we went to eat and Lucy would have none of anything but coming home and going to sleep.

So that’s what we did. Josh worked on a website and I knitted, and after we were finished wringing the dregs of life from our Friday night, we went to bed.

Sometimes I think we’ve turned into such duds.

I mean, where’s the zing? The romance? The spark?

Is there a female alive who would turn away a little bit of corny sap from the person they love? No. However, I happen to be married to Ray Barrone and his mind apparently doesn’t work that way.

And then I realize that twenty years from now the kids will (maybe) all be gone and perhaps we won’t still live with Dan, and we’ll have all the time in the world for zings and sparking.

So for now, I think it’s okay. I’m saving up to buy stock in blue pills and bathtubs to put out in the forest and on the beach.


I know I use pictures of this tree too much, but it’s so pretty.

So I took a tiny vacation from technology for a few days. There wasn’t a particular reason, other than I got a little overwhelmed about people and things and priorities. It was a good little break. I feel better about where I am and where I’m going.

For Labor Day we ate drunk chicken and drank tea (because good Baptists only use beer for cooking? I don’t know, something like that. It’s been so long since I’ve been a good Baptist that I forget the rules). It rained a whole bunch and now they’re talking floodwaters again.

But the rain? What it did for the weather? This is my favorite, favorite time of year.

In fact I’m going to knit a scarf just because I can.

First Guest Post Ever

Sometimes a different perspective is important. With that in mind, I asked my friend Marty if he’d guest post for me. After you read what he has to say, drop by his blog at http://www.martyestes.com to read my guest post for him today.

Ok, um……hi. I’m Marty, the goofy one on the left up there. I’m a 31 year old youth pastor who blogs over at http://www.martyestes.com, and I’m going to admit I’m pretty nervous about this whole “guest post” thing. I mean, it’s pretty easy to see just from a casual glance over mine and Emily’s blogs that we write for two pretty different circles of people. And that’s ok.

Really, it is. Ok. Take a deep breath and….

They probably don’t know this, but Josh and Emily came into our lives at a time when we really needed them. It all happened almost 3 years ago when I got asked to be a pinch hit groomsman in a mutual friend’s wedding. I packed up my bags and took off to Athens, AL, leaving my wife home with our barely 3 month old baby girl and her 1 and a half year old brother for a one night whirlwind trip. It was there that I met Josh and Emily in the flesh for the first time. Can I be honest? I was afraid to approach them. Here’s why.

My wife and I had kinda been blogstalking them for about a year.

That’s right, judge if you want. We’d been reading about their lives for a year or more, all the while thinking they were very interesting people and that we’d like to meet them and hang out someday. And then, there they were. The guys ended up hanging out late that night at an IHOP (a WILD bachelor party, I know!) and pretty soon Josh and Emily were coming to our house and we were firing up the grill like old friends.

We needed them. Yeah, they were different, but different was good. Both of us were away from our friends in a town where people just didn’t seem to “get” us. Either that, or they just don’t like us very much. We needed friends. So slowly, cautiously, the four of us entered into this friendship we now share. Honestly, I wanted to just swoop in and smother them immediately, desperately asking if they liked us, but better sense prevailed and pretty soon we realized they DID like us, and we didn’t even have to ask!

And all the while, we’ve developed something that is pretty hard to come by in today’s world: trust. I trust these people. I know that if something happened and our world fell apart, they would be there. They would do their best to help us, just like we would and have done for them. When they moved to Jackson, I drove the moving truck and waited with them while their stuff was unloaded. When they had to come back, I helped unload that same truck again. Through ups and downs, ins and outs, we’ve been there for them, just like I trust they would be there for us.

And there, right there, is the glue that holds true friendships together. That’s the stuff that transcends status…

and religion…

and background…

and upbringing…

and how you dress…

and how you look…

and how you talk…

and what you like (or don’t)…

and all the other stuff that pushes people apart. It’s that glue, forged from trust, that keeps people in your lives.

I’ve just realized that this has gotten all sappy very quickly, but I don’t apologize. I’m blatant and unashamed in my thankfulness for friends who will love us just like we are, not judge us, and will stick by us through thick and thin. For THAT kind of friendship, and for some amazing burgers and conversation, I am thankful.

Now, see, that wasn’t bad at all, was it?

Later, on the moonlit veranda

Today was Memorial Day, which – shamefully – has never meant much more to me than grills and days off of work and school. Perhaps a flaw in my raising.

But nevertheless, grilling was had.

Early in the day, we all went out to my parents’ house, where my oldest children preened and vied for attention. It’s their way. I don’t even fight it anymore.

(However, in this same vein, Max gave Ava a makeover this weekend. Makeup, hair, nails. Is this something I should address? Ignore? Should I buy him some antiques?)

Later on, Max and Ava went home to hang out with Dan and we the Steens followed up a Bye Bye, Birdie rehearsal with some nutrients and liquids at our friends’ the Fraxedons.

In other words, David and Tonya decided we deserved their company for some holiday fun times with charcoal and meat.

Now, I just have to say – Tonya is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and I always feel special when I get to hang out at her house. It always feels like a magazine. Like, cloth napkins and pretty chairs and made beds, and also farts don’t stink and toilets are clean. Even her dirt is endearing.

It was lots of fun. Lucy was doted upon, I got to drink a margarita, and Josh got to cook. Pretty much everything we all like best.