Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Lily's first day of Kindergarten.
Responsibility seems to be a theme all around me these days. At times, I am overwhelmed by the amount of things and people I am responsible for. But I realize I am not alone.

Take Lily for example. She has a kitty cat now (we’ll save that story for later). She is responsible for feeding him, cleaning the litter box, putting him away during meals, picking up his toys and teaching him how to behave in our house. That is quite a lot to ask a five-year-old. And yet she is rising to the challenge. Once a sleepy head, Lily is now up on time - motivated by the needs of her kitty, Sunny.

The candidates and political supporters are talking about responsibility; both personal accountability and our collective responsibility for our country, our spending, our future, our commitments.

Buck and I have financial responsibilities – the kind that lives in the “need” column, and a long list in the “want” column.

Responsibility is kicking my butt. I feel it more now than I have in a long while. The kids have started new chapters in their education and personal development. They need more of me. My professional career needs more of me. My home needs a lot more of me – especially those baseboards. My body needs more – more good food, more exercise, more sleep. I need more of me.

I used to feel like I had time to meet all of these responsibilities. But in this moment, I feel like it all needs to be done now. The homework and work-work have deadlines, after all. The bills, too. Dinner is going to come every night. And the project list is only getting longer.

So what to do and feel about all of this responsibility? Blessed, I suppose. Inspired, maybe. Exhausted would be more truthful.

This weekend Grandma and Grandpa are coming to town. Buck and I are going away for a couple of days – escaping responsibility for a brief moment. Although it ‘ll be these very same responsibilities that will motivate us to hurry back home - to our children, our laundry, our emails, our dog – and our cat. But maybe we will feel just a wee bit lighter, if just for a moment.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Strategic Planning

It's what I am doing at work right now. Collecting data. Setting goals. Building tactic tables. Thinking about return on investment formulas.

I always chuckle this time of year when I think about all the planning that goes in to my work life. And how little goes in to my family life.

I rationalize that I will get fired if I do not plan at work. Quite the opposite at home. Good luck firing me here. And sometimes I try really hard! Alas there is no employee code of conduct. No hierarchal ladder to climb. No HR department to vent your grievances.

In fact, we do not have quarterly reviews in this house. Or annual merit increases. No bonuses. Feedback usually happens sometime between "pass the potatoes" and "get the fork out of your sister's hair."

Mother and wife are the two titles I hold most dear. But without question the areas I spend the least amount of time planning for or measuring.

Or so I thought.

Truth is I DO PLAN.

The plan doesn't live in a Power Point presentation. But it absolutely lives in my head. I have long-term plans for how we'll celebrate milestones, save for college and build character in our children. I have short-term plans that get us through each morning and every night. Often, the plans come together in the car or during a meeting. And they live on lists all over the house and on sticky-notes attached to my work folders. The process may not be pretty, but it happens.


The output of my efforts can be measured in countless ways:
- clean sheets and folded towels
- school clothes laid out every night
- play dates, weekend activities, birthday parties
- college savings plans
- the menu for our back-to-school dinner

But the best measure of all are the smiles, hugs and kisses I am blessed with every day. At home, the coaching moments are more rewarding because they come from the heart. The "professional growth" and opportunities of being a mom and wife are endless. The office politics and art of compromise are a little sweeter here because the payoff is much more important. The conference rooms are much cozier and usually come with blankets, pillows (and toys for creativity).

How truly lucky am I to contribute and be a part of two work places? Two teams. Two organizations trying to make a difference in this world.

And how lucky am I that at least in one of those places, I get to be the boss:)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What brings me back.....

I am back to the blog, the keyboard, my family's journal......why?

Because Ben now dances to Flock of Seagulls tunes in his big-boy underwear and Lily is producing her own fashion shows, complete with a fancy British accent! How did I let so much time slip by?

I love that friends and family stop by this blog to check in on us (Hi everyone!). But the true intention of Happy Stones is to record the miraculous and mundane of this little life of ours. Down the road when I want to remember, I won't easily recall the time when Ben the magician would wave his wand, say "abba kadaba" and roll down the car's automatic windows. I will probably forget when Lily read her first words from the book "Chores, chores, chores."

So I had to come back, find time, sit still. And type.

It's been eight months, so here is the speed round:
- Ben had his second birthday and is now the proud owner of a red ryder tricycle
- We enjoyed our first snow in Blowing Rock, with hot coffee and krispy kreme donuts in hand
- Lily graduated from Pre-K and was the shining star of the school program
- We moved into our new home and got our mattress of the ground, ahhhhhh a king size bed!
- Summer brought Lily's first dive off a diving board, sparklers in the back yard and slip-and-slide races
- Lily turned 5 and we celebrated all week long
- The Zipfels visited and we sold cupcakes to cute boys in the front yard (and donated .60 to the church)
- We took a tour through Florida to visit our grandparents, eating ice cream and taking in the views
- Grandma introduced Lily to Barbie movies (and we will not elaborate on "glittergate")
- Ben has a sizable dino collection, and loves "tisses" "tookies" and "tars" - no speech therapist need yet, grandma!
- and we have 5 days left before Lily starts Kindergarten and Ben begins his new school.......

That brings us to tonight. Buck just returned from a run (he golfs now too). I am ignoring the laundry pile - and the never-ending work emails. And the kids are sharing a blanket, parked just beneath the TV watching old-school Scooby Doo.

How could I not return to the blog?

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Quick Summary of our Thanksgiving.

Mr. and Mrs. Happy Stone start the day with big thankful grins.

Lily and Mimi pose for a photo. I can't find my other child.

The sweet potatoes are cooked to perfection.

As is the turkey. And, here is my other child.

The day is wrapping up, and I still have a bottle of champagne to drink! Again, thankful!


Our days are sandwiched between chaotic mornings and busy nighttime routines. But there are always quiet, tender moments to enjoy. Like the first kisses in the morning - sweet with morning breath and cold noses. And warm hugs at night as little bodies drift off to sleep.

No matter what has happened in between, I do not miss the importance of these quiet moments. Moments that allow me to connect with my children in a way far more impactful than any timeout or consequence I can dole out.

I am very aware of the limited time we have with our kids. I am very aware of how quickly that time is passing us by. Ben will be 2 in a couple weeks. Lily starts kindergarten in a few months. A new year is here. The clock is ticking.

I am also very aware that I am not guaranteed anything in this world, least of all more time with my children and family. If I squeak one prayer in each night, it is gratitude for one more night with those I love most. And as I leave my children at school every day, I ask the Lord to bring me home to them. Nothing more, or less. Just to get home for that last hug of the feel those bodies melt in my arms as they drift off to a peaceful sleep. The kind of sleep I have not known in some time.

So tonight Lord, I thank you for the blessing of Lily and Ben. I have never known such sweetness. I am grateful for Lily's spirit, her cleverness and her mischievous curiosity. I am thankful that we are still her very favorite people. I am blessed everyday with her laughter, spunk and generous affection. She makes my heart smile.

I am grateful for Ben's charismatic charm, funny sense of humor and kind heart. His endless affection and innocent exploration makes me long for more time with him in this wonderful toddler stage. I am so blessed to have a baby to rock at night, and who wants me to hold his hands close to my heart until he drifts to sleep. It's the only way he can fall asleep.....our hands and hearts connected.

I am so blessed.

I know I will forget many of the details of my life now.....smells, sounds, milestones. But I will not forget my blessings. Wether it is for one more day, one more year or one more century -- I know in this very moment that I am blessed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


It is a busy time for the happy Stones....all of the normal ruckus plus new activities like ballet classes and mud runs! Sure, why not! In between all of this fun, the kids swing from vines in the pool. Never a dull moment!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Words

Where is my flip cam when I need it? Really, I have no idea where it is right now. But the precious moments continue without being captured.......which brings me to the blog this morning.

I enjoyed Lily's first words and baby babble so much. Her tiny voice communicating in this big world was precious. My favorite is still the way she said "I Love You" = "I ya youuuu". I mean, what is better than that?

Fast forward to today and we have another toddler speaking his mind. Similar little voice. Same adorable memories! Ben gives the ABCs a try, sings along with melodies and warms your heart with the best "Halo" = Hello. Precious!

Without even noticing, Lily's babble turned in to real words, real thoughts, real feelings. So I am relishing in the tid bits of language Ben is sharing with us these days! For now I can translate the babble to be whatever I want it to be. But in an instant, he will be telling me exactly what HE wants to say!

Ben's First Words:
Halo - Hello
Bebe - Baby
Waa - Water
Owsigh - Outside
Iss - Izzy
Teeter - Sister
Baba - Grandpa
Ah Duh - All done

Monday, August 15, 2011


There are not many opportunities to give our kids the freedoms we remember from our childhood. So when I think Ihave found one, I offer it up to them. Running naked in Grandma's backyard. Jumping on the beds. And sitting in the front seat when we are cruising through the neighborhood.

Lily takes swimming lessons at the neighborhood pool. And we have a deal. If she promises to follow the rules during class, she can break a rule on the way home and sit in the front seat. Don't tell the police.

This week, she was a swimming super star! A brave little fish. And of course she rode up front - even sticking her head out the window.

I caught her reflection in the side-view mirror - total joy. Her curls were blowing in the wind. Sun kissing her cheeks. Eyes and mouth wide open, catching the breeze. She was in heaven.

I wish I had more of these moments to give her - where life's simple pleasures are as good as a little fresh air and tunes blaring on the radio. Life feels a little more complicated these days. But the moments do happen - and I am so grateful when I am there to share them with her.

A few moments of freedom thanks to Aunt Connie:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I am a BIG fan of anything with a drive thru.

Dry cleaners.

Why not a zoo!

About 45 minutes up the road, we found the Lazy Five Ranch, nicknamed the "lazy zoo." Not sure what to expect, we loaded up and headed out for a little adventure. That is exactly what we got, and a belly ache from laughing so hard!

With buckets of food in our hands, we rolled down the windows. Think to yourself, "if you feed them, they will come." Right into your car! Ostriches in the windows, pigs under the car, buffalo nosing at the doors.

The only thing funnier than the chaos in our car, was watching it happen to all the cars in front and in back of us!

Once we finally got the hang of this "zoo" we really enjoyed the close up view of all the animals. Ben and Lily fed them, spoke to them, touched them, kissed them (oh yeah!). We toured the ranch, took in the sites, cleaned up with at least 500 sani-wipes....and headed back to the zoo I call home!

Enjoy the pics -- it was a really fun adventure!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Birthday Week.

This week will be full of details as we prepare for Lily's birthday. The birthday fairy dropped off this letter tonight, as well as a few gifts for next weekend. She is really on it!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In a new place

(Buck and kids starting their coin collection)

Aren't we always in a new place? Life doesn't stand still for any of us. Yes, my family is literally in a new place, but no matter the address, everyday seems to bring something new, something to figure out. I am reminding myself to be patient in all this newness. Familiarity and routine will come in time. So will friends and favorite restaurants and a hairdresser I can trust. All in time.

In addition to our new address - that I still have to look up sometimes to remember - the kids bring something new to our world everyday. Lily learning to swim. Ben leaning to talk. And some of my other new favorites:
- kids fighting over toys or chasing the dog in circles around the house
- Lily teaching Ben how to "float" in the bath tub (you have to see it to believe it)
- Ben brushing his teeth and reading "boos" (books)
- Lily coloring masterpieces and trying yoga poses
- Ben rubbing noses with me
- Lily baking muffins
- Ben digging by "bas" in the backyard (bugs)

I never know what I am going to get. Every day is new. And I love it - when I remember to stop and love it!

Monday, July 4, 2011


Oh, the pressure of writing my first post from our new home in North Carolina....especially tonight, after a long weekend (heck, a long three months!). I come to the computer tonight only because this fourth of July weekend was full of so many moments that I just have to capture somehow and this is the best place I know to record the history of my family.

I owe you tales of our chaotic move and first days of school and work....but I might never to get to that! Instead, I bring you a few pics (more than a few) from our recent celebrations - Fathers Day at the ballpark, grandma's recent visit, a trip to the kid's museum, backyard fun and fourth of July in Blowing Rock.

As the fireworks go off outside the window, I am thankful that this weekend was full of perfect summer moments for the kids -- pink lemonade, homemade blueberry icing, rolling down hills, running across the lawn with fairy wings and magic wands, itchy skin from playing in the grass. All the good stuff. As for mom and dad, we got a few quiet sips of coffee on Grandma's back porch. What more can I ask for?

Happy birthday America

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