105 In Life

Getting Settled & Summer Explained

Ahhhh summer is officially in full swing, and I’ve been waiting for it for a LONG time!


First, you folks had a lot of questions in the last post… most were about Erika and her accessories, make up, hair, shirt, etc. I think her bright colored bracelets were from World Market, but the rest she talks about in this post on her blog. The little gold necklace, she doesn’t talk about it in that post but she has talked about it before and maybe she can provide details in the comment section. You also asked about my lemon painting by Dianne, she’s a blog reader turned friend and painted it for me a couple years ago. She can be emailed at diannedballard{at}gmail.com. And last but certainly not least, Cousin, who’s name is Erin, works at Amber Waves Salon in downtown Naperville, and she would be happy to assist  any of you in the area looking for a new stylist and she’s really GOOD!

And speaking of hair… this is all I’ve got  for you of my recent cut because it’s been in a pony pretty much since I got it cut. I don’t have ‘befores’, just think of Crystal Gayle. After it was cut, doused with elixirs and serums, dried and “fixed” with a hair dryer, paddle brush and round brush…


I fear it will never look the same. The next morning, after going to bed with it wet because hair dryer was left at the rental house weeks before…


So, I really don’t know what to think about this craziness, with each little blond-headed child I birth my hair gets wavier. Then I took a lot of length off and it’s even more so. I have days of embracing it and days of cursing it. This summer it will be pulled back and my head will likely be covered with a hat so I have a few months to figure out what to do with it and how to manage it.

The children are going nuts right now… running, screaming, playing, laughing, and maybe trying to kill each other, it’s hard to say. Undoubtedly someone will wind up hurt with tears, mark my words. I may have to pull out my “mean mommy” voice. When I have to get serious with Rover he looks at me and asks, “Why you be mean to me, Mommy?” Our rental house is fully furnished, which is a huge blessing but it’s also full of breakable treasures, most I’ve boxed up but it seems each day more appear. The girls are wrestling on our bed right now and Rover is running around with a lighthouse in his hands. If we don’t get our deposit back, I’m taking it out of their savings! So, in addition to lots of breakables we have approximately 128 faux tropical plants, I’ve designated a graveyard for them in the family room next to the tv console, but like the breakables, they keep surfacing or maybe they’re reproducing, it’s hard to be for sure. Ok, Paige and Rover are both crying… I knew this is how it would end. My children are wild.


Today we ventured out to the city “Community Center” and pool. The pool itself is great and so far no one really goes there but us, it’s kinda nice that way. Thankfully it’s not at all crowded but I still feel like I need man on man defense. Morgan likes the deep end with slide and diving board, Paige likes the shallow end and Rover likes the kiddie pool. Rover is a complete maniac. He likes to jump into the baby pool. It’s only 1 foot deep and he screams “blast off” from the side as he jumps in. I told him half a million times to step in, and then it happened, he did a “blast off” and fell backwards, scratching his back on the rough concrete side. This occurred only minutes after he was walking towards the big pool, with me following behind, when he was about 3 steps from the pool when he decided to look back at his wet footprints on the ground behind him and the rover walked {while looking backwards over his shoulder} straight into the pool, tumbled down the steps and received a big goose egg on his noggin. I went over general pool rules with the kids about eating, running, screaming, etc. but I forgot to say, “If you’re walking towards the pool don’t look backwards over your shoulder to see your tracks!” Post-swim we decided to become members, hopefully we won’t come home with injuries after each visit. Have I mentioned there will be no “mother’s morning out” or television this summer?  The girls at the community center desk were so very nice and decided that the kids could each have their own membership card. You would have thought Rover was getting his driver’s license, shirtless, nonetheless. I don’t know how well you can see but he is cheesing it up big time!


So, as you can see we have safely arrived in Orange Beach for the summer. If you read this blog and can actually follow me through an entire post, you may receive a prize, or you may not. The kids and I got here last Friday, and it took me all of 5 days to pack and load the car, and I made what I hope was my last trip alone with three kids.  There was also a fair share of delegating to do before I rolled out of town. I probably haven’t been very clear but the kids and I have made several trips back and forth with lots of stops in between. Anyway…. moving to the beach for the summer sounds kind of posh, and while we are fully aware that it’s a really awesome place to live, this summer will be more precious than anything. You see Justin has been away from our family for nine months working for the National Park Service in relation to the Gulf Coast oil spill. I have been alone, holding down the fort solo. God has been so gracious to me and provided me enough strength to make it through each day alone. I have missed my husband fiercely and the kids have missed their daddy. Remember way back when we went to McBeach early last fall, that week was one of his first weeks to be away from us. He was in Mobile for the first four months and then for the last five months he has been working in Gulf Shores.  He has been able to be home on Saturday & Sunday and for that I am so very grateful. Right around the same time he left, I started Honey Bee Tees which has been such a blessing to keep my mind busy and my wheels constantly turning and I am so thankful it is run from our dining room and living room! My mom was able to come down twice during his absence and I’m pretty sure both times I was wishing she’d move in with me.  There isn’t a regular babysitter in our home {but thankfully for my sanity an occasional one!} , there were no early morning walks or after dinner runs to Target, no tag teaming, pretty much if I went somewhere the kids were with me or if it had to be done, I did it, including mowing the grass with a self-propelled lawn mower that I didn’t know how to engage the self-propelled mechanism {I was sore for days}. I remember  realizing one night I forgot to pick up cough medicine at the pharmacy, I had just finished the whole bedtime routine when I had to load them into the car in their pajamas to go pick up cough syrup. I’m sure some of you have a 2, 4, & 6-year-old and know the energy that these little people have, not to mention, they have a fair share of bickering and whining too. I have tried my best to be the best mom I can be and enjoy all the time we’ve had together, and while I’m thankful for the time, I would be amiss to not admit that it has also been completely exhausting, revealing my selfishness, pointing me always to the cross and my deep need of a Savior, which is thankfully what I can look back on and attest to the faithfulness and sovereignty of God, the author and orchestrator of all things… some things we prefer, others we don’t, but all are worked together for good. And as for the blog, it has certainly taken the back burner.Thanks for hanging in there with me these last 9 months without even knowing that you were hanging in there with me. It was without a doubt the hardest nine months of my life. I have a new appreciation for military families, single mothers, and widows. Distance does not make the heart grow fond… distance is hard. There are so many complexities and challenges that surround living in a different city, heck, almost a completely different life than your husband that I wish it on no one. Had we known in the beginning that his work would have taken him away this long, without a doubt we would have joined him from the beginning. So, this summer is precious because our family is together again and we are not taking one second of our time together for granted.


{Rover has taken to the Salt Life and to eating breakfast in the nude}

Justin has actually been in New Orleans this week so this coming week will kick off our official summer reunited… lots of celebrating is going on here and the views make it even more exciting.


I’ve greatly missed preparing meals for my family, two of the three tend towards pickiness so I’ve been preparing the same meals over and over again and I look so forward to getting back in the kitchen and whipping up dinner. I brought about 25 issues of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country and I can’t wait to get back into the kitchen again and to hopefully share more recipes with y’all.

As for this weekend, we plan to park ourselves on Robinson Island and chill Raiger style.


The Starcraft has been getting us from A to B {with minimal stares}. This is our friend Brannon, he assured me he had a decent life insurance policy before he got in…


but … she has been upgraded! Boys and their toys… but this girl is not complaining! We are welcoming a Boston Whaler to our family today, she’s about 20 years old but “like new” to us with room for more than 2 adults. Boston Whalers are reportedly unsinkable which we can’t say the same for the Starcraft, although when the Starcraft spent some time under water, she was baled out and still purrs like a kitty. Justin tells me the best thing about the new boat is that we still get to keep the Starcraft. She may even become mine. I drove her home last weekend and forgot to ask Justin for proper instructions on how to stop… there may or may not have been a crash landing! 🙂

Happy weekend and here’s to getting back into the swing of things!

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  • Tiffany
    June 3, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Boston Whalers are fabulous boats. The hulls are indestructible. It seems like all the old boats are made like that.My dad has a 1979 Continental (they don’t make them anymore), and it’s in such good shape that he simply put a new motor on it last year. I love that it’s “vintage” 🙂

  • Bridgette
    June 3, 2011 at 10:45 am

    bravo to you mommy for making it through the last 9 months. i am married with no children (yet) and i cannot imagine the strength, courage, and patience it would take to get through. i imagine the best part is knowing you are capable and that you are now on the other end. hats off. enjoy your weekend together. 🙂 hugs from minnesota.

  • Christina
    June 3, 2011 at 10:47 am

    My husband travels at least 3 weeks a month (luckily coming home on weekends) and I totally sympathize with you about missing your husband. We don’t have children yet, but the thought of having one without his help available most the time is almost terrifiying to you. You have my upmost respect to chase 3 kiddos around. Anyways, I’m very glad that you’ll be able to spend some good time together as a family (and hopefully some special one-on-one time with you husband). Enjoy and God bless!

  • Sherry
    June 3, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Enjoy every second of your summer…it’s always great to have everyone under one roof and the older the kids get, the less it happens. Hurray for summer!!

  • Susan
    June 3, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I have come to realize that you are one awesome wife and mother! What a team you and Justin make. I really hope you enjoy this summer and being reunited. God bless you and your family.

  • Melanie
    June 3, 2011 at 11:05 am

    My hubby just turned down a fabulous job because of all of the travel involved and I knew I could never make it! Congrats on your reuniting. You guys are going to have to make up for lost time and whoop it up all summer long!

  • Valerie
    June 3, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Oh my. My hat’s off to you! My husband and I were apart while he was in police academy and we had no kiddos. It was terrible! I can’t imagine coping with kids as well. I’m not a crier, but I didn’t even make it the whole six months. I started falling apart when he had to leave and ended up moving to be with him early for my own sanity.

    Enjoy your summer. It looks lovely!

  • Anne W
    June 3, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Darby, this was such a timely post for me to read, as my husband just left for an 8 day mission trip this morning, leaving me alone with our two kids. I’ve been thinking of the next 8 days like a black hole in my life :), clearly, I need a little perspective! Bless you for making it through what I am sure were a long and exhausting nine months! I hope yall have a wonderful summer together!!

  • JulieJ
    June 3, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Glad to see a new post, Darby. What a lovely summer yall are going to have! I can usually only manage a trip to the beach once or twice a year (even though I only live 5 hours away), so I’m planning to live vicariously through you 😀 Happy weekend!

    PS—Your hair looks so pretty since your haircut!

  • natalie @ our old southern house
    June 3, 2011 at 11:15 am

    oh darby, i completely understand. cooper has been in birmingham (a 3hr drive) for 8 months…and still has nine more to go. and you’re so right, distance does NOT make the heart grow fonder…it is so hard, we miss him so much. and then we try to CRAM everything in to the two days he’s home each week. this summer we’re spending more time here in his little tiny, tiny apartment (we’re here now actually)just so we can be together so i totally get why y’all moved there–even if just for the summer–to be w/justin. thinking about all y’all and so happy you’re getting to be together again.

  • Megan
    June 3, 2011 at 11:18 am

    You are a trooper! Glad to hear that everyone is together again!

  • Rachel
    June 3, 2011 at 11:21 am


    I’ve been a faithful blog reader of yours for a very long time. I rarely comment because I’m usually chasing my 3 little ones but I wish I would comment more often. You have been an inspiration to me in many ways… as a mom, wife, and follower of Christ. With all that said I had no idea you were doing the weekdays without your other half the past 9 months. I cannot imagine doing it. My hubs gets home at 6 each evening and I have usually called him two times by 5:30! I hope you have an amazing summer as a family making memories! Thanks for being so transparent!

  • Katherine @ Grass Stains
    June 3, 2011 at 11:23 am

    My husband traveled so much on business (Sunday through Thursday) the first three years of two of our sons’ lives, that they didn’t get excited when he came home because they didn’t recognize him. It hurt his feelings a lot in the first year or so for each of them. And the absence didn’t make the heart grow fonder … it just made me frustrated and upset! And I got so used to keeping a cleaner home when he was gone, that when he’d come home and “contribute” by leaving a cereal bowl on the counter or clothes on the floor, I’d get downright angry.

    I’m glad those days are past us now …

  • Julie
    June 3, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Darby-your post was really special to me. My husband works in college football and he will be working 120 hour weeks again very soon. We do not have children but are starting to think about it-your ability to manage all of it as well as you do and not to fault yourself if things don’t go perfectly is empowering and encouraging-thanks!

  • Juliet
    June 3, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Darby! You are a great example of a devoted mother! So thankful for reliance on the Lord and humility in parenting. I’m storing these moments away to call on in my future adventures as a mommy. My husband (used to) travel a lot and it is so tough to be the single mom of a 5 year old dog let alone 3 children. Enjoy the blessing of being reunited with your husband for the summer!

  • Meg
    June 3, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Still new to the blog, and I enjoy getting “to know” your family. Orange Beach is amazing. Please eat at Bahama Bob’s in GS. Get the steamed red royal shrimp and their salad with house dressing. Mmm.

    Thank you for telling about your crazy son at the pool. This is the first year with a crazy boy at my pool trips and I thought I was the only one. {Last year it was bouncy seat in the shade while I floated the summer away.}

  • Dianne
    June 3, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Hi Darby, I had no idea you were alone almost all winter. I know from past experience how hard that is. My husband traveled with his job the whole time my kids were little. Justin’s work sounds so interesting. I would love for him to do a post and tell us first hand what is going on with the oil spill clean up etc… I am so glad the summer will reunite your sweet family. Enjoy every second!

    Thank you so much for listing my email address. I would love to paint for any of your readers. I work in all price ranges and sizes. Again it is http://www.diannedballard@gmail.com please contact me if interested. I am very honored that you would hang my work in your beautiful home.

    Love you! I look forward to enjoying your family this summer through your eyes. xoxo Dianne

  • Dianne
    June 3, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Forgot to mention….I LOVE YOUR HAIR!

  • Jenn
    June 3, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Darby, I’m so happy y’all are settled and kicking off the summer TOGETHER!!! Hope it is FABULOUS!!!

  • Laura
    June 3, 2011 at 11:50 am

    So glad you gave us an “after” shot of your hair since you left us hanging with the last post – it looks great! If it makes you feel any better, you’ve come across as perfectly sane during the past 9 months which is amazing considering you’ve been alone with 3 little ones. Enjoy your summer! So glad we all get to go along for the ride.

  • Karena
    June 3, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Darby this is such a poignant post , thank you for sharing, I have been there! I do love your hair!

    Come and enter my amazing $250 Giveaway from Tracy Porter!

    Art by Karena

  • Dianne
    June 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I am obviously better at painting/art than I am tech savvy. 🙂
    If you would like to contact me there is no prefix of www etc before my email address..it is simply diannedballard@gmail.com ( as Darby stated).
    Thank you and I promise I will not comment again on this post. 😉
    xoxo Dianne

  • catherine
    June 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Welcome back, great to hear all is well!

    I can’t imagine holding down the fort like that with three little ones for 9 months!! You deserve a Super Mama cape Darby!

    Enjoy every moment of your summer!

  • Britt@knewlywifed
    June 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Darby! I stumbled upon your blog some time ago, and have never posted (but always meant to!). Your children are precious, and I admire you for being such a devoted mom. I’ve got a 7 month old, and I think it’s tough sometimes?!?! Yea right, you’ve got THREE little ones at home. You go girl!

  • Ginger
    June 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Darby–I’m a regular reader and grew up in The Circle City with the McMullan girls, who now, I believe, you are related to by marriage.

    Anyway, may I say from personal experience that times of husband-less wilderness wandering make my sense of humor sharper–and yours too!! I laughed out loud at several times during your post.

    Regarding the Rover’s pool adventures, there’s a great line from an old Ferrol Sams novel that says “He’s a good boy. I just can’t think of enough things to tell him not to do.” My cherub faced adventure boy is now twelve, and reading about the Rover brings it all back. With great pleasure and many thanks!!!

  • Christina
    June 3, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Wow, you are amazing. We have two children and one is a very difficult (reflux & mspi) baby. My husband came home on his lunch break most days for the first few months to help me and give me a break. I don’t know how I would manage 9 months of single parenting. I’ve always wondered how you do so much … how you managed renovations with kids … now I know, you’re super woman. You have to be!
    I’m excited for your family’s fun summer together!!!

  • Jennie-Marie
    June 3, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    AHHH I just heard Carlton’s heart skip a beat when you said yall upgraded to a whaler boat. ours is a 1976 and absolutely perfect in every way, every old boat way. We love it, tell Justin Carlton has lots of whaler boat info. if he needs it, especially great places to get restoration stuff. Can’t wait to see it. You handled yourself beautifully while you were single parenting, even though I know at times it was really hard. I hope you have a wonderful week!!! Love hearing about your adventures at the beach. xoxo jm

  • Mackie
    June 3, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Wow – you inspire me! My mama was a military mom and took care of us a for multiple deployments when we were little and it all makes sense why she is basically a wonder woman now and can do pretty much anything. Have a wonderful summer!

  • mary katharine
    June 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Enjoy the summer!!! Being a military wife, I know all too well how precious togetherness is. Blessings to you all. 🙂

  • Emilie
    June 3, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Darby, I love, LOVE, love your blog! I read it all the time but am not a big commenter. You are such an encouragement to me even though you are a total stranger and also crack me up. I’m so excited for your summer at the beach. And so fun to have Justin back! 3 kids for that long is impressive! HAVE FUN!!!

  • Jessica
    June 3, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Way to go Darby! I bet it was a relief writing all that and knowing as you were going through it (the 9 months) that you couldn’t write about it for fear of tears, you just had to be strong! Last summer, with a newborn, BP also took my husband away for 2 months due to the oil spill. That was hard with only 1 baby that was a newborn (eat, sleep, poop, coo) so I can’t imagine how you have done it for 9 months with 3 kiddos, but us mamas, we just do it because who else is going to? You are a fearless mother who is capable of it all!

    We had a 13′ Dauntless Whaler that we sold a couple years ago. We are BIG whaler fans! Best boats ever. Now we have a 19′ TwinVee and it is also awesome and such a smooth ride.

    Where is John Martin’s whale water bottle from, it is soooo cute!

    Your children and husband are so lucky they have such a loving mother. So proud of you sucking it up the past 9 months and being selfless.

  • amber
    June 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    My husband just started a second job to cover big medical expenses we have for our son. He will be gone pretty much all day, every day, and I will be home with two kiddos all summer. I admire how well you’ve handled the last 9 months, and how you always come here and keep it all in perspective and give God all the glory! So thankful that He gives us mamas strength and energy when we need it! Glad you all are back together!
    And that’s funny that you said your hair has gotten wavier after each child. My hair used to be super straight and is now very wavy after kiddos – but I had never connected the two.

  • Jessica
    June 3, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    So happy for you that you get to be there with Justin all summer!! JM eating his cereal in the nude is hilarious….does he know how funny he is?! Sounds like you have a lot more accidents waiting to happen at the pool…but hopefully lots of fun times too. I’m excited about more posts – especially recipes!! I’ve been too busy to cook much lately and haven’t been feeling very inspired when I do have the time… I need some new recipes to try. Have a great weekend!! 🙂

  • cat moore
    June 3, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    This looks so much fun! So jealous!!! I know y’all will have a wonderful summer and I LOVE your hair kinky. wear it like that all summer! it’s beautiful! 🙂

  • Christine
    June 3, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Darby, we are new to AL and we have one feisty firecracker of a toddler. My hubby works long hours and lots of weekends now so we miss him tons. Before kids, he traveled 50% or more out of state and it was awful for me. I’m glad he comes home nightly now, but days without friends and a support network are hard! You deserve a great summer! Can’t wait to read all about your adventures!!!

  • Melissa
    June 3, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I know for safety you couldn’t have said you were living alone with the kids– but I wish we could all have been there with words of encouragement for you. It is so incredibly hard to be a patient and mindful parent when you are the ONLY parent around– hats off to military families, single parents, and anyone who has to do this regularly. I’m so glad you’ll all be together for the summer! Have a great time– I know you will!

  • Bette
    June 3, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Glad to see you survived your winter, and will have a summer with your family together. And thanks for recognizing military families. My daughter is a newlywed (into the Army) and her husband has been in 12 different countries since last summer. They’ve spent less than half their almost first year married, together. As a mom myself,(with now 3 grown children,spaced about like yours), I remember how long some DAYS were waiting for “daddy to come home from work”, let alone having to wait all week, like you. God Bless You and have a FABULOUS summer!!

  • Margaret
    June 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    SO happy for you guys to be together! On my worst day with just one (almost always naked) two year old boy and one on the way, we spend the last half of our day praying that daddy gets home even ten minutes earlier than usual…I couldn’t imagine going nine months running this little house by myself. You should definitely get a super mom award, complete with a pedicure and an hour alone at target 🙂

  • Elisa
    June 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Wow- I am sorry to hear about the past 9 months but I am sure you will always look back and know you were stronger than you probably thought. That said, with 4 kids I know I complain every biz trip my husband makes- and mine are older than yours (13 down to 2). It’s just a different kind of busy-ness, usually two kids have to be at different places at the same time and what not.

    I can’t wait to follow your summer at the beach- a tad jealous of that part but you certainly deserve it!!

  • Molly Dorman Flynn
    June 3, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Just LOVE reading your blog…you are so funny! And you are a rockstar…so excited for your family to all be together at the beach for the summer! Your kids are adorable and I just love reading about all the going ons with y’all! I feel like you keep it very real and that is definitely encouraging to everyone!!! Enjoy your summer!

  • Reese
    June 3, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I have four kids and a husband who travels a lot and reading your feelings on taking over ALL the household duties brought tears to my eyes:) I think I have spent the hours of 4pm until 9pm in the car chauffering my kids to all their activities for the past several weeks……..and I would give a lot for a little alone time with no whining or bickering. Nice to know I’m not alone! I just have to remember that my kids are far more important than projects and a clean house. Good luck with your summer, love reading your blog!

  • Heather
    June 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Oh Darby! Thank you for sharing your heart. I can’t help but be excited for your family and all the adventures this summer will hold for all of you.

  • Missy
    June 3, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I’m so glad to hear your family is back together. My husband is currently deployed and ps we are in germany. When it’s all said and done he will have been gone 1 year of our 2.5 here. You are right it is hard, but you made it and what a great accomplishment that is! Love your blog. Keep up the fantastic work. You family is beautiful!

  • Blake
    June 3, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Hi Darby! My husband’s work over the years has often taken him away throughout the work week. And I am a stay at home mother of three aged 7,4 and 6 months. It is very difficult work and my husband and I were just talking last night about the kind of woman it takes to do this. She is strong, courageous, humble, able to make mistakes and get over them quickly and has a lot of faith in the Lord! Sounds like you, right 🙂 Best wishes to your family for a fabulous summer and keep up the hard work! You do a great job as it shows in your blog.

  • allison
    June 3, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Bless your heart, Darby! So much of what you write I can relate to. I hope you and your adorable family have a fantastic summer…you deserve it:)

    PS…I gave a Honey Bee Happy Camper tee at a recent baby shower and the very outdoorsy couple loved, loved, loved it!


  • Brannon
    June 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    My husband had to do work in Birmingham last year for 3 months. I only made it 3 weeks before I packed up a 1 year old and 2 year old and drove 7 hours to join him. I’m very impressed, have a great summer!!!

  • kristen
    June 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    So glad the Sticklers are reunited! I have thought of y’all often. Blessings to you all my friend:) Have a wonderful summer!!!

  • angie
    June 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Yay!!! So glad you made it there! Have a great summer! I am so glad you will be together.

  • Katie Snow
    June 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I have a 2, 4, & 6 year old as well – 2 girls and a boy and it IS exhausting. I feel your pain and I also cherish “togetherness,” “teamwork, and help in any form I can get it! Here’s to aa great summer for you guys with wonderful memories and lots of “tgoether time!”

  • Lindsey
    June 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    YAY!! So glad you all have gotten settled in. I thought of you this morning on my way to work. I heard they found the first artifact off the boat on Ft. Morgan road a brass bell and that it would be at LuLu’s for a week. I hope you enjoy your precious time with your family, and Salt Life is amazing!!!

  • Laura
    June 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Such a sweet, honest post! So glad you get to enjoy this summer together – should be quite an adventure!

  • Clover@farrbetterlife
    June 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Wow 9 months with out Dad around is tough stuff. My husband is gone alot but only for a few nights at a time. I finally got myself a babysitter once every two weeks and it was a life saver. But it sure doesnt save the right before bedtime jaunts to the store. We had one of those recently for Benydryl ugh. It is amazing how those most stressful situations tend to turn out not as bad as we think. God’s little moments of grace on us crazed mommy’s I hope you have a fabulous summer. It looks amazing.

  • j
    June 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    LOVE your haircut!!!!!

  • Mary
    June 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Darby, your posts motivate me as a mom, friend, husband, daughter, and follower of the Lord. Thank you!

  • Kelly S
    June 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Darby- I just love you. You are such an inspiration to mothers and people. I am a mom to a 6 month old and it is soo hard. I can’t even imagine a 2, 4, and 6 year old without your husband. You are tough. I have been reading your blog for about a year and really enjoy your candidness and joy for life. Enjoy your precious summer and thanks for sharing your heart and lives with us blog followers.

  • Lee Ann
    June 3, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    SO glad ya’ll can be together again! I have a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old and I can hardly survive one WEEK without my husband! I usually call in back-up. I am totally empathizing with you as I read that post and praying ya’ll have an amazing summer together.

  • Meagan
    June 3, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I’m so happy your beautiful family will be reunited for the summer. I can’t imagine being on my own for that long with 3 little kiddos! I’m just impressed you stayed sane. 🙂

    I’m looking forward to reading all about your summer at the beach!

    P.S. I showed my 2-yr-old boy the picture of your little Rover eating breakfast with all of his toys and my Andrew said “I want to play with it!”. Clearly, he knows how to pick his breakfast mates.

  • rebekah
    June 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Darby, Props to you for holding down the fort for 9 months. It is HARD!!! {and I have never done it for more than a week at a time.} SOOO thankful that you all get to be together all summer and kind of a blessing to be AWAY together for the summer so that y’all can all JUST be together. May this time be filled with precious memories for you as a family and grow you closer to the Lord and each other. Love, rebekah

  • Candace
    June 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    I am a client of your sister’s and I love your blog. So much! My kids are 3,2, and 7 months, and I just sat here and cried through your whole post. They are all down for naps right now and I have to be honest, I feel like a failure as a mom because I am cleaning up messes so much that I don’t have any time to enjoy making the messes with them. I almost didn’t read your post because I thought, “I can’t read something from a perfect life that makes me feel like a terrible mom.” But I did read it and it was incredibly encouraging. I am so grateful for the verse in Isaiah 40:11 that says, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
    (B) he will gather the lambs in his arms;
    (C) he will carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead those that are with young.”

  • Meaghan
    June 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I love your blog, but don’t think I’ve ever commented…I can totally related to a huge sense of awe for military moms, single parents, widows, etc. b/c my husband worked in MS for 5 months while we tried to sell our house in AL and move with him. It was so hard with a 2-yr-old and a newborn! Thankfully, we are all together again, and yes, the time is precious! Enjoy your summer in paradise! 🙂

  • Chandra
    June 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Enjoy your summer and your family being reunited. Although it has been hard these 9 months we know that God never gives us more than we can bear and I’m sure you have been drawn closer to him during this time.

  • Stella
    June 3, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    AMEN, sister! “…revealing my selfishness, pointing me always to the cross and my deep need of a Savior, which is thankfully what I can look back on and attest to the faithfulness and sovereignty of God, the author and orchestrator of all things… some things we prefer, others we don’t, but all are worked together for good.” Praising God that He continues to sanctify us and has blessed you with a summer with your husband.

  • cassie
    June 3, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    9 months!! wow!! we live in CO and one month ago my husband left to start his new job in KY. Our two littles and I stayed behind and I can relate to everything you have said about being a one man mommy and daddy show! we haven’t seen dad at all and he flies back to get us on Monday. we are soooooo excited!! hope your summer is so so special!

  • abby
    June 3, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    loved your post!! i have 3 very small children and my husband is away working most of the time … and it’s nice to know that i’m not the only person who fixes the same thing most evenings for dinner. 🙂

  • Kathleen
    June 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    This post really made me laugh so hard – all the pool hoopla and your son really cracks me up. I am glad you have a sense of humor to get you through mothering those precious things! We live in DC and have ordered several T-shirts and people comment every time my little 3 year old wears them – they are quite a hit! Enjoy your summer!

  • Emily M.
    June 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    My heart swelled so when I saw that hammed picture of your little Rover on his pool i.d. card I thought it was going to burst! He is the cutest little baby boy I’ve ever seen! I’m so happy for you and your kids that you will be with your husband for the summer. I’m sure he’s missed all of you terribly! Have a great time!

  • Tiffany from HOLIDAY
    June 3, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Oddly, I had a sense that things were different. I knew you had started HBTs and that kept you super busy but I sensed something else. It’s amazing that you dind’t vent once during those nine months on here. You are an awesome mom! I hope y’all thoroughly enjoy your summer – what a treat to be at the beach, ALL of you! Looking forward to your summer posts! xo

  • Kate
    June 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm


    Thanks for sharing this post. I get excited everytime I see your blog is updated but have never commented before. My husband is in the Army and he has done two tours in Iraq (one for a year, one for 15 months). Luckily we didn’t have kids then, but last summer we spent 2 months apart and had a 14 month old and now I am due with our second baby on Monday and we will be spending 6 weeks apart a week later. It is certainly not an easy life, but single parenting (and marriage-ing) makes your relationship stronger and definitely disallows you from taking hubby for granted. With that said, KUDOS for doing it with 3 beautiful little ones and have a wonderful, wonderful summer all together. Thanks for sharing your family with us faithful blog readers!


  • Meredith
    June 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    We just moved from Raleigh, NC to Georgia (last week). My husband spent the last 4 months commuting to and from Raleigh and it was hard, hard, hard! We have a 4 year old and an 8 month old. I am also certainly glad to be back as a family now too. I hope you guys have a great summer and I can’t wait to read more about it.

  • meaghan
    June 3, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    darby!!! i can’t believe you’ve been on your own so long! i can’t believe you didn’t tell “us” hahaha. really though 🙁 my husband is only gone 16 days and i’m wondering how i’m going to make it. and i’m spending way too much 🙂 keeping sane lol. enjoy your gorgeous summer together!! xoxo

  • kate
    June 3, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Darby, you are one amazing mama! Hats off to you for making it through these last 9 months solo parenting! You continue to inspire me! Enjoy your summer reunited as family and at the beach, no less!

  • Stacy
    June 3, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    On a completely unserious note…robinson’s island!!! Woo hoo! We’re there most weekends. Such fabulous people watching! My kids (4&6) will last almost all day on the island, but if we head home they want to switch btw beach and pool constantly. Ps-cosmos is the best!

  • Jessica
    June 3, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Holy Moly, girl, your hair is wavy! I would never have known, though, you do a fabulous job straightening it! 🙂

    And props to you for being single mommy for the last 9 months! My hubby travels every week for work but is only gone 3-4 days at a time. I am in total awe of parents who do it 24/7 for months at a time. Or for those single parents. Wow, my hats are off to them. So glad to hear that your family is reunited again!

    Enjoy the start of a wonderful summer!

  • jessica brown
    June 3, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I can feel your absent husband pain. My husband just finished his first year of nurse anesthesia school and while he was in and out of our house physically he was not here emotionally or mentally. I have been unable to describe to anyone the type of stress that accompanies single handed care of three very busy kids (in a life that was organized to be run by two parents) . But we survived and I’m doing my best to forget those nine months and just enjoy the summer break and being a family again.

    Hope the same for you!

  • chesley
    June 3, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    we are coming to orange beach next saturday!! we’ll have a 2,3,4 and 6 year old in tow if you need any playmates :)!!

  • Hilary
    June 4, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Great job mama! My husband was away last summer for six months, and I thought I had it rough with our 18 month old by myself….I can’t even imagine! It looks like you did an amazing job….your kids are precious and seem very happy:) I look forward to reading more about your summer!

  • Sarah
    June 4, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I’m so glad you’re reunited! My husband is a physician and spends a lot 30+ hour shifts in the hospital which means a few times a week the kids and I are on our own and I thought that was exhausting…9 months of bath times, bedtimes and everything else without help would be quite the task! I hope you have a great summer together.

  • Meghan
    June 4, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Well, you sure have handled the stress with quite a bit of class and humor. I know this post was serious, but it was HILARIOUS! Omg the “Mommy why you be so mean?” comment was awesome, the Rover falling into the pool story had me throwing my head back in laughter…. The faux plant comments…too freaking funny. Thanks for some well needed laughs. Well done, Darby, well done.

  • Andrea
    June 4, 2011 at 8:07 am

    I’m going to go all Southern and say bless your heart!! I know your feelings very well as those were mine last year. My husband wasn’t gone as long as yours but it was intensified with me being enormously pregnant. I was so relieved when I (and our other two kids) joined him in another state. We closed on our house here on a Friday and had our baby a few days later on Tuesday. I truly did learn to lean on God for my daily strength, and held on to the verse “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about things that may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matt 6:34 MSG) Let’s just say I’m glad its behind me now!
    I love your hair! Mine if board straight so I’ve always wanted some waves.

  • Teresa
    June 4, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Oh Wow Darby,

    I had no idea that Justin was away full time this past year. I had gleaned from the blog that he was doing a lot of work away from home, but you deserve a medal. I think it is WONDERFUL that you guys are spending the summer together. {Posh or not! I think it sounds not only great but well earned.}

    I spent 15 months away from my husband due to deployment and we didn’t have little ones yet, I can’t imagine the challenge of juggling it all. Lots of love, understanding and gratitude to you and yours!

  • Nancy
    June 4, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I just began reading your blog last fall… when my husband began working three hours away at a new job. I can relate to your experience completely. Everything you said would be exactly how I would describe it. Kids go everywhere, no early morning walking, same easy meals, everything. We live in a great neighborhood with an excellent school that my oldest loves. He was finally in the same class with his best friend. My 4 year old was going to our favorite preschool with his best friend. And the baby didn’t really care too much or express opinions about being anywhere other than with Mama. So, we decided to ride it our through the school year here while my husband came home on the weekends. It was a big adjustment after having him here in the morning, coming home for lunch half the time, and brushing the teeth every night. God was merciful and we have survived. The first day of his new job, my 2nd grader came down with strep throat for the first time ever. He’s normally a trooper for the doctor but NOT for strep tests. Also, there was the whole health insurance issue since it was his very first day and he was in a different city (Indy) and I had no idea what his phone number was and he didn’t have a computer there yet. But God’s grace was sufficient that day and indeed through the entire year (and always). I’ve learned a lot about what I’m capable of with God’s help. It is so amazing to find out that someone right under my nose has been doing the same thing with the same number of kids for the same time period. Again, everything you say is exactly what I would say – I have a whole new respect for single moms, military wives, and widows. I say it all the time. It’s humbling that they live that way all the time. It has really caused me to want to reach out to them once we are all together again and I’m no longer one :).
    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and I think your hair looks great wavy.

  • The Mom
    June 4, 2011 at 11:53 am

    So thankful that God has provided this summer for you. We grew up at the beach in the summers without television or babysitters either and we were none the worse for wear (although our mother probably wouldn’t say the same). We spent lots of time fishing, crabbing, and swimming in addition to reading, reading, reading. Run to the nearest library and get everybody a card, as well. Pretty soon your boy will have a wallet full. Find out if the library has storytime and put it on the weekly calendar. Give them each a recyclable bag and let them tote their own books in and out. The rule was, if you can’t carry the bag, you cannot check out all those books. I am praying that you will embrace this time away from your other home, and will find that new treasures await you at every turn! Blessings!

  • Suzanne Perez
    June 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    So happy that you will be able to spend the summer as a family again! Can not wait to hear of all the adventures! You have done an amazing job these past months and I admire you for it.

    Oh and I totally have the same hair…lots of it and waves that I blow dry straight every day! I definitely have a love-hate relationship with it…and I am so badly needing a cut…just got to do it!

  • kayce hughes
    June 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    So glad that you have a great summer ahead. I remember how hard it was before I had built in baby sitters.

  • Amy
    June 4, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Can I say, as odd as it seems, that reading about the difficulty of having your husband away was an encouragement to me? My husband is an airline pilot and is home a handful of days a month. Our son is three and I have raised him as a single parent since he was born (no family support here either). I always wonder what is wrong with me that I can’t handle this better. When I read your words, it reminded me that indeed long distance marriage and single parenting are hard – it’s not just me. So very happy that your family has come to the end of this difficult time!

  • Jennifer K
    June 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I don’t know how you did it by yourself for 9 months! Have an awesome summer!

  • Emily
    June 5, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I love reading your blog and absolutely cannot believe that you have been raising those three adorable babes by yourself every week for the last nine months!! Unbelievable!! I cannot imagine doing that as my husband has been traveling a lot recently with his new job and I don’t like being a single parent only to our corgi!! Kudos to you and I hope y’all have a fantastic summer!! I would also like to thank Justin for all the work he has been doing down on the coast to keep our beaches beautiful!!

  • Rachel
    June 5, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Hi Darby,

    I’m a Brit living in Germany & was randomly directed to your blog by a Texan friend of mine I met whilst living in Austria last year. I had the most horrid ‘flu at the beginning of this year & your blog brightened my day 🙂 You have the most adorable children in the world & I would kill for hair like yours – what are you complaining about?! Seriously, your cooking/creative stuff has inspired me, Darby doll makes me laugh out loud, I hope you have a fabulous Summer with the whole family!

  • Kelley
    June 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Lord have mercy. Had you told your readers that you were going alone for the past nine months, I feel quite certain you’d have had a rotating door of random women coming through your door to help you.

    This post made me cry, mainly because I think most of the readers here realize your exhaustion and frustration and hopefully most of us have reinforcements, but you haven’t. I also know that rock-bottom feeling of knowing you need God more than ever, of wishing you acknowledged him as much when times are good, of knowing we’re human and turn to him when we’re weak and he’ll love us, no matter what.

    Well done, Mama. Enjoy the summer with your family. You all deserve it.

  • Carol
    June 5, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    I am so sorry for all that the last nine months have been. I just started reading about nine months ago and had no idea what was happening. What a brave woman you have been to face all of that. I pray that the Lord revitalizes your marriage and family this summer, because distance is so hard. I am so thankful that He is so faithful to provide what we need, when we need it, but it is sometimes hard to understand why He does it the way He does. I love reading your blog, and I am so glad that you get to get back to some sense of your own normalcy. Have a great summer – I look forward to seeing what your guys are up to!

  • Ruth Ann
    June 6, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Oh, Darby, I feel your pain! My husband has worked away during the week for the past 6 years. He travels a 2 hr. one-way commute every day. He is gone from home before 6 a.m. and arrives back at home about 6:30 p.m.-exhausted! He is a fishing guide on our beautiful Lake Cumberland during some weekend days, also. We have 4 kids, ages 16,12,10, and 9. The youngest has Down Syndrome. I used to think it was hard when they were little, but, I’ve come to realize I need to clone myself at this point in their lives. I have so many responsibilities and places to be I feel like I meet myself on the road. I am responsible for getting everyone ready for the day and out the door so I can get to my teaching job on time (7:20)! Then, after school the kids are involved in sports or practice daily. I find myself at cross country, track, basketball, football, birthday parties, church activities, and speech therapy. It seems like I’m always dropping one child off a little early and another a little late so I can pick another child up either early or late. My husband is not present to help taxi kids where they need to be. When they were smaller, I thought it was hard to drag them with me to the grocery and do 2 carts and a double stroller, but at least, I knew they were with me and I wasn’t worried about where or what time I should be dropping or picking up one of them. Now, I have one dying to start driving and it is a double edged sword. It would help me, but I would worry so much. My motto, while they were young was “If it don’t kill you, it will only make you stronger” and “This too shall pass”. The problem is it’s passing too quickly. Enjoy them now while the outside world isn’t demanding your time or attention! Soon enough they will begin to venture into school activities and sports and your world will have to encompass those demands. My grandmother was a very wise woman and said kids are on your toes while they are young, but on your heart when they are older. Love on them now when they will allow you and realize the Lord has made you strong for a reason.

  • Amanda
    June 6, 2011 at 8:10 am

    I DO NOT know how you have done it. I only have 2 girls (ages 4 and 18 months) and it is all that I can do to keep up with them. My husband is a farmer so he works really long hours right now but my Mom, Sister and In-laws live less than 1 mile away. I rely on them way too much. You are my hero. End of story. Teach me your ways. 🙂

  • Nics Cahill
    June 6, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I pray God will be smiling on you guys all summer. Nx

  • Lindsay
    June 6, 2011 at 9:49 am

    JM and Cohen need to play together. that footprint story is exactly something he would do!! I’m glad your kids are nuts too cause as much as i try with all my “calm downs” and “quiet voice” and “be patients”… life is still loud and crazy.

    Proud of the amazing Mommy you are. 9 months… girl you are STRONG!

  • Reb
    June 6, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Hi! This isn’t really related to the post above (although I did enjoy it). But I came across this advertisement today on my reading time, and thought of you: https://decor8blog.com/2011/06/01/stripe-mania/
    Thought you would enjoy doing this with the fellow bloggers!
    Have a great summer!

  • Melanie
    June 6, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Darby — my hair has done the same exact thing. After every child, it has gotten wavier (is that a word)…after having straight hair my entire life, I am embracing it!! Anyway, just wanted to say that I LOVE reading your blog! Your stories of everyday life are so honest and refreshing. Thanks for sharing it!

  • Cherish @ Southern Soul Mates
    June 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Love the pictures! I can’t imagine how you have done it all over the past 9 months. It’s amazing how the Lord gives us strength to endure some things and sometimes it’s just enough to get us through one day. Then you look back in amazement at how He works. So happy your family is reunited 🙂 Have a blast this summer! xoxo

  • Kelly@Bungalow Blue
    June 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I think you totally rock the waves! Love the new cut!

  • Scarlett
    June 6, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Darby, you are such an inspiration to so many women, especially us mothers who have young children. I often think of those women who have lost their better half and have to rear their children alone. Once you have experienced the “aloneness” in caring for your children, you have so much appreciation for those who have to do it day in and day out. Nine months is a long time and it is good to know you knew to call on the One who could help get you through. Bless you.
    With that being said, ” Welcome to the Eastern Shore!” I hopre your family enjoys your stay here, we do have some of the most beautiful beaches. A super great “locals” favorite eat spot is Tin Top. Located in Bon Secour. Ask in local how to get there, they have the best food and the kids will even enjoy it. You should have plenty to do and be able to keep the kids entertained. Tell you husband that we do thank him, and you and the kids, for the sacrifice that has been made to help bring our coastal area back to what it once was. God bless!

  • Lindsay Nicholls
    June 7, 2011 at 9:21 am

    I am so jealous darby!!! What a great summer you will have.

  • Ali
    June 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Loved this post of yours! As far as the hair…my totally straight hair has done the same things…gone wavy with each of my 3 kids! So different from what I was use to…I struggle to style it and struggle to love it! Although I must say…your wavy hair looked terrific!

    Enjoy your time together as a family this summer! Living at the beach sounds dreamy and after 9 months you all are going to have a honeymoon of a summer…all 5 of you! 🙂

    My husband used to travel back when we just had 1 kiddo and it was rough on us! You are one tough momma to juggle 3 kids on your own! 🙂 So glad you get a summer of togetherness! Enjoy it!

    ~ Ali

  • shannon reppard
    June 8, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Darby! So glad that y’all are together this summer. I cannot imagine how difficult the last 9 months must have been for you (I flipped out because my hubs was home later than usual tonight and my tiny people were losing their minds!) . . . so grateful that Jesus has provided for you and lead you through this, and what a sweet thing that y’all will all be together for the summer! And, on another note: my two rascals are also fearless in the pool–these boys are so crazy! And, my hair has gotten wavier with each blonde child that I have had too . . . ha! relax and enjoy your family! xoxo

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    June 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm

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