Posts by jess lewis

by jess lewis

i’ve been staring at the computer screen so much lately. a lot of editing to be done on a very slow, very finicky computer. that spinning rainbow of doom constantly taunting me. to take a break from going cross-eyed (and the persistent temptation to toss the computer out the door) i bought some new plants and spent a couple of days outside playing in the dirt. it was just what i needed to help me refocus and re-energize. right now i am loving all of  these colors and the variety of greens are making me very happy. the trick will now be to keep them happy and thriving.  i don’t exactly have a green thumb, but i like to pretend that i do.

how about you? green thumb or no? if you have any gardening tips or secrets you’d like to share, i would love to hear them!


by jess lewis

i can’t remember the last time i or any one in this house was bored. when i hear someone say that they’re bored, i can’t really comprehend what they mean. the word just doesn’t exist in this house. it’s especially difficult to be bored in the summer. there is always something to pop, play, capture, explore, paint, create, imagine, learn, conquer, watch, read, grow, climb, dig, sculpt, build, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (this list could go on for much longer. i’ll spare you.). it may sound chaotic, but i promise it’s not. i am anti-chaotic, moreso in the summertime. we just like our days to be filled. and that does include some down time. a lot of it actually (especially when the temperatures spike). but, that down time never, ever includes boredom (most times it involves activities that can be done lying beneath a ceiling fan).

how are you defying boredom this summer?

by jess ‘grateful for redneck pools’ lewis

we’re trying to beat the heat any way we can around here. that includes splashing around in a lopsided pool whose water level barely grazes the top of my thighs (and i’m not tall by any means). a friend gave us this pool when they discovered it wasn’t cooperating with their lopsided yard. we didn’t really give it an option in our lumpy yard. there’s less schlepping of stuff to the pool, it’s deep enough the kids can swim (and not wear floaties) and they can jump, fly, splash and swim to their hearts content.

by jess lewis


every one has a crazy concert story. some have more than one (i fall into that camp for sure). but, the summer of 95 i experienced a crazy, magical concert whose memories i will forever hold dear.

matt and i, along with our friend tim pulled into chicago on july 9th with the high hopes of acquiring tickets to that night’s show. we knew even if we weren’t so lucky we would still have a great time, but getting in would be unforgettable. being in need of one ticket is difficult enough, but needing three? that was going to take a miracle.

we had other friends who were there as well, though most of them had tickets already. because we didn’t, we had work to do. early in the day we worked as a team, but it was fruitless work. eventually we gave it rest and parked ourselves near the entrance in the hopes of hearing someone call out that they had tickets. we sat there for some time. the sun felt good and i’m positive we got very relaxed in our spot. we were lucky the weather was so nice. within days the heat wave of 95 would swoop in and it would be sweltering (and dangerous). we sat there talking, people watching, and hatching out our plan.
we decided to work in shifts. if my memory serves me correctly (don’t hold me to this), tim was the first to go searching, then matt. i can’t recall how long either of them were gone, but we had time. then, it was my turn.

by then the traffic was really backing up. as in barely moving, if at all. i decided to wander up lake shore drive (aka, LSD). this is not something i would normally recommend unless you have a death wish, but since traffic was at a virtual standstill, i deemed it to be safe enough. i figured i could try to hit up all the concert goers that hadn’t made it in yet. i walked up the drive calling out for tickets every so often, but with no luck. chances are at some point i was even holding a finger in the air with one hand while my fingers were crossed on the other. i wasn’t out there for too long though, maybe 20 minutes, when a car with two girls called out to me (whenever i recall this story they seem so much younger than i was, but in reality we had to have been close to the same age). i ran over to them and jumped into the backseat of their car with so much excitement i could barely contain myself! they asked if i needed a ticket, i said did, that i actually needed three.

that day was my lucky day (well, one of many). they had FOUR tickets!! they had a group of friends who couldn’t make it at the last minute. sorry for them, but hoo-motherfucking-ray for me!! i forget exactly what they charged me, but it wasn’t more than the face value. they really were so very kind and if i could thank them again i would. i am positive i was squealing with delight as i leapt from their car and sprinted back down lake shore drive.

i ran back to soldier field and i never slowed down. i was literally leaping over people lounging around on the sidewalks and grassy areas with a shit eating grin on my face. matt and tim knew what was up the second they saw me. we were in like flynn.

there really was nothing like the excitement of getting in to a dead show when you arrived there not knowing if you would. i was no veteran by any means, i only had a handful of shows under my belt. but, the energy walking through those ticket gates was palpable. you knew what was about to happen, yet at the same time you had no idea. that was part of the beauty. crazy shit happens at dead shows. it’s a given.

we were treated to the band (minus robbie and richard) as the opening act, followed by a great set list from the grateful dead. the show closed with what is still in my mind one of the best fireworks displays i’ve ever seen (set to  jimi hendrix’s version of the star spangled banner).

we spent that night camping in a parking deck with a bunch of other hippie types. i don’t think we got much sleep. i remember the sound of skateboard wheels coasting down the ramps until the wee hours of dawn and the beating of drum circles. at some point we made plans to walk to the sears tower in the morning. we had no clue how to get there, we decided we would just look for it and head that way. this was not the way to go. it was about a 3 mile walk through some not so great neighborhoods. we made it, only to discover the observation deck was either closed or we couldn’t afford it. i’m guessing we couldn’t afford the $12 a piece or whatever it was after being able to get tickets.

matt and i moved to georgia soon after that show. we were staying with a friend in charleston, sc while we were apartment hunting in savannah. one month later, on august 9th, we came back from the beach  and were sitting on the couch when john, our friend (not a grateful dead fan), told us that jerry garcia had died. we honestly thought he was joking (really, he was not a fan. we thought he was just trying to get us whipped up). sadly, it was true. jerry was gone.

that summer was a wild and memorable time in my life. i am one of a few (tens of thousands of people) that can say i was at the last dead show and i am forever grateful.

what is one of the most memorable concerts you’ve been too?


*sorry for the lack of photos in this post. i decided i didn’t want to incriminate myself or any other innocent bystanders.

by jess lewis


i could check, but i’m fairly certain the summer i was pregnant with henry we saw more live music than we have since he was born. before children we went to as many concerts as we could afford. after the arrival of children the concert going trips rapidly dwindled. live music was no longer at the top of the list when thinking about a (rare) night out. the ability to sit down for a nice dinner with the option of lingering at the table afterwards for some conversation won out almost every time (plus, there was the added bonus of not having to do the dishes). seeing a movie in a theater was a close second. reality slowly set in when we realized we hadn’t seen a single concert in over a year. what happened? surely we could make it out for a concert every now and then. we were craving good, live music. there is something to be said for how rejuvenating and energizing being in a hot, crowded, dimly lit venue with a thousand  other people (+/-) is.  and as much i gripe about the area i live in, atlanta and the surrounding areas are a great place to see amazing music in smaller venues.  this past year, we’ve been trying to get to as many shows as we possibly can (thank you, babysitters!) and  in doing so we’ve been introduced to new favorites, new people and new, smaller venues. the best part is, we get a rockin night out and we’re supporting the artists we love.

photos from these shows: a.a. bondy, the head and the heart, drew grow and the pastors’ wives (and black girls), the avett brothers.

have you been to a great show lately? who would you love to see live? if you haven’t been to a concert in a while i suggest you get up offa that thing, find a show, and shake it till you feel better.

p.s. if you have the time, this is a really great read about supporting musicians. also, drew grow and the pastors’ wives have a kickstarter for their new album. check them out and if you enjoy their music try to chip in! we have their self-titled album and it’s in our regular rotation.

by jess (link happy) lewis

if i were to make a timeline of my life it would most definitely be set to music. in the way that a particular smell can evoke a memory for some, a song, artist and sometimes a genre can instantly transport me to another moment in my life.

my early years are riddled with the sounds of carole king and cat stevens and i can’t help but think of my mom when i hear their songs. she made a painting of joni mitchell’s ladies of the canyon  album cover that i think of every time i hear big yellow taxi. my love for the motown sound and soul music can be directly linked to road trips with my family. i remember the windows rolled down, our hair whipping around and the heat of the sun on my legs. i can practically feel the force of the wind pushing against my arm that is hanging out of the passenger side window as we speed down the highway. i can hear my mom, sister and i singing along to the cassettes and if i try really hard i can almost smell the corn as we’re zipping past the fields on either side of us.

any random top 40 hit from the eighties defines an entire season for me. the mere mention of frankie goes to hollywood or mr. mister and i recall the summers of my childhood and the those first tastes of freedom that came with pedaling my bicycle for miles upon miles seeking out friends and adventure. it’s not the smell of chlorine or hawaiian tropic tanning oil that take me back to the countless days spent at the pool. rather, it’s the memories of hearing  the crackly sound of pet shop boys, the human league and glass tiger blaring from the speakers of the pool house. i can see the teenaged girls with their deep tans and  multiple swatch watches they wore stacked on their wrists and ankles cleverly standing at the top of the concrete steps near the boys’ changing room any time i hear fine young cannibals.

it seems only right that the beatles were there to usher me into my hormonal, boy-crazy preteen years. i immersed myself in everything beatles, from music to books to movies. they were like my musical gateway drug. from the beatles it was an easy jump to any kind of music really. my tastes differed depending on my mood or what day of the week it was (things really haven’t changed in this regard). i became a teenager in the 90’s and there was so much music to be heard. violent femmes’ 1983 self-titled debut album in its entirety brings a mischievous smile to my lips as i recall sing a-longs and trading secrets in my best friend’s bedroom.  led zeppelin’s first 6 albums remind me of my first boyfriend, high school parties and just being a teenager in general. everyone had a led zeppelin phase, right? i spent hours hitting the record button on the tape deck making mix tapes that reflected all of my fickleness. all i need is a glimpse of the cover of where you been and i think of all those nights my angsty teenage self fell asleep listening to WJMU, the local college radio station (i had a crush on one of the dj’s just because of his voice and the music he played).

it would be a fair assessment to say that during my teen years the music was constantly on and often varied. i’m not sure what it says that my 30’s are turning out to be the same. maybe it’s because i consider my 20’s to have been slightly stagnant in the music department. for the most part i stuck with what i knew  and i missed out on some good music. thankfully, my musical palate keeps expanding and in a way i’ve come full circle (i still have serious love for motown/soul music and all those 80’s tunes).  the fact that  a soundtrack was and is continually weaving itself naturally through my life never ceases to delight me. i consider myself fortunate that so many of my musical memories are happy ones, with only a few bittersweet exceptions. i’m forever in awe of the way just hearing a few notes can instantly connect me to so many moments in my past. do you have this same connection with music?

join us this month and see what we have up our (album) sleeves while we talk about music. maybe do a little time traveling of your own. we would love it if you would share with us some of your own musical memories!

by jess lewis

if you had told me five years ago that i would get to know a slew of amazing people online and actually meet a handful of them in person (and make it an annual thing) i would have said  you were off your freaking rocker. THAT is not normal. normal people don’t just meet other people on the internet and get on a plane to hang out with them for a weekend! what if they’re psycho? they could really be a sixty year old man pretending he’s a thirty somethingish woman! (don’t ask). you could go out for drinks and then they might stuff you into the trunk of their car! you may think you know these people but you could end up putting the lotion in the basket if you know what i mean. (why does that sound dirty? or is it just me?).
funny thing those interwebs. they’re full of so many communities with their own little niches. it totally makes sense that you would find people you share common ground with. it’s as easy as typing whatever your interest is into the google search box and hitting enter. so you spend some time floating around, maybe lurking in said communities, for me it was knitting blogs which led to flickr, and eventually dialogues start happening. comments get left on blogs, photos get the mark of the pink star, nice things get said about photos, emails start to go back and forth,’re forming some bonds, you feel like you’re getting to actually know some of these people! so, plans get made, flights get booked and your family may think you’ve temporarily lost your mind and are secretly wishing they had implanted a tracking device in your neck while you were asleep. just in case.

for me, the first time i made that leap into the world of turning virtual friends into friends IRL i thought maybe i had lost my mind. i tend to be kind of shy, so i was really  anxious. i was terrified of discovering we had nothing in common (you know, besides being female, mothers, wives, sisters, knitters, picture takers or whatever), that i would offend somebody or that we’d be sick of each other after the first day. (that would have sucked). instead, i found that my nerves abated instantly.  now, each year the conversation flows more easily whether we are talking about parenthood, fake flare, the awesomeness of white vignettes or just gossip in general. laughter often abounds to the point of bringing me to tears  (just picture a minivan full of mothers passing around a tub of fart putty and losing their shit over it. hey, i never said we were mature.). we walk the streets of whatever the town taking photos, eating good food paired with good beers and enjoying each others company. chances are at least one person will arrive home after the weekend with a new tattoo or a piercing. i don’t think it was planned, but in that first group meeting a bond was forged and a routine was being set. we started discussing where we should meet up next and could we please find a way make this happen quarterly instead of annually?

now, each year we try to get as many of us together as possible to cram as much fun as we’re capable of into one weekend. and each year i now look forward to these weekend getaways because i’ve found a place in a group of  fun, crazy, compassionate women who love to laugh, take amazing photos and tell great stories, are great listeners and true cheerleaders, curse as much if not more than i do, appreciate a good beer, think nothing of drinking wine from a box and know how to work some  pussy fart putty. i have a circle of friends that i don’t see often enough (some i have yet to meet in person), but i know they’re there if i need them and vice versa. friends with whom i can be honest, vulgar, snarky or vulnerable with. all because i took a chance to meet a few people i got to know online.**

have you taken that leap yet? have you turned virtual friends into friends in real life?

* IRL is a term i just recently learned and i won’t lie, i had to verify it’s meaning on urban dictionary before i posted this for fear that it meant something entirely different. the internet likes to play jokes like that on me.

** and no one has tried to get me drunk and stuff me into a trunk.

by jessica ‘taking a cue’ lewis

if you’ve been following the blog this month you’ve seen that for some of us learning to freely express who we really are can sometimes be a journey. sometimes the societal and/or familial paths we’ve been traveling on have run their course, so we have to forge our own way. for others it’s just a bump in the road. for me, personally, it’s a trek i’m still on and because of this i’m trying my best to make it smooth sailing for my children (or at least as smooth as possible). in other words, i’m raising two deviants right from the start (throw in the dog and you can change that number to three, but that number better drop back down to two really fucking quick).

kids are natural deviants. they’re often testing boundaries and questioning the status quo. they have a knack for being open, blatantly honest and generally accepting of others. somewhere on the road to adulthood those traits can get muddled with fear, shame and conformity. children, especially young ones like mine, don’t really even have things like embarrassment or self-consciousness on their radar. i think this is a good thing and i’m doing my damnedest to make sure it stays that way.

for example, we spent mother’s day with my mom and my gramma and at one point beazy let one rip. well, beazy’s favorite game is “who ate the fart”, so she raises her thumb to her forehead and out of habit henry, my mom and i follow suit as we’re all laughing. so, bea yells out, “GRAMMA ATE THE FART!”. gramma doesn’t quite catch this and asks, “what?”, to which my mom replies, “you don’t want to know.”, in an attempt to spare gramma the grisly details. i, on the other hand, don’t want her to feel left out so i explain the game to her. in hindsight maybe i shouldn’t have done that, but bea has been steady playing this game without missing a day for months now. i don’t see it stopping any time in the near future. she’s 3. farts are funny to 3 year olds and truthfully she has me seeing the humor in flatulence again. of course, my sense of humor is probably infinitely more juvenile than my gramma’s. yet, i realize this is a phase with bea, so i see no point in stifling the pleasure she gets from laughing at her own bodily functions. maybe it will help her find some humor in the raging pms she’s likely to have later in life. if so, then more power to her.

it’s not even that i consider my kids to be deviants. we embrace who they are, and say that they’re ‘just the right amount of weird’. they’re being who they are at any given moment. sometimes those moments mean wearing their clothes inside out and backwards while also going commando. or wearing goggles and/or a bike helmet for 12 hours of the day. a couple of days ago it was the girl doing a happy dance down the hallway while singing, “shit shit shitty shit shit shit shit”. other days it means i’m going grocery shopping with a ninja spy, spider-man or maybe a werewolf in tow (that can double your time spent in the store, let me tell you). and sometimes it’s playing “who ate the fart” for four months straight and counting.

there are times when their ‘weirdness’ opens up discussions about acceptance and staying true to who you are. other kids are teasing you for having your nails painted? do you like how your nails look when they’re painted? and your friends didn’t tease you? then if you like it screw those other kids and hurray for having good friends! (okay, not exactly how that conversation went down, but it might as well have).

and maybe this is where i deviate from the norm, but by letting them be who they are i’ve become more comfortable with who i am. i’m telling my kids to love who they are yet it’s something i’ve struggled with myself. i’m simultaneously trying to let go of my own fears while doing my best to make sure my own children stand up to theirs. the funny thing about being a parent and encouraging your children’s individuality is that they can open your eyes and teach you to embrace your own.

hopefully, you’re raising some deviant weirdos and becoming more of one yourself! (unless one of those rascals is a dog. reign that hound in, but let the kids be.)

we knew it was coming, but we thought we had more time. we thought it would be a girl and that she would be a little older. we were  wrong.

a week and a half ago we were out running errands when we met boyd. the humane society was set up next door to target (our original destination) and as always, we went over to look at the dogs. i’m not sure if i was the only one that noticed him laid out and totally relaxed in some little boys lap, seemingly indifferent to the crowd of people milling around. but, when the boy left i called bea over to have a look. we spent some time with him and when it was time to go none of us really wanted to leave him. we stood around for a good ten minutes debating whether he was ‘the one’. okay. we weren’t really debating. we knew we liked the dog. what really happened is matt and i stood there asking each other repeatedly for five minutes if we were really ready for this. as in really really ready. then that turned into asking “are we really doing this?” for another five.

it’s been 16 years since we’ve had a puppy, but we had not forgotten how much work, time and effort it takes to teach and train a pup (one reason i thought we’d go with an older dog).  we knew what to expect with house training, and as far as puppies go, he’s not doing too bad.  of course, i forgot how loud or foreign noises can literally scare the piss out of a puppy. and the little pisser liked the living room rug, so i rolled it up and stowed it away until he knows better. i won’t go into lengthy detail about the poo situation other than to say he’s done great on that front and i am so glad we have a big backyard  that backs up to a wooded area. i avoid being the pooper scooper at all costs. i figure i take care of paying the bills, matt can can be the scooper. they’re both shitty jobs.

we also knew he’d chew on anything and everything. i think he’s pulling a fast one on us though. sure there are the random shoes (those are his weakness), miscellaneous socks and pieces of chalk carelessly tossed onto the nearest surface after being pulled from boyd’s razor sharp teeth, but he has yet  to destroy any of those things. the worst damage done so far has been to the plug for my phone. so, i’ve been without a phone for a week because i’m too lazy to go out and buy a new charger. seriously, i’m just waiting for the epic damage. i’m certain there will be a day i come home and find my favorite chair pissed on, chewed on, shat on and puked on. i think he’s plotting and biding his time. maybe he’s feeling us out before he decides how bad the damage should be. whatever he decides on, i’ll be expecting it so he can take the surprise factor and shove it.

before boyd joined our family i briefly thought about how it might be more work (and a pain in the ass) to raise a puppy when there are small children in the house. so far, i’m not finding that to be the case. yes, there is another mouth to feed, more toys lying around that no one wants to pick up and as mentioned above, more pee and poop. but, the kids are naturals with him. they help in feeding him, taking him outside, encouraging him when he does good, telling him no when he doesn’t, they take the shoe from his jaws and replace it with one of his toys. they argue over whose bed he gets to sleep  in and whose turn it is to give him a treat. (can i just add here that all this is such a relief considering we have a fish and a crab that neither one of them could give a flying you know what about. for example, the other day i asked henry to feed his fish. he said, and i quote, “what fish?”. i gave him the look for a couple of seconds and then he said, “oh.”.) but, they don’t scoop the poop. if we even ask then they give us the look.

so, while we definitely have our work cut out for us, ahem . . .

this is the best thing we’ve done in a long while. (especially in the pet department. dang fish.).

*the title of the post is a bea quote. she has said that at least 3 times a day since april 7th.

in this house work is not synonymous with 9 to 5,  i’m a stay at home mom, so that’s a given. aside from that “job”, i work at developing my skills as a photographer with the hope that i’m turning those skills into something that is (somewhat) profitable. matt has a regularly scheduled job, but by no means is it typical. his job allows him time off to pursue his own endeavors whether it’s showing his own work, teaching sculpture or traveling for commissioned jobs.  we are fortunate to have found ways to express our artistic selves  and call it work, even if at times we were just scraping by.

as adults we strive to feed that craving we have in ourselves to create something and we do our best to keep that same desire thriving in our children. it is such a natural and integral part of who they are and it manifests itself in so much of what they do every day (and we love to play along, too!). some days that creativity is expressed through song, personal style, full on body art or just good old play. as parents we believe it is crucial that they keep these creative desires alive. we hope to show them through the work that we do and the passion we have for it, that they can choose to do what they love. we want them to know that work can be synonymous with creating (in its many, many forms). though it is likely they will not  go down the same paths that we have, our wish is that their love to create will be of service to them no matter what road in life they choose and no matter what that road is, they can always be creative.

“if your work isn’t what you love, then something isn’t right.” – talking heads

how do you work at unleashing your creative beast or doing what you love?