Simple is the new craze



I’ve been talking about simplifying our lives for quite some time now – about 7 years exactly. I so wish it was a task or box to check off. Something that can be achieved in just so many steps. Unfortunately, like much of life, it is a journey, it is a constant, moving target that is elusive and difficult and organic.  Ironic, isn’t it that simple living is so difficult and complex? Just when you think you might have this whole simplicity thing down, there’s another area of life that could use some pruning, like a rose bush at the end of the summer. Just a snip here and there preparing for then next phase or season. So despite me talking about and implementing ways to simplify mine and my family’s life, we aren’t there. Not even close.

You see life isn’t stagnant. It doesn’t wait around. Neither do the Jones, or the Smiths or school or children for that matter. It creeps up on you and then before you know it your drowning. When I think about how I feel right now in this insanely busy season of our lives it feels a lot like a drill we had to practice prior to getting our lifeguard certification. You had to tread water in the deepest end of the pool with a 10 pound rubber brick above your head. I think we had to do it for one minute to start and work our way up to five minutes. Maybe it was more, maybe it was less. The goal was to build your stamina should you ever found yourself in a situation that you needed to hold someone up in deep waters. The test  was difficult and I remember holding that brick high, but my head sinking lower and lower, almost to the point of my face being submerged. That’s how I feel – needing to keep going, but desperately wanting to stop – type of panic.

I think too, as soon as you have it under some as semblance of control, that season passes and on to the next. You don’t quite realize the season has changed until after the fact and then you are always chasing to catch up or slow down. Right now it’s really hot to talk about slowing down, being present, in the moment, being intentional and enjoying where you are in this place, right now. It’s all such a beautiful notion, but really no book, blog or person is going to be able to give anyone a prescription on how to simplify your life. Really. All I know is that my quest continues. We call a time out as a family. We fulfill our current obligations, but alter the next seasons choices. We don’t worry about opportunities missed. We don’t care if boredom sets in from time to time. We unplug. We connect. We play. We hike. We fight. We watch movies. We roast marshmallows. Until the next season arrives.


Fall Break or Bust


We were suppose to head to Hilton Head Island for the first time. We had a great house, with a pool and a lagoon and a ocean fishing trip all planned out. Then Matthew had to go and ruin things. Fortunately our rental didn’t have much damage, but we still couldn’t go because the island was under evacuation. Until next time HHI!

None of us had much planning prowess left in us so we decided to make it a shorter trip. Since Jon became a freshman this year I have this crazy panic about me when it comes to trips and adventures. There is so much I want to see and do with my people and only a few years left to do them where our schedules line up.

We decided to head to Springfield, IL to go to the Lincoln Museum, House and Tomb, along with the Dana Thomas House by Frank Lloyd Wright. I went to Springfield 10 years ago with my dad, mom and brother as our last family trip together before mom died. My mom loved Lincoln. She read probably every book on him and Mary Todd, she was an afficionado and I miss her random knowledge. The Lincoln Museum is fantastic and quite moving, especially given our racial climate as of late, over 150 years later. It’s a shame really, so many people have worked so hard to allow “ALL” men and women to be equal, yet we still face so many problems. The kids enjoyed the museum and the house. The National Park Ranger was quite impressed with Jon the interpreter at Conner Prairie. He talked about wanting to visit – kind of fun to see that dialog really. We went to the tomb and rubbed Lincoln’s nose, just as I did as a toddler and then again as an adult. It was nice to share this experience with them and it brought back memories that I had with mom and family on our last trip.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, but my kids love a good house tour. (Praise Hands!) When we entered the Dana Thomas House it was as magnificent as I remembered it. They loved it, soaked in and talked about the things they liked and didn’t like and love to learn about Frank Lloyd Wright, the brilliant narcissist that he was.

From this point on we are going to call this the “Closed” vacation. We drove to the Lewis and Clark Museum on the river and it was closed on Mondays. So we headed into St. Louis to check into our Airbnb (which I can not recommend enough if you are a family of five or larger!) Everything was closing at 4 or 4:30 or heck was closed for the day so we just settled in for a cozy night in to relax.

We got up Tuesday and went to the Arch, we learned about it’s amazing construction and design and rode up in the elevator pods to see the view from the top. Just incredible. We  then headed over to the Old Courthouse where the Dred Scott case was tried. They have the courtroom all set up and so much information. Again, so incredibly moving, what people have fought for in our past and that we still deal with such awful racism is mind boggling. It was eye opening for our kiddos for sure.

While things might have been closed we ate like KINGS in St. Louis. Fitz’s and Pappy’s were superb and left us so stuffed dinner wasn’t even an option!

We tried to go the zoo, but it was closing early for their Halloween celebrations, so we went to IKEA instead (sort of the same, right?). We had fun just meandering and spending too much on costumes parts and pieces and swedish fish.

We ended our trip with a day at The City Museum. Holy cow! What an incredible place. It’s one big, ten story art installation, maze, ninja warrior training center, ball pit, tunnel, cave, rope course. Seriously, it was hours of losing my children, claustrophobia, crawling and climbing. I would highly recommend this if you have kids, we had to pull Jon and Ryan out of the building so we could leave to come home. Bring knee pads, a headlamp and hydration. You’ll thank me.

All in all, it wasn’t the beach vacation we dreamed of, but it was time away, seeing and experiencing new things. I can not be disappointed in that! St. Louis was a fun getaway and I’m pretty sure it will be a stopping point for us in the future on our westward adventures! Back to the grind…


40 and counting

As I was typing up a quick thank you on Facebook, I decided I wanted to write more. More than just a thank you for my birthday wishes. I miss writing, but when I have the time I seem to be at a loss for what to say. Later I’ll have some witty commentary I want to get down, but as I finally sit, it’s gone. So says the 40 year old mind.

I wanted to take a moment though as I sit here with my cup of coffee and reflect a bit on turning 40. While I take little stock in numbers and value far more how I feel, where I am in my life and where I’m heading. It seems that 40 is a pretty decent milestone to stop and pause and digest.

I am grateful. First and foremost. I am healthy, at this point in my mothers life she had battled cancer for the first time and had gone through a few surgeries. If you’ve ever had someone that close to you go through something like that, in my own mind, it was a milestone to get past her diagnosis. Like it was a race that I wanted to win to prove my path was different. I have been blessed. Despite a bit of a scare last year, I am healthy and I am grateful.

I have three amazing children who love me, frustrate me, challenge me and make me laugh every single day. Recently I have had some opportunities to travel and have been gone for a few days at a time. I find that leaving them no longer brings the restoration it once did when they were small. I prefer to be at home with them on our couch talking, laughing or just hanging out. I cherish it really. I think with arriving at 4o I also see that my time with my kiddos as I know it is dwindling. It has put me in a sort of panic, wanting to soak up each and every moment. I am chronically putting them to bed too late so we can talk, just a little more. Fortunately they have their parents gift for gab and are all too happy to oblige. I think about them, how they are doing in school, in their social lives, in their activities and I couldn’t be more proud. My heart swells when I reflect on how different they are, how they have such unique strengths and qualities that make them, them. It’s a bit like the excitement of when they walk for the first time or go to Kindergarten, I can’t wait until I see what becomes of them. Unlike walking and Kindergarten, however, I am not in a hurry to get to this milestone.

For the last year Ryan and I have been working side by side on projects with our company, Page Construction Services. Or as I fondly refer to it as PCS because it’s so damn wordy. (Love you babe) I know most people don’t feel they could work quite so closely with their spouse and I am sure many could or would not find it productive. For us however, it’s how we started. That silly 6th floor at CAP, where we worked on projects together, fought, designed, compromised and agreed. We learned how to work together in a variety of contexts and it formed the relationship we are blessed with today. I know I can speak for Ryan when I say we are so much stronger working together, rather than apart. Sure other jobs I’ve held have filled me in different ways, but there is nothing like working together on a project. The design is better, the communication is better, the outcome is better. It is an amazing experience. I see interviews or read articles about Chip and Jo of Fixer Upper and how they describe that working together just works for them. While we’re not Chip and Jo, I couldn’t agree more. My favorite days are when Ryan and I work on a project together. I am grateful we get to do this for a living.

I think about 40 and how it’s suppose to be old. You also hear that 40 is the new 30, which is often spoken by 40 year olds. There are things that 40 brings that suck, like a new stiffness in the morning when I get out of bed or weight gain from confused hormones. I’d love to say that I’m at a place where I don’t care what people think. I’m not there, I’m confident in who I am and what I believe, but I’d be lying if I said that I’m not insecure or feel left out and alone at times. I also find that 40 also brings a sadness through the loss of lives and friendships and relationships. I struggle with depression and it rears it’s ugliness during times of stress and anxiety more easily as I’ve gotten older. These are things that 40 can’t take away.

There is however, some grace that comes with 40. When I see clearly, I see what matters and what doesn’t. I feel more compelled to speak my mind when it comes to rights and wrongs. I am less worried about the things that don’t add to our lives. I have less tolerance for petty things. I can see people for who they are and discern their gifts more easily. I think about where I want to go and how I want to be as I age. I have never been one of those people who longs to go back in time. I’ve always enjoyed the phase I was in, for what it was and how long it lasted. I have fond memories and sure there are moments that I would love to do over or experience one more time to soak them in, but I wouldn’t go back in time for them. There is too much to look forward to ahead of me to want to go back. I am grateful for that perspective which I think contributes to why I wasn’t dreading 40 to begin with.

Overall 40 is fine. 40 doesn’t really matter because it just marks my days here on earth. It tells no one who I am or anything about me other than I have a new box to check on personal info questionaires. I prefer to think about those I’ve known who would have liked to reach 40. Who would have been magnificent at 40, but didn’t get that chance. In that light, 40 is pretty freaking awesome. So as today gets started and I am 40 plus one day I will continue to walk as I do, act as I do and think as I do on any other day. I am grateful to those who’ve made my birthday special. You don’t realize how kind words can lift a person up and make them feel special, honored even. How lovely to hear such nice things about you, what you mean, how you make people feel. I am grateful, even if Facebook had to remind you, I am grateful you took the time to send a message, text or call. It feels good. It feels like love and you can’t go wrong with that.

So onward to forty one and beyond. It is a good season and I shall embrace it.


Mary Castor - September 14, 2016 - 9:08 am

Such a lovely message, Annie! Just turned 50 this year and this getting older thing keeps getting better. Enjoyed your blog and am a little envious that you are going to Magnolia Farms. I LOVE Fixer Upper. Have fun!!!

Robin Herriman - September 14, 2016 - 11:49 am

Ann……Well said Honey…..Take it from this 54 year old….Live your life happy, laugh everyday, and look around at the beautiful things around you…your family, your puppies and kitty’s…the flowers, birds and butterflies…your true friendships…I live my life with an open heart every day….If I passed away tomorrow I have absolutely no regrets and have had wonderful love and happiness and lots of fun in my life…
Live your Life with a “HAPPY HEART”
Don’t ever change one single thing about you….

Paulette Mann - September 15, 2016 - 1:05 am

Your reflections are moving and inspiring.
I’m now 60 and I can’t believe how the time zoomed by since I was your beUtiful dad and moms student in the 70’s back in Chicago. Surely your dad has his own perspective ! You are filled with joy , appreciation and love❤️ Your lucky and know it. God bless

Fall is coming

Seeing as this has become a quarterly blog, I will do my best to summarize our summer. In one word it was: fast. It started off strong and then just flipped onto autopilot and it was over.

Jon juggled volunteering at Conner Prairie nearly full time with football conditioning. He’s on the 8th grade football team and having a wonderful season. I am so super proud of how far my boy has come and how hard he’s worked for his spot on the line. He’s handling 8th grade, working as a volunteer and sports better than I could have expected and we are so proud of the young man he is becoming.

Drew is having his own fantastic football season, leaving a trial of smaller players behind him. He is a force to be reckoned with and it is incredible to watch my gentle giant pull off some pretty awesome plays. He’s in his last year of elementary school, which I’m not sure when it happened because I’m pretty sure he was in 2nd grade yesterday. It will be so weird to only have one kiddo left in elementary school. It will be like a break up of sorts – I’ mean you leave on good terms, but you have nothing left in common. I am fairly certain I will be heartbroken in two years.

Penny is giving Volleyball a go – she’s wanted to for a while so we decided to hand up the soccer cleats until spring and volley some balls. She’s a natural and I’m loving a chance to play again, even if it’s with mini-people. She’s doing quite well in 3rd grade, too smart for her own good, but truthfully it’s her loving heart and character that I love the most about this girl. She’s funny and witty and I know that when the boys leave us to go on to college and life she will be left and it will be a very pleasant experience. It is hard for me to believe my baby is this big.

Ryan and I are working hard together to take Page Construction to a more organized, successful level. We had some real humdinger hold ups this summer, but we were able to navigate them as gracefully as I think anyone could. I am so proud of the work he does and I love working with him. We often get from people that they couldn’t possibly work with their spouses. That they’d kill each other or fight or whatever. Truthfully, and I know I can speak for both of us, we get along great. If we could work together side by side everyday for the rest of our lives we’d be okay with that. We did in college, it’s how we met and grew as friends. Do we argue or disagree? Sure we do, but it’s never anything we can’t resolve. Working together is just something that works for us and I’m grateful we can do it.

Now to me. So as we left it I withdrew from my graduate program because at the end of April I found out that the University enrolled me in the wrong program. (WHAA – WHAA) I was in discussions this summer with the Provost of Ball State on how to resolve the matter. Ultimately, I asked for my tuition back for my second semester of classes because I really wasn’t sure how they would translate to another program, if I chose one, down the road. It was agreed upon, but in doing so I had to lose the credits for those classes that I wanted reimbursed. It was a bittersweet day watching those credits disappear and knowing all the hard work that went with them. So for now, teaching is left to subbing and volunteering, which is working out quite nicely. I volunteer twice a week in a room I worked in two years ago. It’s a special needs room and they never get volunteers. These little people have my heart and love working with them. I get to visit all of my little friends from last year, which are now big first graders. They make me feel so loved when I come to say hi. And because I don’t have enough to do my great friend Kim and I are starting a small business doing shirts, baskets and other crafty bits. We just launched a Facebook page and are doing our first holiday show in November. We’ll see where it goes, but for now we’re having a lot of fun planning and creating.

One sad note, our big ol’ fluffy girl Marcy passed away in July. We’ve been trying to just give Cyd lots of love and attention. We all miss her lumbering around and those sweet, big, brown eyes. It was a difficult decision, but watching her decline was so heartbreaking as well. We miss and love you are sweet polar bear!

We also hosted an Italian exchange student for a month mid-July through mid-August. It was a bit last minute, a bit stressful, but we got through it and I think he had a very good time. Perhaps one day we’ll get a chance to visit him and his family in Italy!

Thanks for taking the time to catch up – 

Erni - October 18, 2015 - 1:02 pm

Thanks for the updates – quarterly is great because I can still read what is going on with a great family. Sorry about Marcy – it is hard to lose a pet, but even harder to watch them suffer. That ‘s just plain nuts what Ball State did and even nuttier that you were penalized with the lose of credits for their error. Staying involved like you are in school is wonderful – I know that you want that degree to become a teacher, but you already are – with what you are doing at the school makes you a teacher to to those children. Kudos to the kids for how well they are doing in everything they are involved in. Comes from strong parents, which you and Ryan are. Glad that Ryan’s business is still doing well and know it will get stronger with your partnership. My dad definitely would not had done as well as he did in his home building business without my mother as his partner. Hope your other partnership takes off in crafting. You are one very creative lady. Take care and look forward to reading your next blog in a few months!


Today is our district’s Homecoming. Every year, despite our district’s large size, the schools release early and the community comes out to celebrate Homecoming and the parade. Having been very involved in the homecomings of my own high school years, I love to soak in the small town feel, cheering for our student athletes, activities and clubs on floats and feet. The kids lining the streets with their bags, hoping to catch a bit of candy before dinner. Even though my homecomings were fun as a teen, we had three communities filing into my school. It takes on a very different feel than when it’s one town, one school.

I have many friends who were born and raised in Noblesville. I had one of these friends remark on how strange it was to be back for these and a little disheartening because perhaps she should be somewhere else, somewhere different. I don’t agree. I love setting our roots here, our kids roots. I love that my children will be able to attend a school district from beginning to end. I love celebrating an emerging legacy, because it’s something I don’t have. Even though I stayed at the same high school for all four years, moving in my 8th grade year always made me feel a bit of an outsider. Never quite part of any one group, never really having deep, long lasting friendships that started in the early elementary years. That isn’t to say that I don’t have some great and amazing friends from that time in my life. I do. I am so happy and a little jealous of the connections my children have, have made and will continue to make as they grow. I think about next year when Jon will most likely be on some float for either a sport or a club and it just makes my heart happy to know it will be that way for Drew and for Penny too. The opportunity that is to be a part of a lasting tradition, despite our community’s growing size. So here’s to you Millers. I hope you bring home a win for Homecoming and even if you don’t, I still love you!