Dugouts and Diapers

Jessica Starr Nichols


Growing, Growing, and Gone

I remember Banks’ very first day of Kindergarten. He wouldn’t let me walk in with him. He’s always been very independent. (I wonder where he gets that from????). As I sat through his eighth grade academic awards, the realization hit me that next Thursday at noon, my oldest child will be in high school! 

He’s such a Godly, intelligent, athletic, and handsome young man. He respects others, and he still gives me hugs and tells me that he loves me. He’s kind-hearted, and he is hilariously witty! A few Sundays ago, I was praying at the altar, and he came down, put his arm around me, and prayed with me. I’m so excited for his future, and I’m so incredibly proud of my Banks. 

There are no participation trophies handed out at Houston Academy. (Thank Goodness!) Only the parents whose children are receiving academic recognition are invited to awards day. When the invitation comes in the mail, you are automatically filled with admiration for your child. They don’t recognize honor roll students, because, honestly, it’s expected at HA. Banks was recognized for maintaining a 3.5 or higher GPA through both 7th and 8th grade, and he was recognized for his outstanding performance on the National Latin Exam. He finished in the 90th percentile.
Needless to say, Adam and I were beyond proud. He achieved all of this while also playing two sports, working out every afternoon, being active in his youth group, and even working on the weekends this spring. Being intelligent is definitely a gift, but to be both intelligent and well-rounded, WOW!

Now, I realize that this seems like a sappy mom who thinks her child is better than everyone else’s child, but no one sees Banks from my perspective. He and I were all one another had for a long time, and we’ve been through A LOT together. He’s just a beautiful miracle. I’m in awe of how God used me to produce such greatness. Adam and I are extremely blessed to be his parents. 

Of course, we feel the exact same way about Weston, and I look forward to this time next year when I’m writing about how much he learned in preschool at Houston Academy, but today, I just felt the need to brag on Banks.
Like Weston, Banks once held my hand and depended on me to bathe and dress him, but he’s grown now. He’s taller than me. He has a chiseled physique, and all the baby fat is gone. He’s very concerned with his appearance and how he smells and what he wears. The realization that he will be gone in a few short years makes my eyes fill up with tears. The tears aren’t because I’m sad. They are tears of pride, because I know that he’s going to be just fine, and I know that no matter how much bigger he gets, he will never be too big to hug his mommy.💗


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I Love a Project

As many of you know, I love a good DIY project. We have been working on our house for three years, and we do projects as we are able to afford them. My grandmother gave me two pieces of furniture that she and my Papa had in this home when they lived here. Clearly the furniture is outdated, but they are both solid wood, and they are very unique pieces that just needed a little TLC.

My first project was this fabulous chair! Our bedroom is made up of neutrals, and it needed a pop of color. This chair was the perfect piece to take our bedroom to the next level!

I disassembled the chair and sanded it down before applying Valspar Color Radiance spray paint and primer in one. This paint went on extremely smooth, and it only required one and half cans to get good coverage on all sides of the chair. 

While the paint was drying, I recovered the cushions with a basic dark chocolate and beige upholstery fabric that I purchased from Hobby Lobby.

The finished product was the perfect pop of color our bedroom needed. I accented the turquoise with a coral throw pillow from TJ Maxx.  This was a super fun project for under $25!

Our second project was one that my sweet husband helped me with. I hate that I didn’t take an assembled “before shot”.  This is a solid wood secretary that my grandparents kept in the living room, but Adam and I use it for a dresser/tv cabinet in our bedroom. We sanded down the dresser, the drawers, as well as the hutch. We also removed all of the old hardware before we began sanding.

We used Valspar spray paint and primer in one for this project as well. This spray paint goes on flawlessly. It was also such a time-saver for this project due to all of the woodwork on this piece of furniture. We used 10 cans of paint.

I really wanted to use clear knobs to keep the look soft yet updated. We found these knobs at Lowes. The total cost of the project was just under $100. I’m so pleased with the outcome. I’m amazed at what a coat of paint can do to transform a piece of furniture.

I love a project, and I certainly enjoy it all the more when the pieces are a family heirloom. Small DIY projects such as these are excellent for some weekend bonding with your spouse. Thank you guys for reading and let me know what you think, or if you have any questions, I will be happy to answer them.

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Hang our Hats in Tennessee

Because I chose to write for 8 weeks on Taste for Truth, I have a lot to fill you all in on concerning my manclan. 

We had asked Banks where he wanted to go for spring break, and he said, “Nashville, to the country music hall of fame.” So, to Nashville we went. We had not been on a family vacation since we went to Disney World in 2011. It was also the first time in four and a half years that my hard-working husband had requested time off of work. It was much-needed and well-deserved for all of us. Adam got us a hotel room in the heart of downtown Nashville. We were 4 blocks from the Parthenon and 10 blocks from the Ryman Auditorium. Since Adam works for Marriott, he was able to get us a terrific deal. I urge anyone who’s planning on visiting Nashville to stay at the Courtyard by Marriott at Vanderbilt University. The staff was amazing, rooms were clean, and you’re within walking distance of all the main attractions.

Our first stop on day one was the Parthenon. Banks was so excited about this, because of the time he had spent studying the Greeks in history class, and he had also taken a short-term class on World Mythology, where he was able to tell Adam and I all about the Parthenon and what all of the carvings meant within the pediment, which is the large triangle above the entrance to the Parthenon. 

From the Parthenon, we walked downtown to see the Ryman Auditorium, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Bridgestone Arena, and Big Time Boots. There were people EVERYWHERE!!!! 

Weston’s one request was a cowboy hat. So, we were patrons of Big Time Boots, and we found Weston a hat, Banks found himself a hat, and I even found one for myself. This store had something for everyone, and they were extremely friendly. Weston tipped his hat and told everyone we passed, “Howdy partner!” So, when in Nashville, head over to Big Time Boots and find the perfect hat or pair of boots. 

The Country Music Hall of Fame was our next stop. To be honest, it was a little bit of a disappointment. Sure, it was great to see so many pieces from the history of country music, but it just seems that there could have been more. Personally, my favorite part was seeing my girl, Dolly in the hall of fame and seeing some of the outfits she had worn on stage. I ❤️ Dolly!

When researching our trip, Adam was determined to eat some hot chicken while in Nashville. After walking nearly 11 miles on our first day, we were hungry and tired. Directly across the street from our hotel was Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. This place was AWESOME! We waited in line for 2 hours, and were expecting great things, and we were not disappointed. After enjoying a basket of hot chicken and potato salad, order some banana pudding. It’s the real deal, just like I make it! No, Jello pudding and Cool Whip used to make this pudding! Definitely the best food of our entire trip.

Day two was spent sharing my family heritage with my husband and children. We drove about an hour North to the sweet little town of Charlotte, TN. My great grandparents lived in Charlotte, and when I was younger, I would hop in the car with anyone that was headed to Mama Story’s house. I don’t remember my Daddy Rod, but Mama Story was an amazing woman! She was such a strong woman, and boy, could she cook! We placed some flowers at their grave, and I showed my manclan their sweet little white house. 

From Charlotte, we traveled about 20 more minutes to Cumberland Furnace, TN, to show my manclan where my Ol Dad grew up and all of his family is laid to rest. My Ol Dad may not have had anything of monetary value when growing up at the Furnace, but he had character and work ethic. He was my buddy. I have so many wonderful memories of him, and it was from him that I got my determination and drive in life. He taught me to never settle in life. I miss him every single day! He was such an outstanding grandfather. I cherish every moment I got to spend with him. This was, by far, my favorite part of our trip.

The last day of our trip was spent taking a campus tour of Vanderbilt University. A few weeks before we left for our trip, Banks asked us if we could take a tour of Vabderbilt while we were in Nashville, and of course, Adam and I both encouraged this by scheduling the tour. It was led by an engineering student, who was very impactful to Banks. Although Banks is still young, it was a very eye-opening experience for him. He explained to them that he wants to be an attorney, and they gave him a lot of undergraduate as well as law school information that has been so helpful in allowing Banks to see what kind of determination and grades it takes to attend a school like Vanderbilt. I’m certain there will be many more college tours in our future, but it’s safe to say, for now, Banks is absolutely obsessed with this beautiful school and all it has to offer. Future Commodore? We’ll see!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Nashville. We grew closer as a family, and it was so nice to spend so much time together uninterrupted by work, school, ball, church obligations, and all of the other outside sources that tend to draw our attention away from one another. We had amazing food, walked 19 miles in 3 days, saw some beautiful architecture and things from history, prayed with thanksgiving for family that had gone before us and for the legacies they left behind, got a glimpse of Banks’ future that will be here befor we know it, and best of all, we laughed, a lot! It was a great trip, and I can’t wait for the next one Adam plans for us! I love my manclan. They complete me!