fall with pumpkins

Today is the first day of school.

I’m consoling myself with coffee and trying to pretend like my hair actually has a style and distracting myself with pumpkin pictures.

The twins lined up for their first day of school picture in front of the house and they grinned and giggled and looked so full of life and teenager that I wanted to cry.

And the dogs and cats and I stood on the front walk and smiled watched them drive away and waved goodbye.

But on the inside?

My heart was running after them like the wind.

Here’s one of my favorite running stories ever.

It sums up today so much better than I ever could.


I come from a tribe.

A boisterous, opinionated, over-the-top, joke-telling, loud, over-sharing kind of tribe.

I have two brothers and two sisters and four children and twelve nieces and nephews.

And that’s just on my side of the family.

We get together every Christmas and during the summer on Cape Cod and a few random holidays and events in between.  And when we are all together there are family jokes and kids spilling everywhere and giant waffle bars and Oreos in the couch and basketball games in the winter and tea parties and laughter.

Lots and lots of laughter.

Back Porch Pumpkin

This past Christmas, I asked my kids if this year they wanted to change it up a bit.

I told them holidays can be a little overwhelming sometimes.

I asked if they wanted to stay at our house and have a leisurely break without all the stress and sleeping on the floor and having stickers all over their arms and eating at a table full of Cheerios and benches.

They looked at me as if I had lost my mind.

Seriously they said?

They informed me that Christmas wasn’t Christmas without smashed Cheerios and what was I thinking and they were packing their bags right now and that they were making monogrammed clipboards for everyone as a handmade present.

fabric pumpkin diy

They were right.

I’m so glad we made the trip.

December 25 we found ourselves eating waffles and wearing stickers and watching football and sharing stories about our lives and exchanging handmade presents and laughing.

Always laughing.

And days later when it was time to leave and drive back to Kentucky, we packed up the car with heavy hearts.

pumpkins fall

They all lined up at the door to see us off, that wonderful tribe of mine.

An entire family of stair steps standing in stocking feet, spilling out of the entry way one over the other, shouting and laughing and waving frantically to tell us goodbye.

We plastered our faces against the car windows and waved back as we pulled out of the driveway.

And then we saw him.

pumpkin decorating for fall

One of the cousins was following us down the block on the sidewalk, running like the wind with his blonde curls swirling around his head.

He ran and waved and ran and waved and ran after us until he couldn’t run any more.  And then he stopped, exhausted and then he bent over out of breath. Slowly he raised his head and then simply stood and waved at our car in the distance.  We waved back and grinned and smiled at our curly headed runner until we drove out of sight.

He never stopped waving.

Not once.

He had given his goodbye all he had.

twins first day of school

He was so right.

And the poignant lesson he taught me at that moment will be imprinted on my heart forever.

Family is….well….family.

We need to hold our family close and forget the imperfections and treasure the laughter.

And run like the wind after each goodbye.


PS  Here’s the twins this morning on the first day of school.

PPS I’m still running. 🙂

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  1. Image for Nancy @ slightly Coastal Nancy @ slightly Coastal

    Awwww...sweet. My high schooler, yes...high schooler went back to school today too. I had to leave before he had to be up (grandma oversees) so I didn't have that teary moment. I've made a mind shift recently from "I don't want them to grow up" to "I can't wait to see who they grow up to be." It's making it more fun and less sad. I hope you have a great day and count the minutes until you can chat them all up about the wonders of their day. Hugs, Nancy

  2. Image for Beverly Beverly

    How can it be that they are so "grown up"? Shocking and exciting at the very same time. My sweet grandson will soon be starting his senior year of high school. I feel like hiding in my closet and crying - and I have a big grin on my face at the very same time. You just can't beat family.♥

  3. Image for Ardith Ardith

    The girls already look so grown up, poised, and lovely. Where does the time go? Happy new school year to them. Cheers, Ardith

  4. Image for Sherry Sherry

    Beautiful lovely girls- Karianne I love how u say what many of us as moms, grandmothers, etc think but might not say. I come from a large family too-9 siblings. We r loud and outspoken too. Sherry

  5. Image for Michele Riggsbee Michele Riggsbee

    What wonderful memories. My two are all grown now...29 and my oldest turned 31 today. I still cherish those memories and am still running after them in my mind and waving good bye. Your twins are adorable and I sure did enjoy personally meeting them at the Becoming Conference! They are lovely just like their Mama!

  6. Image for Janet Janet

    First, thank you for that wonderful story. Your daughters are lovely and so lucky to be part of such a loving home and larger tribe. My kids are in their 30's now but I remember these bittersweet moments like yesterday. However there are always new wonders, like watching my son grow into parenthood himself (and grandchildren!) and my daughter into a confident successful career woman. And we still have the occasional wacky morning in pj's with pancakes, etc. have a great day!

  7. Image for Shirley Shirley

    Your girls are so pretty. They go back here in the UK the beginning of Sept( break up at the end of July). Love your story & pumpkin photos.

  8. Image for Cindy Pierce Cindy Pierce

    You have beautiful girls! Where is time going off to so fast...the kids just got out of school for summer vacation didn't they? My granddaughter will be a year old in least than a month, it seems as though she was just new born and now she's trying to walk. I'm running right beside you!!!

  9. Image for Taste of France Taste of France

    Your story got me all teary. We have always gone home--to my family, a similarly big tribe--in the U.S. in the summer. But this year we couldn't. I miss them terribly. These kinds of trips bring more togetherness sometimes, despite the distances the rest of the year, than living in the same town, where getting together is always possible but seldom done. A little stretch of living on top of one another really creates bonds.

  10. Image for Mary W Ferguson Mary W Ferguson

    The twins are beautiful and they really look like you. Family is so important and so many wonderful memories are made. I loved the story and it brought back many memories of mine. Enjoy your weekend. Mary

  11. Image for Ellen Ellen

    The Thistletwins are so grown up and beautiful! Wow, the school year starts early in the South. It has been many, many years since I had first day of school pictures to take- still miss that event and often look at those photos. Thank-you for the lovely story, your family sounds like they know how to enjoy holidays together. Love the pumpkin pictures, it is never to soon for pumpkins! P.S. We never stop running!

  12. Image for Cindy Lowr Cindy Lowr

    Thank you for sharing. It doesn't matter how old your children get , when they leave you run after them in your heart.

  13. Image for Randi Randi

    Ah, this is so sweet. The girls look like you and they look ready to have a great day. And our mommy hearts will never stop running! Randi :)

  14. Image for Mary Crozier Mary Crozier

    Okay, this has to stop. I'm reading your blog with my cup of coffee (always in my happy cup) and I am again crying...This has happened a couple of times now!!!! Are you writing a book? You should. You have a gift...your girls are beautiful...

    1. Image for kddomingue kddomingue

      Lol! You beat me to it! I was gonna say the same thing. The salt from my tears isn't improving the flavor of the coffee in my smiley face mug!

  15. Image for Carla Carla

    That was absolutely beautiful! I'm tearing up because everything you said is so true....family is there first and last...always! Blessings to you!

  16. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Oh my...the twins look absolutely adorable and growing up so fast! I know it's difficult, Karianne, but you're doing a marvelous job with them. The sense of family you're instilling in them will be passed on to generations to come. And I promise, you'll still be running and waving in your heart years from now. Even if you can't really run anymore. I know.

  17. Image for Susan Susan

    Awwww, you have such gorgeous babies, KariAnne...they look just like their sweet Mama! I think that, many times, we take our families for granted because they've always been there and we can't imagine them never being there, but we need to remember that nothing is forever...that's why we should take time to enjoy the blessings that we have now rather than putting it off to some future day that may never come. I dearly hope the Thistlettes have a day filled with beauty, wonder, magic, and laughter...I'll bet you soooooooo can't wait to hear all about it! Hang in there, KariAnne...that last school bell of the day rings before you know it!

  18. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    What a sweet story! It is so difficult letting go, isn't it? I get you're wandering around the house waiting for the noise. You have such a beautiful family and everything you instill in them now will continue in perpetuity. A Family is forever. Sending hugs! Have a wonderful day -- they'll be home from school soon and think of the stories! WOW!!

  19. Image for Pamela Pamela

    Your girls look so pretty!!! Just because they are starting to flutter their little wings , they still need you, then when you think they don't need you any more, they surprise you a with a hug or that I love you look or give you a card that says I still need you Mom.. So charish these years and enjoy them to the fullest. Your photos are so pretty Big Hugs.

  20. Image for susan susan

    So sweet! I miss the kids when they go back to school. We still have a few weeks to enjoy each other. Your girls are lovely! They look so much like you! Love all your pics, so sweet!

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      They wouldn't pose for the picture! LOL! I have a picture of them in the truck driving away.....not nearly as cute. :) The youngest one thought he was super funny and put on his sister's glasses! Hahahaha! karianne

  21. Image for Patricia Potter Patricia Potter

    Always love your stories and pictures. My kids are grown (43 oldest & twins - boy/girl - 36) and gone and seldom come home anymore. I had a granddaughter, only one I will ever have but lost her almost 2 years ago. But Life goes on and I have found such great friends in all the bloggers I follow and that in itself brings me Comfort! Have a Great Day and Enjoy the 'tales' when the kids get home of the "First Day Back at School"!! Looking forward to your book. Patricia (NC Coast)

  22. Image for Patti Patti

    What a sweet story - my husband and sons spent too few holidays with the grandparents - the girls are just beautiful. I don't remember - are the boys still in high school?

  23. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Miz karianne....my heart is breathless, right along with yours, as I remember all those "first back to school days" with my three kids. Such sweet times, especially since my youngest just turned 50! SQUEEL!! Where DID the time go? You will bake some of your famous cookies today so the house will smell all homey and welcoming them back to their safe haven where you can be your best Momma-self. And you will be fine.

  24. Image for Jeanne Jeanne

    So Sweet - your Story and your Girls. Wishing You All a Wonderful Successful and Fun School Year! Tomorrow is my little girl's first day in 5th...the last Elementary Grade. Recently, she told me...Mom, did you know that in Mid-School there is no recess or playground?! - I need to really enjoy 5th Grade! :)

  25. Image for Dale Deacon Dale Deacon

    Sweet and a heart tugging moment. Twins are double cuties, love the sandals and they have their mom's smile and a piece of your heart always. Life is wondrous, ever changing with new adventures around every corner. My youngest son who just graduated from University will be off in November for a 6 months around the world trip with Regent Cruise Line as a musician. First time not seeing him for all the holidays. Traveling through Europe, New Zealand, Australia and Asia. I am strapping on my running shoes as I write.

  26. Image for Barbara Moore Barbara Moore

    Who took your baby girls and replaced them with these two beauties?? I'm so glad you KNOW to treasure each fleeting minute. That's the real battle, isn't it? B


    Gorgeous gals + wonderful story = MANY PRECIOUS MEMORIES TO ENJOY! May you always be blessed with many precious memories, KariAnne!

  28. Image for Julie Julie

    Okay, so now I'm crying. Consider this a long-distance hug. Family is such a gift to be treasured and you treasure it well, my friend. Your daughters are beautiful. Our youngest starts full-day school for the first time (first grade) this year. This will be my first time in almost 13 years without a sidekick at home. The "messy" cry has already gripped me a few times this summer, late at night. These have been wonder-full years, and now I'm trying to stop the grieving of passing time and embrace just where we are today... these are GOOD days too! It's just easier to keep them close, isn't it?! Xo

  29. Image for Julie Ann Julie Ann

    How do I love this blog, let me count the ways! Pumpkin time is around the corner with Fall being my favorite time of year...spectacular sights and smells to name a few. The girls are so sweet and brought a tear to my eye, thinking of my grown daughter and the excitement of first days of anything!

  30. Image for Marilyn Marilyn

    I enjoyed your story. I once heard the late Shari Lewis tell the puppets, "Family is first,foremost and forever". Your twins are beauties. I am an identical twin. Love your pumpkins pictures. Marilyn

  31. Image for Rebecca Turner Rebecca Turner

    I really enjoyed this post, and seeing your beautiful girls! They are the same, and yet different, I can see that. And they look like they could be from my granddaughter's school, or her group of friends! She is excitedly planning her first day of school outfit, hair and jewelry too, (similar styles) but she doesn't begin school for another couple of weeks. I'll be driving one day a week for her dance carpool. (They are exempt from P.E. and get out early.) It should be fun and interesting. It's nice to be part of the young ones lives! Thanks for sharing!

  32. Image for Roz Roz

    Karianne, your twins are just gorgeous....and look just like their Mama. Your story was beautifully written, as always, and brought me to tears, as many of yours have. You have such an ease with your storytelling and it just makes me feel a part of the family. My husband & I are the empty nesters who have fond memories of children's first days of school. We also cherish ANY day that we are greeted with a carload of grands screaming "Gran & Pop! We're HERE, Gran & Pop!" I'll take those crumbled cheerios, candy wrappers in sofa cushions, endless laughter, and family stories retold over anything someone could offer me! Keep bringing your take on the world to all of us, Karianne. Enjoy it immensely!

  33. Image for Diane Diane

    And as almost always you leave me with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes...you are just so real and precious!!!!!

  34. Image for Lanita Anderson Lanita Anderson

    Love that story every time I hear it!! :) And the twins look SO CUTE for their first day of school!!! Blessings to you, sweet friend!

  35. Image for Loryl Fisher Loryl Fisher

    Such beautiful young ladies! I was the kid who was always excited for the first day of school and loved it as a teacher but dreaded it when my son had to get back to a schedule and couldn't be home with me. Now my youngest niece the family baby is headed off to college and I get weepy. We live right next door and she's always been our baby too. She's a lovely blonde young lady so full of promise and we know she's up for the adventure but we have so enjoyed having her close. Family is everything!!!

  36. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Loving this story again...Speaks volumes about the love of family, and again, touched my heart! Happy school year, sweet Thistles!!

  37. Image for ananda ananda

    so beautiful and so poignant. karianne, the love that radiate from you heart transcends time and distance. your loved ones will always be close by, every moment <3 #happytears xoxo

  38. Image for diane diane

    Just married off my only child and as mother of the bride I cried for a solid week..not because I was not happy for her or that I did not adore my new son in law but I cried for all those first days of school (I cried then, too) and other firsts like driving away in the car after she got her license, the excitement of her first kiss, her first field hockey goal and her first failure. I guess that is what we moms do...we cry! BTW..could your girls be any cuter?!

  39. Image for botanic bleu botanic bleu

    KariAnne, The running will last a lifetime. My mother was the ultimate caregiver. She lived in Alabama, and I lived in Texas where I held a full-time job. Once when I was in my fifties and had a bad cold, she could tell how miserable I felt over the phone as we talked. Immediately, she began telling me how she could get on a plane right away and come to Texas to take care of me... cooking me soup, cleaning my house, etc... I was her firstborn of four, and she showed all of us her love through her caregiving all her life. I know you are that kind of mother.... one who will still be running with pumpkins when your children are grandparents themselves. Judith

  40. Image for vicki vicki

    Wow! August 11 seems way too soon for school!?! I'm not thrilled about our August 31st start date; I mean, how dare they steal one whole day of my summer?!? September 1 is my internal re-start date...happy new, good year to you and your lovely family.

  41. Image for Rita Rita

    You never cease to amaze me! Thanks for all the fun tips, interesting ideas, and for sharing your "lifeables"! Your positiveness and excitement is contagious! Keep on writing. I'm breaking out more and more!!

  42. Image for JanL JanL

    Love this! I'm from a large loud family & missed them so much when I moved several states away. We have our 8-year-old grandson with us full time, he frequently will state "Families are forever." When I ask him how he came up with that statement, he said "they say it on TV all the time." so one day, we were in a thrift store & he came running with a wooden plaque that stated "Famaly is forever." I laughed & laughed at the incorrect spelling of famaly/family. Since then though, we all laughingly say "famAlies are forever".

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