Click the play button to listen to me read the story

Teaching life lessons to the next generation is hard.

You begin with the standards.

Be kind to others.

Open the door for your mother.

Be nice to your sister.  Hold your fork properly.  Don’t wear white after Labor Day.


You ask for a please and tell someone to say thank you and remind them to take their plate to the sink and assign chores and follow up on their homework and discourage bullying of any kind and you cross your fingers and ten toes and hope that it all sticks.

You wonder if you are making a difference as a parent.  You wonder if anyone is listening.  You wonder if the chicks will fly when they leave the nest.

And then?

One day you see a glimpse.  A glimmer.  A spark of the adult they will become.

And it makes all the trying worth every word.


Last week I finally finished the bedroom upstairs.

This room belongs to one of the twins and she wanted to design it herself.

She requested blue with a side of blue with a little more blue sprinkled on top.


It took a family to decorate a room.

My husband hung the curtains and unrolled a new rug that’s natural jute.  It’s just like seagrass, but so much softer.  My daughters made up the bed with new bedding.  I arranged the room with painted chairs and the dance sign from downstairs and a new desk area for homework.

And my younger son painted the chalkboard.


He wasn’t happy about it.

He’s sixteen with broad shoulders and short brown hair and a few whiskers trying to poke through and way more important things to do than help his mother get a room ready for his sister.

Begrudgingly he gave us a few minutes of his super busy day.

He’s an almost-man of few words.  He’s an animal lover and an athlete and a never-sit-stiller.  He loves basketball and baseball and running like the wind.  Our days with him are growing short.  In a couple of years he’ll be off to college and all this interrupting his day with family time will be a thing of the past.


We were right in the middle of decorating.

I was arranging the chairs and directing the twins as they made the bed, when suddenly he paused his chalkboard painting and turned toward me.

“Mom,” he said.  “What’s that song that GIGI used to sing to me when I was little?” 

Surprised, I paused to think.  “You mean Ragtime Cowboy Joe?”

“Yes,” he smiled.  “That’s the one.  How does it go?”


Then quietly, softly, in that upstairs room in the corner of our farmhouse, to the swish of the paintbrush and the clink of the curtain rods, I started to sing.

“Out in Arizona where the bad men are

Only thing to guide you is the evening star

The roughest, toughest man by far 

Is Ragtime Cowboy Joe”

He got his name from singin’ to the cattle and the sheep

Every night he sings that herd to sleep

In a basso voice so rich and deep

Crooning soft and low he always sings”

                                                                 ~Grant Clark


As I sang that song my father used to sing to all of us on long ago on road trips, the song passed down from generation to generation, the song he had sung to my children when they were little, the entire family joined in.

We danced and sang and giggled until the room rang with laughter.

Later, when we finished singing and the room was done, I turned to my son and asked  “What made you think of that song?  Why did you want me to sing it?

He smiled at me.

The kind of smile you put in your pocket and bring out on a rainy day.

“I just thought of it when I was painting,” he said.  Then he added, “I want to learn it.  I want to remember all the words…

….so I can sing it to my kids one day.”


The most important lesson of all?

The lesson you learn day your children teach you right back. 🙂


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  1. Image for eileen eileen

    I have 3 sons 11, 18 and 19 and this brought me to tears, beautifully written. Cherish those moments. LOVE your blog and your home

  2. Image for Michelle B Michelle B

    Put that memory in an easy access folder :) As the saying goes, there's nothing greater than when you realize you have raised your children to be good people. Mine are newly out on their own and I tell people that if I accomplish nothing else in my life, I know I raised 2 truly good people. There is no better feeling. Have a wonderful day and don't blink- once they're in high school it goes by sooooo fast. :)

  3. Image for Mary Mary

    Ok, so you made me tear up this morning while drinking my tea! My 3 sons are grown now with children of their own and to see them as wonderful parents is both gratifying and seems like they should still be little boys themselves! Where did the years go? PS....the room looks beautiful :)

  4. Image for Renae Renae

    Oh this is too perfect. And I got teary. My oldest son is 12 but he's my first and all of the differences I am seeing in him daily are things I wasn't prepared for. And I'm heartbroken thinking that someday he will leave us and why didn't anyone tell me it would be this hard to watch him grow up? Sigh. By the way, such a beautiful room. Huge and lovely and full of light. I'm sure she loves it! BTW I didn't see a source for the ceiling light...can you share? Hugs to you!!

  5. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    Your daughter's room...beautiful. The story you just wrote...a treasure! Store that memory so you can pull it out when you need it in 15 years or so. But, in the meantime....treasure every single moment you have with all of them! ;)

  6. Image for Janet Arden Janet Arden

    Oh, so true and you say it so well. My son is a 30-something with two little boys of his own. One of the treasures of my life is watching him become a dad right now. (Of course, it's also fun to watch him & my daughter-in-law grapple with two non-stop, talk-all-the -time, sticky little boys of their own!) I love the room, too!

  7. Image for Vicki Vicki

    I'm sitting here in my office with teary eyes. What a joy and a memory! Children do listen and even though we think they aren't paying any attention at all they say something like what your son did and all is well! My 34 yr old daughter said something like that not too long ago. She has her own family now but she had stopped by and I had my "oldies' music on - those from the mid-late 60's and early 70's on Sirus. I was cleaning and she just comes on in and says wow, why do I know the words to all these songs!??? I shrugged.....well remember mom on Saturday's when you cleaned house you'd have this music on while you were cleaning and we'd sing and dance!!!! So at that moment, she and I and her 6 year old daughter stopped and started singing/dancing to Hey Hey we're the Monkees! Like you said I smile and put that memory in my pocket!

  8. Image for Nancy @ Slightly Coastal Nancy @ Slightly Coastal is so not fair to make me tear up while I'm at work! First, the room is beautiful. I love blue with a side of blue mixed with some white. Ahhh. I love reading your son's stories. Boys are so quiet it is hard to know what is going on in that brain. It reminds me of a poster I once read that went something like this, "Your job is not to raise him to be what you want him to be, it is to help him become what I want him to be" -God Have a great day karianne!

  9. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Oh my, I cryed, but it's a Happy Cry. Thank you. It's reminds me how life does go on and it's fun to celebrate those who have gone before us.

  10. Image for Pamela Pamela

    Ok, so I am smiling but choking back tears, too! A wonderful post! Our daughters are wonderful adult women, mothers to the most marvelous grandchildren; strong & tall & brave women. Women to whom we repeated those same life rules; rules they repeat to their children. Women who sing Jesus Loves Me to their children, & tell them their Grandma sang that to them & told them to sing it whenever they were afraid or sad. Ah, life's wonderful circle! Enjoy your sweet children! Oh, & just to chase away the tears with a smile, those wonderful women repeated one of the life rules to me recently(& really not in a nice tone!)- " Mother! Never wear white pants after Labor Day!!"! I told them if people can wear pajama pants to the grocery store, I can wear these "winer white" pants after Labor Day. Their reply- "There is no such thing as 'winter white pants', & you cannot change any of the rules now!" Blessings to your family!

  11. Image for Lost Mule Lodge Lost Mule Lodge

    What a wonderful story. And what a wonderful family. You have no idea how much I look forward to reading about your life's stories and seeing your gorgeous home. Thank you for writing.

  12. Image for Angela Angela

    Precious. Just Precious! Yes, you are making a difference, and yes, they are listening! Now that my kids are grown and gone, it's been over 15 years now since the last one left home, they still talk about things they learned when growing up. Yes, it's all worth it! I love your daughter's room, by the way. I want one just like it! ?

  13. Image for Missy Missy

    My children are now 39, 35, and 25. We are so proud of each of them. They are fine people; apparently listening and internalizing more than I ever imagined during their growth years. I love watching my middle child parent her two young girls. Seeing her put into action what she was taught is so gratifying. Your post was lovely. Every mother out there tucks these kinds of memories behind her heart to cushion it in harder times.

  14. Image for Ellen Ellen

    TEARS and SMILES!! The beauty in all of our family stories is that they are retold generation through generation and never forgotten. Holiday celebrations with my family always includes the "magic moments" of days long gone being shared again. Your Son is well on the way to becoming a fine young man and a credit to your teachings- by word and example. The room is absolutely gorgeous, the blue and white perfect! I really love the jute rug and that upholstered chair. Thank-you for this wonderful post, always enjoy your stories so much.

  15. Image for Lori Lori

    Most of your stories leave me with water in my did this one. I have two sons...23 and 15! I so know where your coming from! Side note: Where did you get the large print ... "I hope you'll dance".... I played this song in my older son's graduation video. I have loved it ever since and would love to know where/how I can get a print similar to yours! Thanks so much. Look forward to hearing from you!

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      It came from one of my sponsors several years ago. The etsy shop is called Between You and Me. Here's the link: If you don't see the sign, you can custom order it! Happy day friend! karianne

  16. Image for Jacqui Jacqui

    Ok, that one made me cry! Being a parent is a tremendous commitment and one must have faith that one is doing the right thing teaching the same lessons over and over. My greatest reward as a parent is witnessing my daughter be an amazing mother. Love your writing style. ❤️

  17. Image for Susan Susan

    Now look what you've done, KariAnne...I can't even see the photos of the room, which I'm sure is beautiful, because of the tears in my eyes. I hope what I'm typing even makes sense. You have the most wonderful, thoughtful, beautiful children...I know you already know this, but do you know that they are just like their Mom? Bless you all! I'll have to take a few minutes and then look at the photos...I'm sure the room is gorgeous and I'll bet your little girl is over-the-moon! What makes it extra-special is that you all had a hand in putting it together...that is something that will stick with her...with all of you...for many years to come.

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

    That is so doggone sweet! I look at my kids now and wonder what we did right. I wish I would have written down everything. What we said. What we did. I know that having two parents are of great importance. But the two parents have to be unified. They have to stand together. I think back on what my parents did -- I've done the same. By the way, a tissue alert is a great idea. Sending big hugs!!

  19. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Whichever twin selected blue on blue is brilliant, just like her mom ;-) So pretty! And I can picture your son begrudgingly painting the chalk board. Boys seem to have the hardest time as they grow older showing their emotions. "Luh-ya, Mom" was the closest thing I got to affection when my son was 16 and I only heard it occasionally. But I cherished it. Every single time. Your son wanting you to teach him that sweet old cowboy song, though, so that he could pass it down to his kids one day? That is totally priceless! Brought a tear to my eye this morning.

  20. Image for Kris Kris

    I KNEW this would be a tearjerker! Sigh. I learned a variation of that song at camp many many years ago. This is closer to the way I know it: After the last "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" lyric, we would always sing ... "without a shirt .... ". There was a hand-clapping sequence we did with the song, as well. Thanks for bringing back a fun childhood memory.

  21. Image for Judy Judy

    Major heart tug! Not only your story but also the song sign you hung in the room brought tears to my eyes. I Hope You Dance is one of my favorite songs, the message of that song really speaks to me, perfect for a young girls room. Thank you for the inspiration and the warmth of your stories.


    Your daughter's bedroom is so beautiful. It's so great that you all worked at this together. You are all "making memories" -- and this is precious! You and your hubby are doing a great job of raising your children. God is truly blessing you! Just love to read your post, KariAnne! Have a blessed day!

  23. Image for Nancy Nancy

    Keep sharing and documenting your stories! Priceless! A good one for your book!? Did you make or purchase the wall hanging--"I hope you dance!" If purchase--where? Thanks! Nancy

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      It came from one of my sponsors several years ago. The etsy shop is called Between You and Me. Here's the link: If you don't see the sign, you can custom order it! Happy day friend! karianne

  24. Image for Meta Meta

    This one made me cry! My mama always sang "Chattanooga Choo Choo" to my baby! I need to start singing that to her baby!

  25. Image for Bonnie Bonnie

    KariAnne, you made me cry - AGAIN!!! What a sweet story and I love that room. I think your daughter has really good taste.

  26. Image for Jane Jane

    I'm right here with Peg! I love the room...the colors are perfect. I adore Country Curtains, we go waaaaaaay back! The song and your story is beyond beautiful and you really do have lovely children. On a side note,I have two of the same sort of chairs that you painted blue. Can you give me the three colors and brand of paint? They are the perfect 'blues'! Jane

  27. Image for Rose Rose

    Dear Kari-Anne~ You gave me chills all throughout your post. I read it to my husband, he had tears in his eyes. Beautiful story. Have a wonderful day. Rose

  28. Image for RenaissanceSandi RenaissanceSandi

    Oh my goodness, Karianne, I teared up! That is the sweetest and most precious story I have heard in a long while. You hang in there with those growing kids! Both mine are grown and married, and my son is raising three little ones of his own with his sweet wife! There is nothing that warms my heart more than seeing those life lessons that we have long ago forgotten being passed down and instilled in my grandchildren. Love of God, family, and our fellow man---these are the truly important things in this life! Thanks for sharing!

  29. Image for Cheryl Autrey Cheryl Autrey

    Oh! This brought tears to my eyes! What a Precious memory you have. I have three grown children and it lights up my life seeing and hearing them with their children. All the memories come back of when they were young. Love the way you share your family with all of us! Thank you and God Bless All of you!! Keep singing and dancin!!!!

  30. Image for Marijean Jenson Marijean Jenson

    Another one to bring tears to my eyes. In a time when parents don't know if they are doing anything right, I guess this is a testament to you ! Lovely post my friend.

  31. Image for Pacia Parker Pacia Parker

    My earliest memory in my life ( I will be 70 next week) is my Grandpa standing at the sink doing dishes in the smallest apartment I ever lived in singing Ragtime Cowboy Joe.

  32. Image for Terry Ellen Terry Ellen

    Sweet Kari Anne, Talk about being a good writer, honey you are amazing! Just the most precious post, what a joy you are, what joy you bring to your loving readers! Grateful Wags, Terry P.S. Agatha wants me to order that jute rug!!!

  33. Image for Mindy Mindy

    How special - his request, you all singing together and his sweet hint at the future. My eyes may have leaked a little...

  34. Image for Denise Cox Denise Cox

    Karianne, there's no doubt in my mind that you are a " fantabulous" Mom!!! I What a wonderful family you have! You are so very blessed!! I don't need to be a neighbor yards away to see that ?? Where did you get the lovely "dance" sign?? Denise And yes, I'm enjoying Fall, and I which I think is beating Spring ss becoming my favorite time of year. Mom and I are ALL decorated.. Inside and out!! I love decorating!! I If I hadn't been an RN, I think I would have gone to school for interior design. Okay, I have a Blessed day... Denise

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Denise, It came from one of my sponsors several years ago. The etsy shop is called Between You and Me. Here's the link: If you don't see the sign, you can custom order it! Happy day friend! karianne

  35. Image for Loryl Loryl

    Ragtime Cowboy Joe was one of my favorite songs as a child.I'd teach it to my preschool class on Western day. And my 35 year old baby loved it too when he was a boy. He also continues to amaze me with the wonderful man he has become. Love the room, so perfect that you got to put it together as a family. It will become a story 'round the table at a holiday gathering in the years to come!

  36. Image for Carol Carol

    Thank you for the story of your almost-a-man son. He will make a wonderful young man, husband, and father. When my son went off to college, he needed to find his own space for a while and he did not contact us for a very long time-I feared I had been one of "those Moms" and I had lost him. However, a couple of years after he graduated, we were walking into the grocery store during one of his holiday visits. He was taking something out of his pocket and flicking it/them to the ground. I asked him what he was doing. He said, "Remember when we'd be walking and you'd say the poem 'See a penny, pick it up, for all the day you'll have good luck'? I always keep pennies in my pocket for other little boys to pick up."...My daughter plans on telling his bride-to-be (not yet met!) this story at the rehearsal dinner. Sigh...

  37. Image for Jana Adams Jana Adams

    Sooooo sweet! I just got a wash of feel good tears and memories with your story. My son is 39 and my daughter 34 and I have had so many moments, especially in their adult years, of those sweet moments. Thank you for sharing!

  38. Image for Susan Curry Susan Curry

    This post touched my heart. I am 69 years old and I remember my father singing this song when I was a child. He later sang it to my children.

  39. Image for Tori Tori

    Our song growing up was "You are my Sunshine". I still know all the words to ALL the verses and I sang it to my babies when they were younger. ❤️ P.S. Love the room!

  40. Image for Ann Rooker Ann Rooker

    Hello my name is Ann, I love your style and have an old farm house as well! I have tried several different paints to get the look you have but none of the colors work, it is either too bright and light or just off! Will you give me the names of your wall paint in this bedroom and trim? It's most important to me to keep our home close to its original roots and color is so important to me!

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