On My Mind in October

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Dear friends,

I haven’t updated you all on all of the fun things going on in the Duke Family recently. Since I know you really want to know, I thought I’d give you a little . I have LOOOOOVED having my amazing contributors sharing their creativity here, and I hope you love it, too. I know it isn’t my “voice” but I’ve been working with them on what to share, and I have truly loved every post so far. It’s been so great for me to breath a little and not feel like I have to work 4 hours to create a post each day. Did you know that’s how long it generally takes me to create each post? Yes, 4-5 hours. That’s not even the time spent on social media promoting it. I do love this blogging gig, love the sharing community, love hearing from all of you in the comments and emails and Facebook and Instagram, so thanks for caring!

I’ve always dubbed October as the craziest month of the year at our home. I’ve got 3 birthdays, Halloween, fall goodness, soccer, and it seems that’s the time when the schools like to have concerts and scout campouts and talents shows and everything else from practicing the first month of school. I’ve had the highest traffic ever on my blog so far in this month of October 2014 (that Family Picture clothing by color series was LOVED in the blogosphere), and it’s so rewarding to me to see all of my hard work paying off with those stats, but even more than that, I love to hear from you. Have I mentioned that before? It’s true, I do.  As much as my first true love in blogging was photography, I’ve taken some time off from taking too many pictures. I mean, I’m still taking them, but generally referring out clients to local friends, as I don’t feel the love for it as much anymore. My heart isn’t in it.

Sometimes I feel like my head is about to spin out of control, other days I feel content like I have it all together.


Grateful I have older kids with assigned home jobs so that I am not responsible for dishes and sweeping and vacuuming. Grateful for the cute teenage girl who comes over once a week to help me with organizing and cleaning so that I can have a semi decent looking home some of the time. I’m helping her save for college, I’m so nice, aren’t I? Most of the time I feel guilty for not helping her when she comes. She’s upstairs right now as I type this in my PJ’s and I wonder what she is thinking, and why I’m not doing what I have her do. Grateful for my friend who comes to blow out my hair while I type on the computer every other week, so I can look semi presentable in public. I don’t tend to take the time to do my hair much lately. Really, they are saving me, and I pay them a small fee for that service. Also, on Monday this week, I got an email from The Studio Kitchen, reminding me that I could purchase a few freezer meals from them. I thought I’d help out a small company and give them some business, so that I can relax on cooking for the week, I literally felt a weight lift off my shoulders the minute I submitted my order. It’s cheaper than eating out (which our family rarely does anyway) and more fresh and healthy.  I may need to do that more often.

I feel so extravagant indulging in some things like those I just listed, but it’s how I keep it together sometimes, you know? This blogging income is “extra” for our family, so I feel ok doing those “extra” things sometimes that allow me to then give more time to the blog. I force myself to do some sort of physical exercise each day, but most days, I go half way, and it’s showing on my body. I still have the desire to be more tone, but I tend to spend more time in my Jammies typing on my computer doing other stuff instead. I do have a weekly Wednesday gym date with a few friends, and after our tough class, we sit in the sauna and chat. Nice therapy, except for the occasional older man in there with us, weighing in on our conversation. I’ve found contentment in new friends, as I try to not focus on negativity that used to surround me with others. I feel joy in working in the nursery at church on Sundays with the 3 year olds, which in the past, was an assignment I dreaded. I’ve been going to a weekly Bible study that has really helped fill my spiritual cup. I was asked to give the devotional this week, and talked about how much I love to Share Goodness on this here website. I often sit in the back very quiet (shocking, I know) because it is a mixture of retiree’s and moms like me, and I only know a few people in there. It’s been great food for my soul each week.

My boys, husband, and I have been watching Once Upon a Time on Netflix the past few months. We send the girls to bed, and it’s a week night privilege for them. It’s a fun little time that we get to spend together and enjoy. We watch 2-3 episodes a week, and are almost to “real time” where we’ll have to wait each week for a new episode. I love having older kids to do fun stuff like this with. I’ve been working on writing a post on an electronic/cell phone contract to share with all of you, as we are having issues in our house with spending a bit too much time on devices.

Last week, I texted my two high school besties, and said I wanted to take a trip to Vermont next fall. They both agreed. I hope it actually happens, I’ve never longed for a repeat trip to a certain spot so much. My husband and I went 5 years ago for our 10 year anniversary, and it was heaven to me. Which brings me to our 15 year in December. We’ve talked about taking a trip to somewhere cold in January. Any suggestions? I don’t want to ski, but would like to snow shoe in the snowy mountains or something fun like that.

I delight in group texts. I feel like I have so many people close to me that live so far away, it’s a great way to stay connected on a regular basis. My awesome and fabulous sister in laws and I have been group texting nearly daily, and I get a good giggle from that correspondence. Just last night, my SIL Kim sent a picture of what she was making for dinner, a big pan of nasty onions. She knew I’d hate it, that’s why she sent it. I love the little things like that. I decided the other day that I needed to start a group text for my brothers, too. I want to keep better tabs on what is going on in their lives, so we shared a bit with each other then, too. I love them, and grateful for them. I’ve also got a regular stream going with my blogging friends that came to visit. After our slumber party weekend, how can we not?

All of this is to just BLAB what’s going on in my brain, and help you realize that all the pretty pictures and fun projects don’t mean that I’ve got it all together. No one does. But I delight in a life full of crazy, it’s how I thrive.

Love you all,

Kristen Joy


Now I’ve got some PICTURES!

My oldest runs cross country, and he’s pretty fast. I’ve taken various pictures of him running, and I think he got a 13:27 for a 2 mile race, his personal record. He also plays the tuba in the middle school band, and we recently found out he’s going to need to choose between those two loves, for high school next year. Kindof a bummer. It’s been a big topic of discussion around there parts lately.

cross country running

My second son turned 12 at the beginning of the month. I shared on Instagram a picture of a balloon I tied to his bike and a story of the day he was born, along with the craziest birth story I had. I saw this idea with number balloons and had to fork out $20 bucks to take some fun shots of him. I think it was worth it.

Birthday pictures


My girls participated in the elementary school talent show. With my friend Alisha, I helped choreograph a dance for them to the Sisters version of “ho hey” from Nashville. My youngest does not have any dance experience (unless you count watching Angelina Ballerina) and got impatient learning/practicing at times, but I felt their performance was PERFECTION!! I posted a video clip here on Instagram. I love the overall theme of the song as siblings: I belong with you, you belong with me, in my sweet heart.

Talent Show Dance


Lets not forget my husband, he did a trail race, and we all went to cheer him on. We’ve been doing this for years, it’s one of our favorite family activities.

trail race

I went to take some pictures of my local blogger friend, Dana from MADE, who has a craft channel on You Tube. She and I have only recently connected in real life, though we’ve lived in the same city for years, and have had some sporadic email correspondence. She has such great energy and enthusiasm for the goodness in life, it’s enjoyable to be around her. She had a film crew in her home for a full week shooting Season 2. If you want to learn how to sew, check it out! Or to just brush up on your skills. In this video segment, she had another seamstress, Miranda, working at her side make a similar pair of pants, two different ways. I posted a group selfie on Instagram of me and the crew, them working hard and oblivious to me snapping. This kind of stuff is my favorite photography lately. Life happening, and I’m a fly on the wall.

How to Sew

I spent all night Friday night at a Lock-in with my boys and their middle school band. I did it two years ago, and I tell ya, there is nothing like insight into their lives, any way I can get it. I love mingling with the kids, and chatting late into the night with parents and teachers. Yes, it’s exhausting, but so fun for me at the same time. I’m so grateful my boys want me to be around. I recognize it may not last long, but I’ll take it.  The place, Gattiland, is a pizza buffet with a HUGE arcade that was unlimited for the kids, and 2 big movie rooms.



I’m writing photo tips on E-how each week. This week was on my favorite phone apps!  Check it out!!

My awesome photographer friend and neighbor, Heather Walker took some head shots of me, now that I’m a red head. It’s been 2.5 years since I changed mine, and I’m happy with the turnout. My hairdresser Kiran did the curls, and I wish she could come do my hair every day. I posted this on facebook to take a poll of which Image I should use. The response was CRAZY, over 500 people left their comments on their favorite number. My friend took so many, I may share more on a post later.

Kristen Duke Headshots by Heather Walker PhotographyI was featured on a facebook page for a website called Surprise Ride, and I thought it was so sweet what they shared about me. I’ve never even met them or corresponded with them before, their site is NEW to me! To hear and know that they can feel the JOY I have for life, makes my heart so happy. Makes me want to continue on this sharing goodness ride. This is a screen shot of what they shared.


Now do you feel updated on my life? Stay tuned,  I’ll be sharing our Halloween fun and trip to the Pumpkin Patch soon! If you don’t follow me on Instagram, I’d love to have you, I share more little tidbits like this there. If you don’t have an account, why not???? It’s so much fun!!!

**********SEND ME YOUR HOLIDAY CARDS!  I LOVE this time of year as we all prep to send out holiday cards. I’d love to be added to your list! I get a bunch of extras to send out to readers who send to me, so if you want one, send me one! My address is: Kristen Duke P.O. BOX #4085; Cedar Park, TX 78630

Join The Discussion



  1. KJ,

    What a nice long post, I enjoyed reading it and catching up with what is happening to you. I know I still owe you stuff and will send something to you this week.

    Love ya’ soooooooo much!


    • Kristen Duke says:

      Thanks dad, I know at least you will read those super long posts! It’s for my record, since this has become my most consistant journaling these days.

  2. I love hearing about what’s going on with you!

    Suggestions for cold place in January: Alaska or Colorado (not sure if you’ve ever been to either) or maybe Wyoming or Montana.

    I didn’t get to vote on your headshots. #4 is my favorite as well as #1.

    Great idea about the group texts!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Hi Ava! Great to hear from you! We went as a couple to Alaska in the summer two years ago–so beautiful! I’m thinking Colorado is a great bet, my husband always wanted to live there!

  3. I always enjoy reading your posts Kristen! I especially love when you share your thoughts and what’s been going on in your life! I feel like I’m chatting with a good friend! By the way…my favorite picture of you is #4!

  4. Jacqueline says:

    🙂 Good to hear from YOU again! I totally understand you including guest posters on the blog, but I always like the personal touch. Makes me feel like I know you even though we’ve never met!

  5. Lester Bon Jovi says:

    Love the red hair! Makes your eyes pop!

    Love the pics of the family. Tyler is so super fast that is awesome. Love the pics of Mathew and the ballons.

    Can’t wait to see Halloween pictures too.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Lester, my bro! How nice to hear from you;) If only i had natural red like your kids….we’ll see how long this one stays.

  6. Love the update!

    It’s sad that your son will have to pick between music and cross country. Are they both considered extra-curricluars? Music is so important for development, and physical activity is a no-brainer for necessity in a child’s life. I hope you figure that out.

    Love the head shots!