The One Place That Has Taken Me the Longest to Call Home

the truth about home

I had a revelation as I was driving to the grocery store earlier this week thinking about my 3rd born. His 10th birthday was a few days ago and we moved to Lemont when I was 8 months pregnant with him. That means we have lived in Lemont for 8 years {I know what you’re thinking, that my math is off. We moved away for 2 years but we still owned the house so it all adds up to 10 in the end}.

8 years in one place. That’s a record for me. 42 years old & I’ve never lived anywhere longer than 5 years – until now.

If you would ask me today, “Where are you from?” my answer would include a pause, followed by a smile and “Well, it’s a long story but I live in Lemont, Illinois now.” After 8 years, you would think that I would call Lemont home, right?

My entire life has been in a place of transition. From birth until today, I have moved 23 times. Half of those moves happened before I got married & the rest have been with my adventurous husband. Looking at my past, it’s no wonder that it has taken me a while to call Lemont home, even though I have lived here the longest that I have ever lived anywhere!

When I pulled into the grocery store parking lot I immediately grabbed my phone to text Greg & shared with him my revelation. I had to apologize to him because it has taken me too long time to call Lemont home. I felt guilty and selfish.

I spent the next 3o minutes filling up my grocery cart, lost in my thoughts for a while. As I was driving home, the guilt & selfishness slowly melted away as I realized this truth: Lemont isn’t home.

Home isn’t about the name of a town. Home isn’t about your mailing address. Home is about the people.

Every time we have moved, Greg & I have always said “it’s not about the place, it’s about the people.” Everywhere we have lived, we have met some incredible people. People that we now call family. Lemont is the same.

You put in roots where you are planted. Some places require a little more work to prepare the ground for the seeds that will be sowed. Sometimes you have to clear out the weeds first.

Moving back to Lemont after being away for 2 years has had it’s challenges. Friendships we had before weren’t the same. We were not embraced by some and that was hard. More for me than for Greg. For the first time in the three years we’ve been back, I finally realized that I needed to let that go.

Thankfully, God didn’t wait for me to get my act together before bringing new people into our lives & giving us a renewed sense to embrace the ones that stuck by us.

Want to know the bigger truth?

I hope that our home, whether it’s Lemont or the place that will be #24, will be a small glimpse of the place that I will gladly call home one day – Heaven.

home haven


Life Lately

first day of school 2014

This school year will be the first & last time that our kids will be in every public school in our district. On one hand, I think that’s amazing. A TeSelle kid in each school. On the other hand, I think that’s crazy. Our district has two elementary schools but they are right next to each other and the school day begins and ends at the same time so that’s helpful. Carpool has been a little challenging for the older two, but thankfully we have some amazing neighbors that are helping with that.

IMG_3542Side note: On Gunnar’s first day of high school, he sent me a text during his lunch asking if he could stay after school & get some info about the freshman football team. His friends “recruited” him & of course he went & loved it. His first game was last weekend {he plays defense} & I was the one in the stands watching with one eye closed. Sadly, one of the players on the other team took a tough hit & he had to be carted off the field into an ambulance. Justification for watching with one eye closed, right?

gunnar_tackleps – I was also the mom in the stands quietly taking pictures & pretending to be a sports photographer {that’s him making the touchdown saving tackle!}.

IMG_3427Our garden is growing. Slowly & small, but it’s growing.


I’m ready for the weather to cool off so I can wear layers again. Yes, I know I’ll be regretting those words come January but I’m much more comfortable in clothing that I can layer. This late summer humid 90 degree stuff is great for crops {& I do not mean Crop Tops!} but not for my mental state. And take into consideration my aging body that’s fighting hormone changes, I’m miserable most of the time when the temperature is over 77 degrees. I’m a mess!

And speaking of being a mess. Remember a few months ago when I told you I had a sleep study test? You can decide if you want to go back and look at that picture or not. Sorry, again. After that test, the doctor told me that I have mild sleep apnea when I sleep on my back & recommended that I sleep on my side. Normally I’m all over the place when I sleep {poor Greg!} but for my health & his well-being, I have been determined to make myself a side sleeper. Thus, the hunt for a comfortable pillow for sleeping on my side that doesn’t hurt my neck & give me headaches & is somewhat firm but also soft & doesn’t make my arms fall asleep when I’m sleeping on my side. I sound spoiled rotten, don’t I? In the past 4 months, I’ve rejected 4 pillows. So, I’m on the hunt for the perfect side sleeper pillow. Any side sleepers out there have any recommendations? For my health & the well-being of my husband, we thank you!

poop cakeOur family has decided to ditch the sweets for the month of September. We aren’t being legalistic about it, just choosing to not have desserts every night after dinner. We all realized that we over-indulged on the sweets this summer & it can’t hurt to take a break. And whatever happened to dessert being spontaneous instead of expected? Dessert loses it’s specialness if it’s always expected after a meal, doesn’t it? {at least that’s what I’m telling myself & my kids this month…}


Summer is over – the pool is closed, school is in session & we’re settling in to the rhythm of alarm clocks & bus schedules & carpool & date nights & football games – a new season is here and we need a reset. Stop by Allume today where I’m sharing a few ways that you can take advantage of the new season and reset your blog.

One more thing – October is just around the corner & that means it’s almost time for 31 Days! Greg & I are brainstorming what we want to write about this year but we’d love to hear your thoughts! Is there anything that you’d LOVE {or HATE} to hear us write about this year? Let us know in the comments below or email me: carolineteselle @ gmail dot com.

How We Take Family Photos

say what?

Whenever I grab my Nikon to take pictures when people are involved, Greg knows that I need his help. It’s unspoken now.

He gathers the group to be photographed, directs them where to stand & then he gives the cues. I click & hide behind the camera. We both play the part we know well. {This time, the kids picked where they wanted to stand. They said, let’s take the picture by the “family tree”. Greg & I gave each other a raised eyebrow look that said “We have a family tree??”}.

I’d be lost without Greg & the kids do not dread having their picture taken because they know their dad & uncle {yes, that’s my nephew, Dakota on the far left} will make it fun.

Can you tell where Greg was standing when these pictures were taken? Follow the eyes of his two youngest in a few of the photographs. Who knows what he was saying but it always turns into memorable photos.

Stone loves the family tree…

…not sure how to caption this one…

surprised? confused? what?

silly face? Gunnar must not have heard the cue…

angry? poker face?

you can hear the laughter, right?


And somewhere in the midst of the fun & crazy we find the one that brings them all together, gathered around our family tree.

Summer 2014 = Whoa!

This summer has been amazing & exhausting & jam-packed & full of highs & lows – memories that we hope our kids will take with them for a long time.

I have shared a little bit about our beach & lake reunions and the R.O.C. Race but there was so much more. I want to tell you all about the “so much more” and maybe one day my internal processor brain will punch out the words. For now, enjoy the video & see the pictures which speak the words that I cannot today.


Now I’m ready for a vacation. Just kidding. Kinda.

If you have a bunch of time on your hands and you’d like to scroll through 350+ pictures from the summer, here’s the whole album on Flickr.

{Reading this in an email? Click HERE or on Vimeo to see the video}.

TeSelle Reunion 2014

cousins 2

All the cousins!


The crazy cousins!

dad & gunnar

Gunnar & Greg


Tygar & Ana


Cynthia & Lily

eden & geese

Eden & a gaggle of geese


A TeSelle reunion tradition – the family hike

fun with glow sticks

Glow stick fun!


Gunnar relaxing

joan & cynthia

Joan & Cynthia – mother & daughter beauties

stone splash

Stone “rain”


Lake Anna sunset

teselle reunion 2014

The TeSelle Family

the boys



Tygar & Stone tubing with grandpa

shellfish allergy

Gunnar discovered an allergy to shellfish…


Tygar loved the paddleboard



boat relaxing

Lily, Canon & Gunnar enjoying the shade with Grandpa

chef eric

Chef Eric!

ct & eden

My first time to drive a jet ski!

nail party

Nail painting party with Lily & Eden


Before the “scream/laugh omg slow down Darrin but we can’t go any slower!” tube ride with Joan & Cynthia. Unfortunately, we do not have an after photograph. ;)

tygar swing

Swingin’ Tygar

shocked sons

“What? Mom just won?”

the "grandma"

“I won!” & from now on we will refer to this move as “The Grandma!”

Greg leading the kayak train doing "The Grandma"

Greg leading the kayak train doing “The Grandma”


Alaina & Ana

cousins on the wow

Fun on the WOW


Cynthia & Eric lakeside chat

lake anna sunrise

Lake Anna sunrise

It was a beautiful week as you can tell from the photographs. We are extremely thankful to Greg’s family for providing the house & the boat & the jet ski & the kayaks & all the lake toys! We showed up with our swim suits & sunscreen & loved every minute.

Thank you Gale, Joan, Darrin, Peggy, Ana, Alaina Canon, Eric, Cynthia & Lily! Looking forward to the next time we can be together!

A Picnic on the Beach

beach picnic cousins

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed that our family spent some time together at the beach last week. Once a year, we make the trek to South Carolina to spend time with some family, relax & enjoy the ocean air. My parents generously provide the accommodations and we provide the chaos!

beach picnic cousins_2

beach picnic tygar

beach picnic oldest boys

beach picinic wave watching

During the day we do our own thing. We spend some time at the beach & the pool & sometimes participate in a random activity offered by the resort. But we always meet up together for dinner & the adults take turns making the menu & preparing the meal.

This year I had a grand idea – let’s have a picnic dinner on the beach! Hot dogs & chips & carrot sticks & lemonade & s’mores.  Easy, right? I guess the meal itself wasn’t grand, just the location. It was something we hadn’t done before in all our years of gathering at the beach.

beach picnic hotdogs

Here’s why it seemed like a grand idea at the time, at least in my mind:

1. The grandparents can spend time with the kids without the crazy midday beach crowd & overwhelming heat.

2. For me, the photography nerd, it’s twilight hour – the perfect time for photos.

3. Eden & Stone could fly their kites that they have been saving since they received them as Christmas gifts without the fear of crashing them into someone sunbathing.

4. The relaxing ocean breeze & cool sand.

beach picnic kite

beach picnic watching

beach picnic family pic

beach picnic crazy family

beach picnic crazy eden

What I didn’t take into consideration when I had my grand idea to have a picnic dinner on the beach:

1. The amount of stuff you need to trek down for a picnic on the beach for all 9 of us – chairs, blankets, beverages, condiments for hot dogs, a hammer {to crack a coconut, of course!} a camera & a tripod {for the family group pictures & twilight hour photos, of course!}

2. The wind – yes, the wind was PERFECT for flying kites! but not so perfect for trying to spread condiments on hot dogs.

3. Even though I’ve done this before & I’ve read about the perfect settings for my camera during twilight hour, I still manage to forget all I’ve learned when I start clicking. I decided to not let it fluster me this time and just take pictures. Some came out with the right exposure, some didn’t. Oh well.

beach picnic G&C
beach picnic tygar laugh

The kids didn’t care that they had to eat their dinner in stages because there was no possible way to eat off of a paper plate in that crazy wind. They grabbed the hot dog bun, slapped on a hot dog & their favorite condiment and walked around in the sand and the wind and enjoyed every bite of that hot dog! Even if it had a few grains of sand in there.

beach picnic full moon

When the week comes to an end, to help ease the pain of driving away from the beach, we talk about our favorite things that happened that week.

Guess what? This year, the hot dog picnic dinner on the beach was one of their favorite things.

Sometimes, as adults, what we perceive as an inconvenience can become a lifelong memory for your kid.

Here’s to more “inconveniences” this summer!

Pass the mustard!



What I Do All Day {if you really want to know}

cotton_candy_cloudsSo, what do I do all day now that my kids are all in school? I know you’re all dying to know. Well, maybe not all of you but it has come up in conversations and emails and text messages.

Those 6 hours do go by quickly.

Can I just say that I am blessed to have a husband who works hard & supports our family & has made it possible all these years for me to be a stay at home {& now work at home} mom.  I know what a huge blessing that is and I do not take that for granted.

My new schedule has allowed me:

  • to catch up on my stockpile of books to read {here are just a few}
  • to write more in my journal & hopefully some of those thoughts can be shared on here one day
  • to practice my photography
  • the flexibility of returning to my Body Pump classes
  • to have lunch or coffee with a friend
  • to volunteer my time to harvest & work in the i Grow Lemont gardens & participate in their book club
  • to do a little more freelance virtual assistant work for 3 to 4 bloggers scattered across the country
  • to find a theater that’s showing a matinee {I haven’t done this yet but I want to!}
  • to be spontaneous with a random act of kindness
  • to play uninterrupted 80s music radio on Pandora

swingsObviously, that isn’t an exhaustive list of everything I do, just some of the new stuff.  If I really listed everything, you’d be completely bored.  Maybe one day I’ll do a “day in the life” post just for fun so you can see how completely exciting my life is that day! {wink}

I wouldn’t be completely honest with you if I didn’t tell you that there have been a few times in the past few weeks where I sit alone on my couch, surrounded by quiet & do nothing.  I am refreshed by quiet.  I know there are 100 things that I could do that are within arms reach of that spot on the couch but I choose to sit.  To listen.

I do have to be careful though.  If I sit there for too long, that quietness & stillness can transform into laziness & sometimes depression.  When that starts to creep in, that’s when I text a friend to meet me for coffee or go out for a walk.

neon_shoesRarely do I get on a soapbox but here it goes:  What other profession {and yes, stay at home moms and/or dads is a profession!} gets asked the question “What do you do all day”?  Can you think of one?  I can’t.  If I asked my friend that’s a doctor, “What do you do all day?” they’d laugh.  Am I right?  The job we’re doing of raising babies to toddlers to kids to teenagers to young adults to adults is a profession.  The hardest one in the world. Just because we have the privilege of staying home doesn’t make it less difficult.

Off of my soapbox now.

bumper_carsThanks for sticking with me on this journey and reading my random thoughts & daydreams.  I am truly thankful for you.

Tell me about your day.  {See how much better that sounds?  Oops, back on soapbox! Sorry!}


Summer 2013 :: Our Top Ten

cottage_collage1. The Cottage. Our 3rd annual trip to the mountains of North Carolina with the Smiths. {Read about our 2011 & 2012 trips}. Chad & Myquillyn have friends that let them borrow their convertible for the weekend. Clearly, we enjoyed the ride. The Cottage is a beautiful place & each year we come away with lifelong memories.

iGrowLemontHarvest2. iGrowLemont Harvest. The seeds that were sown in the Spring are producing a lovely harvest.

3. Greg surviving an emergency landing on a United Airlines flight from Charlotte to Chicago but it was diverted to Dulles because there was a hydraulic leak or something crazy like that and it caused the landing gear to malfunction. This is a story that you must hear in person from Greg & how he was disappointed that he didn’t get to slide down the inflatable emergency slide. Yep, he’s crazy.

4. HeartFriends weekend. Ahhh.

5. Dreams. Dreams. Dreams! Cheering on these dreams: The Smith’s, The Dobie’s & Reeve’s.


whit&jonathan6. A wedding. Congratulations to Jonathan & Whitney!

family reunion7. Family reunion!


homemade_icecream8. Grandpa’s visit & homemade ice cream!

bacon_icecream9. Brown Sugar Maple Bacon ice cream! {If you’re in the Asheville, NC area, find Hickory Nut Gap Farm & hopefully they’ll be serving some when you visit}.

Chicago_fire10. We went to our first Chicago Fire MLS game. This has been on Stone’s wish list for about a year now & thanks to the generosity of some good friends our entire family was able to go.

What’s your Summer 2013 Top Ten?

Our Summer 2012 Top Ten

The Past Week


In the past week we have been plagued by pink eye, fevers, coughs, a fainting spell, a busted lip, a pinched neck nerve, tear duct irrigation surgery, a migraine, a sore throat, a cavity, hives, a cracked iPhone, emotional stress of job pressures and that’s just what’s happened in our family!

It has also been a week of hearing the good news of grandpa’s PSA #’s being really low! A week of meeting new teachers & the brief burst of excitement that brings.  A week of falling in love with the new stash of school supplies {ok, that was just me!} A week of watching the first steps of a dream going from being a dream on paper to “oh crap this is happening!” for some friends.  A week of having a conversation with a friend that lives far away & being able to pick up where you left off.  A week of celebrating birthdays over shared meals with good friends.

All through the craziness of the ups & downs, I am reminded that God is always in control & I’m thankful that I can trust in Him.

For this God is our God for ever & ever;
He will be our guide even to the end.
Psalm 48:14


Things I Learned in July

driving dreaming1. Driving & Dreaming ~ long road trips are the perfect time for Greg and I to discuss dreams. We talk about BIG dreams. Then ponder for a while then come back to it. Dreams sessions while driving make long road trips seem shorter.

motorcycle nap2. Also, apparently some people can fall asleep while riding on the back of a motorcycle going 70 mph – that’s a whole different level of dreaming!

lost tooth3. Another “Last First” ~ Eden lost her first tooth. She is my youngest child so this is another “last first” of many for our family.

4. I finally fell in love with making & drinking Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Iced Coffee ~ it is easier than I thought it would be & SOOOO good! {Thanks Nester & Karrie!}

5. Pancake Cafe closed ~ one of my favorite places to eat in our town has been Pancake Cafe. Breakfast foods are one of my love languages. While we were in NC last month, it closed. Without warning! And while I was out of town! Womp, womp. I guess I’ll be making my own #7 at home…egg whites with hash browns (they were by far my favorite hash browns…better than Cracker Barrel!) with a toasted English muffin. Humph. I’ll miss you Pancake Cafe!

stainless steel tip6. Stainless steel can remove the smell of onions, garlic, etc from your hands! Where has this little snippet of knowledge been hiding all of my life?? Thanks Brad & Embassy Suites for this tid-bit of knowledge hanging up in your hotel elevator.

Someday Someday Maybe7. Lauren Graham {a.k.a. Lorelai Gilmore a.k.a. Sarah Braverman} wrote a book! Someday, Someday, Maybe – it’s on my Amazon wishlist now. Have you read it?

beet love8. I have fallen in love with beets all over again! We planted them in the iGrowLemont garden & last week I purchased some from our first iGrowLemont harvest. I followed a simple recipe for roasting them in the oven and they were DELICIOUS! Do you have a favorite beet recipe?

ct tour de france love

9. My love for Le Tour de France grew this year! Despite the controversy that has surrounded this sport in recent years, I love to watch it. It’s on my bucket list to be a spectator one year! Or maybe I was there this year…

tear duct10. Did you know that your tear ducts can become clogged? I’ve heard about it happening with infants but not as an adult. What I thought was my emotions making my eyes water was actually a tear traffic jam! This will be a “to be continued” for Things I Will Learn in August. I have another appointment with my ophthalmologist in a few weeks to see if they can fix it. Let’s hope it’s a simple fix!

I am linking up today with Emily & her community over at Chatting at the Sky. Be sure to click over & share with us what you learned in July!

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