Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lessons Learned in 2011

10 Things I Learned in 2011
I could be a vegan except for my morning cup of coffee with cream. 

Failure teaches more than success.

Parenting a 6, 8, and 11 year-old is harder than parenting a 1, 3, and 6 year-old.
Being good at something takes a lot of effort.
Eve couldn't help it... she had to taste the fruit.
I value honesty over every other trait in a person.
Prayer is an essential part of every day.
The best judge of a person's character is how well he/she treats those who can do nothing for them.
I need to run more races.
Trust your intuition. It is there for a reason and God-given.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Cruise

Our family is going on their first-ever cruise in a few weeks. Being responsible for four people's packing, I have already started thinking about what we have and what we might need for the trip. I wanted to make sure the girls' swimsuits fit and asked Eden to go try her Speedo on to make sure it fit.

Eden: "Why do I have to see if it fits? It fit me this summer."
Me: "Well, it's been a few months and you've grown. I just need to make sure it fits."
Eden: "Mom! My legs grow longer but my body stays the same."

She could be correct in her observation but I still need to know for packing purposes!

Lilli came home excited last week because she would be representing her class in the school Spelling Bee. Yesterday, she came home in tears realizing the Spelling Bee was on a day we would be on the cruise. When I told her there was nothing we could do, she kept crying about it. When I offered that she could stay home with Oma so she wouldn't miss the Spelling Bee, she decided she could try again next year.

Good choice.

Asher made the honor roll his first nine weeks of middle school. This was wonderful news to me. He was given full responsibility and he didn't disappoint in his performance. He made 6 B's and 2 A's. One B was in Creative Writing. Therefore, I accepted his grade as subjective and told him "good job." His other B was in Pre-AP English. At the mid-point of the nine weeks, he had almost a perfect grade. His B was the result of slacking on his reading goal and not completely meeting it.
As a result of his missing his goal, I let him know right away he must meet his reading goal for this nine weeks. No exceptions. And, the final date for testing on his 6th book falls on a cruise date. So, he has to have all six books read before leaving for the cruise. No exceptions.
Asher is a problem-solver. And, quite clever. He finished two books in the first three weeks through diligence. In the middle of the fourth week, he came home and marked three more books off of his list. I was curious.
I asked him how he had finished three books so quickly. He looked at me sheepishly and didn't want to divulge his secret. I made him.

Asher: "I tested on three Captain Underpants books."
Me: "Those were on the reading list? ....... Well, you get 100% for ingenuity and 20% for academics. You're a stinker."

I guess there's more than one way...

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Blessings of Failure

D has been out of town for almost a week. He desperately misses me and the kids when he travels and likes to have frequent family conversations with all of us while on speaker phone. He enjoys asking the girls about their day and telling them good night. He likes to talk to Asher about school, current interests, etc. He doesn't want to miss out on a single moment.

Yesterday, I told Asher "Daddy spent the day thinking about his twelve-year-old boy." Asher asked me, "Why?" I replied, "You are our only son. We have put a lot of time and effort into you and we think about who you are becoming... we wonder what kind of man you will be. Daddy loves you. He was thinking about how he has influenced you."

Dyron and I have been discussing our waning influence on Asher lately. We're young enough to remember adolescence. We know how friends influence. We also feel Asher's "formative years" are almost over...

As parents, D and I have put 100% into teaching our children values we feel will give them the best life. Most of our values come from the Bible. Many of our values come from the way we were raised. Some of our values come from our own life experiences.

At this point, we have decided it's time for Asher to take what he has been taught and use those skills to make his own decisions. We still have "house rules" he must follow but we can't hold his hand while at school, hanging out with his friends, etc.

In our public school system, we have an online service called Edline that reports students' grades. It is accessible by parents and students to check grades on quizzes, tests, projects, etc. Many parents use this system. I have never used it.

Every day when the kids get home from school, I ask them... "How was your day? Do you have any homework? Do you need to study for a quiz or a test?" This is my one reminder to them. So far, it has worked very well. My children make excellent grades.

When they have forgotten a homework assignment or an upcoming quiz/test and the result is less sleep (I don't let them stay up late to complete a homework assignment. I make them get up earlier than normal to complete it.) or an inferior grade (because of lack of study), they learn from their failure. I feel very strongly about this concept of personal responsibility. The expectations Dyron and I have set for our children result in excellence! If there is a missed homework assignment or low test score, an opportunity for learning exists. We ask our children what could they have done to avoid the bad result? The answer is always change their actions.

In realizing it was THEIR OWN MISTAKE, we are empowering our children! They learn THEY are in control of their own actions. THEY have the power to succeed. THEY ARE IN CONTROL of their own success or failure.

Asher and I made an agreement before he started middle school. I told him I would give him "free reign" in choosing his classes and he would be fully responsible for his homework, quizzes, tests, etc. I would only ask him once a day if he had any homework or an upcoming test. He was placed in all Pre-AP courses and moved up to Pre-Algebra after the school year began. He seems to have a minimal amount of homework compared with other classmates. (I've heard other parents talking about their child's homework load.) This made me want to "helicopter parent" and check Edline. However, I resisted.

I will see in a few hours if he has chosen success or failure.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


My firstborn and only son turns twelve today. Twelve! 12. A decade + 2. Last year of childhood. Almost a teenager.

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I prayed for a son. Having two sisters, I never experienced a brother. I was curious. I wanted to learn about boys through mothering one. I wanted to know everything about a little boy. Why were they so loud? What made them run so fast? Why did they turn sticks into guns? Why did they pull a girl's hair when they really liked her? Why did they burp and fart constantly, love to skip rocks, and have a warrior spirit? Where did they get their energy?

When Asher was born, he instantly picked up his head and looked around the room with eyes wide open. I marveled at his instant fascination with exploring his new world. He never seemed to want to sleep. He hated being restrained in his car seat. He cried when we put shoes on his feet. He was a ball of energy from the start... always demanding more and more of me.

He taught me to think and move faster while at the same time making me slow to anger.

I loved him at first sight.

He has always hated to hear the word "no." Now, I see him more completely. "No" is another restraint to him because he doesn't ask for much. When he is disciplined, he sometimes receives instruction with defiance... but I can't think of a time when he didn't return to me and apologize for his mistake.

As a boy, he was a ball of endless energy. As a young man, he is friendly, curious, smart, and full of potential.

D and I reflected on his life last night and then talked about his future. We found a quote we both loved...

"Adolescence is a new birth, for the higher and more completely human traits are now born." -G. Stanley Hall

What is coming? So many people warn of what is around the corner. Every phase has been challenging... isn't that the purpose of children? I really see it as another learning experience. And, isn't learning about refining our current set of beliefs? Learning is a deeper understanding of our purpose. Raising children has never been a bed of roses... it has been a winding path of beautiful views, unexpected "oops" switchbacks, and the occasional rest stop. 

Son. I have loved watching and participating in your "so far" journey of life.

Just remember... "Every man dies. Not every man really lives." -William Wallace

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Language of "Uh"

My girls have been speaking a new language for a few months. I first noticed their new vernacular this summer. Eden would become frustrated with something Lillian was doing and she would say, "Lilli! Stop-uh!"

Later in the day I might hear Lilli say, "Eden! Quit-uh!" 

Many times the exchange between my two daughters would simply be the other sister's name. "Lilli-uh" or "Eden-uh" was heard in their conversation exchange several times a day.

Other "uh" words include:
1. Asher-uh
2. Don't-uh
3. Stupid-uh

Phrases include:
1. "I'm coming-uh."
2. "Be quiet-uh."
3. "It's not funny-uh."
4. "Leave me alone-uh."

I noticed the increased use of the "uh" ending correlated exactly with the volume of the speaker's voice which correlated with the intent of the speaker to get the person "named-uh" in major trouble.

Now, Daddy-uh and Mama-uh even join in the conversation now and then...

Good night-uh.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lost in Mid-Life

I'm standing in my kitchen making the kids quesadillas while wearing an apron and my eyes are opened to the meaning of "mid-life." It looms on the horizon for so long and then it suddenly appears right beside me. In the kitchen. Wearing an apron. Calling out spelling words to my kids.

Mid-life sneaks up behind me and grabs me by the ponytail. It pulls me to the floor and starts screaming in my face. Each word it shouts brings doubt. What have I accomplished with my life? What am I doing? Is this what it's all about?

Katy Perry sings "we'll be young forever." And, I know she's dead wrong.

(I wrote this last week... thought it was incomplete. Guess not. So, I'll publish it now.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pickled Okra


6:15 am. I push the snooze on my Iphone. 6:25 am. I'm up and head to the kitchen to start the coffee. Wake Asher up.

8:45 am. The kids are all in school. I head out for a 3-mile run. Wow. It's HOT!

9:20 am. Back home. Hit the shower. Eat my 10 o'clock banana. Start the first load of laundry. Read a few paragraphs in "The Road to Serfdom." Ponder government. Ponder the ignorant masses.

Schedule two family photo shoots. Load the dishwasher.

Make a little lunch. Read the opinion section and the editorials. Empty the dryer. Fold a load of laundry. Start another load.

Clean my closet. Start the ironing. Search Netflix. Watch a film (while ironing) about a Palestinian suicide bomber who spends a weekend with Israelis (because he has a faulty switch that doesn't detonate the bomb) and struggles with his mission. All in Arabic and Hebrew. (With English subtitles.)

Make chocolate chip cookies for the kids' after-school snack.

Greet the children. "How was your day?" Take Asher to get his haircut at Becky's. Girls get lost in the woods. (Slight panic on my part even though they were with the two brown Labradors that would lead them home...)

6:00 pm soccer meeting. Dyron volunteers to be Lilli's soccer coach in addition to Eden's coach...despite knowing very little about the game. (No one else is "stepping up.")

Get Eden's alternative "Sight Word" list from her first-grade teacher. This list includes "scientist", "language", "noun"...

Asher brings home his percussion set. He plays his new instruments for an hour. I love to hear him making music.

We eat at Razorback Pizza. The family is oblivious to the homeless woman snitching from the salad bar until I point her out. I decided to go offer her our extra pizza. Funny. She seems to prefer the pickled okra...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Raising a Gentleman

My only son is a young man. He will turn twelve in a few months. I can see his childhood cocoon starting to split as his wings of adulthood finish their growth and get ready for flight. I only hope I have given him the best nourishment of discipline, values, and love needed for strong wings to carry him safely on his journey. I pray he will continue to seek his Creator and his Savior when he needs guidance.
I know he will encounter turbulent winds. Thankfully, he will also experience soft breezes. I am forecasting plenty of adolescent storms in the next few years but hopefully with the proper preparation they can be weathered!

Asher started middle school this week. I didn't shed a tear when he started Kindergarten. (I think I was too busy with the other two babies at home!) I shed many tears last Monday. I also prayed many prayers. I love you, son.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sweet Potatoes

The phone rang Tuesday morning. I answered the call and it was dad. He asked, "Could you bring your camera when you come out here and take some pictures of my sweet potatoes?" I replied, "Sure." Dad said, "Thanks, sis." He then hung up the phone.

My dad is, and probably always will be, a man of few words.

He also came over to my house and borrowed two of Eden's fake snakes for his apple trees. He was hoping they would keep the birds from eating his apple crop!

I felt like Eve... but the snake didn't say anything to me!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Blame it on Facebook!

I can't believe I haven't posted since June 20th. I feel so guilty. So slovenly. And, so incomplete.

I write a little bit every day. I just haven't been sharing lately. I always have such grand visions of my what my accomplishments will be and how I will share nuggets of wisdom with my audience and then I get distracted by life.

Summer is especially distracting...

Part of the distractions of late have been travel-related. I took the kids to Virginia Christadelphian Youth Camp and then to the Great Lakes Bible School in Wisconsin. That adventure took 14 days. Then, I returned home with our friend, Dwight. (When Dwight is here I get even less done because we like to philosophize while laying poolside in the sun!) The two weeks home were filled with unpacking, loads and loads of laundry, a lot of swim practice, a lot of friends, packing for a second trip, and two swim meets before heading to Grandy and Grammy's house. (Yes. Back to Virginia.)

A great time was had by all in Virginia. We played with the cousins. We ran a 5K. (The first for all three kids.) We went to the beach for a few days. We visited Jamestown. And, we got plenty of quality time with Aunt Martie, Aunt Carmen, and Aunt Shannon!

Now, being back home just means two more weeks to get ready for school. The girls and I spent the morning cleaning and organizing their room. We also started gathering school supplies and I realized how tall they've grown this summer! 

I always want to accomplish more than is possible during a day. I've finally realized how much time three children take out of my schedule. Someone is ALWAYS hungry (must be related to the growing!). Someone is always asking a question (usually about having a friend over). Someone is always needing something...

So, I blame Facebook. It's too easy to type in a quick status update. Instead, I should be taking the time to muse about motherhood in a more thoughtful way. It's therapeutic. I should know this... anything worth anything takes time. However, I will resist taking the opportunity to make an "I will blog more" promise. Because I also know that "good intentions are not enough..." I've got to get to work!

At camp you make life-long friends!


More cousins!
The girls and Aunt Carmen!
Asher catches a wave at Virginia Beach!

Pregnant Aunt Martie looking radiant... only eight weeks to go!

The girls imagine what it would be like to live in a Powhatan Indian house!

"Land ahoy!" Grammy shouts. (Did I mention it was 108 degrees on our visit to Jamestown?)

The kids try on the armor while touring the English fort at Jamestown.

We helped Uncle Ty and Aunt Shannon celebrate their 7th anniversary while in Richmond.

Dwight and Asher... twinkies in their matching shirts.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Home Brew: Take One

D and I decided to try home brewing. He ordered a kit online and our first batch of beer is "Old School IPA" from Austin Homebrew Supply.

D setting up the supplies... assembly line fashion...

HOPS! (Adds that bitter flavor we love.)


Heating water to 155 degrees...

D adding the grains...

Soaking the grains.

D pouring in the malt extract...

Hops. Yummy hops!

(Hops are the tasty flowers that add flavor to beer.)

Asher peeks in at the process after asking, "What's that smell?"

At this point, we're hoping our home brew is going to taste something like these taste...

Drinking and brewing.

D calls for more advice from his buddy.

The yeast.

Watching the timer...

Taking my turn bottling our brew!

Four weeks to wait... hope it's delicious!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Who's your daddy?

My Daddy has always been there for me. In a quiet and unassuming way...

Anyone who knows my dad knows he is a man of few words. He gave me one consistent word of advice growing up... marry in the Lord. Our family read the Bible almost every evening while I was young. It was during this time Daddy would give us life advice.

He not only spoke words of advice to us... he lived the words he spoke. My dad was an accountant. I heard him complain a few times about some of the people he worked with and it was usually about their smoking habits. (Remember, people used to smoke at their desk.) Dad had signs on his door and in his office regarding smoking. I remember his "Smoke Free Zone" sign on his office door. I remember Dad always going to work... he was never out of a job. He never complained about providing for his family.

Dad was also faithful to my mother. He spoke like a "male chauvinist" at times but his actions told a different story. (I now realize he was picking at us. It was his way of having fun in a female-dominated household.) Dad and Mom were always working on some project around our house and 20 acres. My mother would ride on the tractor with my dad while he cultivated the garden or bush-hogged the field. She didn't have to be there... but she knew he liked it. I now realize these were "dates." They were always hugging and kissing each other (at my mother's insistence)... even in front of our friends. I found it embarrassing at the time but now I realize the importance of their displays of affection. It was showing me a healthy and happy marriage.

Dad was always a "wanna be" farmer. He grew a huge garden every summer. We even had a cantaloupe patch for a few years. Our work in planting, picking, and selling the cantaloupes resulted in a swimming pool. I remember complaining about the "dumb cantaloupes" when I was a kid, but now I see what Dad was teaching us. He was showing us how to work and reach a goal. He was showing me the rewards of labor.

My dad is a man of many talents yet he is not proud or boasting about them. He never played softball while I was growing up. His last season was the summer before I was born. He began playing softball again a few years ago. (I think it was after my youngest sister was married.) I see now how much he loves it. It must have been a sacrifice for him not to play for 30+ years. His softball team won the "65 and Older" National Softball Championship last summer and he was named MVP.

Daddy not only "talked the talk" but he "walked the walk" of a Christ-centered life. He showed me the benefits of a quiet and unassuming life. Peace. Enduring love. And, honor. The honor of his children, his wife, and his friends. The honor of a life well-lived.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father's Day!