Saturday, August 25, 2012

Beginning Again...

Just back from the first of many training runs for my upcoming first marathon in March, I realized a lot of the old "firsts" are coming back to me.

The "Can I really do this?" questions. The funny, self-imposed routines prior to workouts. (Chapstick. Check. Ipod. Check. Planned route. Check. Socks straight. Check. Shoes tied just tight enough...) The "Will this bother me during the race?" obsessions. (I stopped and readjusted my ponytail twice. It was hitting the back of my right ear over and over again.)

Preparing for a race is always an adventure all on its own. The weather is a factor. Health is a factor. Family circumstances are a factor.

All of these factors can fill me with doubt. They can overwhelm me. Whisperings of failure can plague my mind.

It is the promise of reaching a new goal that fuels my body and helps me overcome my reluctance to "go for it." It is the joy of crossing a finish line. It is the process of training my body and subduing my negative inner voices. It is also the inspiration I can be to others who have dreams of their own.

"I can do this" is my new mantra. "I will succeed" is my continual refrain. There will be days I want to skip a workout. There will be circumstances I have to work around to accomplish my goal.

This is always the way training begins for me. It's a mountain before me I fear I can't climb.

However, as I settle into a routine and I accomplish new mini-goals in my training I am filled with a glorious sense of accomplishment. I know I am one step closer to realizing a dream...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Here we go!

I have made a big, terrifying decision. It has loomed on the horizon since December 2011. It began to take shape when my first grader, Eden, came home and said, "School is boring."

I knew Eden's reading had reached a new level last summer when I noticed she was picking up books my (soon to be) third grader was reading. Eden constantly asked me to define words I didn't think most first graders knew... like elevate, assumption, and repetitive. When she started the first grade, I just mentioned to her teacher I would appreciate if she could have her tested so I would know her reading level. I was just curious.

The third day a note was sent home from her teacher. She was currently reading at a 6th grade level.

Her teacher, Ms. Young, did an excellent job of providing Eden with higher level work. She took the 6th grade spelling test and participated in 3rd grade TAG (Talented and Gifted). Eden still seemed to need more from her educational experience. So, after much prayer and investigation into alternatives I made the decision to home school her.

This is a huge step for me. I am quite selfish when it comes to "my time." I enjoy having time to run, volunteer, and putter around the house.

I am also quite fearful of failure.

However, as I preach to my children... "Failure is a great teacher. Learning from our mistakes is key to constant improvement and eventual success!"

So, here we go! I am nervous. Excited. Overwhelmed. And looking forward to experiencing the joys of learning with my daughter. I hope she won't be bored at her new school...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Proverbs 22:6 reads, "Train a child in the way he should go; and, even when old, he will not swerve from it." I've been turning this verse over and over in my mind as I attempt to raise my children. I hope my daily doses of direction and discipline aren't going in one ear and out the other...

My mother let me know Lilli "has a problem with talking back" the other day. I try to take negative critiques of my children in stride. It's always hard to hear criticism because I spend so much of my time in child-rearing... I want their behavior to be perfect. Perfect children are a fantasy. And, I choose to live in reality.

I agreed with my mom. I have noticed Lilli's back talking lately and I have started to deal with it. However, I don't parent like she parented. I never have and I (most likely) never will. I felt a great deal of love from my mom growing up. However, I also feared punishment if I disobeyed. This is not a bad thing. I believe my mom was the mother I needed.

I parent with logic. I used to parent with immediate negative consequences to their behaviors when my children were toddlers and pre-schoolers. Now, my girls are in elementary school and my son is almost a teenager. Therefore, I parent differently. My kids have to learn self-control. I can no longer control their actions as I could by "redirecting" them when they were toddlers. They must direct their own actions.

Often when I correct Asher and ask him to stop a behavior, I can see his stubborn will in his response to me. He obeys me but their is defiance right below the surface. I could punish him for the observed defiance... however, would the punishment teach him self-control? Can I force him to respect me? Asher must learn to govern himself. I always point out his disrespect of me. We discuss his responsibility to "honor his father and mother" on a weekly basis.

Lilli does have a problem with back-talking me. I have noticed the problem and I have been quite diligent about pointing it out to her. Should I punish it out of her? Or should I discuss with her how unacceptable her behavior is and give her the time to learn self-discipline? I believe she has to understand the benefits of listening and obeying me. This approach takes time and consistent discipline.

Asher's defiance of authority should be accelerating as he enters the teenage years. I have spoken to many parents who warn me about the coming apocalypse in parenting. I listen to their warnings. I also see my son come to me with a humble attitude after he has been disrespectful. He apologizes, asks for forgiveness, and tells me he loves me. This gives me hope.

Self-discipline is learned. By teaching accountability, respect for authority, and responsibility, I hope I am teaching my children the skills they need for an abundant life. There are many bumps along the road to adulthood. I want to be the hand my children reach for in their walk. I use the rod to guide them into the safety of the sheepfold. That's my method and as long as I continue to see positive results I will use it with patience and love.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

In Defense of Motherhood

The latest buzz in the media is Ann Romney, wife of Mitt Romney (the presumed Republican presidential candidate), being referred to as "old fashioned when it comes to women." Democratic strategist, Hilary Rosen, also said Ann Romney "has actually never worked a day in her life."
Ann Romney responded to Rosen's words by opening a Twitter account and tweeting, "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."

I am not writing about the issue of motherhood because it has become the latest battle ground between the Left and the Right. I am writing about motherhood because I believe it to be the single most important job a woman can have in her life. Women who choose to be a mother are taking on a 24/7 job for a few decades. Elizabeth Stone described motherhood beautifully with her quote... "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

Motherhood is a daily struggle. It is a battle between self-serving and serving others. It is the ultimate laboratory of humanity. It is daily research into what works and what doesn't when raising up a responsible, productive, and loving human being. It is working to provide the best physical nutrition for growing bodies. It is cleaning house. It is finding the words to discipline, comfort, admonish, guide, and love a changeling who sheds growth stages like dirty clothes. It is keeping up with multiple schedules and activities. It is living on a budget. It is explaining the unexplainable. It is lack of sleep. It is rocking babies. It is laughter and tears. It is bandaging wounds. It is giving. It is worry. It is agony and amusement... despair and delight... heartbreak and hope...

Motherhood is a roller coaster of daily ups and downs. Successful motherhood includes failure. In order to succeed in mothering, the desire for success must be greater than the fear of failure. Never giving up is essential in child rearing. Children, in a sense, are a project. However, they are not a project to be thrown in the trash or scrapped because of lack of funding or lost interest. Children are the world's most valuable resource. Therefore, motherhood is the most important job.

I am blessed to be a mother. I am further blessed to be able to make the choice to stay at home. I am exceedingly blessed to have a loving husband who finds great satisfaction in providing for his family. A husband who gives me the freedom to choose to either work for money or to work for my family. A husband who is a terrific father.

I am not "old fashioned." I am educated by the world's standards... holding a Master's degree... However, I am in the middle of earning another degree. I currently attend the University of Motherhood. I have completed pregnancy, birth, infant development, and early childhood. I am now focusing my research and studies on the elementary childhood years and I am just beginning to learn about puberty. Every day I observe, gather information, and conduct experiments. Every day I am tested on my knowledge of what children require to grow into an independent adult. My laboratory is never closed. I also share what I have learned with other mothers. I am currently mentoring my sister. She has graduated from infant studies and is about to enter a year of toddler studies...

The issue of motherhood isn't about whether or not women should work outside of the home. I spent many years working for money. I spent many years pursuing my college degrees. I may enter the work force again and it might be out of necessity. My choice to stay at home should be respected. Stay-at-home mothers should be celebrated... not insulted. Mothers who must work for money should be supported and encouraged. All mothers are women and we must help each other. Motherhood is hard work... no matter the specific path it takes...

"A mother who is really a mother is never free."

-Honore de Balzac

Monday, February 6, 2012

That Smile!

Asher has this certain smile. It only appears when he's really pleased with himself. I saw it a few weeks ago when he made his first basketball goal of the season. And, I just saw it again. This time it was after transferring a significant amount of money out of his bank account into mine.

Asher has always been a "saver." He has saved almost every cent of his birthday money, Christmas money, or money he has earned for the past five years. He loves to watch his bank account grow and has decided against a few large purchases when he analyzed the cost.

He decided last week he wanted a new Itouch. His "old one" didn't have a camera and he really wanted that feature. So, he decided to dig deep and spend some of his savings. I didn't make him transfer his money until his purchase came in the mail. He tracked his purchase for almost a week. He was so excited when it finally landed in Anchorage, Alaska!

After we made the transfer and he had the teller give him his remaining balance, he was already talking about starting to save again to "pay himself back." I asked him, "Well, did that feel good to be able to save your money and have it to spend on something you really wanted?" I saw "the smile" and he answered with an emphatic "yes!"

Now, that's empowerment.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dear Pissed-Off

The following quotes are from a self-labeled "pissed-off black woman" who spoke at a recent pro-choice rally on the steps of my state Capitol...

"We should not, almost 40 years after the passage of Roe v. Wade, still be standing out here, freezing our butts off, for something that should've been decided a long time ago," she said. "I mean, will these people get a life and stop trying to take over mine?"
"We're on the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and people act like we're in the 19th century and not the 21st," she said. "I tell ya, it pisses me off."
"In 1968, I had a baby through incest because I didn't have a choice," she said. "So, I'm not talking theory, I'm talking as a pissed-off black woman who's going to make sure that other girls don't go through what I went through when I was a teenager."
"I am not impressed by your sanctimonious belief that every pregnancy should be forced, that women should not have control over their bodies and their lives because I also understand that you are not there when the baby is born," she said.
"Once we are there raising these children based on rape and incest and all these bad circumstances, all I can find you doing is standing around preaching over me, judging me, but not actually helping me... and I am not fooled," she said to applause.

I read these words several times and contemplated their meaning. I determined this woman is not pissed off at pro-life advocates. She is pissed off at the abuse she endured as a child because she wasn't protected by her own family. Her "choice" was taken away when she was raped as a teenager.

I feel sad for her. Sad she has been taught to direct her hate at the wrong people. Sad she has been used and abused again by an agenda that preaches sexual freedom yet forgets to look at the reality of murdering children for a few moments of pleasure. Sad she was abused by a man who felt it was okay to rape a young girl for his own gratification.

She says, "these people (should) get a life and stop trying to take over mine." She also says, "...all I can find you doing is standing around preaching over me, judging me, but not actually helping me..." Does she want others to leave her alone and stay out of her business? Or does she want them to help her? Her anger should be directed at those family members who abandoned her to abuse... those family members and those in her own community who took away her choice of whether or not she wanted to become a mother by not protecting her innocence... those who share her pro-choice views and teach a utopia of multiple sexual partners with no responsibility for the result of their sexual unions.

"I am not impressed by your sanctimonious belief that every pregnancy should be forced..." is an interesting statement that I will counteract with... I am not impressed by your belief that your pregnancy is my responsibility and I should be forced to subsidize your abortion which I believe is wrong.

I feel for girls and women who are abused. However, I don't feel responsible for their abuse. I don't abuse them and I don't promote ideas that lead to their abuse. I help where I can. I don't believe funding abortions is helpful to abused women. It's a fact there are many married couples who would be ecstatic to adopt an unwanted newborn. There are also many organizations wanting to help women who find themselves unexpectedly expecting.

I have two daughters of my own. They are under my care. My responsibility is to provide them with a safe environment, to teach them how to care for their bodies, and to advise them on the benefits of wise sexual choices. Additionally, I am teaching them through the example of my own life. It will be their choice to follow my teachings or to totally reject them. They will have to live with the consequences of their actions. Freedom is making choices and dealing with the consequences.

The two sides of this issue will never agree. The two sides come from two totally different realities. My reality is I refuse to abuse my body with irresponsible sexual activity. I refuse to allow my daughters to believe in a system called liberating that will just enslave them in confusion. I refuse to feel responsible for women who want to live their own version of freedom yet don't want to be responsible for their choices.

Other women feel it is their "right" to have multiple sexual partners, have access to medical care to treat STDs, and have access to abortions to get rid of unwanted children. Okay. I don't want to fund those activities. So, quit whining. Go and live your liberated lifestyle. Stand by your sisters who choose the same path. Find your own funding for abortions from your own sisterhood.

I am thankful and forever grateful to my mother who taught me the realities of being a woman. She told me about my choices and advised me to the best ones for my physical, mental, and spiritual health. She was exactly right. I've chosen a better way and I have a life well-lived to prove it. I'll continue to live in the sisterhood of truth and genuine sexual freedom. Now, get a life and stop trying to take over mine.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Returning home from our date last Saturday evening, Aunt Martie informed me I needed to have another talk about sex with Lillian. She had asked my sister, "How did you get pregnant?" Martie said she didn't feel prepared to answer her and told her to ask "your mama."

So, I obviously didn't fill Lillian in enough on what sex is when we had the initial "talk" a few months ago. She seemed satisfied with my answer at the time so I stopped before the phrase "penis in the vagina" came into the conversation.

Unlike many other modern moms (who get embarrassed just thinking about "the sex talk"), I have no problem telling my kids about the birds and the bees. In fact, I want my kids to hear about sex from me. (I am an incredibly reliable source. Reliable = disease free, satisfied, and "no regrets".)

I found the perfect time to talk to Lil last Sunday afternoon on our drive over to Oma's house.

Me: "So, Aunt Martie said you had some questions about how she got pregnant with Jemma?"

Lilli: "Yes."

Me: "Remember when we talked about sex a few months ago."

Lilli: "Not really..."

Me: "Well, we've talked about the differences between boys/men/males and girls/women/females before... what are the differences?"

Lilli: "Boys have wieners."

Me: "We don't call them wieners..."

Lilli: "Penises! I know it's called a penis! And girls have a vagina."

Me: "Yes. And inside your body you have something that makes babies..."

Lilli: "Eggs! Oh, I remember this... What do the boys have?"

Me: "Sperm..."

Lilli: "Yes. Inside their balls."

Me: "Yes. Their testicles. (Pause) So, the sperm has to get to the egg. The sperm travels through the penis and goes into the vagina to reach the egg. This is called sex and sex makes a baby."

Lilli: "How does the sperm get into the vagina?"

Me: "The penis fits into the vagina."

Lilli: "How? (Pause) (Thinking face.) Oh... that's when you get naked and wiggle around..." (Pause) (Slight horror on her face beginning to show...) Martie and Ross? Did that?"

Me: "Yes."

Lilli: (More horror on her face...) "You and Daddy?"

Me: "Yes."

Lilli: (Ultimate horror now...) "Grammy and Grandy?!?!? Oh, gross! Nasty! I'm never having a baby! I'm never doing that!"

Me: "Okay. But you will probably want to some day when you fall in love."

We pulled up to Oma's house and I put the car in park.

Lilli: "Do you have sex with your boyfriend?"

Me: "No. Your sex is a gift you give your husband."

Lilli: "Oh. Good."

And, that was that.

Two down. One to go...

~ "I don't care about sex. I just want a pony." -Lillian ~


Today we celebrate Lillian's 9th birthday! Lil is my child of contrasts... very organized, always prepared, unbelievable memory, highly confident... always asking, "Where are my shoes?" I have decided she thinks the car is her second closet.

Socially, she is amazingly adept. Her friends are an interesting mix... a motley crew of girls and boys. She understands the "ins and outs" of friendship, treats others with respect, and is known and loved by all... except her one and only sister. (I suppose fighting is just a part of having to share a room with a little sister. I'm hoping the sibling rivalry stays in check...)

She is smart, loves her teacher, works hard at learning, and does her school work to perfection... yet doubts herself in math and often "forgets" her homework until remembering... right before bedtime.

She learns her many sports by paying attention to detail. She enjoys goal-keeping in soccer. She is an expert dribbler in basketball. Her arabesque in ballet is done with precision. She swims with flawless strokes... not worried about winning. She's all about the socializing with her teammates!

She loves monkeys. She never forgets to feed her fish. She organizes her clutter. 

I wish she wouldn't talk back. I wish she would be kinder to her sister. I wish she wouldn't find blame elsewhere when it was obviously her fault. I see in her so much potential. I suppose it's the way my Creator looks at me. I love having a daughter who strives to be her best. I pray I am always here (and there) to give her good advice and to support and love her in her life's work.

Happy 9th, my sweet Lillian. I love you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The first day of a new year.

Always filled with promise. Such potential. A clean slate.

And, then?

As we distance ourselves from January 1st, what do we have? More of the same? Broken resolutions?

Or do we truly make something better for ourselves? Our family? Our community? Our world?

Do we discover a better way? Or do we just repeat last year... whining because of another season of coulda' shoulda' woulda'?

My hope is we will all find inspiration from somewhere or someone to live in a better way. I hope to learn from self-discovery. I also hope to learn from others. My hope is I improve who I am... no matter my circumstance. My hope is I realize the value of both the "ups and downs" I will encounter in the next 365 days.

(Written in my Iphone "notes" on January 1, 2012.)