Friday, December 14, 2012


I happened to be at my son's school when I heard about the shooting in Connecticut this morning.

It took every ounce of self control to NOT go run to him as he played tag with his friends on the playground, scoop him up and take him home. *Please note that I LOVE our school and have never once felt like my son has been unsafe*

I did, however, scoop up Benjamin and kiss him a ton and squeeze him tightly. But, that's not that out of the ordinary.

As I hear more and more details about what happened, I just want to throw up. A 20 year old going and shooting up his mother's kindergarten class?!? No words. Absolutely nothing.

I happened to have the radio on while I was driving, and I purposely changed it to Air 1, which is a Christian radio station (much better than The Fish, in my opinion. Normally I listen to NPR while driving, but they were going into a TON of detail, and I didn't want Aaron to overhear). Of course, they were talking about the shooting, and discussing it vaguely but from the back of the van I hear my sweet little Aaron say, "Mommy, I don't want to die!"


I've been watching Facebook blow up with people processing this tragedy in their own ways. It's been interesting to watch the people who believe that we need better gun control (Most shootings happen by people who obtain weapons illegally so it wouldn't do much), need better security in schools (that costs money, and right now our public schools are so strapped for cash that there are 30+ kids in a class plus teachers are buying supplies from their own pockets), and people who have the initial response of wanting to home school their kiddos.

I've been thinking a lot about the last part.

Every last mommy instinct in me makes me want to wrap my children in bubble wrap, enclose them in a box with holes poked in it, and protect them from any sort of bad thing that could happen.

We refused to buy a house with a pool because I'm terrified of drowning.

We have our kids in the safest car seats possible, with the 19 month old still sitting backwards because studies show it's the safest.

Grapes are cut in half, food is not allowed in the car (for the littlest ones), hands are held while crossing the street, helmets are worn, etc.

But, the truth is, I simply cannot protect my child from every single "what if" scenario.

I wish I could, but I can't. I can bet you that every single one of those parents who lost their child today is wishing that they had called their kid in sick, that they had home schooled, that they had been there to protect their child. But, I can also bet you that this morning when they dropped off their children that this was the furthest thing from their minds.

We do what we can, but in the end the goal of parenting (at least, my goal in parenting, and I've said this all along) is to produce well rounded, functioning adults. I can't do that by protecting my child from every little "what if" out there. To do so would make my child grow into a paranoid adult who doesn't trust a soul, has no social skills, and is fearful of everything.

And we know fearful. Nathaniel still has a hard time talking to someone he has known his whole life. We are working on that.

So, when I pick Nathaniel up from school in a few minutes I will give him a hug and ask him how his day was (knowing full well that his teacher probably didn't mention anything, unless they prayed for the situation, but even then it will have been age appropriate). I also know that on Monday morning we will once again walk to school and I will drop him off as I usually do.

Because I have to trust that God has a plan for our lives. Even if that plan is not the plan I have in my head (knowing full well that it probably isn't).

And when my kiddos ask me about this tragic event (because I'm sure they will hear something, Aaron did), I will talk to them about how sometimes people decide to do horrible things, but that it is highly unlikely that anything like that will ever happen to them.

Why worry them?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Being present and intentional

The past few months I have done a type of social experiment.

I've observed people in group settings, I've watched people in one on one situations, and I've observed my own interactions with people.

My conclusion? Social media and having technology at our fingertips is turning us into a rude, narcissistic, and absent society.

I'm guilty of this (or, I was more guilty of this before making my observations. I'm much better now, but I'm sure I was pretty awful before).

Here are some examples of things I've seen.

1. I'll be at the park or playground with my kiddos. Around me are kids playing and having fun. While the kids are playing, the parents have their phones out and are simply not present. While their kids are begging for mom to "look at me!", they get unenthusiastic "That's nice" without even a glance up. That's super hard to observe, and even harder when I realize that sometimes I'm that person. I'm sure that whatever is going on on Facebook is simply not as amazing or interesting as the fact that our kids are experiencing life right in front of us.

2. Date night. Sam and I haven't been great about date night lately. Part of it is simple busyness, part of it is tight finances (do you know how much it costs to get a sitter for three kids? Yikes!!), and part of it is just how fast things are flying by. The other night I was out with friends and I saw a couple sitting at dinner. They were young, probably in their late 20's/early 30's and it was a nicer place. But, this couple both had their phones out and weren't even talking to each other. No conversation at all. I am super blessed to have a hubby who puts his phone away and looks me in the eye on a regular basis. But, the more I see, the less people are actually engaging with one another. We prefer to be online, passively living life.

3. Finally, group settings. I am noticing more and more that people don't interact with each other face to face. I teach Junior High regularly, and the students that have phones will sit next to each other and text other people. They don't talk to each other, they don't ask how each other are doing, they sit on their phones or listen to their ipods. But, it's not just Jr. High students. I went to the movies the other night with a large group of women. We were there early (about two hours early) and a friend and I observed the the majority of the people in the theater were sitting on their phones and not talking to the people who were sitting with them. It was actually frustrating because the whole reason I went to the movie was to hang out with people I don't normally see, but most of them were disengaged).

It's sad. It's sad because I'm noticing that we (as a society) are becoming satisfied with shallow relationships. Facebook gives us a small glimpse into someone's life, but we think that by looking at their short updates we know everything about what is going on. Not many people are willing to go deep with people, and we don't let people in to the deeper, gross parts of our lives.

Plus, when people try to speak into those gross parts of our lives, we push them away and think that they are judging us, when really we are trying to be genuine friends.

Or, we do what is called "vague-booking". Where we put something on our status such as, "I hate the world. You know what you did wrong to me. Why can't you grow up?" And then tell people to mind their own business when asked what's wrong, instead of saying to someone's face, "Hey, you know what, when you said that thing you did, you hurt my feelings." We don't know how to have real relationships anymore!

All of that to say. Lately I have been very intentional about how I spend my time. I have been present with my kiddos, I've been present with my hubby, and I'm trying to be present for my friends. I realize that friendship is more than liking something on Facebook or writing a quick note on a wall. Friendship is getting in the trenches with our friends. It's listening to their hearts, learning what makes them tick, and being there for them.

It's putting the phone down (even texting during face to face conversations), and listening. It's being present and intentional.

I feel like this is a bit disjointed, but it's a blog post that's been rolling around in my scattered brain lately.

On another note. The rumors are true! We are currently expecting our 4th little one, due the beginning of July, 2013. I believe this will be the final installment of the Grummons family, but we are excited. I was hoping to tell people before it went on facebook, but Sam outed me before that could happen, so I hopefully got everyone. I did tell people at the movies, which was nice because a lot of my favorite people were there that night. :) I'm currently feeling super tired and slightly sick, but the heart beat looked great and everything else is on par for the course. The older boys are excited, and Benjamin has no idea that his throne as the baby is going to be overthrown. :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

He loves deeply

My children are passionate about life. They play hard, sleep hard, and love each other fiercely.

So far, Aaron is the epitome of loving deeply.

This kid is passionate. I always joke that if he had a font it would be caps lock because everything is SO EXCITING!

For example, Aaron is a fan of one of my youth leaders, Derek. He has been known to stand up in a crowd when he sees Derek on video and yell, "I WOVE Derek!!!" (We're working on the speech issue).

Of course, he also has his moments of shyness and will hide his face in my arm when Derek walks up and refuses to look him in the eye. We're working on social skills too. Give him a break, he's 3.

For some reason Aaron has been fixated on death lately. I'm not sure if he's just trying to wrap his head around the idea, or if preschool has emphasized the death and resurrection of Jesus a lot lately, either way, he is very distressed with the idea that someday we will all die (I don't believe in lying to my kids about the realities of our mortality. I do keep it age appropriate, but I won't tell my kid that Sam or I will never die, I feel like that could come back and bite me in the butt). So, last night he was lying in bed while we were getting ready to say our prayers and he became so very sad that someday I would die. We moved past it pretty quickly though.

This morning, though, we were driving home from our annual Monday trip to the Happiest Place on Earth when I heard sobbing from the back seat. I asked Aaron what was wrong and he said, "I miss Daddy! I love him SO MUCH! I love him to the sun and back!"

He calmed down when I reminded him that Daddy works in the kitchen now, so we would see him in 5 minutes. Sure enough, the minute we got home, Aaron ran into the house and I heard his little voice, "Daddy! I wove you to the sun and back!"

I love that my children have yet to become jaded. I love that they haven't yet gotten hurt to where they feel the need to guard their hearts from being broken and destroyed. I know that part of life involves being hurt, either by friends who unintentionally hurt our feelings, by bullies who use the words that will wound them deeply, or by the reality that sometimes life just stinks.

But, for now, I enjoy that my children love deeply. I love that when I sit next to Aaron he immediately covers me up with the blanket he's using and says, "Oh! You want to cuddle with me, Mommy?" I love that Benjamin gives kisses and hugs and does so without any prompting. I also love that even though he's big now (6 is OLD!), that Nathaniel will still give me hugs and kisses in the privacy of our house.

Not to mention my rockin' hubby!

I'm blessed. :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

An explanation

I feel the need to explain why Sam is getting out of the Army now.

Since he's been in for nearly 14 years, we get a lot of, "Why aren't you retiring? It's only 6 more years! You really are missing out!" Mostly from people who either don't know everything that is involved in Sam staying in the Army, people who don't know what we've experienced in the Army National Guard and people who just don't know how Army benefits work.

Even though Sam has been on some sort of Active Duty Orders (meaning that he's worked full time for the army as his Monday through Friday job, plus 2 deployments and schooling) for about 4 1/2 years (give or take some) he would only be eligible for a National Guard retirement check when he reaches retirement age. That is a small amount of money that he would receive in 30 years for 6 more years of service. That could possibly be three more deployments. It's not worth it.

Last night we had the Division Dining Out. This is where everyone dresses up in their dress blues (and the women wear formal wear) and we all eat dinner together and listen to high ranked people give speeches. This year was the first year I actually wasn't bored to tears because the two men who spoke were actually interesting. One was retiring, and the other was being promoted. What was most interesting was listening to Sam's peers (all men who he worked in the office with the past two years and a few people he deployed to Kosovo with). They kept giving Sam flak for getting out, but they were all super impressed and incredibly supportive of him. They realize that IBM is a great job for him, and they are all still playing the bureaucratic games of the Army which is royally screwing some of them over. For example, one officer really wanted to be transferred to a unit in San Diego because he felt like that would help him advance. Instead of giving him that transfer, they picked a guy who wanted to stay put and transferred him instead. As a bonus, they are sending that unit to Afghanistan so...there you go!

I've never been a fan of Sam being gone. I've hated every single drill weekend, every month he's been gone, and loathed deployments. I've never been a "rah rah rah!" kind of Army wife. I appreciate the benefits, but at the end of the day I've always said that I would rather struggled and have my husband home than not be worried and have him gone. So, I have always chalked up my complaints of Sam's experience in the Army as me being a baby.

At least I did until last night when one of Sam's former office mates told me that Sam was getting out at a good time and that the Army really stuck it to him while he was in. Apparently two deployments like Sam had is unusual.

For the record, I have appreciated the benefits. It was nice having really great health insurance that was inexpensive for us. I also really appreciate the good car insurance and the pay checks. But, when people point those things out and say that we owe the Army for that, it doesn't compute for me. Sam has health insurance through IBM right now, but that doesn't mean that we owe IBM our lives, it simply means that IBM appreciates their employees and so they provide them with benefits. It's part of the perks of having a regular job. To say we don't want to be a part of the Army culture any more is not saying I didn't appreciate those things.

Here is the list of things that Sam has missed because of his Army National Guard duties.

  • My undergrad graduation.
  • The deaths of multiple family members (along with funerals because unless it is a direct relative, you aren't allowed to leave).
  • My whole entire pregnancy with Nathaniel.
  • Nathaniel's first 3 months.
  • The last half of my pregnancy with Aaron.
  • The birth of Aaron.
  • Aaron's first 9 months of life.
  • My graduation from Seminary.
That is just the big things. Not to mention birthdays, anniversaries, recitals and other things of the boys. He didn't get to see Aaron learn how to sit up or roll over or begin to crawl. He even missed the golden moments of Benjamin's infancy due to the trip to Australia last summer.

So, when we do the happy dance for Sam getting out of the Army, we have our reasons. When people ask me if I'm ready to have my husband back full time I look at them and say, "I've never HAD Sam full time. So, I am looking forward to having him full time for the first time in our relationship."

Does it mean we hate the Army? No. It just means we are done. And boy, are we happy!

(As I finished typing this, Sam walked in, finishing up his final Army thing. His timing couldn't be better!)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Seizing the Day

 Life is crazy.

Between school, music lessons, church stuff and life, we are going a million miles an hour. I generally don't see my kids between Tuesday morning and Thursday morning (minus dinner, that is our sacred family time that no one is allowed to interrupt, and time in the van going from home to school and back). That stinks when I think about it, but I also then focus on the fact that my Mondays and Fridays are spent solely focusing on house work and playing with the kiddos and it makes me feel blessed and happy to get more than a lot of people.

Because of the busyness of it all, time is flying by. I can't believe that Nathaniel is already in first grade learning sentence structures and Aaron blew me away yesterday morning as he told me what words were on a sign that we passed ("Mom! That sign says Kapow!") and then correctly picked out his friend's cubby at school. Plus, Benjamin has so many words, teeth and hair. Isn't he still my baby? No? Whatever.

Due to the nature of my job I am constantly thinking of future events, so in my mind it's already Christmas.

So, this school year we are seizing the day. Every day is going to be lived to the fullest and every moment is going to be savored. I will NOT wish my days away because there is joy to find in every day. When some helpful child spills salad dressing all over the freshly mopped floor, I will not freak out, I will use it as a teaching moment. When the freshly bathed children go and play in the dirt, I will take the pictures that I will laugh at later, bite my tongue and send them back to the bath. And, when my 3 year old wants me to play a game with him, I will finish my task up and then take the time to play with him (he does have to learn patience and see that life isn't all fun and games).

I know that all too soon I'm going to long for the days of diapers and cutting up grapes and sippy cups (okay, maybe I won't miss diapers).

I encourage my Mom friends (and my childless friends as well) to take the time to enjoy the moments. Don't wish away your days.

So, my question for you is: What was your favorite moment this week? What are you going to choose to enjoy today?

I'll go first. My absolute favorite moment today was with Aaron. He was pretending to be a dog and was barking. He then went to lick me. I told him, "Don't lick me!" He said, "But I a doggie!" I told him I don't let dogs lick me. He then looked at me with the straightest face and said, "But I not lick my butt or eat poop!"

I died! He is so funny. :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our first break from real school is ending.

The summer is winding down.

School starts up again on Wednesday and Nathaniel will be a first grader. Aaron will still be in preschool and Benjamin will still be loving the attention which is showered on him by his caregiver (I could call her a nanny, but that sounds pretentious, but she is so much more than just day care. I could write a whole post on how blessed we are to have a person who genuinely loves Benjamin who watches him when I'm at work.).

So, we have survived our first summer vacation, and it was good.

Granted, I still worked as much as I normally do (if not more if you count the back packing trip with the high school students, beach nights and the week of summer camp), but I did get Mondays and Friday with all of the kiddos to do what we pleased.

It was a good summer. We had enough adventures to make it interesting, and enough down time to get bored a few times (but not bored enough to wish school was starting up again).

I had lofty goals for the summer.

I wanted Nathaniel to learn how to tie his shoes. He's still working on it but is going through a stage (oh please, oh please only be a stage) where he doesn't want me to SHOW him how to do things, he just wants to do it. Like fractions.  This summer he did a little bit of summer school through day camp and they were doing simple fractions. That was the week we were at Hume so he had to do that work on his own. When he asked me about the fractions I was trying to think of a way to explain it without going over his head, before I said a word he shooed me away because he figured it out. So, the other night when I sat down with my shoes (I remember learning how to tie my shoes on my mom's shoes. It's easier with bigger laces), Nathaniel tried to tie on his own without looking at what I was doing. He was SO frustrated when he couldn't get it, but he wouldn't let me show him. We'll try again tomorrow.

I also wanted Nathaniel to run a mile. That did not happen. But, he did run a race on the Fourth of July, and he ran the whole thing which was about a half mile so...he's making progress. And, he's definitely more willing to be active, so that was progress.

I also wanted Nathaniel to practice his violin more and learn a new song this summer. HA! He took one fiddle lesson (well, one and a half, but the half one he threw a fit for so that doesn't really count...). He played his violin maybe 10 times. But, when he got it out a few days ago, he really hadn't lost much skill wise. He even played an old song from memory without any mistakes (including the dynamics). So, whatever.

Here's what we DID do this summer.

We ate a lot of frozen yogurt.
We played in the sprinklers a lot, and had a few impromptu water fights with the hose.
We planted a garden and actually ate some tomatoes, corn and peppers from that garden.
We swam.
We played with friends.
We went to the beach.
We went to the Aquarium.
We went to Disneyland.
We went to Sea World.
We went to the San Diego Zoo.
We read lots of books.
We painted and play doughed, and used our imaginations.
We went camping.
We sat on the lawn at church and watched movies.

Overall, it was a great summer.

And here's the kicker. Back in July, Nathaniel lost T.V. privileges. So, for the past month and a half the t.v. has been off in our house. I honestly think that's what made the summer better. I know, some people are shocked that we can have a good summer without at least some t.v. (and I thought that my sanity was going to be lost as well, especially when Sam was gone, T.V. in the afternoon is usually my saving grace). But, I think having the T.V. off really helped the boys' imaginations and their ability to play together grow.

So, Wednesday morning I will pack everyone up in the van like usual. Only this time, I will be dropping my first grader off at his classroom. I wonder if the little boy who wanted me to walk him into his classroom every day in kindergarten (I was torn. I wanted him to have some independence, but I also love that he still likes my company) will want me to walk him to first grade, too?

For my friends who read this blog, how was your summers? Are you looking forward to routines and school again?

Thursday, August 23, 2012


As I alluded to in my last post, there have definitely been lots of changes and transitions in the Grummons family. Lots and lots of adventure, and a change from the mundane.

It's great. And I think we are finally ready to start sharing a little bit of what is going on (I don't like putting things out there before they are cemented because, well, wouldn't I look like a fool for stating something then taking it back?).

First of all, beginning October 1st Sam will officially be a civilian. As in, no more one weekend a month and two weeks a year (HA! As if it ever were truly one weekend a month and two weeks a year only). Sam has decided that it is time to get out (he actually decided this a long time ago). So, the past two years he spent full time in the Guard using them to get some training and get his Microsoft certificates. He then began to put his resume out there, and as of last Monday, he officially works for IBM for the Mobile division. He explained what he did, and it promptly fell out of my head because anything really technical sounds like white noise eventually. :) I am SO proud of him. While ideally we would love to see Sam get his Ph.D. and move on to professor status in Philosophy, the reality is that we now have three kids and a youth pastor's salary is just not enough to do the important things like pay for a mortgage/rent and eat. Plus, we like our children to be dressed as nudity is frowned upon in our society.

The bonus of all of this is that Sam works from home. So, our mornings are now a lot less hectic in that all Sam has to do is log into his computer. This morning he had a 6am meeting, so he rolled out of bed at 5:30, walked the dog, and was back in plenty of time to be at his meeting. During his meeting (since it was a meeting of people who are WAY higher up than he is) he was able to make lunches for the boys, get coffee ready, and help me move some unmotivated children out the door. So great.

The second bit of news is that with a job change for Sam and a bit of permanence happening in our lives, we are beginning the process of looking for houses. I am beyond excited about this because it means a permanent address, painting walls and choosing things based on our style. We haven't gotten very far in the process, but I'm hoping that things move along quickly.

That's about it here for changes. I know it's only two things, but they are huge things.

On a bummer note, I just got a call from Sam and it turns out that our new insurance doesn't cover speech therapy for kids unless it's from a brain injury. Luckily, we just got Aaron's IEP through the school district back in June so he can transition into local state funded therapy no problem. Unfortunately, they didn't really diagnose him right, saying that he has an articulation problem when the problem is actually fluency. He can make all of the right sounds independently, but when he strings sentences together sounds drop out. He is doing MUCH better, though, so it won't be too much of a problem.

And, on a child note, here are the things each child has mastered this summer.

Nathaniel: He mastered riding his bike without help, began swimming on his own without panicking, and took a few fiddle lessons. Violin starts up again next week, hooray!

Aaron: His speech has turned around and his S's are much clearer as well as his sentences. I can now understand him about 80% of the time! Woo! He also started swimming a bit on his own and is asking deep questions about death, trying to wrap his 3 year old brain around the concept (I don't know why, but we answer him in an age appropriate and truthful way).

Benjamin: He is now running everywhere. Mostly he runs away from us with a mischievous giggle. He can climb up onto a step stool to reach whoever's toothbrush is lying closest, then brushes his teeth with it. He also sings the alphabet. I promise I am not exaggerating this. As of this morning he can get to P clearly, well, except that LMNO sounds like 'lalalala-lo'. He's 15 months old. I swear I'm not lying, I got a video yesterday and today he went all the way to P so...I need to get another video. It's crazy.

That's about it here!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The slacking blogger strikes again.

I haven't written in a long time, not because I haven't had stuff to write about, but because between Sam being gone for his Annual Training (Last. One. EVER!!!), packing up and taking some amazing Jr. High students to Hume Lake Christian Camps, Sam packing up and leaving for another business trip and my family flying in for a visit, we've been a bit busy.

I do have a ton to write about! But, it will be in little writings because SO much has gone on the past few months in our lives (no, I'm not pregnant).

Today, however, we celebrate 10 years married. We have gone through a lot as a little family, including two deployments, moving around a ton, trying to find jobs and live out our passions while seeking God's will. I count myself lucky to still be madly in love with this awesome man (although technically I am lucky to have gotten such a great husband, we can take partial credit for our happiness and love because marriages DO take work). He is still my favorite person to go on long car trips with, my favorite person to listen to music to (and sing along badly with), and my favorite person to watch cheesy, nerd movies with. I'm so lucky!

Happy Anniversary to my Love. :)

Coming soon...updates about what has been going on with our family (still not pregnant).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Raising our expectations.

I've had a post rolling around in my head for awhile now. As a mom of boys and as a Youth Pastor, I'm always thinking about what it means to raise up functioning human beings into the world. People who know how to pay bills, how to work hard, how to take care of themselves, and even how to care for others. Last night I was talking about this with a friend and she told me I should just blog about it already. :) So, I think I will.

There have been quite a few articles as of late about the difference between American kids and kids in other cultures. American kids are very privileged, they feel very entitled, and generally have it easy. Meaning, modern parents are very concerned that their kids feel safe and secure and loved, which are all VERY GOOD THINGS. But, at the same time, in making sure our kids feel safe and secure and loved we also err on the side of making sure our kids feel special and "above average" in everything.

We are also taking away the drive and determination our kids need to succeed in life. We let our kids quit when things are hard. If they aren't able to do something, we do it ourselves rather than letting them struggle until they figure it out themselves. We are in a hurry and find that it's easier to do whatever task for our kids rather then taking the time to let them do it. (By the way, when I say "we" I lump myself into these categories, and I don't put everyone in these categories, I'm just being general).

I always hesitate to use examples from outside of my family, but since I am actually not a parent of a teenager, I have to use these examples to make my point. The past few weeks our church has put on a Sunday School program for the younger kids. The youth program (Jr. high and High School) are in charge of making sure it happens. This means that the teenagers are teaching, making photo copies, taking charge of crafts, etc. while the adult volunteers are simply supervising the kids as they move from room to room.

We have some great young leaders. We have students who have taken the curriculum and have run with it, double checking to make sure that they can do what they want to do, then going and doing it. There are students who I don't even have to check on because they have it under control. It makes me super happy.

Then, we have the other students. These are the students who sit on their butts and let everyone else do everything for them. They watch people rush around and do things. And, when asked to pitch in they either look at the leaders blankly, like we are speaking a different language, or they say, "Nope. Not going to help." The other day I was carrying about four items in my arms and kept calling to some of the high school boys to help me. They actually refused to help me out. They said that it wasn't their problem and when I called them out on it one of them actually said, "You didn't train us very well." (Entire different post there, but might I say that as a youth pastor it is my job to come ALONGSIDE of parents, not to train students on basic manners...).

All of that to say...what the heck!? Interacting with these kids who feel entitled to things and who have no drive or desire to do anything for anyone else makes me take a step back and evaluate my own parenting style. How do I raise adults? How do I raise young men who open doors for people, who carry things for others when hands are full, and who respect adults? How do I instill values into my kids? How do I teach them that it's not okay to still live at home when you are 25 and not have a job? How do I teach them that they need to care for their families and that living on government assistance is not an okay plan? (I'm not looking down on people who use government assistance out of necessity because they have lost jobs or cannot work.  The economy sucks right now and welfare and other assistance is there for that reason. I do, however, have a problem with people who abuse the welfare system or who use it as their plan A.)

So, at the end of my rope, I did something drastic last week for our family. I took down the sticker charts and I sat down with a piece of paper. I then made a chore chart. Every day there are things that each child has to get done before they are allowed any t.v. time, any play time, and any fun time. The chores are for them to do because they are a part of the family. They aren't earning stickers for a reward, they aren't earning an allowance (right now they don't need anything and they don't understand the value of money).

After I made the chart we sat down as a family and looked at the chart. I then explained that as a family we pitch in and do things to help each other out. I told them that we are a team and that it's not my responsibility to pick up their toys, just like it's not their responsibility to make sure my stuff is put away. I pointed out their jobs, then hung up the chart.

So far, no arguments have come up. I also haven't simply done one of their chores because it's easier for me to do it (and boy, have I wanted to!). Also, they run to the chart, look at what they are supposed to do, then go and do it. That's how Aaron ended up outside last night with Sam learning how to pick up dog poop. That's also how Aaron told me to put my breakfast bowl down this morning because it was his job to clean off the table today.

We'll see how it goes as they get older, but Sam and I are doing everything we can to raise adults. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Growing Pains

I love to run.

There is something so relaxing about lacing up my New Balance shoes, throwing on some old clothes and heading out for a couple of miles. Maybe it's because I can be alone in my thoughts, perhaps it's because I can push my body a little further than I'm used to.

Or maybe I'm just a masochist. The jury is still out on that one. :)

I also love the health benefits of running.

I've been doing some yoga and Zumba the past few months as part of a super deal that I got on Groupon. The studio is being redone, so it hasn't been the best experience, but for awhile there were no mirrors in the class.

The mirrors went up last week.

Today, I wore shorts to class (because I'm tired of being drenched in sweat) and I noticed that not only are my legs the most pasty white of anyone in there (scary white), but I have the most muscular calves. :) It's actually gross with how white and pasty they are though, and veiny, but muscular! All because I run!

Anyways, all of that to say...

You would think that two fairly active people would spawn active children.

In my dreams my children watch Sam and I as we leave for runs, work out to videos on the t.v. and go for hikes. Those same children then desire to go run and jump and play so they can be like us.

In reality, my children HATE exercise. Nathaniel was officially the slowest kid in P.E. this year. I'm talking the little girls who forgot to wear running shoes so they are running in strappy sandals were beating him during the warm up laps.

And, he is unconcerned because there is no competitive drive with that kid when it comes to being physically active. Not one iota.

Our goals this summer include learning how to tie shoes, finishing Minuet No. 2 on violin, and running a mile without stopping.

Oy. Today we went out for our first run. The goal, running 1/4 of a mile without stopping. I estimated that would be to the corner and back. We made it 2 houses before he started whining (and walking). We still went to the corner and back, but I think he actually ran a total of 100 yards. *sigh* Perseverance....

Before people think I'm complaining about my son, or wish he were someone he weren't, I want to reassure people. I LOVE my kids. I love almost everything about them (except for attitudes and things that need to be worked out, it's part of parenting, molding them into functional human beings...). Nathaniel has A LOT going for him. (Warning, I'm going to brag now, but my blog, my rights!)

He can play the violin, and knows how to read music.
He can read AND comprehend what he is reading (I don't know what level he is at because we haven't gotten test scores back, but I wouldn't be surprised if he is reading at a third grade level).
His favorite thing to do is worksheets, and he has no problem completing first grade work (without help from Sam or I).
He is loving and generous and always watches out for the underdog.
He finished his Sparks book twice this school year AND did the extra book with time to spare (lots of memorization).

We just want him to see the value of being fit, and we would like him (and all of our kids) to be well rounded.

On that note. I just signed him up for a weekly soccer class through the rec center. He cried. Little steps, little steps...

Monday, May 14, 2012

One Year...

Some days I feel like screaming.

I feel like telling all of the old ladies in the grocery store to shut their mouths and stop looking at my little family with that whimsical look in their eyes. I feel like gathering up my small brood of children and finding that magical stop watch so I can indeed stop time and stay right here.

I get it. Time flies.

These days go fast.

"Enjoy it while you can, because before you know it..." yada yada yada.

I am very aware that time is screaming by at warp speed and I am helpless to do anything but enjoy each and every moment I have with my little boys.

I feel like right here, right now, is the perfect time to freeze time (if we are indeed finished having children, the jury is still out on that one *don't tell Sam*).

The boys all adore each other (when they aren't purposely trying to annoy each other, even Ben has gotten in on the whole yell to out yell the other one game, oy). They wrestle together, they make each other laugh huge, giant, belly laughs.

Sam and I are in good health. We are active and enjoy going on adventures. We have the energy needed to chase after our gaggle.

Plus, our kids still love us, and aren't afraid to show it. When Nathaniel is scared or sad, he comes to me for comfort and isn't embarrassed to yell out hello and run out of line to come and hug and kiss me at school. Aaron does cute things like say over and over again, "Oh! A hug!! Oh!! A kiss!!" when saying good-bye to me. And Benjamin, my sweet, sweet Monkey is at that cute almost toddling age, where everything is agreeable and as long as the naps are regular and the brothers are entertaining, he is good to go.

I wish I could pause time. I really do, but I know that we have more memories to make and the boys have their own adventures to go on.

For now though, I sit back in the quiet stillness of our house after a long day (which, apparently it was opposite day and Aaron forgot to send me that memo...) and I remember and count my blessings.

Benjamin turned one on Saturday and it blew my mind because honestly, it seems like it was just last month that I was still giant pregnant, praying for an easy delivery. And I have a 30 1/2 inch long, 24 pound 4 ounce toddling toddler.

Oh my heart....

As for the little old ladies. I will let them smile at my family and tell me to enjoy my time, because I know that I will probably be one of those old ladies (singing and dancing with my cart no doubt, thanks Mom). Hopefully though, I will be like the lady who told me once, "I know that it's hard right now, but try to enjoy it, it won't last forever."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gaining confidence

Nathaniel has finally gained confidence and has found his voice.

It's such a relief. This is the same boy who a year ago wouldn't speak up when he was in pain and needed help at school. He also wouldn't say anything if someone was picking on him or had hurt his feelings.

However, this year at kindergarten I have enjoyed watching him come out of his shell. I have seen him act silly in front of the entire class, I have seen him confidently do what he wants to do instead of joining in an activity that other kids are doing, and I've seen him "use his words" in a way that shows that he is sure of himself.

Last week at school one little girl was hanging on him a little bit. Nothing major, but she was holding onto his shoulders and trying to "help" me get sunscreen on him (it was really sweet). Nathaniel, however, did NOT like her help and boldly (but not in a mean way) turned to her and said, "Stop it!" He said it three times, but she eventually got the idea. And, he didn't cry. :)

However, today showed me that he really has become more confident in who he is.

Sam took Benjamin with him when they took his mom to the airport tonight. When they left I was out in the garage starting laundry and cleaning up some things, so Nathaniel and Aaron were in the house alone for a few minutes. When I came back inside Nathaniel came out of his bedroom with a look of surprise on his face. He then said, "I thought you went to the airport with grandma!"

I looked at him and said, "No, Dad did. Wait, did you think I left too?"

Nathaniel said, "Yup!"

He was perfectly fine even though he thought that we had left him alone with his little brother. A year ago, he would have come unglued!

I did ask him what they were doing to do while we were gone. He said, "Play. And wait for you."

He makes me laugh...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Good enough is okay.

I'm a weird, late night, "really ought to go to bed, but I'm going to read a random blog on the Internet anyways" type of person. I have gotten better in that my normal bedtime has shifted from 11:30pm to around 10:30 pm. Much to Sam's relief.

Anyways...the last few days a thought has been mulling around in my head and I've read a few blogs that have caused me to react a bit internally. So, I'm going to process it out here and see what other people think.

There's this thought out there that "I turned out fine" is not a good argument for parenting. Because, after all (as some parents are pointing out), do we want "fine" children or "exceptionally great" children?

So, if you let your children eat candy and stay up late and watch hours of non-educational t.v. and use the argument, "I did that and I turned out fine", then really you are a lazy parent and how dare you procreate?

(By the way, the above statement is an exaggeration of one point of view).

Here's my thought. Sometimes parents have to go into survival mode.

As a very busy mom of three small children (plus wife to an amazing man who does way more than his fair share of everything--except breast feeding, lol) there are days when it's enough that my children are dressed and not pooping in their pants. The images of having a clean house (with no clutter or dust), healthy meals that don't consist of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and children who are not whining or fighting, are finally leaving my head.

Do I strive to do things well? Of course! I want my children to eat healthy food, and we do everything we can to make that happen. Junk food in our house looks like tortilla chips and salsa or gold fish crackers with the occasional animal cracker thrown in (yes, there is sugar and corn syrup in it. Sue me). We buy organic when we can, we make them eat their vegetables, etc. But, sometimes it's easier to order pizza on a busy night. Sometimes, it's easier to say, "yes" to the piece of candy rather than say "no" and face the whining.

I want my children to have great imaginations and not sit in front of the t.v. for hours at a time. So, we do have limits to how much t.v. is watched and when. But, there are days when I need to get stuff done and it's easier to say yes to just one more episode of The Amazing Spiderman! (hooray for 1960's t.v. on Netflix!) so I can mop the floor or finish preparing a lesson rather than deal with the outcome of fighting children while attempting to get stuff done.

And you know what? So far, my kids have turned out fine. In fact, I might dare to say that my kids have turned out more than fine. I know I'm their mom and I am biased, but I think that a lot of people would agree that my kids are pretty pleasant to be around.

I think that parents need to get off of the judging train and be more encouraging. I think that it's perfectly "fine" that we don't know where our kids are going to attend high school. (I wish I were exaggerating when I say that someone was slightly horrified that I haven't planned that far ahead.)

To make a long post longer, there are a few things that I cringe when people say, "I turned out fine" with.

Car seats: Yes, the car seat laws are intense and perhaps when we were little we were just "fine" rolling around in the back of the cars or *gasp* riding in the open back of a pick up truck. But, how many people were killed or horribly injured when a car accident happened that might have been "fine" had they been properly secured? So, yes, I will err on the side of caution with car seats and keeping my kids in them as long as necessary.

Bike helmets: Yes, I grew up not wearing one and I was fine, but I also never fell off of a bike and hit my head. Sorry, my kids will wear helmets when they are on their bikes (and skateboards later on). And, if they don't want to wear one, they won't ride.

But, other than that (and a few other hopefully obvious things), we all do the best we can and honestly, if my kids turn out "fine" I'm okay with that!

What do you think? Could parents be more supportive of other parents in your opinion?

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Just a quick update, mainly to show off the new look of the blog. Isn't it pretty? And look! We even have a picture of our whole family (from Christmas light looking, but...still) ---------------------------------->

Nathaniel: He has taken off on his reading and has turned into a real book worm. As in, "Why are you asking me to do anything mom? Don't you see I'm in a book?" Type of book worm. He is reading chapter books and is able to tell me what is going on in the book as well. :) He is definitely flourishing. He also learned how to ride his bike and is doing well in Boy Crew (an all boy drill team at school).

Aaron: Aaron started speech therapy last week and I think he will do well. Part of his problem is that he simply needs to slow down and think about what he is saying. Also, he needs to work on his 's' sound, but it will come. At least we are working towards a goal. And, he is paying more attention when he talks. He's so sweet. I mean, super sweet and loves to give hugs and kisses and take care of people around him. :)

Benjamin: Some time in the past few weeks Benjamin morphed into that not tiny baby/almost toddler stage. He's most happy surrounded by people, especially his brothers. He loves to clap and dance, and will joyfully teach anyone around him to clap as well. He crawls super fast and will stand and walk around on the furniture (or pushing a laundry basket), but he prefers the quicker mode of transportation.

Sam and I are fine. :)

Monday, March 19, 2012


Aaron was assessed by a Speech Therapist today.

We were on the fence about whether or not he needed to be evaluated. In our minds he is still a baby, mainly because we are in denial as to how stinking fast the last three years have gone. But, indeed, Aaron is three, Benjamin will be one soon (eek!!) and in a few short months Nathaniel will be finished with Kindergarten.


We realized that there were issues with Aaron's speech when more often than not we were looking to Nathaniel and saying, "Can you translate please?" when Aaron would say a sentence. So, at his three year well check up I asked the pediatrician what she thought and, after listening to Aaron speak, she wrote me a referral to get him evaluated.

I always wondered how I would react if one of my kids needed some extra help. I wondered if I would be on the side of over reacting and trying to get help for my kid who actually didn't need help, or if I would be a parent in denial, refusing to see anything out of the ordinary with my child and living out of a fear of labels.

Imagine my mixed relief sitting in the therapist's office today watching her write down notes while asking Aaron to name pictures and point out different things. Why yes, Aaron, those are in fact two dog. (No s on the end)

And the monkey IS eating a mannananana (or something like that, it all runs together).

Turns out what I thought was a lazy tongue (the kid drools A LOT for being three) is actually mild speech Apraxia. Not a big deal, but easier dealt with at the age of 3 rather than waiting until he is in elementary school.

While we could go through the school district, we've opted for a private therapy place because our insurance is great right now, and it would be a pain in my butt to go through the school district since we are usually about 5 miles away from our school district on any given day. I'm hoping that by summer it will be a thing of the past and I will finally be able to understand exactly what it is that he wants without saying, "What?" a billion times.

And hopefully he will be able to confidently speak what he's thinking and know that he will get what he needs/wants.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing this whole "mom" thing right. After all, I yell at my kids when I'm tired and my patience is low and they are Just. Not. Listening. I let them play in the backyard unsupervised (it's all enclosed), and when they are fighting and punches are thrown I tell them to work it out.

I've also been known to use sarcasm at times. (I know, shocker).

But, in the past two weeks three separate people who are not in my inner circle have told me that I'm a good mom. These are people who see me in the rushed morning dropping kids off at school, when I'm at my most stressed out from a morning of playing, "For the love of everything that is holy just get your stinking shoes on! I don't care if he stole your blanket, it's not coming with us anyways just Get. Your. Shoes. On!!!"

It's been a good ego boost.

That, and seeing the smiles that are reserved for me from my boys and hearing their secrets at night. I'm cherishing it because I know in the blink of an eye they will be teenagers. :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Just another day at church. :)

I realize I haven't put up a photo for awhile. Here is Sam in the foreground, me holding a sleeping Benjamin and looking down to talk to one of the other kids. I think it pretty much sums up where we are right now. Busy busy busy. (But happily so).
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Monday, March 5, 2012

An experiment in faithfulness.

The Season of Lent is upon us once again.

This year I've made a definite effort to be faithful in sticking with my fast for Lent, but doing it out of desire to draw closer to God, rather than out of a simple, "Oh, well, I should do this" sense of duty.

I also chose something that would actually draw me closer to God rather than simply benefit me.

In the past I've given up some sort of food, or internet, or a bad habit.

This year, I'm giving up sleep.

Not all sleep. I'm not crazy, nor am I mean to my family (yeesh! Could you imagine?) But, I am getting up about 30 minutes earlier every day to read and pray. In addition (and those people who know me will realize that this is where the real sacrifice comes in), I chose a devotion book to go through that is not based from nerd-dom.

It's something about being God's Princess. (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit, yech).

What's funny though? Even though I just picked it based on what I had laying around (seriously, only people who don't know me at all give me books like that), it's actually meeting me exactly where I'm at. The scripture has been what I need to hear and some of the passages have kicked me in the spiritual butt (while some have made me go, "Ummmm...yeah, not where I'm at).

It's been good. I'm probably going to continue, because it makes the morning go a lot easier (probably the whole getting right up rather than laying in my bed hitting snooze and eliminating things out of my morning routine. Who needs to shave anyways?). But it's also been hard.

The actual act of getting up in the morning has been easier than I thought. But, every other aspect has been hard. Spiritually speaking, my butt is getting kicked. I'm facing opposition in weird places, people who normally would be encouraging aren't, and I'm feeling....well...alone.

But, I know it's good. My family is awesome and wonderful. My job is still wonderful as well. Things are going well! Promise!

But, it's still weird.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I've been hugely introverted the past few weeks, which causes my mind to go a billion miles an hour.

I've come up with some good blog fodder, but realistically, I either don't have the motivation to write it down, have a fear deep down inside me, or lose it out of my mind in between work and the kiddos.

This morning, however, one topic kept coming to the top of my brain, and it has refused to leave me alone.


American culture is horrible with allowing people to grieve things properly. I'm not sure what it is, but it seems that while it's okay to be sad at the death of someone (or something like a season of life), we better get over it soon, or else there is something wrong with us.

The thing about grief is that it never truly goes away. It comes in waves, and while sometimes we think we have a handle on the tide and know the ebb and flow, a rogue wave comes and knocks us flat on our butts.

Grief has kind of sneaked up on me the past few weeks. Perhaps it's because I've bought into the idea that I should be "over" the sadness associated with the death of a loved one, or perhaps it's because I've been so busy that I haven't taken the time to reflect and remember. Either way, the rogue wave came and knocked me on my butt this morning as I found myself sobbing in the shower (all of my best thinking and praying is done in the shower, it's the only place I'm guaranteed five minutes of no interruptions. Don't tell Sam, but sometimes I just hang out and let the water fall over me for a few extra minutes without actually doing anything productive).

9 years ago my dad died.

I'd say that I've grown used to the idea that my dad is no longer around (not that he was a super present person while I was growing up, but that's not relevant right this second). But, really, in actuality, I don't think that I will ever get used to the idea that I simply can't call him, or blame his absence on anything else.

I find myself wondering if he would be proud of me and the woman I've become.

I wonder what kind of a grandfather he would be to his grandchildren.

I'm careful not to paint some pie in the sky ideal about him, but it doesn't stop me from wondering what our relationship would look like now.

Since my dad's death I've watched some dear friends lose their fathers. It makes my heart ache for them, because I know what they are experiencing, especially as they watch their dads slowly pass away due to cancer.

The sucky thing is, I don't have anything good to say. There aren't any positives, really. I mean, sure, they are out of pain, but really I would rather have not had them go through any pain to begin with. You know, if we're making wishes right now.

So, later this morning as I cried on Sam's shoulder, I said, "You know, I think we're supposed to be sad when someone dies. Death isn't natural. I mean--it is, but when God created us, it wasn't part of the plan. Until sin entered the world, we didn't experience pain and death."

I think this is rambling, so I will close this up. I guess my point is this. When we lose someone close to us, we need to give ourselves freedom to mourn. We have to be okay with crying at the weirdest times (like when we're in Starbucks and the song that you danced at your wedding is playing). But, we also have to give others room to mourn and grieve as well. We should never find ourselves saying to someone, "Oh, you're not over that yet?" if they say that they are sad about someone dying.

Grief sucks. But, wallowing in sadness is even suckier, so...I allow myself to cry, I allow myself to remember and wonder, and then I continue on with the present and the joys that are around, because I am surrounded by some pretty great people. :)