3 boys o' mine

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Location: Colorado, United States

I'm a 38 year-old mother of three who was blessed enough to marry the right guy. I like to paint and create strange things out of clay and also read, write, run, drink and laugh. I have no idea where the time is going.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011


After finishing up our first year on a good note, I was feeling much more confident about our decision to homeschool. We had endured the state mandated standardized tests that showed the boys were right on track, but considering my general disdain for standardized tests, I took the results with a grain of salt. The further we got from public school, the more natural things felt. And the more I learned about the origins of the current antiquated system (yikes!), the more grateful I felt for the opportunity to keep the boys home, where they belong.

In planning for our next year, I'd settled on a curriculum called "My Father's World". As a unit study, it covered everything from literature to geography, science to art. And it could be used for all three boys. Everyone I talked to said they loved it. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon some used books in a curriculum sale and then filled in the blanks on Amazon. All summer I was feeling pretty prepared. But insecurity was lurking just around the corner.

At football practice I'd hear parents talking about how their sixth graders were going to use scientific calculators this year and thought, woo. We'd had to back track with Cole to undo the damage that the "Everyday Math" curriculum had done and were not nearly at a place needing a fancy calculator yet. (Come to think of it, I'd never needed a scientific calculator in my entire life and had somehow managed the household finances for over a decade. Go figure.)

As the summer wound down my anxiety level went up. The stack of books on my bedside table had hardly been touched. The big expectations I'd had for The Well-Trained Mind were diminished when I read a book mocking people who believe in training their childrens' minds that way. Who could I trust?

The answer came unexpectedly.

One day, a couple of weeks before our new school year was to start, we were reading a book together and came upon the word scuppernongs. Scuppernongs? We all scratched our heads and wondered what in the world a scuppernong was. I said I'd look it up later on and we continued the story.

Just a short while later it was lunch time. After making a sandwich I logged into facebook to check in on my friends. As I scrolled down the page reading everyone's status updates, my eyes were caught by a photo. It was a picture of some grape-like things in a bowl and it said, "This is why I love my brother! He sent me some scuppernongs from Georgia!" Holy cow. That was weird. In my entire life I'd never heard of such a thing and now it had come up twice in one morning. What were the odds?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was no coincidence. It was the Lord sending me a message. He was letting me know that He was the one who had started us on this journey and He was going to see us through. He would provide the knowledge we needed, when we needed it. Homeschooling was not about me and what I knew, there was a much bigger picture to remember. I could breath a sigh of relief when I felt like panicking at the prospect of being responsible for the boys' education because it was not on my shoulders at all.

A few days later as I recounted the story to a friend, I decided to look up scuppernongs to read more about them. What was this strange fruit with the funny name anyway? I had to smile when I read that the oldest cultivated grapevine in the world is the 400 year old scuppernong "Mother Vine" growing on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. (Wikipedia)

Although I love the sound of Mother Vine, Father Vine would be more like it. May we continue to grow in Him as we continue our journey together.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


It’s been a couple of months since we pulled our boys out of public school and began our adventure in homeschooling. Although it’s feeling more and more “normal” I still wake up some mornings and feel like we’re all playing hooky and someone’s going to show up at the door with a badge. I always make sure to have my make-up on and hair brushed, just in case.

When we meet new people and they ask what school our kids go to I still have an out-of-body experience when I hear myself saying, “Actually…um…we’re homeschooling our kids.” The reaction we get has become so predictable that I feel slightly amused and slightly annoyed when I see that first look of amazement their face.

As their eyes narrow in their reassessment of who they think I am (since I apparently appear to be sane and normal), the first thing they want to know is, “Why?” It’s the most logical question but a tricky one to answer since I don’t want to offend them with the truth. We live in one of the best school districts in the state so I start with the disclaimer about how we’ve always had nice, dedicated teachers but we’ve just come to see education in a different light. It’s not the teachers we have a problem with, it’s the system. The soul-sucking, institutional, government run, bureaucratic, politically correct, watered down, broken system that can never be fixed. But I say it with a smile and not so many words.

The next reaction is usually a wide-eyed observation that, “Wow. You have to be with your kids all day, every day.” And to be honest, that was the thing that scared me the most when we decided to take on this endeavor. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for over a decade but had been looking forward to having all the boys in school. I had an extensive list of things I wanted do with all that “me” time. When I kept getting nudges from above that we were supposed to go in this direction I thought, “Seriously, Lord?” But from past experience I’ve learned that His plans are a lot better than anything I’ve ever come up with.

I have to admit that before I really looked into it I had the false perception that homeschoolers were reclusive, over-protective, religious zealots along the lines of the Branch Davidians. Besides the fact that they won spelling bees I didn’t know much else about them. I soon found out that homeschooling families are independent minded, self-reliant people who not only want the best education for their kids, they’re going to personally make sure they get it. And they are as prolific as they are diverse.

After I met with several veteran homeschooling moms and attended a day-long seminar I learned that when you’re with your kids all the time you have no choice but to civilize them and build their character. And when you deal with the character issues then the academics naturally fall into place. Of course it’s a character building process for me, too. Things I need to work on like my temper and patience are brought into focus whether I like it or not. As one mom put it, “Parenting is God’s way of bringing you closer to Him and homeschooling is His way of growing you up.”

But one of the most unexpected things I’ve found as we’ve adapted to spending more time together is the boys actually get along better and I enjoy them more. We’ve had several days that went so well I found myself wishing we’d started homeschooling years ago. Gone are the harried mornings filled with lunch packing, homework gathering and rushing out the door. I no longer sit in endless lines to drop them off and pick them up just to deal with their decompression time (bickering) on the way home. Without the cloud of homework looming over our heads we can read, take walks and relax in the evenings. It’s surprisingly liberating to have the boys at home all the time.

I’m also liberated from the endless fundraisers, book orders, over-the-top “Winter Holiday” parties run by busy body classroom mothers involving specific napkins to bring and games to play. I no longer have pages and pages of papers requiring my signature. No more parent teacher conferences where I tell the teacher my son isn’t getting it and they smile and say, don’t worry, he’s fine. No he’s not! I can now state unequivocally that I am the P and the T in the PTA and we’re in agreement on what my kids understand and don’t understand.

I look back on the days when I peeled their little arms off my legs to send them to pre-school and cried as I walked away. I wish I hadn’t done that. I could have taught them their ABC’s just as well. I recall the times I had lunch with them in the dreary, institutional cafeteria with the depressing food and grouchy lunch people barking at them. They’d always look up with their sad eyes and beg to go home with me. They knew I’d say no so they’d sigh and stoically line up with their classmates as they watched me walk out the door into the sunshine.

These don’t seem to be things people want to hear because the next thing they say, the thing that causes me to take a deep breath and bite my tongue is, “Well I could never do it because my kids need the socialization.” In my head I think, really? If you think that locking a group of thirty kids of the same age in a room for years on end teaches them about the world and how to interact with those of different backgrounds and ages, you’re kidding yourself. Homeschooled kids have plenty of opportunities to interact with a wide range of people on fieldtrips, volunteering expeditions, support group meetings, and extra-curricular activities. The possibilities are endless.

I volunteered in the boys’ classrooms for years and could never get over all the crap those teachers had to deal with. The amount of time wasted dealing with the trouble making children was frustrating to watch. And from what I could tell, a kid had to practically pull out a knife before they’d send them to the principal. Children in school settings look to their peers for approval and acceptance. Home schooled kids look to their family. Who do you want your kids to model their behavior after? But instead of saying that, I just smile and say, sure. People that think schools provide healthy socialization aren’t going to listen to anything else.

This inevitably leads to the next response: the nightmare story. Everyone has one. “I knew a family that homeschooled their kids and they were awkward and wore high waters.” Or, “I know some people who got sick of it and ended up putting them back in school. Those kids never fit in.” To this I say that for every nightmare story there is a success story. I’ve met families with homeschooled kids who are now doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs. And more importantly, they are emotionally healthy and well-rounded adults.

I hear nightmare stories about schools on a daily basis. Just turn on the TV and there are the bullies and pedophile teachers, the lock-downs and shootings. And don’t forget the drugs and sex and indoctrination. When I hear those stories I breathe a sigh of relief that the boys won’t have to go through all of that.

Then sometimes I have moments of, oh my gosh, I’m responsible for making sure three human beings are equipped with the tools they need to earn a living and provide for their families some day. Those are the moments I remind myself of everything I never learned in school. I made A’s and B’s so according to school standards I was a successful student. But I couldn’t tell you much about world history or algebra. I can recall hours or watching the clock, waiting for that bell to ring so I could escape to freedom. I look forward to re-learning things along with the boys and can’t wait to bring history and science and literature to life with them.

I also look forward to showering them with time and attention because in school they had been shy, well-behaved students that got overlooked in the classroom. I don’t blame the teachers for that. The squeaky wheel gets the oil and there were plenty of squeaky wheels to deal with. The boys no longer fear asking if they have a question. With just three students in our class there’s plenty of time to answer questions and go over things as many times as needed. And they can even use the restroom without permission. It’s almost like treating them as if they’re humans who deserve a little privacy now and then.

The final but unspoken question that people imply but are too polite to ask is, “How are you qualified? You didn’t even finish college. You hate math. You have no training in education.” And to that my reply is I’ve been teaching my children since the day they were born. Nobody knows them better, loves them as much or has more of a vested interest in their education than their own mother. My goal is not just to teach them facts and figures but to help them discover what their God-given purpose in life is.

I’ve come to see that education and furniture making have a lot in common. Public school is a lot like IKEA, functional and inexpensive. Private school is more like Ethan Allen, a higher quality and unrestrained by the political correctness of government entities. But homeschooling is a hand carved, dove-tailed kind of education. An education tailored to the child, not the other way around.

I’m fortunate to have this opportunity to spend this time with my kids. They will be grown and gone in the blink of an eye. I know it won’t be easy but it will be worth it. Just the other day my eight year-old who has always preferred numbers over words said, “I never realized how much fun writing could be, Mom!” That comment alone should get me through the first year.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


So here I am, on the eve of what I've been looking forward to for the last decade. Through all the diaper changes, nursing babies through the night, pick-ups and drop-offs at pre-school and kindergarten. This is the place I thought I'd find the time to find myself again. Where I could be a little self-centered. When I had all of my children in school, all day long. Five days a week. But things have taken an unexpected turn.

I think that God has a knack for placing certain people and even certain books in our lives at critical times. It's been a long time since this has happened to me. The last time was when I read The Birth Book, after having the worst experience in my life during the delivery of my first son. It caused me to rethink everything I thought about nature and hospitals and why we assume certain people know more than we know instead of trusting our own instincts.

After reading that, I went on to deliver my second son in two hours with no drugs, to delivering my third son, au naturale as well. Ten pounds, six ounces, no drugs. It wasn't easy but I'd never felt so empowered in my life.

And now I find myself here. After ordering a copy of Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gotto, I knew before I even finished the introduction that this book was about to change everything. Everything he said resonated with everything I already knew intuitively, as a student myself and from what I've witnessed in the public schools with my boys over the past five years. Before I finished the first chapter I knew that I could no longer subject my children to the soul sucking of public school, or even private school. It is all wrong.

This revelation came as a surprise to me. I'll admit to being someone who has judged home schoolers before. I saw their parents as paranoid and over protective and wondered, "Do they really think their kids are that much better? Why isn't our school good enough?" My opinion was that children should be innoculated, not sheltered from the world.

But after reading further, everything I've ever felt was wrong with our schools was perfectly verbalized by the author, a New York school teacher who won several impressive awards for his teaching. The boredom, the indifference, the mass production, and none of it leading to any grand results. Yet people still wanting to throw more money at it.

It basically boils down to families. Our families are falling apart. And according to the author it's no surprise considering the "education" we are given. School is a false community that does not fulful our spiritual and emotional needs like a family can, yet promotes itself that way. Homework is something that cuts into our already limited family time but contributes little to learning. I've always felt resentment about it, especially when my kindergartners were assigned homework, but this book affirms my perception. Homework is just another way for schools to tighten the reigns and keep us in check.

I can't begin to describe the ways that the author explains the problems with our current "education" (i.e. schooling) system so you should read it for yourself. All I know is that with every page I read I was awakened and validated in my feelings toward what I grew up with and what my sons have been through.

I've been an involved parent and through my volunteering I've seen some disturbing things. From the depressing, drab experience that is 'lunch time' in the cafeteria, to the fact that the art teacher would have a melt down if the kids didn't create pictures that were basically the same, to the problem of trouble making students taking up much of the teacher's time and attention.

I have a decision to make.

As someone who has purposely brought three human beings into the world, I owe them the best. As far as time goes, I have the unique opportunity to give it to them. I am smart enough to figure out the best way to facilitate it. As far as I'm concerned, Ben Franklin and Abe Lincoln were self educated and they turned out just fine. The system that we have now is based on nothing more that power struggles for money and influence and I choose to opt out of that.

As I've had a few days to digest this information, more and more things come to mind that I know to be true. If I were to home school, I could instill values in the boys that are important to our family. We could actually have a "Christmas break" instead of a "winter break." We could open our day with the pledge of allegiance and a prayer (gasp). I could talk to them about the theories of evolution and creation (double gasp). We could actually discuss and explore ideas together, as a family.

They could find themselves at the same time I find myself.

Our country is at a turning point. Our government, churches and schools are for the most part corrupt and in need of a complete renewal. So I'm going to choose to be a part of that. I'm going to take a deep breath and trust in God.

Here goes...

Monday, May 04, 2009


I don't remember what first made me want to try it. Maybe it was because a couple of my friends had done it and I figured if they could, why couldn't I? Or it might have been because I'd overindulged during the holidays and figured if I had a solid date with a real goal I would force myself to get back into shape.

So about three months ago as I was sitting at the boys' swim lessons, flipping through some sporting magazine, I came across the ad: 'The Colorado Marathon and Half-Marathon, Colorado's fastest and America's Most Scenic Course,' it proudly proclaimed. I signed up that day, envisioning myself crossing the finish line in a few months as a very different being than the pale, soft, wintertime person I'd become.

But training for the race didn't go the way I'd hoped. I don't do treadmills and I don't run in snow, so it was hit or miss getting myself out on the trails during the inclement Colorado springtime months. Just when I'd make some progress, a storm came along and kept me indoors for a week or two. Then, for the first time in years, I was hit with a stomach virus and knocked off my feet for a few days.

I started to think about ditching the whole race and trying a different one later on in the year. I didn't think I was ready yet. The farthest I'd been able to run was just over eight miles and to me it seemed like a stretch to jump up to thirteen in a couple of weeks. Surely it would backfire on me and I'd have to ride the lag wagon to the end. So embarrassing.

I also freaked myself out by clocking my distance everywhere I went in my car to see how far thirteen miles really was. Like to drive to our nearest Sam's, which feels very far, was only eleven miles. Holy COW, I thought. I can't run that far! What kind of crazy person would try such a thing??

As the race loomed closer, I'd pretty much decided against it. But then things changed. The weather warmed up and I got in a few really good runs. I pictured how I'd feel on the morning of May 3rd if I decided to stay home. If I woke up and looked at the clock knowing that at that moment I should've been running along a river in Ft. Collins instead of sleeping in, I would have loathed myself.

So at the last minute, I booked my hotel room and started getting my head ready for thirteen miles. It gave me butterflies and terror at the same time. But it was something I had to do.

On Saturday I packed my stuff and headed North. After stopping to have a delicious lunch with my sister on the way, I arrived in Ft. Collins. I'd never been there before but always heard about it. It's ranked the number one city in America to raise a family. It was very charming and not in a contrived way. The University campus was gorgeous and the rows of eclectic shops downtown brought back memories of my own college town, San Marcos. I started feeling a little sentimental on top of the butterflies and terror.

I headed to the Hilton to pick up my race packet. It was swarming with people and excitement. After getting my race t-shirt, bib and timing chip, I wandered around to check out the "expo" where they try to sell you fancy shoes and things. One of the displays they had was a map you could stick a pin in to mark where you were from. It was interesting to see that people had come from all over the US and several other countries to be in the race. Very cool.

It was starting to get a little drizzly and gray when I left the expo and I drove around town to get my bearings. I stopped at the grocery store to stock up on bananas, Gatorade and energy bars and then made my way to the hotel to get settled in.

I'd never stayed in a hotel by myself before and was pretty excited about it. But before long I realized why some people decide to end their lives in hotels. Being in a hotel by yourself is like the loneliest thing in the world. Before long I was back in my car looking for the nearest Schlotzsky's.

After my sandwich was ordered, I sat at the counter and waited. By then it was really raining. As I gazed out the lonely window at the dark clouds overhead, a college student came in and sat down beside me. I couldn't believe it when he tried to strike up a conversation and seemed to actually be flirting. I was thinking that I could literally be his mother and that made me feel even more blue. I couldn't believe it had been so long since I'd been a college student myself. Thank goodness I only had a couple hours until bedtime or I would have worked myself into a serious pre-race funk.

I headed back to the hotel and sorted out my things for the next day. After setting the alarm for 4:00am and watching a few depressing sitcoms, I turned out the lights thinking, "This is it. When I wake up it will be time..." Yikes. It was only 7:30 but I managed to fall asleep right away. Benadryl helps.

Of course I spent the night having recurring nightmares that I'd overslept and missed the race. The good news was that in the dreams I was actually disappointed, not relieved, that I'd missed it. That made me feel that at least on some level I might be more ready that I thought. I tossed and turned all night and finally got up at 3:30 for good. No need for the alarm after all.

I ate my breakfast of bananas, cereal and boiled eggs and tried not to worry that it was still raining outside. I do better in cool weather anyway but who wanted to run in the rain for that long? I'd never drank so much OJ and Gatorade in my life. By the time I left the hotel and headed to the parking area I was feeling very hydrated. Very, very hydrated.

It wasn't hard to find a parking space in the garage and I'd gotten there early so I sat in my car a while watching the other runners arrive, sizing them up. You could tell the serious runners right away and then there were the people like me, who looked like they were just hoping not to embarrass themselves so they might be able to go home and post on their facebook status that they'd run a half-marathon that day.

Before long it was time to get on the bus and head toward the starting line. It was still dark but the rain had stopped and I could see a faint glow on the horizon. The buses filled up quickly and slowly pulled away and headed out of town. It seemed like such a strange thing for over 1500 people to be riding buses to the middle of nowhere at 5am so they could voluntarily run thirteen miles back to town. And then there were the marathoners who had already left for their starting line an hour earlier. Crazy.

The ride seemed exceptionally long since the whole time I was thinking how I'd be running the whole way back. Most people were pretty quiet and contemplative but a few were chatting away with their seatmates about their previous races and conquests.

When we arrived at the staging location the sun was halfway up and the clouds were clearing out. It was starting to look like a very good day. We were dropped off in a field filled with what looked like hundreds of port-o-potties and a large tent. Once I got my eyes past the potties I realized we were in a beautiful canyon with the Poudre river running just a few yards away. It was gorgeous.

But it didn't take long to realize it was also freezing. It was in the thirties still so everyone headed to the tent to huddle and wait for an hour or so until the race started. Before long I met a group of women who were very friendly and fun to talk to. Once again I was honored to be in such a diverse group of amazing people. I don't know why but it seems like most people I meet at races are exceptional.

The time flew and pretty soon I was in line for one last restroom stop. The butterflies came back but it was a thrilling feeling. Runners started heading down the road to the starting line as one big herd of people. I positioned myself toward the back of the herd since I knew I'd be running slow and steady.

Finally, it was time. Slowly, the first half of the pack pulled out and the rest of us started jogging up to the starting line. Hoots and hollers went out from the runners and the police escorts cleared the road ahead. Not that there was much traffic out there yet. I turned on my tunes to what I'd decided on as the perfect starting song: Halo, by Beyonce. It had an anthem-like beginning and seemed fitting. This was it. No turning back now!

The crowd of runners thinned out over the first couple of miles as the fast people made the most of the downhill beginning. It was touted as the fastest course in Colorado with 1200 feet of elevation drop. Most of that happened in the first four miles or so. Funny how fast the miles go by when you have gravity on your side. But even though I felt like tearing up the downhill part, I bided my time and paced myself, afraid I'd burn out too early.

I normally don't drink energy drinks or eat power bars when I run but they really made a difference for me that day. Things were just clipping along when I saw the road sign. 'Fort Collins 10 Miles.' Well that's funny, I thought. Ft. Collins is where I'm going. Ten more miles, huh? Once again I was jarred by the reality of how far I was trying to go. I tried to suppress the slight panic that rose for a moment. One mile at a time. That was my mantra.

It was a scenic route and that helped the time go by. We ran past picturesque farms with horses stomping around, dogs barking and the smell of the country. Some good smells, some not so good smells. Volunteers handed out sports drinks every two miles and there were more potties at each station. It was a very organized race.

But the funnest part was when we ran by the crowds that had gathered at various points to cheer us on and support their friends and family. People had cowbells and children gave high-fives. I still remember one woman who was standing quietly on the side of the road. When I passed her she made eye contact and quietly said, "Good job." That was at about mile four and just hearing those two words got me through the next couple of miles easily. I don't know what it is about encouragement from strangers, but it is powerful. At least for me.

At mile six there was finally an uphill stretch. I'd been training on hills more than on distance for the last few months and I felt a surge of pride as I topped the hill without even slowing my pace. There were more volunteers up there to hand out drinks and they were dressed as clowns. Very random. I couldn't say enough good things about the volunteers all along the route that day. They were fun and enthusiastic and really made my day.

When mile eight came and went I realized I was in uncharted territory. The good news was I was feeling just great. It's true how race day adrenaline and excitement can really get you through. I started to think crazy thoughts like, "I think I'm actually going to do this!" followed by the other voice in my head, "Shut up. You still have four miles to go. Wait, make that five. Eight plus four is twelve. And you are going thirteen. That leaves five so calm down, sister..."

I couldn't believe I wasn't in pain. I couldn't believe it almost seemed easy. But I tried to stuff those over-confident thoughts down deep so I wouldn't mess up my head. Soon we were closer to town and it was a very level course. We ran through a park and over a bridge. By then some of the elite marathoners had caught up with us and were passing us. Keep in mind that they only started an hour before we did. I was in awe as they breezed past me, their sinewy legs in an almost full sprint. Amazing what the human body is capable of.

Mile nine, mile ten, mile eleven. I started feeling it. My feet had pretty much gone numb a few miles back except for the blister that was rising. So what, I told myself. It's not like I have a bone sticking out. It's just a blister for heaven's sake. Some people had already started walking around mile seven so I was feeling pretty good about keeping up my pace. I also felt like if I stopped running I'd never be able to start again.

As we got closer to the end, emotions started welling up in me. I couldn't believe I was going to do it. Thirteen miles. Make that thirteen point one miles. I thought back to just two years earlier when I first started running and could barely make it down the street. I remembered how I used to loathe running and be annoyed by people who loved it. I picked up my pace.

One of the most inspiring sights I saw during the last part of the race was a man who had to be at least seventy-five or older, trudging along. His head of white hair was tucked and his eyes seemed to be almost closed. I could see it was taking everything he had but he was not going to stop.

After passing the twelve mile mark I grabbed one last cup of water, gulped it down and tossed it in the trash. The last mile. No freaking way. I started scrolling through my music to find the right song for the finish. Steve Perry's voice rang out singing, "Don't stop believing..hold on to that feeeeeeeelin'!" Cheesy, but perfect.

That last mile was a long one. Finally, I came around a corner and saw it. A big sign hanging over the cheering crowds: FINISH. Is that really it? Could it be?? I wanted to savor every last step. I turned down Steve so I could hear the people. I ran across the last timing mat and suddenly, it was over. Someone handed me a medal and said congratulations and I stumbled out into the crowd.

That was it. I had done it. How could it be? And what now?

I sat down for a minute and gathered my thoughts. People were milling around eating bananas and cookies and eyeballing each other. The marathoners strutted around with their fancy 'Marathon' medals, looking down their noses at us half-marathoners. Okay, maybe they didn't but it sure seemed like it.

That critical voice in my head wasted no time in trying to belittle my achievement. "Well it was partly downhill," she said. "And it did take you two hours and thirty-two minutes." But I put a stop to that right away. "Listen, bitch. I just ran thirteen point one miles without stopping. So shut it."

On my way back to my car I saw so many happy faces. People were on their phones calling their peeps and one guy was even sitting on the curb, crying. I think they were happy tears.

I called my family and made my way home, feeling amazing. It wasn't until later that night as I was wiping down the stovetop when it really hit me. I had actually done it. Then I finally shed a few tears of my own.

Monday, January 12, 2009

so this is it?

It seems that for the last ten years we've been trying to get somewhere. We've been in constant motion: Changing jobs, changing houses, even changing states. Having babies, raising babies, trying to survive the babies and always trying improve our situation.

On New Year's Day it all seemed to stop for me. Instead of being excited about what may come, I felt like I'd hit a wall. Like I was just about to live another rerun of last year. No longer were we trying to get somewhere, we had finally arrived at the place we'd wanted to be for so long. The place we'd worked so hard to get to.

This is it. We've reached the point of inertia. We have all the children we'll ever have, we're in the home that we'll most likely be in until the boys are raised and maybe even after that, and my husband has the job he's worked years to get and will probably retire from in 30 years or so (and that's if all goes well). This is it.

From here on out, each day will be very similar, and that's if we're lucky. Work, school, laundry, dishes, homework, bathtime and bedtime. Hanging out with friends now and then, a few good shows to watch on TV, a vacation here and there and before we know it, BAM. We're dead. And what was the point?

I know I sound ungrateful but I'm not. I'm more than thankful for my husband and healthy, beautiful children. I'm thankful for my own health. I'm thankful for our home and my husband's job. Believe me, I don't take these things for granted. I actually love my life, I'm exactly where I always wanted to be. But now that I'm here I just think there has to be more.

This just can't be it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

should i be scared?

This is a hand-drawn picture of the guy Cooper claims to see lurking around our backyard these days. Note the pink reptillian eyes, the tiny black wings, the bony legs. Totally creepy.

But the strange thing is, it doesn't freak him out. He completely believes this guy exists but when he "sees" him he just comes in and says, "I saw that guy in the backyard again. You know, the black guy with pink eyes." Like it's no big deal. When he first described him to me I asked why he wasn't screaming when he saw something so scary. He just shrugged and walked away.

I guess that's what it's like to be four. You see things peer around trees while you're on your swingset and they are just another part of the big, strange world you live in. And when you believe your big, strong Dad can protect you from anything, I guess a skinny, pink-eyed creature in your backyard wouldn't seem so bad anyway.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

two americas

There's a theory floating around out there that there are actually "Two Americas," one in which opportunity reigns and the other in which people still live under oppression. I personally don't there are two Americas in that context but I do see a division that I don't think can be overcome.

Some may remember how a few months ago Senator Biden proposed a plan in which Iraq would be split into two or three sections since the Sunnis and Shias and what not could not live together in peace. Obviously, as far as Iraq was concerned, that was a retarded idea. It has since been proven that the Iraqis can get along (even though the American media has decided not to report that story). Anyway, I thought I might steal Biden's idea and try it out here in the good ol' USA, because as I see it our country is so divided there's no way we can co-exist in peace any longer.

In my proposed plan, we'll take the West coast and call it Amer and the East Coast will from here on be referred to as Ica. Everyone who leans to the left can migrate toward the West and the right, to the East. Makes sense to me.

I'd now like to paint a portrait of what each new country would look like.

In Amer, the Liberal nation, anything goes. Since people who choose to live in Amer don't want to feel guilty over anything but things that happened at least a hundred years ago, there is no right or wrong. Moral relativism reigns.

As far as abortion goes, they are free, paid for by the government. Not only can they be performed at any time during a pregnancy, they can be performed up to a year after a baby is born because as any mother knows, that first year is a son-of-a-bitch and there's no way a newborn could be considered "viable" anyway. The way they completely rely on their parents for food, shelter and love, how dare they? It's just plain unreasonable.

As for borders in Amer, there are none, except the one that exists right down the middle, between Amer and Ica. They allow a free flow of immigrants from the North and South, West- but not East because of those darn Icas. Since people who live in Amer are ever so compassionate and morally superior, they are thrilled to pay for the education, health care and incarcerations of the people who flow into their fledgling country. It makes them feel like good people (especially after the whole baby killing thing). And who cares if the new people assimilate by learning the language of everyone else??? It's not nice to expect that of them.

When it comes to the military, the Amers have none. A military force is way too aggressive and powerful and might just offend other countries who might like the Amers. Being liked is of the utmost importance. They'd rather get bombed by terrorists and win the pity of the world than defend themselves. And besides, even if they wanted a military it'd be hard to find any men to join since they'd all be castrated. Anyone knows that in order to lift women up, you must tear men down, and what better way than to cut off their manhood??? Duh.

Amers have all faith in their government, to whom they've surrendered all personal responsibilty and power. They own no guns, no property and pay their entire paychecks to the government directly. Direct deposit, even, it makes it soooo much easier.

Things in Amer look pretty good for a while. They don't mind hearing about the Icas on the other side of the barbed wire fence, who are prospering and thriving. The Amers have done away with all traditional ways. There is no more marriage and no more God. It's just fun from here on out!

But as anyone with common sense could predict, the fun soon wears thin. The Amers soon find themselves bankrupt. Who would have though that unlimited government programs with unlimited population growth wouldn't work? Especially when no one's working any more. Why work when the government takes it all? And why work when the government will take care of you???

Soon they are overtaken by the barbarians from France and forced to learn a new language. No fair!! The Amers are completely perplexed as to where they went wrong. But logic and reason are not their strong suit. They prefer to feel everything, and they do feel so very deeply. God bless 'em.

And God bless Ica.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

second chance

All summer I'd been meaning to sign up for a race but with our move and the boys starting school in July, the time just slipped by. Finally, last weekend I was able to give it another try.

It was the exact race I ran last Fall, complete with the hills and noon start time. But this time I felt much more prepared. I'd been training on the steep trails that wind through our neighborhood and even been able to work my distance up to eight miles, so a 5K seemed a lot less intimidating. I'd also bought myself a white hat to reflect the hot sun from my head.

As I checked in and pinned the bib on my shirt and timing chip on my shoe, I felt so excited to be there. Races are just so much fun. The loud music playing, the runners getting warmed up, it's like a party really. And I'm always so impressed with the other runners. I saw people in their seventies and even eighties who were in much better shape than I am. They were tan, sinewy and strong. I was also impressed with the young moms who ran the race pushing their babies along in strollers with them. That is hard!

The moment we'd been anticipating finally came and the race was on. This time I had positioned myself toward the back of the crowd because I hate to be in the way and I hate to get passed. I also didn't try to start out at a sprint like I did last time, instead settling into a comfortable pace as we headed down the first hill.

At first, people were passing me. A lot of them, children and moms with strollers included. But I knew the course and didn't worry. I was saving myself for the three hills that I knew were going to take these passers down a few notches. We headed up the first long, slow hill and suddenly I started passing people. Last year, that had been the hill I'd started to lose my energy on but this time I felt strong and solid.

After circling a park and grabbing some water, I headed back down-hill and had some time to recover before I came to the next big hill, the one where I had given up and started walking the previous time. It was hot again, but my hat was definitely helping. I took the turn and started my way up. I could feel my legs fighting it but in my mind I was thinking: 'I am not stopping! I am not going to stop!' And I knew that this time I wouldn't stop. It was also at this critical point when my favorite running song came on my iPod. What timing! There was Coldplay singing just for me:

Lovers, keep on the road you’re on
Runners, until the race is run
Soldiers, you’ve got to soldier on
Sometimes even the right is wrong.

I made it half-way up and was not struggling. I was even passing men who looked like hot, sweaty Marines. They were walking that hill, muscles glinting in the sun, but I was soldiering on. It was an awesome feeling.

I reached the top and headed back downhill, and then came to the final hill. 'What kind of people created a course like this?' I thought. Sadists! But I dug deep and headed up, much of my energy coming from knowing I was almost there and I could do it this time. I was not going to walk even if it killed me!

As I reached the top of the hill and the finish line for the 3.2 miles, there was one more challenge. A 100 meter race that started where the 5K ended. Rat bastards! Who thought of such a thing? Seriously? But I took a deep breath and sprinted down the home stretch, crowds cheering on either side of the track. Of course, they weren't cheering specifically for me, but for all the runners, and it felt great.

I finally reached the end and stopped to catch my breath as someone cut the timing chip off off my shoe. I must have looked pretty hot and exhausted because before I knew it, I had ice for my neck and a cold drink in my hand. Race volunteers are just the best. After cooling down for a while I headed back to my car feeling like I had really achieved something.

Yes, it was only a 5K and it's not like I placed in it or anything, but I have come a long way. Just a year and a half ago I could hardly run a half-mile without feeling faintish. I used to even say I hated running. Now, it's something I look forward to. It keeps me sane and helps me manage stress, control my weight and feel energetic. It is meditative and cathartic. And recently I heard of a study that showed people who run live 16 years longer on average than non-runners. Just another reason to keep pounding those hills.

To anyone who has never run down a trail at sunset to see blazing reds and pinks behind purple mountains, then have a fox cross your path as you wipe the sweat from your forehead and watch a flock of black and white Magpies land in a tree by a sparkling blue lake, I highly recommend it. It will lift your spirit higher than you can imagine and inspire you to keep running on.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


As I walked down the street with a mint plant in one hand and my son's tiny hand in the other, I felt a little apprehensive. We were on our way over to our new neighbor's house. A neighbor with a son the same age as mine. I'd met her at the bus stop and she seemed very nice, but still, it can be tricky making new friends. You just never know if someone is going to 'get' you. What if she thought I was a dork? What if she was a dork? What if she was one of those moms I can't stand who is way over involved with her kids? I took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. There was only one way to find out.

I'll admit it. I'm very picky when it comes to friends. I'm hard on people and expect a lot. And I don't click with just anyone. I'm drawn to women who are smart, down-to-earth, and funny. Funny is a must-have quality. To me, laughing is very, very important.

I've been blessed with many great friends throughout my life, most of them I still keep in touch with. There's J, who I've known since we were babies. She's one of the strongest people I know and inspires me in many ways. She's a marathon runner and one of the most disciplined people I know. She basically makes me feel like a slacker most of the time but I love her for it.

Then there's M, a childhood friend who grew up on the same street as I did. We spent afternoons riding bikes, spying on my little brother, and hanging out at the local cemetery. I could tell her anything and she would not judge. That was the case 25 years ago and is still the case today. The girl gives good, solid advice and is one of the best listeners I know. She's also an awesome mom, no surprise.

I also have fond memories of another childhood friend, L. During our middle school and high school years I practically lived with her for days on end. Her family was so much fun and made the best food. I would hang around until dinner, hoping to get fed, and thankfully they didn't mind sharing. We spent weekends out on their boat, water-skiing all day and then we'd go back to her house, sunburned and exhausted and stay up until four in the morning talking about boys. She still makes me laugh now, even though she's recently become a single mom with an enormous amount of stress to deal with. I hope I do the same for her.

Once I got to college I met a new life-long friend, T. She was wild and carefree and got me to relax a little. Okay, a lot. We lived together for four years without a single fight. I still love to see her when I get to Texas because I know it will be just like old times. Never mind that we both have husbands and kids now, she makes me feel like my old self, back in our college days: Funny, young and hopeful.

During my first years as a Mom I was very isolated and exhausted and I didn't really make any new friends. There were casual, play-date kinds of relationships but nothing meaningful. I went along like that for so long that I didn't even realize what I was missing out on. But when we moved to Colorado, a few new friendships were in store for me.

My first friend in Colorado was S, the wife of my husband's co-worker and good friend. At first I was thinking I would be "forced" to be friends with her since our husbands were intertwined. But after one meal with her at the California Pizza Kitchen, I knew I liked her. She was simple, like me, and ordered a plain pepperoni instead of the other fru-fru food on the menu. Since then I've seen her become new mom to a beautiful boy from China. They are our boys' godparents are we are their son's. I guess when you click with someone, you just click.

Another friendship evolved with a neighbor, J, who was a few years younger that I and up to her eyeballs in babies. When I met her she had one toddler and a baby on the way. But it wasn't long before the third one arrived. I went to see her recently and felt like I had taken a trip back in time to when I was completely swallowed up by the needs of children. With two in school I feel like my life is a piece of cake now. Seeing her flutter around, in constant motion: Feeding, cleaning, putting them down for naps, it was exhausting! It made me appreciate her more and also realize just how hard I worked in the last few years to get my boys to the point they're at now. I think it's a good idea to have friends who are older and younger than yourself. It gives you great perspective!

My friendship with anther neighbor, B, kind of snuck up on me. We lived across the street from each other for two years before we really started talking. It turned out we were a lot alike. We both liked our space, almost to the point where we missed out on getting to know each other. With a husband who travels a lot, she is extremely independent. She inspires me by how much effort she puts into her two sons. She goes way above and beyond and also makes me feel like a slacker (join the club). She's also very funny and interesting to talk to, especially after a few glasses of wine.

The most unlikely friendship started almost a year ago. Through an online website, I heard from my husband's old flame, C. She was the girl he had considered marrying before we ended up together. Even after years of marriage, I had wondered about her and been curious about the "other woman" my husband had loved. How could he possible have loved anyone but me? Turns out she is very smart, funny and interesting to correspond with. She's a stay-at-home mom, too, and loves to write. I look forward to hearing from her because I know she's going to have something insightful or sarcastic to say. We've gotten to know each other strictly through email, exchanging recipes, discussing politics and keeping up with each other's daily lives. It freaks my husband out, of course, but he's learned to live with it. You just never know where you're going to meet a friend.

Sometimes it's someone from the past who you might re-connect with to forge a new friendship out of old roots. I recently heard from an old high school acquaintance who was on the dance team with me. She was pretty much the only girl I liked on the dance team. Turns out she lives in Colorado, too, less than two hours away. We had her and her family over for dinner the other night and it was so much fun. We'd both changed as far as being more outspoken, especially me, since I was painfully shy in high school. But mostly we were the same, even after 17 years. We're going camping together next month and I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot of each other.


My neighbor answered the door and we went in, our sons running off to play together without even looking back. We made some small talk about owning 80's houses and laughed about our popcorn ceilings. It didn't take long to learn we had a lot in common. She was an artist, too, and they had a house full of various pets. When I handed her the mint plant she gasped and said, "I was just saying I needed a mint plant the other day! I guess I should wish for things more often."

As we sat in her shady backyard watching the boys play in the sand box, I realized I had been blessed yet again to have a new woman, a new friend come into my life. And a friend that lives just down the street!

When I was a Brownie we sang a song that said, "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold." I don't know about silver and gold, but to me they're all priceless.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

so there

Some said it couldn't be done, it shouldn't be done, that is was just plain wrong. They held firmly to old-fashioned beliefs and were not willing to consider that things may have changed.

Then there were those who said,
"Go for it!"

"You won't regret it!"

"You'll love it, I promise!"

Thank goodness I listened to them and followed my heart. And because I was brave and determined, I can now present to you photographic evidence that proves....


In fact, if it's really ugly brick, you have a duty to paint it.

Here's our fireplace before:

And after!!!

I rest my case.

Monday, June 30, 2008


After returning home from work last week my husband started helping me put our bedroom back together after my day of painting it. I finished screwing the switch plates back on and put the screwdriver down. A few minutes later we needed it again but couldn't find it. We looked everywhere and then gave up and got a different one. A few minutes later I returned to the room and saw the original screwdriver laying on the bed. "Oh, you found it! Where was it?" My husband turned around and said, "What?" He had not found it and yet it was laying there in plain view and none of the boys had been around to explain the mysterious incident. His eyes grew wide and he said, "We are so outta here." I was laughing too hard to take him seriously. Once I got a hold of myself I said there must be a logical explanation. We just had to think like Jason and Grant! So after brainstorming, we figured out that we had placed something on top of it (a candle) and when we moved it we just didn't notice the screwdriver there right away. We were official de-bunkers!

Normally something like a lost screwdriver would not cause such a stir as it did, but since moving to our new place it was not the first unusual thing to happen. A couple weeks ago, Cole came downstairs to tell me he saw dark shadows in my room and he was freaked out. He's not normally skittish and I reassured him that it was just the trees outside blowing around and there was a full moon so that would explain the shadows. He was not convinced so I walked him to his room and showed him there was nothing in mine. He finally went to sleep.

A couple nights later he came down again and said he heard strange noises. My husband and I said it was just a different house than he was used to and it made new noises. He went back to his room but returned within minutes and said he had seen the bathroom light turn on by itself. My husband rolled his eyes and walked him back to bed. When he returned he looked freaked out and said that the light really was on. And since Cole's room is the closest one to the bathroom he would have seen Clayton walk by if he had. And Clayton never turns on the light anyway because there's a night light. Hmmmmmm. I was getting pretty excited while my husband was already making plans to relocate.

We agreed not to mention it and to play it down if it came up again. But the next morning I suddenly remembered that on the second night we were here I had gotten up around 4am and noticed Cole's light on in his room. I mentioned to him the next day that he had gone to sleep with his light on (which he has never done before) and he looked completely surprised and said he had not. Hmmmmm.

The final freaky thing before the screwdriver incident was when Cooper asked me, "Mom, who was that in the kitchen with you?" to which I said, "No one. What are you talking about?" He said, "The man in the white shirt?" I tried not to act freaked out so he wouldn't think that was a great way to get Mom's attention, and he hasn't mentioned anything like it since.

This house has no bad vibes or heaviness about it so I think if there is something here, it's not a negative thing. I keep turning around expecting to see 'someone' but so far, no luck. They say that when you have your first true paranormal experience you will not even be able to wrap your brain around it. I hope it happens to me and not my husband or we probably will have to move again. He's not as ghost-friendly.

And for the record, I never let the boys watch Ghost Hunters or anything like it. When they ask me if I believe in ghosts I just say, "Some people do, some people don't and what do you think?" They just blink and walk away.

Just the other days Cole asked, "How long have the Ghost Hunters been ghost hunting?"

"About 10 years, I guess."

"With no success?" he asked.

"No, Cole, they've never seen a doggone thing..."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


The very first kid's CD I ever bought came with a book called Howdi Do by Woody Guthrie. Cole was just a few months old and I had not yet been introduced to the sub-genre of children's music. I popped it into the car CD player on the way to pick my husband up from work and was amazed at how baby Cole immediately grew quiet, listening intently.

Howjee, heejee, hijee, hojee,
Howdi do, sir, doodle-do.
Howdi doosle, doodle-doozie,
Howdi do, howdi do.
Howjee, hojee, heejee, hijee,
Howdi do!

It was so fun and catchy and it has since become a family classic. They love to read the book and listen to the song over and over.

But since then, the only children's music I've heard is either sung by what sounds like creepy ghost children in a choir or the terrible "Kid's Bop" CD's they advertise mercilessly during Spongebob. Twelve year-old girls dressed up like hookers singing Brittany Spears songs and making me very glad I have all boys.

...Until this week. On my way somewhere (Lowe's' probably since I practically live there now), I heard a song called Pollywog in a Bog by, believe it or not, the Barenaked Ladies. It was so cute and so catchy that I went right out an bought their new CD, Snacktime.

It's a collection of 25 songs, written and performed by the band, just for children. The great thing about it is it's really good music, not just dreck someone whipped up to make a buck off an innocent crowd. The boys love it and I find myself listening to it even when they're not in the car with me.

So for anyone who has children, or doesn't have children, if you want to hear some music that will make you smile and even laugh out loud, this is the CD for you. Just don't tell the little ones the name of the band like I did. You'll never live it down.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

at last

So we've been here for 11 days now and we feel more at home than we ever did at our last place after three years. This place is totally us. We love it.

Moving day went well and the boys were thrilled to get here. When we left our old house for the last time I asked if they would like to walk around one last time to say 'goodbye'. They said no and ran to jump in the car. Even as I mopped the floors for the last time and wiped down the counters where thousands upon thousands of meals and snacks had been served, I did not feel one pang of sentiment. All I thought was if I had to mop those floors one more time I was going to burn the house down.

When we arrived at the new place I made the boys lunch and gazed out the window at our new view. Then I turned on the radio and I kid you not, "Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver was playing. I hadn't heard that song in years! But it was so fitting. We were finally moving into our "Colorado house".

The boys spent the first few days in the backyard exploring and catching bugs. One time Cole was running off into the open space and almost tripped over a barbed wire. My husband shouted at him to be careful and said, "That would ruin your day if you tripped on that!" Cole wistfully replied, "Dad, nothing could ruin this day!" Later on the boys got in an arguement over who would get to live here the longest. They were annoyed that Coops will get 14 years while Cole only gets 10.

Buying a new home has its perks but so does owning an older home. For instance, I get my own mailbox at the end of the driveway. No more walking a block to open my little box with a key. Also, older homes sometimes have interesting things the previous owners left behind. Like a 6x6' beveled mirror in the basement! COOL.

I've got to get the boys roller skates right away. But my favorite places are the deck overlooking the beauty and slendor of the Pines, and the lower screened-in porch. I can't wait to sit out there with a good book. Soon. It is summer after all.

So it was all totally worth it. The packing, unpacking, mountains of paperwork, and other moving hassles. We've been in Colorado for three years now but we're finally home.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


As fast as time passes these days, sometimes it's fun to look back and take a measure of things. Like for instance,

~ 17 years ago at this time I was about to graduate from high school. I was barely 18 and had no real idea what to expect from college. I was still attached to my high school boyfriend, Roy, but itching for freedom.
~ Ten years ago I was a newlywed working at a mortgage company in San Antonio. Looking back I can't believe we weren't scared to death of our financial situation but I guess we were too young to know any better.
~ Eight years ago, I was days away from becoming a mom for the first time. I was huge, hot and impatient. I could not even imagine what changes were brewing. We lived in a two bedroom apartment and shared a car so that I could stay at home with baby Cole. It's one of the things I feel most proud of.
~ Four years ago I had just delivered our third son and we were living in Comfort, Texas. As far as we knew we would be there forever. Ha!
~ Three years ago, we were living in temporary housing and packing for our move to Colorado. I was stressed out, excited and exhausted at the same time. The boys were just 5, 3 and 1 when we moved here. And Cooper had a cast on his arm which he used to thump me with on the airplane all the way from Texas to Colorado while I tried to keep him still and happy.
~ Two years ago at about this time, I had just recovered from hitting rock bottom in a depression I now think had a lot to do with my hormones being haywire from having three babies in four years. What was I thinking?
~Just two months ago we were getting our house ready to sell and hoping for the best. Little did we know we'd be moving in weeks!

And now the exciting part to anticipate:

~ In just three DAYS we'll be in our new place and out of this one! There's a lot that has to happen between here and there but everything has gone so smoothly we couldn't have hoped for better. During the entire process of selling our house and buying the other, the only glitch that came up was when we realized we had somehow bought a house that had no air-conditioning. As Texans the thought had never crossed our minds that such a thing was possible so we didn't even check for it. To us it's like not having a roof! We had one installed and can't wait to feel the cool air pumping through the vents. Aahhhhhhh.

The next time I write anything here will be from our new home...life is good.