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middle school



In our school district, middle school begins in fifth grade. I never quite agreed with this strategy because I believed fifth graders still belonged in elementary school. These babies…or perhaps that was just my way of denying the fact that my oldest was growing…still required more coddling.  But I think everyone would admit wholeheartedly that there is a distinct difference between a 10 year old and a 14 year old. Not only is the physical difference enormous but their maturity, interests, and capabilities. So mixing those age groups on a bus was a concern of mine at the outset of the year.

Fast forward from September to June.

Briggs performed better than expected. He transitioned into the middle school environment with ease. We had no major behavioral issues to deal with. He seemed to make good friends. While I suspect he is a bit goofy…aren’t most 10-11 year old boys?

So when I was looking through the final papers Briggs brought home from school, I found the list below.  I guess he is growing up and needs less coddling than I can cling to.


back to school



After two weeks of Spring Break, I HAPPILY dropped the twins back off at school.  It was with great relief to get back into our typical structure.  However, I pulled away remembering there is only so much time with these two fruit cups.  I waver so often from being completely frustrated with them to cherishing their extraordinary personalities.

st. patrick’s day



I was feeling not only overwhelmed after a long week but guilty that I hadn’t spent a lot of quality time with the girls.  Such is the life of a working mom!

I figured we were ready to PLAY HOOKY!!!  What a better day to pick than St. Patrick’s Day.  The sun was shining.  The skies were blue.  And, the parade was downtown.

I packed a great lunch.  Called the montessori school to inform them the girls had better plans.  We were on our way each wearing something green!  It was a GIRL DAY!

We walked around the tents.  Climbed the stairs of the War Memorial.  Visited the Shrine Room.  Watched the parade.  Grabbed enough candy that it seemed like Halloween.  Skirted around the unfilled fountains.

Soon this FREE day turned into an EXPENSIVE day.  Amongst all of this excitement, I look over to see my van being towed from the parking lot.

If you know Indianapolis, there aren’t a plethora of cabs around.  Thanks to the Irish Hurlers we were able to get to the pound with little trouble. COINCIDENTALLY, one of the teammates departing from the same parking lot had TWO PINK CAR SEATS in his car.  Go figure!  So, the lesson, “Don’t ever get in a car with a stranger!,” went right out the window.

I had prepared in advance for Spring Break with putting some cash in my wallet earlier in the week.  I figured surely I had enough cash on me and surely the pound would take a credit card.  NEGATIVE!!!

So, I offered the very nice pound attendant either my purse or to pick a girl he would like for me to leave behind!  He wouldn’t accept either.

From behind the counter a nice woman (also a mother) offered to drive me and the girls to the nearest cash station.  So, the lesson, “Don’t ever get in a car with a stranger!,” went right out the window.  Oh…and no car seats…yup…that too!

The most interesting part was the differing reactions from the girls.

{dramatic} CAMPBELL | We are never going to get home.  Why did they steal our car?

{kick-your-ass} EMERSON | I cannot believe you are going to pay these people to get our own van back.  I am telling Dad.

Oh well…it was all a big adventure we will remember.


closet bed



I tried to imagine what was going through an acquaintance’s mind when my daughter, Emerson, told her she sleeps in the closet!  If it were my first child, I would have been mortified but I am seasoned enough to understand all children go through interesting stages.  Emerson happens to be going through the I-DON’T-LIKE-MY-BED-I-WANT-TO-SLEEP-IN-THE-CLOSET Stage.  So, I indulged her desires and setup a comfortable pallet in her…closet!

What I thought would last a night or two, transitioned into a week.  Then that week transitioned into several weeks!  She likes her ‘closet bed’ so much that she exclaimed, “I think we should give my bed away to another child that doesn’t have a bed!”

While I love her generosity, I have spent considerable effort making sure my children have comfortable beds in which they feel secure.

I am not sure what it is about the closet.  She goes against the grain of most children.  She actually prefers the doors be closed.  Does she like the cramped, closed in feeling?  Does she like the pitch black?  Or is just simpler than that…does it eliminate the sound of her snoring sister next to her?

Oh well…this stage shall pass too.

 

dodgeball



I vividly recall a conversation Tim and I had before we had children.  It was during a road trip where we had time to conjure up names for our list.  We talked about issues we might face (we had no clue!).  The inevitable question arose, “What if our kids is the last to get picked in gym class?”

It’s weird…but isn’t easy to remember what that feeling was like in when you were a kid?  I hated picking teams in gym class.  It was like the most obvious sign of being popular or NOT.  I most certainly had that feeling of being a ‘LOSER!’

I was in fifth grade.  My parents had just gotten divorced.  My mother moved across town which required my brother and I to transfer to a new school.  I spent more time in the nurse’s office that year than I probably did in class.  I was not welcomed into the student body with a great deal of warmth.

Polo (aka Ralph Lauren) shirts were the rage.  Preppy was in.  And, money was tight!  Luckily, Marshall’s, a discount store, had just opened up nearby which stocked out-of-season or slightly irregular Polo attire.  I was thrilled…well, at least until I went to school.

I walked into my fifth grade class feeling very cool with my bright pink shirtdress with citrus green Polo.  I figured I might just fit in.  I put down my folder when from behind came a classmate (she will remain unnamed) pulled the back of the collar down to see that horrid and obvious sign that this Polo dress was, in fact, from Marshall’s.  For some reason, all of the Ralph Lauren attire sold had a cut down the center of the tag.  She knew instantly that it wasn’t a ‘real’ Polo shirt, and exclaimed such absurdity quite loudly.  My hope of fitting in instantly diminished.  Off to the nurse’s office…I was starting to feel sick again.  Fifth grade was a retched year.

Fast forward to Tuesday night.  Briggs and I were at the kitchen table studying for a math test.  I gave him some sample problems to complete.  <Sidenote:  My level of math is coming to a quick close.  It is shocking what he is already learning.  He is about to figure out that his mother is numerically-challenged!>

He instantly became agitated. Pushed the paper away and proceeded to his room in a fury that I was giving him ‘extra work.’  But as he was ascending the stairs he blurted out, “AND I DIDN’T EVEN GET PICKED TO BE ON A DODGEBALL TEAM!”

Clearly math was not the underlying cause for his anger and frustration.

I let him stay in his room for about twenty minutes without addressing the issue.  I do have three other obnoxious kids and a traveling husband.  Besides that, I suddenly had flashbacks to the aforementioned road trip and fifth grade horror.

It probably isn’t a big secret that I am not the most soft-hearted or sympathetic mother.

Once I played twenty-questions with Briggs, I got out this much.  There is a dodgeball tournament coming up at the middle school.  He did NOT get picked for a team.  All of his friends were already on teams.  NO ONE else was left in the ENTIRE student body that was not already on a team.  In fact, he was the ONLY one not playing in the tournament.  And, NO WAY was he going to be playing on a team with ALL GIRLS!

I told him in two years he will probably wished he picked the team with all girls.  He didn’t think I was very funny.

My heart hurt for him though.  My brain was certainly trying to figure out a way I could fix it for him but…my fifth grade loser experience contributed significantly to me being who I am today.  I hate to say it…but I think everyone needs to feel like a loser in their life.

Being faced with this dodgeball challenge can only enhance his resiliency, independence and confidence knowing that Briggs has a cheerleader behind him that loves him unconditionally.  And, to be honest, my kids lead a life of luxury.  We live in a beautiful area.  They have clean beds and clean clothes. They have plenty to eat.  They are enriched with activities and sports.  I often worry what it is that is going to build their characters.

So my hard and pointed advice to Briggs was this…

“Well you can certainly lie in your bed and feel sorry for yourself that you don’t have a dodgeball team.  That is pretty easy.  Or you can take some initiative, walk into school tomorrow, find some other kids that haven’t found a team, and build your own.  Be a leader.  Build a team with girls and boys.  You know…girls can be pretty good at dodgeball.  Or how about this…you can talk to your friends currently on a team and tell them you want to play.  Explain to them that you are willing to be a substitute.  Make something happen for yourself because no one else is going to.  I want to know what you did about it after school tomorrow.  I love you.  Good night!”

He came home with the parental consent to be in the dodgeball tournament.  Just like they say in the Dodgeball movie (which is hilarious, by the way), IF YOU CAN DODGE A WRENCH YOU CAN DODGE A BALL.  I think Briggs dodged a wrench.  He should be ready to dodge a ball with ease.

happy valentine’s day



mom of the year – NOT



Well, I am definitely NOT going to win MOM OF THE YEAR for this one.

I was working late the other night (go figure!).  It is that time of the year when my hands start to shrink from the cold and my rings twist around uncomfortably.  So, I slipped the off and tucked them in my desk.

LESSON LEARNED:  Either don’t take off rings or keep one place in the house where they go and don’t deviate from it.

Two days later after I sent the girls off to Bible Study, I remembered I needed to put my rings back on.  I proceeded to my desk and found them GONE!  I screamed!  I immediately called the Bible Study teacher to have her check each purse the girls brought with them.  Because at four years old, they must carry a purse with their makeup and special things!

Nothing was found.  I screamed!

At this point, Gage had to be dropped off at school.  I heard him from the back of the van say as I was crying, “Mom, I didn’t even know you had diamonds.  And your cry sounds like a pig laughing.”  He must have thought I had a small bag of loose diamonds as if from Pirates of the Caribbean.

I arrive swiftly back at Bible Study.  Openly blame the girls for taking my jewelry, and proceed to take them back home.

LESSON LEARNED:  Don’t place blame in public.  You may have to eat your words.

Once we walk through the door, the girls are staying noticeably close to each other.  I ask them to take me to the place where they moved my jewelry.  They haphazardly state the rings must be in my closet or maybe Gage’s room or maybe in the bathroom…

My frustration reaches its peak.  I am crying explaining that these are my special things and they shouldn’t touch my special things.

I spank them.  Ugh…I even made them pull down their pants.  Ugh!!!

I call Tim.

LESSON LEARNED:  Call your husband first.

He is busy in a meeting but hears my frantic voice.  All he could say is, “I took them and put them in a safer place!”

So, I walk into the twins’ room with my tail between my legs.  Profusely apologize for blaming them.

I am emotionally drained for the remainder of the day while I try to make it up to them by baking muffins and getting out the holiday decorations.

LESSON LEARNED:  Even though they look guilty 99% of the time and even though they typically are guilty 99% of the time, sometimes they aren’t guilty.

I forwarded this video to Tim!

future superstar



In all her glory…Campbell delivers an animated performance.

mile’stoners’



Milestone | A significant stage or change in development.

I have learned that milestones for a parent are much more valuable, or maybe its more monumental, than the way we speak of milestones in corporate America.  I’ve been on both sides. 

As a parent, we have to somehow hold onto those milestones. Relish in the extraordinary change that they bring on. 

We’ve had a lot of milestones in the last few months that deserve some pause and reflection. And while I don’t intend to boast I do like to document for posterity sake.

The twins now can secure themselves in their seatbelts. May not sound big…but it is amazing how much time is has shaved off of the morning drop-off routine with just this one milestone! And with it not only comes the mechanical ability but the growing confidence of a young child. 

Staying home alone. However brief the times have been for Briggs, he has been empowered to be on his own. Armed with several detailed instructions he now feels like a veteran. He even has been “in charge” of a sibling!  It is what I would call glorious!!!

One milestone that Tim and I have benefited greatly from has been morning sleep. Our kids wake up in this order on weekends…Campbell, Briggs, Gage and Emerson.  Campbell will occupy herself now until Briggs wakes at which point he will take her downstairs for an easy breakfast.  It’s glorious. A few extra winks for us and more growing independence for our early risers. 

We now have a lawn boy. Equipped with safety goggles and close-toed shoes, Briggs has begun earning his keep. It may not be the best job but he gets it done.

And the pool…the pool this summer. Finally, there was no requirement to accompany a single child in the water. I could sit at the edge and observe them brave it on their own. Not yet completely accomplished swimmers, they enhanced their abilities amazingly well. Four glorious little fishes. 

My uncle years ago said just wait until  they can dress themselves! He was right. It is the simplest milestones that have made the greatest difference. Our milestones have not created millions of dollars in revenue but they have carried with them far greater value and cause for some quiet celebration.

P.S. I have written the last two posts on my iPhone from Mexico. I love technology. Pardon any glaring misspellings or grammatical errors.

becoming your parent



There have been a few moments in my adulthood where there were glaring realizations that I have inherited distinct characteristics of my parents. It became all too evident last week when after I tirade of anger over homework Tim said to me, “Hey David, how ya’ doing.”

I lived with my father, David, in high school. There wasn’t a week that went by that I wasn’t in tears at the kitchen table rewriting homework to his satisfaction. Often times we were up past midnight in a battle of the wills.  It was brutal. Topic sentences, clear ideas, enhanced vocabulary, proper grammar, accurate punctuation! 

So, the ‘Braveheart-like’, in-your-face teachings have trickled down a generation.

I had decided afterschool that day we needed to get Briggs’ room organized. When he was done, he was allowed to play with his buddies outside.  

Unfortunately it wasn’t until 8pm that I realized Briggs had forgotten a homework assignment. The directions were to write nine complete sentences about the librarians based on some research he quickly needed to do on the middle school home page. Pretty straight forward. He sat right down and went to work. Once complete, he handed me his paper for review.

The sentences were incomplete and went something like this…”Got bachelors degree from Indiana University.”

I was calm and asked him to reread the directions. He looked at me and said, “They’re good enough.”

I am not sure if it was the attitude that unnerved me so much or the thought of my son doing a half-ass job. But with my husband finally home from a three-week trip to India, I took Briggs by the collar, nearly dragged him down the stairs to the kitchen, and told him to repeat the directions aloud along with his examples. With alligators tears streaming down his face he did so.  I them proceeded to rip up his work and exclaimed start again!

We have a Partner Desk. The kind that you sit across from. I could feel Briggs evil eyes glance at me now and again as he wrote solidly. 

Afterwards, once he had nine well-constructed sentences complete (and this is where the mom characteristics kick in), Briggs asked for not only a hand massage but back massage. 

I figured we both needed it. He needed me to be “loving mom” and I needed the time to apologize for my temper but drive home my objective from earlier.

When we snuggled up in bed (aka Spa Briggs), I said, “I am sorry for losing my temper with you earlier.”

Quick as a fox, he replied, “That’s okay, David.”

We all be become our parents.

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