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double digits

TEN YEARS ago today, our eldest son was born.  Hard to believe he is now in the double digits.  Tim reminded me that Briggs will only be with us for eight more years (we will see about that), and it made me heart leap. 

Briggs has always been my little buddy.  For years, he had no siblings and we did everything together.  Our adventures were limitless with only one child to cart around.   Soon enough though we had a clan to consider.  

I will never forget the things I asked out of Briggs when Tim was deployed.  Essentially, he became my second set of hands.  He was forced to mature quickly.  And, I would not have made it without him.

In the next few days, I will sit down to write my annual letter to my little buddy. 

Happy Tenth Birthday, Briggs!

weird science

I heard a lot of giggling in my closet tonight, then I had a flashback to Weird Science as the boys walked out adorning my bras. 


I don’t cry often. In fact, rarely. But when I do it ain’t pretty. Last week I cried out of frustration (having a lack of control in my life) and ultimately joy.

I made the conclusion something has to give…and soon. But two things brought tears of joy.

Weepy Part 1
Briggs’ math grade has declined dramatically to the point where I felt compelled to meet with his teacher. I had such terrible ‘mom guilt’ after Briggs mentioned that I am too busy with work and the other kids! Talk about a stab through the heart!

Admittedly, I work with Briggs on homework but haven’t thoroughly studied with him because he appeared to comprehend the content. Besides it is the first year for tests…so I suppose we are both getting accustomed to higher learning and the greater expectations of FOURTH grade!

Unfortunately, after two Ds Briggs’ confidence was deteriorated. He was making comments such as, “I am just a stupid human.”

Now there is one thing that I have consistently said I desire for my childen. I don’t care if they are the smartest but I want them to be confident! If you have confidence everything will follow.

So, we studied HARD. We reviewed every chapter he has completed for the entire school year. We took every test and practice exam. He didn’t like me. However, I promised he and I would see New Moon if was able to get a ‘B’ or above.

On Test Day, I sent him with a note to his teacher. Before she left for Thanksgiving to please call me with his score.

When she called…it was like a dam broke loose. He didn’t just get a good score he got an A+. She was just as excited. She made the extra effort to find him after school to tell him herself. She said his face just lit up he was so proud.

When he got home, we were all there to congratulate him as he walked in the door. All I can say is…the confidence was back. The pride was evident on his face.

It made me realized that there is nothing more important than guiding him along the right path. Work will always be there. Clients will always be waiting to be satisfied. My house will always need to be cleaned. There will always be groceries to get, laundry to fold, and younger children to play with. But there will not always be the opportunity to foster confidence unless I bolster it now.

Weepy Part 2
Same day. Our publisher calls. They have an advanced copy of FamilyPrint and are dying for us to see it. We make a meeting at the closest Starbucks. I am hoping it looks as good as I imagine.

Pat hands it to me. I become a weepy mess just holding what amounted to be an enormous effort in my hands. She weeps too. I cannot say anything more than that. It is exactly what we wanted.

big white lie

I am not ready to tell the truth that the big, jolly man in the North Pole is just a childhood fantasy.  At nine years of age, I want to continue the magic for Briggs.  He has questioned it.  Even though some of his friends no longer believe, he his hanging in there.

He said to me yesterday, “Mom, it’s hard to believe in Santa but I want to. If I could just see him it would be easier.” 

So, I said, “Well, have you ever seen a shark?”  He replied, “No.”  I continued, “Have you ever seen a knight?”  He again replied, “No.”  I kept hammering, “Well then how do you know they really exist? You have only read about them in books and seen them in movies…just like Santa.  Besides, some things are just miracles.”

Call me quick on my feet. 

I could have told him the truth.  And it does seem incongruent that I have had the ‘sex talk’ with Briggs yet I want to keep the man in the red suit a mystery.  But something just seems to die after a child learns the truth. 

To be quite honest, I know that as soon as Briggs ceases to believe in the magic of Christmas, the other children will find out FAR sooner than I wish.  I am confident he would keep it a secret for the twins but he would likely ruin it for Gage. 

So, am I bad for telling a BIG WHITE lie?  I figure some things we can be forgiven for.

full circle

I am reliving a nightmare from my teen years but this time I am on the other side. 

I learned how to write the hard way.  I will refer to it as “THE ROWE WRITING BOOT CAMP”.  It wasn’t pretty.  I shed many tears.  And, at time despised my father for taking such an interest in my homework, especially English.   We shared many nights, often until the wee hours of the morning, reworking my sentence structure and paragraph formations.  He corrected my usage of words, killed me with proper grammar and questioned my topic sentences. 

Heck, I even think I received Strunk and White’s Elements of Style for Christmas.  Exciting gift for a teenage girl!

So it is with deep regret that I admit I have become my father when it comes to helping with homework.  Oh…how I wish I didn’t have to admit such defeat.  But Briggs and I are now on our second book report.  While I haven’t kept him up until 3am, I have most definitely yelled, there have been tears, and I even cussed out of pure frustration (remember I vowed to be painfully honest in this blog…no sugar coating). 

I explained to Briggs after our head-t0-head stubborn natures calmed down last night that, I too, disliked my father considerably growing up when it came to writing.  BUT he helped me learn how to formulate my thoughts and express myself through writing.  Perhaps someday he may even enjoy writing.

Must everything come full circle?


Yes it is true.  We have had yet another brush with THE LAW. 

Apparently Briggs didn’t realize that when he dialed 911-1111, 911 is actually dipatched.  He didn’t realize the phone was actually on so a short while later, the police show up. The babysitter was at a loss as to what was even happening.  When I returned home her comment was intriguing…”Well, it has been an interesting day.” 

So here was my very loud lecture to Briggs after he innocently exclaimed, “But I didn’t know!”

“Briggs.  It doesn’t matter if you added four extra digits after 911.  911 was dialed.  Do you know the police think when 911 is dialed?  They think someone is in trouble.  They think someone has broken into our home.  They think we are being held at gunpoint.  They think that someone had an accident.  They think that someone is in danger.  They think someone has tried to steal things or that my children have been taken.  They think someone has had a heart attack.  They think that we are in trouble.  They are required to respond immediately! Keep your dang fingers off of the phone.  Hey…I am glad you know how to dial 911 though.  Let’s just remember to use it only in an emergency.  Okay?”

Really…at this point the police know us.  Granted we live in a small town but it is borderline embarrassing. 

Briggs isn’t the only one to blame.  Admittedly, I got pulled over last week.  I handed my license and unsigned registration over only to be responded with a smirk from Mr. Policeman.  He said, “Ohhhhh…I have been IN your house a few times lately!” 

Yes…that’s right.  Our alarm was activated several times upon our departure at the beginning of the summer.  And Mr. Policeman got the luxury of walking through the house to insure all was well.  I think at this point, my face was beet red.

He then proceeded with, “Yeah…I have doing the drive-bys of your house while your husband was deployed.”  Hmmm…my mind is starting to churn…is it a possiblity I could get out of this ticket?

Here is a tip for all depolyed soldiers…upon receiving your deployment orders, take them to your local police station.  You can make a request to have daily routes of your home. 

So combined with the alarm system snafus, Briggs eroneous call to 911, a deployment to Iraq, and my speeding…the local police is well aware of the Stoner Six.

Oh…I did get out of the ticket.  🙂

a great father’s day gift

Briggs won the local essay contest…he was so proud!


the best dad

Our local newspaper is having a contest for THE BEST DAD to be announced in the Father’s Day issue.  To enter, a child must write a short essay about why their dad is the best.  Once I showed Briggs the idea, he went right to work.  He ran out of ink shortly after beginning but it was so precious I kept it ‘as is’.  What I find particularly profound are the memories that children keep of very simple things.  It isn’t about the toys but about the moments.  The moments where we provide security, love, protection, laughter…

Even if Tim isn’t selected, he is certainly THE BEST DAD in his children’s eyes. 


happy ninth birthday, briggs

briggs-tim_surgery-2-00<<<Briggs First Picture<<<

You know how you try to do everything right with the firstborn?  When in reality, that probably screws them up even more.  But anyway…

I picked up every parenting magazine I could when Briggs was born.  I also carried an emergency first aid kit in my enormously packed diaper bag.  With the twins…a cram two pull-ups in my ever-so-fashionable clutch and a few wet wipes in a baggie.  But anyway…

One of the best ideas I ever garned from those parenting magazine was this…write a birthday letter to your child each year, seal it, place it in a special box, and someday give your child all of the sealed birthday letters.  For some reason, I took to this idea. 

While I may not write the letters on their actual brithday, I haven’t missed one yet.  Each child has a growing box of sealed letters to be opened perhaps on their graduation, wedding, or other monumental occasion.  So here it is…

wink-7-03aDear Briggs,

Hard to believe my little buddy is going to meet double digits next year!  You have given me great glimmers of hope this year.  I think you are going to turn out okay.  As a parent, we sometimes worry (especially about the first one)!

Here are some changes I have noticed in you over the past year:

1)  You are a voracious reader and a collector of knowledge.  You have focused your interest on these topics in particular:  tigers, sharks, and knights.   You love The Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants.  And your creative writing is compelling.  You have started keeping several journals and ‘about me’ type books.

2)  You put yourself to bed.  You do all of the things you are supposed to before bed (with prodding) but you turn out the lights once your sleepy from reading.  And, you are not wetting the bed.  Don’t worry about that though…your dad and I wet the bed until we were ten.  So you are ahead of us.

3)  You like money and you want to know how to make it.  You have recently discovered that if you work for something you get compensated for your efforts.  I like that.  You devised an allowance system.  I cannot say your attempts at completing your chores is entirely successful but it is a start. 

swedensmile4) You say some of the things I say to the children…such as, “Campbell, whining isn’t going to get you anything.” Or “Gage, If you don’t eat you are going to lose privileges.” 

5)  Your social network continues to be strong.  You have good friends that mutually respect each other.  You play well together, and even when disagreements arise, you work them out.  More importantly, you and your neighborhood gang have a sweet way of including ‘the little ones’ or the ‘next generation’.   I watched a competitive game of kickball yesterday.  Gage was youngest by four years difference.  As soon as he stepped up to kick, the game transparently altered just for him.  You all were cheering him on, made your throws look dramatically real, and let him run his heart out.  I was proud of each of you for including the little guy who just wants to be big.   And even better, you made him feel cool.

Major Accomplishments:

–  Made a key last play in the Little League Championships to win the game.

– Went to the youth football Superbowl and even played at the Colts Complex.  Awesome experience.


– You made it through your dad’s Iraq deployment with me…which at times definitely was challenging.

– For the first year in school, you received letter grades and they made us proud.

Finally…as for being your mom, there is no better role.  You are my buddy.  And, you still get me with those deep brown eyes, thick eyelashes, and dimples.

I love watching you get off the school bus after school and making a mad dash for the house, then hugging me as you walk in the door.  Will you do that in high school? 

Love, Mom


Our pride grew for Briggs’ throughout his first season of tackle football.  He put a great deal of effort into this commitment, didn’t complain too much about practice, and learned to appreciate the importance of teamwork.  It also didn’t hurt that he made the winning play in the playoff game by intercepting a key pass to win the game in sudden death. (Don’t I sound like I know football lingo?  It is amazing to me that I was a high school football cheerleader for four years and have so little knowledge about the game.  I guess I was watching ‘other things’ on the field!)

Anyway…Briggs had about the coolest experience I can think of for an eight-year old boy. In fact, it was a cool experience for all of us. My respect for the Colts organization has increased significantly considering they allow these young boys to play their Superbowl in their practice stadium. On Saturday the Eagles went head-to-head with the Packers in a fantastically matched game. Despite the Eagles’ game loss, it was a giant WIN on experience. I don’t believe it will ever be something they forget.

Someone said to me this week, “Well you are half way through with him.”  I didn’t know what they meant until they explained that he will be gone in nine more years.  He is becoming a young man before our eyes.  And he will forever be my little buddy!

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