Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Few Things I've Learned About Raising Boys

 I grew up in a house of females.  Aside from my dad, who passed away when I was 13, I had my mom and 2 sisters and myself.
And now I am a mother of 6 amazing boys.  I have learned some things over the years about them.  Some I have learned the hard way (don't we all?), and some just by observing.

1. Boys need respect.  They are young men and I have come to see that respect is huge to them. They need to not be accused or undermined.  They need to be believed in.

2. Boys are simple.  Feed them.  Water them.  Listen to their ideas on how they will change their world.  Feed them again.  Don't tell them how to fix their problem. Do help them find their clean clothes.  Listen to them.  Feed them again.

3. Boys are loyal.  They may get their nose bent out of joint every once in a while, but they stick with their friends.  They let things go, which is amazing if you're a woman who needs things to go full circle and have closure and all that.

4. Boys need to be boys.  Even when they are being homeschooled by a female who likes things to be pretty! Boys need to dig and climb and take things apart (ugh) and compete and dream and conquer.  God made them to lead and protect and change their world.  

5. Boys express their faith differently than girls.  I remember reading once about how girls will write pretty scripture verses and tape them all over the house.  They will bake a cake if you are sad. Boys just may find themselves telling someone strongly that they are a fool if they don't believe in God.  They stand in their faith in a different way.

6. Boys may pull away from their fathers for a bit as they head into manhood.  They need to become their own person.  But if their father shows them respect, they will end up with a close friendship.

7.  Boys love their Mamas.  I have made many, many mistakes.  I have failed to show respect too many times, focused much more on making them be 'good' than helping them with their vision, and raised my voice (and I mean raised!) when I should have listened better.  But at the end of the day, by the grace and goodness of God, I go to bed knowing my boys love me.  My oldest kisses me goodnight all the time and I LOVE it.  My second-born tells me he loves me while I'm driving him to work.  The older ones are becoming my friends, and it is sweet. The younger ones think there is no better mom in the world than me.  (The older ones know better now, but they've learned to keep that a secret...)

It isn't always easy to have a house full of testosterone.  But the more I understand 'em, the more I love 'em.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Playing House

Do you remember playing 'house'? I sure do.  Not surprisingly it was my most favorite thing to play. I loved nothing more than getting out all the stuff, packing it up, taking it to a faraway place (like the backyard), and setting it up.  And really, wasn't that 90% of the fun?  Getting ready to play?
Yesterday I found Nat, Sarah, and Ellie setting up their 'house' in the family room.  They had blankets over all the couches, and each one had their own room (a true fantasy in this home).  They had their children with them (many, many children in the form of stuffed animals).  I was delighted to watch them play.  I love how much of it is talking through what happens.  'And then you said this'.  'And pretend I went here'. 'After that, pretend we go over there' .

I remember having lists of future children's names when I was a girl.  And I started my own hope chest when I was in college.  All I really ever wanted was to have a family and walk with God.  
A lot has changed since then.  Now I have a real husband and real souls to shepherd and I only wish all I had to clean up was the corner of the yard! I suppose real life 'house' isn't nearly as simple and dreamy as make-believe.  It can be messy and complex, and sometimes you don't know what comes next.  And sometimes you cry and sometimes you love so deeply it hurts. Sometimes you wish you could tell those you are with to 'pretend you said this'!!
But in many ways, it is still as sweet and as fun as when I was a girl. I get so much joy out of making a grocery list.  Or watching a baby sleep.  Or folding laundry. Or staying up until midnight talking through life's issues with a teenager. Or buying great things to organize my house. Or having a wonderfully sweet meal out with my husband.
I guess all those years of playing house paid off.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bubbs Learns to Drive

Little Bubbs ventured outside this week for the first time since he has learned to walk.
He is addicted, and bolts for any open door he can find now. The other day, Emma grabbed my cell phone and took a couple of shots of him after the kids put him in this car.  I don't know, but I think he looks more interested in climbing out the window than going for a drive.

Welcome Spring!

Not much to look at yet, but it's spring in Colorado! 
I love God's seasons.  And even though autumn really is the best, I think spring has got to be a close second.  
Tulips, daffodils, bird songs filling the neighborhood, relief that winter is just about over, and anticipation for new things on the horizon.  God is good.

Time for an old tradition in our home.  Sugar.  Oops, I mean bird's nests.
I started doing these years ago, when my older boys were little.  Back before I got the Vitamix.  A little fun for the new season.

Sarah and Ellie help big sister melt butterscotch chips and then add chow mein noodles.

The kids took the chow mein mixture and formed little nests, then dropped in jelly beans for eggs. Emma is quite proud of them.

Tommy doesn't want to wait for the cookies to be done.

Nat pops something yummy in.

And here they are!  Most of them ended up looking more like run-over spiders, but I'm sure I'm the only one who noticed.  Besides, they don't ever last long enough to look at.

Happy kiddos. Emma (10), Tommy (11), and Hannah (13).  Notice how the oldest here is ever-so-sweetly pulling away from brother...More on raising teenagers another time!
Happy Spring!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Why I Love Our Vitamix

Ever wonder why in the world anyone would pay $350 for a blender? I'll tell you why.  Because they're feeling older and can't keep up with their children!  That's our reason, anyhow...Last year, after much research and discussion, we made the plunge.  And we have been having fruits and veggies for breakfast just about every morning ever since.

This thing is a powerhouse.  You can be sure you won't be downing any bits or chunks of produce in your smoothie!  

I usually make one for Kenny and I before the kids are up.  Then about 4 days a week, I make one for everyone else.  Our boys insist on them during tournament season.  They're too nervous to eat anything, and this is a great way to get in some good nutrients for the day.
I'm not one to fall for quick fixes and energy drinks and all that, but I really do feel better having these.  They're easy to digest and packed with vitamins.  It's like having salad for breakfast, but much more palatable!
Here is one of my favorite VItamix recipes:

  • 1 medium orange, peeled
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks, core included
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup kale
  • 2 wedges green cabbage
  • 1 cup frozen unsweetened berries
  • 1 banana, peeled, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup ice cubes

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Rest of Tournament Week!

With the speech and debate tournament behind us, we are slowly getting back in to normal mode (at least I like to say that;  it's really not very true and some of us are still a wee bit grumpety. ).  These tournaments take a lot out of us, that's for sure.  Lots of late nights, early mornings, nervous stomachs, hard work, and socializing. But we have some great friends there, and the boys really had a good week. Now it's time for a little break before our next tournament at the end of this month!
Sammy, and Another Cool Friend, Enjoying a Break

Danny and His Friend Rae, From South Dakota

Joey, Watching Somebody Speak, and Looking a Bit Weary.
Or Bored. I Can't Tell.

Such a Handsome, Thoughtful Man.
Joey ended up moving on to semi-finals in apologetics (not an easy task).
He loves God and His Word.
I can't seem to find the picture of his semi-finalists group, but we are really proud of him.  

After 4 very full days of competition, we eagerly awaited the awards ceremony.
Sammy had been surprised that he even broke to semi-finals with his speech on Friendship.
He found out later that he broke to finals (the top 8).  Here he is, holding his
FIRST PLACE trophy.  Yes, FIRST PLACE!  The crowd went wild when his name
was announced.  I was crying.  Sam was crying.  It really was a very memorable

Danny and our Pastor's son, Sam, did an excellent job on their Duo.
Their piece was The 3 Little Pigs in Shakespearean language.  
Here they are, holding their FIRST PLACE trophies!

And here is Danny, after he placed third overall in Storytelling.  He told a piece of
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, complete with accents.  He did very well.  Lots of late-night practice with his younger siblings over the years, telling them 'just one more story!'.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tournament Week

This week is just about nuts. Our 3 oldest boys are heading into their first big speech and debate tournament for the year.  It runs Wednesday through Saturday, from 8:00 in the morning to 9:30 at night. 
Danny will be competing in 2 debate events and 3 speech events, all as a super-senior (meaning he has graduated high school, but is young enough to come back for one more year).  Joey will be competing in apologetics and impromptu speech. And Sam will be doing an original oratory speech as well as impromptu. Most certainly a lot of fun and rigor and stress and certainly not enough sleep.  

For some reason, I put off shopping for suits this year.  I put it off way too long.  Ugh. And so, the last two days before the tournament, we have had Danny rush off to our neighbor's to have his mile-long pants hemmed within the day, Joey try on a friend's suit in the hopes that it would fit, with plans to buy a new one before next tournament, and Sammy - I don't even want to talk about Sammy.  

I ordered his suit with the expectation it would be here by now.  We waited. We checked the status. It didn't come.  So Tuesday, in the cold and the snow, with a van-full of little ones I went out to get him something.  He wasn't with me.  A word of advice- don't go out to buy a suit if the person who will be wearing the suit isn't with you...But so I don't look too ignorant, you should know that Sammy isn't quite into men's sizes yet, so I was just out to grab a size 16.  I grabbed a size 16, ran to another store, still in the snow, still with little ones, and picked up some ink for the boys and some shoes for Danny.  Because he let me know that morning that his others were unwearable.  And since he would be at Speech club all afternoon, well, could I pick them up for him.  Sure, sweetie.  Ahem.  
  Before heading home, we ran into the grocery store.  To buy snacks for speech club.  Even though it wasn't my week.  Because one of my sons was kind enough to volunteer me (two hours before club) to get something since the snack-bringing family wasn't going to speech club that day.   I love it when my children are so thoughtful of others. 
When we got home, Sammy tried on the jacket.  And you know where this is going, don't you.  Seriously?  It doesn't fit?  Can't you just not eat for the next 24 hours, or not move your arms when you give your speeches? No?  Sigh.  So, after the sun has gone down and the snow is starting to stick to the roads, my wonderful husband drives Sammy and Hannah 45 minutes away to get Sam's suit.  And my husband doesn't even fuss.  I might have fussed. My husband is the best.  
 I stayed home that night and finished washing and drying piles of undershirts, black socks, and dress shirts.  I hung up neckties and packed mounds of food. I read to my little ones who were already feeling things ramp up. And Sam came home with a suit.  
I probably didn't I mention they all needed haircuts too.  Out came the clippers, and before I knew it, I had a kitchen full of young men lined up to get a trim.  I didn't even know I had so many males in my home! Even kids who weren't competing in the tournament lined up. Dad, too! I snapped on the cape, zoomed off the hair, swept the chair and floor and yelled 'next!' for about an hour. 

And this is what the wall in my bedroom looked like, the night before the tournament started.  Next post- the rest of Tournament Week.