For Cole

“Love you babe, Love you, Mom”

For Cole:

You are 13 today! The unconditional love you have for others is amazing, take that with you as you get older.  Your kindness will change everyone who comes to know you.

When I wake you each morning, I slowly creak the door open and literally you fly up from laying flat in bed with a gasp.  You are always quick to wake as if the house is on fire.  I am sorry because I have said this to you and like lighting you start flying around trying to figure out what you need to take but when you look up at me I just can’t contain my laughter. You always walk to me for a hug, I stay in the doorway just to get that hug from you. I love the way you hug and I love the way you hug everyone in the family, (really everyone) – at holidays, that is a lot of hugging.  Don’t ever stop doing that. Each any everyone you hug notices, by this you show them your heart.  You take the time for each and everyone of them, showing them they are special to you. You always vocalize your love. And it matters!

Babe, you need to start eating!  There are so many flavors…just try! As a baby you were always very picky but if I have to smell pedisure one more time in my life I will throw up.  Yes, you stopped drinking that a long time ago.  But you can’t live on carbs, pizza, grilled cheese, lasagna, nachos and or any other of the processing foods you love.  There are so many amazing foods, tastes, crazy or not, but food can give you a feeling, it can create a memory.  (Just as your pedisure did for me.) Try something I BEG you, you are hating me at every meal right now because I make you try one thing new every meal. We have figured out that canned green beans, mashed potatoes and steak make you gag.  As you grow you WILL need more food and all different kinds of food to fuel your body, to keep you growing, healthy, and active! Just give it a try!

You are 5 ft. tall, you may be the smallest in our family but son, you are mighty!  Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you can’t do anything, YOU CAN do anything you want! Never feel defeated, QUIT the self doubt: believe you are amazing!  You may learn in your own unique way, you may get the correct answer to a math problem that was not the way you were taught and you may encounter teacher’s who don’t take the time to understand the way you learn. Fight for yourself, speak up, if you need to stay after school or come to school early make that happen even if you’d rather sleep in.  It shows great character and strength.

You have had and will continue to have teachers notice you.  If you do the work, you will be noticed and teachers will notice your efforts. I believe I am a good teacher and I am confident I am, just as I am a writer. Far-away Grandpa was an exceptional teacher.  You have people all around you that can help and what is so amazing about you is that you are becoming your best advocate. I have been your advocate since your birth, I will continue to be. In the last two years, teachers continuously tell me you know how to ask the tough questions, you advocate for yourself, you are patient, and you don’t give up. I know you get frustrated, Bud. And I do too, trying to figure out how to solve two-step equations (fractions and mixed numbers) with the homework you bring home, seems impossible to me.  Then, once you work it through you are required to show your work backwards to prove it and write it out in sentences and don’t forget to write “yes” next to the problem and the “I can” statement (oh, and each answer stands for a letter which then solves a word puzzle at the bottom of the page).  Seriously honey, I’m baffled by this. I will learn to help you (although hopefully it will not take an hour like this most recent math assignment). I am in fact, learning with you and from you. I am just as excited as you are when we get to that last problem. In all honesty, I understand why teachers are teaching in this “new” way, I understand they are required by the state but there is always an acceptation to everything. If they are great teachers they will take the time to pay attention to how you learn the best and provide to you what you need to be successful and feel success even if testing says something else. There aren’t two pupils alike in a classroom.  Not everyone, can be taught inside the confines of a cookie cutter.  You have the tools to succeed in school. If you need to pave your way, you have those “dedicated” teachers around you – teach them as they teach you!

You have a wonderful sense of humor, your quick-witted, and bright.  You often say things that make us all laugh in any situation because of your wit and humor.  This is a great trait. You have already figured out how to lift the spirit of an entire room of people with your sense of humor and infectious smile and laughter.  You have great character. I am told by many people in your life that you lift their spirits everyday. I don’t think you even know it but this will take you far in life. You are grateful, happy, you draw other people to you, you do not judge, you love deeply and are empathetic.

Your empathy is something beautiful and you share it.  You would give away your lunch (which you have done), you take snacks/lunch for kids you tell me that aren’t eating), the clothes on your back, you make me tea when I am sick, you cover up your brother when he is sleeping, when I have a rough day you always surprise me with something that makes me gasp inside. If I take shower and have been sick you often take the time to lay out an entire “comfy” pile of clothes along with soft socks, a pillow, blanket and ice water. You sit with me when I am sick which is something I will never forget. I have never told you but I hate to be alone when I am sick. These things you do make me speechless.

There is ONLY one unique you and you need to open up at bit more and because you have so many life skills that other kids your age are completely unaware of.  Show this off! Be confident!

Cole, I know when you are down, you come to me and sometimes in tears, you like hugs and you fight through those tears and you have so much to say.  I wish I could take away your fears, your self doubt but when you are down and you don’t know why, please come to me and keep talking don’t hide how you feel with me. You are brilliant and at times in your life you will struggle and pushing on may feel like the hardest thing in your life at that time but you can and will survive and what will be on the other side will be beautiful moments and experiences. The world is a never ending place of beauty, explore it!

BE BRAVE!! Stop worrying about the numbers and letters you see on your report cards not a single thing on those papers show people anything about you…you will see them more as you get older because unfortunately, they are a part of going to school but let them go, do the best you can for those letters and numbers DO NOT define you.

Challenge yourself!  You do not need to live within the confines of your immediate surroundings. You have great ambition and you are passionate. I love that you don’t take things to seriously however, as you grow; there is a time and place to step it up! Don’t question yourself in these moments, get up, say what you need to, stay standing even if you feel alone (you will never be alone). Be Bold!  Be Inspired and inspire others. Keep surprising people!

Always love your family and continue to show it, I don’t know why I even write these words because at 13- you already do this!! This quality in you is priceless! Your brother has your back but the day will come when he will need you no matter what it requires of you…just be there! He may be five inches taller but don’t cave every time he comes at you with words or in play, it is in your nature to do this but when you do stand up to him (believe me, it will happen) be strong, out wit him, show him he can’t always win. This will empower you, life requires you to kick it’s butt sometimes even if it’s your little brother’s, still love him no matter what you go through together. I know you can do any you want in this huge world. Never get complacent and show people how you view the world and always lead with your heart.

Happy 13th birthday, my love!

“Love you babe, Love you, Mom”

For Austin

“I love you, I love you more, not possible, yes possible.”

For Austin:

You will officially become a teenager (13) tomorrow.  I love the young man you are becoming.

Every morning when I come to wake you, I slowly open your door and you are curled up in a ball under one blanket.  You don’t care for a top sheet or quilt and if I make your bed by morning, its balled up on the floor next to the bed.  You politely tell me, “I just need this blanket”.  Of course, you would have expensive taste – a handmade $70 blanket. You wake slowly most mornings. Weekdays I use my long hair to tickle your ears and face and you roll over ignoring me.  When you fall asleep you still rock back and forth – just as you did as an infant.  This is so funny to me – your friends will come over and are baffled as to what and why you do this.

You always have a smile and your laughter…. that genuine laughter that fills a room after practical jokes makes my heart full.  Sometimes you make yourself laugh so hard.

As you grow, I want you to learn to speak up for yourself and for what you want, it is okay to get off the road and explore what is around you, before you choose a road. At school, rather than flying through the homework and everyday tasks because they were put in front of you – I want you to begin to think deeply, if you don’t understand, ask, if you want to know why you are being taught something, ask (respectfully), and if you can fly through your schooling years as fast as you are now and each homework assignment you get (I dare you to slow down, later in life you will learn why education was/is so important to me and to your grandparents, we have all been in the trenches with classrooms of kids.  I had a few exceptional teachers and in those few they changed my life in their own way. My dad was one of these teachers (retired now), he taught music for 40 years and still every time we visit what does he do…just like kicking off his shoes at the end of the day…within moments the piano, guitar, and his voice fills the room. Do what you dream of!

Now at my age, just as I was inspired by a precious few educators, you can be too!!  As they inspire (you might not realize it but they can be inspired by you,) pay attention to why you might be learning what you are, it is not always about being the best or the first in everything. Observing and even being knocked down can teach you so much. And both will happen to you!

Small random acts of kindness might not seem important but they are and they show others who you truly are…you sharing a part of your kindness with someone can make a difference! There is always someone you know who needs help getting up, give them a boost. Pay attention and be authentic.  You only have a certain amount of moments in your life.

Open doors, pull out chairs, try as hard as possible to NOT have a sharp tongue, do not judge others because you don’t know what they might be struggling with, continue to say please and thank you, pray, if someone is upset, hand them a tissue and take the time to notice them, to listen if requested. Be gentle with others hearts, always love your family hard and deeply. The day will come where you stand in front of “your” mountain, don’t quit, it is going to be tough and maybe the toughest at whatever age it will happen…do not concede! Go up, over, through or around, ask for help but never stop.

I want you to challenge your mind as you have with the same determination you have now. These things will make a difference in others, just smiling can make a difference for someone else and FOR YOU! As you move into your teen years know that I love you.  Even if you hate me at times.  You have a strong heart, pay attention to what is going on around you and to what you feel, and don’t ever be afraid to speak up!

Austin, you work hard at everything you do, so hard. You often would rather be in the shop working or trying to fix something you found in a field, garage sale, or someone’s garbage – a weed wacker, old cell phones, an engine, swamp coolers, computers…as I clean the house I often find a trail of parts and pieces from one room to the next.  Anything from tools, screws, bolts, parts to cell phones, circuit boards, wires, electrical tape. It’s crazy! I am often frustrated with the mess and then I remind myself what better way for you to discovery, learn, and inspire. (You are not organized but your mind is unreal, you draw from others ideas and create your own in a matter of hours). You create and recycle old parts to make something new that is actually useful.  We joked for your birthday; a box full of broken stuff from Goodwill and it would be the perfect gift for you! You don’t need the gifts. The box of junk would make you thrilled and so happy because- it isn’t junk to you – it’s a treasure and sparks new ideas in you!

You are competitive in sports; you push yourself to be better.  Last night in the snow you decide you better go outside and shovel 8 inches of snow below the basketball hoop because practice starts in a few days and you need to…well, practice. It was icy, snowing, dark, and I watched you shoveling as you slipped all over the place and just when I thought you were getting no where, I heard the bouncing of your basketball!

You are officially 5”5, my height. You don’t seem to ever be sad or down but you do get quiet and when you do you always come to me without words and lean on my shoulder and in those moments I don’t need words, I ask you and you shrug, we sit together for awhile; then off you go and your chatter begins again.

You are a work in progress and believe me when I say, you can always change your perspective. Try and see the world through other’s eyes. Always be open to others no matter how you unique they are.  You will figure out why it was so important to me that people never used the word different when it came to you and your brother.  I realized “unique” was the perfect word…everyone is unique to only themselves!! You and Cole are unique!

Stay close to that brother of yours, both of you are something, amazing together, you will need each other more than you know as you get older and always, always protect each other.

Happy Birthday!! World, look out my son, Austin is 13!!

 

Always remember… “I love you, I love you more, not possible, yes possible.”

Moments

Photograph by Nickelback

b08c8d4a7291e27ba1c5bdca1e514f17

I watch my kids whirl around me as if I’m in the center of a tornado, standing still. I watch them growing and circling me in an upward spiral going faster and faster and I simply cannot keep up.

I spend so much time not missing events: packing football pads, muddy cleats, backpacks that I can barely lift, now basketballs, building animal cells out of Styrofoam, “trying” to help with common core math, who needs new shoes, new math binders, conferences; there is so much “stuff” that kids need, use, and want but when it comes right down to it – the best thing I can give them is my love, my heart, teach them to be kind, polite, and well-mannered young men.  Beyond that, simply being with them in all their moments. My hope is that by loving them, it teaches them how to reciprocate love to others.

I realize now and can see clearly what was happening in my idea of a beautiful childhood.  I was loved and cared for in such a way, I was sheltered from the monsters under the bed. I couldn’t have asked for or been blessed with better parents, I love my siblings and I know whatever the status of our relationship is, in any day – everyone in my family would show up and I have NO doubt about that.  This gives me an incredible amount of courage and strength.

I am able to see life in a different way now.  A beautifully complicated mess of opportunities.  Living in the moments we have, today, tomorrow, and what happens in the next two hours or this evening.  We have choices to make and in those choices we choose to live in those moments or sit complacent and think about what they could’ve been like.   In my strongest and weakest moments, I strive to master perfection in these choices.  But this is where I have begun to see life and myself differently.  We all have these moments that can have an impact on our lives, that we will remember forever or maybe just an ember that blows from the campfire and disappears into the night. But I write to keep my moments, insignificant or not, alive.  I feel alive everyday through my moments and how I choose to use them!!

******

When the twins were born, I can remember Cole’s entire hand holding the tip of my pinkie and being too afraid to even touch Austin.  Their chests concave, literally skin and bones, and the ventilators helping them to breathe. I was terrified, so terrified if they would live of die in those moments.

In nearly a month my twins will be 13 and damn, I am so proud and have been blessed by God that these two miracles are in my life. And seriously, where the hell have the years gone??

This morning, the house was in shambles, Christmas lights reflecting in windows, I was doing laundry, writing checks for the next sport (basketball), lacing new shoes, feeding the dog, loading the dishwasher, and like every morning trying to get Cole out of the shower (he never fails to take every ounce of hot water) and my heart was full.  Yes, this happens mostly every morning sometimes the tasks change but the basic idea is always the same.

Life can change from day to day. What you choose to do with your day is up to you but somewhere remember there are people out there who in their current state cannot control what is happening. Everyone needs time to digest, make a plan, and decide what is best for them and their families.

Go after what you want, remember where you came from and who helped you get there, don’t look back because we cannot change the past, if you want something different – something you feel compelled to do or change from your history – change it now, if you need a kick in ass to get you moving, I am sure you know someone who is ready and willing! And maybe if something or someone catches you off guard in a moment and you let yourself be with whatever it is; you may learn more than you ever thought you could. It could possibly change your entire perspective on life.

Children!?!?!

My son was sick this weekend.  He didn’t have the flu but he had stabbing pains in his stomach and I couldn’t do anything about it.  Even though my instincts told me told me that we just needed to wait it out, I couldn’t bare to watch him double over in pain.  Austin wouldn’t eat, drink, and was lethargic. If you know my son, this is not him.  He goes 100 miles an hour and that brain of his is always thinking of the next project, the next thing he can take a part and in his mind he always two steps ahead of where he currently stands.

I watched him like a hawk, a mother bear, or whatever you choose to relate this feeling too.  Call me a mom who hovers but everything in me wanted to switch places with him.  I sat next to him on the floor for hours, rubbed his head, and although he was laying on the couch fast asleep and I was on the floor and I feel asleep sitting up…our heads touching on the same pillow.

There is something about being a mother that bonds us to certain other mothers, puts us in this world or category that no one else can relate too accept other mothers.  There is also something instinctive in our children that when they need something they go to their mother’s first. (Now, I am not saying children don’t go to their fathers because I still go to mine but there is something to mothers and their children and there is also something special between fathers and their children too.) I will put it out there and say that generally speaking: homework, discipline, food, clean clothes, hugs, whining, comfort, and getting my children to and from activities, and having sleepovers-are all activities I take part in actively in my home.

As my boys have gotten older and although I still do all the things above, they have shifted a lot of their focus to Dad.  We live on a farm with endless amounts of new things to try.  Both boys love this.  Although they may not realize it now but as they get older they will realize that they were so blessed to grow up here.  There isn’t any place they can’t go for miles around us, they know every trail, every nook in the trees, where the water is, and on four-wheelers everything is just better.

I watch my children discover new things in front of me.  I see that twinkle in their eyes…and each new discovery somehow thrusts them into their next idea. Children are amazing little beings that if you nurture them, they will turn into brilliant adults!

For me, being a mother is the most important job in my life, there are things in my life I struggle with but those are easier to ignore when it comes to building up and nurturing my children.

Have you ever loved something so much it hurts??

 

Footnote: (Austin is healthy again and he decided it was gas and he needed to go #2)

 

Children and Reading

75edfd6a7b52c959_thinkstockreading-xxxlarge

“Children should learn that reading is pleasure, not just something that teachers make you do in school.”

-Beverly Clearly

Work Hard, Play Hard

DSC_6691

I wake each morning in the same ritualistic way, coffee, writing, a load of laundry from the dryer to fold, kitchen needs to be tidy, and all the other repeated tasks to follow suit throughout the day.  I repeat this day in and day out. The same beginning and the same ending.  In the last years, I have been putting some of these tasks in my boys’ hands.

I know these tasks need to be done or the house will fall in shambles but can I find a way to enjoy every day tasks? It’s robotic, it’s a mental list I drudge my way through just to get them done because no one else does. They need to be done.  For some sick reason, it would drive me crazy if I just let them go. Am I the only person who feels this way?  Is it something women, mothers, and wives force ourselves to do?  Lump ourselves in this dated way of thinking that all the “home” things must be done by us because it is our duty as women?  Can I change this way of thinking in my boys as they grow?

Now, I am not attempting to know anything that other women don’t but why can’t my 12-year-old boys rinse and put their dishes in the dishwasher, after all they used them?  Why can’t my sons fold laundry or set the dinner table?  And if I have to clean my room and make my bed, why can’t they do the same in their own rooms? Heaven forbid they ever learn how to push a vacuum around. I am behind this stereotype of what men do and what women should do.  I want my children to be an example and accept to this stereotype.  I believe they will be better for it as adults.

For as much as my children, love the outdoors and would spend every waking minute outside if they could, why can’t they learn to help out inside? Last week my boys and I spread 15 yards of bark dust together with shovels and wheel barrels.  They mowed, weeded and used the tractors to help on the farm.  I do not think I am working my kids to hard, they play hard everyday although often watering turns into water fights just like last night. This is joyful to watch.

I would like to say I am guiding them to be the best little men they can be. Also, I convince myself that later on in life whoever they choose to spend their lives with will be grateful they know how to wash dishes, do laundry, and vacuum, along with all the other outside tasks we are required to do to keep our home well kept.  This is preparing them for the real world.  We work to play harder!

My children are loved, happy, and enjoy life. Even after putting in some hard hours of working by the end of it, they are always smiling and laughing when they come in the house. So, how can we possibly be working them too hard? They are full of joy, filled with life, and excited about what comes next.  What else could I ask for?

Quiet Introspection

My Wish by Rascal Flatts

180918_497890382580_6172386_n

Waking my children in the morning is my favorite part of my day. Maybe it’s because I can watch them in stillness like I used when they where infants.  They once shared a crib, swaddled together. Now they have their own rooms, full size beds, and their own interests cover the walls in photographs and décor, and shows in what they choose to wear everyday. In the quietness before I touch them to wake, I smile knowing they will always be the best thing I did this life.

One sleeps in the fetal position completely covered by one blanket and hates having a top sheet on his bed. He has wires, batteries, motors, duck tape, and nuts and bolts scattered about his night stand.  The night stand mirrors how organized he is in his bedroom, with his belongings, his locker at school, and his clear interested in engineering. His room is a beautiful mess.

The other rests in a queen bed, covered in Seattle Seahawks sheets, blankets, wearing matching pj’s, 5 pillows, and a light dusting of décor around the room for anything that has to do with cars, engines, and the Dodge Helcat. His arms and legs are spread reaching for the sides of the bed. I see his face and I see me. On his night stand there is a glass of water, a book, IPad, and a lamp his great grandfather made from an antique candlestick.

I still remember the crib. I remember what they wore home from the hospital and how it felt watch them sleep at night back then. They used to wake me.

Maybe this chance I am gifted with every morning is because of the opportunity for introspection before I take hold of another day just to help them get closer to who they will become.