Daddy’s Handkerchief

Daddy's Handkerchief
Daddy’s Handkerchief

I miss my dad.


I was in church on Sunday and started crying. Crying is a pretty foreign concept for me in general as I’m a bit of a “suck it up” personality. But Circumstances prevailed and my tear ducts turned on.


I had no options for my tears and ensuing snot than my shirt sleeve and we all know I like to blame the baby when I’m sporting snot, not myself.


At that moment I experienced intense nostalgia for my dad.


He’s of the older generation, just shy of the greatest generation of all: World War II. He’s the strong and gentle warrior.


He always carries a handkerchief in his pocket.


I wish that our generation would carry handkerchiefs. They’re terribly important bits of fabric that can fulfill a multitude of purposes.


I cannot begin to number the times I would sneak up to him and borrow his “hanky” – times I was crying, times I sneezed, when I needed something to hold a cube of ice or wipe up a spill – Daddy always had his hanky.


I have these times that jump up and attack me with a stranglehold of emotion – though my father is still living and physically present he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He becomes disoriented frequently and struggles to get any words out. It’s been many months since I’ve been able to have a conversation with him. This summer has shown a pretty marked decrease in his ability level and he is in many ways a stranger inhabiting a body I adore.


I miss the Daddy who set the standard for the men in my life; a compassionate man who was a jack of all trades, always had an answer or worked with me to find one, a man who honored my mom with the delivery of a single rose on their anniversary or just because (because a bouquet was just too over the top – there was beautiful simplicity in a single bud), and teased us.


My kids will never remember the man who snuck sugar-covered orange gelatin candies to me when my mom wasn’t around, or see the capability of a large knuckled hand that could ably butcher livestock, maneuver a tractor, or wipe away a tear.


I can’t remember him making a decision that didn’t put our family first in his thoughts.


I miss him.


And his handkerchief.



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There's always that ONE...
There’s always that ONE…

If I said, “You are a great follower!” would you be insulted?


If you said the same to me, my first reaction would be offense.


I don’t want to be a follower! I’m a leader! I’m not a mindless mass without wisdom and knowledge and gumption! I’m special, unique!




But “follower” doesn’t make you a mindless minion. In fact, being a good follower in this age of entitled know-it-alls, of talking heads and news show yappers, might make you a more attractive leader.


Why would I say such a thing?


I’m reading a book about leadership development and one chapter addresses following. The author couches the information from a leader’s perspective – such as what can you, as a leader, do to make your follower productive, satisfied, and loyal?


But in reading this chapter it occurred to me more should be written about the value of a follower in recognition that following is an important skill that if not acquired, will hinder anyone from long term success.


Think about it –


  • How do many people learn wisdom from leaders? By following the leader until they’ve proven themselves interested.
  • Who do leaders enjoy spending time with? Their trusted followers, because they’re pulling in the same direction toward a common goal.
  • What is one of the most exasperating things to a leader? An unteachable follower who goes renegade because they’re determined they know more than anyone else.


These thoughts make me want to intentionally practice to be a better follower. To me that means:


  • Trusting. Instead of doubting a leadership decision, armchair coaching, or being a Debbie Downer, I want to learn to trust the judgment of the leaders around me. Genuine trust of an honorable person places a burden of responsibility on that leader to live up to the trust they’ve earned.
  • Supporting. Too many times I contribute to the common good of a group out of social obligation or with hopes of later recognition. That’s not helpful! I want to support others because that in itself is a worthwhile reward.
  • Playing. When someone else is navigating the course I have the freedom to play and enjoy the journey without prepping for the next change. That, in turn, makes me much more fun to be around.
  • Loyalty. I want to be a loyal person. Our culture is not supportive of a steadfast spirit. We are always looking for new and better, speed and energy But I want to be a part of an admirable tradition and someone others can depend upon to be consistent.


I’m becoming more and more convinced that being a follower is an unrecognized skill that we should all master.


What other skills make people excellent followers?




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I am not June Cleaver

June Cleaver and Leave it to Beaver.
June Cleaver and Leave it to Beaver.

Although this will likely not surprise you, I have a confession to make: I am not June Cleaver.


I am also not Mama Berenstain Bear. Nor any other paragon of motherhood heralded before me in the media.


I cannot explain why this realization was so shocking to me, but it hit me yesterday like a ton of bricks – I’m not a perfect mother and I don’t even portray an image of a perfect mother. I don’t always have the right words to sum up the moral lesson, I lose my temper, sometimes I argue with their father, I hate doing laundry and the corners of our shower are a little frightening to behold.


I’m not perfect. Nowhere close. No paragon of virtue present in this household.


For a long time I’ve tried my best to match up to the examples set by the maternal influences in my life whether my mother, mother-in-law, sister, friend, etc., or the women I see in movies or on television, or brought to life via words from the imagination of authors of books. I’ve read books, scoured the internet for blog posts, and solicited parenting feedback from friends near and far.


The ultimate diagnosis? I’m not perfect. I will never be perfect.


But that doesn’t make me hopeless. That’s the next step in this line of thinking – that lack of perfection doesn’t equal failure as a parent.


Yesterday wasn’t a special day and I’m sure this is an understanding I will have to acknowledge again and again, but saying the words, “I am not June Cleaver” lifted the monkey of perfection from my back for a bit of time. Here’s what I can claim as real instead of perfection (and maybe you can claim it, too):


  • I am a capable woman who is sometimes overwhelmed by the tirade of emotion coming from children over whether they get a piece of gum.
  • I am a logical human being who realizes sometimes getting a few hours of sleep is more important than having the floors mopped or socks matched.
  • I am a caring person who invests in those around her and occasionally that means arguments and temper tantrums – because the opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy.
  • I am courageous and up to the challenge of parenting because I choose to be present in these children’s lives and live authentically with them.


Oh, how I wish it didn’t take me writing these things down to try to remember them in my most critical moments! But I don’t have to be June Cleaver (and neither do you). I can be me.


Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to model yourself after someone else, or an image that seems too good to be true. Just be you. Do your best every day to be true to your values and then… relax.


Be the best version of yourself, no one else. It’s enough. Rebuke the pressure.


What truth statements do you need to write down so you will remember them in your critical moments?




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10 Spot Ramble: Band-Aids®

Band-Aids inspire both healing and creative ventures!
Band-Aids® inspire both healing and creative ventures!

Why on Earth are Band-Aids® so amazing?!


We have a strict No Blood, No Band-Aid® rule around here and that has resulted in many tears. Our children have been known to ask for a bandage for a bug bite, hang nail, invisible scratch, and an itch. Band-Aids® make it all better. At this point it’s just a matter of time before one of the kiddos will purposefully injure themselves just to get an adhesive stick-em.


I’ve been known to use nicely decorated, latex-free plastic strips as bargaining chips. I’m not above bribery and I’m not ashamed to admit it.


Still, the enchantment of these little boogers eludes me. I don’t know why they spend so many waking minutes wondering when, if, and how they can negotiate for a Band-Aid®. The function of this medical tool is obvious and wonderful… but why the absolute fascination with an object they only wear from 4.3 minutes on a good day?


I can’t be the only one with questions about the Band-Aid®, so it’s time for a 10-Spot Ramble so we can learn some trivia about the plastic adhesive strip:


1. The Band-Aid is a gift of love. Earle Dickson, an employee of Johnson and Johnson developed the Band-Aid® in 1920 for his accident-prone wife, Josephine.


2. Early adhesive bandages required crafting skills. When they hit the market in 1920, Band-Aids® were handmade and came in strips that were two and a half inches wide and eighteen inches long. The person would cut the bandage to the specifications they needed. I would not have done well with this test.


3. Band-Aids® and Boy Scouts go hand-in-hand. Johnson & Johnson decided their main clients were families, mainly mothers, so they distributed free Band-Aids® to the people they felt would need them the most – Boy Scouts. After giving away an unlimited number to Boy Scout troops across the U.S., Band-Aid® sales began to increase. Mothers across the continent rejoiced that their sweet man-cubs would be bandaged with sterile strips.


4. Remember the red string? Today’s bandages are opened with a pull apart, but the Band-Aids® of my childhood had a red string. Do you remember it? That red string that used to open the wrappers first appeared on the box in 1924.


5. Barry Manilow was actually referring to Band-Aids® in “Let’s Get It On.” Nope. Fooled you! That’s a lie, but Manilow did compose the famous Band-Aid® jingle (“I am stuck on Band-Aid® brand, ‘cause Band-Aid’s® stick on me!”).


6. Jersey isn’t famous just for its Shore. The Band-Aid® manufacturing plant is in North Brunswick, New Jersey.


7. Band-Aids® glow when pulled apart. Really. Go try it yourself. It’s due to a process called triboluminescence. Triboluminescence is what occurs when a Wint-O-Green Life Saver candy is crushed in the dark, letting off a little glowing spark. When a high enough difference between negative and positive charges is formed, electrons jump across fractures in the candy, reacting with nitrogen, producing a glow. A similar thing happens with Band-Aid® wrappers and postal envelopes. When separating certain sticky surfaces, a similar reaction to that in the Life Savers occurs, causing a light blue flash.


8. We’ve gone through a lot of Band-Aids®. Johnson & Johnson reports over 1 billion Band-Aids® have been sold. That’s a lot of Band-Aids®. In fact, I think it may actually be rivaling the number of McDonald’s hamburgers sold!


9. Band-Aids® and Listerine are kissing cousins. Well, not really. But if they were they’d have fresh breath because it was Sir Joseph Lister, one of the first proven germophobes, who advocated for sterile everything from kissers to bandages. Listerine came from his desire to kill the germs and Band-Aids® came from the idea of sterile gauze bandages. Pretty nifty, huh?


10. A used Band-Aid® is one of the most disgusting items on the planet. It am 100% grossed out by dirty Band-Aids® but it really doesn’t matter if the gauze is nasty or clean – if you get a Band-Aid® stuck to your barefoot you know you’ll be doing the hokey-pokey at a fast pace and practicing contortionist’s moves until you get it unstuck from your foot! Bleh. Gross, gross, gross.


Finally, I came across this little saying as I was researching this post:


“Excuse me, do you have a Band-Aid®? Because I scraped my knee when I fell in love with you!”


Heh, heh, heh.


How much love do plastic adhesive bandages get in your house?




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Copyright © 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

Doggie Bail

We've gotta spring the puddle from the pound.
We’ve gotta spring the puddle from the pound.

Let’s talk about the dog pound.


Until today I believed the humane society was a cool place to go and visit animals. I didn’t realize they were blood-sucking, money loving leeches.


Before you get all up in arms and take me to task, let me tell you I’ve been pro humane society my whole life. I volunteered there growing up and I generally enjoy pets and am in favor of what they represent.


But today our crazy dog Sam dug a hole under our fence. I saw her taking off down the road and hollered at her from the kitchen window. Dos and I both took off after her, yelling and she never looked back.


We loaded up the car and drove the neighborhood for 40 minutes, trying to find her. We asked every person in the street if they had seen her. Nothing.


I called and left a message with the humane society, which didn’t open for another 1/2 hour. I gave them my number, a description of the runaway puddle, comforted the kiddos, and waited.


About an hour later I got a call that a dog matching that description had been brought in from our area. And that it would be $162 to get her back.


Ummmm…… that was unexpected.


By my calculations, that’s a little more than $1/minute they had her in their possession.


It’s about 162 times more than we paid to get the dog in the first place.


It’s two times the amount they’d charge me if I walked into the shelter and asked to adopt a small white poodle with a really wacked out attitude and crazy fear of thunder.


I’ve really been under the impression the humane society exists to help animals find their forever homes. And we have a dog whose forever home is now in jeopardy because $162 is two weeks worth of grocery budget for our family.


Seriously?! How can this be good for the pet population of America?! Can someone explain this to me??? In addition to the explanation, I’m taking donations so I can bail the puddle out of the doggie penitentiary. Feel free to contribute if you’d like.


Have you ever had to bail your dog out of the pound and did you have to sell a kidney to pay for it?




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Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler: Part Three

What we think homeschool is about...
What we think homeschool is about…

I posed some questions we had to answer as a family in yesterday’s Story of Reluctant Homeschoolers: Part Two:

What is the point of education?


Is an education truly necessary? Is it useful for all people?


Each family will answer these questions differently. I’m going to share our answers to these questions by simply talking through what we witness in our own homeschool.


Our homeschool journey is under constant analysis and revision (and I’ve heard that from many other homeschool parents as well). It’s a fluid process for our family: we are constantly wondering how we can scale back or improve.


While my type-A personality hates that fluidity, I’m comforted by knowing responsiveness is a leadership skill and important to practice. I also recently heard most airlines are off course 99% of their flights, that it’s only through constant corrections they find their way to their destinations.


When I don’t keep the long-term vision in front of me, I completely lose track of the destination in the excruciating minutiae of raising four children aged 7-years-old and under; the nobility of this decision to be a full-time educator is completely obliterated in the knowledge there is laundry on the sofa needing to be put away and a suspicious puddle on the floor in front of the bathroom door.


I’ve been known to read popular blogs or peruse Pinterest and completely freak out because we don’t do art or science projects at home; when I attend homeschool conferences it looks like everyone else has their home school better organized operating more effectively than ours.


I struggle with insecurity, with wanting the best for our children; I quiz my kids after they come home from gymnastics or AWANA and ask them if they feel as smart as the other kids? When Uno didn’t pick up on reading at 5 years old – or 6 years old into 7 years old – I was in a panic and certain we were short-changing our children a good education as obviously my best efforts weren’t paying off.


Yet we stuck with it.


When I get my head wrapped around the knowledge the only comparisons I should make are against the priorities we’ve set as a family (and, of course, our state requirements for homeschooling) I realize we do have success happening around our dinner table.


When we stay the course we slowly see fruit being produced in this educational model.


Why do I say that?


Our children treat people who look or act differently than what they’re used to with love. I take them to the play areas in the mall and see them treat strangers with a friendly attitude and look for ways to help. I’m seeing the fruit of character in them.


When we travel, our children are obedient and trustworthy.  We rarely have to ask them to do things more than once and we don’t worry for their safety. We’re seeing the fruit of safety in them.


Yesterday we were looking at clouds and Uno asked me how tornadoes formed. Our conversation stretched through vocabulary words: atmosphere, weather patterns, and temperature differentiation. Then it went a step further and we discussed the tornadoes in Oklahoma this past spring and how a weather occurrence impacted everyday living, house structure, emergency supplies; we talked about how to handle fear of unpredictability by trusting in God’s plan even when we don’t understand the “why.” We’re seeing the fruit of critical thinking as our children recognize how our world laces together.


When I ask our kids about their friends they always name their siblings first. They choose to spend time together and they help each other out as a natural process. We’re seeing the fruit of unity in our family.


I don’t share this because I think our kids are soooo special. I share it because I need the encouragement of looking at these items and seeing snapshots of progress. I share it because my kids may not be awesome when we get around to taking the standardized tests… but it doesn’t change the quality of the education they are receiving. (Although I do hope they do well on standardized test. It’s just that in our opinion tests are not the most important piece of their education… or even in the top five most important pieces.)


There’s another point I have to remind myself constantly: You can’t force the fruit.


These children are going to bloom in their own dad-blamed, sweet, meandering time. We plant the seed with knowledge and lessons, but we can’t force true understanding. We can nourish the soil with academic Miracle Gro – for us it’s a program like Classical Conversations and flashcards and conversations and the History and Discovery channels – but the seed will sprout when the seed will sprout. I can’t mold it to my time schedule.


Too often I want my children to pick up on a concept after one explanation. I want them to be experts well before we’ve put in the 1,000 hours needed to truly know something. I want the accolades of smart kids who are perfect and destined for success… because I want the pat on the back as their primary educator.


I want a beautiful, picture perfect, happy family where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” Yet we all know that phrase was a funny monologue of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, MN radio show because it’s implausible… bordering on insanity.


I have to consciously decide – over and over – if I push for my kids look perfect, there’s a reasonable chance they will never be educated.


With that in mind, I’d rather lose the battle of daily perfection (and I do!) but win the war of a well-rounded, high-character child that sees God in every part of their life because it’s never been segmented; to have children that learn about relationships and family through continued encounters with people who can be challenging and aren’t scared of being authentic because they haven’t been pressured to be perfect.


Nothing I’ve talked about in this post says a specific thing about the quadratic equation, spelling bees, or Romeo and Juliet… but these paragraphs have everything to do with our family values about education and what we think education should contain.


At no point can I claim this journey is easy… but because it aligns with our values it becomes doable and worth it.


Does your child’s education reflect your family’s values?


Have you missed a part of the Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler? Here you go, links to catch up!

Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler, Part One

Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler, Part Two


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Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler: Part Two

We took our family’s educational process back to the one-room schoolhouse model.

I’ll be telling our story of Reluctant Homeschooling over the next few days.


Yesterday I left off with the discovery that, despite our ill-informed prejudice, we decided we wanted to give homeschooling a try. I wasn’t willing to go for it all the way because I was still working and, frankly, the idea of not getting a break from my child was a little too scary to seriously contemplate.


So we pulled Uno back to a half day in pre-K and started Classical Conversations one day a week to see if this could work for us.


Over and over my husband and I tried to figure out how we would accomplish this crazy goal of homeschool. I didn’t want to give up my career path and he didn’t want to be the primary educator… what would we teach Uno? How would we teach Uno? Would she gradually become incapable of socializing in a normal way with other children? What did we think we were doing???!!!!


A few opinions emerged from the weeks of wrestling with whether we should side step the traditional education process:


  • If the education we received didn’t give me the skill set or confidence to teach my child in a logical, educated way… why would we want her to continue in the same system? There’s a phrase for that: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Poor outcomes don’t need repetition.


  • There are many, many ways to educate a child and homeschooling is only one of a wide array of good educational choices. There is no spiritual winner’s laurel for homeschooling. Homeschooled children aren’t any more intelligent or godly or… anything… simply because they learned to diagram a sentence at their kitchen table or missed out on mystery meat in the cafeteria.


  • We didn’t want our children in school as wards of the state (yes, that’s the legal status of a child during school hours) for the time equivalent of a full-time job. School takes up a lot of time, which makes sense as the institution acts as free babysitting for many, many families in this country. But we liked the option of a shorter quantity with (hopefully) improved quality of time spent on schooling.


  • We didn’t want to spend the precious few hours we had with Uno at the end of the day doing homework and undoing the behavioral lessons she’d picked up at school. We wanted that time to concentrate on family, not sass.


After deciding some practical reasons for home education in our family we had to consider a few larger, simple questions with startling complexity:


What is the point of education? Is education about the social outcomes?

A miscellaneous gaggle of facts?

Is an education truly necessary? Is it useful for all people?


Without those foundational ideas solidly answered in my head, there was no way homeschooling would ever be successful for our family because the sacrifice would be too extreme. The loss of “me” time – even the ability to use the restroom in peace – and the constant stress and insecurity would be too painful for success to occur unless I was truly convinced this was the best choice for our family.


So we wrestled. And wrestled. And, over time that wrestling has proven to be a blessing to us because we were able to start with the end in mind.


From a practical perspective, we started by finding childcare for Uno for a few hours a day so we could both still work. Over time our situation changed so I now run a business out of our home. We wear many hats, our school day doesn’t follow a specific pattern, but we’ve found a way to adapt and make this work or us.

What are the answers to those questions for you?


Did you miss the start of the Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler? Here you go, links to catch up!

Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler, Part One



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Story of A Reluctant Homeschooler: Part One

We never thought we’d be homeschooling!

We are preparing for our fourth year of homeschooling. I am still in shocked awe that this is a path our family is walking together!


Five years ago I didn’t have anything against homeschoolers – except I really believed the required attire for the home educated was a denim jumper; that girls had long hair worn most commonly in a bun, boys wore button down shirts with the top button buttoned and well-geled crew cuts, and they always had pasty skin and buggy eyes because of lack of sunshine. In my mind, they also were very clean.


Not to work off of stereotypes or anything.


My husband and I would talk about how we wanted to educate our children and dream of supporting their public school teachers, being involved in the Parent Teacher Association, and warm cookies around the kitchen table while asking, “How was school?” each day.


It was a good image. {sigh}


Once Uno hit school age, however, we discovered our perception of school wasn’t quite as “Norman Rockwell” as we had originally assumed. Uno is a rule follower and her pre-K teacher quickly put her into a leadership position by assigning her to be the constant companion of the most troublemaking boy in the class.


The first time she came home and told us he punched her in the face we thought she was joking. By the third time we weren’t thrilled with the education our child was receiving. We met with her teacher and learned her veteran, very well respected teacher just loved having Uno in class because, “I never have to worry about the other children behaving when she’s around, she keeps them right in order!”


We started looking for options. Homeschool reared its ugly, bun-sporting head.


I am NOT a college-trained educator but I do have a background in educational concepts: my Bachelor’s is in Journalism and Humanities, my Master’s is College Administration, and I have a good chunk of a PhD completed in the History of Education with a focus on colleges and universities. When I started looking at what my child was experiencing (that pre-K is a year more concerned with learning how to treat others, raise your hand until recognized, stand in line, and share than how to hold a pencil, letters, numbers, or colors) I was able to trace it pretty easily to the literature I’d learned in my own studies, specifically to the man who overwhelmingly influenced modern educational practices.


John Dewey, father of modern education, founder of the Dewey Decimal system, and orchestrator of society. Buildings across the U.S. are named after him and there may even be some educational nerds who say his name in a voice hushed with reverence.


The idea that our public schools should create societal norms and shape the relational philosophy in large part comes from Mr. Dewey. In 1897 Dewey published his pedagogical creed, which includes the statement: “I believe that the school is primarily a social institution. Education being a social process… “


And here, I always thought going to school meant my child would be prepared for a career. But it turns out after the sweeping educational reforms of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, inspired by Dewey philosophy, schools feel it’s more important to teach community values. I’m not inherently against that – except that’s my job as a parent – not a school system that in intent on pushing children into cookie cutter molds so they will pass a test, resulting in more governmental funding for the school.


Something’s fishy about that to our family.


I’m going to take a few days to walk through the Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler.


I don’t want to be homeschooling. When we chose to make this switch I was working professionally in a field I felt God’s calling to work within. I don’t have a teaching degree and I honestly don’t love children that much. They move and shriek and occasionally drench you with nastiness!


I don’t want to be homeschooling – but we’re in it for the long haul.


We’ve spent a good amount of time thinking through our decision and I’ll share that thought process with you. I know some of you cringe about your child’s educational system and wonder if you could  – maybe??? – pull off a change. For others, there’s a reasonable chance you can’t relate to our rationale at all and think you can smell the crazy on us.


But just in case it’s helpful… I’ll share.  Stick around for the next few days as I continue to tell the story of a Reluctant Homeschooler.




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Copyright © 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

6 Tips for A Great Family Reunion

Family Reunions Are Fantastic!
Family Reunions Are Fantastic!

We have returned from The Great State of Texas.


I feel I have to capitalize every bit of The Great State of Texas because, well, you know, it’s Texas. I can’t even count the number of signs available in tourist shops sporting a picture of a pistol and the words, “Around here, we don’t call 911.”


You don’t mess with Texas.


Apparently you also don’t mess with the digestive tract of small children without a nod to the porcelain God. Our family mostly escaped unscathed from the travels without digestive difficulties requiring bran muffins and prunes for resolution, but our dear sweet Dos did spend one night throwing up in the toilet.


Not because she got a hold of a bad bunch of Habanero. Nope, she emptied the candy bag in the space of about 40 minutes.


See, we have the coolest family on Earth (humble, I know, but many of them are from The Great State of Texas so what do you expect?!) and when we arrived at our reunion each child had a gift bag filled with crackers, cookies, water, juice, and various forms of candy involving Red Dye and Kiddie Crack.


Dos wolfed that sucker down while we were mid-hug and caught up in the how-do-you-dos. That night she started throwing up. The next morning I asked her what happened and she admitted she ate more candy in moments than she’s consumed in almost the rest of her lifetime.


She blushed and giggled. “I didn’t even eat my dinner, Mommy! Just my candy!”


Even puking didn’t slow her down. She’s ready for more candy right now!


Besides the joy of a nauseas child, I’ve gotten a chance to take away…


6 Laws of Family Reunions


1. Be realistic. Your children will behave both more angelically and more devilishly than normal in turns. You, yourself, will behave both more angelically and more devilishly than normal. Give everyone around you (and yourself) grace when things get hairy. Everyone’s a little bit out of their element.


2. Oops! make the best memories! The best memories are the ones where things don’t go quite according to plan. Our family reunion included a three hour restaurant wait for food. We were able to watch one of our party go to the bathroom wearing a glow necklace tail because the wait made a few people creative. I’ll always treasure the memory of my cousin as a firefly!


3. Be pleasant. We traveled with six adults and six children ages seven and under in a 15-passenger van. When we exited the van the first day our family members who saw us pour out of that big white beauty started praying for us, certain we’d be ready to kill each other. We weren’t! Yes, tempers were strained and temperatures soared, but we worked to be pleasant and encouraging despite our irritation (my sister and brother in law are particularly good at this). It made everyone happy. Attitude is a huge part of family reunion success.


4. Share positive about other family members. We had a new branch of the family tree join us this year and spent a lot of time filling them in on names and back stories. It’s awesome to make a conscious decision to share the positive elements of other family members and let any parts that rub us the wrong way be discovered naturally.


5. Wear nametags or don’t be offended if you have to ask for names more than once. I can’t figure out the names of the children I bore in my own body most days. I’m not going to be spot on with names of relatives I see every other year. This is normal, natural. If you want to get really ornery, introduce yourself to a few people with a new name that’s almost exactly like yours – i.e., Kathy/Cindy, Bill/Will – and see how many generations it takes for the confusion to sort itself out.


6. Plan activities. The best family reunions have activities that bring people together toward a common experience along with time to visit. The activities help in future reunions, because it’s a conversational gambit to break the ice.


7. Be yourself and relax. You’re all in this thing called “Family” together. In fact, you probably all have Aunt Erma’s hawk nose or Grandpa Bob’s oddly shaped big toe and no one needs those awesome matching t-shirts to know you’re family. There is no normal, all families are goofy and have a few skeletons in the closet. You’ve got genetic code in common with your extended family members, so be yourself, be forgiving, relax and let a friendship draw you together as well.


What are your tips for an awesome family reunion?




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saavem / stock.xchng
saavem / stock.xchng

This afternoon my second-born child walked up to me, rubbed her hands across the stretched skin of my belly, and asked, “Is this your leftovers?”


My children are rudely innocent when it comes to body image comments. I’ve done my best to treat their comments with unconcern, when they mention my “squishy bottom” or that I  still look pregnant I will usually respond with a vague chuckle or a, “Oh, you think so?”


I don’t want them to grow up in this thin-obsessed world with an idea that their value lies in the circumference of their waist or whether their legs are long and tan. I know that my reaction to my own body is the number one influence they will have for their own body image.


So today when Dos asked me about leftovers I made a choice to let the first flash of embarrassment wash over me and wallow in an intentional choice.


“Yep,” I said cheerfully, “these are my leftovers. They remind me of how lucky I am to have you four kiddos. I wouldn’t change them for the world.”


I want to own that stretch mark across my belly button because it’s a leftover from the only pregnancy that carried a boy.


I want to own the scar on my knee because it’s a leftover from the time I fell while pregnant with Bubby, carrying Tres, after a fantastic BBQ with friends at a local park.


The dark purplish scar along my lower stomach is an intense memory of the c-sections that brought me the first cries of each of my children, and the comfort of holding my husband’s hand as we met this little being we had a part in creating.


My imperfections, with conscious decisions on my part, can become valued possessions. Mistakes I’ve made, scars I display, quirks I have… they’re ok. They’re useful because God doesn’t waste experiences.


My leftovers are beautiful. They are memories, they are vivid reminders of who I was in contrast to who I am today.


What leftovers do you need to redeem?



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Copyright © 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

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