enough is enough.

(I know. I’ve been MIA for months. I got a job! It’s been an exciting, crazy couple of months. I’ll get back here and write about that soon.)

These days, I get my news from my Twitter feed in the very-early morning while I wait impatiently for my Keurig to spit out my first cup of coffee. Today, I was finally reading a bit of post-debate news. I came across some information that suggested Sen. Jeff Sessions, who supports Trump, didn’t think it was “clear” that grabbing a woman by the genitals is sexual assault (after intense backlash, he has since recanted and said he was misquoted, etc.).

But reading that made me mad as hell. Because I highly doubt there would be any lack of clarity on his part if a man or woman grabbed his own child by the genitals. Yet, he and MILLIONS of others are willing to dismiss this as “locker room talk.”

(Yes, I am aware that this was a nasty man bragging about a hypothetical situation. I am also aware that we live in a world where Billy Bush has been suspended as an entertainment reporter from the Today show for his involvement in the conversation while his counterpart is running for President. Insert giant eyeroll.)

Look. I’m not a prude, and I am well aware of braggadocious, crude language being dismissed for generations as “locker room talk,” but let’s not change the subject. Let’s pretend for a second that it’s 2016 and women are humans and that our kids deserve better than this. Because I actually think my boys do.

What they deserve is everyone – men and women, regardless of party affiliation – denouncing sexual assault in any and all forms.

This is not about who you are voting for – and we are not having that discussion in this space – you do what you have to for whatever reasons you have to. But do not dismiss this talk. If you are still able to vote for Trump after this, I understand that there are myriad reasons for that, but stand up against the thinking there is grey area in sexual assault. Don’t divert by talking about how “what Hillary (or Bill) did was worse!” That is another discussion, and it’s also possibly the reasoning behind why you’ll still vote for him, but it is NOT a response to Trump’s statements.

And for the love – stop with the asking about where the outrage over 50 Shades of Grey was years ago. It was a work of fiction (that I did not read, for the record), and while I completely understand and agree that books are powerful and can influence culture, and that this series was far from wholesome, it’s preposterous to use this to deflect and defend.

Sexual assault is wrong. Period. Full stop.

Vote for him if you must. But don’t let your, or my, kids grow up thinking there is any grey area in terms of assault.

Today. 

The 2 younger boys are at a summer camp for the better part of the day this week Monday through Thursday (cue angels singing), leaving me and Luke to fill our days.  

This morning, I asked him to come with me to drop off the boys, then go for a walk/jog on the levee. Told him we’d go look for some shoes for him after that, then get lunch. He agreed, and he wasn’t even reluctant.

We exercised, shopped the outlet mall, and ate Pie Five for lunch. And it was just so pleasant. 


Not that many years ago, I would’ve told you that the prospect of parenting teenagers, especially boys, freaked me out and seemed completely out of my comfort zone. 

And trust me, there is still plenty to be uncomfortable and awkward about, and moments where his obvious early-teenageness makes me crazy. 

But gosh, I love it when he’s talkative and willing to listen and have a conversation. I’ve warned him before, and reminded him again today, that he has a mom who is not afraid to discuss hard topics, and give him different angles to consider, so that he can form his own opinion. And that I hope it means he knows a) I’m going to bring stuff up that may be awkward and b) it means I’m comfortable with him asking questions, etc. 

Today we talked about current events, particularly about prejudices and stereotypes, and why they’re just not ok. We talked about the difference between ISIS and Islam, and how some people don’t understand that there’s a difference. We talked about LGBTQ issues – how America views the issues, how Christianity does, how I view it all – and the horror of the massacre in Orlando, and how people are trying to use this to further religious/political agendas. We talked about how it’s entirely possible to have a different opinion than your friends, even on heated topics, if you can simply manage to approach each other intelligently and with respect.

I’m sure there were lots of times that he would’ve preferred I stop talking or asking him questions. But he’s not always easy to engage, so I took full advantage of our morning together. And I really feel like these conversations have to happen if we, as a generation of parents, have any chance of putting humans out into the world who do a better job of civilly engaging with each other.

And yes, I’m all warm and fuzzy about parenting right now. But give it an hour…his brothers are about to blow in here like a hurricane, and then it’s the supper/baseball game/baseball practice evening frenzy that is regular life (which I love, don’t get me wrong).

Just thankful for the one-on-one we got today🙂

Not Kidding. I Had to Write This Note. 


‘Tis summer vacation eve, which means as of lunchtime tomorrow, my relative freedom ends. We are all very much looking forward to our break in routine. 

However. 

I walked downstairs this morning and found actual blood/scab on the carpet. Now, the basement carpet is nothing special, and my standards for a clean house are pretty low, but we cannot just have blood on the carpet.

I was 100% certain I knew whose blood it was. Yesterday afternoon, I heard a child who I won’t identify by name hollering that he needed a paper towel because he was bleeding from his large elbow scab. His brothers took care of it, so I did not investigate any further.

This child literally comes home from school, reads the note, and says, “It wasn’t my fault! (Brother) ripped my scab off!” (FYI: they were wrestling.)

Yes. You read that right. Clearly it wouldn’t be his responsibility to clean up his own blood. Sigh. 

So you know. Summer. 

Eleven.

It seems the last birthday post that Luke got was when he turned 11. That is not intended to be a hard-and-fast rule, but since Bennett turns 11 tomorrow, I decided I’d hop on here and record a little something.

11 years ago right at this very moment, I was starving. I was one of those pregnant women that gained every bit of the healthy amount of weight suggested by doctors, and I did so generally via carbs and cheese, and as was the case with Bennett’s pregnancy, jalapenos. I ate so many jalapenos while pregnant with him, and I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions that I think it’s possible it contributed to his spicy personality.

I digress. My point was, at this moment 11 years ago, I was hours and hours into waiting on L&D to call me to come to the hospital to begin the induction/evacuation plan for baby boy #2. Already a mom, and a boymom at that, I anticipated more work around our house for sure, but I guess I kinda thought I’d just be redoing what I’d already done during Luke’s first 2 years.

 

blonde from birth! and just tiny.

 
I could not have been more wrong. While Luke is definitely the guinea-pig kid that Matt and I go through things with first, and get to figure out some semblance of whether we liked our decision-making before the other 2 boys get there, Bennett’s personality is so different that from the beginning, parenting him was just not the same experience repeated.

 

this is just SO BENNETT.

 
And I’m so thankful for that.

Not long ago I posted about him, and mentioned that he’s the best kind of adventure. And it really is such a good description…he’s intense and funny, fiery and unafraid, persistent and a hard worker, with a laugh that you can’t help but join when you hear it. (OK…that’s not always true. Sometimes I hear it in conjunction with his brothers flipping out, so I know he’s up to no good, and then my Loud Mom Voice comes out instead of a laugh.) He still adores his baby cousins (of which there is a new one, Alice, born 2 days ago).

I can’t really write anything that I haven’t already said about him in years past on his birthday posts, but I can say that his sense of humor is developing further and it is wicked hilarious. This past year he’s worked even harder at being fit (I’m talking one-armed pull-ups) and honing his basketball and baseball skills, and while it doesn’t really surprise me, seeing him be so dedicated is fun. I’m seeing glimpses of amazing leadership potential that I hope by gently pointing out, he will take to heart and embrace.

 

first game of the season last weekend.

 
He’s joining Luke at the middle school next year…he’s a big kid now. And speaking of that, he’s going through a growth spurt and can put away a SHOCKING amount of food for someone his size.

 

middle school tour night

 
Looking forward to celebrating his birthday the only way we know how, which is with a lot of baseball games and a postponed celebration.

Love you, B.

On Fire.

Remember how I had the privilege of working with an amazing team of people to help Jen Hatmaker launch her book?

It turns out that I like having access to books before they’re published and getting a chance to help spread the word about them when I strongly believe in the message🙂

And since I didn’t steer you wrong last time, I need you to trust me today when I tell you about an incredible book that you all have to read.

John O’Leary is a lifelong St. Louisan with an amazing story to tell. When he was nine years old, he was burned over 100% of his body – by a fire he set in the family’s garage – and was not expected to live. In fact, shortly after the fire, he asked his mom if he was going to die. (I have to pause here for a second as a mom every time I read this, because it takes my breath away to think about having to answer that question.) Her response, which John says changed everything as he laid in the hospital in excruciating pain was, “John, do you want to die? It’s your choice, not mine.”

Miraculously, after months of hospitalization, and surgeries that included the amputation of his fingers and multiple skin grafts, he was able to go home. Obviously, he had years of physical therapy and recovery ahead of him, but he persevered with the support of his family, his faith and his community.

I have had the honor of hearing John speak (and play the piano!), as well as meet and talk with him, and I promise, you will just not find a more inspiring, encouraging, real person than him. His story, and outlook on life, is one you have to hear/read to believe.

And fortunately for all of us, he has written his story. His book, On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life, is available starting today.

On-Fire

Friends, it is so beautiful, and so clearly conveys his message of hope, faith, love, gratitude and living boldly to impact those around you. You will laugh and cry at his honest storytelling – he walks through his entire experience, including the key players in his recovery (his family and Jack Buck, the legendary Cardinals broadcaster), and what his life – challenges and blessings alike – has been like in the nearly-thirty years since the fire (spoiler: he has a lovely wife and four beautiful children). You’ll be inspired to embrace today for the gift that it is, and live #OnFire.

Oh, and there’s this. You know how much I love BrenĂ© Brown, right? Here’s what she had to say about John’s book:

This is a book about coming alive – about practicing courage and fully showing up at home, work, and with the people we love. John is a storyteller, change-maker, and cage-rattler. Reading this book is like having a good friend look you square in the eye and say, “The time to be brave is now.” 

So you don’t even have to just take my word for it…BrenĂ© loved it, too!

Click on that link above, and order yourself a copy of the book. You won’t be able to put it down. Then come back here and let me know what you thought!

And hey: follow John on Facebook and/or Twitter. He writes a blog post every Monday, and has a short vlog every Wednesday, and posts to Facebook a few times a week. You won’t want to miss these doses of inspiration!

PS…big, big congrats to John and his whole team (especially Abby and Deanna, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting) who have worked so hard for this very day. Cheers!

Dear Bennett’s Future Wife,

A few weeks ago, I caught him like this.


He had accidentally smashed part of a cracker on the floor, and he cleaned it up himself. Without me asking him to.

I just want you to know that I worked hard to instill something like this in him, and it appears that it may have at least partially sunk in. I’m not celebrating just yet, but I want you to know that he knows this.

He’s the best kind of adventure, this one. Prepare yourself, whoever you are. I’m already praying for you.

Love,

His mom

He’s Mine. 

Oh hi friends. I know. Long time, no blog.

It’s a combination of things: if I’m writing right now it’s book/proposal/query related. Also, the boys still do things that I want to remember, but they’re generally getting too old to regularly be blogged about.

But honestly, I still think in terms of blog posts a lot of the time. When I saw this reading log on the counter a couple of weeks ago, I snapped a picture because I knew I needed to record it here. I laughed because Jack Henry’s comment here is so totally me. (Also, please note: he is occasionally critical of the sloppiness of my signature.)

my comment – his teacher’s – JH’s

I especially love seeing this little bit of me in him because his brain works so very differently than mine. Here’s an illustration of that:

Jack Henry asked for a strategy game called QBitz Extreme for his birthday. Matt’s sisters bought it for him, and he’s really good at it.

He wanted me to give it a try, and not knowing exactly what it was, I said sure. Teach me how to play.

Basically, there is a pattern on a card that you are to replicate with small cubes. Let’s just say that spacial-relationship-type thinking is not my strong suit. (However, I can read a map pretty well, so there’s that.)

He gave me an easy one to start, and I was able to solve it. But, I could tell he was watching me do it, and he knew it was hard for me. The second one he gave me was a little harder, and I swear he was looking at me the whole time like I was adorably dumb (though he was not in the least condescending…that’s so not in his nature).

As I frustratingly finished the second card, I decided this was a great opportunity to talk about multiple intelligences, and how some people are stronger in some areas than others, and vice versa.

And then I recommended that all math questions from here on out be directed to Dad, and that I would handle reading-and-writing-type questions. I think the boys were all “yeah, we already knew that” but at least they were nice about it.

he’s the cutest.