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 Brené 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…Brené 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.

Winning the Day. 

Luke made it into the geography bee at school this week by passing a written test. 

The bee was today, and he made it to the 7th round. Each kid got 2 misses. Luke missed in the 6th and 7th rounds. 

But check out this awesomeness: I asked last week if I was allowed to come watch. Him: “I don’t think parents do that.”

So today, I was waiting in parking lot by around 4:20, in case he was done early from the 4:30 pick up time he’d given me. 4:30 came and went. His assistant principal called me at 4:40 to tell me he was still in, and that I could come to the commons to watch. 

Where EVERYONE’S parents were watching. 

Sigh. 

There are moments, few and far between, but they exist, when I miss the time that actually winning the day involved things like:

I fed all 3 kids 3 meals plus 2 snacks today! (Mom of the year!)

They all got baths! (Go me!)

And everyone just went to bed without putting up a fight! (Let’s celebrate with wine!)

Luke 100% acted like he didn’t care that I wasn’t there, but I still feel bad.  Now I know. (But seriously. Geography bee participant? Is this kid even mine? Are there more geography bees in my future?)

To Quote Jen Hatmaker…

Hi all. I’m still here. Honestly, I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk lately, hence the lack of posting (I have several unfinished posts floating around). Trying to finish my book, trying to write a proposal for it*, which is making me all sorts of crazy, and then, you know, just life and holidays and such.

But today? Today I committed to writing for a while. In a spot I often do, so there are other “regulars” here that I see, well, regularly (see? I’m fantastic with all the words right now).

There’s a middle-aged woman who counsels a couple of homeschooled teen girls, and it’s obvious she’s leading them in a Bible study. I’ve overheard her for months while I work, and I often disagree with what she’s saying, but whatever.

This morning, while I was sitting across the aisle from them, I had my earbuds out of my ears for some reason. (I generally write with music on – but only music I know all the lyrics to, and with the same song on repeat for a long time.) I heard the woman preaching to these girls about how trashy tattoos were on women. Double ear piercing is also, apparently, undesirable, just so you know.

Look: I get it. I knew when I got my tattoos that there are people who feel this way, and I really don’t care. Really. It’s my body, I love my ink, and I intend to get more. If I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that I may be judged for this, I wouldn’t have gotten them. And I double-pierced my ears when I was (gasp!) 16, and have lived with the obvious societal consequences ever since. Eyeroll.

But that brings me to the title of this post, and the title of one of my favorite chapters in Jen’s book For the Love (which I told you about here). In the final copy it’s called “Dear Christians, Please Stop Being Lame,” but in the advance it was called “Dear Christians, Please Stop Being Crappy,” which I much prefer:).

I overheard this comment today, and I was able to put this in the context of this woman’s other “teaching” and dismiss it.

However. What about the other people sitting around her who don’t know the context? What if they are new Christians with tattoos? Or what if they aren’t Christians and are curious? What are they thinking when they hear this lady talk?

All I could think of was that title of Jen’s chapter.

I was feeling a little sassy and nearly said something, then changed my mind, because HELLO…I don’t want to be crappy. And let’s be honest, I probably would not have said something very nice. Bonus points for self-control.

So that’s it. I’ve just officially written more words (more than 500!) and paragraphs than I have in weeks, so maybe I should thank her for the inspiration.

*Here’s the book update: the process of writing the proposal has exposed some holes in the story. Which I think is great…I want to find those myself and fill them in before I try to submit this thing, but it’s meant so much revision, taking a breather from it when I get frustrated, then getting back to it when I feel ready. And today I found another big spot that needs revision, but I’m choosing to look at that as a positive.