Category Archives: jack henry

Santa! I Know Him!

In my lack of writing last fall/early winter, I neglected to record some important family updates along the way. A conversation with Jack Henry yesterday reminded me that I should write about this!

So after school one day in very early December, Jack Henry, Bennett and I were in the middle school parking lot, waiting for Luke. I don’t remember how the conversation started, but Jack Henry (age 7, first grade) asked, point-blank, if Santa was real. I took a deep breath as I hesitated for a moment, thinking, “Ok. This is how this is going to go down. Remember this,” and turned towards him in the back seat.

“What do you think?” I asked tentatively.

“That he’s not real,” came the reply.

I told him he was right, and he burst into tears. My giant 7-year-old boy climbed up into the front seat of the car and snuggled in on my lap (this makes me think of Will Ferrell sitting on Bob Newhart’s lap in Elf).

(photo cred)

I explained that while Santa wasn’t real, and that Dad and I were the ones who bought the gifts, it didn’t really matter because that’s not what Christmas is all about anyway. He nodded, and then said, sweetly, “Wait. So you and Dad bought us the iPad last year?” So cute.

{BTW, Christmas with no Santa-believers was still beautiful and wonderful and magical. I know some of you out there are panicking at the thought of kids not believing anymore, but I can assure you that Christmas is not ruined. In fact, I absolutely love how it’s opened up the opportunity, as a whole family, to fully understand the impact we can have on others…none of the boys can fall back on that “Santa will just bring them what they need” mentality.}


So I didn’t go into specifics with JH when talking about Santa that the Tooth Fairy also isn’t real. I just assumed he’d put two and two together.

Uh, he didn’t right away.

He lost his top tooth in early December, after the big Santa revelation, and he still wrote the tooth fairy a note and left his tooth under his pillow. Matt and I just laughed, left the dollar under his pillow, and left well enough alone….he’d eventually figure it out.


yesterday, just waiting to pick up one of the boys…he and i have lots of moments like these.

Yesterday at snack time after school, he said, “I have a question that isn’t about what we’re talking about right now. Is the Tooth Fairy real?”

I giggled, asked what he thought, and he said, “No. It has to be you. I thought so after I lost my last tooth, but I just didn’t say anything.”

So that’s settled. He has 2 teeth about to fall out (great…you know how much I love pulling teeth, and catching my kids as they faint), and I’m wondering if he’ll just present them to me for payment or stick them under his pillow for fun.

Boys and Fashion.

So, it’s cold. And I’m already over the battle of making the older two boys wear appropriate clothes. By appropriate I mean pants (yes, the middle schooler came downstairs this morning in shorts and a long-sleeve tee, and it was about 25 degrees) and jackets and hats. I’ve moved on to “natural consequences” for them…you want to freeze your butt off, go right ahead. Your teacher won’t let you go out for recess because you aren’t dressed appropriately, 4th grader? Whatever. I’m over it.

But Jack Henry is young enough that I insist on correct clothes, and he’s actually smart enough to know that it’s freezing out and he wants to be on the playground. However, he’s a boy. And a sports-loving boy at that. So this morning’s little conversation shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did, and it made me laugh. Keep in mind that he’d pick a Cardinals/Illini/whatever tee and athletic pants everyday if left to his own devices.

He always gets himself ready in the morning, but today I pulled out a pair of jeans (because he said he was cold yesterday in athletic pants) and a thermal, striped long-sleeved tee for him. He examined the shirt, made a face, and said, “Are you sure this isn’t a sweater for church? It looks and feels like it.” I can only assume that the lack of Nike swoosh or mascot made it look nice enough for church (I have to admit, my standards for church clothes has tanked the last few years, so he’s not far off), coupled with it having more texture than a tee.

The shirt went back in the drawer. It was too big, but I have a feeling that even when it fits, it’s not going to be chosen on a regular basis.

Third Child vs. First: A School Project Comparison


A week ago, Jack Henry came home from school with an assignment I’ve seen before: the family tree. I’ve done the identical project with both of his brothers in first grade, also.

It was a typically-busy week around here, and we did a couple of things to work on the project. Jack Henry said he could decorate it however he wanted, and I remember distractedly saying “fine” several days ago while making dinner. As in, I encouraged him to do the part that he could do on his own.

Friday afternoon my sister helped him get everyone’s names on the leaves. Thank you, Hayley.

So Sunday afternoon rolled around. Guess what? I hadn’t done my part yet. And we were hosting small group in a few hours, and I had food to make and a house to clean up. Me: “do you just maybe want to draw your family members on the tree?”

That was a big no. I mean, I get it. Lame.

So we quickly chose a few pictures on the computer, including ripping a few pics off Facebook of our family members, and had them printed at Walgreens (our color printer hasn’t worked for a long time, so this is a cheap, close-by option).

I quickly cut them into rectangles for him (JH: “oh, I thought you were going to cut them into circles, but this is fine”), and we glued it all together. Done. And in time.


So yeah, that’s an American flag in the tree. And a giraffe and some play-doh and some marker stamps on the trunk. I mean, whatever, man.

{I would like to point out that we included every family member (please keep this in mind as you look at the next two pictures. This is the one redeeming quality of Jack Henry’s family tree.).}

For comparison’s sake, here’s Luke’s:



And Bennett’s:


Also normal. Sigh.

I swear I’m still totally plugged in.

It’s Not What You Think.

If you hear Jack Henry talking about BFD, it’s the acronym he made up for “Breakfast for Dinner,” lest you worry about his upbringing.

I strongly encouraged calling it brinner instead, but he likes his acronym better. Here’s hoping he forgets about it before we have brinner again.

Seven. Like 3 Weeks Ago.

Sigh. I can’t believe I didn’t get around to this before now. Sorry, adult-Jack-Henry-who-is-someday-reading-this. Mama loves you. She’s just flighty and busy, and sitting down to blog just didn’t happen.

Also, it should be noted that I just scheduled his well-child exam for sometime in mid-November, a mere 2 months after his birthday. Par for the course, thirdborn.

We actually spent several days celebrating our family’s youngest member during his birthday week. He had his first-ever friend party the Saturday before his birthday (the 20th), and then we had our family dinner/presents on the 25th, the day before his birthday. Because on his actual birthday, we had 2 baseball games at 2 parks 20 minutes apart (Nana Jo and Papa Ron came over to join us for the weekend!). And he was playing in one of those games. Then on the day after his birthday, Luke had a game and JH had a double header, and he had plans to join my brother’s family at their school’s carnival that afternoon. So it was like all Jack Henry, all the time, for several days :)

I’ve said before, so many times I know, that JH is just the perfect fit in our trio of boys. I can’t imagine life without him and his happy, sunny disposition, his tender, sweet heart, his loud giggle, and his wit and humor and funny, smart brain. I love that he’s still kind of a little kid…it’s still sometimes hard for me to believe that everyone is school-age now! But he’s the one that snuggles up on the couch, and greets me with a hug and holds my hand when I pick him up from school.

So yes, it’s late, my dear JH, but it’s here. I love you.




**Major disclaimer: please read this knowing it is my opinion and parenting approach, and not a rip on the way other people choose to approach this as parents. There’s plenty of that elsewhere in other blogs. I just thought that there might be some other moms out there, maybe younger moms especially, who could use some insight and encouragement in this area. That’s it.**

I know I’ve mentioned on the blog before that I’m not much of a birthday party mom. I generally find it stressful, and overwhelming, and not fun. And yes, I know it’s not about me, but when I am all of the above, it doesn’t make for a happy household. That doesn’t mean that we don’t celebrate birthdays, or skip parties with friends. It just means that I like to keep things simple.

Part of my issue is how huge, in both numbers of kids invited and expenses, birthday parties have become. I’m simply not interested in keeping up with the Joneses. The potential expense completely overwhelms me, and the excessive amount of planning time to make everything creative and perfect makes me break out in hives. And I’m a creative person. Who adores Pinterest. I think part of my aversion is that all of this effort is put into something that lasts 2 hours.

Now. If crafting up an amazing party is your thing, go for it, sister. If you can afford a fun location, go all out! I don’t think badly of you, and I’m happy you’ve chosen to celebrate your kiddo in that way. Those parties can be really fun!

But if you can’t afford it? Or don’t want to spend that kind of money or time on a party? It’s ok. It really, really is ok to go against the grain. I honestly don’t think it’s going to impact your kids negatively in the long run. In fact, it might even lead to some really great discussions from an early age about family priorities and making hard choices (i.e. you may give your kid the option of an expensive party in lieu of a gift from you if it’s that important to him to have a big party).

We’ve had several small parties at the house, and we’ve also done the pick-three-friends-to-go-to-the-movies route. Each boy has been given the option of one bowling party (or similar expense), but Bennett didn’t even want that, and instead chose to have friends over to the house because that seemed more fun to him. One of B’s friends’ parents take a few kids camping at a local campground for their son’s birthday…super fun, doesn’t break the bank. There are tons of ways to celebrate your kid and his big day without forking over the equivalent of a car payment.

Clearly my kids aren’t grown yet, and this whole topic of how lame their birthday parties were compared to their friends could still lead them to the therapist’s couch. I hope not, but I don’t know. So take what I say with a grain of salt ;)


Yesterday was Jack Henry’s first friend birthday party (he will be 7 next week!). With a September birthday, he didn’t know enough kids at school last year for us to have one, and having attended two different preschools didn’t allow for a good group of friends to form by the time his birthday came around each year.

jh 7 bday party

my happy birthday boy!

He invited 6 kids, and 4 were able to come over for a 2-hour party with pizza, homemade Oreo truffle cupcakes, and ice cream. We decorated the kitchen with streamers and a fun banner that my friend Corrie printed for me for Bennett’s last party. A couple of balloons were tied to the mailbox and to JH’s chair at the kitchen table. The kids played with a giant whoopie cushion we have in our basement, played one relay game I’d planned (and weren’t that into it, so I let go of any ideas I had of more organized games), ate, opened gifts, and just played. Jack Henry said it was really fun. The other kids seemed to be having a good time.

jh party popcorn game

popcorn shoe relay race, found on

ice cream pinterest idea

excellent time-saving idea from pinterest…scoop ice cream into cupcake liners ahead of time, and pull out of the freezer when it’s time to serve dessert!

I’m sure it wasn’t the most earth-shattering day of any of their young lives. But it was a great celebration of my boy. He had fun. I didn’t put us in debt.


Minus One

Last weekend, for the first time ever, Luke went away for the weekend on a church retreat for sixth graders. I have to admit, it was really, really weird to not have him with us… I felt like I was forgetting something all weekend.

However, it was really cool to spend some time with just the two younger boys while Luke was doing all of the Big Kid Things. Because we did not have a crazy overscheduled weekend for once, we had plenty of time to just do what we wanted.

Friday night, after Matt and I took care of the yard work and finishing up our bathroom remodel, we decided to have a bonfire in the cul-de-sac and let the boys have s’mores before dinner. Might’ve been our best decision all weekend.


Saturday: early breakfast at The Shack (I’m obsessed with their berry granola pancake), a long walk on Grant’s Trail,


and took some time to hang out at Grant’s Farm.





It was just so much fun for Matt and me to focus on these 2. And even better, by far, was how they got along with each other. I’ve loooong known that just removing any one of them from the mix for a while totally changes the dynamic, but it’s such a pleasant surprise to see these two getting along.


By Sunday afternoon we couldn’t wait to have Luke back! He was, of course, exhausted, but full of fun stories. Growing up Catholic, I didn’t have these kinds of experiences, so I’m excited for him that he got to experience something like this with his youth group!


Things are totally (eyeroll) back to normal now, with B and JH resuming their roles as oil and water. Oh well. It was sure fun while it lasted.