Category Archives: luke

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 ūüôā

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?)

So Unpredictable. 

Scene: my living room, Luke and Matt sitting on the couch watching TV. 8:45pm. Jack Henry is asleep, Bennett is upstairs knocking out his pre-bedtime chin-ups/push-ups (yes, I’m serious, that child…), and I have just thrown in a load of laundry. Which contains the shirt that Jack Henry needs to wear on his field trip tomorrow. Naturally. 

I announce that I am taking over the living room to watch Gilmore girls while I iron. Luke kind of groans about turning the channel, and I gleefully reply that anyone who would like to do the ironing can choose what’s on TV. I jokingly ask if he’d like to learn a life skill. 

AND HE SAYS YES. 

What is my life? 

(So I gave him a lesson in shirt ironing. Which is hilarious because I’m awful at ironing; like no grown woman should be this bad. Whatever. Now I’m the second-worst ironer in this house because Luke would definitely leave more wrinkles than me at this point. But hooray for life skills teaching!)

Cheers! Because there’s no way I’m ironing and not having a glass of wine. Plus now it’s time for Lorelei and Rory and Stars Hollow. 

Three Solutions

I’m going to try to ease myself back into writing here, hopefully regularly after the boys are back in school (which is in 9 days. I can’t even believe it.). I have two trips to recap, but here’s a little story from our last weekend trip that illustrates the boys’ different personalities.

We spent the weekend at Lake Delavan in Wisconsin with Matt’s entire family. The old lake cottage was lifted off its foundation last fall, a basement poured, and the house put back. It’s still under construction, but all 16 of us were able to stay there! The boys stayed in the basement in a bunk room, and there’s a bathroom down there now, too.

And since they’re old enough to just take care of themselves, I didn’t interfere with the showering process at all.

We all bring our own towels when we stay at the cottage, and it occurred to me on the drive back to STL yesterday that I had never given the boys their bath towels after we got there. (Of course, no one asked if there were any. Typical.)

I knew that they had all showered at least once, so I asked, “Uh, what did you do to dry off?”

Luke: “I just dripped dry.”

Bennett: “I used my beach towel. There was some sand, but I didn’t care.”

Jack Henry: “I just used the towel hanging closest to the shower.” (My apologies to whomever else was drying off with that towel.)

I won’t over-analyze this, but honestly, their solutions fit their personalities so perfectly it’s hilarious.

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.

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

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

Some Thoughts on Parenting a Middle Schooler, 3 Weeks In.

Clearly, as the title indicates, I so far have a lot of experience parenting a middle schooler.

For the sake of record-keeping, and my failing memory, I thought it might be good therapeutic to write these thoughts and feelings down.  Because though some stages move along quickly, and others d-r-a-g by painfully, time wipes away some of the day-to-day type memories, right?

So here are my thoughts in a nutshell: I’m pretty sure I’m a much better baby/toddler/preschooler/early elementary mom than I am a late elementary/middle school mom. This really comes as no surprise to me, as my college major focused on early childhood development. I feel like I’m probably too snarky and sarcastic to be good at this at all.

And let me say: it’s not like these new attitudes and behaviors and whatnot just came on when school started. ¬†By mid-5th grade, there was some evidence of this tween Luke sneaking into our home. I can only describe it as such: sometimes, he seems like an exceedingly mature teenager, and he knocks my socks off with his insight and knowledge and responsibility. And sometimes, he’s like a giant toddler. And ya never know what you’re gonna get.

I DO understand that this is a major time of growth/exploration/changing about who one is, and that there is a ton of science that indicates major brain function changes (like, parts of the brain literally don’t work like they used to while other grow and stuff – obviously, I’m majorly oversimplifying it, but you get the point). I don’t think Luke is abnormal. ¬†I just think I’m not used to this, and we – both Matt and I – need to get there.

Case in point: last weekend, one of us *might* have jokingly/not jokingly asked the other if it was possible that Luke had gotten a concussion we didn’t know about. So you know, we’re handling this well. And by well, I mean we’re having a drink after the kids’ bedtime.

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Next, beginning band. Oh, beginning band.

Luke is doing a great job as he’s learning to play the trombone. From what I can ascertain, it’s a pretty hard instrument to learn (I played the flute, so I don’t know anything about this, really), and he’s taking his responsibility to practice at home seriously. He has an excellent band director who is making learning fun. I’m being supportive, and congratulating him when I recognize pieces he’s practicing.

But let’s talk about that practice. It’s 100 minutes a week, guys. ONE HUNDRED MINUTES. Bless. That’s a lot of beginning trombone practice every week. And yes, he’s only going to improve if he practices. It’s just…

…I’m pretty sure there aren’t trombones in heaven. Or at least, there aren’t trombones playing “Let’s Go Band” and “Hot Cross Buns.”¬†It’s just a hunch, so don’t quote me on that.

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Lastly, to middle school teachers and administrators and pastors the world over: I love you guys. I mean it. I don’t know what on Earth would possess you to choose to spend your time and career this way, but THANK YOU. Thank you for coming alongside us and wanting to help my child grow and figure things out, because I am not equipped. I have so much to learn from all of you.

The One Where I’ve Got to Give Them Props

We got home last night from a week-long vacation in Colorado (lots more to come on that!). It came on the heels of a long weekend in Wisconsin, as we had about 36 hours at home to regroup and get on the plane to Colorado.

Therefore, this morning has consisted of unpacking, laundry, and getting ready to grocery shop. The boys caught up on American Ninja Warrior until I was ready for their help.

Then it was time for a few errands. While at Sam’s Club, in line to buy the boys (ahem, cough, lunch) pretzels and cheese, Bennett came up to me and said this:

“Mom, you know the wall by the couch in the basement? There are some cracks in it. From us playing American Ninja Warrior and jumping off the wall.”

Me: “when did this happen?”

B: “Um, a while ago. Before vacation.”

I walked over to the table where the boys were sitting and asked why no one told me when it happened.

Luke: “Well, it wasn’t really a good time. You were busy getting us ready to go.”

Me: “And now, at Sam’s Club, seemed like a good time?”

L&B in unison: “Yes.”

So. I’m anxious to get home and see exactly what happened…

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Update: so the damage is actually really minimal. Thankfully. Which means that the parenting I’ve been doing the last 2 hours is based on honesty and not being deceitful, etc. I did not really have the energy for this today, but obviously, it had to be addressed fully now.

Dear Parenting: you are a delight.