Category Archives: parenting

What It’s Like + a #tbt

When I started this blog coming up on 11 years ago, I was a mom of three little boys that were 4, 2 and newborn. This is the kind of content you got when you came here, because this was my life:

My day was filled with questions like, “Does Fredbird live at Busch Stadium?” and “Do raccoons climb trees?” and trying to get Bennett not to bite Luke and watching Toy Story a hundred billion times.

Cute, right? Oh, the memories.

Today, I renamed a text convo between all 3 boys and me “Boys” so that it would be easy to find when I need to get ahold of all of them. A couple of hours later, I got a notification that one of the boys had changed the name of our convo.

Yep. There ya go. I have nothing else for you.

Driver’s Ed.

Luke, seen here as he first appeared on the blog in 2007, as a preschooler…

…is now learning to drive.

Oh. And because I didn’t blog for like a year, I forgot to post this a year ago, when he finished middle school. He’s taking his second-semester finals this week for his freshman year, so that’s cool and clearly I’m on top of documenting the big life changes around here.

he was still 1″ shorter than me in this picture a year ago (I was in heels)…he is now almost 2″ taller than me.

Ah. Also, it turns out he’s a runner. Like, a real runner. He had a great cross country season last fall, and an equally successful track season this spring, and I’m just a tiny bit proud of how dedicated he is to this. Indulge me one bragging mom/record-keeping moment to say that his 1 mile PR this season was 4:54. (Also SERIOUSLY if I don’t write something down it will NOT be remembered. #thisis40)

I couldn’t run half a mile in 4:54, by the way.

luke cross country 2

I just want to say that I’ve been trying to get him to take up running since this one cross country season 5 years ago.

His summer goal is to run 400 miles total, which sounds like absolute madness to me, but you do you, Luke.

not gonna lie…track meets are looong. but the 5 minutes your kid is actually doing something is really, really fun. xc meets, for the record, are FAR more enjoyable.

But back to the driving: guys. I don’t understand why this isn’t a standard part of the school curriculum like it was when I went to high school in Illinois, but it’s not and either we have to teach him to drive or we pay someone to do it. Currently, I’m teaching him, and he’s doing fine and gradually getting better. I can’t help but think of how much harder it is to learn to drive in the suburbs than in a tiny town like I did, so all things considered, he’s doing great. But all of the sudden, in the last several weeks with him doing more and more driving, and I’m not proud of this but it’s true, I am so sweary all the time…not like the worst swear words if we’re putting them on a spectrum but still: not good.

Close friends and family are right now saying, “Um, Nicole? You and curse words is not a new, sudden occurrence.” And I would answer that with this: you are correct. However, I have been very effective at keeping my bad-words-saying away from my children a vast majority of their lifetime…but when Luke is driving, it’s like I can’t even help it. It’s not directed at him, and I’ve been careful to clarify that with him, but it’s over seeing my life flash before my eyes repeatedly in a ten-minute span of time a couple of times a day with no recourse but to yell “THERE’S A CURB THERE!” that’s doing it to me. I’m trying to stop.

All I can think is how this is going to be so much easier with the next two boys. Right?

So Far: Summer 2017

Is it weird that even though I haven’t blogged regularly in almost two years, my brain still thinks in terms of blog posts, of story snippets? Always.

So update on the boys since it’s been a while…Luke will be a freshman, Bennett in 7th, Jack Henry in 4th. Yes, I know. They were just babies, providing daily blog fodder with their antics and lispy voices and long eyelashes. Their not being little anymore is a major reason I don’t write here much…they don’t like much being posted to social media, and I’m definitely not going to tell their stories. (But for the record: they have approved this message.)

Parents of older kids know that at some point, you cross this threshold into basically being your kids’ Uber driver because they have very active social lives. The timing of all that works out well because by that point you’re too old and tired to have that much of a social life yourself anyway. (Also for me: back to work this year + I TURN 40 NEXT WEEK + generally bad sleeper = 10pm bedtime at the latest. We’re for real gonna be calling an Uber to pick these kids up late at night.)

Anyway. Lightning quick summer recap:

Luke went on a 9-day trip to the Tetons with a group from his middle school and had the time of his life. This kid will probably end up living near mountains. (Also, he is approximately only one inch shorter than I am.) He hikes and bikes with friends at a state park near us and laughs like a maniac at The Office and looks at Instagram a billion hours a day. His baseball season: ✔️


Bennett: trip to Springfield, MO for college baseball watching with friends, trip to Lake Geneva with his youth group, baseball practice 3 days a week + tournaments 3 out of 4 weekends a month (one tourney to go next weekend and it’s a wrap). I think he still lives here. Based on the amount of food we go through, I’m going with yes.


Also he got stung by a bee yesterday, and it is no joke. No allergic reaction, and he’s been stung lots of times before, but that must have been a serious amount of venom because this picture was 10 hours after the sting (but looks better now):


And my baby who isn’t a baby anymore (guys…he’ll be 10 in a couple of months!) is thankfully able to go with the flow. Jack Henry’s had some time with friends and a basketball camp and Jump Camp, so it’s not like he’s not having fun, but of course, the older boys’ schedules dictate his more than he’d like.

He did get to do something cool last week though. Our school district’s alumni association has a “Granting Dreams” program where students submit ideas of things they’d like to experience, small businesses they’d like to start and need seed money for, etc., and the organization arranges as many as they can. An assignment in JH’s gifted class was submitting a dream to this program…and since this was all completed at school, I didn’t even know about it until I signed paperwork saying it was fine for him to apply. His dream? To work at Krispy Kreme. This was a new one to me, but of course, I signed it. Sure, kid. Dream away.

Of course it got accepted. So last week, I took him there, and it was awesome. They made him a nametag and everything. Showed him how the process works from dough to cooked and on display, and let him make his own dozen donuts to take home.



All I know is that if I’d had this opportunity in elementary school back at home and could have scanned groceries at IGA, I would have been in heaven. (I worked retail briefly when I was about 16-17, so I did finally get to use a scanner, but really I feel like that dream came true for me several years ago when the groceries around here put in the self-checkout lanes.)

Jack Henry baseball season: one more game. Naturally, on my birthday.

Matt and the boys have started biking on trails around here lately, and minus Luke getting poison ivy pretty badly, they’re loving it!


We’re headed to the beach soon, and while the boys are excited because they love the beach as much as we do, the 40-somethings in this house are looking forward to a week of just sitting and reading and enjoying an adult beverage or three. Cheers.

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 🙂

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?)