Sunday, December 30, 2012

Jack's 4th Birthday

Jack turned four the day after Christmas. We celebrated the big day with a Thomas the Train birthday party. Jack as a three-year-old was a challenge. He tested boundaries and threw fits the likes of which I had not seen from our sweet boy.

But three was also a big year. Jack started preschool. He is hilarious and fun. And kind and sensitive. I love that kid. Four is going to be amazing.

As is our tradition, we had a few questions for Jack.

What is your favorite color?
Green and blue and pink

What is your favorite food?
Mac-n-cheese and steak. (I don't think Jack has actually ever eaten steak)

What is your favorite toy?
Monster trucks

Who is your best friend?
Wynn and Libby

What is your favorite thing to do?
Play monster trucks in my room

What is your favorite game to play?
Soccer and hide-n-seek

What do you want to do when you grow up?
After we offered a few examples Jack said "monster truck driver. No, I want to be a motorcycle driver." Later when I repeated the question he said, "I want to do the money stuff." Then he looked at Christian and said, "I want to do what you do."

What are you most thankful for?
For all of my friends. I then said, "Does that include Gracie?" To which Jack shook his head no.

What is the best thing that happened to you this year?
My birthday party was fun. And the Monster Truck Jam

What do you like about being 4?

What a darn funny kid! Happy Birthday sweet Jack! You are my sunshine.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gingerbread Party

Enjoy these few photos from Jack's preschool gingerbread party. Christian and Jack had fun making a fishing pond and skiing snowmen. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Bread

As a child each Christmas my mom and I would make Jiffy mix banana bread to give to our neighbors. She and I would spend the Saturday before the holiday in the kitchen opening the little blue twenty-five cent boxes. We would add an egg, a bit of milk, stir and put into the greased bread pan. After the bread cooled we wrapped the loaf in plastic and put a bow on top. I was then sent out to deliver the bread to our neighbors.

We didn't have much but my mom always made sure I knew two things. One was how to give. The other was to be a grateful getter. These are lessons I haven't always practiced perfectly over the years but they are part of my core, my foundation.

Now that I have Jack and Grace watching my every move, I am responsible for passing along my mom's lessons. One tiny thing we did this year was make Christmas bread for a few of our neighbors. Jack and Grace helped crack eggs and stir batter. They licked spoons and munched on pecans.

We cooked our bread and waited for it to cool before wrapping it in plastic and delivering it to neighbors.

The lesson I want my children to have engrained in their hearts is that giving is not about the biggest or most expensive gift. A gift of time. A gift of love. That is what sharing is about. And I want them to receive the simple gifts with grace and joy. To learn to appreciate someone thinking of them and sending a blessing their way.

Here is Christian's favorite holiday bread recipe. A recipe his mother, Catherine Anne, made for their childhood holiday celebrations. This is now a part of our children's holiday memories. Plus this bread is crazy delicious.

Orange Cranberry Nut Mini Bread Loaves

Grease and flour 3 mini loaf pans (3 x 5 3/4 inch)

1 3/4 cups unsifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup cold butter
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons orange juice
1 egg beaten
1 cup cranberries halved or quartered (Do not use a food processor! You want them barely chopped)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into the flour mixture.
Combine the orange zest, juice, and egg. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture all at once. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Mix in cranberries and pecans.
Spoon batter into pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool loaves in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. Wrap and refrigerate overnight before slicing. "If you can!" (Anne's note on the recipe that makes me smile.)

Here's wishing you all the joy of simple gifts this holiday season. Hug your babies and be grateful for this beautiful life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Best Present Ever

This morning Grace had an appointment at the Children's Hospital to check her hips. The x-ray looked perfect. Absolutely no sign of any issue with her hip joints. She now only has to go back once a year for x-rays. That means no more hip appointments until December 2013. 

Seriously y'all, I don't need another thing for Christmas this year. Today's news is the best present ever.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Praying for Patience

Lately I have been praying for patience. Being a full-time mom sometimes leaves me feeling frustrated with my children. Don't get me wrong. I adore my kids. Just recently I told someone that I wish I could do each year twice just to double the time they will spend in my home.

But sometimes the not listening, whining, crying, fighting and general toddler and preschool behavior leaves me feeling overwhelmed. Me being me, I internalize this behavior and look for the failure within me that is leading to my children's frustrating behavior. This led to the prayers for patience. I don't want to be the grumpy momma that is always correcting my children. I don't want to let the work of raising them consume me to the point that I miss out on the blessing of them.

After some reflection what I realized is that I wasn't actually praying for patience in myself. What I really wanted was my children to behave perfectly. For them to be different. For me not to have to do my job of teaching them boundaries and correcting the challenging behaviors. In a way I was being self-centered because the perfectionist in me was viewing myself as failing because they do not always behave perfectly. Instead of seeing the truth which is that kids are supposed to test us. This is how they learn right from wrong. Acceptable from unacceptable. Kindness from selfishness.

I can simultaneously play, giggle and see the joy of these little loves while also teaching them to be responsible and generous people.

Isn't it funny how prayers are often not answered in the way we want but instead in the way we need. I am thankful for this lesson of insight as we approach the holiday season.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jack's Santa Hand

Jack has had three "homework" assignments for preschool. Each one was an art project to put on the classroom bulletin board. Each time I have forgotten about the task and rushed to get Jack to do it. The first two I let Jack do all by himself. I told myself this is the correct approach. Let kids do the work themselves. However, what I have come to realize is that preschoolers need a little help. 

Jack's assignment for the December bulletin board was to trace his hand, cut it out and decorate it. I asked Jack what he wanted to put on his hand and he had no idea. Now, I must be honest, I don't like crafts. I just don't find it fun. I actually find it stressful and messy. But, I wanted to help Jack produce something he could be proud of without doing it for him. 

First Jack and I searched for "christmas hand crafts" on the internet. Wow! There were tons of options which was a relief because I am not creative in an artistic way. I think Jack actually is creative, and he enjoys cutting and gluing. 

I showed Jack about five different hand options and he liked the Santa face. I dug under the bathroom sink for cotton balls, pulled out the glue and scissors, grabbed my gift wrapping box and we got started. 

I traced Jack's hand and helped him cut it out. He then looked at the picture on the computer and put glue on each finger and placed a cotton ball on each glue spot. Jack chose a blue nose from our craft box. (I do have a craft box for the kids even though we rarely do crafts.)

I then asked Jack what he wanted to make Santa's hat out of. I pulled out a red sheet of construction paper. Jack said he wanted to use the Christmas ribbon. I thought that would be way cooler than my idea. So I cut out a piece of ribbon for him with my big scissors. Jack glued the ribbon on and then glued a cotton ball on the end. Jack's one request was that I draw the eyes because, "we don't have googlie eyes like at school."

The result was a super cute Santa hand. Jack's art project is now proudly displayed on the bulletin board at school. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gracie's Baby Doll

This picture shows Gracie with a paper doll wrapped in a napkin. Poor Gracie needs a real baby doll from Santa.

We live in a house full of trucks, planes, trains and automobiles. Jack has Legos and blocks and gadgets of all sorts. And while Grace will play with them she really loves girly stuff.

It is hilarious that both my kids are drawn to traditional toys for their genders. Jack discovered trucks at a play date when he was 10 months old. He fell in love with all things that go. Before that point we didn't have any trucks at our house. I had this theory about raising kids with gender neutral toys and letting them decide for themselves what they like. But now we probably have 100 trucks because Jack discovered what he liked and I supported that.

And Grace did the same thing. She loves babies! She loves Minnie Mouse. She is all girl. And I had nothing to do with it.

So this Christmas Santa is going to have to bring Grace a baby doll and some girly toys. Otherwise she is going to start tucking Jack's trucks into bed.

She is such a cute and sweet girl! Love her!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tis the Season

My sweet babies have brought me a new love and appreciation of the holiday season. Jack is so excited for Christmas. And while the thought of new toys is exciting, it is the little things that have him enchanted. He loves the "instruments" (ornaments) on the tree. He loves the Christmas songs on the radio. He wants to bake a holiday treat everyday. I love that he is waiting for the day Santa comes.

A trend has emerged to take Santa out of Christmas. While I understand the importance for Christians to make the holiday Christ focused, I take issue with demonizing St. Nick. I think it is some crazy, confused Jesus movement. Poor Jesus. I don't think he minds our sweet children believing in Santa anymore than he minds them believing Mickey Mouse is real when they see him at Disney World.

Children are smart. Their minds are complex enough to grasp both Jesus and Santa. Santa is a fun way to celebrate the magic of the holiday.

From where I am sitting I worry that the anti-Santa movement may only serve to make children resent religion. But if Santa is not in your family's tradition, I respect that.

God is always good. Any time religion leads to negative words or actions that is not God but man's abuse of religion. God and religion are not the same thing.

As we move through this holiday season let's not nitpick each other's traditions. Instead let's focus on the love and joy of the season. Let's take time to love our neighbors and share our abundance.

I want Jack and Grace to experience the fun and magic of the holiday. Childhood is oh so brief and I don't want them to miss a minute of the joy.

It is gonna be a fun month! Christmas at the Driver house is gonna be a blast. My goal is to post a lot this month so that our distant family and friends can share in our celebration. So stay tuned...

Thursday, November 22, 2012


There was the Thanksgiving we spent at home. I don't remember who got the knife to cut the pecan pie but it wasn't the correct knife for pie cutting. The consequence was the knife being hurled by my brother's head and into the wall.

I am not sure why I thought of that today. I was trying to think of what to say I was thankful for and that memory popped up. Maybe it is because I can't quite put into words the gratitude I feel for my life.

I am thankful for something that I have always struggled to love about myself. Today I am thankful for that thing about me that may make it hard for you to like me. That may make you think that I am nuts.

I have been asked several times how I got to where I am. I guess if you only know me as my life is now then you probably don't think this glorious life is all that special. But if you knew me back when, then you know that I won the lottery.

I always give credit to all the people who lifted me up, credit to God, credit to church, credit to a good education. I almost never give the credit to the sassy, the spunk, the determination and the perfectionism. To that part of me that goes the extra five minutes on the treadmill or puts back the second chocolate chip cookie because I was always told I would be fat "one day" and I refuse to let them be right.

It is that part of me that in college worked to pay my way, found an internship, had to be president of the club, and find time to volunteer. It is the part of me that knew I had to have a resume to find a job so that I would never have to move back to my hometown. To the place that raised me but also damaged me.

It is the part of me that will argue with you if you say the sky is blue. You know how I always have to point out that it sometimes looks orange when the sun is setting or white on a cloudy day.

You see above all else, I think it is that part that has made this part possible. I think it is why I didn't get stuck. Why I am not celebrating Thanksgiving in a trailer park with a cruel husband and possibly an addiction to a substance that is ruining my children's lives.

That part of myself that I struggle to tame has been my saving grace.

My life is beautiful. I live with a man who I love fully. Who is kind and gentle. A man who I love even more now because he is an amazing dad. A man who loves me even when the sassy is in full force. A love that is so overwhelming that it can be terrifying. Especially to a girl who was always waiting for the other shoe to fall. To allow myself to be vulnerable to love. I am thankful for him and for his love. For the gift of learning that love is good and safe.

I have the sweetest children. They have taught me a love that I did not know I could feel. A love that runs through me. A love that is so full that it can feel suffocating because I take so seriously my responsibility to protect them. I am so deeply blessed by these little loves. They make me better and give me so much more than I could ever hope to give back to them.

I am thankful for every detail of my life. The crunched up goldfish crackers on the floor at the bottom of the stairs. The food, the shelter, the healthcare, the clothing, the towels and sheets and stuff that make our lives comfortable. I am thankful for it all.

But above all I am thankful for a peaceful home. A home full of love. A safe place to raise my family. And I am thankful for that fight inside of me. That thing that brought me to this place. This perfect little life that is so much more than I ever imagined possible.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Open Forum in the Denver Post

Never in my life have a written a letter to the editor. I love current events and politics. I love to read the newspaper in print at my kitchen table with a warm cup of coffee. Information and knowledge make me feel strong and powerful. It gives me confidence that I can use critical thinking, a skill I was blessed to learn beginning in the third grade, to dig into the abundance of information available in our world today.

Last week I read this article in the Denver Post and had to reply. They ran my letter today. I actually wrote a whole lot more but I had to cut it down to the pithy response published in the paper. I thought I would share my full response on my blog. After all, it is my blog. So here is the full response:

After reading Rich Tosches article in the November 11 edition of the Denver Post my initial response was anger and frustration. I wanted to bloviate my outrage with all of my sassy, southern force on his insensitive and false theories. Then I remembered a key principle of southernism, politeness.

Tosches paints a brood brush of Georgia because Honey Boo Boo hails from the state. He ignored the facts that Georgia is home to the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University (2 of the top 50 US universities) or that Georgia is also home to 15 Fortune 500 companies including: Home Depot, UPS and Coca-Cola. And if we want to discuss reality television do I need to say more than Jersey Shore? 

You see we live in a world of unending information and yet we fail to employ logic and critical thinking. Another danger of the abundance of data is the misuse of statistics. Statistics can be found to support almost any argument. Let’s look at Tosches’ use of statistics.

He references the Educational Attainment by State report from the 2010 Census. He offered a lot of statistics but what he didn’t say is out of the 11 states with over a 90% high school graduation rate five of the states were red states in the 2012 election. 

When I look at the breakdown of red versus blue states the divide I see isn’t one of smart versus dumb. The divide I see is one of principle. The red states are generous, resourceful and self-reliant folks. 

The statistics I actually want to focus on are philanthropy by state according to The nine states with the highest percentage of givers are red states: Utah, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Idaho, Arkansas, Georgia and North Carolina. With only two blue states in the top 15: Maryland and Virginia. The six worst givers are all blue states: New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. 

There are trailer parks and poor people everywhere. It is not unique to the red states. I find it disheartening that Tosches would make fun and ridicule our nation’s disadvantaged. I don’t know if Tosches has ever actually been to the south but I grew up there in a low income, strongly Democratic family.

The principles the Democratic party embrace are helping the underdog, making the wealthy pay “their fair share” and creating a stronger working class. Isn’t it interesting that the places that voted for those principles don’t actually seem to practice them? Maybe they like the idea of the government fitting the bill to lift up the lower class while keeping their money tucked safely in their wallet.

My southern upbringing instilled in me a belief that we are morally responsible for helping our neighbor. I don’t see this as a government responsibility but a personal one. I remember many times when my family had financial difficulty and our friends showed up with groceries, and Christmases where Santa arrived in the form of generous family members. 

You can spin some statistics to make the red states look dumb but I will take the good-hearted generous spirit any day.

I understand he was trying to be satirical, but the key word is trying. Maybe his article would have been funny if the red states had actually won. As it stands, it just comes across as hateful. The only thing worse than being a sore loser is being a sore winner. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Collard Green Juice

If I were a real blogger this post would be complete with amazing photos to go along with my little story. But, instead you just have words because this was a real life moment and I didn't plan it for blogging.

A few weeks back I came across the blog It is basically a blog promoting healthy eating and providing family friendly recipes. I tried the beef stew recipe and it was wonderful. However, she described it as an indulgence which should have tipped me off because at our house beef stew is just dinner not an indulgence.

So flying high on the success of the beef stew I decided to make the Weelicious Super Juice. It is collard greens, honey, lemon juice and water. Simple, easy, healthy food for my sweet babies. Now before I tell you how it turned out. Let me say that my kids drink green smoothies at least a few times a week. I put spinach or kale in with fruit and yogurt and they love it. They think it is a treat.

So I get the Super Juice going in the blender and the kids are stoked. It is bright green and looking fun. I let the kids choose their smoothie cups and straws and poured the concoction in. I should say that I did not taste this first but the smell was not good.

First Jack took a sip. "I don't really like it momma," said my sweet boy. A little sidebar: when Jack first started preschool some of the boys were hitting and his teacher told me that Jack would respond to the hits by saying "no thank you". He is such a kind soul. So sweet Jack didn't spit it out or fall down in horror, he just didn't want to have to drink anymore.

Next was Grace who took a sip, made a face like I had poisoned her and said "NO!"I tried to get her to take another sip just for fun and she ran away screaming.

Finally I tasted the stuff. Oh my goodness it was awful. It was pulpy and bitter. Yuck!

I apologized to my children and let them choose a lollipop from the Halloween stash. Not only did getting collard greens into their diet fail; they also got extra sugar with the lollipops. Oh well, just an average day on the job.

So from now on I will stick to Southern collard green juice. You know? After you cook a mess of greens with a ham hock for about two days. Then dish them out with a big helping of chow chow on top. Proper collard green juice is the stuff left on your plate that you sop up with cast iron skillet corn bread. Yum! Sweet, salty, tangy goodness!

Friday, November 9, 2012


Gosh y'all, I haven't blogged lately. I've been busy. For starters I launched my new business, Driver Marketing. We (and I mean just me) specialize in copywriting and providing affordable marketing solutions for small businesses. If you know anyone in need of these services, they can reach me at

Second, I am just soaking up the joy of raising Jack and Grace. If you only know me from this blog then you may think I hate motherhood and just whine about its challenges. But if you actually know me then you understand that I am just keeping it real while blogging. But that I LOVE motherhood. These babies are my world and I adore them. I love that it is 9:31 on a Friday morning and Grace is sitting at my feet building a lego tower in her footie pajamas. And Jack is hopping around the living room asking me to do to flips with him. I just told him that I was going to write something on the computer while I let my back rest a minute (I just did kid flipping for half and hour and I need to catch my breath).

Things to come...hopefully finding a way to get paid to write; working on a new blog that I will post the link to once I am ready to launch; making my new business a success so that I don't have to go back to the corporate world when Grace starts school; and living life to the fullest with my sweet family.

Here are a few beautiful family photos thanks to Christian's stepdad Chip. He is awesome y'all!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

6 Hours

My next post was going to be about the number 6. You see Jack tends to forget 6 when he counts. This does not worry me in the least but Christian was a little concerned. I wanted to prove Jack was fine and so Jack and I had a talk about how number 6 was feeling excluded and could he please start using 6 when he counts. And now he does although sometimes he confuses 7 and 11. I was going to blog about how my belief is it doesn't matter if a three year-old can count or say his ABC's and that really it is just the parent's ego driving the desire to have their kids be able to do such things at an early age. A little self-righteous? Yes! A little mean? Most definitely. 

And instead I thought I would talk about 6 in a different way. I cannot remember the last time I got 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Can. Not. Remember. For me 6 hours is the magic number where I can be a decent person. Which basically means I have felt indecent over the last four years where I may get that amount of sleep three nights out of a month. And it leaves me the rest of you moms feel the same way or is this just me? 

My big accomplishment for today? I didn't sit down and cry in the middle of Jack's preschool drop off. Being just so tired that Grace throwing a fit about not wanting a jacket and Jack refusing to take off his pajamas and get dressed pushed me over the edge. I just wanted to sit down and cry. 

Now just writing that has me feeling judged. I guess that is because when I look at other moms they seem to have it all together. The beautiful family photo on their Facebook page. Their kid doesn't miss the 6. Their house is always cleaned and organized. They are dressed impeccably. They do crafts. They work full-time and still get it all done. They stay home and are actually grateful for the blessing. They would NEVER blog about feeling overwhelmed and exhausted because somehow they have it all figured out.

And I won't even talk about the guilt I feel just talking about this. I mean I live in the first world, in a pretty house in a nice town with a great husband and beautiful healthy children. Just saying that I am overwhelmed in spite of all this privilege makes me feel ungrateful and whiney. 

But the truth is that I am overwhelmed and sometimes even bored and isolated. I sometimes crave a paid job like a fat kid craves a doughnut. And somedays I just want someone else to do it all. And often I don't offer to host the play date because I don't want to feel judged by other women. And I pretend to be happy because God forbid I admit (on a blog for all the internet to see) that sometimes I am not very good at this job. 

But, when I get a full night of uninterrupted sleep I don't feel that way at all. And then I wonder, do the rest of you ever feel this way? Or is it just me? 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sibling Love

I am completely in love with Jack and Grace. And it brings such joy to my heart to see them falling in love with each other. They are finally at the stage where they interact and play together. I love watching them create pretend worlds and fight over toys. Just like with any relationship their sibling love swings on a pendulum from infatuation to disgust. One minute they are snuggling on the couch and the next they are both screaming and throwing punches. Regardless Grace is eager to to be just like Jack. Jumping off the couch head first? Sure! Jack is doing it so it must be fun.

I am lucky to have a good relationship with my brother. It is one of the things I value as an adult. Interestingly, I feel absolutely no competitiveness with him. Anytime he is successful I am nothing but genuinely happy for him. I believe our relationship is solid because we were in the trenches together. We learned to work together and be a team at an early age and that has carried us into adulthood. As children in a low income family we were often left alone without a babysitter. Even at age 4 and 5 we would be left for 20 minutes late in the night between the time my dad left for his third shift job and my mom arrived home from her second shift job. I would sneak over to the window scared to death of being alone in the beaten-down trailer park. My brother would pop his head up from the twin bed we shared and tell me to close the curtain and get back in bed. We were each other's playmate and security.

I believe now is when the foundation for Jack and Grace's adult relationship is formed. It is my hope that I will not screw it up. I want Jack and Grace to be best friends. To share a love and bond that will carry them through life. And I see it as my job to encourage that relationship. I don't ever want either child to hear me say "why don't you do such-n-such like your brother/sister." I have also heard parents say that they love their children the same amount but in different ways. For me this doesn't fit either. I love them exactly the same. In that jump in front of a bullet, go to the end of the earth, give you my last bite of chocolate cake kind of love. And in truth if I raise them up and they don't end up friends, I will know it is a failure on my part.

Recently I was talking with my good friend Jen about how parents impact sibling relationships and she shared some valuable wisdom from her mother. Jen told me how anytime she has trouble with her sisters, her mother willingly listens. However, her mother refuses to say anything negative about her sisters. Her only comment being, "she is my baby too." As in, I love you and I love your sisters and I will not involve myself in gossip or negative talk about my kids. This was wonderful to hear as a mother of young children. A golden lesson about cultivating a loving relationship with and between children.

Not only is this advice applicable to my sweet babies but relates to any relationship I value. It is easy to be critical, to point out the negative in other people's character or actions. It takes discipline and maturity to keep your mouth shut. A lesson I have learned many times over the years.

I hope to apply Jen's mom's philosophy as my children grow. Not only will it strengthen their relationship with each other but they will have faith in me that I have their best interests at heart. After all if I am willing to say negative things about their sibling why would they ever trust me not to say bad things about them.

I am so excited to watch my sweet babies grow and form their relationship. To watch them discover the world together. To see how they help and hurt each other. To watch as this relationship teaches them to resolve conflict, to fight, to share and to love.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Picture Day

Today was Jack's first ever school picture day. I had big plans for what Jack would wear today. I even gave him choices. My three options were: 1) a sweater, 2) a button up shirt or 3) a button up shirt with a sweater vest. All three would have made for a picture the grandmothers would love.

Of course, I was running late this morning and needed to rush everyone to get dressed. However, I took a minute to lay out his three options. Then in my very motherly voice I threw out some Love and Logic. "Jack," I said, "which outfit do you want to wear for picture day?"

Jack very seriously replied, "Why do you want me to dress like an old man for picture day?"

In that moment all my stress vanished and I fell over laughing. Where does this kid get this stuff?

In the end Jack wore his NC State basketball jersey given to him by my brother. And he insisted that soft blanket and big dog ride to school with us.

This moment with Jack reminded me of a conversation with a dear friend a few years back before kids. We were talking about kid's fashion and how we would like to dress our future children. She said that she really didn't want her kid to wear cartoon characters and things like that. I jokingly responded that her kid would be the guy wearing Micky Mouse on his shirt when he was forty.

And now that I have a kid he wears Elmo, monster trucks and soccer balls on almost all of his shirts. And hopefully that freedom will teach him that I respect him enough to let him make his own choices now on the little things, so that he will trust himself enough later to make smart choices on the big things.

I think much of parenting is about picking battles. Did it matter what Jack wore for his photo? I thought it did. Really, this was important enough to me to pick out three outfits. But what I realized is that in 20 years when I am sitting in Jack's empty bedroom looking at his preschool picture I would rather smile at my little guy in his jersey with messed up hair than remember a fight over a darn school picture. That is my Jack at three and a half. He loves ball and trucks and wants to be a firefighter or garbage truck driver when he grows up. Sweet innocent boy. Oh how I love you.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Grace's First Haircut

Our sweet Grace is growing up. Last week she had her first haircut and did a great job. After watching big brother Jack she was excited for her turn in the chair. The lollipop didn't hurt her excitement either.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Preschool Update

Today Jack had his seventh day of preschool. He LOVES it. Preschool apparently is awesome.

After the second day when I was at the front of the line to pick him up from his classroom, he asked me, "why are you so early?" I wasn't sure what he meant but after a little more discussion I realized he wanted to stay longer. He wanted me to lag back and be one of the last kids to leave instead of the first. I took that as a good sign.

Surprisingly, I also love Jack going to preschool. Grace and I have much needed one-on-one time. On Tuesdays we usually go home and play. We walk to the park, read books or play with Jack's toys. She loves it. On Thursdays I grocery shop. Shopping with one kid is SO much easier.

Everyday Jack comes home with a craft. He tells me about his snack and whether he got to play outside. He has friends at school. He likes to say "funny things" with his friend Wyatt. Like "smelly poo-poo." We had to explain that while that is really funny to say, he shouldn't talk that way in front of his teachers. Some words are just for around other kids.

Our only issue so far is Jack said other kids were hitting him. I, being my overprotective mama bear self, talked to the teacher about it. She told me that yes some of the other boys hit but that Jack is to just tell them to stop and call for the teacher. She said that often this is an issue at the first of the year and that Jack doesn't hit back. This worried me a little because usually if Jack is around a kid that hits he does not want to ever see them again. This makes for delicate situation management with other moms. I feared he would start putting up a fuss about preschool but so far he still loves it. I am betting it is because the teachers are on top of it and he feels very safe there.

I love the Wee School. In spite of MY first insecure moments and fear of leaving my kid, I really could not have asked for a better experience.  This is a change that has been easier than I expected and so far seems to be beneficial for all of us.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Uncle Jim

I am a southerner. One southern habit I cannot break - children do not call adults by only their first names. This means that friends are Miss or Mister and family are Uncle or Aunt. Like Uncle Jim, Miss Jen or Mister Dave. This is how I was raised and I am passing the courtesy on to my children.

A quick side note: I am not judging you if your children call me by my first name only. Also, in my last post I made fun of moms wearing skinny jeans and heels to the playground. I guess I was judging them but not their style. I like a good jean and cute heels as much as the next girl, just not at the park on a day when the temperature is 98 degrees. I also have no judgement about whether a women works or stays home even though I have blogged about my personal struggle with the decision. I don't judge people who overeat even though I pointed out gluttony was sinful. I just ate four chocolate chips cookies while writing the first two paragraphs. Overall I like to make observations and share my opinions but I am usually not passing judgements on others. I am often trying to be funny but am not quite humorous enough to pull it off. Okay, now that we have said that, let's get back to my brother's visit.

My brother Jim visited Colorado for an entire week. We were very grateful he took his time to fly out to see us. Jack and Grace love their fun uncle and had a blast!  Jim brought presents for the kids - N.C. State gear. I always thought he was a Clemson fan but apparently you never really know a person until they buy your kids red instead of orange. Jack loves jerseys and Grace loves dresses so he hit the mark perfectly.

The first few days of the visit were a sample of our everyday life. Jim got to see Jack's preschool class and spend the morning at Costco and the grocery store with me and Grace. He saw Jack ride his peddle bike. Jim and the kids played lots of trains.

On Saturday afternoon the grown-ups ventured out the the The Boulder Brew Fest to enjoy samples from many of the local breweries. And on Sunday Jim, the kids and I spent the day in Estes Park. 

Jim once again won Jack over when he suggested they ride the go-carts. Jack had watched the cars on the track from our table at the restaurant across the street. He is in LOVE with anything that goes.

Grace had to stick with riding the stationary plane but was just as thrilled being able to participate. 

We had a wonderful time! My kids love their uncle. I am very grateful for a strong and healthy relationship with my brother. I have always thought Jim and I were complete opposites. However, Christian was quick to point out a few of our similarities. Apparently we both like to take the opposite positions on any topic being discussed, we are loyal to Crest toothpaste, and only use one water cup for the entire day. 

Being in Colorado and 1500 miles from my family is hard on my spirit. I have a huge extended family and almost all of them live within a few hours of my hometown (many within a five mile radius of my mom's house). I often struggle with the need to move closer to home. I feel like my children are missing out on knowing my family and my family is missing out on knowing them. I love that my kids got to spend a full week with their uncle creating a foundation for a lifelong relationship. 

This quote from an article in this month's issue of Southern Living magazine regarding a native's need to move home said it perfectly:
"...the South is nothing if not a place of infinite mystery. Still searching for that elusive missing part, the Southernness - otherness- one finds only in Dixie, a land of stark contradiction, where grace and guilt sit shoulder to shoulder, where the past isn't past, and redemption is ever on offer." 

Home - where my momma misses me and people love me in spite of myself. 

Thanks Jim for a fun week and a piece of home. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Starting Preschool

Today Jack started preschool, the first of many first days of school he will face over the next two decades. I would love to tell you all how I searched for months and applied to fifteen different preschools determined to find THE perfect one to prepare my precious boy for Harvard, but seriously people this is me we are talking about. The truth is I visited and applied to exactly one preschool, a little two-room schoolhouse in our town. Truth be told I think I mostly liked the way the school looked and just got lucky that it has a good reputation and nice teachers.

Our first experience with Jack's new peers was a few weeks ago at the Popsicle Social. This annual event is held at a local park and all the students and parents are invited to meet the teachers and eat a popsicle. As we walked from the car to the park with Grace on my hip and Jack holding my hand, Jack looked up at me and said, "I am a little scared." I looked down and answered, "me too buddy, new things are sometimes scary." I have always hated when people say, "there is no reason to be scared." As a matter of fact I usually try and validate our kids's feelings because telling them not to feel a certain way doesn't make the feeling go away it just makes them believe their feeling is wrong.

My first thought upon arriving was that I was definitely in the wrong school. Jack, Grace and I showed up for the 5:00 p.m. gathering dressed in the clothes we had worn all day, shorts and t-shirts. Christian did not join us because he had to work that day and I didn't think dads would leave work just to go to the popsicle social. Well people, I was wrong on all counts. Dads were there, thankfully Jack didn't seem to notice, and everyone was dressed like it was picture day. It didn't occur to me that the mom dress code for a hot July afternoon at the park would be skinny jeans and wedges. I was having serious regrets about private preschool.

Those regrets only lasted until orientation. Last week we attended orientation with Jack's teachers and just his classmates. The moms seemed normal, not dressed like we were going to the club. He loved his classroom and I felt much better about allowing my kid to be influenced by these adults and children without my supervision.

This morning I made Jack "sugary goodness" a.k.a. french toast with butter and powered sugar on top for his special first day of school breakfast. He dressed in his new "working shirt" a.k.a. button-up shirt like daddy wears to work. And thank the lord he pooped before we left the house so he wouldn't have to do it at school.

While driving Jack to school I asked him if he was scared today and he said no. I love that he is excited for school. No tears were shed as Grace and I walked away at drop-off. He is ready for school even if I am not.

After school Jack was excited to show his craft for the day, a teddy bear mask made with a paper plate and construction paper. He got to glue and that was fun stuff. He also got to play with the big fire engine and the dinosaurs. My little guy is growing up and while I am sad the time is passing by too quickly, I am also happy to watch him on this new adventure.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Grace at 18 months

Grace is18 months old! The week she turned 18 months old we also got a positive report at her orthopedic appointment. Her hips look good!

After three years of motherhood I finally enjoy the job (most days). If you are in my inner circle you know that babies scare me and sleep depravation is how I picture hell. It seems I am in the minority but I believe children get easier as they age. Sure Jack can be sassy and defiant but he can walk, talk and feed himself. I work much better with people who can speak to me and now Gracie can also walk, talk and feed herself.

Grace is a sweet girl and she is fun to watch. In the mornings she wakes up looking for Jack, "Jack?" she says with her sleepy-eyed smile. The most precious words to ever enter my ears are Grace saying, "roly-poly" following Jack around trying to squish the bug in his hand.

Grace shares many of Christian's characteristics. She is a great sleeper, can sit quietly entertaining herself, and most certainly has his eyes and smile. Our little joke is that she is Christian's child. However, recently Grace has taken to carrying around books. Her current favorite is Fodor's Pocket Guide to Paris. She also loves to eat. These two qualities match me perfectly. If sleep deprivation is my hell then food and books are my heaven.

Grace is a tough girl with a strong mind. Unlike Jack who just complied easily with my obsessive requests until he turned three, Grace lets me know when she doesn't like what I want. She will wiggle her way out of a shopping cart seat in a minute. She will thrash around in my arms determined to walk and she will sling a toy away if it isn't what she wants to play with.

Grace also has a gentle nature. She loves to cuddle and is very observant. She loves to take baths and wants to wear hair bows. She gets bashful when Christian hugs her good-bye in the mornings. She loves to play in the dirt and will attempt anything Jack is doing. Christian recently asked me, "when will she become dainty?" "Sorry, but I don't think I was ever dainty," was my reply.

We are in love with life. These sweet babies are doing well and each day is more of a joy than the last. Grace at 18 months is fun, exciting and sweet. I love my family and am so proud of Grace's strength over the last 18 months.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Air Show

Last summer Jack and Christian attended the Erie Air Show. All year Jack has talked about the air show. He was most impressed by the tractor that carried patrons back and forth to their cars. Each time we pass the airport (which is at least five times a week) Jack talks about the air show. Last Saturday was the return of the annual show and this year we all went. Here are a few photos of our exciting air adventure. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mere Christianity

A few months back I read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and found the work thought provoking, logical and relevant. The recent discussion in social media regarding same sex marriage reminded me of the book. The following are two excepts from the Mere Christianity.

From the Preface:
"In Book III, which deals with morals, I have also passed over some things in silence, but for a different reason. Ever since I served as an infantryman in the First World War I have had a great dislike of people who, themselves in ease and safety, issue exhortations to men in the front line. As a result I have a reluctance to say much about temptations to which I myself am not exposed. No man, I suppose is temped to every sin. It so happens that the impulse which makes men gamble has been left out of my make-up; and, no doubt, I pay for this by lacking some good impulse of which it is the excess of perversion. I therefore did not feel myself qualified to give advice about permissible and impermissible gambling: if there is any permissible, for I do not claim to know even that. I have also said nothing about birth-control. I am not a woman nor even a married man, nor am I am priest. I did not think it my place to take a firm line about pains, dangers and expenses from which I am protected; having no pastoral office which obliged me to do so."

From Book 3. Christian Behaviour, Chapter 6 Christian Marriage:
"Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question - how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult to every one."
"There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members."

The words written by Lewis sixty years ago relate well to the current debate and polarization on the issue of same sex marriage. Not to mention they match quiet well with my own personal view of the subject.

Thankfully we live in a society where Christians have religious freedom and can view same sex marriage as going against Biblical teaching. The same freedom of our society provides equal rights to all people including the right for two homosexual, consenting adults to share in the benefits given to heterosexual adults.

Thinking logically about a more pertinent moral issue, based on Biblical teaching, that has a much broader impact than same sex marriage is gluttony. Currently, 68% of Americans are overweight or obese.

Logic, common sense and moderation seem to be lost in public debate whether discussing marriage, tax code, or the environment. It seems the sinful behavior that is most damaging to our society may actually be pride.

Monday, July 2, 2012

She Walks

If you have followed our story then you know waiting for Grace to walk has been more than just a developmental milestone. For us it is a relief. The first 15 months of Grace's life were spent mostly in some type of device to correct her hip dysplasia. Each visit to the specialist bought more discouraging news including hearing that her right hip was not healed after enduring surgery and three months in a spica cast. We were devastatingly disappointed and there was a part of me that wasn't certain medicine could repair her body.

Last Thursday afternoon Jack played at the park with a friend from the neighborhood. Gracie squirmed and whined to go play with Jack and his friend. Normally I let her crawl around and climb up the play equipment chasing after the three-year-olds. On Thursday, however, Jack and his pal were playing in the brambles gathering miscellaneous berries and branches to "feed the ants". I couldn't let Gracie down to chase them on her knees because her little legs would have gotten torn up. After struggling with her for a few minutes I finally said, "if you want to play with them then you need to walk." She didn't walk and we left the park a little bit later.

The next morning prior to Christian leaving for work Gracie walked. We were in the living room in our pajamas and she walked from Christian into my arms. We yelled and cheered and high-fived. She then walked from me to Jack and Jack to Christian and back to me. We cheered and laughed and got a little teary. Our sweet girl can walk!

She has advanced very quickly over a few short days and is now walking everywhere. We are excited and pleased to watch her discover her world in a completely new way. It is amazing the difference a year makes. We are so proud of you sweet Grace for your determination and strength.