A Time to Talk and A Time to Stay Silent…

Kritter Basketball JayhawksThis is Kritterman’s first season to play basketball. Learning the fundamentals have been his focus. Passing, dribbling, standing his post, defensive and offensive moves. While the glory comes in making baskets, that was a skill that when in the heat of a game was more difficult for our little man.

So fast forward to mid-season. Our local sports association had agreed to play with another local sports association to give both associations kiddos more games to play. Part of that agreement resulted in our association traveling to their home courts to play a tournament. What wasn’t shared with the coaches or our association’s Basketball Commissioner was that when they planned the match ups for the tournament… they put their kids aging the youngest on their teams a full year older than our oldest on our teams. So, for example, your 2nd grader age 8 would be playing a 4th grader age 9 1/2.

It was daunting for all of the boys on the team. The shortest boys on the opposing team were still four to six inches taller. This huge difference in size was not lost on the boys. However, they rallied. Did I want to call attention to this obvious miss-match of age and by default skill? Of course, but in the moment, I had to make my kiddo believe that he could do the impossible.

I would like to be able to say that the Jayhawks won both games they played in the tourney that day, but they didn’t. However, there were some amazing things that happened. The boys NEVER gave up. They played hard all the way to the end of both games. Even Kritterman had his moment… he shot for a basket and made his first one for the season in the second game. We were so excited we jumped up and screamed with joy. He had chipped his tooth right before the second game in a random accident… we were sure he wouldn’t bounce back, especially with the uneven pairing of the opposing team of giant 5th graders with his 3rd grade team.

So it wasn’t a fair match. Did it frustrate the boys? Of course. Did I want to right the wrongs of the situation? Sure, what parent wouldn’t? But sometimes there is a time to talk and other times it is a time to stay silent.

When have you stayed silent and let the life lessons rise to the top, that if  you had spoke up, would have been thwarted?

Caroling and Candy Cane Bombing

This fall I became a life-group leader for 6th grade girls via our Church Youth Group… known by students as Fellowship of the Parks (FOTP) “Inception.”

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Every Wednesday after a time of worship and a message from the youth ministry team, I get to sit down and learn more about this amazing group of 6th grade young ladies. They are enthusiastic, energetic, generous, kind, considerate, compassionate, silly, goofy, dynamic and unique. At the beginning of December I challenged them to do random acts of kindness throughout the month.

RAK calendar (I used the calendar here that was shared with me on Facebook from the blog site coffeeandcrayons.com)

Every time we met they had wonderful stories of how they gave to others and their joy in giving was contagious. One of the ideas we considered as a random act of kindness was candy cane bombing. This typically is where you go to a parking lot outside of a grocery store or large warehouse retail store (i.e. Wal-Mart) and place candy canes on every windshield. While the idea itself is fun, as the adult in the conversation, I was concerned about the safety of all my girls that would participate.

To appease the eagerness to do the candy cane bombing, we came to a reasonable alternative. We would carol and candy cane bomb at the same time.

IMG_6853So in celebration of the Savior’s birth and to provide an opportunity for these girls to come together socially outside of the normal weekly “Inception” meetings, I hosted a Christmas party. We grilled hamburgers, ate cake pops and then grabbed packets of carol lyrics and candy canes. This new twist on candy cane bombing was to go to every door in the general area of our home, knock and then begin caroling. If a door opened continue the song to an appropriate stopping point then gift the audience with candy canes. If no door opened finish the carol and leave a candy cane on the door knob.

The event was a success and the young ladies loved it as much as the neighbors.

IMG_6999[1]IMG_7003[1]IMG_7006[1]Who knew what started off as a conversation about random acts of kindness would turn into an event that was so much fun that the girls asked as they left if this would become an annual Christmas event. Of course I am only too happy to continue this event, candy canes included. It not only revives the tradition of caroling that many have long forgotten, but allows me to relive my own childhood memories of caroling under the guise of providing “adult supervision.”

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What holiday activities from your childhood would you like to see re-emerge?

“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”

FullSizeRender[1]By the time the last day of school before the holiday break starts most of us are ready.  Some of us are so haggard with events and parties we may even exclaim “I just want to poke my eyes out!” But God gave me a Christmas Baby, and he gave me the energy, stamina and creativity, I believe, to do both the holiday activities and Embug’s birthday with equal energy and excitement.

Lucky for me, Embug loves all things Christmas and I have given extra effort to keeping her birthday special in the mix of all the holiday hullabaloo. Even though I do everything to separate the events of Christmas and her birthday, it has become a natural process to integrate the themes of the season into her birthday.  This year was no exception.

This year my biggest challenge was not to keep it special for Embug… but to make it “cool” for my blossoming Tween. We’ve tried small intimate birthday celebrations and big “on site” birthday events. Either have had their set of challenges. Most of our difficulties lie in scheduling a time when there weren’t conflicts with everyone getting to her party due to parentals having holiday events of their own.

To try to plan for the least amount of conflict we planned for the evening on the last day of school. Most parentals have had their company or neighborhood parties and kids events are over. Now we just run into those that may be headed out of town for family holiday events or vacation.

The second challenge, which is a new one for us this year, is making it appealing for both boys and girls. This is where the collaboration between myself and Embug came into play. One of Embug’s favorite movies is “A Christmas Story.” Over the course of several discussions with her friends she discovered that this was not a well-watched Christmas movie by her peers. After she got over the initial indignation of the lack of Christmas culture, an idea arose. Embug and I devised a plan to have “A Christmas Story” Themed Birthday party.

Christmas Story Invite frontChristmas Story Invite BackThis party involved PJs (footie PJs preferred), BB Gun target practice with a Red Rider BB gun, fried rice and egg rolls in honor of the Chinese Restaurant where Ralphie’s family was relegated to after the Bumpus’ hounds destroyed the Christmas turkey, and a viewing of the Cult-Acclaimed “A Christmas Story.” What tween boy or girl would not enjoy this event?

 

 

The evening arrived and there was an excited buzz in our home.  The fried rice and egg rolls were a FullSizeRender[1]surprising hit and the party guests couldn’t get enough of the BB gun target practice. While some didn’t have quite the artistic appreciation for the movie, Embug was content in knowing she had passed on yet another nugget of Christmas culture to her friends.

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While we didn’t have cake. Cake pops were all the rage with flavors of lemon, red velvet, vanilla and FullSizeRender_2[1]chocolate done in thFullSizeRender_4[1]e shapes of the “Frah-gee-lay” box, Target with the words “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”, lampshade from the “Leg Lamp Award”, and Ralphie “Bunny PJs” head.

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It was a success all the way through. I have the evidence to prove it, as over and over again Embug thanked me for a great party.

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I only have about 6 more years of birthday parties that I will be able to plan for her before she’s out on her own, and I realize that the next 6 years will probably be some of the most challenging parties to plan, but I am going to enjoy the success of this one.

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However, any and all suggestions for future parties are welcome!

Birthday Girl and Christmas Concerts…

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I love my December baby.  She was my first and the best Christmas present, ever. To be gifted with motherhood by such an amazing human like Embug makes her birthday every year a celebration and a bit tearful for me. The time is going by so fast.  It hit me that 6 birthdays from now will be her last birthday at home before she graduates from High School.  The last 12 birthdays have gone way too fast, so I know these next six will pass before me at the speed of light. **Sigh**

All I want to do is slow down time. This time of year that seems to be near impossible.  I love the bustle and hustle of preparing for Christmas, but I also dislike how it shortens the moments of time that you can slow down and enjoy your friends and family.

On top of Embug being amazing in general, she has an amazing gift for music and specifically with her voice.  She is part of a special performance choir called “Cantare’ Children’s Performance Choir” sponsored by White’s Chapel United Methodist Church. This is a community choir, so any child 3rd through 12th grade can try out.  We have been with them now for two and half years. We love it… except that it makes any family time or time with friends and parties very challenging. Embug over the past two years has missed more than her fair share of Christmas parties, sleepovers and holiday get-togethers. The rest of the family has had to shuffle, re-structure and spend numerous hours via phone and text to keep communication lines open in order to be sure that all normal and holiday responsibilities and events are not forgotten.  Any last minute addition to the calendar can cause this delicate balance of schedules to topple into a chasm of chaos.

Nonetheless, it is worth it.  Our Christmas angel shines.  Her radiant smile, melodious voice and the joy she exudes makes the two weekends of extra rehearsals and six performances all worth it.

Here is a rough video of their songs they performed (warning it is about 10 minutes long and really only meant for proud grandparents, aunts and uncles):

I imagine this is how most holidays will be for us. I can’t imagine her not performing or participating in some sort of holiday event. It’s in her blood and she loves to share the joy of this season too much to not share it through one of her most amazing gifts, her voice.

Happy 12th Birthday, Embug! AND…

keep calm and sing carols

In Her Element…

I haven’t posted in a while as the beginning of school coupled with Embug’s rigorous middle school musical practice schedule had moved the entire family into survival mode.

Often when parents look at schedules and putting more on the calendar something has to be sacrificed. I was one of those.  However, when Emmarie tried out for the Middle School Musical for our district in May, I had no idea our schedule would be so crazy.

We raise our kids to take their commitments to people and groups seriously. If you say you want to do this, you show up at the beginning, then, when it gets tough, you stick it through. Nobody jumps off of the boat mid-ride.

So when the schedule came out in early August, I knew it was going to be a challenge. I also knew we had made a commitment to this production, volleyball for her, soccer for Kritter and piano lessons for both.

I became a scheduling genius and stepped outside of my comfort zone to ask for help from others.  Eric and I also tag teamed many of the shuttling so that neither child had to back out on their commitments.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.  Embug comes alive on the stage. You can see her soul being fed when she is in character and performing with her cast and for her audience. When you see her… you know, she was made to do this.

The play “Little Mermaid, Jr.” was absolutely incredible.  Every cast member played with such professionalism you would think all the kids did was prepare for this performance. However, all the kids had homework, full days of school, other extra-curricular activities and of course a social life.

Embug learned so many valuable lessons through this experience.  She learned to manage her time with school work, extra-curricular activities, and home responsibilities. She learned how important every role was in a production of this sort and showed gratitude to every cast and crew member. She overcame her feelings of inadequacy when singing in front of people and now will not hesitate to bust out into song in front of anyone, almost anywhere (that particularly makes this momma proud).

There has been so much growth in this time for Embug and our family.  Many would say how can that be when you are so “busy?” But I would say when you know what is best for one family member, all are willing to shift, so that one can shine. And shine she did.  She was “in her element.”

I am glad to have some of my time back, now that the musical practices and production are over, but I am so glad I didn’t allow my fear of not having enough time to keep Embug from this life-changing experience.

Embug’s performance choir is just getting started. Stay tuned as there will be posts coming about those events, too.

Show up, Shine, Let it Go…

This week marked some big changes for our family.  Embug started middle school and Kritter entered 3rd grade where he will have more than one core content teacher every day.

Those kind of changes are big for any kid and a mom’s heart aches when she sees any fear or anxiety in the eyes of her children.  To be honest, I think I was as nervous as the kids were about this first day of school. Perhaps more than any other first day we’ve shared thus far.

You would think being an educator, a first day for me or my kiddos would be old hat. Well, just like any other family embarking into the unknown, we had our concerns.

I am so thankful for the wisdom and guidance our church leadership provides us.  It seems that the teaching staff, including Doug Walker, are guided to preach on topics that are just in time for me and the needs of my home.  Now I know it has everything to do with God speaking to me and my eyes and ears being open to HIS WORD, but Fellowship of the Parks has got God dialed in and delivering his message with purpose, meaning and power.  The Sunday before the first day of school was one of many occasions of timely, God-breathed nourishment.

Doug encouraged us to go forth and “Show up, Shine and Let it Go!”

Show up, shine, let go

At that very moment I caught the eye of a friend of mine at church and knowingly smiled.  We both had been facing some struggles as moms and how to best guide our kids.  This was our directive. Show up… just go where you are supposed to go and be there, be present. Shine… let the love of Christ shine through you and be a light to all.  Let it go… leave the details and the inner workings to God, it will all work out as God intends. Don’t waste your time or energy worrying over things you can’t control.

The first day arrived on Tuesday.  Tuesday and every day after that was a good day.  We are four days in and we…

Showed up.

Shined.

Let it go.

Next week we plan to continue to…

Show up.

Shine.

Let it go.

How will you approach your new school year with your kids? Do you have a motto? Share your plans for this year.

Letting go…

We are about to hit a big milestone.  Miss Embug is headed to Middle School.

When the braces went on in late July, the reality of it all started to sink in… slowly.

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Their is a lot that I have struggled with as a parent lately.  I am trying not to hold on too tightly.  A difficult task for me in any situation due to my… um, “structured” approach to life (yes, ok, controlling!).

What I have learned in a more direct way than ever, lately, is I have to let go, and let God.  Funny thing is HE is affirming me and encouraging me all the way.

I recently “re-started” a prayer book called “31 Days of Prayer” that was given to me 13 years ago. I started it then, but didn’t complete it.  I found it when doing some closet cleaning and felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to start it again.

I still am apprehensive about Miss EmBug going to middle school, but my fears have subsided.  Since starting this book of prayer, I have seen God move in direct response to my prayer requests.  I have seen miraculous healing, complicated situations become uncomplicated and progress occur where no hope of improvement seemed likely.

The world seems to be unraveling before our very eyes, but I know above all else, God is Good all the time and all the time God is Good.  As my dear friend Jan signed in her last moments, “God is in control.”

Thank God.

“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”  Acts 17:26-27 (NIV)

Top 6 Things We Learned on Vacation

This brings an end to the blog series on our Family/Anniversary Vacation to Florida.  There are a few pictures that didn’t make the #wilsongetaway previous blog posts or Flipagrams that I will share here along with 6 things my family and I learned on this trip.

Here are the Top 6:

6. Sharing a bathroom with 4 people when 2 people have their own bathroom at home brings to light all the bad habits. (I will now be intentionally reminding my son often to put the lid BACK DOWN! My mother-in-law instilled that lesson in my husband, I only think it fair to my future daughter-in-law no matter how far in the future that might be!)

5. “We proudly serve Starbucks.” Does not mean it will taste anything like Starbucks, and in some cases the gas station coffee is MUCH better and less expensive.

4.  Send a post card each day to your home residence from the location you spent most of your time for that day highlighting the most memorable moments/events.  Send it the next day (most hotels will mail it from the guest services desk if you provide the postage).  There will be some post cards  waiting on you when you return from your vacation and others will arrive as you return to your ‘normal’ life.  Everyone can enjoy the vacation just a little longer.

4. Blog as you go, then schedule to publish the following week where it posts to your Social Media accounts.  This lets you tell everyone about your vacation adventures without letting the opportunistic burglar know you are away from the house.

5. Keep your expectations low.  If you expect great things and the situation doesn’t live up to it, you could unexpectedly rob yourself of joy you were intended to have but let unsubstantiated high expectations get in the way.  (This one was compliments of Embug.)

6. Teach your children that “hole-in-the-wall” eateries are often the best way to taste the local flavor and have the best food.  Our kids learned this lesson time and time again while we were on our #wilsongetaway.   It will be one they won’t forget!

I hope you enjoyed this little blog series tracking our #wilsongetaway vacation.  We aren’t sure when our next getaway will be, but this one will linger in our memories for a long time.

…Getting There

Every summer we plan a family vacation.  Sometimes they are more along the lines of a “stay-cation” and sometimes they are a full on travel-agent like planned event.  This year we were met with a dilemma.  This July was our 20th anniversary.  Eric and I usually take a “big” trip every 5 years for our anniversary.  We also wanted to take the kids on an adventure too.  Time off and money dictated we couldn’t do both separately.  So here we are now.  Taking a trip together and celebrating 20 years of marriage.

The plane tickets were bought, lodging reservations made, car rental reserved and Pinterest packing list downloaded.

With 4 carry-on wheeled bags in tow, backpack for each of us and a large suitcase full of vacation necessities we were ready to go.

We flew Southwest, which is always a great experience… especially if you upgrade to the Early Check-in Status!

We left from Dallas-Love Field with a lay over in Houston on our way to Tampa, Florida.

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It wasn’t long before our adventures began.  While in Houston waiting for our connecting flight Emmarie and I made a stop at the ladies room.  After a lengthy wait for Emmarie who did not exit from the stall, I went to check on her.  Evidently her stall door stuck and she could not get out.  Luckilly she’s 11 and can make her way under a bathroom stall door!  To commemorate the event we took a snapshot of her with the stubborn stall door.

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The trip continued.  One of the sweetest things about my kids is the way they interact and play with one another.  Today’s plane ride was no exception.  Instead of being consumed with their own devices they opted to play card games to pass the time.  Not once was there a disagreement over the rules or accusations of cheating. Made this mama’s heart proud (and secretly happy I packed the deck of cards)!

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The adventure continued.  Upon completing our paperwork for the rental car we went to retrieve it.  Somehow we managed to get lost… IN THE AIRPORT! All was not lost, the car rental agency did  not have the Explorer we had upgraded to, so in it’s place the only option was a 2015 BMW X5! Who knew it was Christmas in July!?!?!?

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There were a few more mishaps along the way as we drove from Tampa to Titusville.  To protect the innocent I will just let the readers know it is a very good thing to have leather seats and ziploc baggies when one is on vacation.

While there were some hiccups, the drive was enjoyable.  It was especially enjoyable when an afternoon heating shower treated us to a full rainbow.

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By the time we arrived in Titusville it was time for dinner.  As I have done on many other vacations I used the Urban Spoon app on my iPhone to help choose a local restaurant.  The app led us to Dixie Crossroads Seafood Restaurant. The restaurant is surrounded by water and while you wait to be seated customers can see close to 3 dozen red-eared slider water turtles of various sizes actively swimming, a surprisingly large soft-shell turtle, multitudes of tilapia and one lone bright pure orange koi fish. The meal was decent in taste and price.  I do think the Wilson family prefers their seafood with a Cajun flair and that may have skewed our opinion.

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Following dinner we drove out to a barrier island, where, to our surprise about a dozen cats were hanging about, perhaps to feast off the fisherman’s throw backs.

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It is so good to be on the trip and ready to embrace the adventures of the upcoming week as a family and as a couple.  Stay tuned as more posts will follow sharing the much anticipated adventures this week will bring.

 

 

 

What’s cookin’?

Well, those that know me well enough know I can make my way around the kitchen, but in most cases I avoid it.  Cooking is one of my least desired tasks.

Fortunately, that isn’t the case for Embug.  She has a growing interests and enough confidence to give it a shot.  So what was my approach?  Probably not the standard best practices, but here it is.

I gave her some magazines that feature between 10 and 12 recipes per issue.  Let her look through them and target 3-4 recipes she wanted to try that could be a meal for the family.  We reviewed the ingredients list for them, preparation involved and then determined when she would make them.  Together we made a grocery list.  This first go around I did not take her with me to the store because it was on my way home from work.  However, as part of this process I will involve her in the grocery buying as well.

Once I purchased all the ingredients, then it was up to her.  I let her figure things out.  She was very resourceful, Googling how to do things like clean a Portabello mushroom, and of course asking her dad and I for assistance when she needed it.

What I learned:

1.  She has observed a lot over the years of seeing me and her dad “work” and “prepare” food in the kitchen.

2.  She is very adventurous and always saw the learning in the process even when the final product wasn’t the hoped result.

3.  She is quite the natural.

4.  She enjoys this and it helps her “think” and “process” in a non-academic setting that is building problem-solving muscles that will benefit her in academic settings.

5.  She grew in knowing herself and seeing what she is capable of doing.

Her first epicurean adventure was Portobello Mushroom Burgers:

She also made a seafood chowder one day when I was at work, but her dad was nearby (home office day).  I didn’t get pictures of it, but she did phenomenal.

Her third adventure was Chicago Style Pan Pizza, which she did with the help of a good friend:

Her latest endeavor was Stuffing Filled Artichokes.  It was a lot of work and minimal on the result.  It was probably her biggest disappointment.

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Funny thing about this is we, as a family, decided we did like the artichokes… even Kritter.  Embug just determined the stuffing was unneccessary.  So we will have steamed artichokes again… just not as the recipe calls.

Not a bad start for Embug and we all are so excited someone likes to whip up a storm in the kitchen!

If you have a suggestion for our budding chef please share!  What ways is your home being adventurous via your children?

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