Monthly Archives: September 2012

A letter to my son

Dear Carter,
You were my first born. My laid-back baby. The one who slept 22 hours a day. The one who tricked me into thinking this parenting gig wasn’t really all that hard. Oh, you tricked me goooood.

Last night our Adventure began. We dropped the others off with Grandma & Grandpa and headed of to the big city. You were mesmerized by the cityscape and pointed out the tiniest details around us. You’ve always been a details guy. I love that about you.


We ate dinner, the three of us. I can’t remember the last time Daddy and I have been alone with just you. Usually at least Lydia is with us, if not everyone. You like it that way, you tell me. And I believe it. Your sister is your absolute best friend in the whole wide world. I have no illusions that you’ll stay that way forever, but I pray that you will always be close.

After dinner, you thanked me for picking a delicious restaurant and you thanked Daddy for buying. I really love it when your manners shine through unprompted. You are growing into a very well-spoken and polite young man.

I absolutely love hearing you talk. You confidently state facts. You always want to share your excitement for whatever you happen to be talking about. And you sound like such an adult when you do it!

After Daddy dropped us off at the station, I just sat and listened to question after question about the train. I don’t know how long it takes to get from here to New Orleans. I have no idea if the workers work the whole route. I don’t know if the food in the dining car is good or just okay.

On the way, we played Hangman on the iPad. I was surprised at how long it kept your attention. Back and forth we typed in words and watched the other guess. You like to give hints, and your hints are especially helpful when you misspell a word. I never would have gotten wunderfull. But you didn’t misspell this and I didn’t need any clues (but I did tear up a little). I love you too, buddy!

Love, Mommy

You’re doing just fine!

Dear Mommas Who Worry You’re Doing It All Wrong,

You aren’t. You aren’t doing it all wrong. You may not be doing it all right…okay, you probably aren’t doing it all right…but you certainly aren’t doing it all wrong. So take a deep breath and hear me out.

If your precious baby is screaming his/her eyes out and you simply can’t take it any longer, put him/her somewhere safe and walk away. This is true for babies, kids, and teens.

Mommy time-outs can be a beautiful thing. Back away from the moment and regroup. It may mean you are a few minutes late, but you’re going to be late anyway so two more minutes won’t hurt.

Most of the things you do with your child before they are 5, they won’t remember. Sad, but true. So take lots of pictures of the good and the bad moments. You’ll want the former to help jog their memory and the latter for blackmail later.

Don’t waste time and money doing things with your little kids that you don’t enjoy. When they get older, there will be plenty of opportunities to attend things you don’t enjoy just because your child wants you there. (Thanks, Mama, for sitting through hours of football games just to watch me toot the flute for a total of maybe 10 minutes a night.)

On the other hand, feel free to take your munchkin on adventures that logically you can’t justify spending money on. Case in point: Disney. Your 2-year-old won’t remember seeing Cinderella’s castle, but you will never forget the look on that chubby-cheeked little face.

Remember to often choose your heart-whispers over your brain-shouts.

Find routines that work for your family and then be flexible about it. We have a general flow of our days, but not a strict schedule. And some of the best memories I have are from times when an opportunity popped up and I took the chance that no one would melt down because we pushed back nap time.

Be prepared, however, for meltdowns. Sometimes you see them coming and can work around them. Sometimes they just slap you in the face and blow raspberries at you. Not all meltdowns are the same, but a few guidelines I’ve discovered are universal for all 4 of my (all very different) children. Remove the child from the situation. Try to make the little sucker laugh. And walk away if it doesn’t work. Don’t negotiate with terrorists…or little terrors. Even if you “win”, they’ve learned your breaking point and will push all the way to it next time.

The easiest way to make a child laugh is to do something unexpected. I’m partial to the scare tactic where I snuggle up reeeeeeeaaaal close and then AAAGGGHHH frighten the poop out of them. Sophomoric humor is also a great tool.

Don’t fret about potty-training “on time” or hitting any other milestones on anyone else’s time table. Your child will (fill-in-the-blank) whenever (s)he is ready. Don’t push them forward too much. They grow up fast enough without any help. (I feel like I should include a sidenote here: If your child isn’t meeting developmental milestones and you are concerned, please talk to your pediatrician about it!)

Give them a nudge sometimes. (I know I just said don’t push them, but you know…parenting is weird like that.) Sometimes all they need is a pat on the back or an ‘attagirl’ to do more or be more.

Remind them often that they are enough. They are good enough, kind enough, smart enough, fast enough, etc. But be sincere. Don’t tell your turtle-paced runner that they are the best runners in town.

Be honest with them. If you don’t know the answer to their questions, research it together. If something big is about to happen, give them a heads up. They need time to adjust to things, people, and ideas just like we do!

Love them. Love them. Love them.
And make sure they know that you love them.

Show them respect so that they will learn to be respectful.
Show them compassion so that they will be kind to others.
Show them hard work so they understand what it means to give your all.
Show them that things are nice but that relationships are what bring happiness.
Show them confidence so that they will learn to be proud of themselves.
Show them humility so that they will not boast or become a braggart.
Show them love so that they know the joy of loving.

Oh, there’s so much I could say, so many things to be learned.
But it’s true that each child is different.
And every time you figure things out, it all up and changes.
But just roll with the punches, friend, and soak up these moments.
One day these days will be “the good ol’ days”.

Love and hugs,

For The Bible Tells Me So


A few weeks ago the children and I were working on their social studies course and we were talking about supply and demand and basic business ideas. They got very excited when they realized that anybody can be an entrepreneur if they have the resources necessary to create a product. For several days they contemplated ideas. Some were simply unrealistic, like selling tours to Mars or hosting a “How the Universe Works” event and charging people to come watch it on DVD at our house. (Side note: My children love documentaries and don’t understand why everyone doesn’t watch them.) Other ideas were not really money makers, like selling some of their stuffed animals. I finally nudged my way into the conversation and suggested that maybe they should create something. They remembered a craft we’d done a while back and asked if we could do it.


 I told them I would invest $30 (and my time) in their business. We all schlepped to the store and purchased canvases and paint. They created fliers to take around and show people so that everyone could see what they were “sale-ing”. (I know I should have corrected them, but I love love love the way sale-ing sounds when they say it.) They got 3 orders up front! We created those and delivered the products and used that money to purchase more materials. They only had $3 left over from what they’d sold so far. We talked about profits and the price of materials and your own time and decided that maybe $10 wouldn’t be quite enough. They completed the ones they had promised for $10 and those are in the process of being delivered now. As we finished working on that batch, we talked about pricing (again) and they developed a new price list. The small ones (7×14) should be $15 and the larger ones (12×16) should be $18. At these prices they hope that they will make enough money to save up for a special toy for each of them and still have money left to give to Ms. Missy, a friend of a friend who is searching for funding for her mission field assignment in Uganda.

If you are interested in purchasing a bible verse art from them, please email me at {iveyleaguemama}@{} (leave out the brackets though). We have a few of our favorite verses and we can choose for you or you can request a certain verse. There are restrictions to how many words can fit, so if it’s a long one we may have to paraphrase.





You stand there, unsure of yourself but trying not to let it show. You discretely rub your thumb and forefinger on your blue stone bracelet, bead by bead. As your fingers move, your arm muscles contract and relax almost imperceptibly. “There’s no reason to be as nervous as a cat,” you coach yourself, preparing for what is to come. The worst part isn’t what you know will happen but what you can’t imagine will happen, what you can’t begin to wrap your mind around. And so it builds, making you want to vomit. Once more you straighten your dress, your chest, your posture and you look confidently in the mirror.  “I hope it shows,” you wish. The dog begins to bark and you rush to the door, taking a quick peek through the blinds. It’s her, your perfectly polished partner in crime. “Why, oh why do you always work yourself up like this?”, she asks.

The smell of saffron rice fills the room. Thank God it makes this feel like home. Maybe it won’t be so bad after all, this new adventure. The rush of joy, the fire of exhalation pushes your nerves aside and you take your seat.

Sometimes I find myself in a writing rut, the words feeling stale and regurgitated. It is then that I usually turn to a writing prompt to push me out of my comfort zone. This is one of my favorite go-to prompts that I first started using back in 2010.

Praying in Color

Traditional prayer is hard for me.
The sitting still.
The focusing.
My words run faster and faster until they get all clogged up.
My thoughts dance like the littlest sugar plum fairy in her very first performance,
trying hard to get it all right, but looking quite clumsy.

For so long my prayers felt hollow, empty.
The words simply fell flat.
My own high expectations made them fall flatter.
Rote words, devoid of meaning.
Beautiful cadence and delightful verbiage, but pure fluff.

But creative prayer shakes my soul.

With pen to paper, I pray.
I drain my words and leave space for a refill.
The second first gulp is always greater.

With marker on paper, I pray.
Each stroke of color for each thought.
Focus found in the details spills over into my heart.

With chalk on the ground, I pray.
I sketch a simple swirl and I carefully walk round and round and round…
And my fears, my worries, my doubts uncoil as I circle out again.

Find out more about Praying in Color here.
(This is not a sponsored post.)

Lugh too

She pushes the little cart full of chalk, pinky out.
(Because you must be proper even in the driveway, I suppose.)

She turns the cart, turns herself, and plops down on top of the chalk.
Expecting to roll down the hill, she doesn’t move an inch.
Her frustration shows as she struggles to stand.
She teeters back and forth, trying to propel herself forward.
Face first on the concrete.
(Maybe she should have tried a little less.)
She isn’t really hurt, but says “ow…ow…ow” out of habit.
It’s her new favorite phrase.
That and “no”, which with her drawl sounds like Noah.
“Brush it off,” I tell her as she stands,
and she rubs her round belly.
I lean in to give her a kiss and we bump noggins.
Both laughing, we try again.
She pushes the cart forward, but I am holding it steady.

“I love you,” I say.
“I love you.”
She just wants to go.
I just want her.
I release my hold on the handle and as she toddles away she turns back with a smile.
“Lugh too.”
“I love you, too.”

Linked with Heather’s Just Write.

And then…and then…and then…

Every night I make my to do list for the next day.
Often bits of the day-not-yet-over’s list bleed onto tomorrow’s.
I have our days fairly well-structured.
There is wiggle room, of course.
(I’m a sucker for a playdate.)
(And cupcakes.)
Sometimes we do rearrange our day, but we usually stick to the general routine.
This follows this.
That follows this.
This follows that.
And so forth and so on…

But today my to do list is empty.
Sure, there are things to be done.
But none of them as important as what I’ll be doing.

It’s so rare that I get to spend one-on-one time with my children.
I try to make it a priority, but it’s hard.
So often I settle for two-on-one time.
They don’t seem to care.
(Or even notice, really).
(But I do).

Without the littles there, I can really listen to him without being tuned into the background noise.
Without the littles there, I can look into her eyes instead of scanning and counting “one-two-three……four”.
Without the littles there, I can focus on just the two of them, my “big kids”.

And so today I will.
I’ll go completely off script.
I’ll follow their lead.
I’ll listen (really listen) to them.
And let them show me their world.


And y’all?  I did. And it was perfect and beautiful.
Their world is full and happy and wonderful and it left me on a cloud.
Thank God for kids. 


When I’m up here and you’re down there, I want to shout,
“You’ll make it. It gets better. It really, really does.”
But you won’t hear me, no matter how loud I am.
Your own pain muffles and dulls the words of hope.
I know.
I remember.
And so I whisper.
I whisper from my heart to yours, praying you can feel it.
I whisper to our God, praying that your brokenness will begin to heal.
I whisper not with words but with grace and love and peace.

You have whispered for me, with me.
And now I for you, with you.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
  the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26


Are these dreams my own?
Or the ones I think I’m supposed to have?
The ones that are spelled out for me by others?
Predicted, expected.
These dreams aren’t real.
These dreams are thieves, stealing my time, my energy, my heart.
And there is no time left to listen to my heart-whispers, I worry.

When the air is still and the house is quiet and my space is full of just me,
I close my eyes.
I strain my ears.
I disrobe my heart of life and expectation.
And I wait.
Shouldn’t there be a sound, a voice?
A calling, a nudge?

I know it is there, my dream.
And it is big.
(I just can’t see it).

One day (I hope) I will look back and say,
“How silly I was!
It was there all the time.”


I didn’t think I would cry like I did as we talked about today.
I played this video for them, and even in cartoon it’s heart-stopping.
As I held My Loves, I thought of the Loves who no longer have mothers to hold them.
And mothers with no Loves to hold.
And oof.
Just oof.

Yesterday, I was well aware of today.
We talked of Jack & Jill tumbling downhill.
And then…we did it.
They did it.
They rolled and they laughed.
And then did it.
I rolled and I laughed.
And they laughed more.

The world spun around faster and faster.
Up was down and down was up.
But at the bottom, we stopped and caught our breath.
Racing to the top, we started again.
Over and over.

Eleven years ago the spinning halted, if ever so briefly.
And then catapulted into high gear, faster and faster.
Up was down and down was up.
But in the end, we stopped and caught our breath.
And we, as a nation, started again.
Not happy, but grateful.
Not free from fear, but so very thankfully free.