Dear Public Breastfeeding Mom,

I noticed you tonight in a packed restaurant. I glanced at you a few times. And I smiled. You caught me glancing at you. I think I made you feel self-conscious. I’m sorry.

I wasn’t looking at you for pervy or judgmental reasons. Not at all. I glanced at you because I was a breastfeeding mom a long time ago. Because I still mourn that I just had the one child that I *could* breastfeed. Because I saw a beautiful mommy loving her baby. Because you are brave. I wish I had been more brave like you. Any time I see a parent being an amazing parent, I kind of want to sneak a peek. I want to cheer them on. I wanted to tell you these things, but that might have been awkward. So instead, I made you feel uncomfortable and then I left without you knowing why.

When I see a Grandpa tickle his grandkid, when I see a Daddy carefully put his little girl’s hair behind her ear, when I see an older sister grab the hand of a little brother to walk across the street before her mother tells her to, and yes, when I see a mommy breastfeeding her baby… those are just some of the beautiful moments in life that I want to actually notice.

You shouldn’t have to be brave to openly feed your child in public. But you are brave. May you continue to be brave no matter how many glances you get. ❤

The boy and his phone.

So the boy lost his phone for a while, back several months ago. This isn’t a post meant to shame my boy at all. In fact, I had him read this first paragraph and give his okay before publishing it. But he did something stupid…yes, stupid. I can say that without ruining his self esteem. And so he got his phone taken away. We realized that we had been too lax on some things. We had given him a bit too much freedom at too young of an age, without the safeguards we should have had in place. Parenting is a constant learning experience. And we’ve never said that we do it perfectly.

Now I do want to take minute to say that if I had had access to all things internet at the age of 12-18, I would have been FAR stupider than he could even try to be on his worst day. Thankfully, I didn’t have the internet in the palm of my hand until I was probably about 30. Mostly by then I was responsible enough to handle it. Mostly.

But he now has a phone again. He has a nicer phone than I do because I believe he will take better care of it than I would. I drop my phone like it’s some kind of hot potato like 100 times a day. We are working on giving him *some* limited freedom back. But the internet is a very scary place. So since giving him a phone back, we have put some things in place. And because I think it takes a village to navigate these waters, I want to share how we *think* we are *better* protecting him. And I’d welcome any suggestions from those who are walking through this teenage internet landmine with me. *Asterisk because I recognize that we don’t have it all figured out and we never will.

1. We know ALL passwords. If he changes a password or passcode, he must tell us. If we find out that he changed a password without telling us, the phone is ours.

2. We check ALL conversations that we can as often as we can. Through text, fb, instagram, etc. Any time I choose, I take the phone and look through any and all things. We find anything either of his grandmothers wouldn’t approve of, the phone is ours. And as long as any of the kids are living in this house, we will have regular and random phone checks. No arguments.

3. He had to send his friends who he texts with this text before texting anything else, “My parents will be reading my texts. Don’t write anything that you don’t want my parents to read.”

4. He cannot delete or add an app (not on the cloud) without us knowing about it. He can still add apps from the cloud. Not ideal, but at least if he adds something stupid, he can’t get rid of it. AND WE WILL SEE IT! And then…you guessed it, the phone is ours.

5. No Youtube. Youtube is pure evil and I don’t condone any of my kids using it. Think I’m overreacting? Search for something on Youtube that you would in no way shape or form want your kids to see. That should change your mind.

6. No Safari or other internet browser. There’s just no need for a 13 year old boy or girl to have all of the internet in the palm of his/her hand. Nope. No need. We have a protected home computer he can use for his internet browsing.

7. Nobody needs 100% privacy. Everybody needs to answer to somebody. I answer to Phillip and he answers to me. We can check each others’ phones and computers any time we want to. If I don’t get 100% privacy, why would I think my child should? Someday my child will answer to his spouse, but until then he will answer to me and his dad.

8. We will offer him grace. If he looks at/writes something/buys something, etc., that he then realizes was wrong, he can come to us and honestly tell us. I promised him that if he comes to me, on his own free will, and confesses something he has done wrong, that we WILL give him grace. But if we find it on our own, grace goes out the window. We all screw up. We all need grace.

Some of you might think this is too strict. You might be right. But when it comes to the integrity of our child’s name, we can’t be too careful. He could potentially do something so royally stupid at the age of 13 that it could wreck his name for the rest of his life. It’s our responsibility to protect his name, his integrity, and his future relationships as much as we possibly can. And some might think that he shouldn’t have a phone at all. And you might also be right. But like anything, we have to teach life skills to our kids and unfortunately, we live in an age where the internet is readily available and part of our daily lives. They must be taught how to use it, with integrity.

More than anything, we are trying to hammer home with him (and all of our kids) the value of his name, his integrity, and honesty.  We have big plans for the man that he will become. And so we will do our best to protect the man he will be from the teenager that he is now. He’s our first teenager so we are sort of learning as we go with him.

I want to be very honest here and say that if you think your kid will never write/search for/download something you wouldn’t approve of, you are foolish and naive. It will bite you. It will bite your kid. We were foolish. And we will regularly reevaluate this whole thing to *try* to avoid being foolish again. We must be willing to fight for our kids, even if that means fighting against our kids for what we know is best.

Gird up your loins.

Sounds gross, right? Loins. Just the word sounds slimy and unappealing. It’s a really old school phrase that basically means to get your tunic (men) pulled up and out of the way to prepare for a fight. I’m going to compare it to the phrase (ladies) to “Put your big girl panties on.” Roll up your sleeves, crack your knuckles, grit your teeth, and get ready to stand your ground. Take on the day. Take on the problem. Get ready to fight.

I think many of us have some things we need to fight for. Right now, I feel like I need to fight for my kids’ innocence. That is my battle ground right now. That’s a fight I’m not prepared to lose. And I will gird up my loins (do girls have loins) and fight. We’ve been through some rough patches where we had to fight for our marriage. We’ll be there again, I have no doubt. Maybe we need to fight for our health. Maybe we have friendships we need to fight for. Maybe we need to fight for our integrity.

And when it comes to these kind of fights, I think these things are important to remember:

  1. Prayer is seriously a great line of defense. (And I admittedly don’t do enough of it.)
  2. We need a good support system.
  3. Humility is our ally. Pride is our enemy.
  4. When in doubt, just tell the truth.
  5. Limit distractions.

And just for fun, here’s an illustration of how to literally gird up your loins. It’s a good thing guys now have Hanes. This looks complicated.




The rug was somewhat pulled out from underneath us last week. Details aren’t really important, but Phillip and I were put in a situation where we needed to make the difficult decision to withdraw Jackson from public school. It was pretty unexpected and unplanned. We’ve been struggling with many different aspects of public school since we put Jackson back in the second half of 5th grade. I homeschooled Jackson from 2nd grade through the first half of 5th, so we always knew that we could go back to homeschooling if we ever felt we needed to. Last week it became painfully apparent that we need to.

So after a difficult couple of days of going through the motions, in somewhat of a fog, I think maybe I have a grasp on what we need to do. When I have homeschooled in the past, I spent weeks researching, planning, purchasing, reviewing, etc. This time I had no time at all. We are still trying to find our footing.

And because I am very aware of my dependence or addiction, or whatever it is, to Facebook, I’ve decided to deactivate my account for a time. If I decide to reactivate it at some point, all of the old stuff will still be there. I need to focus on my boy. I need to break some bad habits. He needs to reset his brain and so do I.

So that’s kind of where we are right now. Last week this whole thing felt like a crisis situation. But it’s not a crisis. I’m choosing to think of it instead as a crisis averted. At least I hope so anyway. For the handful of you reading this, please just pray for wisdom for our family. And please respect our privacy and try not to bombard us, especially Jackson, with questions about this. Remember, we are in reset mode, not rehash mode.

Grace abounds for us all. Please give us grace.



Confession: Our mornings have been bad since school started back after the Christmas break.

I am not sure why. Maybe they were bad before and I hadn’t noticed. Maybe it took two weeks of relative calm for me to see how chaotic school mornings are. Maybe it’s the added element of a puppy, running around, grabbing shoe laces and pants legs, that is tipping things over the edge. I don’t really know. But what I do know is that my family is leaving me, leaving our house in the morning, not with feelings of happiness and peace, but with their stomachs in knots. And ultimately, it’s my fault.

This morning, I had the real feeling, not even a feeling so much as a knowing or acceptance, that they’d be better off without me. I am poisonous to their mornings. I am poison.

Why do I care so much if we are running five minutes “late” when in fact, five minutes late is still leaving 15 minutes before school starts? The school is five minutes away. We’re not even late, but we’re late according to me. Why do I care? Why can’t I be flexible enough to look at ALL of the papers from their backpacks, as we’re walking out the door, because they, because they are children, didn’t bring the papers to me yesterday after school? Why do I expect them to remember this? Why? Why can’t I just turn the boy’s bedroom light off myself, every morning after he leaves, and be thankful that I have a boy whose light is left on every day? Why can’t I just relish in the proof of life instead of feeling tortured by everything they do that is “wrong?”

They must think that they can do nothing right. They must think that my love is conditional. They must think they need to try harder to make me happy. How could they not? And what damage is it doing?

I want to be a source of peace for my family. But honestly, I’m poison. Many mornings, I say the phrase, in anger, “Every morning is the same!” And they are the same. Every morning is the same because I’m the same. They are the same because I won’t change.

How can poison become a salve instead? How can I change it?

There’s no happy wrap up to this post. No Bible verse to fix it all. And honestly, if you give me one, I’ve probably already read it. And guess what? It hasn’t helped. No plan of action. That’s not what this is. I don’t need anyone to try to fix me. Because I have to fix me. This is just simply a confession and a marker that I acknowledge how things are.

Sometimes there is simply healing in acknowledging how things are.





This never happens.

First of all, what’s up with all of this recent blogging, right?? I don’t know. I think I’ve finally decided that I need to actually start photographing my kids again.

Anyway, I decided to *try* to take just a few decent pictures of our kids at the local pumpkin patch. I don’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve done that with the “real camera.”


I bribed them with cookies. I begged them to be cooperative. And guess what?! THEY WERE!!! I was stunned.


We were in and out of there in about ten-fifteen minutes. And nobody cried. And I didn’t get mad. Amazing, I tell you.






I honestly don’t even know how this happened.

It’s facebook’s fault. And maybe instagram’s fault too.

iphone pic warning…seems to be all that I have time to take anymore.

I hate how I never blog anymore. I really do. It bugs me. I blame facebook. And instagram. I put everything there so I feel no need to put anything here. I’ve really thought lately about ditching facebook and just getting back to blogging. Ditching facebook would probably seriously improve my quality of life. Maybe one day I will. If I do, don’t be shocked.

Anyway, things are going really pretty well around here. I’ve got three in school all day Monday-Friday. That’s awesome!! Katie is stuck here with me quite a bit and we’re trying to learn how to deal with one another. It’s slow going, but maybe we’re making progress. Hard to tell most days. She can be so funny and clever, but the regularly seasonings of crying and whining and tantrums just wear on me. I know she’s three and I know things will continue to get better. I know that, but that still doesn’t make me any less tired and frustrated. Just keeping it real.


As of right now, Jack is making straight A’s. I’m hoping he can hold onto that for a few more days so that he can finally get straight A’s on a report card. He’s done very well in school since going back mid year last school year, but he hasn’t pulled straight A’s yet. He went to church camp last weekend and had a great time! He’s just a good kid. I don’t have many pictures of him…poor guy.

Mikey is doing pretty well in school. I love his teacher and she’s great at communicating with me. He’s had a few bad days, but nothing too extreme. He’s learning to read so that’s been fun for all of us. He loves reading to his siblings. Even Jackson will sit through his early readers and cheer him on. He finally got a haircut that is totally different than the haircut he’s had his entire life! That was his choice and he loves the new do.


And Brittany has become the most mellow and easy going of the four kids. I can take her anywhere. She’s pretty much always in a good mood. She has moments, but for the most part, she is seriously just a sweet, easy kid! I can’t believe how far she has come! She’s doing great in school and just seems to enjoy pretty much every situation she’s put into.


After almost getting rid of (or worse) our dog, Scott, I’ve decided for now to let him live in the house and I have to bathe him far more often than I’d like to. But he’s a pretty good dog and we rarely even know he’s around. Now that he lives inside again, he’s totally stopped digging out of the yard and running away. I think he was on some kind of suicide mission there for a while. It’s nice to not have to sweep up food as often.


So that’s pretty much all I have for an update right now. Things are good. We are in a pretty simple season of life right now and I just seriously can’t, or shouldn’t, complain.


Either Way – revisited

Almost two years ago, I posted this.

It was a low time. I couldn’t really talk about how low it was, but it was low. And things stayed low for a while, maybe as long as a year. I don’t really know.

Mikey has been tough most of his life. Beautiful, funny, awesome in many ways, but still very tough to parent. He improved leaps and bounds…and then we got the girls. And I don’t mean to make this a negative post about the girls. Not at all. But the truth is that he regressed much more than I could have anticipated when we added the girls to our family. At the time of posting these song lyrics two years ago, I was very depressed. I was afraid we had made a mistake. I was afraid he might not recover. I was afraid of a lot of stuff.

Maybe the sun will shine today
The clouds will blow away
Maybe I won’t feel so afraid
I will try to understand
Either way

Maybe you still love me
Maybe you don’t
Either you will or you won’t
Maybe you just need some time alone
I will try to understand
Everything has its plan
Either way
I’m gonna stay
Right for you

Maybe the sun will shine today
The clouds will roll away
Maybe I won’t be so afraid
I will understand everything has its plan
Either way

Wilco Either Way

But at some point, without me really noticing, the sun began to shine a lot more. The clouds did begin to roll away. They came back off and on and sometimes they came back with a vengeance. But somehow in the last two years, we have all found our place and our rhythm.

Somehow Mikey and Brittany have bonded to a degree I never would have predicted. He despised her with his whole heart for quite a while. He was mean and hateful to her so often. She loved him with her whole heart from the beginning and has never wavered. And I think that’s what Mikey needs. People who will love him with their whole hearts, without wavering. How could Brittany have become exactly what he needed when 2 years ago, I thought she was going to destroy him? And oh my goodness…how I love her for it!

The clouds have been coming back more frequently lately. And I’m starting to feel afraid again. Or maybe my expectations are just too high. But I heard this song again today and I felt hopeful because he and we have come so far in the last two years. Maybe he’s just hit a rough patch where he needs us to love him as hard as he hits back. He needs us to stay right for him.

Mikey turned six yesterday. And I would say that in the six years of his life, there has been infinitely more sun than clouds. But for whatever reason, sometimes the clouds seem more prevalent even though they’re not. And I just needed to take a moment to write this down to remind myself how far we’ve come.

Dear blog,

Dear blog,

I’m so insanely behind on messing with you that I don’t eve have the desire to look at you anymore. Plus, your photos are too small and I don’t know how to change it without starting from scratch and I don’t want to do that. Whatever. Here are some quasi recent pictures of the kids that are taking up all of my time and energy.

Phillip is home for the summer and I’m so glad, but I’m so sad because the summer is almost over. This is what Phillip thinks of the kids a lot of the time. 🙂

Oh, and do you remember this post??

Well, Ms. Riley went and got herself adopted!! And we were there. It was great. It was very important to me that our kids be there for her adoption.

Toldja she looks quite a bit like my baby…

I love seeing them together. I love that these kids will all grow up together. Oh, and just for kicks, they’ll most likely all even go to the same elementary school. When God pieces things together, He doesn’t screw around. It’s super cool. I will eventually get around to finishing her adoption photos! Can’t believe I haven’t done that yet. Oh, wait…yes, I can believe it because WE HAVE FOUR KIDS!!

Anyway, I also went to Singapore/Cambodia for two weeks in July. Hopefully I’ll get some of those pictures up one of these days too.

And with that, I feel somewhat more caught up than I did ten minutes ago. Kind of like cleaning my house… it’s better than it was.