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.


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.

I wanna hold your hand

We’ve always had to, or *felt* like we had to, hold Mikey’s hand or at least be in reach of him at all times in public. I still feel this need even though he’s older and more trustworthy than he used to be. It’s been hard for me to shake this feeling that he’s going to disappear.

Last weekend, the kids and I went on a weekend trip to the Galleria area in Houston. We stayed in a hotel and just went lots of different places and goofed off. On our little trip, I held onto him quite a bit because there were crowds and traffic and he just makes me nervous. Jackson kept up with Katie and Brittany is really great! She just stays right with us and I don’t worry about her running off. He asked me for the 100th time why I had to hold his hand and not Brittany’s. And I told him for the 100th time that Brittany stays with me without me holding my hand. I really don’t have to worry about her disappearing on me. He hates that answer and has never liked it when I give it to him. And is always resentful to have to hold my hand and resists having to do it.

Then he said, “I think you just like to hold my hand. I think you just love me so much that you want to hold onto me all the time.” And I just decided to go with it and tell him that is exactly right. That is the real reason why I want to hold his hand all the time. The rest of the weekend and several times since, he has very willingly and proudly held my hand without protest.

With him, it’s all about equality, unless *he* is shown favor. He’s fine with inequality if it’s in his favor. In other news, I’ve been trying as often as I can to hold both of the middles’ hands when go places. And you may see me twirling them both, one on each hand, if you see me walking with them.

Mom of many

*just in case you don’t want to read all of this, at least check out the cute kids at the end of this post.*

I am a mom of many. Three or more kids qualifies as many to me, although it may not to some people. You know, like those crazy people that have five or more. Anyway, just for fun, here are some things that moms of many do or don’t do. Or at least I do. Don’t judge. Unless you’re a mom of many. And I’m in no way saying that any of this stuff makes moms of many any better or whatever, so you one or two kid moms, just settle down. You’re equally awesome in your own right. And you probably have a much cleaner house.

– Moms of many will take the shirt off of the child, wet it in the sink, and use it to clean the child’s hands and face after dinner.
– Moms of many yell. They have to yell over the thoughts and sounds of many kids. Moms of many will yell even when they have company over.
– Moms of many rarely use hand sanitizer. I don’t think I even own any. Seriously, what is the freaking point??
– Moms of many let their kids watch too much t.v., according to the stupid Surgeon General or American Academy of Pediatrics or whatever.
– Moms of many don’t care what their children wear around the house and to some public places.
– Moms of many have lots of boundaries and rules, some of which may seem arbitrary or unreasonable to outsiders.
– Moms of many cuss. That’s right! And it’s a good day if they don’t slip in front of one of the kids.
– Moms of many use the same scanning technique that lifeguards use to make sure all of their kids are reasonably safe and accounted for.
– Moms of many pick their battles. But we sometimes pick stupid ones.
– Moms of many let their children suffer natural consequences. “You don’t want to wear shoes outside and it’s 50 degrees? Whatever. They’re your cold feet.” “You don’t like this food? Don’t eat it. I don’t care. It’s your hungry tummy.”
– Moms of many say “not my problem” 100 times a day.
– Moms of many yell. Did I already say that?
– Moms of many may say things like, “You’re making a really bad choice doing that. If you knock your teeth out, I’m just throwing them away.”
– Moms of many apologize a lot!
– Moms of many have certain things down to a science. Like going out in public. I believe that I’m the only person who can single handedly take our four kids grocery shopping without incident. It’s not fun, but it’s very doable.
– Moms of many can bathe three children at the same time in under five minutes.
– Moms of many have to say, “Yep. They’re all mine.” I usually add “sort of” at the end just to confuse people.
– Moms of many don’t give a rip about the dust on the ceiling fan. Seriously. Don’t. Care.
– Moms of many pray a lot, but sometimes it sounds like, “Oh, for the love of God!!” (Don’t judge)
– Moms of many lock themselves in the bathroom and take much longer than they need to just so they can have some time alone.
– Moms of many eat standing up.
– Moms of many are blessed, but it’s so easy to lose sight of it amidst the demanding chaos.

I could go on and on and on and on. But it’s time to make these kids clean up their messes and get on to bed. Moms of many love bedtime and they don’t let their kids stay up late.


Politics and kids

I’m not a big political person. I’ve been more informed this election than in years’ past, but there are topics that I remain uneducated about. When I voted, there were LOTS of candidates for non-presidential offices that I know nothing about. I just say this because I don’t want to give the false impression that I’m something I’m not.

I’ve involved Jackson in as much as the process this election as I reasonably could. He watched two of the debates with me. We’ve talked a lot about the election process over the last few weeks. He went in with me to vote and pushed the final “submit my vote” button. And he wants to stay up with me tonight and watch the election coverage. He’s very interested in the whole thing. But he really doesn’t know a whole lot about what each candidate stands for. He is innocent to the most pressing “issue” on my heart, which is abortion. I thought about how to bring it up to him in a way that he could somewhat grasp it and I decided that that’s not a load for him to have to bear yet. But in spite of his lack of understanding, he still wants my candidate to win.

I started to feel a bit burdened by that this morning as I heard my boys state my opinions as their own regarding the candidates. I felt a bit guilty…for about five minutes. But it’s a natural thing for us as parents to project our beliefs and preferences onto our kids. I think that’s a good thing. We put team jerseys on our kids…well, we don’t, but most people do…, we tell our kids that such and such college is better than another, we tell our kids what music is worth listening to and what shows are worth watching. Our kids are filled up with their parents’ opinions. That’s just the way it is.

The problems lies when our kids reach the age or maturity level where they decide that perhaps they don’t share their parents’ opinions. It becomes a problem if the parents are disappointed that their child’s views are different. At this point, my kids hold my political opinions because I’m their biggest influence. But I’m also being careful to give them the tools to make their own decisions as they grow. That’s why Jack watched the debates. That’s why I tried very hard to keep my biased opinions to myself. That’s why when I voted with him I said, “Now when you’re old enough to vote, do you have to vote republican?” That’s why I was proud of the answer he gave, “No. I can vote for whoever I want.”

And whoever they grow into, regardless of religion, career, university, sexual orientation, or political affiliation, whoever they decide they need to be, they will always have my respect and adoration. I’m not raising clones. I’m not raising me. My hope is just that they will make wise decisions and be respectful of the opinions of others who are different than their own.

The homemade Creeper costume

Jackson decided that he really wanted to be a creeper from his favorite video game, Minecraft, for Halloween. We had a Halloween “parade” to go to the day before Halloween so we started on this costume…that day. I like to procrastinate. Anyway…here are some photos of the process.

And here are all of the kids. Mikey was Carl Fredericksen from the movie Up, Brittany was a fairy ballerina, and Katie was an angel. Don’t even get me started on how un-angelic Katie can be these days. Two year olds are my nemeses. Anyway, we had a good time and the kids looked pretty darn cute.

The creeper creeping

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.