Through his eyes…

My son just turned nine. As I’ve walked through recent events with him, I’ve also learned a lot about myself. 

On the way to pick up my kiddo from school last week, I turned on the radio to listen to the news. I knew it was going to be a big day in Washington DC as Congress confirmed the presidential vote. When I tuned in, I was shocked to hear reports of the Capitol being under siege. By who? And why? Everyone knows that things have been a heated on the political front for a long time. But could this actually be happening?! 

It felt a lot like the morning of 9/11. It didn’t feel real. 

I couldn’t tear myself away from it either as I pulled my car into the carpool line at school. 

As parents, we have always been open with our son about most everything. We don’t say all the things we think or give him all the reasons behind what we do. Neither do we steer away from it when he asks. To us, there’s always a way to bring children into current events and hard topics in age appropriate ways. Especially with issues that captivate our attention and drive our decisions as citizens in this country. 

I made a split decision as my car rolled to a stop at the cone he was standing by – I could change the radio station or I could keep it tuned in to the news. I chose to leave it on. 

He jumped in and as he buckled up, we had our typical end-of-day exchange. How was school? What was the best part? Who did you play with at recess? And then it fell silent as he zeroed in on the reporter’s voice. “What’s happening, Mommy? Is that Biden talking?” Joe Biden’s voice came over the radio. I looked at my son in the rearview mirror and said, “something’s going on at the Capitol today. Let’s listen and then we can talk about it.” 

Mr. Biden calmly admonished the events of the day and called on President Trump to use his powerful position to reassure our country and call off those attacking the Capitol. 

I sat quietly, glancing at my son’s face while I drove. I could see the wheels spinning and knew the questions were about to come. 

“So, people who like Trump are attacking the Capitol?” 

I replied, “Well, not everyone who likes Trump is there. In fact, I bet there are people who voted for him who are surprised by what’s happening right now.” I continued, “You know there are a lot of people who don’t believe the results of the election. They’re angry. And I guess they thought this would be a way to make sure their voices were heard.” 

When we got home, my kiddo jumped out of the car and rushed inside. He dropped his backpack on the floor and walked over to the TV where he asked if he could turn on the news. I’m sure, in that moment, I could have steered him away from it. But deep down, I knew this day would be marked in history. So we snuggled up on the couch and watched it together. 

Seeing it though the the eyes of a nine-year-old changed the way I saw it. 

We watched adults carrying wooden crosses and waving confederate flags. Adults yelling and screaming, pushing and shoving. Adults scaling the walls of the Capitol, breaking windows to enter and running through the halls, ransacking offices. 

My son looked at me, searching for my reaction as a guide for his own. 

We talked about what they say at his school, “Honor God. Honor others. Honor God’s property.” I asked him, “does it look like they’re doing that?” 

He gave me a fast, “nope.” 

The door opened to talk about other ways to express ourselves when we’re angry. The importance of being a good sport when we lose and the value of showing your opponent respect. But most importantly, not putting all our hope in leaders but rather in God. 

Time has passed since that day and conversations have continued. I have found the thing I repeat most is that we can only control ourselves and what we say and do. We might not understand what motivates other’s decisions or the things they do. We might not ever agree politically…even with people who are very important to us, like family and friends. But showing love should be at the very foundation of all we do (1 Corinthians 13). Understanding that He loves us when we don’t deserve it and that His love is extended to everyone in the world (Romans 5:8). Those things should make us all pause in our own self-righteousness. 

I do not say all of this because I think I’m better than. It is absolutely tempting to sit here, seething at the injustices of our time. And some days I certainly do. But ultimately, my experience of guiding my young son through this historic time for our country has forced me to practice what I preach and remember the challenge I often give him, “Is what I’m doing and saying making Jesus smile?” 

Romans 5:8 (The Message) – But God put his love on the line for us by offering his son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV) – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Part of the Family

One year ago today Ace became the fourth member of our family. He was a much anticipated addition for our then six year old son. As an only child, he had big dreams about time together with his new “brother”…playing fetch, taking walks around the block, and cuddling at night. A built-in buddy to level out the playing field in our family. 

Before our son was born we had two boxers, Chloe and Hannah. They were hilarious, loving dogs but so full of energy. Since we had a kiddo this time around, we decided to go with a different breed that would be easier to train…and calmer. My husband did some research and landed on a chocolate labrador. 

I think it’s fair to say that Ace has broken the mold when it comes to labs. What we got instead was a furry whirling dervish that is equally smart and rascally. 

When I was little, our family also had a lab…his name was Pepper Jake. There were times when my dad would call him Pepper Jerk. I get it now. 

I can not count how many times we have chased Ace around the house to retrieve a stolen toy, dishtowel or remote control. The three of us have gotten very good at cornering him and retrieving the prize. It’s like trying to catch a chicken! It’s also a little embarrassing how breathless this game leaves all of us. And while we recover, I imagine Ace sitting in the corner, rubbing his paws together with a smirk on his face and a scheming look in his eye. 

There’s no telling how many Legos and Nerf darts he has consumed in the last year. Oh, and socks…he swallows socks whole. And snails, grubs, and roaches. And dog beds…oh, the dog beds he has destroyed!

We have tried to stave off this need to chew with dog toys, but he has not met a single one that he can’t destroy in minutes…including the ones that tout “INDESTRUCTIBLE!” on the label. 

We have finally landed on cow knuckles and logs to entertain this crazy dog. He happily runs around the backyard with logs that are about 8” in diameter, throwing them in the air and gnawing off their bark. And the cow knuckles, well, they’re as gross as they sound. When chewing on them he goes into a carnivorous trance. 

Fortunately he has not chewed on any furniture or damaged any walls or woodwork in our house…knock on wood. 

And all this rascally behavior is just the tip of the iceberg for this dog. Luckily, he is also a sweet love bug…when he wants to be. 

In the morning, after a full night in his crate, he will calmly wait to lap up his water and food until he gets a good belly rub. He loves to be wherever our son, “his boy,” is playing and will bring his own bone over so he can play too. He’s also great at retrieving and will run after a ball as long as you’re willing to throw it. And he’ll lay on the floor with our son, covering him with kisses, while my son squeals, “this is the best day ever!”

Yes, Ace has been a great addition to our family! For now, though, I cling to the experience of others who tell me that he will move past this puppy stage…in about four years. Sigh…


Remember the Alamo!

On a whim, we went to San Antonio a couple weeks ago. While there, we made the obligatory trip to see the Alamo. My seven year old son who is an enthusiast of all things history and war-related, soaked in every inch of the old mission. And yes, he donned a coonskin hat just to top off the experience. 

But before our outing to the Alamo, we enjoyed a little Tex-Mex on the River Walk. On the front of the restaurant’s menu was a picture of a margarita with the tagline “Margaritas so strong you won’t remember the Alamo.” A rather uncouth play on the famous battle cry, “Remember the Alamo!”, that the Texan soldiers cried out during the Battle of San Jacinto to honor the fallen heroes at the Alamo. 

Crass or not, I decided to partake…aaannnddd they were right. 

Anyhoo, just in time for Texas Independence Day, my son proudly produced this artwork. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me chuckle (and cringe). 

I hope this does not come up during his Texas history class in school some day! 

Say “Cheese”

My family have always lived quite a distance from each other. From Georgia to California, Wisconsin to Texas…we have spanned the states for as long as I can remember. My grandmother was the anchor for the family. She lived with her oldest son, my dad, here in Texas for many years. Her daughter lived in the Atlanta area and her youngest son lived in Irvine, California.

She would jet off to see her other children several times throughout the year. She was always a proper lady. She prepared for her trips by giving herself a fresh permanent and would done her Sunday best for her travels. She carried matching avocado green luggage  and would insist on arriving hours before her flight. These were pre-cell phone days too…so there was no texting anyone that she arrived or had a delay. She simply relied on them to be there and to find her every time. Her last flight was one month before she passed away at the age of 89. She was a spunky lady. But more importantly, she always put her family first and made every effort to be there for them.

When she passed away in 2003, our link to the extended family disappeared. Her absence made it very clear how much she kept everyone connected. Over the years, though, we have all found our own ways of keeping up with each other. Thank goodness for social media!!!

Six years ago, one of my California cousins moved to Texas to go to college. Since she was only an hour and a half away, we found ourselves texting and spending time together. I have LOVED having her close! We have kept each other abreast of all the family gossip and happenings, talked endlessly about our similar professions, and shared stories about our grandma. It’s the kind of connection to my extended family that I always craved.

I was thrilled when her parents and younger sister decided to follow her to Texas, making it their home in 2017. I adore that my son knows them well and loves spending time with them. They dote on him like grandparents which is something I cherish. I do believe my grandma is smiling down on us every time we are together…she would be so happy that her children and grandchildren are connected.

So three weeks ago when my aunt and uncle from Georgia came to Texas for a visit, we all congregated in Waco for a reunion. We easily fell right back into conversation, laughing at stories about our crazy dogs, reminiscing about their childhood, and sharing the woes of health concerns that arise with aging. The day flew by and left me longing for more time together.


At the end of the day, we gathered together for the obligatory picture. We laughed at how my grandma never liked to have her picture taken and how that angst continued in my aunt. We chuckled at how time had changed everyone’s appearance. But in all the razzing, you could see that the bond between the siblings ran deep. They held onto their goodbyes that afternoon, stopping and starting several times on the way to the car, savoring every last minute together.

I am ever-hopeful that having the majority of my extended family now in Texas will lead to more time together. It’s just good for the soul.


“Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.”



Today is a monumental day for Young Ben because he’s taking his very first test! I was relieved it was a spelling test. If I was ever good at anything in school, it was spelling. I was hopeful the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

I felt reassured when I saw the list included all the color words…red, blue, green, orange…you get the idea. In theory, these words seemed like an easy start because they’re familiar. He quickly read the flash cards that I dutifully made. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I had a proud mama moment that included a brief daydream of him standing on the stage winning a spelling bee.

*Record scratch*

I then realized the words were written in their matching color <insert eye roll>.

Anyway, we devoted time to those words every day this week and I can say, with conviction, that he was about 50/50 on those words. Turns out that the color words are actually pretty hard to spell because you can’t sound them out.

Go ahead, give it a try…

Blue becomes bloo

Orange turned into orunj

Purple morphed into prpl

In the end, I had to get pretty creative to help him remember how to spell some of them. I’m not ashamed to say that I tapped into my boy-mom potty-humor to achieve this. How you ask…well, the words yellow and brown have more than just the “ow” in common…they are also the colors of pee and poop…which go together too. I really hope he shared that gem with his class!

“So there you go.” It was reminiscent of the father from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding trying to explain that all words are rooted in Greek. 

Like Mr. Portokalos, I was stretching it a bit. Whatever works!

I pick my kiddo up from school in an hour. There will definitely be a stop for ice cream on the way home…even if he totally bombed the test! I want him to know that he’s brave to face this next step in his school career and that even if he only spelled his name right on the test this time…he will eventually know how to spell his colors along with many other words. And if not…there’s always spell check. 

PS – in 4th grade our bonus word for our spelling test was 45 letters long. I got it right on the test and I can still spell it today…pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis… it’s a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust, common in mine workers. I always knew this word would come in handy at some point!