Wednesday, August 27, 2008

They Do Love Each Other, Don't They?!?

Look at them.  Hard to deny they're related, huh?  As their mom, I've always noticed more differences in them, but people sure notice their similarities!  They had the exact same birth weight - 9lbs 6 oz.  Bryson was 1/4 inch shorter than Camryn; he was 21 1/4 inches and she was 21 1/2.  

We were laughing tonight about a memory of our first visit to the pediatrician we have now.  It was summer 2007.  Both kids were due some shots because we had been through the ringer with doctors - we left one, then one left town, and Amarillo has quite the pedi shortage anyway!  So anyway, we both finished our check-up portion of the visit.  It was time for shots, and everyone knew it.  
Side note here: I always tell my kids what's going to happen at the doctor/dentist, etc.  I want to prepare them for the possibility of something unpleasant.  I want them to trust me and to have as positive experience as possible, so I don't pull any punches at the last minute.

So everyone knew what was about to happen.  The nurse asked me to take Bryson into the room next door, and Brion would stay with Camryn in this room.  As soon as Bryson got into the other room, he began to hide under the gurney.  I got him out, and we talked about what was going to happen - it would hurt, but then we'd be done, why we get the shots, why mommy knowingly lets someone hurt him - all the ordinary stuff.  I thought we were making progress.  At least he wasn't wailing his head off, and he was now sitting ON the gurney instead of UNDER it!  

Then the nurse walks in.  As I go to hold his legs down, he says, "Hi-ya!! COWABUNGA!"  as he proceeds to start kicking - yes kicking - his legs at the poor woman.  

What can you do at that moment?  As she half-heartedly assures me that she's had worse, I see that obligatory, disbelieving look in her eye.  "Yeah, right," I'm thinking to myself, "You've actually had a kid pull TMNT moves on you before!"

We got the dirty work done as quickly as possible.  I'm mending fences and wiping tears.  He's calming down surprisingly well.  Bless his heart.  We go back into the room where Camryn and Brion are waiting.  

Needless to say, she had heard the blood-curdling screams coming from the other room.  Her eyes were now as big as .50 pieces.  Up until then, she had reasoned that she could handle anything they were going to dish out.  After all, she hadn't even cried at the last flu shot appointment.  

In comes the nurse.  "We're good," I keep telling myself, trying to reclaim some shred of control I have on my kids in this situation.  Camryn complied with teary eyes, but she really was holding it together.   That's about when Bryson sees what's happening.  He then starts trying to fight his way out of my arms, screaming, "Don't do that to my sissy!!!! Get away - bad lady!"

I do love that they love each other enough to stick up for each other.  That's my kids - they're either totally best friends or wanting to kill each other.  

Fastforward to tonight in Arby's:  

Just a disclaimer: I knew full-well they were both way beyond tired because of going to bed late last night.  So why we didn't just go through the drive-thru is beyond me.  

Let's just recap enough to give you the crux of what happened:  I'm ordering, my kids are running around like those kids I give dirty looks to in restaurants, and Camryn comes up, interrupts me as I'm speaking to the Arby's worker and says, "Mom, I think Bryson just called me a (word that rhymes with witch.)"  Of course this isn't registering in my head as I'm trying to order my curly fries.  
"Camryn, don't interrupt me!" I say.  Okay, where was I?  Oh yeah - and make that a large diet...
(insert record scratch noise here!)
"WHAT?" By this time, she's on the other side of me, telling Brion the same thing, and loudly.  The Arby's worker's face is somewhere between 'I feel sorry for you' and 'hurry up, lady' and 'okay, this is gettin' good.'  Brion is finishing ordering.  My mind is still going in slow-motion over Camryn's voice saying that word.  All the sudden, from a table on the other side of the room, I hear Bryson crying and loudly saying, 
"Camryn, you're lying.  I didn't call you a (word that rhymes with witch again!)  Yes, we're getting those looks from everybody in the restaurant by now!  I get over to the table, and Bryson is hysterical. But for some reason, I couldn't calm him down enough to get him to realize that the more he screamed, "I DIDN'T call her a (b/witch)!" the more he was actually saying the word.  
Well folks, rest easy, that wasn't the word of the day in Kindergarten today.  Turns out, it was a total misunderstanding!  Bryson has some issues right now with justice not being served, and his heart is really tender.  He was absolutely distraught that Camryn was saying he said something he hadn't said.  

So next time you're in a fast food restaurant on a week night, and you see some school-aged, tired-eyed, sailor-mouthed children running ragged, just remember, they really might have a mom who doesn't even allow the words butt, stupid, and fart.  They might just be having a really bad night!

Kraft Macaroni -n- Joes!!

More funnies from Bryson.  He wants us to go on a date - me and him.  He said that Camryn and Brion could go on a date, too.  He wants to take me to Macaroni -n- Joes.  This conversation began one night when he was craving some Mac - n - Cheese.  I am going to take him to Macaroni Joes (if you don't live in Ama, it's a fun restaurant, more on the adult side.  I'm almost positive that they don't have any Kraft boxes in their trash can!  I hope he isn't disappointed).

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Since I'm trying to use this to remember cute things, and now Brion and Camryn are always reminding me that " need to put that on your blog," I wanted to put some cute Brysonisms in here.

My best friend, Jennifer was here from Dallas a few weeks ago. Her nephews were also in town, and the kids were playing hide-n-go seek at Jen's mom's house while we visited. I just happened to look out the door to see Bryson skid on his knees across the patio. He gave me one of those looks like, "I'd sure cry right now if it was just me and you, Mom!" But of course, with the bigger boys and Cam there playing, he told them that he didn't need Mom! They came in for some band-aids, and when Jen and I went to check it it was quite a little boo-boo. A few days later, of course both knees were really sore, and his knee caps were red. The scabs began to get that white look, and he was afraid that was pus. (He knows all of those gross, but descriptive scientific words from JoDee!!) This led to a discussion of blood and red blood cells and white blood cells, and what they do in our bodies. He got most of it, and I loved it when we were up at the school last week and he's saying to the bigger boys, trying to impress them, "Hey Ben and Josh, want to see my white blood scales?"
Yes, folks, you're seeing my 5year-old in an Ozzy t-shirt! Guess who is responsible for this photo!?!? Someone gave Brion this t-shirt, and of course, we had to put the o-z-z-y on the knuckles and take some photos! I won't tell you what the back of the shirt says, but needless to say, Brion got a picture of that, too!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Happy Birthday to Brion

Because it is my husband's 34th birthday today, I just wanted to say a few things I like about him. I think we are blessed to have Brion. He lets me be imperfect. He dances with our kids to rock-n-roll. He appreciates art - all kinds of art, and he'll go with me to artsy-kind of things. He's dependable. He has a good work ethic...too good at times! He gets more handsome as he gets older. He lets me be a baby sometimes. He's not a picky eater. I often hear, "This is the best meal you've ever cooked!" He has always taken the kids to cool places - they don't care where they go, as long as he's going! He's an awesome artist. He's an awesome builder. Even after he's asleep and I want to talk or I start laughing in bed for no reason, he doesn't get mad. He has a heart for the downtrodden. He gives cheerfully. Even though he has a lot of stuff, he'd give it to anyone in need. He encouraged me through school and sacrificed his time to help me do it. He let me stay home with the kids and we COULD NOT afford it!! He moved back to Amarillo because he thought I wanted to, and he LOVES Austin! He appreciates the little things I do for him and the kids. He likes me! He's gotten in the bath with the kids with all of his clothes on before! He looks at our kids a lot of times with a look that says what I'm feeling for them in my heart. He doesn't want a lot. He's let God heal him a lot. HE IRONS!!!! When I'm behind, he doesn't usually act like I've failed! He tolerates many animals simply because he loves me! He tries to be a better man because of us. He sticks with me when I AM a baby! He trusts my intuition and my discernment. We have an understanding of how to deal with and laugh about things that are outside of US! We grew up together! He was the best 'post baby' daddy there is - changed every diaper, didn't gross out, and got me anything I wanted to drink! He is his own person, and he's not overly concerned with what others think about that. He doesn't hold me to any standard that he thinks is what I should be like - He really likes me just the way I am!

There's a lot more, but I'm going to go spend some time with the Birthday Boy!!!

Kindergarten (and 3rd Grade) Here We Come...

Well, Bryson and Camryn started school this past Monday. I can't believe that my kids are officially 'school-aged!' I'm so weird - on Camryn's first day of Kindergarten, I didn't cry. At our school, each class walks out and down the brick wall together each day to wait for moms and dads. On the last day of Kindergarten, after watching those 14 bodies grow all year, seeing them begin to read and form friendships that might last for years, on that day when I saw them walk out like they had done so many times before, I bawled like a baby! I couldn't believe that they were big enough to soon be in 1st grade!

I have recently thought back to Brion and me, sitting on our bed in Bastrop, Texas, holding a tiny, tiny baby girl and planning our future. We were laughing and talking about far, far in the future when Camryn would start school! How did that day (that previously seemed like light years in the future) come? How is she not even one of the 'little kids' at school anymore?

When I became pregnant with Bryson, I quickly remembered some things that I had somehow forgotten from Camryn's pregnancy! Bryson starting Kindergarten brought back something similar. Although I remembered not crying on Cam's first day, I didn't remember how it would hit me at random times that she was starting school. Last Friday, after visiting Bryson's classroom and meeting his God-sent teacher and having lunch and playing with our dear friends, the Ramsey's, we were helping JoDee in her classroom. Bryson came up and hugged me like he does often, and I just lost it! At that moment, I remembered doing the same thing with Camryn! It's funny the things we remember so adamantly and the things we file somewhere back in our memory!

Bryson is doing great at school. That is, when he gets there. This year, our school started full day Kindergarten which actually works out great for us, but for the first 2 weeks, they are releasing the Kindergarten students at 12pm. Even though his days are shorter than his preschool days were right now, he already thinks he needs a break! When Bryson was in preschool, I helped him keep track of days by telling him that he would go to school for 3 days and then he would have 4 days off. Now, of course, we have 5 days at school and 2 days off. The first night, he asked if he had a day off yet. The next morning, he said that his 'spine and chicken bone' hurt (that's a shoulder blade if you don't live in our house:)) and this morning, he thought that we needed a 'family stay home day' because it was Brion's birthday! He's pretty creative, you gotta give him that! And again, I'm remembering Camryn having the same problem coming to terms with the fact that after starting school, our carefree days are gone forever. After that first day of school, we all really become subject to someone else's timeclock!

Camryn is enjoying being back. She loves seeing her friends again, and I think she loves Bryson being there, too. She is definitely glad that our school has eased up on the uniform policy this year! She has me roll her hair almost every night!

It's so fun to watch her develop into a thoughtful, drama-loving, mature, picky, mini-me! I love the innocence she still enjoys. I love the signs that growing up is on the horizon. I truly like this girl!

I thank God for their school and their teachers and a staff that loves them. I thank God that Brion and I share the same heart for these kids. I thank God for what He's put into each of them - it is such a joy to watch them come into their own. I thank God that Camryn is across the hall from JoDee, who she considers a 2nd mother! They are stinkers, and I am blessed! They are exhausted tonight as they wind down their first week of a new school year. Truly, these are the days!!!

Dad's Visit

My dad visited in July. He has lived in Las Vegas since 1997, so we don't get to see him very much. My dad and I have always been really close. Something that has happened lately with both of my parents is that I now view them as more than my parents. Gosh, it only took 34 years for me to see that they are more than mom and dad. They are a lot more than mom and dad, actually. Something else that I'm noticing or sensing is close is the time when I'm more the adult, and our roles begin to switch. That is bittersweet for me. Although there are definite things that separate me from both my dad and my mom, I love them dearly. One thing that I have always felt is that they love me so, so much. It's hard when decisions are made and consequences are lived out sometimes. But now that I see them as more than immortal mom and dad, and now that I see that life isn't so easy sometimes as an adult, I realize that they are truly just people. Great, flawed, loving, nutty, interesting, confused, intellegent people - just like we all are. More than anything lately, I've just needed them to know that I love them - despite all their screw ups and absolutely because of all of their screw ups!!! They are so much more than that. Thank our God that we are all so much more than our worse days, huh? I love who they are, and I'm sorry for them for things that were hard on them. I love them and appreciate who each of them is!! Thanks for always loving me and all of my screw ups, you guys!!! And you most definitely have (and there have been a lot of screw ups, believe me!)

You should see my dad with the kids. He only sees them about 2 times per year, but you wouldn't know that to see them together. I love that. I want them to know him like I knew him as a kid. And he really wasn't the perfect dad, but he is close in my eyes simply because I felt so loved - even through the bad times. He made me feel special. See, people, we don't have to be perfect parents. We just have to make sure that our kids FEEL loved! My friend, Jonna, (who has PhD in Psychology, btw) just wrote an interesting article about this very thing. She wrote about moms feeling like we have to be perfect in every area and how absolutley impossible that is!! Yet we continue to compare ourselves and believe Satan's lies because we aren't as good as our friends in other areas of parenting, etc. As long as our kids FEEL loved, everything else is so small. But they have to FEEL love. I know people who have loved me before, and I'm 99% sure that they did/ do. But I don't FEEL that love. There's some disconnect.

So, how do we make them feel loved? And how do we capitalize and be the best mom that we can be?

First of all, know your kids. Know what makes them feel loved. Moms know what makes their kids tick. Don't get so busy that you don't do the little things that mean a lot to them. Again, that doesn't mean that you have to do everything, or even anything extra. Just use your time and other precious mommy resources wisely. For example, I can tell that Camryn really feels loved when I'm loving on her and tickling her. That doesn't take any more time when I'm reading them a book at night; I just make sure to make physical contact with her as I tell her goodnight. I think Bryson is more of an 'acts of service' kind of guy. When he's really worn out, he really appreciates me helping him with simple things like getting ready for bed or making his bed extra cozy.

Secondly, know yourself. Know what you're really good at and pick a few ways to capitalize on that. For example, I'm not so much of an organized mom as I am a fun mom. I'll sleep out on the trampoline with the kids. I'll run around looking like a fool at Jump n' Jive. It's harder for me to make sure that the laundry is clean and put away for them or that their backpacks and papers are all ready to go in the morning. It doesn't mean that I can just let all of that stuff slide (Iwish!!) It just means that I have to find ways that work for my family, but that I remind myself that it's okay that I'm not Mrs. Cleaver on most days (or...well...ever!)

Now, disclaimer: I know that I'm not mother of the year. And I know that there are plenty of times I have/will make the absolute wrong decisions regarding parenting, etc. But I think my biggest hope is that when my kids look back on their childhood, they'll remember a mother who kept her eyes focused above often enough to show it through her priorities, her time, her patience, her laughter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Isn't it Nostalgic???

Okay, to start off, this blog will be a lot like my personality: pretty much all or nothing! I hate that I'm like that, but it is the way God made me. I've stopped trying to fight it; instead, I'm trying to make my personality and tendencies work for me and my family. But how this relates to the'll probably see a pattern that goes something like this: no entries, 3 entries in 1 day, no entries, 2 entries in a few days. Oh well, so I may be not updating in the exact present, but I'm going to do the best I can!

Last week was awesome - I got to be a counselor at El Porvenir, the camp our church has used for years and years. I actually went there as a kid, and the last time I went there was 1996 for a young adult retreat.

What made this trip special was it was what we call 'First Chance Camp' or 3rd Grade camp. Camryn's first time at camp!! It was so fun to experience the place with her and to see the old dining hall and old cabins we used to stay in as kids. We went on a hike to Bear's Cave - the short hike at El Porvenir. The kids did great! I was so proud of Camryn. When we started out, I told her, jokingly, that I didn't want to hear any griping! But I really enjoyed hiking with her - she was awesome! I really just enjoyed her, period. She obviously appreciated me being there, and she told me while we were waiting for the next activity, "Mom, I don't want you to ever change. I don't mean how you look, I mean how you act and how fun you are." I thought that was way cool, and it was a definite reminder of what is really important to me in my life!

The theme for the camp was TRANSFORMERS: Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind - Romans 12: 2. What a good reminder for all of us. It seems like more times than not, I am faced with a decision of whether I'm going to conform to the world or transform into what God would have me do. Since December of 2007 I have definitely seen a pattern of things happen in our lives where I have been called to stand up for what was right - not always the easiest thing to do! I have lost a lot of sleep, a few friends, and sadly, I got a bit transfixed, at times, on my circumstances instead of focusing my eyes on things above. Isn't it crazy how we tend to do that? Great mistakes are made when we choose to idolize our circumstance (selfish priorities) instead of keeping our focus. Isn't it crazy that we can know full well a cure for an ailment, but we choose to waller in the mud instead? One thing I want to ask God when I get Home is, "Why is it that very often, human nature was in direct paradox compared to what we should do?" His answer would probably have something to do with the fact that as we learn to use self-control and not indulge our fleshly desires and selfish pursuits, we become more of what He needs us to be. Gosh, I hate it when I can easily rationalize why life isn't all down hill! Just imagine if it was - would we ever take the harder, unsure road? Would we always expect things to come easily? Would we ever need God to pull us up a steep slope? I think I know myself well enough to know what I'd do - I'd waller in the ease of life! And worse, I'd probably think that my good fortune was a direct result of something I did - I'm just lucky or really good! So there is your little lesson about why we must all go through hard times with hard decisions, mostly uphill, just in case you were wondering!

I'll post some pictures of El Porvenir soon - we had to take a disposable camera, so I will have to scan them.

Thank you, Camryn, for being an awesome girl who doesn't CONFORM to this world very often. I see in you such a sweet spirit! And I, too, hope you never change!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Perfect Combination

My little boy...there is not a more feisty, yet thoughtful little 5 year old boy! Just when you think he's the most rambunctious, snips and snails little creation you could imagine, you get to see this side of him: caring, hilarious, gentle, thoughtful, intelligent. I remember his teachers at school his 4 year old year telling me a story about Bryson that really represents that side of him. He was 4, and there was a special needs boy in his class for the summer. This boy was older than the other kids, but he was put in Bryson's class. His teachers described the boy as sweet, but quite a handful. They said that most of the kids in the class were scared of him and left him out. They told me that, without being asked to, Bryson took the initiative to befriend this boy. They all picked a friend to hold hands with when they were in line. Bryson began to pick Nathan. They told me that what struck them was that Bryson didn't hesitate while the other children seemed scared. They told me that story on the last day in their classroom - it really made me appreciate this little guy and the person he was becoming. Now, on the flip-side, you've got to understand that these very same teachers would tell you, also, that Bryson could most definitely be a tooter! He and another boy in that class really fed off of each other. Many a time did I pick Bryson up and see that 'I have something to tell you' look on his face. Before the teacher could even tell me what had happened, he was telling me, and we were talking about his poor choice and what he could do better next time. I've always had him apologize to his teacher right there, and of course, there were those darn consequences - grounding from a video game for the day or from the tv.

I learned early last year that Bryson and Camryn are different creatures! With Camryn, I always found myself asking this question after picking her up from school: "Was everyone a good friend to you today?" She was laid-back and a pleaser. She tended to give other kids their way just to keep from rocking the boat, and I tried to gently encourage her that she was precious, too, and deserved to be treated well by her friends. Foolishly, I just assumed the same to be true of Bryson, and I would ask him that question. In the spring of 2007, I was teaching at WTAMU, and I had some friends watch Bryson on Friday mornings and take him to gymnastics with them. On a watch day at gymnastics, I found out that I had misread my darling son. Instead of asking him how others had treated him that day, I realized that I needed to work on reminding Bryson, beforehand, ways to keep his self-control and behave! Although all of Bryson's misbehaving is typical little boy stuff - talking when the teacher is talking, being crazy with a friend, we always reiterate to him that he must behave and respect his teachers. So, I ended up conceding to his teacher this year that I pretty much expected him to be a rowdy boy, but that I demanded that once he was corrected, he mind and straighten up. And we always let him and his teachers know that we would stand behind punishments if he didn't. I am a total advocate for my children. However, I have seen too many parents blindly advocate for their children to a detriment to the kids.

I am proud of my boy - boyish, rowdy, crazy, amazing, truthful, caring, intuitive. In all of his antics at school, I am the most proud of this: Bryson has never hurt one person. Bryson has never told a lie. Bryson never got on 'red' (color behavior chart of green - good, yellow - warning, red - big trouble). I can't wait to see the man he becomes! If he can keep up this kind of integrity and fun all mixed up together, I know he will be amazing!

After enjoying a day at the spa recently that my sweet mother-in-law won and gave to me, I had recounted to my family all of the treatments: full massage on a heated bed under furry covers, lunch with wine, pedicure, manicure, facial - oh, it was lovely!! Well, Bryson got the idea that he would give me the treatment 'because you're such a good Mommy.' He tells me that when Camryn and I get back from camp next week, he's going to give me a 'pan-ee-cure' and put me on a heating pad and fix my face with 'rack-a-mole' and cucumbers on my eyes! I LOVE THIS BOY!!! I pray for his wife already, and I know that he'll make an awesome husband for her!!

My friend, Tracy, sent me an email today that was so cute. Her daughter, Emma and Bryson are the same age. The Stewarts moved to Houston 2 years ago, and the kids haven't seen each other since, but spent tons of time together practically from birth until they moved (yes, we're still a little angry at them!!:)) After another little boy was telling Emma that she was his girlfriend and that they would get married, Emma said, "I can't be your girlfriend, and I already know who I'm going to marry - it's Bryson!!" Tracy and I both agree that would be okay with us!!And because he is so smart (I'm allowed to brag on my own blog, right?) and he was truly saying colors of the balloons on the ceiling of Wal-Mart at the ripe ol' age of 21 months, I do let him say these words any old way he wants to. I know that all too soon, he'll realize his mistake and correct it. I'll enjoy it while it lasts!'s a Gift

Okay one discovery I've been wanting to acknowledge is this: during our VBS a couple of weeks ago, I learned something. Don't you love that? I always learn something when I'm the teacher! Our VBS focused on the fact that God loves us and has a plan for each and every one of us. I'm passionate about teaching kids that. I think it's our job to take what God has given each child and bring it out in a way glorifying to Him. God doesn't make accidents, and He made each of us exactly the way He needed us to fulfill some purpose for the Kingdom. Anyhow, one day, we were learning about our own unique gifts and talents from God, and I finally put a name to a gift that I've known I've had for a long time: I have the gift of discernment!

It makes so much sense to me - I don't know why it took me so long to actually identify it. Like I said, I 've always sensed that ability. What sense does it make that we, as Christians, don't use all that we have at our fingertips? My husband always tells me to use the right tool for the job. I think I've used my gift, but not to it's available capacity. Now that I'm acknowledging it and praising God for it, I'm excited to see how I can use it. What about you? What kinds of gifts and talents has God given you? Are you using them to please Him?

What to say...

Writer's block already?? There is a certain pressure when you're writing things that everyone will see. You worry if your spelling and grammar are correct, you worry if your writing is boring, you worry if anyone will ever read what you have written!

I'll share a secret with you - I will soon have a Master's Degree in English (done with all course work, just completing my thesis). I have written my fair share - I love to write, almost to a fault. As I begin my blog, I'm still having writer's block! Maybe my expertise/ experience is what's blocking me?? Maybe I've put some subconscious expectations on myself !?!

I guess I need to go back to the basics and remember two things I've told my students over and over - 1) If you want to be a better writer/ reader, you need to write and read more! 2) Recognize your audience and decide your purpose for writing. Sounds like good advice, huh? We'll see if I can take it. Number 1 shouldn't be hard - I'm not in the habit of reading many blogs, but one of my favorite genres happens to be Life Writing, so that shouldn't be hard. Number 2, I'm good with because my purpose of writing is to document the happenings in our lives. I've never regretted even the smallest, seemingly insignificant detail I've captured about my kids. It's always fun to visit those memories. And let's face it, no matter how good our memories are, time has a way of dulling reality. So when you write things down, it helps preserve those memories. And that, exactly, is my purpose for writing!