Lessons in Trusting From an Eleven Year Old

Cooter was sick with his standard Sunday evening 12 hour stomach thing two weeks ago.  I don’t call it a proper bug, because there’s never any rhyme or reason to it.  He doesn’t run fever or have any other symptoms.  Just every so often–occasionally–he will have stomach trouble to the point of vomiting a few times.  Most always on a Sunday evening.  We will stay up late watching his go to “sick” movie (the original Batman), and then once he’s able to, he will make the call on whether he will go to bed or sleep on the couch, and whether or not he prefers me to be close by for the rest of the night.

This last time, I was anxious that he feel better quickly.  If it ran typically, he’d be fine before morning, and we really needed for him to be.  He has drama on Mondays, and he really, really doesn’t need to miss any rehearsals if he can at all help it.  I’m old school, so if I had any doubts about him being well, he wouldn’t be going.  That night I kept asking him if he felt okay.  He did but then a second wave hit.  I decided to try an oil I have that is suppose to help with stomach upset, so I applied it topically.

Things had settled a little, and then he told me that he thought he’d be okay if he didn’t have to keep smelling that smell–that it was really bothering his stomach.  Interesting.  Well, nothing for it but to try to gently wash it off.

He said that helped.

The next morning–as per usual–he woke up asking for his oyster crackers.  And then real food.  He was hungry.  And he kept it down.  And he ate more and was his old self.  Just like all the other times.

Wow.  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly his body turns around from whatever THAT was.

I was talking with him that night after drama.  He was glad to feel better and more than happy that I agreed we wouldn’t use the oil for him again.  He said that trying to stop the throwing up was not working.  “See, Mama,” he said in that voice he uses when he is imparting the greatest of wisdom to his old Mama, “I just have to trust the process.  If I’m sick and throwing up, that means I need to do that.  Get the bad stuff out.  Mama.  Trust the process.”  

A lot of the time I can see Mama in my middle child, our Princess.  But in that moment, I could see and hear Mama in my little guy’s words and expression.  He knows how much I worry when he’s sick, but he’s fine because he “trusts the process.”  And in telling me to do it, well, that’s just like my Mama.  Trying to calm me and bring me peace in the midst of chaos.

Trust the process.

That’s so hard to do sometimes, isn’t it?  Because it requires letting go.  Letting go of trying to “fix” things or cure them or even just guiding how it goes.  Being a “scriptwriter” for my own life from way back, this is really hard.

But I look at that peace on my little guy’s face and he’s just taking it in stride.  I’m sick, okay, let me do what I have to do to get better.  

Trust the process.

Trust it in the midst of a new friendship.  Trust the other person.  Give them a chance.  Trust in the middle of planning a huge project. Trust that it will all come together.  Trust in the making of a long journey.  Trust that we will get there, or wherever we get, it will be okay.

It sort of goes hand in hand with what Mama often said, “Do your very best.  Be your best self.”

Because if you do those things, then trust the process, there is a peace in that that calls out to my soul.  I want that.  I need it.

It’s a Sunday again, and today Cooter was out with his best buddies building a fort with sticks and branches trimmed from the trees around their house.  It took them a while, but they built a magnificent fort, and then they proceeded to spend the afternoon on into the evening in it, telling stories, imagining adventures, and making the best of memories.  They took it one step at a time, did what came next, gave it their best efforts, and wound up with a great place to play.

If they’d worried about what kind of fort, or tried to count all the sticks and branches ahead of time, or worried about how it could be torn down before they were finished or how there could be critters living on the sticks or how someone might spill a Gatorade inside the fort (true story) and how that might delay their fun…..well, it could have been a long afternoon and made for some grumpy little guys.

Instead.  They formed an idea, did their best, and trusted the process.  In the end, their lives were all the better for it.

Okay, I know, it’s just a fort.  One that will most likely be fire pit fuel in the next few weeks.

But it’s a beautiful example of trusting the process.  And not nearly so…..ummm, disgusting….as the stomach trouble story.

This week I’m going to follow Cooter’s example and try trusting the process.  In my days, in my conversations, in my relationships.  I’m going to try giving it my best and then letting go.  I’m hoping I’ll have as big a smile as these guys did this afternoon, hanging out in the midst of broken branches and limbs that their trust and hard work turned into a pretty cool place to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Or a lifetime.

Love to all.


One corner of this afternoon’s magnificent fort.

Growing Hope

These are confusing times we are living in.  Things that are unprecedented going on all over while other things that are frighteningly precedented take place close to home and across the world.  Some days, I just want to sit with my book and dog and read and escape with the sounds of the littles playing in the background.

It’s hard to know what is right and wrong, you know?  Hard to know how to make things better…..how to wrong the rights…..how to help the hurting.  And it feels so overwhelming, wondering how the little things I do in my day to dailies could possibly make a difference.

Is it any wonder we are all so tired?

Yesterday for the second time in three months, I found myself sitting next to an elderly woman in her 80’s expressing her thoughts on the world, our country, the situations on her mind.  Different women, different circumstances, but both times I sat trying to find balance in the situation.  Would my firmly stating how much I disagree with her change the world for the better?  Should I speak loudly and strongly what I believe is right and wrong?  Would I make things better by trying to explain how she wasn’t seeing things in what I believed to be the right light, or would I only alienate her and make things worse?

I couldn’t be sure.

Both times, I said something like, “Well, it is hard.”

“People are hurting.”

“I am not sure that everyone sees it that way.”

“It’s hard to know what the right thing is, isn’t it?”

Because it is.  None of what I said was an untruth, but I didn’t come out and say, “I BELIEVE YOU ARE WRONG.”

I just couldn’t.  And both times, I left feeling bad–wondering if I’d let down those who are hurting.

The difference yesterday though was that my littles, Cooter who is now 10 1/2 and our Princess who is almost 13, were there and listening.


As we left and got in our vehicle, I answered questions that Cooter had about what had transpired.  He wanted to know all kinds of things, like what the woman had been referring to and why she believed what she did.  One part I could answer, the other I could only guess.  And I told him that.  Then we talked about how we all see things differently.

And then we moved on to other important subjects–like what was for lunch.  Cooter is very meal-focused these days.  Must be that whole growing boy thing.

Then this morning, Cooter brought his Grammar/Literature book to me.  Some days there are readings that he is asked to read aloud to me.  This morning he came with an urgent need to read it to me NOW.

“Mama,” he said.  “You have to hear this.  It made me think about that lady yesterday.”

And then he read from his text–

Japanese Culture: Part 2

by Jennifer D. Lerud

Family, honor, good manners, and outside appearances are very important to the Japanese people.  They have two forms of behavior: omote, which is the public, formal, and conventional behavior that governs how close they stand to each other and who shakes hands first, for example; and ura, which is their private, informal, “relaxing at home” form of behavior.  They believe it is proper to agree with anyone older than themselves–even if the person is wrong–in order to avoid humiliating or bringing dishonor on an elder person.  The Japanese people display people’s ages in newsletters at work, and school and work desks according to age, and even hand out cups of tea in order of age.  Social ranking and status are important things…..

(from The Good and the Beautiful, Level 4–Book 2 Course Book, p. 11)

“See, Mama? That’s what you did yesterday.”

Bless him.

I’m not writing this to debate about whether I should have stood up yesterday or three months ago and called these women out.  It didn’t happen, and I don’t know if it will happen tomorrow or next week or next year, should such a situation arise again, as it likely will.  I’m writing this because I’m trying to wrap my brain around a child who was paying attention, and a timely lesson that spoke to him, and the fact that he saw the connection and shared it with me.

Most days it’s all little things that are dots that I don’t connect into a big picture until much later–if ever.  It’s reminding Cooter umpteen times to rinse out his oatmeal bowl before it becomes glue in the bowl or listening to our Princess practicing “The Carol of the Bells” for her piano recital.  It’s making sure that swim suits and dance leotards are clean and dry, and that scripts and epi-pens are in hand as we head out the door.  It’s grocery shopping and meal planning and reminding little people to empty the dishwasher.  It’s talking on the phone with our law student and trying not to miss her too much, knowing she’s where she’s supposed to be.  Sometimes it’s even making time to read my new favorite book or watch the newest Hallmark movie.

And most of the time, these little things don’t connect…..

But today, they did.  Today I’m thankful for a perfectly timed (I’m looking at You) Literature passage that gave me grace…..for that same passage that spoke to a little fella and helped him understand the ways of the world a little more.

Mostly I’m thankful for this process of “raising children”–that label is so limiting and not at all what we are doing together, y’all.  Together, all of us, we are growing hope.  As these little people watch and listen and read and begin to understand and teach us through their eyes and with their hearts–we are raising the ones who will carry our stories, our love, our light, and pass it along to the next generation.

And today, that is everything to me.

Love to all.




Milk Messes and Morning WakeUp Calls

Something I’ve come to enjoy each day I owe to homeschooling.  No, it’s not the audiobooks that we’ve been listening to together lately.  (Though they are quite wonderful–who knew that at my age I’d still love being “read” to?)  And it’s not that I don’t have to go running out for posterboard or glitter or sticks for the glue gun at the last minute because something IS DUE TOMORROW.  (Been there, done that.)  Though there is a long list of things I enjoy about homeschooling, this is the one about how I start my day.

I am usually already awake when I hear footsteps coming in my room. The next thing I know there’s fifty-some odd pounds of grins and joy bounding on my bed.


First thing, he comes and sits on the bed with me.  Sometimes he tells me about his favorite football teams.  Again.  Or he shares the best plays of his favorite players.  Again. Sometimes he shares about the book he’s been reading or something funny his friend said. But a few days ago, it was none of that.

“Mama.  Mama,”  he paused, waiting for me to make eye contact.  His voice was quite serious as was his gaze.  “Mama, I need for you to come fix me breakfast.”

Well, this was new.  Or maybe not so much new as a change.  He used to ask me to do that, but in the past few months, he’s found his way to getting a bowl and the cereal and the milk and fixing his own breakfast.  So, like I said, new.  But not.

I knew he had to be hungry because he hadn’t eaten much the night before.

“Okay, buddy.  But what’s up?  You don’t feel like fixing it yourself this morning?”

“No.  It’s not that.” He held his hands out for emphasis.  “The milk jug. Is. FULL.”

I looked at him.

“It’s a new jug.” And what he said next nearly floored me.  I mean, you know, if I hadn’t been already lying in the bed.  “I don’t want to make a mess.”

Wait.  Really?  He didn’t want to make a mess?

Now that really was new.

He’s nine.  And a half tacked on for good measure now.  Nine and a half, and he’s finally reached the phase where he thought it through before doing it.


That is pretty exciting to me.  And maybe just a little sad–that whole growing up thing, but since I didn’t have to clean up half a jug of milk from the counter, cabinets, and floor, I’m getting over that sad bit fairly quickly.

It occurred to me later in the day, as I was once again marveling at this new development and how proud I was of him asking or help, that this world would be a different place if folks thought things through and asked for help if it seemed like they couldn’t handle it themselves.  A really different place.

But that whole asking for help is so hard, isn’t it?

This evening as I thought back over that morning’s conversation and the day’s revelation, Cooter was talking about something he was hoping to do.  “I think that will help me a lot because you learn about diffusing bombs.”  That caught my attention.  “I think that could be quite helpful, because I think I might want to do that one day.  Diffuse bombs.  Like on a bomb squad.”

Oh me.  So maybe he hasn’t learned to think through the consequences in every situation.

Oh well.  There’s time.  And until then…..

he still has his Mama.

Who relishes those morning wakeup calls.

Love to all.



“…..with every Christmas card I write…..”

On our way home this evening, the song “White Christmas” came on the radio.  Aub and Cooter were in the car with me, as I was humming along without really thinking about the song.  The song continued, and the lyrics played:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
with every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry…..”

and then I heard Cooter hollering at the top of his lungs from the very back seat–

“WHAT?” Palm to forehead.  “What?  I’m supposed to write Christmas cards too?”


Poor little guy.

Poor all of us.

How many folks have asked you, “Are you ready for Christmas?”  “Do you have it all done?”  “Have you planned your menu for the day?”

How many times have you asked those questions in an effort to make conversation?


All the pressure.  All the expectations.  We create list after list.  Shopping lists.  Gifts we’re giving lists.  Parties and dinners we are invited to.  Parties and dinners we want to throw.  A baking list.  A grocery list.  A list of errands.  And yes, Cooter, even a Christmas card list.

One of my sweet friends was all but apologizing to me today that her Christmas card wasn’t going out until after Christmas.  There was just too much to do and not enough time.

Bless.  Her.  Sweet.  Soul.

I remember the year I didn’t send out cards until Valentine’s.  It worked.  It was kind of fun.  And I’m guessing our card didn’t get lost in a stack with everyone else’s Valentine’s Day cards.  Just a thought.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves–scratch that.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to create the perfect Christmas full of all the perfect little moments in a clean, tidy home with lots of festive decorations and ornamentation and all of the joy and fun and laughter and contented sighs.


I’m betting I’m not the only one.

We have one week left, y’all.  To take it back.  To take a moment to rest and cuddle and read a Christmas story together piled up on the couch or chair or bed underneath the colorful afghans that bring me such joy with the people that make my soul glad.  Savoring the moment without worrying over the perpetual clutter or unwrapped gifts and all the other things we carry on our shoulders.  To simply be in the precious moment of NOW.

We have one week left to change our question from “Are you ready?” to “How are you?” or “Where are you finding peace and Light today?”  or “Where AM I going to find peace and Light today?”

We have one week left to change it. Even if we only take five minutes a day to step away from all the expectations and Hallmark commercials (doggone them for making me cry and wanting to create all the moments myself) and hustle and bustle and lists and pressure, and we just sit down and breathe.  And laugh.  Or listen.  Or sit next to the people we love or the people we’ve just met and BE.  That’s the goal.  If we can even take five minutes a day to welcome into our hearts the presence of Peace, we’ve come a long way from all of the things weighing on us, all of the lists we carry around, and we’re one step closer to that quiet night of reflection and Love beneath a bright star listening to the quiet, steady breaths of the little one newly come to us.

Go ahead.  Add THAT to your list.  You deserve it.  And *takes a deep breath* so do I.

Love to all.


By Jon Curnow from London, United Kingdom (Christmas To Do List) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


Welcomed Home

This afternoon, as I was running short on time and ideas of what to start for our supper as we would be later coming in tonight, I was gifted by the pantry fairies and found beans and tomatoes enough for a pot of chili.

The clean dishes fairy was looking after me too, and the crockpot was all ready to go.

The weather fairies even cooperated, and the weather was chili appropriate tonight.

So it was, we had chili for supper.  Everyone seemed to be happy about that.

Well, except for Cooter.

He’s pretty much a fan of the beige food group and little else.  Pizza, chicken, macaroni and cheese, rice, applesauce…..little outside that group suits him.

When someone brought up that maybe he shouldn’t be so picky, he stated quite emphatically, “I’m not a picky eater.  I am just not as adventurous an eater as most.”

Sigh.  The struggle is real.

Tonight I’m thankful for a pot of chili all ready and waiting on a cool night with the stars hanging bright in the dark sky. I am grateful for the enticing aroma that welcomed us home, and I am most thankful that all of my people were here at home to enjoy it.  Well, okay, that they were all home.

May you all have something wonderful welcoming you home on a cold winter evening.

Love to all.


What was left after we all (well, except for Cooter) had some chili tonight.  Just enough for a bowl or two tomorrow.  Leftovers–my favorite!

Our Feathered Friends–A Field Trip Story

Today we took a field trip down to Go Fish for a class.  Cooter and our Princess enjoy these classes, as do I.  They do a really good job of combining learning and fun in the classroom there, and the facility itself with the amazing aquarium and fully stocked pond for fishing is one of our area’s best kept secrets.  So many opportunities for education and adventure all in one place.

The class this morning was about Our Feathered Friends.  One of the teachers asked the children about characteristics of birds that most or all have in common.  Wings, hollow bones (except for the common loon, I learned something today), and beaks were a few of the things mentioned.

Then Cooter raised his hand, and she called on him.  I was sitting in the same room but not close enough to have assessed what his response was going to be in advance.  His answer to the question about what characteristics most or all birds have was:  “They’re good cookin’.”

She and the other educator looked at each other, confused.  “They’re good cooks? Birds can cook?”

Not daunted by the misunderstanding, my little guy shook his head no, and restated his answer, “They’re good.  Cooked.  They’re good cooked.  Tasty.”

Welp.  Okay then.

The teachers and other moms in the room laughed.  I shook my head and reminded myself about who my son is.

The class clown of Zoo Crew Academy, ladies and gentlemen.  He’s here for the next eight years.  Thank you.  



The next activity involved using different things that had been put together to look and act like different types of bird beaks–the hummingbird, the pelican, the wider beaked birds, and the tiny little pointed ones.  It was interesting as the children tried the different “beaks” to pick up “fish” from the water, or the nectar, birdseeds, or “worms” in the sand.  The children discussed which beaks were best for each type of food.

When they finished with that, the instructors, who are vibrant and fun and have great senses of humor (thankfully) and who seem to really enjoy the children, brought around two live chickens who were hatched during the Fair about a month ago.  They were of good size, though not full-grown.  As Cooter and Princess were petting one of the chicks, my girl commented that she’d love to have that chicken at our house and how its feathers were so soft like a kitten.  The teacher agreed.  “Yes, I’d love to take it home with me.”


Our Princess kept loving on the chick, “Can you imagine?  Eggs whenever you wanted.  You’d never have to go to the store to get them.  Scrambled eggs for breakfast everyday!”

The teacher smiled and nodded.  “That would be good.  Scrambled eggs for breakfast–I’d love that.  But I’d need the chicken to cook them for me too.”

My girl didn’t miss a beat.  She looked at her teacher and said, “But that’s what your husband is for.”

For. The. Love.

The teacher laughed, “I love that.”

And so do I.

That our Princess lives a life where, if the wife isn’t able to scramble the eggs, it is just assumed that the husband would jump in and do it.

I mean, why not, right?   So thankful for the world she lives in, what she believes, and the story that is hers.

Tonight I’m thankful for the wonderful opportunities to share in the learning with my children.  I am so appreciative of the time and energy these fantastic folks put into planning a great and interesting program for the children, and I’m glad we have such an amazing place to learn just a little bit down the road.  I love that I get to learn alongside my children.  Most of all, I’m grateful for their precious spirits–wonky sense of humor and all–and how they see the world.  Their laughter is more than infectious, it’s light pouring out from their souls and changing the world for the better.

May we all share a laugh and pour a little light into the world today.

Love to all.



The New Thing Cooter Says

Cooter tickles me.

He can also frustrate me to no end, but that’s a story for another time.

He can be such a little old man in his eight year old body.  He is trying to figure out who he is and where he is headed in our world, our community, but mostly right here in our very own house and family.  With Mama and two big sisters and a female dog and cat, he and the Fella are outnumbered.

My little guy can get overwrought sometimes–like when he wishes his sister would play with him instead of “her friends” *insert his eye roll here* or when he misses his oldest sister away at college or when I go too many days between serving foods from his favorite food group–the “beige” one–and he’s soooooo hungry.

Bless.  Just bless him.

But sometimes he surprises me with his adaptability.  Or agreeability.  Often it’s a little of both, or it’s that he is trying to play it cool and doesn’t want me to know how much he likes what I’ve just said.  Whatever it is, he has a new mantra.

Cooter’s new words that he tends to say in response multiple times a day are:

“Yeah. Sure. Why not?”

Very often a shrug is thrown in there for good measure.

“Hey Cooter, you want to run in the grocery store with me while your sisters wait in the car?”

“Yeah, sure.  Why not?”

“Hey Cooter, you up for a sandwich from CFA for supper?”

“Yeah, sure.  Why not?”

“Hey buddy, wanna walk with me while I take Sophie out?”

“Yeah, sure.  Why not?”

Instead of this being a sarcastic reply or the least bit flippant, he actually pauses in serious thought before he offers this answer.  His tone carries a lilt of genuineness, with the emphasis on the ‘why not’ bit.  As in well, sure, why wouldn’t I want to join you in the store, Mama?  I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do than be with you as you tackle that list you forgot to bring with you.  Again.

Okay, maybe that last bit was slightly exaggerated, but still–when he says “yeah, sure, why not?” it tickles my soul and gladdens my heart, because even though he’s trying to be too cool to get REALLY excited about something, that little bit of nonchalance is merely masking his true heart.  Goodness knows that boy knows how to say NO a hundred different ways if that were his answer.  Rest assured if you hear him say these new words, what he’s really saying deep down is, “Yes, thank you, that sounds GREAT!”

Maybe he’s trying to balance out his sister, our Princess, whose reactions can vary from “BEST. DAY. EVER” to “yes yes yes yes yes oh please yes thankyousomuch I can’t wait” to “I love this so much, and isn’t it the greatest thing you’ve ever seen?”

Personalities are fascinating, aren’t they?  I don’t know if they could be any more different.

Still I think both responses serve them well.  I’ve always loved our girl’s enthusiasm, and now I’m gaining a whole new appreciation for Cooter’s laid back vibe.

May we all be willing to look at something right in front of us and say, “Yeah, sure.  Why not?”  Who knows, it just might lead to our “BEST DAY EVER!”

Love to all.

Cooter in a tractor wheel? Yeah, sure.  Why not?

Cooter in a tractor tire? Yeah, sure. Why not?