The Name He Gave Me

Apparently my name is hard to say.  Over the years it’s been mispronounced or misunderstood quite a few times.  (Somehow on more than one occasion, the person on the other end of the phone has thought I was saying “Pat.”  How you get Pat from Tara, I got no idea, but there it is.)

Perhaps the most distinctive memory I have of my name being mispronounced was when I was in the sixth grade.  There were a handful of us who went to a different class during fourth period, but when our teacher was out, we went back to the other classroom because they didn’t get a substitute teacher.  On this particular day, the teacher who wasn’t crazy about our presence in her classroom decided to make it a point to explain why my name should be pronounced TAR (rhymes with car) UH.  (“The R-uh controls the A.  Always.”)

Ummmm, not how I was raised, but whatever.  I wasn’t one to rock the boat at all, but I remember my good friend, tired of the whole thing, saying, “Mrs. M, Tara could write XYZ up on that board and tell us that’s her name and it’s pronounced Ta-ruh, and we’d have to say it that way.  Because it’s her name.”

I don’t remember the outcome of the day, probably because I was mortified, but I do remember feeling relieved that the day was over and thankful to my friend for speaking up on my behalf.

Cooter seems to struggle with the pronunciation himself, as he is stuck on a short “e” sound instead of short “a.”  But whatever, he gets the Mama part right, so it’s never really been an issue.

Or so I thought.  He informed me Monday that “since your name is too hard to say correctly, I’m going to call you Timothy.”

And so he did.

“Timothy, is this the right answer on this math problem?”

“Timothy, it’s not funny.”  (Because I was laughing and soon he was too.)  “Everything okay in there, Timothy?”

“I’m ready for lunch, Timothy.”

I think the real clincher was on Tuesday when, after we went to vote, he was telling his sister “NO” to all of the candidates she could think of to list.  “What?  Do you want President Obama to stay President another four years?”

“No, I don’t.”  He turned to me. “Timothy, the one thing I’ve learned in my life about politics is you can’t trust any of them.”

Oh me.

I suppose it will sound strange if we go out in public, and he calls for “Timothy” and I answer.  The thing is we have a lot of pet names in this family, and I kind of love that this is one he picked out all by himself for me.  He smiles when he says it–oh that smile–and he never says it in anger.

So yeah, I’m okay with that.

Besides, I remember my Mama’s answer when someone asked about what her grandchildren called her–her grandmother name.  When they asked, she looked real thoughtful, smiled really big, and said, “You know, I really don’t care what they call me–as long as they call me.”

And so with that, I’ll be Timothy as long as Cooter wants me to be.

It’s growing on me.  Just like he did about nine years ago.  Right there in my heart.

Love to all.

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from Romeo and Juliet

 

 

My One and Only Political Post

On Tuesday the littles and I loaded up and headed to the middle school just down the road a few minutes.  This was my first time voting there, but I was familiar with the school, as Aub went there in sixth and seventh grades.

We walked in and the jaguars and purple and black colors greeted us, as did a young volunteer who directed us where to go.  The line was longer than any I’d experienced in many years if ever, but it was moving fairly quickly.  People were in good spirits, and I noticed a law officer standing off in a corner who could probably address those who might not have been.

A little girl maybe two and a half or three years old was in front of us with her mother.  She was intrigued by the purple floor tiles.  “Dey my fabrite,” she said, pointing and then touching her toe to first the little square and then the big one.  A little girl who has already moved from pink to purple as her favorite–it made me smile.

As we moved forward to where she could see our desired goal, she looked puzzled.  “Mama, where de boat?”

Her mother leaned over to hear her question again. “What, honey?”  The little one turned all around with her arms spread wide.  “I don’t see de boat.  Where de boat?”

Her Mama patted her on the back and smiled.  The officer standing close by was amused, and I was enchanted.  Her Mama gently explained that she had said they were going to “vote” not “boat.”

Oh honey.  I get it.

These days I find myself looking for the boat too.  The one we are all in.  Together.

Because all of us–EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US–are in the SAME BOAT.  This community, this state, this country, this world–we are ALL in that same boat, no matter how we may feel inclined to vote.   Whoever is elected doesn’t heal the rifts or settle the misunderstandings. The wounds inflicted now won’t magically disappear when all of the promises, accusations, finger pointing, name-calling, and fear-mongering is over.  They will still be there, deep and throbbing.  Whether the candidate you support or the one I support is elected, the PAIN WILL REMAIN.

The only way to stop the pain is to never inflict it.

So before we do or say or share all the hurtful things, we need to remember–

We are all in the same boat.

If we crack the hull, we ALL suffer.  Not just those with whom we disagree.

Let’s row it back to calmer waters together, y’all.

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“Fischerboot” by Re-Zensor – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fischerboot.jpg#/media/File:Fischerboot.jpg

Confession of a Tired Mama

As a parent, I have my good days and my bad days.

And good moments and bad moments.

This one is about a little bit of both.

This morning Cooter woke up, as he is prone to do on weekday mornings, earlier than I would have liked for him to.  This is one of the perks of homeschooling.  We do not have to, and so we do not, start our days at oh dark thirty.

I heard him coming.  He’s not the quietest mouse in the house.  It was one of those split second parenting decisions that you can reflect upon later and and second guess or guilt yourself or wish you’d done it differently.  But in that moment–

you just react.

I reacted.

And closed my eyes.

I just wasn’t ready yet, y’all.

So when I heard him come in the room pretty much like the proverbial bull in that China shop, I remained still, as though I were still sleeping soundly.  He paused for a second when he came over to my side of the bed and saw me sleeping.  Then he got quiet and crept the rest of the way until I could feel his breath on my cheek.

“Awww, Mama’s so cute,” he whispered with the sweetest tone.  Then as my heart was about to bust with all the feels, he leaned over and tried to tickle my armpit, which he knows doesn’t work, and he left the room fairly quietly–at least for him.

Oh bless.

I opened my eyes and listened for clues as to what he was doing.

Ah.  Legos.  He was working on his birthday Lego set, the biggest one he’s ever done by himself to date.  He’s been diligent and methodical, and it’s been really cool to watch him as he works it out.

And so this morning when I exhibited parenting skills that could be labelled as “less than stellar,”  two things happened.  Two things that needed to happen, I believe.

First, I heard Cooter’s thoughts about me.  It’s funny how often I peek in on him sleeping and have that exact same thought–he’s so cute, adorable, precious.  For him to think that about me and for me to hear that, it blesses my heart and gives me all the warm fuzzies.  As we spend many of our days with me hounding him to get certain tasks done and him teasing me about being the “mean Mama,” this–that he sees someone other than a frazzled, worn out Mama–is a treasure.

Second, he went and occupied himself with a worthwhile task.  Without being told to.  He didn’t stay there and pick and poke and prod until I “woke up.”  He didn’t go and bother his sister until she got out of bed, hollering at him usually.  He didn’t scrape the stool across the kitchen floor to get his cereal or complain loudly about whatever was bothering him at the moment.  He sat and entertained himself and thoroughly enjoyed working a little more on his Lego set.  I’m really proud of him for that.

Tonight I’m thankful that tomorrow I get another chance to do better.  As a Mama and as a person.  Those new mercies every morning are everything–the real reason I’m able to get up in the morning, because I’ve shed the weight of all the missteps and misspoken words from the day before.  That grace is what helps me rise from slumber in the mornings.

But not too early.  This Mama is a night owl who needs those baby birds to sleep in just a little while longer.

Wishing you all the beauty of new mercies…..and for you to find out someone you care about thinks you are cute.

Love to all.

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The One About Vocabulary and Book Burning

Some days our homeschooling goes beautifully.  We are on our game, learning all the things, and we stay focused, on track, and we get through everything that we need to do in a timely manner.  Then we are able to move on to other things that we really enjoy.  Or nap.  Naps are good too.

Today was NOT one of those days.

But it was still beautiful.

Which is one of the main reasons I love homeschooling.  It can be a success without being  a neat and tidy notebooked, paperclipped, stapled, workbook process.  It can be messy and chaotic and loud and scattered and done in fits and starts and still be really good.

Like today.

This morning Cooter started off building with his Legos in his room.  I know this because I could hear the sound of Legos being pushed and stacked and moved around.  That is NOT what reviewing your times tables sounds like.  When we finally sat down together he had his Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary that he got for his birthday on his lap.  As I wrapped up what I was working on, he asked me questions–vocabulary questions–what does “reprisal” mean?  What does “trumps” mean?  I think we went through ten words before I realized that we were indeed “schooling,” only I didn’t tell him.  Sometimes it’s best to let the learning just happen without calling it that.

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Who am I kidding?  With this one, it’s best to do that as much of the time as possible.

This afternoon I left them working on their writing, and I went to attack Mt. Washmore waiting for me on the couch.  I was folding clothes when I heard Cooter call my name.  I turned around to see him standing in the kitchen doorway.

“Well, I have a funeral to go to now.”

Because I know this child well, I didn’t clench or panic as I might have if it were any of my other children.

“Yeah?  Why is that?  Whose funeral?”

(WARNING: SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T READ THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS!)

 

 

 

 

“Sirius.  Sirius Black.”  He paused.  I took in the too bright eyes and the smile that seemed plastered on.  Oh my heart.  “He was my favorite character.”

I rushed over to him.  Yes, he’s nine now.  Yes, he’s rough and tumble and getting too old to hold my hand in parking lots much anymore, but I RUSHED OVER and grabbed hold of him and held him tight.

And he let me.

“Oh, baby, I’m so sorry.  I know.  I know.  It’s hard.  I’m so sorry.”

We’ve been learning a lot about grief over the past four plus years.  When my Daddy died, Cooter wouldn’t have much to do with Mama for a few weeks, and she was so afraid he was mad at her or blamed her.  He didn’t.  He just turned inwards.  He did the same thing when Mama passed.  Our Princess cried her heart out, tears for days, but Cooter just turned inward and was very stoic.

But today, today my little guy looked up at me and said, after I told him it was okay to cry, even if he needed to go to his room and be by himself to do it,  “I’m going to burn this book.  That’s what I’m going to do.  I’ll finish these last few pages, but then I’m going to burn it.”  He choked back the other unsaid things I heard in his voice and walked off.

This evening as he was reading the last of it in the car, he mentioned again his desire to burn the book when he was done.  His sister, who was delighted to find her very own copy at the used bookstore (a copy of her own that wasn’t her big sister’s), begged him not to.  “Do you know how hard it was to find that book?”  Finally, we agreed that might not be the thing to do, and we talked about Sirius and how he had gone just on the other side of the veil.  Just like Maemae and Cap had.  They are still with us, right there, just on the other side.  He nodded.

But still.

I remember when I read that chapter of the book.  I had so hoped Harry’s summer woes were over.  That he was going to finally have a good place, a good person who loved him, to spend his summers with and not the Dursleys.  But instead, life dealt him and all of them another terrible blow, and his life was upended yet again.

Much like real life.  Just when we think things might settle and be okay…..topsy turvy it goes, and we have to learn how to live with the new normal.

And so it would seem that on this day that no math was done (tomorrow will be really fun, y’all) and writing wasn’t finished, and we didn’t discuss the Bill of Rights as planned, that learning happened.  Important and good and hard learning.

And that right there.  That’s why I love homeschooling.  From vocabulary inspired by Star Wars to holding my baby through his book burning thoughts to sharing our thoughts on life and death and grief together, I love it.

It’s not my favorite everyday, and tomorrow I might need to be reminded how much I love it, but right now, I wouldn’t trade it for all the free time in the world.

Love to all.

A Dime For My Thoughts

A few days ago the littles and I were watching some videos about the Presidents.  One had a song about who is on this kind or that kind of money.  It was maybe a little beneath my two agewise, but it was a catchy tune, so we watched.

And I sort of sang along in the hopes that they would too.

Who’s on the penny?  Who’s on the penny?

Lincoln.

Who’s on the nickel?  Who’s on the nickel?

Jefferson.

(Did I mention I was rocking it while my two sat staring back and forth in disbelief between me and the screen?)

Who’s on the dime?  Who’s on the dime?

Eise

Wait.  What?

What do you mean–Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

I don’t even think so, people.

I pulled out my trusty friend (my phone) and asked that very question.

Who is on the dime?

And I’m sorry–

NOT Eisenhower?

My whole life has been a lie, y’all.

A LIE.

How did I ever get that confused?

Who was the first one to tell me that?  Or did I just assume and no one ever talked to me about this VERY IMPORTANT FACT, so that on this very day, I totally embarrassed myself in front of my two very impressionable children and had my very world turned topsy turvy, up on its end?

I feel like I should be sarcastically thanking someone, but I can’t figure out who.

I love my children.  I love homeschooling them.  Most of the time.  I love it when I learn new things, like how snails grow their own shells or a quick way to calculate something or the amazing things we have been learning about the Bill of Rights.  I love the great things we read and watch and the awesome conversations we have at times.

But this–

This I did not enjoy.  AT. ALL.

And it’s such a little thing, isn’t it?  I mean, I’ve spent more dimes than I would ever care to count or admit, and ALL THIS TIME I thought I was handing over Dwight D. Eisenhower, only I wasn’t, and so my world is a bit off balance right now.

What else have I assumed I KNEW AND WAS TOTALLY CORRECT in my way of thinking about–only wasn’t?

What else am I wrong about–in my thoughts, my understanding, my beliefs?

It’s scary, this thing of assuming what we know or understand is RIGHT.

Which is why, maybe, just maybe we should every now and then take a step back and listen to what others know and understand.  We don’t have to take those things on or accept them as true, but who knows what we might learn if we are open to hearing it.

Just a thought.  That’s my FDR coin’s worth, anyway.

……still shaking my head…..

Love to all.

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And so now, looking at it up close, OF COURSE I CAN SEE THAT THIS IS FDR. How have I been getting this wrong all these many years?

 

Cam, Cooter, and the Reason I’m a Fan

It all started when we found out the Broncos were going to the Super Bowl.

Or maybe it started last fall when the boys on the street started playing front yard football.  It looks a lot like wrestling but there’s a football involved, so they call it football.

They talk a lot of smack about different teams, too, so somewhere along the line–I’m not really sure when or how–my baby boy became a Carolina Panthers/Cam Newton fan.

…..you try to raise em right…..

See, I can smack talk with the best of them.

Last week at our dental appointments, my hygienist friend told Cooter a funny story involving Cam Newton and someone who was a huge Alabama fan.  Cooter started talking about Cam even more.  His birthday is this week, so I thought it would be fun to get him a t-shirt/jersey.  Come to find out there was no such thing anywhere in our town.  Each store told me that Corporate hadn’t sent them anything.  Well, they just missed out on a huge business opportunity, let me tell you.

Well a shirt sale anyway.

One $2.97 teal blue shirt and a jersey iron-on number and a printable iron-on sheet later, and we were set.  I found out that Cam Newton’s jersey number is 1, and we made it happen.  I might not be a Panthers fan, but I am a Cooter fan, and I like to make him smile.

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Aub and I stayed up late Saturday night creating the shirt, and Cooter was quite happy with it on Sunday.  We had a good day, teasing each other back and forth–him in his Cam Newton shirt and me in the Manning jersey the Fella got me a couple of years back.

The game was fun for me, not so much for my little heartbroken guy which made it not so fun for me in the end.  The outcome made me happy in the moment, but seeing my son heartbroken and melting down–I would have done anything to change that.  That kind of thing stays with you.

Today there has been all kinds of drama on social media about an interview Cam Newton gave after the game.  People have pointed fingers and said what a bad sport and example he is for his young fans.  A bad sport.

Sigh.

Who does that?  Who sticks a microphone in front of someone whose heart has just been broken?  Whose dream has been crushed?  Who gave it his all and it still wasn’t enough?  WHO EVEN WANTS TO SEE SUCH AN INTERVIEW?

Please, people.

I watched the little clip of him walking out.  The first thing that came to mind was my Mama’s words she said to us over and over through the years:

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  

The truth of the matter is that I teach my children to do exactly what Cam did.  If you can’t say something kind–and I do not fault Cam Newton for not having any “It was an honor just being nominated” words–then WALK AWAY.  Don’t let it escalate to where you are really out of control.

Just a little while ago, I saw a story that apparently a Broncos player was being interviewed within earshot of Cam Newton, and Cam overheard the things he was saying disparaging the Panthers.

Y’all, my Mama said…..

I would’ve walked away too.

And I’m a Manning fan.

But grace abounds.  He’s young, his heart was broken, dreams dashed, and he had believed in himself and his team.  Let’s cut him some slack.

To my children if you are reading this–especially Cooter who is probably going to hear some of the folks trashing Cam Newton:

He did the right thing.  Instead of blowing up, yelling, throwing things, fussing and saying things he might regret later, he WALKED AWAY.  And that is okay.  Do that.  When things are more than you can handle, walk away and get help.  

No one is perfect.  Would it have made a lovely story if he’d been very cordial and laughing on this major loss in his career?  If he’d been singing the praises of the Broncos and been full of the “we’ll get ’em next year” bravado?

Maybe.

But two thoughts.

First, that would not have been real.  Or authentic.  I would have called Face Mask on him.  Because no way that would have been anything other than putting on a front to cover up all the pain and hurt.  He’s a football player, and a good one at that, but he’s not a trained orator, and to expect him to be otherwise is very unfair and unrealistic.

Second, it’s a story we wouldn’t have heard, because the media loves drama.  They wouldn’t have commented much on a congenial Cam Newton, because that’s not how they roll.  Or they would have because he’s derned if he does, derned if he doesn’t.  It’s what they thrive on.

And we encourage it by buying in to the drama and making all the negative comments.

These little people we love, they aren’t just watching Cam Newton and his reaction.  They’re also watching us and ours.

Let’s show them what grace and love really look like.

Thanks for listening.  And Peyton, if you’re reading, congratulations.  I’m happy for you.  And Cam, I’m happy for you, too.  You have a good career ahead of you, and you didn’t show out in the face of adversity.  You walked away from creating a scene and from letting all that mixed up, pent up emotion out in a really bad way.  Well done.  Thanks for keeping your cool, because, well, Cooter’s a fan.

And I think I am too.

Love to all.

 

 

A February Project

I saw the sweetest thing the other day when a friend shared an idea for spreading the love this February.  For each day of the month (29 this time around, for those of you counting), the parent would stick a post it note on the child’s bedroom door with something sweet–a thought, something they appreciate about the child, encouragement–you know, something showing love.

It stuck with me for a few days, and while I love the idea of focusing on the positive and surprising my children with loving messages, something wasn’t sitting well with me.

And then it hit me.

The post-its.

We are no stranger to post-it notes.  I have used them in our homeschooling for quite some time.  They serve a great purpose and kudos to the inventor.  However, I know that nothing is permanent, and I could see those things fluttering down off doors, landing on floors, long before the 29 days were up.

And then there’s my sentimental side to deal with.  What do I do? Throw them away when the month is over?  I mean, I will have worked for 29 days to create the perfect message times 3, and then at the end, we just toss the messages?  Ummm, no, I think not.  But keep sticky notes?  There’s just no good way to do that, and it will contribute to the clutter I’m trying so hard to be rid of, so, hmmmm, no, not that either.

It finally hit me two days ago what the perfect solution would be.

Canvases.

At first I planned to paint 29 hearts on each canvas to fill in with the loving messages, but  I was worried about spacing and what if I wanted to say more on one day than another?  That could happen.  Today I decided to paint each canvas a signature color for each child, put their name in the middle and surround it with loving messages each day of February.  I’ll write the message, surround it with a heart, and hopefully, this will create something lovely for each of the ones I hold dear.  (I mean, I wish they’d clean up a little better, empty the dishwasher without being reminded, and put away their clothes for real, but I do hold them all dear.  And no, I won’t be putting any of that in my messages.)

I’m excited about the idea, and I hope it will go well.  I’m not even going to put a timeframe on when I write my message.  If I want to do it at night, I will.  But if it doesn’t happen until the next morning, that’s okay too.

After all, those elves just left not too long ago, and that was enough stress for a whole year.  I don’t need that whole “I can’t go to bed until…..” or waking up at 3 a.m. and running for a Sharpie to get it done before anyone else wakes up.

Just no.

This is about love and letting my people know how much they are loved today and everyday. Maybe this will start a new tradition, or maybe it won’t, but it in the words of my Mama, “It’s all for the fun of it.”

Wishing you all someone to tell you how much they love you each and every day!

Love to all.

The colors don’t show well in the light in that room but it’s purple for our Princess, Tiffany blue for Aub, and blue for Cooter.  Tomorrow we begin the hearts.  

   Note of Apology:  I was loading the photo from my phone into the WordPress App, and I hit publish accidentally.  I apologize to those of you who got a confusing non-post via email.  This is the corrected, edited version.  Sorry about that.  Best wishes to all.