Harrison was asked to draw what he wanted to be when he grows up. His teacher also had all the kids say how they were going to reach that goal. I thought Harrison's idea of what a builder looks like is pretty funny. In his eyes a builder is a manly-man, complete with a handle-bar mustache, big boots, hat turned around, and protective eye wear--safety first!
Harrison's plan for reaching his goal:
I want to be a builder because I get money and my plan is to go in high school, pass college, and pass building school. Sometimes I'd like to build stuff.
This is often how the ruling of a punishment goes down in our house:
Steve- Gavin, you left the backyard without permission, left the gate open, and was found playing in the neighbor's driveway three houses down. This is not okay. You know better. Your mom and I have to discuss what your punishment will be.
Me- I think maybe a week without t.v.
Gavin- yeah, okay, I guess I deserve that.
Steve- Or maybe a week without video games.
Gavin- Come on!
Me- Better yet, for the next month I get to pick out your school clothes. No arguing, no negotiating. You have to wear what I lay out.
Gavin-Cue the tears with rapid fire words: NONONONONONONONONO! Anything but that!! You'll make me look stupid!!
It is in this instant that Steve and I make eye contact and mentally agree we have reached a good punishment. I don't know how long it will be before our kids realize that our Rolodex of punishments are pilfered through until we come upon the one that really squeezes them. We know we have found the right squeeze when we get a reaction like this one. It's a challenge to find what makes each child tick. What makes each child bend or truly suffer the consequences of their bad choices. Our best dip-stick is their reaction to punishment options.
So, Gavin's punishment did end up being me picking out his clothes for a month. This is not a punishment because I'm terrible at picking out clothes that I would intentionally dress him to look 'stupid.' It's a punishment only to Gavin because he takes such pride in how he looks and to take away his privilege of choice was the ultimate consequence.
Here's a sample of a few outfits during his sentence:
Not bad, right?! With so many hand-me-downs from Harrison, Evan, Ian, and Garrett his clothes options are endless! I really, really enjoyed putting together outfits knowing he couldn't argue, fuss, or fight. I hardly knew what to do with the extra five hours a week I gained from not having clothes wars!
Almost makes me look forward to when he makes a bad choice.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to be thankful. I'm most thankful for God, Jesus, and games. I'm thankful God because he made the wole wide world. Without God we woldn't live. Also he is the king of the world. God is inporint because he has lived for 2013 years. Mostly every body belive in God. God is real if you belive in him. That's one thing that I'm thankful for. Jesus is porerful to take out evil spirits. Also Jesus is the son of God that is imporent. Jesus is imporent in many ways. Games are somtething I cold't live with out. Mostly games are something are fun and exsided to. Games are also active. Minecraft is a very fun game to. Games are at a park to and they are playful. Any game can be awsome like tag for example. Some games teach you a lot by dancing. You know everybody likes video games because they are fun and funny because you dance, do funky moves and by being active and they tell jokes.
I like Thanksgiving. I'm also thankful for God, Jesus, and games.
We are surprised daily with the words and phrases that come out of Cannon's mouth. The things he says and does is largely due to his birth order. He has two older brothers that supply him with endless inappropriate behavior for a two-year-old. I've recently had to sit all the boys down and have a family intervention! Cannon is getting in trouble at preschool due to his rough demeanor. We, as a family, are working on using kinder words, kinder touch, and saying sorry with hugs more often. Before a total transformation (which I just know is going to happen any day now!) I thought I'd capture a few of these less than desirable phrases.
After Christmas as we were driving back from Ohio, with the kids all asleep in the backseat, Steve and I recapped on our trip. The conversation turned into a lot of me complaining about the kids.
"Can you believe Harrison fussed on Christmas day?!" "Did you hear what Gavin said to so-and-so?" "Cannon was so mean to Henry! He tried to choke him!"
On and on I went, and although Steve chimed in also, it was definitely more me fussing than him.
After a pause he said, "I know our kids can be bad, but they're just kids, and, man, I love the crap outta them."
Why do I forget that so often? They are just kids.
I remember as a kid the stupid things I said and did. I remember the impact it had when an adult or peer scolded or corrected me. It took those struggles to learn the dos and don'ts of life.
In the fifth grade I went up against another girl for a part in the school play. I just knew I was a much better fit for the role of Aphrodite. I did end up getting picked and as I walked back into the classroom I walked up to her, pointed my finger, and said, "Ha! In your face!" She immediately started crying and ran out of class. I was eleven years old! Eleven! I should have known better. It took that experience, that struggle, to know I never wanted to make someone feel like that again. That's not to say, since then, I've never hurt anyone's feelings, but, it certainly has never been intentionally like it was that day.
Or in the third grade when I tricked my friend into combining our Halloween candy and keeping it at my house. I selfishly knew that keeping it at my house allowed me to have full access to her goods. I was stealing!
Or my aunt's wedding, age six, I was the flower girl who refused to smile in any pictures. Her pictures are beautiful-- minus a bratty flower girl scowling in the front row. I don't remember why I was mad, but I was six, so in that moment all that mattered to me was me and how I felt. It took me probably into my late teens to learn that I'm not the most important person. I'm really sorry about that one, Aunt Pat.
In the second grade I was irritated by a girl who was clearly the best drawer in our class and told her she was terrible at drawing. I hated art, even then, and was so frustrated that this girl came by it so easily. The other girls were then mean to me because I was mean to her. That was a struggle to learn to art of group friendships.
I could go on and on.
Why do I feel the need to spare my kids those struggles? Those struggles are what helped make me into who I am. I can't expect them to be adults when they aren't. I have to be the adult and learn to work through my embarrassment of seeing them behave that way and know they are kids learning through their own struggles.
Struggle is Good! I Want to Fly!
Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a
fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his
mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would
take good care of it.
The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put
plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the
caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started
acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood
that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how
the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.
The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes
his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the
butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon
and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.
At first the boy was excited, but soon he became
concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it
couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no
The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to
get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with
scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly
As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had
a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly
expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to
support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the
butterfly’s wings would expand.
But neither happened!
The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around
with a swollen body and shriveled wings.
It never was able to fly…
As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his
mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that
the butterfly was SUPPOSED to
struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny
opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings.
Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good
intentions hurt the butterfly.
As you go through school, and life, keep in mind that
struggling is an important part of any growth experience. In fact, it is the
struggle that causes you to develop your ability to fly.
As parents our gift to our children is stronger wings…
We spent this Christmas in Ohio. It was a quieter, sadder Christmas than we've ever had. It was hard to find joy when we were one family member short. Losing someone you love unexpectedly and, in your mind, too soon, really challenges your faith. To make sense where there is none, or even harder, to make peace with decisions that were not your own but impact your life so greatly.
From the time I was little I've heard in church that we do not know the number of our days. We are told to live each day to the fullest and love each other like it's our last day here. Hearing those words so often it's easy to become numb to it's powerful message and the day-in-day-out monotony of life leaves us to assume tomorrow is a sure thing. The loss of Zac has left me thinking about that powerful message and questioning if I do live my life to its fullest. I think, in his short twenty-five years, he lived three lifetimes-worth of adventure and excitement. In struggling to find a way to honor a life that was cut too short I have come to the conclusion that the best way to honor Zac is by living my fullest life. A life that is filled with good and love. A life that he'll be proud to watch me live from heaven. A life that, if today is my last day, I can be proud of what I've accomplished--what I've left behind.
Zac, me, Jon. Summer 2008
Zac is the tallest person in our family and I'm the shortest.
I'm not even sure he was finished growing in the picture!
Our family has grown to such numbers that when we all go home we stretch the homes to capacity. It was time to make a change, and this year the change kinda fell right into place. Four of us went in together to buy a house in Versailles. It's an old, old house, about 134 years to be exact. It's the perfect location for us out-of-towners in that it's right in town, giving us close proximity to everything around us. It's across the street from the famous Sweet Shop and even shares a back alley with Sideliners Bar and Grill. It needs some minor updating (think wallpaper paneling, drop ceiling, and mauve sinks) but it will house for us all and will make for a fun place to just be a family.
It seemed like a no brainer to call our new place, Zac's House. We don't want Zac's name to be one that isn't spoken; we want his name, his memory, and his life to be thought of and said daily. Zac was a happy, fun-loving guy who always had a good time. Those are all the things we want Zac's House to embody--happy, good, fun, and love.
I was sitting in church a few Sundays ago and the pastor was telling a story about a parishioner who sold semi-trucks for a living. My ears were immediately perked, both sides of my family have made a lifetime of either buying, selling, or driving semi-trucks.
The pastor said in the winter, when business was the slowest for this guy, he would often drive hauls from Texas to Kansas. The toughest part, the parishioner told him, was if you found yourself driving over 'black ice.' The man said there's nothing scarier than looking in your side mirror and watching your trailer coming to meet your cab sideways.
The pastor asked him, "What do you do when that happens? How do you fix it?"
The man said, "Well, the worst thing you can do isstop. You don't put on your breaks. You keep your hands on the wheel, look straight ahead, and hope that the trouble behind you straightens itself out."
Those words resonated with me. It struck me because of how much worry I put into things that either work themselves out without my help or ultimately I have no control over. That worry that can leave me paralyzed, stoppingmy life, and keeping me from looking ahead. I realized (or am realizing) I'm not the fixer. I'm not the one who has to figure everything out and make it right for everyone. I'm not in control. My job is to keep my hands on the wheel, heading in the direction God has put me, and trust that the trouble behind me stays behind me. And, if when that trouble comes to greet me I have to continue to trust and know that God's plan for me isn't one that I write but rather one that I live.
Happy mom, happy wife, happy life. I'm a mom who sees that the daily challenges and blessings of parenting far supersedes what I expected. I'm a wife who sees 'for better or for worse' in a whole new light. I'm a neonatal ICU nurse who sees daily that the miracle of life is a gift from God.
My husband, my love. The ying to my yang. Famous quote "Hey Steve, can you help me clean up around the house?" "But, Gretch, you're so good at it. We're a team, we both shouldn't be good at the same thing, right?" He's the proud pappa of his three boys. He enjoys adding to the rough and tumbliness of the household!
My little man Harrison. He's a rowdy eight year old who loves everything "boy." Every stage since his birth has been my favorite. But now, really, I think the 8 year old stage is the best. Really.
My middle son Gavin, Gi-Gi, or Geedge is my fiercely independent five year old. His mantra is 'I can do it by myself.' Sometimes this is at the expense of his safety and much to his dismay Mom and Dad have to intervene. But, at the end of the day he still needs his Momma to snuggle and scratch his back. I happily oblige.
My youngest and rowdiest! son, Cannon. At the age of two he has grown into true a true Bergman Bruiser adding to the rough and tumbliness of our home.