Wolves and Sharks

Ever heard the expression, “I told you so?”   Daddy’s feeling a little smug around our house this summer.  Let’s take a trip down our family’s memory lane to a few summers ago and discover why…

“Can you tell me again, Mom?  What exactly again are we doing at this camp?”  Our daughter’s question was filled with tense apprehension.  We were just 2 miles from the camp turn off and I could tell she was having second thoughts.  I reached for the cream colored brochure with a cheerful picture of a sun emblazoned on the front.  Turning to the page of camp descriptions, I read allowed all of the details about what she would experience during her week at camp.  Our younger daughter seemed satisfied with the description and relaxed in her seat.

“Do you need for me to read yours too?”  I asked our older daughter.

“Please!” she requested with eager excitement.  She had wanted to go to camp at Camp Shalom since she first heard about it, along with all the adventures her friends experienced there, when she was in the 4th grade.  Now here we were, only a mile or so from the winding dirt road leading to the camp grounds and she was bubbling with excitement!

“Villager Camp,” I began, “For campers entering grades 7 to 9.”

As if by canine instinct, my husband’s ears were suddenly trained on every word I spoke.  He couldn’t keep from interrupting me.  Before I could finish the description, he was barking questions.

“Have you talked to her yet?” he asked.

“Talked to her about what?” I answered.

“Well, there are going to be boys at this camp!  Boys who are in High School! Have you talked to her about this?  Does she know what…” his voice trailed off in frustration.   “Have you talked to her about this?”  As he spoke in his panicked ‘Dad’ voice I could see he was even having a difficult time driving.  The gentle curves of the country road were met with stiff handling behind the wheel of our mini van and I could tell I needed to say something soothing before all of us landed in a ditch!

“Honey,” I said to my daughter in a voice that attempted to both sooth my husband and not freak out my daughter, “You’re heading into Junior High now and at this camp the Junior High kids are in the same group as the first year High School kids.  Some of those kids are going to have more independence and experience than you.”  Clearly I wasn’t getting to the point quickly enough for my husband’s taste.  We turned onto the narrow, forest lined, dirt road leading to the camp and looking at me and my husband implored me, “Get to the point, Mommy.”

I gently began again, “Sometimes when kids your age get alone without the supervision of their parents they try to take advantage of the situation.”

For Daddy, this clearly was not direct enough.  We were taking the hills and curves of the little gravel road with a quickened pace.  “Easy there Daddy, we’re not driving the ‘General Lee’.”  I whispered just loud enough for him to hear me.  He was not amused.  The indent between his eyebrows grew deeper.

In the rear view mirror he looked back to our oldest daughter and began speaking in an urgent ‘Dad’ voice, “What Mommy is not saying is that there are going to be boys at this camp.  High School boys, who have one thing on their mind!” and then he turned to look back at her as she shrunk back in her seat and in a full ‘Dad’ voice, he blurted out, “They are wolves and sharks, and you are what’s on the menu!”

We continued the rest of the drive down the gravel road with those pulverizing words grounding into our ears.

The dust began to settle both inside and outside our mini van as we slowed to a stop in our parking spot.  I glanced back at our daughters, who sat with uncomfortable looking faces, and I couldn’t help but think how mortifying that experience must have been.  Sensing I need to do some damage control before we got out of the car, I turned toward my blossoming daughters and their wilting faces.  In that moment I wanted them to know I believed in their abilities to make good choices, and that I wanted them to have fun.  I wanted them to leave me feeling confident and not crushed.

I stroked my husband’s hand, and looked at the faces of our stunned girls, “You know, Daddy is just feeling protective of you.  I hope you aren’t upset that he made a big deal of there being boys at camp.  I hope you can understand why he’d be kind of over the top about this kind of thing. This is all new to him too.”

Without a moment of hesitation our oldest looked at her Dad with her innocent blue eyes and said, “ It’s OK, Daddy.  At least I know you care enough about me to say something about it.”  With a disarming smile she said, “I know you love me.”

“They are wolves and sharks, and you are what’s on the menu,” 12 words that have lived on notoriously in our family lore.   Thankfully they live on in giggles and teasing as well.  I am grateful our girls know that their Daddy is looking out for them.   And believe me, nothing gets by Daddy…  Let’s fast-forward a few summers to 2010.

This summer we attended our nephew’s wedding in Maryland.  It was a beautiful wedding, featuring the cutest Ring Bearer I have ever seen!

Here is a picture of my little man getting prepared for his close-up!

But I digress…

Through out the wedding and reception festivities my husband kept a keen eye trained on his beautiful teenage daughters.  What protective Daddy would not?  It was at the wedding rehearsal that Daddy’s keen eye trained in on one young man.  Here he is pictured with my nephew (the handsome one on the right) and 2 other groomsmen.

**Que Villan Music**  Dun! Dun! DUUUNN!

Your looking at the guy on the left:

Just in case you were looking at the other left, you were supposed to look at this guy:

He was a groomsman and long time school friend of my nephew, and I can honestly say I did not see him do anything inappropriate.  He was perfectly gentlemanly and nice.  And pretty cute in his tuxedo, don’t you think?  Ok- enough commenting from the old lady here… But, he was the nemesis of my husband for the entire weekend.  Why?  Well, because he was male, and he was being nice to Daddy’s daughter.

Of course the wedding was beautiful and we are all thrilled with our nephew Daniel’s choice.  His new wife is awesome!  Welcome to the family Jillan!  Here is a picture of the big moment!  I love this picture of them!  She is radiating JOY!

The wedding reception was beautiful and was complete with a sit down meal and dancing.  I had a lot of fun clinking my glass to prompt watching kisses of the Bride and Groom and spent most of the other time wrangling a sugar fueled Ring Bearer out on the dance floor.  When the slow dance songs came on I was just thankful my son decided it was time for a smoothie break at the table!  It was all I could manage just keeping up with him!

However, my husband and his protective eye never rested.  Apparently the eyes of a man with teenaged daughters never do!  I was just settling in to my seat at our table when he swooped in to sit beside me.  I wondered if he was going to ask me for a dance.  No such luck!

“Do you see that?!” he said.  I could tell he was having a hard time containing the volume of his voice.

“See what?” I asked.  I honestly had no idea what he was referring to.

“That!”  He said, pointing to our oldest daughter out on the dance floor.

There she was.  Our girl was out on the dance floor, looking beautiful in her blue and green floral dress, the color a near perfect match to her eyes.  Her cheeks were a rosy flush, probably from the heat of the room, but maybe it was also because she was enjoying her first slow dance with one very cute groomsman.

I sighed.  It was so sweet, as her mom, to get to witness such an event.  She is growing up, and making her own way, and they just looked so adorable out there on that dance floor.  I knew nothing about this young man who was enjoying her delicate arms circling his neck, other than that he was a good enough friend of my nephew to be invited to stand up with him on his wedding day, but I was smitten by how cute my daughter was with him out on the dance floor.  Besides, the pair lived 1,000 miles apart and she was well protected by her loyal Daddy.  With him there ready to pounce, I had nothing to worry about.

My husband did not share my sentimental view of the moment.  “What do we do?” he whispered.  He was beside himself!

“Nothing.” I whispered back.  My annoyed husband sat close to me at the table, sitting with crossed arms and looking forlorn and with out a doubt wishing desperately he could change the unfolding situation.  The dance ended and our girl floated back to her seat.  These are the moments that make for good old-fashioned crushes and it was pretty obvious our girl had one.  My girl sat down next to me and began perusing the wedding program.  She tried to look casual, but I knew she was most likely examining with a careful eye.  Part way down the page her finger stopped and she could hardly contain her giggles.  She leaned over to show me what she found.

“Don’t tell Daddy he’s right!” she said through her giggles and pointed to what the program read.  I followed her finger to the list of groomsmen and there it was in black and white.  It said his name was Grason.  Grason Wolfe.

Daddy will not soon let her forget that he is always right.

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Family Tradition

I grew up in a family full of tradition, rich tradition that had been passed from generation to generation.  Some of those traditions I still carry on with my own children, but there are some traditions that we have stumbled on all by ourselves.  One of my favorite traditions happened by accident, and at the time, not even by ‘happy accident’!  It all started on an important evening when I reeeeeeeally needed a babysitter…

When my husband married me 7 years ago he also gained what he affectionately refers to as his “Sparkle Girls”.  There’s a whole ‘nuther story to go along with the name, and I will tell it sometime for sure, but the point is, he was pretty in love with all three of us on the day he and I got married.  That husband of mine is a true gem, and without a doubt the man of my dreams!  My husband’s Sparkle Girls were 6 and 7 on the day he became their Daddy.   During our wedding ceremony, the four of us lit a common unity candle, symbolizing that we were all becoming one family.  Since the day they met, both of the Sparkle Girls and Daddy have foreged their own unique and significant relationship with one another.  It has been really beautiful to watch tenderness, respect, and love blossom between father and daughter over the last 7 years.

So, back on that important evening when the babysitter bailed and I longed to go out to a fancy, romantic, child free restaurant with my wonderful husband and celebrate our first anniversary, I was not very happy that our Sparkle Girls would be tagging along.  I wanted it to be just the two of us, but instead a family tradition was born.

This year we celebrated our 7th anniversary, commemorating it as we have for every anniversary meal since that first one, out together, celebrating the anniversary of our family’s birth.  Since that first anniversary we have added a son to our family and as we gathered around the steak house dining table, I delighted in the presence of my husband and our 3 children as we shared celebratory meal honoring not only our marriage, but the bond of family it represents as well.  Not to worry, we have had and continue to have our time for celebrating our marriage all alone as a couple!  This year we will celebrate by taking a trip to Italy and Switzerland this summer, all alone, but for now, this is one family tradition we cherish.

What are some of the family traditions that you share with your family?  I would love to hear about them!  Please come out of the internet shadows and share them in the comment section!  Just click on the word “comment” below and follow the prompts.  Thanks!

Our Family in 2003

Our Family in 2010

Great (with child) Expectations

Today was Mother’s Day!  I had a great day with my family and was treated like a princess.  We spent a pretty perfect day shopping at an art fair and completed the afternoon with waffle cones before dinner (because hey, I’m not cooking!).  I got to snuggle up on the couch with my 4 favorite people and watch a movie before we went out for dinner.  When we got home my little boy, who is quickly outgrowing my lap, melted me by asking me to rock him before bed, something I have always LOVED, and I capped off the evening looking at scrapbooks of my perfect little newborns. Tonight I especially loved looking at the pictures of pregnant me becoming a mother, because after all, when a child is born, so is a new mother.

These are some of my favorite pictures….

This one was taken at my first ever baby shower.  I was expecting my first born, I had learned the day before would be a daughter.  I had no idea how much her little tiny presence was going to change my life.  Nothing could prepare me for  how a 6 lb. 8 oz. itty-bitty person would consume me, and I would allow it willingly!  Upon my first gaze of her, I would feel like I had just laid my eyes on the most beautiful creation ever made, and this most exquisite creation was entrusted to my care.  I guess I love the innocence in this picture.

My first born was also the first of her generation to be born in our family.  The first grandchild, the first niece.  Our family was giddy with excitement for her arrival.  My body was no longer my own.  Something I was a little bashful about.  I was shy about my pregnant form, but I began to see that when people reached toward my growing abdomen, they were reaching out to my child.  They were already loving her.  I think this picture really captured those sentiments in me and in my sweet sister in law who was so very excited to become an aunt.

The second time around I was more comfortable in my own pregnant skin and very excited to be adding another daughter to my family.  I so much more confident in my abilities as a mother, but inside I wondered in secret, “Will I love another one as much I love the first one?  How can my heart possibly grow big enough to love another child with the depth that I have loved my first born?”  It took less than a milli-second and all of those fears faded away.  This little bundle of baby girl, all wrinkled, and rolley, with a layer of dark downey hair, looked up at me and drew me in with her slate colored eyes and quivering lips.  How could it be possible that there was yet another delicious little baby creature lying in my arms?  I had won the baby lottery.  Twice!

Maybe I should have been more worried about having enough energy!  Maybe I should have been more worried about the fact that they would only be 17 months apart and I would have 2 in diapers!  It’s hard to remember that there was a day when I was worried about not having enough love, and not worried about being exhausted!  I remember that when I look at these pictures and inside I laugh at myself.

Being pregnant with my son was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  I had been ‘on the pink aisle’ for 9 years!  I didn’t even know where the ‘blue aisle’ was!  It was a whole new world for me.  Again, silly me, I wondered, “Will I love a boy like I love my girls?”  and yet I was again struck with awe in the miracle of it all.  I was carrying the child I never thought I would have!   Pregnancy was harder this time, but I knew the sacrifices would be worth it.  I wore my ever expanding waist-line with pride and joyful anticipation!

And boy did my waist line expand!!!  This picture was taken the night before my son arrived and one month before my due date!  I love the way my husband is adoring my belly, his unborn son.  And for the third time, I was blessed with the most perfect of all babies.  How could it be?  3 perfect babies?   It’s not because the babies were perfect, although I have to gush, they absolutely were, it’s because it’s true, as my mom used to tell me, a mother’s heart knows no end. I love this picture because I am full of life and of love that has no end.  ….and because that belly is enormous!

Happy Mother’s Day!

The Best Part of My Birthday

I added another year to my age this week!  I don’t mind birthdays.  They are a sign of life and a marker that reminds me that the good Lord has blessed me with another years worth of days.  I also like the way my little family celebrates birthdays.  I thought I’d share with you about my favorite part.

The written words…

Somewhere along the line we decided that everyone gets to choose, for the birthday honoree, their own individual card.  This is the selection for me from my dream man and the kids for this year.  I especially love how each of my children take such care to write in the cards to add their own personal touch.  They even write messages on the envelopes!

This one is from my little guy…

I melt when I see the little pre school handwritings of my little ones.  You know, when you’re in the middle of those years when they are little and need you so much for every little thing… “Can you tie my shoes?”  “I want a snaaaaack!”  “There’s thunder, can I sleep in your room?”  and no trip to Target ever goes with out the inevitable question, “Can we visit the Toys Section?”  Wow, those years are challenging!  Not enough sleep, not enough time for yourself, everything you wear has the fingerings of slobbery graham crackers before you ever leave the house, and you’ve seen your precious little boy use your skirt as a napkin!   It feels like a time in your life when it will never be over and they will never grow up.  It feels like you will never again see the words, “Dry Clean Only” in the tag of a sweater and consider it a viable wardrobe choice.  It feels like you will never again be able to have an adult conversation with your husband where you don’t end up squaking, “What!?” like a jungle bird, at your sweet little blue eyed girl who has just interrupted for the 342 bajillionth time!  It feels like you will never be able to walk through a parking lot without experiencing the feeling of your arm being nearly ripped from the socket as your wiggly boy hop, skips, and jumps along, all while you grip his gooey little hand.  And every day you wonder, “Will the Family Room rug always be covered by all these toys?”

An then one day, they give you a give you a card, and the preschool writing has been replaced.  That little blue eyed interrupter has done it again! Interrupted the fantasy you have in your mind that she’s a little girl and she will never grow up and she will never not be your little baby girl.

Oh, she’ll tell you she’s your ‘Baby girl,” but that’s just to be cute and endearing.  She know’s all your soft spots.  And you melt.

And then she tells you how ‘prodigous’ you are …  And you can’t help but smile because she’s so stinkin’ cute.  And she’s becoming so stunningly beautiful that you know if you dare leave the table, the busy-boy at the restaurant is going to try and get her number…

And your other little blue eyed girl tells you she is finally beginning to understand who you are…

And that someday she wants to be the best mom in the world, too…  And you can’t help but see how wise she’s becoming.  She’s actually noticing all the effort you’ve put into raising her and she appreciates it!  And you can see that the next 4 years are going to go by so fast… and your little chrysalis is, very soon, going to open up.  And you imagine the amazing butterfly she will be.   What amazing butterflies that they all will be!

And you melt.

The written words are the best part.

And in case you were wondering, yes, my husband gave me one too.  He really is the man of my dreams!

My Girl, Sports, and Life Long Fitness…

I wrote this last week, but I’m posting it here today…

Today I was inspired and proud.  I watched my little girl, and by little girl I really mean very quickly growing up youngest daughter, in action at her first ever Volleyball game.  She was fantastic!

Earlier this summer my girl and I were in the car driving somewhere when she asked me why when I was a kid I was never in sports?  This is a subject I have never been very comfortable with.   In my family of origin I was the “artsy” one while all of my siblings pursued athletics.   Most of what I told her she already had heard before…like how my brothers were both natural athletes who were gifted with physical talent, and I felt like I was clumsy and awkward, like how my sister went out for the volleyball team and the track team (She’s now a PE teacher), and a favorite family story where a 7th grade me decided to join the Pacific Junior High basketball team and when after a week when the coach announced that we were going to practice our “lay-ups” I looked at him utterly puzzled and asked the question that ended my WNBA career, “What’s a lay-up?”

That day in the car, I told her how I had always wished that I started doing something sports or fitness oriented when I was young, because maybe some kind of sports activity would have helped me establish a love for lifelong fitness.  I told her about entering the Gold’s Gym for the first time and how it took me 2 ½ years, yes years, to even step on the weight room floor!  I told her about how a few years ago I began to realize that God gave me this body to serve me!  It’s not the other way around and in order for my body to serve the needs I have it needs to be healthy and able.  Fitness is the key to that.  (We talked about food too of course, but I’m trying to stick to the exercise part of the “diet and exercise” balance.)  We talked about how physical health, for better or worse, is a lifelong journey.

My girl is a lot like me.   If I had and get a nickel for every time someone tells me how much she looks like me, I’ll be able to retire to Paris!  When she was little, her grandpa called her my little magpie.  As a parent it’s hard to watch when your child struggles with the same things you do, especially when you feel like they are some of you own personal failures.  In the car that day, I told her that I’m not looking for a “Gym Barbie” body, but a body that functions better.  Perfection isn’t what this is about, and I don’t expect that from her either.   Some days are good and some are not so good, just keep going.  Keep at it and even make friends with it.  As a tank top I work out in reads, I told her to be “a force 2B reckoned with!”  Neither of us are runners, but we made a pact that day to run in a race someday together.  I don’t know when or where that will be, but I’m still in!

Since that day in the car I have had many ups and down on my journey towards physical fitness.  Some days I feel like a triumphant warrior, and others like a fragile egg.  I hired a trainer to teach me and mentor me and that has helped.  You know what they say about putting your money where your mouth is!  I am seeing the benefits, and new challenges are ever present, but most of all I have begun to set the example I want to set for my girl.  The example that you are never to old, out of shape, inexperienced, unskilled, and that you CAN muster the confidence to try something new to make your life better.   So today I sat on the bleachers

and clapped for the Spartans, and for her, but in a way I guess, I also clapped for me and for the changes I have made that are a turning point for both of us.

That's my girl!

That's my girl!