Friday, August 31, 2007

Lessons from Hudson

Our baby boy started kindergarten this week. Hudson may not be the baby of the family, but he certainly is our baby boy. I was dreading Hud starting school more than I did Branson two years ago, something about that 2nd-born, sensitive spirit. He's already asked me to be his teacher for 1st grade so that he can "spend every day with me."
You see why he has my heart.
And yet I think he's ready to spread his wings a bit.

Basden and I went to recess Wednesday just to observe things. As she played on the playground with all the big kids, I noticed that Hud never left her side. He coaxed her down a long, winding slide, helped her across some monkey bars, and followed her every move. Finally about 20 minutes into recess, he ran to me and asked, "Mommy, do you mind staying with Basden for a little while and I'll go play with my friends?"
With the flash of a lopsided grin, he was off... leaving me touched that he felt responsible for taking such good care of his little sister.

In his first few days at school, Hud is bringing profound little nuggets of truth home for the rest of us.
Last night he saw me packing lunches and stopped me in the process.
"Mom, I can't take peanut butter sandwiches anymore in my lunch."
"Why not, Hud?"
"Becuase there's a boy in my class who's allergic to peanut butter."
"Oh really? And your teacher says you can't bring pb & j anymore?"
"No, the teacher didn't say anything, but he has to sit far away from anyone who has peanut butter. And that makes me sad. So I don't want to take it anymore."

I think this is what Paul might be referring to when he says,
"Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible - but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
While it's permissible for Hudson to take peanut butter sandwiches (his favorite), he is choosing not to for the good of one other little boy, to protect his feelings and to be able to sit by him.
Thanks for the good word, Hud.

Friday, August 24, 2007

More from Napa...

Highlights from our past couple of days in Wine Country...
- More Peet's Coffee... and hopefully more to come
- Wine tastings at Peju Province and V. Sattui. Corbin still gags when tasting a Merlot, which no one around here seems to understand (at least he's discreet)
- Lunch yesterday - solo(!) - at a little bistro by our hotel
- Tour and wine tasting at the Robert Mondavi winery. What an empire. Incredibly educational and overwhelming how much effort goes into each bottle of vino
- Learned that the mixing of the wine with air (by swirling the glass) is sometimes referred to as "volatizing the esters..." I almost fell out of my chair. We'll most certainly be using that term in our family. I can hear it now... "Branson, quit volatizing the Esther!"
- Dinner at a tapas restaurant in downtown Napa last night. Corbin was overwhelmed - he got to order SIX different dishes. All these gourmet dishes in small portions, I had more fun watching him than eating my food.
- I've learned that my favorite wine is a cabernet, which also happens to be Napa's specialty. Of all the whites I've tasted, they just don't do much for me.
- I've also learned that wine makes me terribly sleepy. After a couple of tastings at different vineyards, I'm sleepy girl. Corbin is pumping me with coffee and diet coke to keep me awake.

We head home tomorrow, back to the reality of all things crazy. Esther's happy screeches, Hudson starting Kindergarten Monday (!), Branson adjusting to his braces (yes, I did say braces, he got them last week! Another post for another time... can't believe I'm an orthodontist mom, yikes), and Basden's happy demands for costume changes on the hour. I wouldn't trade it, but whew, this vacation is restful!
Again, a HUGE cheer for Charles & Jamie for letting us flee town kid-less. How many times have they enabled us to do this kind of thing?! We are profoundly grateful.

Parting deep thought... on the Mondavi tour, someone asked about the drip irrigation system they use. The tour guide (who loves his job, by the way) explained that they try not to water much, that they want the grapevines to struggle. If they water them too well, the roots get lazy and quit digging deeper. He explained that they want the vines to struggle for deep roots rather than staying shallow, as deeper roots produce more fruit and a fuller-bodied grape. Hmmnnn...
I've seen this modeled in my home my entire life... something about that "letting your kids struggle" thing. Thoughts??

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Blogging from Napa

So here we are in Napa Valley for a few days... in Corbin-esque fashion, I had no idea where we were headed until we arrived at the airport early Wednesday morning. While getting coffee in the terminal (at the crack of dawn), I heard the flight attendant call out "Gate 36, now pre-boarding for San Jose airport." first clue.
We spent the childless flight reading magazines, arrived in San Jose to rent a very fun silver Mustang convertible, and headed north on 101 to San Francisco.

- a very hot Peet's Coffee au lait
- cool breezes, enough to pull out my sweater
- ferry ride to Sausalito, with a yummy italian lunch & a great boutiques
- passed Alcatraz on the ferry ~ what an intriguing place
- Pier 39 & Fisherman's Wharf (hadn't been there since Kirsten & Brandon's wedding 10 years ago)
- people watching, people watching, people watching
- Union Square - wow! Thank the Lord for a husband who enjoys shopping!
- Coffee & Ipods everywhere...even couples walking hand-in-hand wore headphones while holding a cup of Starbucks
- Dinner at Sam's Grill in downtown San Francisco, a really cool seafood place with individual rooms per table. My seabass was better than Corbin's sole, but barely.
- Driving north to Napa Valley, where we'll spend the next few days. Corbin is in a conference here for work, so I get some much-anticipated quiet time. (Thank you, thank you, Mama & Papa!!)
More updates to come...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Great New Read...

I'm reading a fantastic book right now, Authentic Parenting in a Post-Modern Culture, by Mary DeMuth. I had been anticipating the release of this book (July 1, Harvest House) as Mary authored both "Watching the Treelimbs" and "Wishing on Dandelions," two fiction novels I read earlier this spring.
Why am I drawn to Mary's writing? Because I am drawn to Mary. Having also written Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God and Building the Christian Family You Never Had, she dances between the worlds of fiction and non-fiction. Mary is an attractive person in the true sense of the word, meaning she attracts others effortlessly. Her writing naturally follows suit - it attracts and delivers a genuine message.
In my Kanakuk days, camp director Joe White often taught us that the best coaches were those who struggled as an athlete. If all athletic ability came naturally, it was sometimes more difficult to know how to teach kids, because you never had to actually learn specific techniques and tricks. It was encouraging to me that I didn't have to be a super-star athlete to teach kids about their sport.
In a similar vein, Mary did not grow up in a spiritually & emotionally harmonious home, which is something she writes about with candor. So the fact that she is writing (and selling!) parenting books illustrates this truth - that through her suffering and wandering, the Lord has divinely taught Mary and her husband some foundational truths and insights to pass on to others. And she's faithful to that calling.
So... her newest book, with the potentially controversial title, is a great read. Just for the record, Mary is a fan of absolute truth, which the postmodern movement doesn't necessarily embrace. Mary's opinion is that "our children will meet this shifting worldview no matter what our opinion of it is..." Her insights are all the more relevant as she and her husband spent the last few years with their children in France, a hotbed of postmodern culture. And rather than ignore the shifting culture, they are navigating their family through the changing waters with open communication, lots of laughter, and intentionally creating their home as a safe haven. One of my favorite facets of the book is the emphasis on allowing ourselves as parents to be taught by our children rather than solely instructing them from our set perspectives.
To order an autographed copy of Mary's book, go to

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Missing my Bro

I miss my brother. That's what it comes down to.
Chris is AMAZING. He will turn 30 in a week.
And here's the kicker - I don't know what to get him for his birthday. Yes, he's hard to by for, not because he has everything, but because he is so stinking contented.
I recall grocery shopping as a kid, mom keeping up with 4 bustling children clamoring for "Skittles! Doritos! Dr. Pepper!" When Mom said no, the rest of us whined and begged. But Chris would look up at her with those big blue eyes and respond with a genuine, "That's ok, Mom, I don't need it."
So it's his birthday, and what bothers me most is that I don't know what to get him... because I don't know his life! He & his darling wife live in Atlanta, along with my brother, Trey, whose life & family I don't know as well as I'd like either. I've got this really smart sister-in-law and brand-new nephew Marshall... I'd simply like to know what flavor coffee Trey orders at Dunkin Donuts, and whether Amy TIVO's "Grey's Anatomy" or "The Office." Or neither. Or both.
And did I mention Luke & Julie in Tulsa? Bogan is RUNNING, and he simply doesn't know his Auntie well enough yet (though he does give me lots of quick grins!).
I'm not talking a disconnect, I'm talking distance. Nephews we don't get to see on a regular basis, adult co-ed softball games we've never attended, Sunday lunches after church we're not eating together.
And this is just the beginning. This week I want to be in NM with Corbin's sister. She's got a major few days coming up, and it would just be good to be there. Papa should be taking Hudda on his rounds through town with FJ, and Mama & Charlie should be playing with Confederate soldiers. Little Riv spends his days all the way in Seattle, with the best head of hair you've ever laid eyes on. He should be in a Clairol commercial. And I've spent like 15 days with him in his life.
So... I know there's not an answer to all this. I know that's why we have Heaven to look forward to. A big, big house with lots and lots of rooms... a big, big table with lots and lots of food... a big, big yard, where we can play football... and no guessing on the perfect birthday gift.