Dewberry Farm 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Kate loves Dewberry Farm. And Will and Harry did too when they were younger.  I will admit that the first time or two we went was fun.  But over the years, I have come to dread going a bit.  The crowds have gotten crazy (and I hate crowds) and it has become ridiculously expensive and a little commercialized.  The truth is though, we live in a huge city and there are not many options for pumpkin patches or corn mazes.  So a few weeks ago, we had an open Saturday morning and we woke up early and headed out to the burbs.   When we left it was sunny and warm at our house but by the time we got there, it was rainy and cold.

I guess it was a little bit of a blessing in disguise because it was not crowded at all.  And the most important thing is...Kate and Harry had fun.  The rain did not seem to bother them a bit.

Harry's favorite thing for years has been these pedal cars.  He loves them and so we started there.



After the pedal cars, Kate wanted to jump on the bouncy pillows but they were too wet and slippery, so it was off to the corn cannons....





These cannons are very loud and powerful but their accuracy seems lacking.  
Nonetheless, the kids enjoy them every year.

It was raining but that did not slow Kate and Harry down a bit.  They jumped in these wheels and started racing...




Is is awful that I have serious envy of Kate's calf muscles?  Wait, don't answer that.
She might be tiny but the girl is STRONG!



They got completely wet on the zip lines but they did not care.




I love seeing my kids laugh and play together. Unfortunately, Will had work and a retreat meeting.  I think this will likely be Harry's last year going, so I tried to really soak it up.  My kids are growing up so fast!


Off to the gem mine...




Kate's tongue of concentration..all 3 peanuts do that (Dave too).


We did not end up taking the hayride this year out to the pumpkin patch or doing the corn maze but everyone had fun doing what we did.


And of course, they LOVE the kettle corn.

Looking at old photos it looks like maybe we skipped last year. I know we went in 2012 (and I have a short video of it) on October 7th but it looks like my computer crashed shortly thereafter and I never posted about it.  I am going to have to try to dig those photos out of my old computer.

Homecoming 2014 {will}

Sunday, October 26, 2014
Will had his homecoming a few weekends ago.  It was such a great weekend for him (and for us).  Will has a fabulous group of friends and over the past few years we have really enjoyed getting to know the parents as well.  Will went into high school not really knowing anyone at all so they are a relatively new set of friends and we feel so happy that he found this group of awesome people.  Get ready for loads of photos.  Will has only one more high school homecoming after this.  So, I am officially soaking up all the high school memories before they're gone:)

On Friday night, they go to the football game.  The boys give the girl a HUGE Texas Mum and the girls give the boys a garter to wear on their arm.  It's a Texas thing.  I made Evie's mum this year.




They had a great time at the game!

Saturday night is the dinner and homecoming dance.  Will's group of friends have chosen to have dinners at parents' houses the last few years rather than at a restaurant.  I really like this because we have a chance to take photos, host the dinner and all the parents hang out in the kitchen/living room and eat and drink and get to know one another as well.  My friend Cathy hosted freshmen year.  Dave and I hosted last year.  Cathy and Scott hosted again this year again and Will has already asked me to host his senior year.  Harry will be a freshmen next year too so that will be crazy!





We all really like Will's girlfriend, Evie.
She has come over a few times for dinner and to hang out at our house and she fits in so well.
 She is really sweet and down to earth. 




With the moms.  I so wanted to wear cute fall clothes but it was HOT!




Will's friends are really tall.

Evie and her beautiful Mom




Nick and Elizabeth


David and Caroline


These guys were re-creating a snapshot I took freshmen year.



And the one from freshmen year below...they have changed so much.
And they freshemen buzz cuts are gone!


Will's best friend, David led them in a lovely prayer before dinner.



My friend Cathy and her husband did a lovely job hosting us all.  It was a fun night.


I know I have been a very sporadic blogger for the last few months.  I am working a lot more (which I love), exercising (bar method) four days a week, volunteering at the kids' schools, and it is gymnastics competition season.  I am also president of the Mom's group at our church that I helped start 15 years ago.  Life is very good and very full.  At the end of the day, I fall into bed and I have no energy left for blogging but I really miss it.  I am really hoping to catch up on some blog posts and be more consistent. I do a much better job updating on my Instagram @kim_thenurturedhome.  

Our kids cannot be measured in numbers

Monday, October 13, 2014
As a Mom, I have a daily battle going on in my heart and in my head. It is certainly a battle symptomatic of a privileged life.  I can admit that.  It is not one of worrying how much my kids will eat today or if they are safe.  It is not the worry of Moms who live in war zones or extreme poverty.

But once in a while, I fight the battle of seeing my kids as whole beautiful human creations of God versus seeing them as accomplishments, numbers and achievements.  I think this is something very prevalent in today's society and most parents I see personally and professionally struggle with it as well. While I am extremely embarrassed to admit that I agonize with this, I am at least working really hard to overcome it.

I will never forget my parent's reaction to my report card in 1st grade.  I was only five years old and had no notion of grades and honor rolls but my Mom and Dad made a huge fuss about me getting straight A's.  I remember them taking me out to lunch that day and afterwards, they let me pick out a cute new sailor skort. A few days later, I recall going to McDonald's and the employee stamped an M on my report card and gave me a free kid meal. Most of all, I remember the immense positive feedback and I internalized it deeply.  In all honesty, I was not good at much else aside from school.  I was always the last skinny kid picked for sports teams.  I did not play an instrument and I was not very artistic.  The first time I ever remember getting positive feedback from others was for my grades. And on that day, I began to define myself a little bit by those numbers.

Now, as a parent, I have to really watch myself to not transfer that to my own kids. These days it can be a huge struggle for me.  Unfortunately, numbers are very present in our lives right now.  Our oldest son, Will is looking at colleges.  In fact, just last week he and Dave went to visit UVA and William and Mary. He is preparing for and taking the ACT this fall.  His GPA is a constant topic of discussion as we look at schools that are a good match for him.  Harry, our middle son, is applying to private high schools this fall and is preparing for the HSPT (high school placement test).  Therefore, we are also paying a lot of attention to his GPA and first term grades as those are what the high schools will evaluate in addition to standardized test scores.

Kate is in her competition season for gymnastics.  She works really hard and has such passion for gymnastics. Every weekend, she earns scores on bars, floor, vault and beam. Those numbers are a snapshot of one moment in the meet and not representative of how hard she works all year or how well she does in the gym week after week. They also do not reflect how she cheers on her teammates and delights in their successes as much as her own. Yet the numbers are how she advances.  Sometimes her numbers are great and other times, they are not.

I constantly remind myself to see beyond all of these numbers and just focus on the whole person underneath all of the external measures of success.  But it is hard when the world looks so closely at the numbers.  I tell myself the boys will get into the schools that are a right fit for them.  I remind myself that Kate is only 8 years old and the gymnastics is just an extracurricular activity.  I convince myself that in the big picture of life these things are not that important.  They are happy, healthy, well-rounded kids and that is what matters. But the truth is GPA's and class ranks and test numbers will determine which schools my boys get into.  Numbers will determine if Kate gets to go to the regional or state meet that she desperately hopes to qualify for.  The outside world often looks more at the numbers and I understand the purpose they serve.  But as a parent, I have to make sure that the numbers don't define how I see my children or how I love them.

My kids are thoughtful, giving, God-loving, funny, creative, responsible, entrepreneurial, go getters.  They work hard and they are kind. They are certainly not perfect but they are exactly who I want my children to be.  They invite new kids to sit with them at lunch or play at recess.  They share a snack with someone who forgot to bring one.  They stick up for the kid who is being bullied and open the door for people everyday.  They say please and thank you. They treat others with respect.

This week Kate ran for class president.  She wrote a speech and got up and delivered it to her class.  She did not win but she wasn't even remotely sad about it.  She said, "Mama, I even voted for Dylan.  He really was the best person for the job."  My daughter did not vote for herself.  What 8 year old is that wise and selfless?  I was so proud of her maturity. That cannot be measured in numbers.  Colleges and high schools aren't going to see that stuff in my kids.  Kate's humble heart will not earn her a place at the regional meet or in college.

And that is what I keep reminding myself.  These numbers, these external accomplishments like honor roll or 1st place do not define our kids.  It is the journey.  It is the hard work, the determination, the effort and the heart that will make them good citizens of the world. A child who is reading 3 years above grade level will not necessarily become a fabulous and caring adult. Our kids are not the number on the scoreboard, the report card or a college entrance exam.  And we need to stop treating them as though they are.  We need to spend as much time congratulating our kids and talking to them about good choices, values and character qualities as we do about their accomplishments and successes.  Their character is what will get them through life not the trophies they get for just for showing up.

Yesterday, Kate had an amazing floor routine at the meet and she got her highest score ever.  I was really proud of her and guilty of sharing it on Facebook.  But what I should have shared and what I was most proud of was how when her teammate was called up to the podium, Kate hugged her and tried to hold her hand.  In the car, I told her how proud I was of that.  And she said, "Oh Mama there is nothing better than being up there with your teammate right next to you. That's the best!"

In this age of social media, we blast our children's accomplishments all over our facebook pages, blogs, instagram and twitter accounts.  I am guilty of it too.  The irony of my last post is not lost on me.  But why do we do it?  Just because our child scored the most goals does not mean that we are a good parent.  Are we measuring our parenting by the ruler of our children's accomplishments?  A friend recently confessed that she felt like a failure as a parent because her children did not excel in anything.  That really struck me.  One has nothing to do with the other.  Sure, I think we need to expose our children to various activities and we need to support and encourage them if they love something.  But their accomplishments are not a reflection of our success at parenting.

In my opinion, parents have one real job and that is to love our children unconditionally.  That means we love them when they win first place and when they come in last.  We love them when they are behaving the way we want them to and when they are not.  We love them when they are excelling in school and when they are struggling.  We love them whether they succeed or fail.  In fact, true unconditional love is deciding to love our children when it is especially hard to love them.

As parents we need to make sure our kids know that we are proud of who they are not what they accomplish.  We need to focus on what really matters instead of what the world or the media tell us matters. And I am working really hard to try to do that everyday.

I know it is not a good photo (I was far away) but I managed to capture part of when Kate put her arm around her teammate yesterday. You can see how happy she is for her friend and teammate. That was a winning moment.


Kate, the gymnast

Sunday, September 7, 2014
I cannot believe that a whole month flew by without a post here!  All 3 kids went back to school and I ramped up at work and in my volunteer work and life has just been full (trying not to use the b- word).

I hope to post back to school pictures and some other things from summer but I had to post this first.

I don't write much on here (at least I don't think I do) about Kate's gymnastics.  She trains 3 days a week for 3 and 1/2 or 4 hours a day year round.  They never take time off and sometimes train on or around holidays even. She works out Christmas week y'all! She goes straight from school to the gym on MWF and does not get home until 8p.m.  She misses a lot of playdates and some parties and sleepovers but she LOVES it.  She honestly would not have it any other way. She never complains about going to practice or the physical work.  She tumbles all over our house all day long.

One day this summer I was bemoaning the fact that Kate quit ballet with a friend.  I love watching her dance and I want her to be well rounded.  Kate overheard me and piped up saying ,"But Mama aren't I so lucky that I found my passion already at 8 years old?!"  And I said, "Yes, Kate.  Yes you are!"

So gymnastics is different than the sports the boys play because you work and train ALL YEAR for just 4 or 5 (maybe 6 if you go to regionals) meets a year.  And the meets are all in about 6 weeks time.  That makes each meet kinda high pressure.

So, Kate's first meet of this year was yesterday.  She has been working on her routines all summer long.   She was so excited.

They got new competition leotards and warm ups again this year.   They are quite sparkly!





All these are I-phone pics.  I really wanted to just watch Kate and not be behind a big lens.  So, I did not bring my big camera.  I am kinda regretting that.  Also, I asked Harry to videotape.  His battery went dead in the beginning of Kate's floor routine.  I REALLY wanted that video most of all.  Oh well.


{Kate and her friends before the meet}

Kate's first event (and her favorite this year) was beam...

She did great.  She scored a 9.525 (and that was with a deduction for overtime--when they ring the bell).

Next was floor.  She went 1st for her team and I could see that she was a little nervous but she did really well.  I hate that we only got the very beginning on video.

Kate scored a 9.4 on floor and landed a perfect round-off back-hand-spring!

Next up was vault...

Kate scored a 9.4 for vault also.

At this point I she is doing well but I was not paying a lot of attention to all the other gymnasts scores.  I was really just watching our team.

Their final event was bars and this is their team's toughest even this year I think.  It might not look hard but they have some tricky new skills (a shoot through and a front hip circle cast).  I hate when they do bars last because they are so tired and bars requires a lot of upper body strength and energy.

Kate was most nervous about the bars.  In practice, she sometimes falls.  Her bar routine was really good but she did not 100% stick her landing causing her to get a 9.3 (which is still really good).

This level is a little different from last year in that there are age groups and placement.  That means, if you place in an event, you get a medal.  If not, you don't get anything.  I had low expectations because Kate did well last year but we never really kept track of placement.

During the awards ceremony they began with vault.  They called Kate to the podium for 3rd place!  We were THRILLED! Last year, Kate really struggled with her vault.  Next, they announced bars and she won 2nd place!  Again, we were shocked and thrilled.  Kate's little face was BEAMING.  Then they announced beam and Kate won 1st place!  I could not believe it.  I was so surprised.  The next event announced was floor and again Kate won 1st place!!  Finally, they announced the all around winners and Kate won 1st place for her division. She had a 37.625!  I was completely overcome with JOY.  It was so unexpected and so thrilling I cannot even put it into words. She got two gold medals, one silver and one bronze.  The trophy was for 1st place all around.


Harry was super zoomed in hence the pixelated poor quality of these shots.





I wish you could see her face better in these she was so overjoyed.

We don't focus too much on winning with Kate.  I want Kate to try her best but there are tons of little girls out there all trying their best, all working hard and training for long hours. Sometimes Kate thinks everyone else is better than her.  Sometimes she doubts herself so this was the best confidence booster for her.

Kate's teammates rushed around her to see her trophy and congratulate her. It was very sweet. I was so shocked and shaking with joy that my photos are just awful.  I was so unprepared.


With her amazing coaches.


Harry was so proud of his little sister.  I loved seeing that!


Will had a prior commitment but he was super proud of her too.

And finally, Coach Andy with Kate and another friend who finished 1st in her age division.


She has another meet this coming weekend and we hope she has another great day.  I will be bringing fully charged cameras this time;)