Monday, April 28, 2008


Success is measured in different ways in our home, I have learned. We have had children on every side of ability when it comes to cognitive skills at given ages. We have a few that learned to read early (really early) and one or two that were about age level and a few who have struggled. Along the way I have educated myself with a load of info about Asperger's Syndrome:
Auditory Processing challenges , Sensory Integration issues, Epilepsy, all sort of neurological challenges....I didn't come into this race feeling adequately trained or prepared for what was set before me. I used to measure success by doing something before grade level, then I measured by grade level, today I measure in smiles, hope, a move forward (even if it was predicated with a few moves backwards). I measure with how well I am able to hold it together when I must review the same thing we reviewed every day for a few weeks, and then a moment, the child gets some glimmer of getting it and wha la SUCCESS....hope for tomorrow.
Moms I hope you don't get out a yard stick type chart and measure your children. We take test, we figure out what we need and we move on. In light of the upcoming achievement test, learn to look at all that is happening and measure only in the context of your on reality and HOPE. I have learned and continue to learn that this is not a sprint, it really is a marathon and I may appear behind the curve or ahead of the curve, but no one can call the true standings with out running in my shoes. Today, all of my kids are happy, playing in the mud, searching for bugs, loving on the little ones, some curled up reading books in quiet trees (the ones I wouldn't have expected to be able to do this just one year ago), today is already a success and we won't start what everyone else calls real school for another hour.
I love my life and I am happy where I am at.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Florida Living

these are just shamelessly cute pictures for no good reason except to say.....

everyone should go on a trip to anywhere, even if it is just the park and watch carefully, look in their eyes, make memories on purpose and laugh, loud, hard, tears rolling out of your eyes, your belly hurts laugh. don't worry about how they look, or how you look, what you will have for lunch or if all the laundry is done. take a moment, drink in your family, let it fill your chest with pride, close your eyes, listen to the sounds, imprint them on your heart, in your spirit and never let it go.

go do this now, where you are....we are shaking daddy's birthday balloons, loving on our dog that we missed, smelling fresh laundry as it gets put away, letting mud squish through our toes as we put flowers in and thinking about burgers and a birthday celebration.

What memory are you making?

More Than Ever

Our family has walked through so much for so many years that the last two years of calm has been welcome. When we first started this journey, I took for granted that everyone would understand where I came from and then later as we had more children, I took for granted that most would care about the things we were facing with our children. I was wrong. That, is okay. During the end of some great struggles and a time in our family where I was forced to decide what would be enough for me, I realized that God must always be enough. Honestly, I wondered 'does he really care that much?' I know, I know, the taboo question in the Christian walk, but I asked it, loudly, often, through tears, anger, frustration. I spent hours, weeks, and months wandering loudly through this walk and then quiet. QUIET....not fighting anymore, not moving against the tide of what was happening in our lives, not trying to manipulate the plan, just QUIET, STILLNESS. Only after I quit doing, did I feel real movement in my life. I woke up every morning and decided to just put one foot in front of the other, prayer, dishes, laundry, homeschooling, prayer, vacuuming, dusting, get the picture. My life changed. This week while at the beach watching the waves, I remembered much of this. I realized that life had gotten a bit chaotic again and it was time to bring things down a notch, putting one foot in front of the other, not looking too far ahead, enjoying where we are in this walk. I made promises three years ago, just to try and take a new breath every moment, to survive and be kind for three years, that is all I wanted, one breath to the next. I wasn't sure sometimes if I would keep breathing. It was the one foot in front of the other, believing for miracles, but not manipulating them and breathing, staying alive. This has happened. All of it, the miracles, the hope, the healing, the restoration, the staying alive. I had forgotten about this promise and the day of the promised anniversary came near and I remembered, how big God is. Seeing the ocean, seeing my sweet Donnie, breathing deeply the sea air and not struggling wondering if I would take the next breath, I know that God is enough, God does care, and I will re-focus. This is a new season, no crisis, going sane, raising kids, one foot in front of the other, living in restoration and gratitude. I have big hopes for this season, hopes for further restoration in other relationships, hope for a deeper walk with the Lord, believing for my children's walks with the Lord to be embraced, hope for more than ever.

This is my hope.

What is yours

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Energy Boost

We just returned with a new shot of energy from our beach trip. Every time I see the ocean I am reminded of how small I am in this world and how little so many of the daily things we worry about really matter. I come back refreshed and ready to tackle the world along with a new respect for taking care of our space, more on that later. While we were gone life went on and Memphis never stopped moving, but for just a few days my world slowed down and I found a renewed peace. Thanks to each of you who sent well wishes, and questions of where I was and why I wasn't writing, it meant a lot to be missed. I will write tons more in the very near future about some of the things I thought about and saw while gone, but for now have a peaceful day.
These are my ramblings.
Now, go share yours.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Am I The Only One?

I am the only one that does kids have it really bad. Those are the words we say to ourselves so often. I sat with a group of women I love and have come to call family the last two years, moms, like me of big families. One private school family of high income, one homeschool family of average income, one family with most of their children out of or on their way away from home and college, and me, the one who never fits in a box. These ladies and I were all lamenting about running out of nice, yelling at the kids when a dessert falls apart on the way out the door, why are the shoes in the floor and am I the only one who raises my voice (as my 4 year old just spilled my coffee and I yelled at the girls that they aren't moving fast enough as I bellow "tooooweeellllllll"), puts their children down in a huff for bed or lays awake thinking there must be a better way. I know that sometimes I believe my children will feel or be something, because I did, but we DO NOT have the same story, so they do not filter these experiences the same way. I don't think I am the only one and I want to say that I know we (the moms) are not right, or fair, we don't have good reasons, but we aren't alone and our kids aren't going to be marred forever. Last night as I asked my kids to recall some things about what I thought was the worst time of our lives, they only vaguely remembered sketchy details. Wow, I didn't leave them undone for life. They do remember clearly the pain of loosing their grandparents and the grief during those times, but not the things I blamed on myself. My children instead recall me hugging on them through the long season of momma sleeping too much. My children remember me doing spelling practice during the few weeks they were in a neighborhood school that broke my heart. My children remember that things 'seemed sad', but that it all worked out and we are good today, so it must not have been so bad.
Today, I am grateful that Joel 2:25 says " I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten, the great locusts, and the young locusts, and the other locusts and the locust that swarm.” then He says I will repay for years the locust have eaten. " Praise be to God. This is happening in our life and I want to honor it, acknowledge it. The enemy has stolen so much from me, from conception all most, I came into this game with a loss, but God is gracious and prayer has prevailed and I can't even list all the ways He has kept his promises that I found during the long nights of mourning and pain of loss untold and unexplainable, but today there is years being repaid. My mother and I have been traveling a road of reconciliation, my husband and are happy, happy, joyful, at peace, my pain and hurt are honored but not controlling in my life and my children will be just fine. Thank you Lord.
This is where I am today, it could change, but my hope will be renewed again and again.
Go thank God for where you are today, no matter where that place is, even if it is the pits.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Going Sane

That is the official thought about me and the changes and reactions that I am having to life, I am going sane. I am learning to live in calm, or relative calm, but I am nCheck Spellingot creating or seeking unhealthy chaos and I am now duly alarmed when it comes my way. I recognize unhealthy things for what they are, I actually smell the smoke before there is a blow up, because it isn't all normal to be nuts in my life anymore. I LOVE THIS.
My mom and I survived trauma in our home we lived together but were for all purposes surviving in the enemy camp for many years. I didn't recognize what most people consider alarming for years, because normal alarming was normal for me, it took reallllyy news making crazy for me to understand that we had stepped into nuts, and even then, I might have thought others lived the same way. I can't speak for my mom, but I am sure she used and equal amount of energy surviving and we didn't realize until it wasn't required anymore and then and only then did we go "wow, that was crazy" but for me it has taken almost 20 years on the other side to do that. I am going sane.
Maybe if you think you are going crazy, you will be able to realize that it is really life, cleverly disguised as HEALTHY.
Today I am grateful for
Planning a trip for fun with my family, my entire family including my momma to Florida next week...there is hope and healing
I am grateful for the ability to write and have someone, anyone listen, thanks
I am grateful for the trauma, today, maybe not tommorrow, but today, because I breathe deeper and laugh harder, and cry louder, it is nice
I am grateful for the inability to forgive on my on, it keeps me dependent on a God who can help me
I am grateful for normal crazy like school schedules, lunch dates, and rental car value saving plans, it is safe and I am happy
I am grateful my mom is safe and finding peace with her place in the family we have made for ourselves
I am grateful for a husband who comes home
I am grateful that my children are safe at night
I am grateful to be a two parent, one income, family
I am grateful for Highland Street Church of Christ and the open family I have there
I am grateful that I can feel however I want even angry or afraid or sad and I will be safe in the arms of my sweet Donnie.
This is what I am grateful for today.
What are you grateful for?
Write it down and share with someone.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Adventures of Summer(2007)

I am posting this today....even though it happened last summer, we are headed out to this little piece/peace of heaven in just one short week.....

Today my four year old is singing "going to the beach, going to the beach, going to the beach next week" to a catchy tune I recognize but can't name. Kind of like people you see from highschool, but more on that later.
Recent Adventures
Laguna Beach, Florida A few seasons ago we decided that we wanted to study Marine Biology. This can be a challenging endeavor with children from the age of 14 down to three, but alas I decided I was up to it. The first step in this process was finding a good guide. I tend to be more of a do it momma than a be lectured to momma so textbooks are not usually my first choice. I was surprised to find….., with that we began adventure. It wasn’t long into this small chapter of our Science Ed. did we realize we were going to be forced to go to the beach and discover this for ourselves. Our first trip was to the Tampa Bay/Clearwater area. We went in February so the weather wasn’t expected to be great. However, the family was blessed with 3 balmy days in the 7o’s. The bug had bitten. We all had the chance to really see the tide changing during the day, taste the salt water, and watch glorious sunsets over the water.With resolve we returned home to Memphis, studied for a few more months and in August we were off to Laguna Beach Florida. In laguna beach we saw a shark on the very first day just a few feet from us. We weren’t afraid, the memory of all of our study kicked in and Sarah Kay (6th grade) reminded us that we were more likely to be killed by a falling coconut than a shark, I must say that wasn’t much comfort with the shark in the water just a breath away from my children.The second day of our trip started with exploration. We found two great sandbars right there on the beautiful emerald coast of Florida. While wading out the children and daddy all found a quick sure step into the world of snorkeling. Treasure found included sand dollars (live ones),hermit crabs in the natural habitat (not the plastic habitats we are used to seeing) and hundreds of small (palm sized fish) that swam around our feet constantly. On the last day Donnie shared that the sand colored flat things swimming away when we kicked up sand were probably rays of some sort (glad he waited).On the third afternoon of our stay our cottage neighbors arrived with a few hundred pounds of Mahi-Mahi and Red Snapper. The language barrier was quickly crossed and all of us had a blast watching as the fish caught just off of the very coast we had been enjoying was prepared for dinner. We even saw one that was snatched by a shark on the way out of the water on the way to the boat (as evidenced by the remaining head). It was at this point I was decidedly set against seeing anymore sharks near our feet. The best part of the entire evening was being able to watch the sweet lady of these hungry fisherman cook up the fish, whole (with the eyeballs and all) with a dash of garlic and served with fresh lime and homemade Mexican rice. They then sent plate after plate of fish home with our greedy little hands. A blessing indeed.The pike family is studying birds next….watch out Audubon Society here we come.

POST NOTE- We never really got to the birds (we did go to an Audbon site and spent an entire day with the naturalist). We instead, studied Astronomy this year after a short science break.

We will be in the salt water in one short week.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

On Purpose Peace

Biology, Medieval History, American History, Algebra 2, Pre-Algebra, Physical Science, Long Division, Hooked on Phonics....Lions and Tigers and Bears oh my, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Mondays if you please, Classical Ballet and off to HiS Choir to sing.... these are things I am doing this week and preparing for...for NEXT year. Overwhelmed? Yes.

I simply never imagined my life like this, I didn't dare to imagine life very much before the kids and for the first 7 years of parenting I imagined sleep. I am my mother's only child, and I wasn't that interested anything growing up. I have 6 children who long to learn and be, actively be. Sometimes, I let my mind wander to a place where I can be somebody different, doing things that others see and say thanks and good job for what I have done, where someone reads inspirational things I have written or a short story I have stashed away. I imagine writing about my experiences in a way that will make a difference then I experiences are making a difference. I try to remind myself (before yelling about the stinky van or the messy house or the cramps that I am having, yes I am human)the children and who they become will have been my greatest most valuable contribution to change in this world. If I pour myself into children and encourage them to be peaceful, hopeful, humans, it will not matter if I accomplish anything else. I will of course accomplish other things, but this will matter most for this season, that was my choice, is my choice, when I conceived them and every day there after, now that is radical pro-living, I don't imagine doctors, lawyers and such (though I wouldn't object), I imagine mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, adults who love their community actively, who know it is important to vote (even in the rain). I hope for children who will love what they do, no matter what it is, who will want to come home and eat meals together, who will have children that have hope. So, all the things I am doing, will not make or break us, really I just need to be aware, aware of their spirit, to encourage them to know all they do is important, even when it is wrong, every action makes a difference, it causes a ripple in the space they fill that will move the people around them in one way or another.

I am not prone to sending out peace, not without actively reminding myself, I am practiced at being a over-demanding, often cranky, loud momma.

Today(or in the morning since it is bedtime) I will be peaceful on purpose. Here's a thought, peaceful bedtime, may mean peaceful sleep, which in turn could lend itself to a peaceful day. I will let you know how it turns out.

These are my thoughts today.

What are yours?

Go share them with someone you love.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Hug them, hug them hard, hug them again. This week Zachary and I attended the funeral of a 33 yr old momma who Zachary received a ride from 4 out of 5 days a week in 7th grade and we are processing the idea that a small child we have prayed for over year went home to Jesus after a valiant battle against Leukemia, my children and children around the world prayed for this baby every day. I don't doubt God, I don't question Him anymore, I know that through our on experiences that the answers sometimes don't show themselves for years, decades, and some not at all until heaven, even when they come I usually don't understand them. I am however sad, and my body feels heavy. I am speaking in multiple forms of first person,but loss stinks for all. I have had to see too many little people, young children, babies, buried, it never gets easier. I find myself unable to absorb it, I hope I never can absorb it fully, that would leave my spirit dulled. Being close to death stinks there is no way to say it nicer. I am sick of it, we weren't made to die and so it hurts.
We have buried babies, mothers, fathers, friends, a papaw, a granny, miscarried children and ultimately history in the past 7 years. The pain is great, the mourning is often physically painful, I feel it hurt to my bones, in my bones, through my body. The Word say there may be sorrow in the night, but dancing in the morning.
I will write more later....I will try to put into words how I, my family, my children, my sweet husband have found peace in the midst of many storms, many losses, there is hope and peace. I feel this hope and peace even in present pain, my story, my spirit is like that, often mingled with so many polar opposite moments in the same breath.
Utter grief, new pain......Hope and Peace, gratitude even
I find myself grieving all over again with the ideas of you each today....grief is a process, ugh.
I miss you, each of you, who are not mentioned often enough in my words but more than anyone will know your names and memories are spoken in my spirit, in the deepest parts of me, that is where I hold you.
I don't want to forget your face and I worry that it has been so long since I heard your voice or that it will seem like you weren't important because I never heard you cry or laugh.....but I have to believe that these are unfounded fears, as I recall you, each of you this moment. Sometimes I believe that grief is the worst pain.
This is where I am today.
Share with someone where you are.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Just A Day at the Beach

I decided as we ready to go to the beach to celebrate my sweet Donnie's 40th, I would share more pictures of my sweet family. We spent the day on lake Michigan off of Lundt where my aunt lives in Chicago, it was me and our 6 children, my Aunt Barbara and 2 of her 4 grandchildren (my cousins kids if you are keeping count), my Aunt Nadia who helped chase kids, build sand castles and tan, and my Aunt Marnie with her beautiful little girl Allie (my youngest cousin) again, 3 generations if you are keeping count, of strong spirited Holton women. Watch out Chicago. We had a blast.

Part of Who I Am

I have spent many summers in a pose for the most recent picture....these are my children, my cousin children and MY youngest first cousin.....All that comes to mind is the promise of generational blessing to the obediant, thanks Grandma and Grandpa.

Happy Birthday Great Grandma, I shared birthday surprise most summers of my life in Chicago/Lombard

My Sarah taking MY place at the game table with Grandma Holton...

Our baby DJ with Great Grandpa who he always finds comfort with.

This the two and three year old set of great granchildren...
Ava (who belongs to Jeff), Jessie (who belongs to John), and DJ (who belongs to me, of course)

These are the people who help make me who I family, all shapes, sizes and colors.
My grandmother turned 81 last summer. I was blessed to spend the week helping her celebrate with my children and my cousins children, my youngest first cousin, and my aunts, all people who make up the thread that holds me together with just the right mix of tension and tender touch. I spent every summer of my childhood in the backyard pictured. It is now filled to the brim with my very on children every summer. It was a safe place, a refuge. There in a few weeks I found hope and courage to make it through the rest of the year. Now as an adult, I take my children there, we share so many of the same traditons....listening to the birthday song as only my Grandparents and family can sing it...Bless oh Lord this food...squeals in the pool, grandpa in the garden, homemade fruit salad and multiple trips to the store for things that can probably be found in the chasms of the basement or freezer. I find myself surrounded by my cousins, my safety nets, my hope, my aunts who love me know matter what and I always cry when my Grandma hugs me the first time we lay eyes on eachother after a few long months.
This is who I am, all of me.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Usually, but not Always

Usually, I have tops too low cut for the homeschool crowd, but not risque enough for the others, who ever they are.
Too, liberal for my conservative christian faith, but to conservative to be considered important enough to take serious.
Usually, I am not easily offended, but most of the time I don't let that mean I can't say the truth I have come to witness in my story.
Mostly, I am opinionated, but my opinions don't fit the box, any box.
I have friends from both sides of the tracks of politics, socio-economics and faith, I love them all and they love me, or at least encouraged. I am not sure where I fit.
My kids only like me every now and again, my husband likes me more every day, and I like myself enough to be happy when I wake up.
I go to bed in peace if I know that God and husband are pleased and blessed by life, in that order, (but I have found if I am pleasing my husband I know that God is pleased), that is another really conservative view....apparently.
Trauma changed me once for the worse, but now I am becoming more of my best every day in every part and every way.
The shape of my box has never been one that can be easily wrapped in any roll of paper.
I am ok with that, today.
This is where I am at today.
How about you? Now tell someone.