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Family Kids

This Boy

Today my proud mom thoughts turn to my boy. Yesterday I got an email from Joshua’s school asking for photos since they are putting together a graduation slideshow. Joshua’s school journey has been anything but normal. He’s literally done every kind of school there is, I think…semi-private kindergarten to the public government school in South Africa to homeschool in America to public school in America back to homeschool in South Africa to a sort of homeschool taught by a real teacher (not me) in South Africa to private school to online school to finally ending with a charter school in Texas. He’s adapted to each one so easily. I stayed in the same school district with mostly the same kids from 1st grade until I graduated. I can’t imagine having to adapt to so much change, but he’s done it.

He finished high school early, back in November. They asked us if he wanted to participate in graduation in May. At the time, we weren’t sure where we’d be, so he opted out of donning a cap and gown. And here we are now, in the middle of a pandemic, where walking the stage isn’t even possible.

As I’ve looked back on photos of Joshua throughout his childhood, I am struck by how they’ve captured just who he is. This kid is hilarious and has a golden sense of humor. I say he’s like me in that. He says he’s not at all like me, because he’s actually funny. I have to laugh at the time he went to school dressed in a cardboard box or the time we were camping and he put on knit gloves and goggles to tend the fire. And though this boy of mine is totally content being an introvert, his sense of adventure is clearly evident. We’ve traveled the world with our kids, and Joshua’s always been one excited to experience it all.

As we close this chapter of high school and I get all nostalgic looking at photos filled with such beautiful memories, I feel a twinge of bittersweetness as we embark on the next season of life with an adult child. I’m also excited on the memories to be made in this new season.

Family Kids

This Girl

Some days I think we’re as different as night and day. Other days, like today, as she sits taking an AP exam while I type this, and I see her hard work and discipline to achieve, I think that maybe we’re more alike than I thought. Either way, I’m so proud of her.

This week we’re coming to the end of her freshman year (which has been the longest freshman year ever that started January 2019 and only ends now…that’s what happens when you change schools on different continents with different start and end dates). I can’t believe she’s already finishing one year of school in America. This move has probably been the hardest for her and yet she’s handled it with such grace and determination. I’m super proud of her for making the decision to make the best out of it even though it has been incredibly hard.

Grieving our move from South Africa to America has come in different waves and stages. We’re all still adjusting, even a year later. Today I’m just especially thankful for my kids and their resilience and intent to make something the best it can be.

Family

Shelter In Place Nostalgia

The past week and a half, a friend of ours has been sending us some nostalgia from the past as she’s been going through treasures during shelter in place. It’s been a welcome treat! I remember looking through photo albums at my grandmother’s house every time we would go visit her. It was always so fun to look at them and hear the stories. It was a way of passing down the family history.

Even when we moved into our house in Texas back in August, we found photo albums from 20 years ago, and the kids (and us) got a kick out of looking through (and laughing at) the memories.

In this digital world, I don’t print photos like I used to, therefore, there’s not many albums to look through. Here’s a stake in the ground to changing that, because it’s a beautiful thing to be able to pass down photos and history!

Take some time this week to look through photos and remember the stories. Here’s mine from the gems I received this week.

Celebrating my 21st birthday in Louisiana. If I remember right, the cake said, “Happy 12th Birthday, Jenny.”
Me and the hubs. We were engaged, don’t think we were married yet.
Circa 2002. How do you like that flavor savor and flipped out hair? Oh, how styles change.
Gosh. This little nugget just turned 18. He was such an easy firstborn.
Family Kids

Happy 18th Birthday, Joshua!

It’s true that time really does fly. I can’t believe that today we are celebrating our firstborn’s 18th birthday. It truly does seem like yesterday we were bringing home that 9 lb. 12 oz bundle of cuteness. In honor of Joshua’s birthday, today I’m sharing 10 favorite things that have to do with Joshua.

1. His sense of humor. He’s so funny with his sly jokes. One time Jeremy commented that Joshua and I have a similar sense of humor to which Joshua replied, “No, we don’t.” I was shocked, because we actually do. Then, he added, “I’m funny.” Yep. There it is. That sense of humor!

2. When Joshua was about 7, we were living in Texas for a sabbatical time. Jeremy told Joshua he would pay him $3 to pick up all the sticks in the backyard. A couple of hours later we find Emma Grace picking up sticks and Joshua in his room. We asked Emma Grace what she was doing, and she happily replied that her brother was paying her $1 to pick up all the sticks. We didn’t know whether to be mad or to laugh in that moment!

3. His sensitivity to the feelings of others. It’s a beautiful thing.

4. His love for learning and reading. I’m always impressed by his thirst for knowledge.

5. When he was 3 or 4, we had a weekly evening gathering at our house. It always went way past Joshua’s bedtime, so we would put him to bed while everyone was still there. One night in particular he couldn’t stand being in bed while everyone was downstairs, so he got up and sat at the bottom of the stairs in a spot where it was hard to see him, but he could hear what was going on. Of course, we discovered he was there and took him back to bed. It happened again, so we told him to stay in bed or we would take his nightlight out of his room. We thought that would do the trick, so we were shocked when we discovered him at the bottom of the stairs again. We were even more shocked when he handed us the nightlight. Guess we chose the wrong punishment!

6. I love being able to have an intelligent conversation with him while learning interesting facts about just about anything. It always keeps the conversation interesting.

7. This video of his 12th birthday.

8. I love that he’s not afraid to say what he thinks or wants.

9. That smile of his. Melts this mama’s heart!

10. Most of all, I love Joshua for who he is, because who he is is pretty great!

Happy 18th birthday, Joshua! I love you with all my heart!

Africa Family Thoughts Travel

Human Life Is Valuable

It’s been a little over two years since I posted anything in this space. So much has happened in those two years from saying goodbye to our home of twelve years to moving continents to where we are now – fighting against the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.

My daughter and I just returned from South Africa a week ago. I was in transit during that dreadful 9/11 day in 2001. I was supposed to fly when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, but our flight was canceled, and we ended up stuck in London for a week. I’ve flown during some crazy times, but flying during the COVID-19 pandemic was a little unnerving. Our flight from London to Dallas was packed, because lots of people were re-routed through there since Dallas was one of a handful of airports doing health screenings. We received a health questionnaire on the plane. I totally expected thorough checks and vetting. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. Immigration was a breeze. No one even asked for our questionnaires let alone suggested we self-quarantine. It made this virus seem like no big deal although I knew this wasn’t the case.

We decided to self-quarantine anyway. I believe I’m healthy enough to fight this thing off, but if I’m a carrier, well, human life is way too valuable for me to be careless going around spreading this to others, especially the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. I think I can hunker down at home with my favorite people in the world in an attempt to flatten the curve. I just wish everyone would do the same. If we’re going to stop this dead in its tracks, we’ve got to let go of our freedom for a moment and just stay home.

There’s a lot of fear and a lot of unknown out there. I’ve decided as a daily practice to try and spread a little joy through this blog of mine. Who knows what I’ll post, but I do hope it will bring a smile in the midst of everything going on right now.

Love you all. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be smart.