Summer Stories…

It’s been a pretty good summer so far.

I go to work as if nothing has changed, and my family goes to water parks, watches matinees at Cinemark, hangs out with friends, and dresses up like cows to eat a lot of free food at, as our youngest puts it, “Chick-a-Lay.” (Feel bad for me. I’m a victim!) Seriously though, it’s literally my job, and I’m glad that the kids are having a pretty great childhood. In the ever-so-wise words of One Direction, they are “Living while they’re young.”

16 Cow Salute. Yes, we have a big family, but this is my family with two others.

16 Cow Salute. Yes, we have a big family, but this isn’t just mine. Three families are represented here.

Ever since April, My free nights and weekends have been monopolized with tree trimming. We’ve had two trees creep into our shingles and another that was on the verge of falling on my neighbors house (i.e. leaning at a 60 degree angle with a rotting trunk). I’ve enlisted my little Colombinos here and there to help me with said project. Unfortunately, I didn’t specifically say, “don’t use the random saw laying on the ground without my supervision.” Yes, I had a kid cut his finger. After I saw that it wasn’t serious, I was about to explain how that wasn’t mature and he needed to be careful and get instructions before he touched anything. However, my son, still dripping blood, preempted me and quickly said, “You don’t have to say anything. I already learned my lesson.” Truthfully, he learned his lesson over the next few weeks when he didn’t get to do fun stuff with his siblings in order to keep the wound from reopening.

A few weeks later, we were moving all of the wood that we cut to the woodpile. As we were setting logs, heavy-handedly, on the pile, a little rat shot out from underneath and darted under the fence into the neighbor’s yard. First, let me point out that I have known that rat was there for several weeks. Being a man in a family of seven with two bathrooms, on occasion I will relieve myself in the back-yard, especially if it is dark out. On one such occasion, I have observed our little friend scurrying around while my lazy dogs are lounging in the flowerbed deciding it’s not worth it. I too, decided it’s not a big deal and didn’t want to go to the trouble of killing an animal that isn’t inside our house. Also, I know Beth hates them. She hates squirrels, whom she believes are “socially acceptable rats”, and any time she is confronted with them, all logic escapes her. For these reasons, I allowed her and the rest of the family to live in blissful ignorance, until the woodpile episode. At this point, the “rat” was out of the bag. I immediately told the kids, “do not tell your mother.” That lasted until our first water break. We immediately went in and someone said, “Dad told us not to tell you about something.” An intense interrogation made another crack and they divulged their secret. This had the effect I thought it would, and Beth freaked out. After I dealt with the Beth, I talked to the kids. I asked them why they told mom about the rat after I asked them not to. Our oldest daughter, a champion of truth, said, “but you told us to always tell the truth and not keep secrets. We can only keep secrets if we are making something a surprise.” Dang. It stinks when past me interferes with what current me is trying to do.

I know it is hard to take your eyes off of the lovely trimmed tree, but this is where our friendly little rat lives... let's be honest, there's probably about 10 to 20 in there. We cut a lot of wood.

I know it is hard to take your eyes off of the lovely trimmed tree, but this is where our friendly little rat lives… let’s be honest, there’s probably about 10 to 20 in there. We cut a lot of wood.

Speaking of embarrassing moments, our little girl, on the way to my uncle’s house for the Fourth of July, was playing with one of the plastic whiffle-balls we had brought with us (for entertainment until it was time for fireworks). Beth told her, “If you get your finger stuck in one of those little holes, I’m going to laugh.” Sure enough, she got her finger stuck in the whiffle ball, and Beth started laughing at her. That made her cry which led to a flood of mixed emotions from the rest of the car. Some were in the empathy camp and told mom it wasn’t funny while examining how to get her finger out. Others, myself included, joined in the laughter. Our daughter through the midst of tears shouted to her mother, “It not funny!” This had the opposite effect on her mother. More laughter with about three people saying “Yes, it is!” Beth managed to turn around, and rip the whiffle-ball off like ripping off a Band-aid. Of course this hurt her more which lead to more tears and more laughter. After tears and laughs subsided, we talked about something Beth reminds us all the time… “being able to laugh at ourselves.” For adopted children, our kids have amazing confidence, but their Achilles heel is being teased, especially from one another. Farting is still one of the only things that they do that can be joked about. Everything else is off limits. This little problem reminded us we still have a long way to go… However, I mentioned the whiffle-ball at dinner a few nights ago, and our daughter cracked a smile. We’ll see how it goes.

Fireworks, driving boats, and our first honest-to-goodness camping trip are all in the books, and we’ve been super blessed to have these fun opportunities this summer. Also, our kids are becoming incredibly useful too. We’ve got a pair of lawn-mowers, and this has cut my yard-cutting time in half! The great thing is, they still think this is a treat, even in this heat! If they do what they are told and follow instructions, they GET to mow the yard. We don’t want to burn this, so Beth and I only laugh at them behind closed doors.

Yes. The spiky-haired kid is driving the boat. Notice the adult supervision doesn't seem too worried.

Yes. The spiky-haired kid is driving the boat. Notice the adult supervision doesn’t seem too worried.

You have decided to caulk the wagon and float it across. Hopefully Zeke makes it to Oregon with us! In all honesty, this was a real

You have decided to caulk the wagon and float it across. Hopefully Zeke makes it to Oregon with us! In all honesty, this was a real “water-shed” moment for us.

Nine people in a pop-up trailer. It was great! Air conditioning, grand parents, smores, and all the bike-riding you can stand. Thank you, Cleburne!

Nine people in a pop-up trailer. It was great! Air conditioning, grand parents, smores, and all the bike-riding you can stand. Thank you, Cleburne!

Believe it or not, this was his New Year's Resolution - to ride a bike without training wheels. I didn't realize he would catch on so fast, so when he asked me to take the training wheels off, I told him to see how he did on his sister's first. Hence the Barbie accessories.

Believe it or not, this was his New Year’s Resolution – to ride a bike without training wheels. I didn’t realize he would catch on so fast, so when he asked me to take the training wheels off, I told him to see how he did on his sister’s first. Hence the Barbie accessories.

Oldest son on the Husquvarna (However you spell that).

Oldest son on the Husquvarna (However you spell that).

Middle son on the Ryobi. With the discharge guard up, the grass isn't as clumpy, but it sure goes all over the place.

Middle son on the Ryobi. With the discharge guard up, the grass isn’t as clumpy, but it sure goes all over the place.

Parenting is still awesome!

At the dinnermesa,

Tyler

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Jurassic Decisions…

Our family loves movies, our kids love dinosaurs, Beth loves Chris Pratt, and I love getting out of the house, so the new “Jurassic World” movie seemed like a great Friday night activity.

Understanding that we would be providing the Parental Guidance for this PG-13 film, we thought it would be fun to let our oldest son, who will be 10 in a few weeks, see it. I’m fully aware that this may be a bad-parent call in some of your minds (and I respect your right to disagree), but Beth and I definitely talked it over and decided it was OK, since we felt like we knew what our boy could handle and since the rating was based upon suspense and horror instead of curse words and sex. We had a decision, we arranged child care for the younger kids, and we made plans to go.

However, when we shared our plans with the family, our middle son instantly got that dejected look in his face because he wanted to go. Beth and I were on the fence about it. I remember as a 13-year-old how the first “Jurassic Park” made my heart pump when it first came out, and while I thought it would be a OK for my 10-year-old, I thought it might be a little too scary for my 7-year-old.

“Because I want it” is almost never a reason to get something at our house, but we like to include as many kids as we can when we do activities, so we did something dangerous (This may really push you over the top on bad-parent calls) – We made it his decision.

We talked to him and explained that it was going to be scary and that watching a movie at the theater is way more intense then watching it at home. We also told him that playing with his brother and sisters might be a lot of fun too, and it would be the safe choice. It was made known that if he goes, mom and dad weren’t going to miss out on a movie and sit with him outside if he chickened out. Once he committed to it, he would be with us the entire time. This was not to be callous, but it was to make him think through the consequences and learn to live with them, good or bad.

With the proposition set, you would have thought I asked him whether or not we should have dropped the bomb on Japan. The boy agonized over that decision for three days. He definitely wanted to go, but the no backing out part really gave him pause. Several times, I saw him tear up about it when I asked him if he had made a decision or not. I usually don’t let our kids twist in the wind as much as I did, but for one of the first times in his life, he was making a difficult, adult-like decision, weighing both sides and figuring out what to do. Fortunately this was the better of two goods instead of the lesser of two evils (like a lot of adult decisions), but it wasn’t a clear-cut “no-brainer” choice that he was used to dealing with.

I understand that I could have done some things on my part to make this easier (go to a different movie with him, buy a movie for him to watch at his grandparents, allow him to leave the movie if it got too intense, let him sleep with us that night if he was scared, etc.), but I decided against it. More times than not, we as parents jump through hoops to push consequences out of our children’s lives such that they can’t make decisions whilst being mindful of them.

The day of the movie came, and he announced to us that he decided he would wait for it to come out on video in a few months. His ticket went to his older sister who, in her own decision, planned to stay with her two younger siblings at the grandparents house so they would be less jealous if the middle son went.

I was proud of the maturity it took for a seven-year-old to say no to something they wanted (something some adults need to do from time to time… Yes, I’m talking to myself with my Mt. Dew habit). There have been a few times we’ve asked our kids to make decisions, and they’ve made a less mature choice, but if I can live with the consequences they bring upon themselves either way, I believe they learn a lot in those situations too.

For now, the pressure’s off until “Fantastic Four” comes out! (P.S. – “Jurassic World” was a great movie. Chris Pratt wasn’t allowed to be as charming in this one as he has been in other things, but still, a fun time!)

At the dinnermesa,

Ty