A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

Happy Birthday Kendra July 13, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Kendra,parenting,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 5:30 am
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Kendra’s birthday is tomorrow, and it’s a big one – her first milestone birthday.  You know, there’s 21, 18, 16, 13 – the other significant milestone birthdays that mark becoming a teenager and the privileges you gain on your way to adulthood.  But, here in North Carolina, the home of “8 or 80”, turning 8 is a big deal.  Once you hit 8 years old (or 80 pounds, whichever comes first), you are no longer required by law to ride in a booster seat in the car.  And to an almost 8-year-old who has lots of older friends, this is a really big deal.  And weighing in at 57 pounds, Kendra is lucky there’s an age requirement instead of only a weight requirement.

So, Saturday morning when we head out to the car to go out for birthday donuts, Kendra will strap on her seatbelt with her little butt planted on the actual seat of the car.  The view out her window will be much more sky and much less ground, but she will be happy as can be.  A real big kid.  She’s really growing up.  And I’m so proud of the young lady she is becoming.

Beautiful inside and out

Kendra checked out my blog for the first time yesterday, and she asked if she could “follow” me.  I told her that she’d have to wait until she was older and had an email address but that she was welcome to read whenever she wanted.  And since I know that she’ll be reading, I’m going to write her birthday card right here:

Dear Kendra,

I can barely remember what life was like before you came along.  I know Daddy and I were happy, but you have brought us so much joy that it’s impossible to imagine life without you.  You have wisdom and sensitivity way beyond your years.  You are like an old soul in the body of an energetic vibrant little girl.  It amazes me how you can be such a silly kid in one moment and show such genuine empathy in the next.  You never judge anyone.  You accept everyone for who he or she is and you see the good in everyone.  You go out of your way never to hurt anyone, no matter how he or she may have treated you (maybe with the exception of your little brother sometimes!).

I am so proud of you.  You are a friend to everyone you meet.  You are honest, loving, gentle, sensitive, and sweet.  You are artistic and creative – a true little artist.  You are a dancer and an athlete.  You are graceful and strong.  You are intelligent and curious.  You take care of me when I don’t feel well.  And when you put your hand on my shoulder when I’m having a bad day, you don’t even have to say anything because I can feel your love in that tiny little touch.  I don’t know what I would do without my little princess.  Daddy and I are so blessed to be your parents.

I hope you never lose the tender vulnerability that makes you the sweet person that you are.  I respect you.  I want to be more like you.  You can make me smile even when I don’t want to smile.  I cherish the time we spend together.  And you are such a helper!  Working in the kitchen is so much fun when you are in there with me – even if you do crack an occasional egg onto my foot!

Thank you for being you.  Daddy and I love you from the bottom of the ocean to the highest star.  I know we will go through times in life when you will get mad at us or think we’re unfair or unreasonable, so I want you to remember when that happens that we feel a tremendous burden of responsibility to have been blessed with such a precious little girl, and in every decision we make we strive to do what is best and right for you.  We pray for you.  We would do anything in the world for you.

Happy Birthday, Little Girl.




Last “Girl Time” Morning June 6, 2012

For two years, Kendra and I have gone to breakfast on almost every Wednesday morning before school. It has become a special time for us girls to talk and be together. Next school year, Max starts kindergarten, so Kendra and I won’t have this special time together. I’m sure we’ll figure something else out. We’ll have to! We both really look forward to our time on Wednesdays.

I thought in honor of our last Wednesday morning, I would post a few of my favorite snapshots I have taken of her at breakfast over the past two years.

I miss her long pigtails!

Her smile always starts my day off right.

Back when she had a feather in her hair.

I’ve always loved this one.

What a smile!

First morning with her new hair cut.

I think this one may be my favorite. It really shows her style!

And, finally, a picture of Kendra on our last Wednesday morning on her last week of second grade:



Welcome to your new home, little goats. May 11, 2012

What in the world am I thinking!?  I am NOT an animal person, and I just spent the better part of the morning wrestling with two baby goats that we brought home last night.  Goats are strong, by the way.  And stinky.

Why do I have two goats in a cage?  That’s a good question.  Let me begin by sharing how we acquired our other animals.

The day we got our dog, we were not even considering a puppy.  I took the kids to the pet store just to look at the animals.  Then I saw her.  She was sitting in that pitiful little pen.  Just sitting there looking at me with those big sad eyes.  Begging to be rescued.  Then I noticed the sign on her pen – CLEARANCE.  I knew I had to have her.  So I paid the slashed price and asked the shopkeeper to hold her while I ran to Wal-Mart to buy the things normal people purchase in preparation for a puppy.  And to call my husband to inform him of the new addition to our family.

Who could resist those eyes?

I was guilted into our next pet acquisition.  Kendra really played me on this one.  How could I not buy her the little kitty when her brother had a puppy.  After all, she had always dreamed of having a kitten for her whole entire life.  So, we bought the kitten and then went back to Wal-Mart for kitten stuff.

Sparkles the kitten.

The dog and cat were enough for a long while.  Until one day, the kids really decided they absolutely couldn’t live without pet rabbits.  So, we bought them.  They had to live in a dog kennel in the garage for a few days while Ronnie built them a hutch.  Why?  Because, once again, we were unprepared.

Pleeease, Mom and Dad, pleeeease!?

Well, after that, we tried fish, but that didn’t work so well as you remember if you read my post To Flush or Not to Flush.  Moving on.

Time went on.  We went through several rabbits, and my sister added a dog to the mix, but we pretty much stayed the same for a few months.  Then, my son started really taking interest in frogs.  Since I’ve always been very determined not to pass my irrational fear on to my kids, I helped him build a habitat in the unused fish aquarium, and we put four frogs he captured in it.  I have to concentrate on not letting it bother me that there are frogs in his bedroom.  I don’t go in there much.

Then, Ronnie decided to get chickens.  Fresh eggs, teaching responsibility, all that good stuff.  I went along with it because the baby chicks were so cute.  However, since we were – you guessed it – unprepared! – the chickens lived in a container in my kitchen too long for me to end up liking them.  And, honestly, now that they’re older, they scare me to death.  They’re like frogs with feathers.  And beaks and long claws.  Terrifying.

So, that brings me to the goats.  We knew we were going to buy them, so we bought all the supplies to build a fence for them.  We even started on it.  Good, huh?  Unfortunately, that’s all we did, so when we went to get the goats last night, we brought them home and had nowhere to put them.  Typical of us, really.

I was supposed to put collars on them this morning, and tie them to something so they could be out for the day until we finish the fence tomorrow.  Good plan, huh?  Well, it was a failure.  Goats don’t like collars.  Goats don’t like being led on a leash.  Goats make a lot of racket, poop all the time, and jump around like bucking broncos.  Who knew they’d be kind of like little donkeys?  Not me, that’s for  sure.

So, Max and I managed to get them to the backyard, but the collars I bought were too big, and everything that could go wrong went wrong, and they probably hate me already, and they’re only 106 days old and now they’re probably traumatized, and I’m afraid they’re going to bite me, and the dogs are barking at them like crazy, and the goats are bleeting at the top of their little lungs, and I have goat pee and poop and hair all over me, and I’m not really sure how I feel about goats now.

We’ll build the fence tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’ve heard a rumor that someone we know has a pot-bellied pig they don’t want any more…



Happy Birthday, Mom March 9, 2012

Filed under: family,parenting,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 5:33 am
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All teenage girls have dreams.  Some think about getting married and having children, some about traveling the world, some about that perfect career.  My mom was no different, I am sure.

I didn’t exactly enter her life at the most opportune time.  Whatever those dreams she had were, she put them on hold the moment she found out I was growing inside her.

I can only imagine what was going through her head while I was growing in her belly.  Surely she experienced a range of emotions – fear, anger, doubt, joy, disappointment, wonder…

I can only imagine what she felt, but I know what she did.  She grew up.  Overnight.  She started loving me, and she put her dreams and ambitions aside and gave her life to her new family – my dad and me, later to be joined by two more sisters.

Maybe my mom wanted to be a teacher.  Maybe an artist.  Maybe a counsellor.  Maybe she wanted to be a therapist or the owner of her own bakery.  Maybe she wanted something more vague – to make a difference in the world, to change things, or to make a name for herself.

She became all of these things and more.

She may not have taught school in a classroom, but I learned more from her than any other woman in my life.  She taught in many ways – conversations, by example, stories.  She taught me things that matter in life.  What to do when your best friend is mean to you.  How to handle a teacher that is being unfair.  The importance of a relationship with God.

My mother is creative.  She sings and writes songs.  She draws.  She paints.  I have seen glimpses of this talent, and can only imagine how talented she would be if she had more time to devote to these things.  She is an artist.

And, boy, is she ever a counsellor and a therapist.  Anyone who has raised daughters understands the need for a good mother to play these roles.  I can remember so many times going to my mom crying about one thing or another, and amazingly, she always knew whether to talk to me or just let me talk while she hugged me.  And she never made me feel like what I going through wasn’t important.

Anyone who knows my mom knows she is famous for her chocolate chip cookies.  They are, by far, the best cookies in the world.  She may not have a bakery, but she gets requests all the time for a batch of one of her delicious cookies.

My mom has lived a life so far that she should be proud of.  She has touched lives in all the places she has lived.  She has influenced people and ministered to them.  Two of her greatest gifts are empathy and generosity, and there are people from coast to coast who would testify of that because they have experienced it in one way or another.

Now she has finished raising my sisters and me.  We are all grown up, so my mom finally has time to pursue what ever she wants.  She can choose to do anything.  And what has she chosen?  Once again, she chose family.  My mom, after raising three girls and sacrificing her own dreams for all those years, chose to give up everything once again to help me raise my kids.

I know there are things she wants to do, but she decided instead to let Max stay with her while I work until he starts school.  She decided to pick Kendra up from school every day and start the whole cycle of after school snacks and homework all over again.

My mom’s choices to devote herself entirely to her family have made me who I am today.  And I’m so thankful that my own children are going to have that same consistent, godly influence in their lives.  Not because my mom has to, but because she chose to.

Mom may have had big dreams as a teenager, but I’d like to think that she is proud of the life she has lived so far.  Her name, no matter where you go and who you ask, brings people thoughts of fairness, kindness, and love.  My mom is a genuinely good person.  I couldn’t do half of what I do without her.  I depend on her.  And I love her.


Very Fa!-nny, Dad! March 6, 2012

Last weekend, my dad performed an exaggerated Heimlich on me while I was brushing my teeth.

Well, first I should say that staying in a hotel with my family is usually a very silly experience.  Ronnie, the kids, and I had a room adjoining my parents’, and the craziness didn’t stop.

I think it all started with Ronnie playing the air guitar.  Kendra grabbed the guitar (yes, I know that’s an impossibility), and he fell backwards, landed on his back, walked his feet on the wall, and did a strange, convoluted back flip, only to jump up and decide to teach the kids how to do a running front flip on to the bed.  It was a very nice addition to their usual hotel room game of “jumping bed to bed”.

I went to brush my teeth and left the door open.  I coughed in the process, and next thing I knew, my dad came running through the wall (as Max described our connecting door) yelling “Emergency!” and started such an exaggerated Heimlich that he was actually lifting me off the floor that I laughed so hard with my mouth full of toothpaste that I probably was indeed in danger of choking.

Then, I heard a knock at the door.  I went to answer it and no one was there.  I stepped out a little into the hallway just to make sure absolutely no one was there, and next thing I knew, my dad shoved me out of the hotel room to lock me out in the hall.

This kind of thing is very standard in our father/daughter relationship.  Let’s see, once in high school, one of his pranks nearly landed me in the emergency room when I couldn’t dislodge the green peanut M&M he shoved up my nose.  Last time we went out for pizza, I asked for the red pepper shaker and turned my head.  When I looked at my plate, the (much-handled, disgusting) pepper shaker was sitting squarely on top of my once-delicious slice of cheese pizza.  That’s just how it is.  My dad loves to make me laugh.

The funniest time I can remember, though, was a time we went grocery shopping amped up on a little too much espresso.  We were in the soap and shampoo aisle, and my dad told me to smell a new soft soap called Fa!.  He held the bottle, and I took an exaggerated inhale…

Right as he squeezed the bottle!  My sinuses filled with Fa!.  It was the most terrible burning sensation, but I couldn’t stop laughing.  There was absolutely nothing I could do about the pain other than trying to blow the soap out.  We were literally laughing so hard that we were wallowing on the Bi-Lo floor.

What kind of dad would do that to his daughter?


And I’m so glad that he does.  Well, honestly, I could do without chocolate or soap up my nose or being rescued while I’m brushing my teeth, but I’m so glad to have a dad who loves to make me laugh.  My dad is my friend.