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

Our Family Project May 1, 2012

Filed under: family,gardening,parenting,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 6:48 pm
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Our project may not be Southern Living or HGTV worthy, but it’s coming along.  Here’s what we started with:

This was the beginning of what we have dubbed our “garden project” which led into the “tree house project” – only to be later combined into one grand plan of making both projects one big entertainment area for our family.  It has taken a lot of hard work, and we’re not finished, but we got so much done over the weekend that I’m just itching to share it.  Here is a look at what we have accomplished so far.

This was the start of the garden – we fenced it in and Ronnie built the planter boxes.  The kids painted the fence (well, they helped me paint it).  Next, we decided to put an arbor over the entrance.  We made the garden rabbit-proof with the wire (which was a terrible, hot, tedious job) and we moved the rabbit house in to house our pet rabbits.

Ronnie built the exact swing set I imagined, and we planted our first vegetables and flowers.

With the garden finished, we started on the tree house.  Since it’s so high off the ground and Max is such a little, adventurous guy, we decided that a ramp would be the safest way to access the tree house.

The tree house was plain old hard work.  Ronnie and I did the whole thing together.  I told him what I wanted, and he not only made it happen, but also taught me how to use all the tools and think like a carpenter.  Here’s what we have right now:

Now we have a garden and tree house.  What we are working on right now is the area surrounding both.  Here’s our progress from the past couple of weekends.  We are tired!

We still have so far to go!  The next step, of course, will be grass everywhere that is currently dirt.  We’ll build a fire pit in right between the garden and tree house.  I have an idea for an outdoor chalkboard for the kids to draw on.  The tree house will have a mail box.  Oh, and the tree house will look like a true house in a tree when it’s finished.  We’ll have strands of lights suspended from the trees.  Oh!  And the obstacle course!  How could I forget?  The kids will have an obstacle course through the woods.  And a zip line coming off the back of the tree house.

We still have so much to do, but look at how far we’ve come!  Nothing makes me happier that walking out to the garden with Ronnie, watching our bunnies hop in and out of their hutch while the kids laugh and swing and run up and down the tree house ramp, and just being a family.  There’s absolutely nothing like sitting back and enjoying the fruits of good, hard, honest labor.

I can’t wait to go back out and work my butt off to finish.  It will most likely take years.  And I’m okay with that.  I have so many ideas, and my husband has the know-how.  And the willingness to teach me.   And the patience to let the kids help.   And the willingness to come home after a long week at work to put in an even harder weekend.  That’s just who we are.  And I couldn’t be happier.


Girl Time Mornings April 4, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Kendra,parenting — mandyholbert @ 6:35 am
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It’s Wednesday!  This is my favorite day of the work week.  Today is my special “girl time” with Kendra before school.

We’ve been doing this since she started school.  It couldn’t happen without my mother-in-law so sweetly inviting Max to spend every Tuesday night at her house.  That’s Max’s special time with his Grandmom and Grandad.  That leaves just Kendra and me on Wednesday mornings.

It’s nothing extravagant.  We usually just go to Starbucks and she eats a donut or a blueberry muffin and sips on chocolate milk or a raspberry latte if she’s feeling really grown up.  It’s the time together that is so special.

We talk about whatever is on her mind – her day at school, her friends, her dreams (I’m not being corny here – I mean her literal dreams – I think the last one was a nightmare about getting in trouble at school), her worries, or the things that aggravate her.  We have talked about why people speak different languages, why some people are mean to others, and why she should try new foods in the cafeteria.

I cherish this time with my little girl.  She is an amazing person.  I truly wish I were more like her.

I’d better go!  It’s time for me to go wake her up so we’re not late for school.  We are going to Starbucks on the way, after all.

It’s Wednesday!


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.