Welcome to Kelly Martin's Blog! Here I share my stories from my blessed life as a wife to a super-talented man, Jason, mom to my precious kids, Lucy, Jack, and Connor, and friend to my amazing girlfriends who inspire me every day!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Long Lost Journal

Guess what I found?!? My journal from June 1991. That puts me at eleven years old. I dove into my journal entries, and-to steal a line from my friend, Ashley - Oh my soul! Y'all...it's a good thing my Masters thesis was about Writing, because apparently at age eleven, my writing was about as interesting as a doctor's waiting room.

Allow me to share some of my favorite excerpts :)

Referring to the Hilton Head vacation we were on...

"Well, we're finally here! We got here about 4:30. Elizabeth didn't (although I spelled it "did'nt" geez!) come for a long time, so I was worried, but she finally came. We went swimming in the pool, but then we were tired of the pool, so we went to the beach. (wich (some people still can't spell 'which' properly) is just behind our house. it's on the beach.)"

Wow, sounds like we started our vacation with more fun than we could handle! :p So glad I clarified that if the beach is behind our house, then our house must be on the beach...)

Apparently I wrote about things involving my mom a lot. Here's one:

"I asked mom if we could go rent bikes, but she said they would be delivered 'later tonight,' so I asked her if she had ordered them...she said no. I was confused..."

Now that I'm a mom, I realize my mom was probably just saying whatever would shut me up; never mind if it made any sense... :)

A redeeming post:

"Well, I woke up slightly early. My mom made the best breakfast. bacon, eggs, and toast. It was great!"

aw, thanks mom for a nice, hot breakfast!

But the next day, not so many thanks...

"At the tennis shop Elizabeth and I found shirts we liked (seems we liked to dress as twins as much as possible. Yes, Brendan and Ryan, I know I really am a nerd.) We came home and ate lunch. It was good! (My goodness, do I ever write about anything interesting?!?) Then my mom made me make up all the beds in the house! I got extremely mad!"

Making beds on VACATION, mom?!? and the WHOLE house?!? whatev...major boo! :)

Despite it's elementary level of writing and complete lack of topics, I'm having a blast reading this. Fun to look back...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Let's Carve Some Pumpkins!

On Sunday afternoon, our friends Christy and Michael hosted a Carving Pumpkins Party. Lots of neighborhood friends gathered together to enjoy warm soup, drinks, and of course, get busy on the project at hand - carving our pumpkins!

As we were loading up the stroller to leave, I noticed Jason was bringing his entire stash of dremmel tools, so I was super excited to have a reason to tell him those wouldn't be necessary this year :) (Last year, I think Jason was the only one who had any fun carving (or I should say, 'dremmeling') our pumpkins. Jack and Lucy didn't get to help much due to the nature of the power tool, and I got to clean up lots of sprayed, dried pumpkin bits from outside and all the toys it sprayed on! :)

Lucy picked some fun shapes for the face; and she decided to use the pumpkin guts as hair. That girl LOVED digging out the pumpkin guts. She went around to more than one other kid's pumpkin to take out the filling! :)

Here are the final results!

Thanks, Camp, for taking our picture!

Some people got really creative! I think this Spongebob is Camp's pumpkin...


Connor says, "You can take me anywhere, and I'll just chill. ":)

Yesterday, I enjoyed some alone time with my little man. He seemed particularly adorable, so I got out the camera. LOVE these pics! There are so many from this setting, it'd take a long time to load here, so click here and check out Shutterfly if you want to see the entirety of them.

New fave pic, below! Melts my heart!

Today, the kids got to enjoy trick-or-treating at school. They cooperated enough this morning for me to snap a few:

*that mean turtle ninja would be cameron :)

I think Lucy is in love! ;p

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Borders, Baths, & Beyond

We've been busy around here! Our stacked stone border and new garden/landscape is now finished, and we love it! Huge improvement from the barren, dried-out-and-filled-with-dead plants-garden that we inherited upon moving in. Our original plan was to have a stamped concrete border placed around the garden, but ultimately I decided that I really wanted to mimic the stacked stone front wall and stone base of the columns that line the front porch. It was a more expensive route to take, but I think it was well worth it. One huge problem this house had - and the main reason I think the traffic was low when it was on the market - was the lack of curb appeal. The landscape area is so large and has such a presence because of its size. It really needed some TLC. I love the outcome!

Here's a look at the awful mess we inherited in July when we moved in:

and now... :)

not a great view, but here is a long shot from across the street.

better, up close view.

On the right, you'll see the large wall that comes from the garage that juts out. I had a fun idea to make a trellis out of something unexpected for the carolina jasmine to climb. My friend Molly told me about this awesome "mess of a place" called Habitat ReStore. It's where odds and ends that are left over from a house reno can be donated. The dark brown trellis Jason installed on the wall is actually an old bedframe, headboard and footboard, that had horizontal slats as the design. Perfect! And I love how it matches the front door wood color perfectly! Brings it together nicely!

I loved planting new annuals in a healthy plot of new soil and mulch. Hopefully, this year, I'll actually have annuals that grow for the first time! :)

the stacked stone base of the column is the stone that has always been here. You can see how well the stacked stone wall and colors I picked worked out!

And who doesn't love bathtime!?!

And Connor got to swing in his new swingset!

So grown up this one! Sweetest, most content kid, I tell ya' :)

My kids have a real thing for sticking their tongues out :)

twisting it up and letting it go - she loves that!

oh, the 'tude! love the 'tude! that scowl will pierce my heart someday, I know, but right now, I just love it!

Yes, dad, I see how she's drawn all over her hand. I don't think the ink will soak into her skin and poison her or anything :)

Got the walking toy out for Connor...I don't think it will be long. Jack walked at 9 and a half months...my money is going that this guy may do it even sooner... we shall see :)

TGIF Thank Goodness It's FALL! Love this season!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

what I wrote on the plane...

This is going to be a blunt blog post, and it may even offend some people (although since there are just about ten people who read my blog, perhaps I’ll be able to avoid that J).

Our society is going down the shitter.

I’ve had this blog post in my head for over a week now, and I kept debating whether or not to share my thoughts, but hey, it’ll be a good change of pace from just posting adorable pictures of my offspring. What sparked my bold thesis statement actually took place in church.

I started volunteering about a month ago at our church as a Small Group Leader with elementary age children. (In the past, I’ve served as a Storyteller, acting out the weekly message from up on stage. While I enjoyed that position very much, I asked to serve as a small group leader this time because I desired a more personal relationship with the kids.)

It’s a simple set up. Each Sunday, a co-leader and I share a group of girls – anywhere from say seven kids to the largest group has been fifteen or so. When the children arrive, there’s an activity to keep them entertained until it’s time to go to “big group” where we worship together and listen to the Host and Storyteller do their thing on stage.

To avoid a long, drawn-out story (because I never tell stories that way, right :p) I’ll provide the Cliff Notes version of what happened, in succinct bullet points to boot:

*when it was time for the warm up activity to conclude so we could go to big group, my co-leader asked a child to put up her word search and come to group. The child replied, “No! I’m going to finish this.” Upon being told to come to group, she continued to say no. The word search had to be taken out of her hands.

*during large group, two children continually kept pulling the other on top of their laps.

*one child kept performing the “crab crawl” back and forth across the sidelines of the stage.

*two children kept talking to one another, engaging a full discussion throughout the Storytelling time.

*after big group, it was time to play a game called Bible Smack! While I was trying to explain the instructions, the same two kids who were giving each other lap dances during group were doing that again, and then one child proceeded to tell me that the way I was explaining the game was wrong. I believe her words to me were, “No, you’re doing that wrong.” And it was not in a cordial, I-think-you-may-have-it-wrong way.

*one child was performing cheerleading jumps, literally right in front of me, as I was looking into her face and speaking to her.

*the ‘word search’ girl flat out refused to join a team for the game. (I told her she a welcome to watch the game from the sidelines.)

*after a not-very-successful game, I tried to gather the girls together for a closing prayer. Out of eight children, only one child would join me for that. After asking the other seven children – who were literally running around in circles, or doing cheer leading jumps again- I just said a prayer with the one child who was sitting next to me.

Now, before I go on, let me say I do acknowledge that my background as an elementary teacher makes me quick to want to snap my fingers at disobedient, rude children, and perhaps I have higher expectations of young children than some other adults may do. And I believe that church should NOT be school and should most importantly be fun! That being said, I was horrified at the lack of respect shown by the children toward the adults. My background aside, I think these behaviors are unacceptable. And I think any adult should feel the same frustration I felt. (And speaking of frustration, I went home in tears because I was so frustrated at the experience I just had AND fearful on a personal level; I have seen hints of defiance in my own children. Most of my tears were from fear that my children might one day behave like some of these children had. That simply will not happen; I won’t allow it.

I’ll tell you my plan of how I’m going to try to combat that ever happening, but first a quick sidenote that illustrates why I think our society is – how did I put it? – oh yes, going down the shitter…

It was finally time for pickup. The parent of the child who refused to come to large group and participate in the game came to collect her daughter – who, ironically, had a guest with her that morning; a little girl who had spent the night last night for a slumber party. The mom asked her daughter if she “had been a good hostess to her friend?” (A good concern to have, I agree.) When the daughter shook her head, no, the mother looked up to me, seemingly asking for more details. So, I responded, “Well, so-and-so didn’t have a great morning here. She was disrespectful.” Mom’s eyes widened, and she crouched down to her child’s eye level. The child walked away. The mom stood back up, focused on me, and – with a shake of her head- said, “Yeah, we had a sleep over last night; little so-and-so isn’t quite herself.”

Do you catch the hidden message here that is the source of why this young generation of children are so poorly behaved????

Mom: “We had a sleep over last night, said child isn’t quite herself.”

Translation: Because my daughter had a sleepover, my expectations of her behaving well this morning were very low. Fault lies with the sleepover, not with the child.”

I was floored. Parents are so quick to let the circumstances excuse poor behavior. It makes me think about how, as adults, we’ve learned – and hopefully – act on the knowledge that we can’t always control our circumstances, yet we can control how we behave in those circumstances. You’d agree, right? Well, why aren’t we teaching our children – those who are old enough to understand it, and I’d argue 2nd and 3rd grade is old enough – this same lesson. The lesson that, despite the circumstances (involvement in an activity that you’re not fond of; having to do something a teacher tells you to do, running errands with your parents to stores you don’t like going to, etc.), you are expected to behave in appropriate ways.

I mean really, when you’re stuck in a work-related meeting where you have to listen to your boss go on and on about something you already know, or you have to sit through boring PTA meetings, or perhaps you just get stuck having to listen to a really annoying person at a dinner party, do we walk out of the meeting, begin exercising at the PTA meeting, or start browsing the web on our mobile phones during the dinner (hopefully not all you “phone junkies”! J)? Of course not.

I believe that it is our job to raise our children to be polite, responsible, capable, and productive adults. (if you don’t want those things for your child, then by all means, ignore everything else I have to say.) And I argue that, when we make excuses for our children, and teach them, by example, that they are not responsible for their actions, we are making it very unlikely that they will, in fact, be polite, responsible, capable, and productive adults.

I saw this all the time in the classroom. A child forgot to bring their project to school on the due date and they lied about a reason to call home (child said they needed to call home because they forgot their lunch, and that was one of the few reasons a child could call home during the school day, but asked their mom to bring their project to school.) Mom pranced in the classroom half an hour later, gingerly placing the book report on the back table, mixed in with the others that had been turned in on time. (And not surprisingly, mom threw a fit when the graded project was returned home with a 10 point deduction for being turned in late. Mom fought the grade deduction tooth and nail. The grade deduction stood.)

One time, our class was going over tests that had been graded and returned. I wanted to make sure that everyone had the correct answers, so they could understand what the correct answers were to any they may have missed. One sneaky child used white out on his incorrect answers, and wrote down the correct ones as we covered the test material. Afterwards, he marched up to me, presented his test, and informed me that I had graded his test wrong, that he did in fact, have the correct answers written. When I called the parents that afternoon, explaining the child’s deceitful act, they took his side and said that “he’d never lie.” Any parent that has never caught their child in a lie or thinks- mistakenly – that their child will never lie is a fool. We’re dealing with Lucy telling bold lies on occasion right now! (Remember, even Adam and Eve, humans created in God’s own image, lied…and they lied the first time their Heavenly Creator even spoke to them.)

But back to how I plan to combat my children growing up into people who might behave similarly to the poor behavior I saw that particular morning…I’m rearranging my priorities. The amount of free time I have to directly teach my children, one on one is precious and scarce. And instead of breaking out the alphabet books and lined paper for Lucy to practice her handwriting, we’re going to take field trips to the mall and practice things like waiting in front of the elevator door, and letting everyone inside the elevator exit before we walk in. Point it out, be explicitly direct in telling her how to wait for others to exit before you walk in.

We’re going to have more dinner parties with other adults and instead of turning her way when she interrupts an adult when they’re speaking to tell me she has finished eating, or needs to go potty, or whatever. I’m going to ignore her and then when it’s quiet, scold her for interrupting a grown up when they’re talking. What’s funny about my behavior is that while I do scold her when she does that, it doesn’t happen until Lucy has already interrupted and told me what she wanted me to- and I’ve spoken back to her! My absurdity! See how easy it is to miss if you’re not INTENTIONAL about it!?! Well, that’s going to stop.

Another skill I’ve been slacking on: I’m going to teach her how to have a conversation with an adult. That when someone talks to her, saying hello, or complimenting her on something, she doesn’t just stare back at them. A smile in response is inadequate. Do I think so little of her that I think she can’t respond better, returning the compliment with a prompt thank you (notice how often parents have to prod their children to say, thank you? I’ve done it! “Lucy, say thank you…Lucy, thank you!...and so on. Ridiculous!) And when a grown up asks them how they’re doing, my kids are going to learn how to answer the question, and follow up with, “and how are you?”

Interesting side note: Beginning this school year, I made a conscious decision to make Lucy responsible for bringing her school tote and folder to school each day. I was not going to be the one responsible for making sure it gets in the car and in the classroom. She’s perfectly capable of that, and hey, kindergarten is just around the corner; it’s not just the teacher’s job to make sure she’s ready! Anyhow, the first time Lucy arrived at her classroom without her supplies and looked at me wide-eyed, realizing she had forgotten her tote and folder, I shrugged my shoulders at her, and told her she needed to tell her teacher she had not brought her tote to school. I said, “Lucy, you’re unprepared for school.” I wasn’t unkind, I was just matter of fact. I gave her a big squeeze, quick kiss, and told her to have a great day. I saw her walk up to Ms. S as I left the room. A few seconds later, Ms. S peeked her head out the door, and said to me, “Thank you! Thank you so much. You have no idea how many parents tell me it’s their fault when their kid comes to school unprepared.”

I get this one, and I’m working on instilling a huge sense of responsibility in Lucy to take care of things herself, and when she doesn’t “take care of business,” she should suffer the consequences. My two cents: If we don’t let our children suffer consequences – when at this stage, they’re so small and soft, really – we shouldn’t expect them to be able to cope when the consequences are big and harsh. No, I’m focusing on the fact that the hard work I put in now will pay dividends down the road!

But, back to what I was talking about a few paragraphs ago – doing less educational activities with my kids and more activities that teach important social skills. And because I love lists, I’m going to create a list that I think represents what I observe people placing as priorities. (Understand, I don’t think these things are not important or frivilous; on the contrary, I think these are great skills to have. I just think our society has unwittingly transitioned to focusing on these things instead of paying adequate attention to other things.)

By the time my kids begin kindergarten, I want them to be able to:

“Old:” 1. Know their ABC’s and the corresponding phonetic sounds 2. Be able to color in the lines. 3. Play at least one sport 4. Speak several words in a foreign language.

And though it may be hard to believe, I have never had a list like the one above, but from now on, I am going to act more intentionally with my “new list” in hopes that I help my children grow into bigger, “little kids” who are equipped with what I consider, even more important skills.

“New:” 1. Be able to give their undivided attention to an adult who is speaking to them. 2. Properly use “Yes, m’am and No sir, etc.” 3. Ride a bike 4. Complete simple chores without whining and 5. DO NOT INTERRUPT others. (can you tell that’s a big pet peeve of mine with my children!? J)

As for my volunteer position in church, I have been praying for God to grant me patience and an accepting, non-judgmental attitude as I try to help these precious little ones hear God’s Word, receive his Grace, and learn what he has to teach us all – myself included! J

And if you want to join with me in readjusting your parental focus, let me know and let’s hold each other accountable! J We only get one chance with our sweet babies!