Parenting battle: Leaders vs. Followers

On a recent run, I had a realization about my parenting. (I think most of my realizations in life come on runs. I think that’s where God likes to talk to me.)  Lately, I’ve noticed my firstborn is really starting to “follow the crowd” at school.  He’s skipping out on participation and theme days because all of his friends aren’t participating.  This same boy who just a few months ago loved to do all the “extra” activities has now decided that he’s too cool to participate because his friends don’t want to.

I’ve tried to reason with him that it’s actually great practice to stand up and do what you do, even if your friends don’t think it’s a “cool” choice.  After all, the battles he’s facing now with peer pressure are nothing compared to what he’ll face in the next 5-10 years.  I want to set him up for success in life by being able to confidently make his own choices, even if no one else is making that same choice.  The ol’ “if your friends are jumping off a bridge” conundrum.

My realization came less with how things are going with Landon (my firstborn), but more with how I’m handling my secondborn – Brooks.  Brooks is the epitome of “leader” – that boy doesn’t follow any crowd.  When everyone else is playing a game, he’s completely content to go do something else he wants to do.  He has this cool confidence with his choices.  And the challenge is trying to “break him” of always doing things his way.

I realize that I have to be more careful with what I’m teaching him.  He’s a leader and outside of the box thinker, and I don’t want him to learn to “be part of the crowd”.  It’s really the balance of pushing him to lead but also helping him recognize times when he needs to follow (i.e. when the class is working on an assignment is not the best time to ‘do his own thing’).

I admire Brooksie’s confidence and the way he doesn’t do the same thing that everyone else does.  But with that means he’s going to defy my directions more often and push harder to do things his way.

Alternately, while Landon is a rule follower and often very quick to obey anything I ask him to do, I’ve also found he’s quick to follow the guidance of his friends.

Thus my parenting struggle, pushing one to disobey the rules a little more and gain more of his own voice, while finding small ways to keep my independent spirit in line so he isn’t always trying to run his own show and he knows when he it’s time to comply.

Two sons.  Complete opposites.  Parenting challenge.


All the hearts.

In honor of Valentines Day, I’m going to fill out one of those random couple quizzes that has been floating around.  Give the world a little more insight into me and my better half.


Who’s oldest?  My husband is older. He hits the big 4-0 this year.  I am 35! I like to joke that Brooks (our 5 year old) should start checking the nursery for a hot future wife, since that’s the age gap between Dean and I.

Who was interested first?  I don’t know. We were friends for a very long time and then it just evolved into more.  I’ve known Dean since I was 20, so almost half my life.  We met because one of my best friends was dating one of his best friends and we just all ended up in the same social circle.

Same high school?  No, but we went to the same college (different years). Fun fact: We lived across the street from each other in our college town and didn’t meet until hanging out through our friends.

Most sensitive?  Me, for sure.  Dean is emotionally steady – so he doesn’t have very high highs or very low lows. It’s a good and bad thing in our marriage 🙂

Worst temper? Me.  For sure.  Dean rarely gets mad.  I tend to stuff and then explode. Not my best trait!

More social?  Um, if you ever met us, you’d know this was me. My husband has no problem sitting silently in any environment.  I’ll say that we are definitely both homebodies and not social butterflies, but I can flex my extroverted side much easier than he can.  (However, give him a few 12 oz cans of “liquid courage” (aka beers) and all bets are off!)

Hardest working? I’d probably say me 🙂 ha! and my husband would probably say himself!  Agree to disagree?!  I think we both carry our weight so it works out well.

More sarcastic?  We are both VERY sarcastic.  I love my husbands sense of humor.  And our humor has definitely started rubbing off on our kids!

Who makes the most mess?  Dean.  I’m definitely the “tidier” one in our house.

Wakes up first?  Not me.  Never, ever.  Ever.

Bigger family?  Mine.  I’m oldest of 3 kids – and my siblings and I have 7 kids between us.  My husband is one of two boys and between them there are 4 kids.

Who cooks the most?  I cook the most, but Dean is really good about cooking a few nights a week or running with something if I get stuck at work late.

Who cries the most?  See question 4.  My husband has an emotional wall that tears can’t pass 🙂 I think I’ve seen him cry 2 times in the 15 years I’ve known him.

Better singer?  Neither.  But you would know that I’m bad because I sing out loud.  Dean does not. Although he does know an unusually large number of songs/artists – very good for trivia questions.

Hogs the remote?  Dean likes the tv on all.the.time. So he definitely gets a lot of use out of it.  But at night when we’re both in bed, I typically control the remote.

Better driver?  Me, for sure.  I think my life expectancy has dropped by a decade or so because of my husbands “aggressive” driving tendencies.  Sometimes, I remind him that RED tail lights mean BRAKE – not accelerate!

Better cook?  Probably me, but it’s because I do it more and try new things.  If I ever died, I know the kids would be fed.  It might be the same 8 meals over and over, but Dean could definitely keep them well fed.

Most patient?   Dean. All the way.  And it’s definitely one of his best traits.

– – –

I’m so thankful for my valentine. I’m thankful that I get to see behind the curtain to the side that not many people get to see.  I have a backstage pass to my husband and I appreciate him even more “behind the scenes”.


Happy Valentines Day to my better half.  And I mean that.  He really is the better half.

The best parts of my day.

I think we all find ourselves in moments of our day where we wish we could stop time.  Or take a mental picture that never fades.  The parenting moments that make my heart skip a beat.  The times it feels like we were plucked right out of a magazine ad.  These are some of the best parts of my day:

Snuggling in bed with my kids, with fresh pjs and wet “just showered” hair.  Often watching a kids cooking show and discussing what we’d make if we were on the show.

Tucking them in at night.  Hearing the highs and lows of their day. What made them laugh? What made them feel silly? Did someone/something make them sad?

An extra special prayer.  The moments that my kids remember a prayer request and pray on their own accord.  For a neighbor, or a sick friend.  Not just the “thank you for the day and my toys and cozy jammies” the ones that have an extra something to them.

Dance parties in the car.  Music blasting and my eyes darting to the backseat to see my boys singing the words and throwing their hands up to the beat.

An unprompted, unexpected thank you.  When Brooks comes and says, “thanks mom for the note in my lunch. It made me smile today.”

My kids laughing.  Their real, head back, belly laugh.  It can be the result of a tickle war or a joke that only the two of them understand.  But I love those moments where they are just uncontrollably laughing.  Absolute joy written all over their faces.

Yes, like all families we get the fighting or the “why isn’t he doing it, too?”  But in between these moments, there are the highlights.  The snapshots that I take hundreds of time each week. The ones that make me say, please time, slow down.

Reading labels

I’m glad that my kids have learned a little about health and food nutrition in their short lives.  Both of my kids did a nutrition and health series in their preschool and when Brooks did the study last month, it really enforced healthy food habits and label reading at home.

I’ll often be in the kitchen prepping dinner, they’ll say “Mom, look, this has 11g of protein.” or “Mom, this ketchup has too much sugar in it.”

It’s also funny to see their perception of things that are unhealthy and not understanding how to read the whole label yet.  “Mom can I buy these potato chips, they only have 1g of sugar?”  Ummm… how about the 72 grams of fat?!

The other night I was upstairs with the boys getting ready for bed and we were working on some of their new bible verses.  I told them if they could recite 2 verses by the end of the week, I’d give them a special treat.  Without missing a beat, Brooks replies, “Mom, can we get money treats and not candy treats since candy is junky and not healthy?”

Making 2017 a success. #goals

Yesterday we hit a recap of 2016 goals and how I did.  Some things were great and others could have used a little more work.  Here’s what I want to do this year.

  • Faith – Pray more.  I’m pretty good at the meal prayers or the short, in the spur of the moment prayer, but I want to do a better job of the thoughtful prayer. The prayer where I sit by myself for 10 mins and thank God for all He’s done – specifically – and then come to Him with my requests.  I used to get into some deep prayers in my personal time and I’ve really gotten away from it.
  • Family – Dean family of 4 trip. No other family members or friends, just the four of us away somewhere for a few days.  We also have a special beach weekend with just Brooks on our radar – his “I’m going to kindergarten soon” trip with just the three of us – mom-dad-Brooks.  Also, I’d like to do at least 6 lunch dates with my kids this year – during their school day.  I know that it won’t be too long before Landon doesn’t want me interrupting his lunches with his friends, so I’m going to get them in while I can.  I also want to get back to helping my kids memorize scriptures.  When they were younger, we really worked on this a lot and I’d like to get my kids back on track. I think 10 verses this year is a good goal.
  • Marriage – I think if we did one date a month that would be a good goal.  I’m sure 12 dates doesn’t seem like much but when we it takes work and neither of us are gung ho about planning dates or coordinating childcare, it’s a really good start.  It would also be good to do a weekend away, or even a night.  Maybe an impromptu last minute deal trip somewhere?!
  • Financial – I haven’t put pencil to paper on this yet, but I’m sure I’ll come up with a few lofty goals for our family – savings for college, retirement, church tithing, saving, etc.  I’ll also probably need a new car this year, so that applies!
  • House – I always have a bunch of house goals.  Here are my top ones:  redo our master bathroom – for our functionality, we need a nice big shower and that’s pretty much the only thing our master bath is missing. So I want to redo it and make it a cozy and light colored set up.  Set up our playroom/entertainment area.  This means we need to do a toy detox!  And set up our playroom into two separate spaces.  I’d also like to do some smaller weekend projects like painting and hanging molding in our half bath and installing outdoor lighting.
  • Health – More than 50% of the days this year, I’d like to exercise – even if it’s 50.0001% of the days 😉  (So, 183 is the goal!)
  • Personal – I still think counseling should stay on my list for this year.  This is something I need to be a better me.  I’d also like to stay off social media more.  I find that if I look at Facebook, I can get sucked in, but when I stay off of it, I don’t miss it.  I don’t like what comparison does to me and since social media is always putting your highlights out there, I do better not looking at it.

So there you have it.  My goals and plans for the year.  I know some will be easier than others to achieve, but I like having things to “cross of a list” or strive for.

How did 2016 goals shake out?

Before I kick off my goals for 2017, I wanted to quickly review where things landed for last year.  2016 was a good year in many ways but definitely had areas where I could improve. I’m going to revisit goals for 2016 and then my comments on how I did in these areas:

  • Faith – Get out of my “God funk”.  I was riding high the first half of last year in my walk and the second half of 2015 just wasn’t there for me.  I think a lot had to do with reading Battlefield of the Mind the first part of last year, but I want to get back on that high I had the first half of the year.  I don’t think I did really great on this one.  Even leading my women’s group, I felt slack on the fall study we did and just never got into a good grove.  
  • Family – Dean family of 4 trip (ours in 2015 got cancelled due to a little storm named Joquain!) and a trip to Disney.  I want to do a better job of balance – the whole work/family/individual trifecta – too often it veers one way or the other and I’d like more of a balanced triangle this year.  I also want to do more special dates with the kids.  We did a good job early 2015 but it’s gotten away from us. We did Disney and went to Maryland in the summer to see Deans family.  We didn’t do as many “special” planned dates, but did do a lot of one-on-one bike rides or meeting the kids for lunch during the week at school or just doing a fun impromptu froyo date while running errands together.  I think I need a more tangible #s goal on this one, but we definitely had some sweet one-on-one time with our kids.
  • Marriage – I want us to mix it up this year. More weekends or nights away where we enjoy us time.  Surprise dates. A renewed focus on us now that our kids are a little older and don’t require so much of “us”. We did not do a good job on date nights this year.  I think because we are go-go-go so much during the week, the thought of planning another thing to do or a night out seems too much.  On the weekends, I just want to relax and during the week I don’t want to add anything else to our plate.  I know this isn’t the right answer but it’s the truth.
  • Financial – I have some figures earmarked for goals with savings, 401k, kids accounts, etc.  The usual! We did great this year on financial goals.  There were even a couple – ‘this is a crazy ridiculous goal, what are we thinking?!’ and God more than delivered.
  • House – I want to put something on the walls in the boys’s rooms. They seem unfinished despite being about 90% done. They just need the finishing touches. I also want to buy new bedroom furniture for the master and paint our room.  In 2016, I want a new toy storage solution in the play room. Something to start organizing that room better.  And I want to throw a party in my house. I don’t take advantage of our set up enough and I’d love to do a little backyard cookout or another type of get together in my home – gotta use all the hosting kitchen supplies I’ve acquired over the years. I think we did a pretty good job on the house goals this year.  Our master is about 98% done. We got new furniture that I absolutely love, painted the walls, hung crown molding and hung a picture gallery.  So much better than it looked before.  We also bought some dining room furniture that I really love and hung a few light fixtures.  And we had some friends over a few times through the year, so we did a little entertaining. 🙂
  • Health – I exercised 120 days in 2015.  So 1/3.  I think I can do better. I want do 150 days in 2016.  If it’s going awesome I’ll hit 180 (about 50%) but I want to be realistic with the increase.  So anything above 150 is a goal reached! I did 170 days in 2016. Goal reached. I think I can thank a binge watching of “Suits” 5 seasons. I only let myself watch if I was doing the elliptical, so many of those days were with Harvey and Mike entertaining me.
  •  Personal – I want to do some personal counseling this year.  I’m often not the Ginger I want to be and I want to do some personal searching and counseling to figure out how I can be better.  I also want to do more reading.  I love devouring a good book and after our trip to the DR this year where I read 5 books in 5 days, it just renewed a love for books that I had growing up.  I also want to practice shooting in manual.  I need to work on my photography skills! I didn’t do the counseling. I think I’m afraid of the time commitment it will take and don’t want to start something unless I’m going to stick with it.  I definitely had some great reading stretches this year.  I love to read for pleasure and James Patterson and Nicholas Sparks often have some good stuff!

All in all, I think 2016 had some really great stuff. Our kids got more active in extracurriculars which was really fun to watch.  We stayed busy with church and family. Our house got some mini improvements.  It was all-in-all a good time!

Now, bring on 2017!

Meet Mr. Blouie Finn


Please welcome the 5th member of the Dean family.  Mr. Blouie Finn.  (I am not a pet/animal person, so this is a big deal for me to allow another living (non-plant) into my home. And who am I kidding, my plants rarely live so apparently I only do humans!)

For Mr. Brooksie’s birthday, my little animal lover got to pick out a betta fish as his first pet.  There were lots of colors and he selected the bright blue one.  When I asked him what he wanted to name him, he said “Goldie”. I laughed and said, it’s not a goldfish, it’s a blue betta, is that sure what you want to name him?

He thought for a minute and said, “I’ll call him Blouie (or is it Blue-y) Finn (or is it Fin).”

And he’s been enamored ever since. He gives his little carrier lots of hugs and he wants to feed him a lot, so we hid the fish food – for Blouie’s sake.  We also got a really fun aquarium that we’re setting up in Brooks’ room.  I think Blouie will love his new home.

We also rounded Brooks’ day of fun with a movie – we saw Sing in the theatre, then went to Brooks’ choice of the Japanese steakhouse.  He loves the fire and egg in hat trick. We finished our day back home with a homemade cake – Brooks picked the cake mix flavor (funfetti), icing flavor and sprinkles/decorations.  Plus both boys helped make it the night before.


Before the steakhouse show began!


It tasted way better than it looked 🙂


I love my boys relationship. Of course, they have moments of fighting and teasing, but so often they are doing sweet things – like this “cyut” (cute) note from Landon to Brooks.

I asked Brooks about the best part of his birthday and he quickly said, “getting my new fish.”  Welcome to the chaos, Blouie, you’re in for a wild ride!