19 December 2013

christmas time confessional

testing testing. is this thing on? so, yeah. it's been a while. and let me explain why. i've realized something about myself. well, actually i've realized a lot about myself when it comes to writing like 1) i'm forgetful 2) i'm distracted-like a dog around squirrels (i'm the dog in this metaphor/simile, the squirrels are played by my boys) 3) my life is not fabulous enough, and i don't dress myself or my children fabulously enough to write about, photograph it, have sponsors give away free stuff to make you swoon over it. basically, i am here to make you feel better about yourself. just friend me on facebook and you'll see. right, corine? 

so yesterday(like how i just launch you full throttle back into my life story), as i was serenading the boys(one of whom i did not give birth to)who were lucky to be in my car, with my version of "swing low, sweet chariot", it dawned on me. this is one of my favorite songs to sing maybe because i can actually hit the notes or what i perceive as the notes as i do not play or pretend to be a musician.

so as i was "swinging looooow", i began to think of christmas. and thinking of christmas made me realize many secrets. secrets that are so profound and dark and seedy-the only thing i knew to do was write them all down. so here you go. girl friday's christmas time confessional. and we're back in 3, 2, 1...

1. anyone donning an elf hat/santa stocking and who is otherwise NOT dressed in elf or santa costume, makes me twitchy aka nervous. like weird uncle saying, "come sit on 'santa's' knee and tell him (people speaking in second person about him or herself also make me crazy, but that's off topic) what you want for christmas." which brings me to number two.

2. my children, all four of them, have never sat on santa's knee and told him what they want for christmas. o, sure the 7 year old recently bumped into a chris kringle at a local restaurant in my home town. he took a candy cane. but i have never waited in a line to pay to have my kid sit on some strange man's knee and tell him why he should bring toys to my house at night whilst we are all sleeping. i love tradition, but people, i got a problem with this one. have you seen my neighborhood? that stuff really happens here. only he doesn't leave stuff-he takes stuff. i'm gonna keep santa back in the folklore with other oldies but goodies like st. valentine and all those other great stories. moving on...

3. i am so lazy and inconsistent, i can't always remember traditions that i intended to start with my boys-like giving them their own ornament for the tree so that when they are all growed up, they can take said ornaments (if we can all remember whose is who) to his new life(outside my house. feel the need to name it and claim it). but i have managed to keep the matching christmas jammies tradition alive and well for going on 3 years(maybe more, i can't remember stuff very well). and i plan to ride that train, milk that cow whatever you say, for as long as i can. look for an after christmas post displaying the boys in matching pjs. i can already see the disgust and blur as the 14 year old runs out of sight. but i will hope to catch a good one in front of the tree. which reminds me of christmas confessional number four.
last year's doozy. notice the tree. nobody has ever wondered if it's fake.

4. i blame my childs' asthma for not having a live/dead tree in our house. hey, let me explain. it all started innocent enough. we had live trees before kids. and then after we had kids, i could barely remember to water the kids. and all those pesky needles. yikes. we track in enough nature. why would i go looking for more, buy it and on purpose bring it into my house to drop things all over the place? okay, some people say that about animals. and i have two dogs. but a christmas tree can't lick your face after it drops stuff on the floor so there. and my kids did seem to always get sick right around christmas so there may be something to that whole live tree=asthma attack thing. this brings me to my fifth confession.

5. i loathe decorating for christmas. 

6. if you send me christmas LETTERS, they will go unread. who has time to read letters anymore when the superior way to communicate is in texting with hashtags? i spell out hashtag for those who may not know what it is. you see what i always thought was a number sign # has now been reclaimed(that's what they're doing these days reclaiming everything)and renamed hashtag. speaking of reclaiming.

7. i regift. you have been warned both as a gift giver and as a recipient. honey, that goes for you too so you better get me something good or it's going to beth for her birthday in february. 

8. i once tasted a fruit cake that was so divine, that i have never allowed my lips to enjoy another for fear that in tasting a true fruit cake, my opinion on all fruit cakes would be ruined. for life. much like that one night stand, i refuse to love again-when it comes to fruit cake.

9. my favorite christmas movie is not it's a wonderful life or elf or even die hard. my favorite christmas movie is about a boy, followed by you've got mail and bourne identity. if you need to ask why, you have never seen these movies so try harder. 

10. and last but not least i have been so looking for the christmas spirit or sprite to land in my heart. and i've been trying. from lighting our advent candles to reading our bible passages to attending both the nutcracker and having front row seats to watch a christmas carol. but y'all. i am at a loss. perhaps i will find it in an after christmas bin marked 80% off. then i can wrap it up and save it for next year. 
your christmas tree never was this cute. i mean, come on!

11. o, wait i knew i forgot one. this year's christmas card is the same one we sent out last year. hey, the boys haven't aged that much. it is also to be noted i am not pictured in said card as i can not say the same for me.

12. and speaking of me. i cannot tell the difference between egg nog and boiled custard. i made my first batch of egg nog this year. to be on the safe side, i added bourbon-to kill any possible bacteria. wowsa. word to the wise. a full bottle of bourbon goes a loooooong way. 

13. speaking of wasteful. gingerbread houses! what a waste of some really good candy.

okay. i'm done. but this confessing thing really makes me merry. how about for christmas we all become truth tellers, light bearers, goodwill bringers and glad tidings speakers?

cheers to you, dear ones. i sincerely love you and wish nothing but sweetness to welcome you and carry you throughout the coming year.
if i were to send out a representative photo for christmas, this would be it. pretty much sums it all up. 

yours so truly it may offend or sometimes even hurt,
xo gf

22 November 2013

Thy Kingdom Come

it was recently brought to my attention that my two youngest are a little dodgy in reciting the Lord's Prayer. and when i say dodgy what i mean to say is, they don't know it. at. all. go ahead, judge. 

we attended the most beautiful wedding recently of one of our most favorite people in this world, amy. she and her darling guy were married in a catholic ceremony. in between trying to explain why we don't play in the holy water bowl and why Mother Mary plays more than a cameo in the Birth of Jesus story, there was so much richness in the symbolism and ceremony of their wedding. a great deal of recitation and kneeling. the oldest finally confessed, "i just wish they told me what to do" as he pointed to the lovely formal program he was given when we were escorted to our seats{at the very front of this majestic cathedral}

when it came time to recite the Lord's Prayer i listened to the voices of my older two sons as they stumbled with the different translation than the one they learned. the two youngers just stared blankly. and i realized as i've realized a thousand times this school year, they haven't been taught this important tenant to our faith. i calmed myself by saying, "okay, we'll spend the next few weeks writing, studying and processing the significance of the Lord's Prayer. it's not too late."

when the two younger boys began their lessons that following monday they found the first part of the Lord's Prayer written out for them to copy, read and discuss. and that's where we've been for the last 3 weeks. adding to the prayer every week. talking about the meaning of the words. slowly moving through the different translations. one may read "debts/debtors" another may say, "trespasses/ trespassers". which brings up grammar and synonyms. it's been a rich few weeks of taking it slowly and moving methodically through a small, but significant portion of scripture.

you know how you read and recite something a million times and then, THEN you have the light bulb moment? well, that happened this week to me when we read yet again the portion "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

earth and heaven. the connection. sometimes i am so wistful for the afterlife that i forget the here and the now. i forget that hope and change are for the here and now.

i see it in the faithfulness of a mother who drives across town at 7 at night so that her son can serve the homeless despite the fact she's exhausted from working all day. i see change when the director of the homeless facility{that receives 0 government assistance} shares that many of the men who work on their sobriety manage to find freedom from addiction in 180 days. i see god's kingdom come when boys from troubled homes are happy to wipe down tables and don hairnets as they serve hot food to strangers. i see god's kingdom come when a man decides to turn the idea of success on its head by leaving corporate america to hang out in a building full of homeless people. 

thy kingdom come. thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. those words mean so much to me as i see how earth and heaven come alive in my own life. it's not the brokenness of the world that i see as much as my own brokenness. and the Creator in His gracious manner allows me to move out of my own head and space and into the world around me to see His Kingdom Come and His Will be done on earth, this earth where my feet are today. maybe not tomorrow, but for this moment they are on the floor in my kitchen where i await the breakfast bustle. the faithfulness of seeing God's kingdom come for me begins in stewardship of time. of teaching my boys a few words that they will hopefully carry with them for the rest of their lives on this earth and hopefully as they wrestle with what "on earth as it is in heaven" looks like in their own lives.

may your weekend be wrought with much goodness, and may you see the profound glory that surrounds us. 


p.s. in case you're unfamiliar with what the Lord's Prayer is. more here or even here

18 November 2013

public school ruined me

i took an 18 year hiatus from public school. it's not like i planned it that way. i mean i attended public school k-12 growing up. i did my student teaching in public school. and then just like that. i left. 

this past year i returned, but this time to enroll my 14 year old son and his younger brother. it felt timely. it felt exciting. it felt. daunting. not for the reasons you may imagine. 

you see for the passed 10 years i've homeschooled my boys. when they decided it was time to not be homeschooled, the first and only option that i seriously considered was public school. and i took that decision to heart with as much vim and vigor as i did when we decided to school our boys at home. 

community is what led us to homeschool. community is what led us to public school. and i have to tell you, this has been one community-filled first year. brother-keeping-brother kind of year. it has been my undoing and my making. i have wept and wailed and wondered more these past 3 months than i have perhaps their entire lives. maybe it's because they are in such challenging life stages {teething has nothing on teenager-hood, i am so sorry to say, sweet mamas}. or maybe it's because, damn, we are in a really ridiculously good/hard/lean-not-on-your-own-understanding kind of place. regardless, we are here. in public school. i have seen hard places in my boys' hearts soften and soft places in their burgeoning manhood harden. and it's been good.

we are availing ourselves to hearing stories that are so full of hope and promise that i want to shine my shoes and dance a jig. and we are walking into places so wrought with brokenness that it makes me wonder how some people can even put one foot in front of another. 

this morning as i was hanging up my clothes, looking through my closet for some coats that would fit the dress code for donating to a local school, i said aloud, "i am ruined. i will never be the same." 

and it's true. i am ruined. but not in the way you may think. i am ruined into thinking that i can just bebop my way through life and forget that there is a mother who just buried her son after he hung himself. 

i am ruined by the testimony given at the local school board meeting last week. a sincere mother commending the merits of her local elementary school that she adores, but that does not come highly recommended by any of my friends and even some of the teachers who work there. 

i am ruined by all the falling short i feel when i cannot wave my magic wand to convince the neighbors that these neighborhood schools are worth it. worth staying in the neighborhood for. worth fighting for. worth sending their children to. 

i am ruined when i see how fiercely devoted the principals and teachers are to their students. going to bat for them over and over. working way, WAY beyond their pay grade because they sincerely care more about their students' character than they do their own paycheck. 

i am ruined when i hear my 14 year old say, "it was so great seeing my friends today at school." my reluctantly outgoing boy who is a newly minted ambassador for his high school. a school that i was warned about. a school that was ONCE {but no longer} one of the 10 most dangerous schools in america. a school we almost missed the chance to get to know. a school that our elected school board member has yet to visit. a school where the principals know the students by name.

public school ruined me. it opened me up to a world wrought with so much. challenges. victories. hopefulness. hells. as well as havens. i am not the same. and you know what? i am better. 


13 November 2013

setting the table

from my earliest memories i remember living in a home that was always welcoming. we had a pool. we had a circle driveway. and we had two parents who knew how to cook and entertain. effortlessly. or so i recall.  

my father, still an avid fishermen, would host fish fries. and let me tell you. they were pretty amazing. he would set up his jury rigged apparatus out in the garage that i seem to recall entailed ladies panty hose in order to deep fry fish as well as hush puppies. friends would gather around sipping their miller lite or white wine whilst watching my father sling those little fins in and out of the hot oil. it was far from a fussy event. 
lively conversation is a requirement
my mother never really fretted over a tidy house. she did not serve with fancy dishes. or cloth napkins. she made lists, but only to make sure there was enough food. and there always was. plenty.

this was looooong before pinterest told us how to table scape. before martha stewart stole hospitality as her bastard child and perverted it in a way that is downright unnatural. long before cooking shows had to try hard to come across as being down home.

my father's penchant for spontaneous dinner gatherings left everyone happy, full and hopeful that they would be invited to the next markham cookout/swim party/homemade ice cream/fish fry. i have to wonder if it was because the hospitality was unfettered.

i've been thinking a great deal about hospitality. it's kind of my favorite thing. in this world. having people over. making them something good to eat. seeing my children interacting with them. observing my children as they learn to serve.

hospitality is not about a tidy house, well mannered children {though i must confess it's helpful}. it's not about having a large home. it's not about having the most exquisite table settings or lighting or music or even the food. it's about the people who feel loved and cherished and invited. it's about stewardship and sharing and hearing and loving and welcoming. and this can include those with whom you dwell on a regular basis as well as your neighbors. 
and when the table is full, the sofa serves as a good overflow option

if you are accomplishing all those things by just being happy someone has set aside time to sit with you a bit. if you are appreciative that in this crazy life, another soul would value you over television or even a good read, then you have a heart that is hospitable. then you have properly set a table that will be enjoyed and savored long after the guests have left.

just my 2 sense,
xo gf

29 October 2013

boy crazy

a few weeks ago we were watching one of my favorite films, the fantastic mr. fox. o, have you seen it? wes anderson is the creative genius behind it. and y'all, i swoon over everything wes anderson.{someone paid me the biggest compliment of my career when they told me my household reminded them of the royal tennebaums}.

so anyway, we were watching this movie. it's basically about how we all kind of want to be a little bit fantastic. and it made me think. 
More cowbell on the part of the pep squad.

somewhere between the shock of finding out i was pregnant with our fourth child and said child's fourth birthday, i decided we should have more children. the Mister did not concur. he remembered hearing me saying about 2.1 million times how very overwhelmed, lonely, lost, exhausted, discouraged i felt most of the time. not to mention he was looking at these four little waiting mouths and wondering how he was going to care for them: mind, body and spirit. and that is a daunting task, my friends. daunting. 

and then the mommy fog parted. i could see down the road a bit and contentment set in big time. i realized that four was our final number. in a way.

a while back i wrote this piece. and i have to say, it is even more relevant in my life right now as an older mom to older boys.

extra seats in the car await boys who have no ride to their cross country meet. extra places around a fire. extra fixings for s'mores for boys who have never had s'mores. extra energy to make pumpkin muffins for boys who were reluctant to eat something so weird, but who request them every time they see me. and i am happy to oblige. 

our two oldest boys just finished their first cross country season this past week.{dear jesus, thank you for this!!!} it has been an overwhelming experience. seeing all those boys {one son goes to an all boys school, the other is on a team with just boys}run, hard. beating their previous times. discouraged over their runs. feeling like giving up. it makes my mama's heart feel like bursting a thousand times. 

i have spent months trying to get a boy named travon to smile. i have been trying to discern abdi's accent without making him feel self conscious. i've been wondering about nicknames and family dynamics for quindez. 

spending time with these boys and many more of their running mates has made for the most heart wrenching, delightful and enlightening time in my life. my whole life. 

i sat around a bonfire on friday night. i had just fed close to 30 many of whom were the teammates of our 14 and 12 year old. one asked, "why is there grass on my chicken?"{rosemary} another shared, "there are no homosexuals in kenya because if there are they are burned to death". another hinted that he is being raised by two moms. all around a fire. in my backyard. i supped and laughed and loved on these boys. i couldn't get enough. i really am boy crazy.

as the night dwindled. the coaches had all been thanked. i wrangled the ones who stuck around the longest to help me clean. the casual conversation went from doctor's visits to food choices, sleep habits, ahem dating and language. the language!

a week or so earlier we had all been sitting around waiting for a race to commence. two boys were being quite rude with their choice of words. the mother in me cautiously reminded them that those words are not words that should be used by gentlemen of which they clearly are "and besides, no one really takes you seriously when you use such vulgar speak." they took the correction kindly. clearly they have experienced it from mothers, aunties, grannies. 

these past few months of watching my boys struggle and stride in running and building relationships with their classmates and school culture, i have sat back and reveled at it all. the good. the bad. and the ugly. 

the conversations have been so sweet. i've had to tackle some issues that i touched on earlier with my children, but have only since become part of the middle school/high school landscape as of late. and you know what? it's been really rather grand. 

i am beyond grateful that the creator in his divine graciousness has given me these boys, the ones i birthed and the ones who just happen to be part of our community. and truly, if i had my way, i would take them all. i would find a way to squeeze them into our little-cottage-in-the-hood. but i doubt their families would give them up because they're all pretty fantastic.


08 October 2013

four letter words

maybe you haven't noticed. maybe you have, but it's been a few weeks since i last sat down to write. it's not for lack of material that's for sure. it has more to do with lack of time. 

a word i choose not to throw around willy nilly is busy. to me saying "i'm busy" is akin to say "this headache is killing me". it's just a bit too strong for my taste and those who overuse it become so comfortable using it, it's hard to discern when they truly are busy or just living life. 

so for the past few weeks, i have been just living life. showing up for the job i applied for which entails driving carloads of stinky boys, many of whom are not mine, to cross country meets. 

i've been scolding dogs "not to run in the house" and to "use an inside bark". dogs! i've not even trained the boys and now i have dogs to throw into the mix. 

i've been monitoring some work being done around our cottage-in-the-hood. the operative word being monitoring

i've been trying to school two very unruly boys. i've been keeping the oven hot with all this food this family expects to eat-daily! i've been opening doors to weary travelers. i've been trying to figure out where i fit into the mix. 

i've been keeping my gasps to a minimum whenever my growing boys enter a room. i've been helping mamas with their babies. i've been biting my tongue {or not} every time i hear a bad word spoken about the school my oldest attends from people who have never stepped foot into the school. i've been not so patiently breaking up disputes over Lego creations from little boys who don't listen. i've been dodging the beginning of fall with one last hurrah at the watering hole with my part amphibian/part fish little men. 

i've been desperately trying to broaden our vocabulary from pirate speak to words we can use in public. i've been trying to be a good wife-fail. and i've been trying to be a patient friend-also, fail. the operative word here trying

i've also been baking late night rounds of fudge pie. {im}patiently waiting for the netflix queue to go from star trek to something that doesn't involve space or science. i've been trying to catch up with four boys who are fast runners. i've given up. and catch some sleep. insomnia is not for the weak willed or short tempered.

so today whilst the laundry sat unfolded, and my coffee was enjoyed by a four legged friend, i chose to tell busy to go bye bye. i joined my fall break enjoying boys on my bed for a game of apples to apples, followed by timeline with a chaser of animal instincts just for good measure. it was a fun kind of day. instead of using the word busy, i'll choose full. a better four letter word, in my opinion. so when you ask me, "how's life, girl friday?" i'll answer "full, very, very full". now i'm off to either take a nap or make more coffee. 


23 September 2013

run, boy, run

hey boy.

this weekend your father, your brothers and i all stood on the sidelines cheering you on. we sat under a huge sky filled with the most amazing clouds that danced and darted around like something from a cartoon. we watched you awkwardly try to keep up with all the upper classmen. it was a sight. you running through that huge field with hundreds of boys from all over the state. muddy fields.

you don't particularly love running. but you are a dutiful son doing what your parents tell you to do. and this is something we thought would be a worthwhile venture for you. 

when i watch you run, although your pace is not fast, your spirit not yet competitive, i see a boy who will someday be a man. a man who will settle and find himself out on a path. a man who will hopefully go out for a run to work out his anger. a man who will choose to lace up his running shoes rather than light up a cigarette or down a glass of whiskey to take the edge off. 
sitting out in a field for 7 hours has its challenges

like latin and music and science and reading, exercise is another tool, i, your mother wish you to have in your belt as you begin to tinker with the world, your world. and even though i do not run or read latin or play an instrument, i want a bigger, broader, more lavish life for you and when i say lavish i do not mean the louis XIV variety.  i mean lavish like huge green fields filled with open spaces to run with a backdrop of hills and trees as far as the eye can see with a sky overhead that is so expansive you wonder how you never noticed it before. that is what i wish for you. 
fan club

so saturday, i, your mother sat on a tarp looking around at hundreds of people who were mostly runners. all of our faces were chapped by the sun and the wind. and i thought "how did we get here? our boy is in high school!" i watched your team mates tolerate your younger brothers. i held my breath as i used a port-a-potty. and i lost my voice from cheering you on, my faithful, dutiful, adventurous first born. i can only hope you continue on this path that we have set before you. and maybe someday you will choose to run.
even when no one is making you. even when you can't hear people cheering you on.


16 September 2013

tri hard: this is sparta!

several years ago, the Mister and i watched the movie 300. and even though the boys never saw it, they picked up the theme very quickly. even the littlest began shouting: this.is.sparta!

the movie kinda changed my life in terms of how i saw my four sons. i sat aghast watching the spartan culture unfold in the life of a boy who very quickly began training as a man. it shocked me. it shook me up. and then i wondered why it was so upsetting. i think it's because the brutality was so so so savage. it was so foreign because fighting in our american culture is seen one way: unnecessarily bad. we forget that boys need to wrestle literally and figuratively to gain the momentum that launches them into adulthood. and often the wrestling is not with another person, but with themselves.

a few weeks ago i was cheering on the sidelines. coach asked, "are your boys nervous?" i honestly replied, "i have no idea. i never asked them." i wouldn't assume they were feeling nervous and wouldn't want to plant that idea in their mind if they're weren't. instead i asked them the day of the race, "how are you feeling?" and they all answered, "excited." one wondered if he would get kicked in the head during the swimming.

like most things in my life, when i chose to sign my four very inexperienced boys up for their first triathlon, i did so on a complete whim. no consulting. no planning. no research. no talking about it. i took a word from nike. and just.did.it.
we moved back to Nashville late May. the following week, they were training.

we showed up for the first practice, me giddy and very, very curious. them along for the ride{let's humor mummy} which has been the general posture for these many years. the trajectory of our family is: mum has a fun idea. boys play along. sometimes it goes well. this was such the case with their first go with triathlons.

one of the coaches came over to meet me after the first practice. "i have to tell you charlie paid us the best compliment of our careers. he said, 'i am so satisfied with the variety of exercises you chose to teach us. it's challenging, but so worth it'." i had never heard my 12 year old use the word satisfy in my life. and that would be the theme of their 3 month stint as triathletes. very, very satisfying. 

a few weeks back, these 4 boys o'mine participated in their first triathlon. and all managed to bring home the first place trophy in their age division for first timers. all were completely satisfied. and after it was all said and done, i told their valiant coaches that we would sign up for wheel barrel racing if we knew they were coaching. you see i saw my boys change. for the better. and the coaches were the ones who ignited that change.

with some really great coaching, an open mind and a mother who cheered{and kept all her anxiety to herself}, these boys have started what i hope is a lifelong love with this sport. 

i guess my point in all of this is as parents we must let our children experience their own fears and victories without us, their guides, telling them what to fear {i mean this in the sense of emotional fear rather than imparting wisdom}. and that's the hard part. figuring out how to impart wisdom without imparting fear, our fear based on our experiences. 

i have to bite my tongue and jump up and down with my hand over my mouth somedays just to keep my mouth shut whenever i see my boys scale a wall or climb a tree or run in a field out in country on a scorching day. to see them take on challenges that i would never want for myself, but that are deeply satisfying-for them. because they are their own people and isn't that the goal of parenting? to guide them as they become their own independent people?

i have to remind myself of that when i watch my two oldest walk out the door to school everyday. they are forging a new life for themselves with experiences that are so rich-and uncommon to me and separate from me. they are lone reeds in many ways. but boy are they gaining strength in ways i could never have hoped for or imagined. and that strength is what gets them through a grueling cross country practice. it's what helps them negotiate with difficult classmates. and it's that strength that will carry them into their burgeoning manhood. 

i always told people, "my boys are more athenian than spartan" a reference to ancient history. athenians being more epicurean than the fierce spartans. i clearly was wrong. all of my boys, as it turns out, are spartans. and as the 7 year old likes to shout: "this.is.sparta!"


12 September 2013

home economics

he had his eye on the prize. and the prize came with a hefty price tag so he began to plot. how o, how could he afford to satisfy his hankering? 

we live on a large wooded lot-over an acre of trees-so when he asked if he could rake our leaves, i knew this endeavor would be worth the 20 dollars he wished to earn. 

and it was so worth the 20 dollars. to see him raking leaves in a summer downpour. to hear him say, "as soon as i rake a pile, more leaves drift down. it's maddening." and to watch him rig the trash bins and snow shovels, well. yeah, i was happy to fork over the dough. "it was a lot harder than i thought it would be." isn't it always?

as i watched him work for two days, in the heat, in the rain and ultimately in the cool of the early morning, i recognized in him a drive to work hard to earn a fair wage. it made me glad that for as long as the boys have been able to walk, they have been expected to pitch in around the house, ours or others. 

"many hands make light work" is one of our family adages{another is: "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem}. and hard work is no stranger to these boys whose hands bear blisters and brows scars from roughing it up a little. 

i would be lying if i said they required little coaxing. and money is a very, very good motivator as it seems that capitalism is alive and well in our little nook of the woods. each boy has his wish list of tomfoolery to spend his nickels and dimes on. 

and for this boy of 10, well, he has his eye on some new arrows for his bow. perfect. just perfect.

enjoying a freshly raked yard-for now,
xo gf