Wren stretching from home plate for a ball

Raws Finish Strong

Not that long ago, I read an article about having a family motto. This particular article recommended that the kids should be part of it, but eh, that’s was enlightened parents do. Me, not so much. I’d been using “Raws Finish Strong” as words in our house regularly. They hear it in their sleep probably.

As trite as it may be and as hooky as my kids think it is, I think this matters. It sets the tone for what is and is not acceptable. I hope that when it’s needed, it’s something they whisper to themselves when they are up to bat or about to swim a race, or take that standardized test.

Whatever you start, you finish, and you finish all in. I do not care if you are the best on the field, on the court, in the pool, or in the classroom. You will finish strong because that is what we do. And, on average I’d say my kids are mostly strong finishers. We don’t talk about being winners because that’s not always within our control. Maybe we win the game, the championship or first place in the meet. Or maybe not. The other team may be better, the other players may have better bats, the math be hard. The effort is what we control, and that is the focus.

Do we celebrate great report cards, a great win, or a spelling bee win? Sure. But we make sure to focus on the effort that got us the “A”, the “win”! “Great job, all those hours at the kitchen table with the math book paid off”, “the win must feel so good after all the time you spent on the diamond with your team”. “Wow, that time in the pool is helping!” Tying the victory to the effort is important to establish that link.

We also acknowledge that even if we didn’t win, get straight As, etc, that the effort is the important key. Bring me home a C that you worked your butt off for? Cool. Great job. Bring me a C that you didn’t try? We’re gonna be chatting about the effort. A game without hits? But you swung at strikes, worked hard in the field, and cheered your team? Cool. Love watching you play. Didn’t swing at strikes, blamed the ump? We’re going to talk. If you can’t look at me and say you did your best and “finished strong”, you didn’t meet the criteria (that day) for our family. And look, I get it. Our best every day isn’t the equivalent to yesterday’s best. Some days all we have to give is just not what we had last time. But you will finish strong because you are a Raw and you wear my name on your back.

Why do I say you wear my name on your back? Stay tuned, I’ll have another blog topic on that.





Bug is Double Digits

Days ago now, Bug turned 10. This month has been a disaster so I’m behind. *Sigh* We will all remember 2020 for all the wrong reasons.

But Bug, you turning 10, has been a bright spot recently. This post is usually a highlight of what you did in the last 12 months, but as we went into Covid nightmare March 16, you had a good three months of normal before it went crazy. In that time, you finished third and started fourth grade. You have excelled in math repeatedly and in reading. Last year you were the first done with the 12 Maud books, and I think you would have been this year had we not gone into a 24 day quarantine right then.

You played softball and tried basketball and volleyball. Turns out Mom was right and you like those sports, too. You didn’t make the team you wanted for softball, but you stepped up and worked hard, and were a leader on your team. Even when you were down on yourself for your pitching, you came off the field and were the team’s #1 cheerleader. While we’re working the down on yourself part, I’m immensely proud of you for shaking it off to cheer on your team.

While we were in quarantine, you also decided to make a Christmas card/decoration thing for each and every single one of your classmates. Even while we were wallowing in our pity because of the lock-down, you found a way to try to brighten other people’s days. That has always been a piece of who you are.

Your teacher tells us all the time that you are a kind kid with a good heart who is there for her classmates.

I love you, my little heart. You are a great person, and I look forward to the next year to see you grow and learn.

Wren getting an award for most improved

Jiggs is 8

Somehow even in a pandemic time is flying and Jiggs is now 8.

Jiggs, it has been a whirlwind year for you. When I wrote this blog for you last year, you were just starting on the swim team. At the end of the season you had done a few meets and even won “most improved swimmer” for your team. You worked hard for Josh, and genuinely loved to swim. After the pandemic, when we could get you back in the pool, you said “ah mommy my heart needs to swim”. And, now you’re back in the pool and loving it. I love “watching” you do what you love. (Even if watching just entails drop off and pick up for practice right now, and can’t see you in the pool!) I love your smiles from it. I love even more that you are forging your way here as a Raw and doing this on your own!

But of course, even when you do things on your own, you return to softball. I am stunned at your improvement this year. From getting no hits in last year’s states, to getting THREE doubles this year, I’m just in awe of your work. I’m also impressed at your catching and fielding. You’ve worked hard, so enjoy the fruits of your labor to go be on the 10U dome ball this season.

School has also been fun to watch. Your reading went through the roof this last year, and I’m excited to see where this takes us. You’ve been learning and working so hard, the sky shall be the limit for you.

Lastly, watching you continue to come into your own in our family. You are so very quick-witted and fast with your comebacks on your sisters. You keep all of us on our toes, and make us laugh almost nightly at dinner. Watching your sister play softball recently, I hear this little voice “Come on three-five, you got this”. You attend a lot of games, and you still regularly find some time and voice to cheer them on. And Yes baby girl, they will attend what they can of yours too. Your sister caught some great shots of you, and we’ll see what we can do for basketball and swimming.

I’m so proud of you Jiggs. You have really had to learn to work hard this year, and fight for some gains. But then you did make those gains. You are a great member of this family, and we are so excited to watch where 8 takes us.

Why we do sports

Today, my third daughter had her first softball practice with her fall team. Yesterday, the other two did (don’t get me started on the third one is always last). But for now, it’s about sports and why my family seems to invest tons of money in it. My daughters will not play softball at college or national level… I don’t expect it. But here’s a taste of what went down at supper after everyone played today.

1. Bug had volleyball practice. One of her softball teammates is also in volleyball and today while entering volleyball, Bug the new softball teammate, called out to her, and asked to her walk together. Yesterday, Bug and her friends included a child of a younger age they knew to join them in the drills.

2. Jiggs – ahh Jiggs. Beamed, start to finish at getting to play. Had so much fun, came out laughing, and had so much fun. She loves getting to play. She engaged with her teammates and just generally had a blast. “Mom, I did good. I tried hard”. “I hustled, Mom”.  Tomorrow, she starts her sport; swimming. She cannot wait for that because “its in my blood, Mom”. Sports reset her heart. There’s no other term for it.

3. Peanut. God bless this quiet kid who just wants to play softball. Yesterday’s practice was fun. But today, she glowed. Not just sweat, but genuine glee. “Mom. This kid who’s better than me, talked to me and we had fun.” “Mom, I hit and won the game of lightning”. “Mom, left field was so hot, but xyz was fun”. “Mom, so and so is super nice and I had fun.” “Mom, I noticed so and so was down today, but I just couldn’t get her alone to see if she needed anything. I’ll try again later”. Sports give her a chance to talk with kids who intimidate her in other ways. Teammates are cared for and watched in case they just need a little more. Sports give her a chance to speak without an agenda or even opening her mouth sometimes.

Look ya’ll. Sports aren’t paying for college for these kids. (Well, Jiggs thinks she’ll get a swimming scholarship but we’re a decade away so for now, not likely!)

But, my introvert, my extroverts, my defiant kid, my people pleaser, my black and white rules kid, my fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants kid, my easygoing, my hard-on-herself kid ALL benefit from sports. The skills they learn playing sports, being part of a team, etc, all provide value into being good humans.

These kids and 98% of teammates are the best of what we need as a society. They play together as a team even though every year is a new group of teammates. They cheer each other on because they learn that they will win and lose as a team. They engage one another as equals because they are all in it together.

My kids play sports because it provides a chance to learn and grow and get along.

I spend my time, money, and energy on their sports because it improves them as humans.

Quickly written blog. Spelling and grammar errors, but the intent is what matters.

She’s a teenager

Oh my gosh, but here comes parenting the teens. Fortunately she’s a good human.

Happy birthday Peanut. I have no doubt this birthday will be one to remember. Turning 13, but in quarantine. You are in lots of good company as it’s been a long 3 months. But, watching you continue to be the best you, give me hope for the next year.

I don’t want to dwell on the quarantine, but it has colored our last 3 months pretty strong. You lost the chance to play not only school ball, but your last 12U spring ball. It sucks, and it’s hard and I’m sorry for that. But, you’ve been working on your individual skills and you’ve been a trooper about it. You were also super helpful when Dad was working at the school, and I was working at home. Helping your sisters with homework, getting them lunch when they weren’t even grateful (welcome to the club)! Taking them and the neighbors to the part when that became open again. Your maturity is amazing.

You were a good sister, cheering your sisters on when they took on new things. Sitting at a humid swimming pool for 90 minutes waiting for your sister’s one minute swim is a commitment to supporting her. You watched a lot of softball (two sisters!) and went along for the rides when we hustled between multiple tournaments. I heard you cheering just as loud for them as you did for your own teammates.

You also finished 7th grade and got things done. Your grades were impressive, and I’m very proud of you. We just won’t discuss the basket weaving at home project 🙂 Your speech teacher took time to send you a note and comment on your strengths as well. I love getting those emails. Knowing that others see the kind of person you are is gratifying as you tend to keep pretty internalized.

I was impressed at how well you’ve been trying new things; dome ball wit


part of your growing up. I can’t think of how many hours you put in at the softball tournaments manning the concessions, and picking up so many other family’s commitments. You’re strength of getting it done quietly and without fanfare will serve you well. We are proud of you, and we love you.

Bug is 9

The end of the year always creeps up on me, even when I try to plan ahead. Without further ado, Bug is 9!

This year has been full of ups and downs for you, Bug. You started pitching this spring, and I can still remember the joy of your first strike out (and your buddy T being the catcher for that third strike!!!). I will not forget the tears from our first broken bone. Turns out, you are so tough, that you pitched another inning and a half and gave the best performance to date. Watching you struggle to be okay sitting on the bench, learning to cheer through the heartache was harder than I can describe. It broke your dad and I, too But, you showed team spirit, fortitude, and strength. Build on those, Bug.

We also celebrated two more sacraments. Reconciliation and First Communion were big deals. It has always been a joy to watch your heart and soul grow. You are a kind soul who feels big things. I had someone tell me that at the Nutcracker dress rehearsal you reached out to the kiddo who was feeling overwhelmed, and need a friend. It’s not uncommon for your dad and I to hear about your friendship skills. You make us proud that you lead with an open heart. Never stop that open heart.

And, of course, we dance. Watching you perform on stage is a delight. (Maybe not so much doing the hair and hearing about how hard I pull to make the bun!) Watching you grow in confidence and skill is so much fun to see. I may have no idea how this dance things works, but you’re figuring it out. Thank you for taking us along your ride. You begged for a solo, so we’re giving it a whirl this year. I can’t wait to see what you can do!

Dad and I are always proud of you, and how you do hard things. Your heart is legendary. The growth this year in maturity has been incredible. Your teachers and coaches tell us of the kind of teammate you are. I hope you never forget to enjoy the games and the dance. Keep your open heart and enjoy the beauty you see in everyone!


Jiggs is 7

Oh man. Every year that I wrote this post, I am reminded that time does not stop and the years are fast.

This year, my Jiggs, you have led us on a merry roller coaster ride. During kindergarten, you danced, played soccer, basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, softball, and you wrestled and had swimming lessons.

You are strong. Although you enjoyed wrestling, you decided it was not your thing, and we’re done. But, I’m so proud that you went out and did your best trying to learn this sport that we had no exposure to prior to your attempts.

You are quick. Along with being amazing as a kindergartner, you have kept us on our toes with your quick sense of humor, your growing snark, and your physical athleticism, and card playing skills. It has been a joy to me that you are old enough to play the card games that our extended family enjoys. Watching you learn to win at Uno or figure out Phase 10 and Skipbo makes a momma’s heart happy. Your competitive nature comes out so much during cards, too. No one is going to steam roll you.

You are fierce.  Whether you are fighting with a sister, or for a sister, there’s a fierce side to you that will take you far. I have seen you defend a sister outside our walls, and for that, I’ll be ever grateful.

You are tough. This year, the softball association gave the option of U8 fall softball. When we gave you the option to play, your first question was “Do my sisters have to watch me play?” Upon affirmation, you decided that you would play. Although you were the youngest player on the team, you were determined. I saw you field some tough shots in the field with  your quick glove. I watched you get hit twice with the bat in one game, and still finish the inning behind the plate.

You are unique. Jiggs, it is not easy to be the youngest, but you handle it with panache and strength. I love that you are finding your own way in this world, and finding your own sports, your own friends, and your own sense of who you are. May this stay forever true. May you be unabashedly you.





Peanut is 12

Today is what’s called a “Golden Birthday”.

Peanut, this last year started with a big change for you; a move to middle school. You did well, though, through the learning spots. You were on time all year with assignments, you pulled good grades, and stayed reasonably organized. I’m impressed at your transition, as we knew you were apprehensive,

From your teachers and other staff at school, we heard consistently you are a good kid, with a good head on your shoulders.  You work hard, did your best, and generally were fun to be around. As a parent, it is those compliments that mean more to us than anything.

Your 6th grade class headed off to Camp Widjiwakkawinkawo. (I know, I know, Camp Widji). You were so excited for these 4 days away to see and do things the rest of us didn’t. When you came home (and the tiredness wore off), it was so fun to see your face light up as you talked about what happened and what fun you had, and what you learned. I’m so grateful you were the kind of kid who was excited to try this challenge and not scared. You have been independent, and that makes us proud.

I love how you have been trying out new hairstyles, particularly the shorter ones. It’s been so much fun to see you step out of the ponytails-for-everyone, and try the different ones. So many people have commented positively on your strength to be unique and how awesome your hair cuts are. I wish you to take that strength forward in everything you do.

You have been a great big sister; attending the Nutcracker and Dance Recital and complimenting your sisters.  You have attended a fair amount of Bug’s and Jiggs’ activities, and mostly watched/encouraged. You have celebrated their achievements and have been supportive of their goals. I know you are stoked, as well, that your cousin is going to college here in MN.

Your sense of sarcasm, being finely honed by your cousins, is coming out and getting to be such fun.

Peanut, I think you are such fun to be around (well, mostly, you are a tween!). I love how responsible you have become, and the kind of role model you are to your sisters. Your sense of family, and wanting to spend time with your extended family has also been appreciated. I have loved to watch you push your own boundaries, gain in strength and independence. I am proud of you, and I am excited to see what next year’s adventures include.



Bug had her two competitions for dance recently.

Prior to Bug taking our family on this competition dance adventure, I had a lot of opinions, misconceptions, and well, bad ideas about what dance meant. I thought it was frou frou and all about looking pretty with makeup and hair. I didn’t consider it a sport, and thought it was just silly .


Bug spends hours in the studios for about 9 months learning her routines, working with her teammates to get it right. It matters if they use their left or right foot to leap, and whether or not they are in sync enough to do it. She will spend time this summer working on her ballet technique (of which I understand that all dance is based). Her team will work to stretch and become more limber, they will be asked to tap their feet; fast, in rhythm, and without looking at them.

She will come home and try to practice at home. She will avoid dogs who skitter around trying to figure it out. She will practice her tap without tap shoes because mom isn’t okay with her fake hardwood getting tapped on. She will practice ballet and jazz and try to make the living room work with props and sisters walking and mom moving, etc. She will beg to stretch instead of going to bed. She will deal with parents who aren’t so amazing at dance family thing.

After 9 months of practice, this girl will then go on stage in front of three judges. Those three judges will do as their title suggests and judge them. The judges will talk through the entire performance and tell them what they did well or not well. Personally, the idea of someone watching my entire performance of anything and commenting on every step would be super frustrating and hard to take.

The next practice, this girl will then listen to the teachers tell them their opinion and listen to the three judges critiques. I am impressed at that skills she will learn from this: work as a team, work individually at home, take constructive (or not) feedback and keep going, learn to work through pain (ask me about her tap costume at the first comp). This kid will be responsible to know 3-5 routines at a time.

Through all of this, Bug begs me to do more dance. They did Daddy Daughter dance, and she wanted to do Hip Hop. We had to plan in a third day of dance so she could do recreation Hip Hop. Turns out she loved that style also. (She alternates between Hip Hop and ballet as her favorite). When her school had a 4 Saturday dance practice, we added that on.

I am grateful for her teachers who pushed her to do better, and didn’t accommodate “tired” or other excuses. I am grateful for her teachers who taught her to have fun while learning, and enjoy what she’s doing. I am grateful to the studio who gives the kids an opportunity to learn how dance can be incorporated into a program like the Nutcracker. Instead of 2 minutes on stage, there’s this whole cohesive program telling a story. I have no doubt for the older kids it is exhausting, but for the littler kids who may only otherwise dance on stage one time, it’s pretty awesome.

Watching my Bug on stage, it’s where her heart seems to soar and shine. I’m grateful for the lessons she’s learned, and the people we’ve met along the way.

And I was wrong. So wrong. Thanks for teaching us, Bug!

Bug is 8!

Last birthday of the year, I present Bugaboo is 8!

Bug, we’ve had so much growth this year. It’s your second year of competition dance, and you are stepping up to lead a little more. You’re a little more confident in your abilities, and still working hard. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that you’ve only been dancing for 3.5 years. It’s been fun watching you do Hip Hop, too. You come out smiling ear to ear, and sweaty! Day to day, the answer changes on your favorite form of dance, but never that you love it.

Softball is another theme in your life. Momma coached you this Spring, and I had fun. (I hope you are a better ball player after our season, but either way, I had fun!) Then, this fall you tried travel fall ball, and had a blast with Daddy as your coach. I can’t tell, though, who had more fun, you or him! I’m proud of how far you came in pitching, because when I first had to catch you, I didn’t sit on the bucket for more than 2 pitches. Now, I barely get more than 2 times in 30 minutes of pitching.

And then we get to school. Man, when your teacher says “I wish I had a class of your daughter”, Mommy and Daddy are thrilled. Thank you for constantly being kind, helpful (but not overbearing), fun, and generally just a good person, and a great student. We’ve played a lot of hangman, made up some worksheets, and generally just watched you thrive in school.

Bug, you are sad that you haven’t yet seen your sister wrestle. I love that your heart is so big, you are excited to support your sisters interests. Today, my beautiful girl, you told a young man when he said “hate”, that “hate is a strong word”. I can’t remember what he hated, but you quietly and strongly held your ground that hate isn’t okay.

Baby girl, you have a strong and kind heart, a brain that’s capable of learning, a mindset that learning is fun, and a work ethic that will take you places. I’m so excited for the next year to see where it takes you. Daddy and I will be here for everyone of your goals, so let’s go

a) get multiplication memorized

b) get better at ballet

c) try out for the Nutcracker




you will make this world a better place


Getting big


Sliding safely into home