Category: Family Portraits (page 1 of 22)

Getting Real About Parenting

First posted March 2006: I’ve come a long way, baby. And yet so far to go.

Yesterday I had one of those horrible home school days. I wish I could say they were few and far between, but they’re not. From the moment I woke up until the kids went to bed, it was one emotional rollercoaster ride for me and my kids. It began with my 11 year old and trickled to three of the four kids. Thank God for my steady second child. Though he had a small meltdown at bedtime it didn’t compare to my other three.

I have so many questions for God? Why did He give me these high spirited, high needs kids, and why did He want me to home school them? I couldn’t possibly be the best person for the job. I have my own issues and struggles I’m dealing with. How can I be the mom they want me to be? How can I meet all their needs and do it all?

I don’t have the answers, but encouragement came through a friend’s email today. I read it earlier in the day and then had to return to it tonight. It offered some encouragement, though I still dread the thought of doing this all over again day after day.

“The strongest steel breaks if kept too long under unrelieved tension. God knows exactly how much pressure each one of us can take.”

Yesterday I felt like breaking! I’m not sure if steel can bend, but I was doubled over and waiting to SNAP! It’s days like these I question whether God really knows what He’s doing and if He does, does He REALLY care. The answer came, I think…

“Slowly you will discover God’s love in your suffering. Your heart will begin to approve the whole thing.”

Okay, that’s a little hard to believe at this point in time, but I’ll accept it in faith. Still, I’ve got one more question…HOW SLOWLY?


Interrupted by Vacation: Long Island, New York Edition

It’s been years since I’ve been to New York.

Years since I walked the streets where I grew up, ate the BEST food in the world, and hung out with the craziest, funnest, and most loving people on earth! My family!

No kids. No husband… And I’m having the time of my life!

I thought I’d do more writing, but that’s okay. I’m doing some research for some of my current WIPs and let me tell you, I’m getting lots of fodder for future story. Family is good for that.

So my encouragement for you today… live in the moment! I’m a dreamer, a planner, so it’s REALLY hard for me to enjoy the present. But I am. If you don’t believe me, just have a look…


New York Bagels

New York Pizza

Sushi at Kashi's

Italian Cookies


NY Kashi Cousins

The girls!

Italian Family


Three Generations…

NY Italian Cousins


First Cousins! Grew up with these girls!

NY Florids Cousins

First Cousin! Spent my summers in Florida with this girl!



NY Wedding crowd2


NY wedding dance

NY wedding reception

NY first cousins All the first cousins together again!

Nothing like a New York Italian Wedding or family!

New week: Interrupted by Vacation: The New York City Edition!

Follow Up on a Disney Dream

It recently occurred to me after a friend asked me how the Disney call backs went, that I never followed up about the experience here. I tweeted and facebooked and texted, but the problem with that type of social media is that it’s hard to get the entire story out in bits and pieces. So for those of you wondering what happened after my boys got a call back from their Disney audition, here’s the follow up.

The entire Disney open call audition was a dream! We arrived an hour early, surprised to find that we were moved quickly to the air conditioned waiting area inside a 5 star hotel AND they were taking auditioners an hour early!

Everyone from 10-18 years old received the SAME scene. Interesting, I thought, but also a very smart way to evaluate each kid and their skills. So we sat and my kids got to work memorizing and practicing their lines! I’d prepped them before we arrived that no matter what happened, not to leave the audition room without performing their little boy band tune they prepared. But would they take my advice? I had no clue!

When their numbers were called they were ushered into a smaller room to wait some more. Here’s where they started to feel the nerves. Well, at least this mom did, a little. I wanted them to do their best and get to sing their song. Finally, they entered a room with three other girls. Maybe ten minutes of silence and then the girls exited, but no boys. Then I heard the singing, the harmony, and I hustled to the door and planted my ear close. Yep, they were singing!

When they exited the room I had no expectations of callbacks, in fact, I was ready to jump in the car and head back toward home, but all three made callbacks! We were all excited and even the lady scheduling the callbacks was surprised that three brothers made callbacks. There were some whispers of them being the next “Jonas Brothers.” And we didn’t try and stop the rumors! 😉

Later they told me  the two casting people seemed bored at first with everyone’s readings, but perked right up when they started singing. Papers were flying off the table as the casting directors were trying to find out who they were! It was pretty fun for them and me!

So with call backs scheduled for 10:30 am the next morning, our next plan of attack was to find a hotel. You would think in a city like Austin it wouldn’t be too hard, but with the crazy turn arounds and a GPS that didn’t alert us to our turns soon enough, we spent a good hour or more driving in circles!

After we bought callback outfits, settled into the hotel, and the kids argued about the sleeping arrangements, they diligently started studying their lines, right? Nope, it was Xbox game time! Eventually, they got their lines memorized, and we scrambled to find decent pictures, even fit in a dinner celebration at Olive Garden.

The next day was more subdued. The hotel was quiet and we walked around for a while not knowing where to go. While searching for the call back room we had a “God” meeting with one of the casting directors who saw them sing the first time (not really SURE his title.) We ran into him on the steps, and he remembered the boys, chatted for a while, and wished them luck. He ended with he “hoped to see them around.”

Then we waited with others who made callbacks and ike a good mom, I sized up the competition and then left it in the hands of God. After all, we were just doing this for the experience! Then they were called in and the nerves started! Finally, the singing started and some of the other kids in the room looked nervous!

After their callbacks, the boys told me they felt they were rushed and wished they had each gotten a callback slot instead of sharing one. They didn’t get to do their boy band dance because they were being taped, but they read and sang and hopefully learned a thing or two.

Since this experience about six weeks ago, the kids have been in a community production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and haven’t really thought about callbacks.

If we get a call, which I don’t think anyone is expecting at this point, then we’ll answer. Not sure what that answer will be, but until we get a call, life goes on…and school starts next week!


The Cost of Following Your Dreams

Gas to drive boys to Disney audition: $120

Hotel where I got NO sleep the night before audition: $91 plus tax

Driving around an hour looking for a hotel because sons made Disney call backs: PRICELESS

What have YOU been up to this week?

Happy Birthday to my Nine Year Old Baby!

Okay, happy belated birthday…It’s been a week of two graduations (5th and 8th,) two birthday parties (9 and 11), and a whole lot of last week of school stuff I blocked from my mind. Not to mention my FIRST fiction contract deadline is looming, but I wanted to wish my “baby” a happy birthday. She truly is a joy and an answer to prayer, not to mention the next female comedian on SNL! Seriously!! Here’s a glimpse of her past. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for her future…well, I take that back. I can wait if it means holding on to 9 a little bit longer!

Here’s what I wrote about Grace (not her real name) when she was five…

As a toddler she NEVER stayed in her stroller. She fell out of her high chair and scaled security gates.

As a pre-schooler (3) she climbed the highest tree in the backyard, scaled basketball poles (to the top) in her bare feet, and didn’t listen the first, second or third time when I say “NO.”

She’s still devious and maniacally mischievous with her older brothers, and I’ve caught her terrorizing them because she’s just so darn cute. Think Michelle Tanner of Full House with an evil side!

A couple of years ago at the very busy water park I found her breaking the rules, swimming over to the deepest part of the pool WITHOUT her brothers (with swimmies, of course). Then I lost sight of her as I scanned the pool. “Boo” comes from behind and I turn to see my cherub-faced child smiling at me. She had climbed out of the pool and taken the looong way around, to surprise me.

She is way too independent for her own good, and I don’t see her changing all that much. Maybe calming down a bit, but I think the basic personality is there to stay.

Yep, I was right!

Happy Birthday, baby girl!!

Writer…Interrupted: Field Trips, Awards and Opening Night, Oh My!

The life of a writer…interrupted is filled with distractions, but this month they’re all good!

My 8th grader’s 3 man team won the State Latin II Certamen (quiz bowl) AGAIN!! He also got Summa Cum Laude in the National Latin Exam for Latin II and came in first in state in the Sight Reading competition in the State Junior Classical league.

I got to accompany my 5th grader on a couple of field trips and we met the Governor!

My oldest starred in “The Boyfriend” and had a great run, proving to everyone that someone with a British accent came be melodramatic if the script calls for it!

And my youngest (almost 9) was busy with dance, the science fair, and practicing for a talent show, and took part in A Day In Rome with a scrumptious feast which I got to attend!

What did YOU do this month?



Fair Time…Can't Touch This…

I guess now that life is slowing down (LOL!) I have a moment or two (I should be homeschooling) where I can post some thoughts and pics.

To be honest (and when am I not) I do most of my blurbing on Facebook, even twitter has gone to the wayside now that I use my little netbook for most of my computer work. (Need to get TweetDeck installed.)

So if you want to keep up, friend me on Facebook… I’ll try and be more thoughtful and thought provoking in my post from time to time, but right now I have to brag on my 13 year old son.

This summer he decided he wanted to take the cake decorating classes at Michael’s hobby store. So knowing that we couldn’t squeeze it in during the school year and being that the classes were HALF price, he took all three and has been a cake making fool ever since. (Anyone who knows him, knows he’s NO fool!)

Anyway, he’s wowed his family and friends and even teachers with his cake projects and now he got to wow the whole state (well, technically the city) with FIRST PRIZE award winning cake in the State Fair.

This kid is no stranger to winning. He’s won first prize in a homeschool children’s book contest when he was ten or eleven and last year he won third place in a Veteran’s Essay contest without even trying (his words.) This summer I told him he could probably earn a bunch of money just by entering contest, but he didn’t listen to his wise old mom. Maybe after this win he’ll take my suggestion more seriously.

The cake was judged 50% on taste, 25% on looks and I think another 25% on difficulty of skill. The two cakes to the right are second and third place.

What do you think? Think he’s the next cake boy? For more pic of his cakes go here

And in sticking with the title of the blog, here are all the foods I didn’t EAT at the fair.

Nothing really appealed to me except a lamb Gyro, so that’s what I got. And I enjoyed all $8 worth of the sloppy mess. Note to self, next time tell them to go light on the onions!

Why I'm Overprotective: A Random Act of Violence

My kids would tell you I’m WAY overprotective.

My oldest wasn’t allowed to walk down to the neighbors home on his own in our quiet suburban neighborhood until he was ten, and then I can’t even remember if I let him play inside. There was a lot to worry about. I really didn’t know the parents or the older brother at all. Why would I allow my son to play inside a home I’ve never been in? Mix that with the nightly news and violence against kids and my overactive imagination and you got one overprotective mom.

When it came time to send the kids to camp, I’d warn them about swimming in the lakes and that parasites that could infect their brains and kill them if they got water up their nose. Every year a kid died from this mysterious disease in our state and my kids were not going to be one of them! Add that to the fact that I knew people who’ve drowned in rivers and were paralyzed in lakes and that lakes where we live are just plain icky and disgusting and you got one over protective mom.

Don’t even get me started about my fears of dogs and guns in someone’s home…

I’m sure I can go on and on and you can probably add your own overprotective stories to this post (and please do in the comment section) but I’d like to tell you about a REAL random act of violence that happened to my sweet, eight year old daughter yesterday…

I just started allowing my daughter to go to friends houses in the neighborhood and let friends come over, but the act of violence didn’t happen at home. It happened on vacation over her grandparents’ house. I should preface the story that the violence while random, wasn’t physically damaging and she seems to be emotionally fine (though wanting justice) so don’t worry, nothing horrific happened to her.

It was getting dark and her and her two older brothers and cousin wanted to go outside and watch the bats fly, so while normally I’d insist on an adult being outside with them, on this quiet cul-de-sac I wasn’t worried, though the idea did give me a moment of pause. Everything was quiet and I finally decided it was time for them to come in when my daughter comes up to me and tells me this little girl came up and punched her three times, one in the eye. I shook my head, not sure I heard correctly, but she told me the same story.

Her and the boys were playing a game where she was hiding in the bushes when this group of kids came up (not sure if they were playing with them, but the other day they did ask if they could play when we were down the street at a family reunion with about 50 people in the yard and the owner of the house said it wasn’t a good time, so we don’t know if they were mad about that)

My daughter said she saw the older girls whisper to the littlest one and then the littlest one (about my daughters size) went up and punched her in the face and eye about 5 or 6 times. And that was it!

Of course, I questioned why she didn’t yell and she didn’t know why. She was probably in shock, but that gave me concern because I’ve always taught my kids about screaming when a “bad man” tried to hurt them. I guess I should have expanded the age and gender bracket on “bad men.”

I then asked her brothers and cousin why they didn’t defend her and they didn’t even know it happened. Wow! More questions birthed in my mind. How could no one know what had happened even though she was hidden from everyone and why didn’t she tell?

Why didn’t she tell?

Makes you wonder how many other victims don’t tell right after the “act of violence,” but thankfully that’s the first thing she said when she saw me.

Needless to say, I was in shock and outraged and insisted on having my husband go down and talk to the family. It hasn’t happened yet and I’m a little worried that the parents might not believe their child did this, but my daughter keeps asking “are we going down there today.”

She may not be able to put it into words, but I know she wants justice. In fact, she said “I want to see her get in trouble.”

So if you think about it, say a prayer for “justice” and the courage for us to play this thing out when it’s so easy just to forget it all happened!

Top Ten Way to Embarrass Your Teen

Not that I know from experience or anything…

10. Write a top ten list of how to embarrass your teen

9. Tell their friends something about what they did when they were little

8. Tell them you talked to/emailed their teacher about… (fill in the blank)

7. Blog about them

6. Comment on their facebook page

5. Comment on their friend’s facebook page

4. “Friend” their friends on facebook

3. Show their friends a picture of them when they were ten

2. Try to hold their hand in public

1.  Sing at their school karaoke night “Saturday Night Live style” in hopes of winning the award for “the parent who embarrassed their kid the most!” I’m still waiting for my prize! 😉

Long Awaited Raggs PBS Trip Part Two


I’m either getting old or I’m just too busy. Maybe a little of both because I forgot to post on Part Two of our Raggs PBS trip. I could have sworn I did, but here’s another go (from my fading memory) and some quotes from my daughter.

raggs-031.jpgMy last post ended with me trying to get Grace to open up and we found that throwing her Littlest Pet Show animals across the room in a basket worked well! It got her wound up a little too much so we switched to hide and seek with the animals. Then it was her turn to go to hair and makeup.

Grace was nervous to be on TV, but sat in the makeup chair while the makeup lady and Boo, the lady who warmed up all the kids, tried talking to Grace. She didn’t say much or answer their questions like I wanted. I was a bit worried because in her audition video she came across as a very precocious, outgoing girl, but in person she was very shy. They understood and that’s why they tried to warm up the kids with questions before they went in to see Dumpster.


The day’s theme was “Pretend and make believe” but Grace told them she didn’t make believe or pretend. So I steered them to her performing on stage as a fairie in Narnia. After all, that was pretend.

Grace was excited when she went into see Dumpster. He was very funny and sang her name, trying to make her smile. He asked her questions about pretend and playing dress up and even asked her “what is acting?” Grace was trying to answer the questions correctly and told me later…

“I tried to answer the questions to help little kids learn and he asked me ‘what’s acting?’ I wanted to say ‘you’re acting, I’m acting, you’re just a puppet Dumpster,’ but I didn’t because the kids watching the show think the cat was really a cat.”

He asked about costumes and Grace said she wore a poofy dress in Narnia.  “Dumpster asked me about costumes and I told him I wore a poofy fairie costume in a play. He asked ‘what’s poofy?’ and I showed him my skirt I was wearing. Then he asked ‘would I look good in poofy?'” Grace said “no.”

Dumpster also asked about Grace’s favorite song. She said, “Back and Forth.” It’s by Lanae Hale and I knew Dumpster wouldn’t know it, but he was pretty funny when he said, “Is this how it goes. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth” and he swayed back and forth! I was really surprised and excited when Grace sang the song for him and I really hope that it’ll air some time soon!

He asked her about the names of stores and what a store is like. She mentioned Walmart and HomeDepot. Guess where we shop!

Grace said, “It was fun talking to Dumpster the Cat because he was fun to talk to. He asked me a lot of questions. There was this big room you had to wait in and I got to play on the computer. My favorite part of the trip was staying in the hotel and the airplane because it was my first airplane ride.”

Later I told her if she had messed up they could have cut the scene out, and she wished she would have told Dumpster that “I’m acting, you’re acting. You’re just a puppet.”

raggs-056.jpgThen we got a photo with Dumpster and a goodie bag and it was time to get ready to leave. I really wish I would have written this sooner and that I could have video taped the entire thing, but hopefully most of it will be on the Raggs show someday soon!

Older posts

© 2017 Gina Conroy

Theme by Web ChampsUp ↑