Category Archives: Kid Stuff

My Girl Is 11.


“I will have this experience with me for the rest of the my life. I will always treasure that I got to play this role. I will miss Scout.” – Anna

These are the kind of deep statements I hear from her. Sandwiched between her witty comments, hilarious sense of humor, and laughter are deeply felt moments of honesty and emotion. There are days that I am sure I am talking to a 30 year old. She poses hard questions. She always has. Questions about poverty. About social injustice. When someone is mistreated, a righteous anger rises up in her, and she needs me to help her direct it.

She reasons well. If she asks for something, and we tell her no, she receives it graciously. She never pushes the envelope with her wish for material things. Ever. She doesn’t jump on bandwagons of negativity. Instead, she will refocus on what is right and good in her world.

At the risk of uncovering myself and one of my very weak moments this year, I would like to share a story of how Anna responded to my self-indulgent rant. We were leaving the house one day. I was very frustrated with Kris. I felt he would fly, come home, and spend all of his time working on the farm. I felt left with a home to care for by myself. I felt so many things went undone, and I was frustrated. Knowing better, I vented. To a 10 year old. More than that, I asked her, “Why don’t you tell your dad we need him to stop working on the farm so much and help out more around the house?”

“No. I won’t. It’s a lot of land. He has to work it hard. Far-Far (Kris’ dad) can’t do it all alone. He needs him. And, you need to allow dad to do what he feels he needs to do. If you are stressed, ask me. If you need more help, ask me. Ask ME. I will help you.”

I will never forget that conversation. I will never forget how she responded to me. She stood up for what she felt was right while still honoring me.

Anna Takle, you absolutely light up my world. You are so incredibly smart. And, your wisdom has astounded me. Your love of music, the piano, and broadway are so much fun. You continually make me proud when I watch you use your gifts.





You make me laugh harder than anyone.



You are the sweetest, most loving sister.


You have a tender appreciation for all life.


You are a living, breathing beautiful, example of God in the earth.

I love how you love life and the people in your life. I love how you crawl up in bed with me almost every single night, because you want to talk to me. I love how you love Seinfeld and Big Bang Theory. I love how you appreciate good tea. I love how you work tirelessly on the piano until you can finally play a piece perfectly. I love how you love your brothers. I love how you look at me and watch me. I love how you still get so excited and exclaim, “Daddy’s home!”

And, of all the roles you have played, my favorite one you play is simply being Anna Takle. I love who you are. I am forever thankful God chose me to be your mom. What a gift it is to call you my daughter. Thank you for being you and for continuing to allow God to grow inside of you.

Happy 11th Birthday, Anna Takle. I love you so very much.




Filed under gratitude, Kid Stuff, life, Motherhood

I Have A Teenager.

JH - young

These eyes have owned me since the first time I saw them.  I’m pretty sure that he knows that by now.

13 years ago today, he made me a mother.  And, what a beautiful journey it has been. There are some who have told me, “Just wait until they are teenagers….”  If you’re a mom, it’s probably been said to you and not so much in a positive way.  I have chosen to enter these years with “the best is yet to come” as the foundation for our home and for my relationship with this beautiful soul that I get to do life with every single day.

John Henry, every year with you gets better and better.  Every season with you teaches me something about love, forgiveness, and always looking for the best in others.  One of the most, if not THE most, amazing qualities about you is that I never hear you say one negative or demeaning word about any person.  You have spoken kindly about every teacher, every friend.  You continually remind me to give someone the benefit of the doubt.  You continually find the good in others.

You have a righteous anger for those who are treated unjustly.  For those who are made to feel less than they should.  Your compassion for people to truly know and believe that they are who God says they are is the banner you wave so fiercely.  And, I could not be more proud of the man you are.

Thank you for valuing human life and for reminding me to always value others.

Thank you for being my protector, the man of the house, when your Daddy Kris is gone.

Thank you for always trying to make life easier for those around you.

Thank you for striving to do your best in everything.

Thank you for understanding technology better than I do.

Thank you for being the household Math tutor.

Thank you for introducing me to cool music.

Thank you for not being embarrassed when I dance.

Thank you for looking out for your sister even when she drives you crazy.

JH - siblings

Thank you for being a gentle, big brother to Jett. And, thank you for letting him play the Playstation with you.

JH - with jett el toro

Thank you for being you.

You are not afraid to endure hard things.

You are not afraid to put yourself out there and try something new.

You are not afraid to admit when you’re wrong.

You are not afraid to love deeply.

You are brave.  You are brilliant.  You are funny.  You are full of compassion and love.  And, I cannot believe you are a teen.  Time certainly flies when you’re having fun.  What a fun 13 years it’s been.  And, as always, the best is yet to come.

Happy Birthday, Teenager.

I love you more and more every day.

Love, Mom

JH - Dusty

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Filed under Motherhood, Relationships, Kid Stuff, making an impact, life

You Gotta Believe Jett Takle Is Five.


It is impossible to spend time with Jett and look away from him without him demanding my attention back. I’m sure you’ve experienced this with little ones grabbing your face and turning it to face theirs. Jett, like most kids, has always done this. But, now that he’s older, he doesn’t grab my face. He simply shouts, “Mom! You gotta believe this!” It’s his twist on “You’re not going to believe this!” I like his version better. Because, more than the things we don’t need to believe, there are so many more things we actually “gotta” believe. And, he reminds me everyday to believe in the good.

To believe that it’s important to be an observer of life and notice every inch of it.

To believe that life’s wonder and beauty are found in what most of us consider the mundane – the everyday life – the ordinary. To know that we don’t always have to seek an adventure, a destination, or some exotic place or people….but we can find God in every aspect of our daily journey. And, there is nothing mundane at all about that.

And, there is nothing mundane about being with Jett.


Jett, you replenish my soul. You fill my life with so much joy that I cannot contain it all. It pours out of me in the forms of smiles, laughs, stories, and tears. The good kind of tears. The kind where I sit alone and think about your very existence and I am flooded with emotions wrapped in gratitude and thankfulness. I am so thankful for you, and I love every single thing about you.

I love the way you look at me and tell me you love me.

I love the way you insist on riding your daddy’s back to bed.

I love the way you dream of becoming a pilot and flying “to outer space.”

I love the way you love your big brother and sister and light up when they play with you.

I love the way you get so excited when you tell a story.

I love the way you get so excited about EVERYTHING.

I love the way you love exploring nature on the farm. You make me love the farm even more, too.

I love the way you know when you are entertaining us with your hilarious dance moves, so you don’t stop dancing.

I love the way you get those dance moves from your Ga-Ga.

I love how creative your imagination is. And, how you believe you can do and accomplish anything.

You gotta believe this, Jett Takle. You make our lives sweeter. I recently read, “time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life.” You make time stand still for me. And, I will forever be grateful to you for making me soak in so many beautiful moments.

Happy 5th Birthday, Jett. We love you more than you will ever know.




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Filed under Kid Stuff, life, Motherhood, parenting

My Girl Is Ten.



Had God asked me what I wanted my daughter to be like, I could have never imagined the wonder of you. I could have never dreamed of a daughter who makes me laugh more than you and enjoy life more than you. I could have never imagined a better daughter. A better friend.

I could have never written this story of my life with you.

Anna Takle, you are just always so much more. More of everything that is good. Everyone always hears and reads the hilarious and witty things you say. Trust me, there are many. But, there are stories they don’t hear. Like you coming home from school broken-hearted over a classmate with whom no one really engages. His self-esteem is low. So, you decide to sit right across from him at lunch one day. You tell him he isn’t who people say he is, but he is who God says he is. You don’t care what other people think about it. You don’t care what other people think about you. Instead, you walk confidently in who God created you to be.

“You could change the course of this kid’s life, because of your encouragement,” I tell you.

Tears fell down your face. They fell down mine. You became aware of what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ.

I love the way you ask questions and then truly listen to the answers. You always seek understanding. You are a lover of wisdom.

I love the way you look up to John Henry. I love how even though there are times you come to me with how he disappointed you, you run to his defense so much more.

I love the way you care for Jett. I love how you worry about him in school. I love how you are so proud of him when he learns something new. Especially, when you feared he might “grow up, get his GED, and stay in his PJs all day.”

I love how you know exactly what you like and what you don’t. And, you’re not afraid to tell me that my shirt is “screaming ‘look at me!'” Or how I “might want to reconsider those pants.”

I love how you strive for excellence in everything you do.

I love listening to you play piano. I love how determined you are to play a piece well….no matter how difficult it is. I love how you appreciate music from Beethoven to Jerry Lee Lewis.

I love how you hop on my bed, because you just want to be with me. I love being with you, too. I love how dad came in the room one night, and said, “Someone needs to get out of my bed,” and you quickly responded, “Mom, you heard the man.”

You make me laugh every single day. You make me proud every single day.

I am so thankful I get to spend my days with you. I am so thankful God gave me such an amazing daughter. I know we talk about you staying with me forever. And, I know it’s hard to believe right now, but a day will come and you’ll be ready to head out and take on the world. I call it the day I’ll spend eating boxes upon upon boxes of Junior Mints in my bed while crying.

I’m seriously thankful that day isn’t today.

And, I am so thankful I didn’t write this story of my life with you. Only God could write something so beautiful and fun.

I love you, Anna Takle. Happy 10th Birthday.






Filed under Kid Stuff, Motherhood, parenting, Writing

Twelve: A Soul Well Tended.

Middle School. First year. That’s where we are now. Everyone tries to tell you to hold on tightly. Because, the years are set to mach speed when you’re raising children. And, how well I now know that you are 12 years old. TWELVE. One minute I’m walking you into your first day of Kindergarten.

Then, the next I’m dropping you off and watching you walk into Middle School. And, two things consistently astonish me: how I blink my eyes and you are almost as tall as me…..

and how you continually make everyone around you feel good about themselves.

Someone recently made the comment how you have the unusual ability to make even “old folks feel important.” It’s one of the traits that makes me most proud. Everyone leaves your presence feeling a little better about themselves. Please, son….don’t ever lose this gift. It’s really what the Kingdom is all about. Love. Acceptance. Mercy. I am amazed watching you make these three things the epitome of who you are.

You love people. You encourage them. You accept them for who they are and embrace who they are. And, your mercy is so long and wide. So much so that you remind me often to be a giver of mercy. I can remember one evening you overheard me saying something negative about someone. I was so embarrassed. I went to you and asked you to forgive me. Your response: “I forgive you. Just remember, he is a good man.”

Those words went straight to my heart. Such holy, good conviction that reminded me to allow to people to fail me. To make allowances for other’s faults. To always look for the good in others.

John Henry, your soul is even more beautiful than your eyes. And, that is saying a lot. You tend to your soul beautifully. At the start of this school year I told you I wanted us to begin studying the scriptures together. You immediately went to retrieve your Bible, and we turned to the Sermon On the Mount and began to read. This part of that sermon defines who you are so well:

7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:7-9)

And, God blesses you, John Henry Landreth. I am so proud of the man that you are. I will always miss my little boy. I will always smile when I think about this little face.

But nothing compares to the tears of joy I cry when I look into this face. Full of mercy. Full of love.


Happy 12th Birthday, John Henry. I love you more today than yesterday. And, I will love you even more tomorrow.







Filed under Kid Stuff, making an impact, Motherhood, parenting

Captain America Turns 4.

I thought the title of this post was appropriate seeing as how this was Anna Takle’s birthday blog back in 2008. How do I love thee, Jett Takle? Let me count the ways. My friends with three children always told me before Jett was born, “There is just something about that third kid.”


I’m here to tell you. There is just something about that third kid.


I’ll admit. We don’t enforce some things with Jett the way we did with our first two. Here are some our parenting philosophies that were thrown out of the window after Jett Takle was born:


“High chairs are required in restaurants just like carseats are required in cars.” (Now, we just try to coral him within a 100 foot vicinity of our dining table. Shout out to the patio at El Toro Loco.)


“Bed time is 7:00, because moms and dads need time to themselves.” (Have you seen those sweet feet in those flannel pajamas and felt him snuggled next to you on the sofa?)


“Do not leave the table without asking, ‘May I be excused?’” (Don’t judge me. We get tired.)


“Kids should be potty-trained before they reach the age of 3.” (Whatever.)


“Using the word ‘butt’ isn’t appropriate for children under age ten.” (Every time he says “butt,” the entire family erupts with laughter. Also true for “crap.”)


“One treat a day.” (We stay stocked up on popsicles like Jerry Seinfeld stays stocked on cereal.)


“Be careful what your children listen to in the car.” (He knows every word to Zac Brown Band’s “Sic ‘Em On A Chicken.” Again, don’t judge me. We live on a farm now.)


“Never leave a child unattended.” (Ok. This is still true. But, we did lose him once. We found him in the chicken coop smashing eggs. Perhaps, we should be careful what our children listen to in the car.)


We’ve relaxed in a lot of ways. Perhaps, we’ve relaxed too much in some respects. BUT, we have adopted some new parenting philosophies since he’s been born, too:


“So, what if you’re kid stays up a little longer? Some of our best conversations happen at night.”


“Don’t stress over the small stuff and hard seasons. They’re just seasons. Sometimes, they just need a few more birthdays.”


“It’s okay to be friends with your kids.”


“ENJOY every season. You’ll blink your eyes, and they will be in Kindergarten.”


Jett Takle, we have all been in love with you since the moment we met you. You are our bright light. Our sweetest snuggler. Our charming smile. Our favorite superhero. The other day you told me, “Mom, you’re a great web shooter.” Jett, you are a great kid. A great little brother. A great son. I can’t even think about your future without getting so stinking excited. Because, you are destined to do great things. Until then, I’ll keep slinging webs and protecting the universe with you.


Thank you for teaching me how to enjoy being a mom. I love you so very much.


Happy 4th Birthday, Captain.



Filed under Kid Stuff, Motherhood, parenting

My Favorite Girl In All the World.

When you were a little girl, you could exhaust me with your determination. Determination to wear fleece in the summer and tattered tights with shorts and boots in the winter. Determination to fasten your own car seat. Determination to complete a puzzle all by yourself. Determination to order your own food at restaurants. Determination to be YOU.

Now, I watch as you are still determined to accessorize on your own. Determined to not let fear grip you when you hop on your brother's dirt bike. Determined to step outside yourself and assist in the birth of a baby calf. Determined to read bigger books. Determined to put Norman's halter on all by yourself. Determined to be the very best student you can be.

Determined to grab my attention and share your heart.

Anna Takle, I love your determination. I love it that you are so comfortable being who God created you to be. I love that you have made a decision to be who you are. Because, I am amazed at who you are. I fall in love with who you are a little more every day. I love it that you come to me and listen. And, you receive. You trust me and the Spirit inside of me. And, that trust blows me away. I think it astounds me, because of your determination to be you, and do things on your own. Yet, when it comes to matters of the heart, you absorb my every word. Just as you have grown to trust in me, I watch you growing to trust in Him.

And, I think that trust in Him makes me most proud of you.

You are beautiful. You are brilliant. You are discerning. You are compassionate. You are hilarious.

You are my favorite girl.



I love you, Anna Takle. Happy 9th Birthday.





Filed under Kid Stuff, Motherhood, parenting