Laresa Watkins

The Summer of YES-Maddie’s Dinner Party

Aug 1, 2016

Summer of Yes

I have really been trying to say yes this summer.  Yes to ice cream and swimming and friends.  Yes to exercising and campouts in my bedroom floor. Yes to just doing nothing.

I’ve been focusing on relaxing and letting go of the control that I love so much, and at times it has been a little scary. Like when I gave Charlie and Maddie knives and told them they could cut up their own apples when they asked.  I cringed with every slice.

Sometimes, saying yes has made me really uncomfortable.  Charlie wanted to rearrange his bedroom last week, so I trudged upstairs and moved furniture around while he gave me instructions.  I began organizing his overcrowded bookshelf (it’s holding all of his crafts from the summer, which is a lot) and he was like, “What are you doing?” He was seriously offended that I was messing with his stuff.  He said, “Can I put that back?” and of course I had to say “Sure.  It’s your room, you can decorate it however you like.” So now his bookshelf is stuffed with crafts and Legos and Lego boxes and stuffed animals and all of the boards he has broken in karate.  There are a few books on there, but you can’t see them. My type-A self just keeps picturing that bookshelf.

Last month I said yes to something that made me both scared and extremely uncomfortable.  Several weeks ago, Maddie stood in front of the cabinet in our kitchen that is full of my good wedding china.  She said, “Why can’t we ever use this? Let’s use it.” She wanted to have a dinner party for Aunt Betty, who was packing for her move back to Florida.  I thought for a minute, then agreed.

Maddie checked out a book on parties from the library, made a menu, and invited Aunt Betty (who is actually her great-great aunt) for a fancy dinner.  Everyone was instructed to wear their nice clothes and given strict orders that there was no burping or pooting at the party, and you must say the prayer or you would be asked to leave.  She was serious.

We had great fun planning the party and getting ready that day.  Charlie and Maddie were so excited to use our nice china and crystal, and to see my MeMa’s silver.  My heart nearly beat out of my chest while I watched Maddie carrying those plates full of food across the kitchen to the table, and I held my breath the entire time they were filling the crystal glasses with ice.  I actually practiced how I would react if one of them dropped a plate or glass on the tile floor, because I was pretty sure that was going to happen and I didn’t want to overreact when it did.

Folding the napkins-I had to really hold myself back from re-folding them!

Folding the napkins-I had to really hold myself back from re-folding them!


Setting the table.

Setting the table.


Maddie made these flower arrangements-she even cut the flowers herself!

Maddie made these flower arrangements-she even cut the flowers herself (with very sharp shears).


Love these two-but they better quit rough-housing around the china!!!

Love these two-but they better quit rough-housing around the china!!!


Aunt Betty, Mama, Charlie, and Maddie.  <3

Aunt Betty, Mama, Charlie, and Maddie. <3


As you can see, it was a lovely dinner in spite of my discomfort!


So…We Had to Take a Break from #WatkinsVacay2016 and What I Have Learned About Rest

Jul 15, 2016

I know it sounds ridiculous.  I mean, who actually has to take a break from their vacation?  But it’s true.

I (along with Charlie and Maddie) began our summer vacation as soon as VBS at our church was over in June.  We wrapped up (for the most part) our school year that week.  We finished up MOPS, gymnastics, and T-ball.  I turned down any and every offer to fill our calendar for the next two months, using Meghan Trainor’s “NO” as my inspiration. I know she had different intentions, but I still feel it gets my point across:

We were good to go.

We went to the beach for a week, then we followed that up with 2 weeks of pool time, naps, more VBS, time with friends, a visit to Mt. Airy, and an ideally fabulous July 4th weekend.  We have been going to the movies and eating out and using paper plates. The house has been a mess and we barely have clean clothes to wear, but it has been wonderful.  My mind has been gloriously empty.

I have to interrupt myself here and say that I felt a tremendous wave of guilt wash over me as I wrote that last paragraph.  How ridiculous is it that I am allowed to spend whole weeks like this when there is so much suffering going on? After beginning a paragraph explaining how hard I have worked for the past 10 months, how my family has been grieving, I stopped and deleted it.  I don’t have to explain myself to you people, because you all know how hard life is.

This week, we had to get back to real life.  We spent last Friday cleaning, doing laundry, and buying groceries in preparation for playdates and meetings at our house.  We got haircuts and went to the post office and paid bills and taxes.  We’re having a workweek, which is necessary to a busy life.

But beginning today at 12 we are back on vacation. We’ve got another few weeks and we’re going to enjoy them.

This summer, I’ve learned some things about rest and celebration and making memories in general.  Our theme over the last year of MOPS has dealt with real rest (not scrolling-through-Facebook rest), but I will be honest and say that I ignored what they were trying to teach me and what I was trying to teach the women in my group.  Who has time for rest, right? And how are we supposed to have clean houses and clothes, well-rounded children, husbands who aren’t hungry, and fit bodies if we’re resting all of the time?

But now that I have had real rest, I see the desperate need that I have for it. I don’t forget so much.  I feel like doing things for other people.  I don’t feel stressed when I think of the summer being over.  I am kinder to my children and husband.  I notice little things that my children do that I know I will want to remember. I say yes to things I would have said no to before. I read actual books and I feel like writing!!!

I also see the need that my family has for rest.  I have found that, because we have taken some time to just be, we laugh more. We talk over longer dinners without worrying about time.  The kids get along better.  We all sleep sounder.

This was my theme verse for the summer:

“So I commended enjoyment because there is nothing better for man under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for this will accompany him in his labor during the days of his life God gives him under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 8:15.

I didn’t get it at first.  I thought perhaps God just wanted us to have a nice dinner every once in awhile.  I could definitely pull that off.  But now I really understand.  I overheard Jason explaining the verse to Charlie last week, telling him that God wants us to have fun times, to relax and have great memories.  He told him that those memories are what keeps us going during times when life is hard, when we’re working  and maybe weary.  Those times of rest are a gift from God.

So I understand now, God.  I’ll take advantage of this summer that you’ve blessed me and my family with. Then I’ll take the memories and the energy and I’ll keep on running the race, and I hope that, when you have the opportunity, you’ll do the same.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Landscape

Apr 4, 2016


We had a beautiful weekend.  Isn’t the contrast between the bright blue sky and the newly-green trees just stunning?

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. -Romans 1:20 (NLT)


In two hours…

Apr 2, 2016

You know how, before you have kids, you look at people with kids and you say, “That will NOT be me”? You judge the moms whose kids have dirty faces and stringy hair and mismatched clothes, the families out to dinner with the child watching Barney or Caillou on some device while they’re eating, or the frazzled-looking woman (who obviously doesn’t care about her own personal hygiene) in the grocery store with a cart full of Lucky Charms and popsicles. We’ve all given those poor souls passing glances, then shook our heads at each other with smug looks on our faces. If only we knew, right?

One thing Jason and I said we would never do is over-schedule our family.  We have been experts at saying no to people, and saying no to too many extra-curricular activities.  I valiantly fought to not be that mom who spends all of her time in her car, speeding through drive-thrus in an effort to feed her family between practices, rehearsals, or games.

So chalk up another failure for us, because now I am that mom.  The one whose dirty, mismatched children snack on Lucky Charms in the backseat on the way to karate or ball or dance or whatever.

Thankfully (seriously, I thank God every day) we homeschool, so we get to spend our mornings leisurely at home.  We pack all of our rest and nutrition into that time!

Now that our evenings are full, I find myself with no time to just do what I need to do around the house. Even though we’re home during the days, I’m preoccupied with things like teaching my children to read and write. I have found myself struggling to keep up.

So Wednesday morning I mentioned to Jason that I would like to sometimes miss ball practice so I could have some time at the house alone.  Of course he had no problem with that, so Wednesday night I sent them off, and I had two glorious hours alone in my home.

What did I do during that time, you ask?

1-cooked dinner

2-vacuumed the floors

3-washed and folded 2 loads of laundry

4-located and trashed every Happy Meal or Dollar Tree toy in the house

5-hid the bag with aforementioned toys in the bottom of the outdoor trash can

6-took the Easter eggs off the Easter egg tree (instead of waiting until Halloween like we have the past 2 years)

7-watched 1 1/2 DVR’d episodes of “The Big Bang Theory”

8-planned out this summer’s Vacation Bible School

9-did our 2015 taxes

10-painted our master bathroom

11-ran 2 miles

12-ate half a box of Wheat Thins

13-planted our garden

14-cleaned out the kitchen pantry

15-read Proverbs 31 and imagined that I could be the Proverbs 31 Woman if only I could have 2 hours alone in my house EVERY afternoon


So, I may be exaggerating a bit, but you get my point: a woman alone in her house for a couple of hours can accomplish a LOT! Or a little, depending on how you look at it.



Two Good Things…

Feb 17, 2016

Odd title, right?  But after the January and February that we’ve had, I’ll take what I can get.  These winter months haven’t veered much off their traditional dreary path for us.

So, I’m looking for good everywhere around me.  And when I find it, I am reveling in it and making it last.  That’s what God is trying to teach me to do, I believe.

One great thing that happened today is that we had a break from the awful, wet, freezing weather we have been experiencing.  The kids and I walked through the woods to visit Aunt Betty and ended up spending an hour playing in the creek (which is normally not much more than a dribble but is full due to aforementioned wet weather).  It was wonderful and relaxing to breathe in fresh air and soak up sunshine and watch the kids running freely.

Another blessing is that I have my camera back!  Funny story-the camera has been “broken” for over a year.  Jason and I have been passing it back and forth, saying we’re going to get it fixed but never actually doing it.  It has sat on our laundry room counter for months, just mocking me while I snapped pictures with my phone (which, I’m sorry, just doesn’t compare).  Jason ended up fixing it himself by, on the advice of a kind camera-repairperson, removing the lens and putting it back on again.  Can you believe that?

So of course I took it with me today.

Our favorite chicken, Henrietta, loved the beautiful weather today, too.  Isn't the pretty?  She lays blue eggs.

Our favorite chicken, Henrietta, loved the beautiful weather today, too. Isn’t the pretty? She lays blue eggs.


Charlie built about 5 different dams on the creek.

Charlie built no less than 500 different dams on the creek.


Crossing into the pasture.

Crossing into the pasture.


Maddie will follow Charlie anywhere (unless he is scared, and then she will lead him:)).

Maddie will follow Charlie anywhere (unless he is scared or doing something illegal, in which case she will lead him:)).


The love playing on this fallen tree.

They love playing on this fallen tree.


We got to watch these geese at the pond for awhile before they flew off.  They weren't too happy about us being there!

We got to watch these geese at the pond for awhile before they flew off. They weren’t too happy about us being there!

One great outcome of hardship is that you are more aware when a good moment comes along.  You can see God at work in the little things, glimpses of Him you may not have noticed before.  Because, ya’ll…. “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:11)

I believe it with all my heart.

%d bloggers like this: