15 Ways to Raise an Awesome Kid

by Aquila on April 10, 2014

15 Ways to Raise an Awesome Kid

This is not an article about how I’m raising an awesome kid.  I think Cora’s pretty cool, but I also think it’s only about 10% due to me, and more due to the fact that she just rocks.  Rather, I want to talk about how my parents raised 6 kids and they all turned out fairly normal and not in jail.  I’m fully aware that entire paragraph was one major humble brag, but it is what it is.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I think my parents’ philosophy on raising kids is pretty rad, and I think it’s worth sharing.  Read on to see if you agree.

1) Play classic music.

Not to be confused with classical music, although that can be a good thing, too.  We regularly had dance parties to AC/DC growing up.  And I know every word of Bohemian Rhapsody by heart because we would jam to it in my Dad’s pick up truck, specifically head banging in that one part.  You know the part.  Pearl Jam’s “Alive” still reminds me of my Dad to this day.  My mom influenced us with Enya, Madonna, and Broadway musicals.  Either way, sharing these things with us not only gave us a wide range of tastes in music, it taught us a little bit about who our parents are.

2) Watch classic movies.

In the same vein, I was also raised with the Blues Brothers, Blazing Saddles, Caddyshack, and tons of other must-see flicks in regular rotation on the television.  My husband is constantly annoyed by my family’s incessant quoting of brilliant movie lines.  We can’t help it that we’ve seen all the BEST Disney movies 2,639 times.

3) Draw the line and stick to it.

I know what you’re probably thinking.  A few of the aforementioned movies and music have some questionable content for small children.  And I get that.  But my parents did have a line that we weren’t allowed to cross.  I distinctly remember accidentally leaving a CD in my Dad’s truck that he then heard and found the lyrics to be inappropriate for my teenage self.  I was sitting at the family computer when he walked up, asked me if it was mine, and promptly crushed it into a million tiny pieces in his hand when I said yes.  After that, anything I bought on iTunes was censored or G-rated, because, yeah.

4) Set high standards.

My parents fully expected all of us to make straight A’s from elementary through high school.  We didn’t always achieve it, but they set the bar so high not graduating or dropping out wasn’t even a thought in our brains.  I can also remember losing a volleyball match in Semi-State my Junior year in high school and returning to my mom’s embrace after the game.  Without missing a beat she said, “Well sis, you didn’t have the best game, and you’ve got to work on your passing.”  At the time, I thought my mom was the cruelest mother in the history of moms.  Now, I see that she was teaching me a valuable lesson.  There is always room for improvement, tragedies aren’t always as awful as they seem, and the best you can do is move on and get better.

5) Give them a faith base but don’t shove it down their throats.

We went to church every Sunday for the most part, but we also went to volleyball tournaments on Sunday.  My parents talked to us about God, and Jesus, and all of that, but they didn’t force us to take any extreme measures.  I feel like that ends up backfiring 80% of the time, so I’m glad my parents were content to show me the way, but not push me down the path.

6) Let them play outside.

Yes, I got cuts and bruises.  Yes, one time I dislocated my sister’s knee while we were playing on the tire swing.  But I also made a ton of memories playing under the trees, pretending they were skyscrapers, and whatever else came into my youngster brain.  If you keep your kid indoors all day every day you’re depriving them of both chances to grow.

7) Let them try new things, but don’t let them quit.

I played piano for a few years and I HATED IT.  But every year, my mom would ask me if I wanted to take lessons again, and my short term memory loss would allow me to stupidly respond “yes” every time.  Then mid-way through the year, and typically right before a recital, I would want to quit.  I would fight practicing, dread performing, and do anything I could to make my mom let me quit.  But she never did.  If I started something, I had to finish it, and that was the end of that discussion.

8) Have family meetings.

This was almost a necessity in a family with 6 kids, but we would always get called into the living room all together and we knew what was coming.  Mom and Dad would have some sort of news for us, typically that Mom was preggo again and we would have another brother or sister soon.  But they always communicated with us, and they still do to this day.  They’ve also made it a priority to talk to us about succession plans and their wills, which I really, truly appreciate the older I get.

9) Make them work at least one crappy job.

As the daughter of a farmer, I managed to avoid almost all the duties of running a farm except one.  Corn detasseling was the family business every summer, and it was miserable.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just know that it’s hot, muddy, tiring, and low-paying work.  I hated it so much, I swore I was going to go to college and get the kind of job where there is air conditioning.  This isn’t a slam to people who continue to work these kind of jobs, but it just wasn’t for me.  I’m thankful my parents taught me what REAL hard work is, and the value of that.

10) Check their homework.

I didn’t realize that this wasn’t a thing for everyone until I went to college and got outside my bubble.  My parents checked my homework every night, corrected it, and made me do it the right way.  And Cora better be ready because I’m going to do the same thing to her.

11) Let them run away from home.

I don’t mean this if your kid is a teenager and they’re legitimately going to run away.  I mean when you’re like six and you pack some Oreos and your Barbie doll.  Because you think that’s all you need in life.  And then you get half a mile down the road and realize that home isn’t actually all that bad.  I think all of my siblings did this at least once, and we all learned that what we thought were devastating concerns at home were totally first world probs.

12) Let them know when they’ve disappointed you.

This is relatively humiliating now, but when I was in 4th grade I got in trouble for spreading a rumor at school.  I obviously got caught red-handed, and my parents were called because it was THAT SERIOUS.  Are you laughing at my goodie two shoes, yet?  Anyways, when I got home my parents called me into their room.  Without even looking at me, I vividly remember my mother saying, “I am just so disappointed in you, Aquila.”  Talk about a punch in the gut for my snotty perfectionist self.  But now I’m glad my mom told me that, and I’m glad she didn’t yell when she said it.  Because it always hurts more when your parents are just SAD, not MAD at you.

13) Drive long distances with them.

We used to pack up the Durango and head to Florida or Gulf Shores, Alabama every Spring Break for a week of putt putt golf and poorly constructed sand castles.  But we made crazy memories and learned the value of a vacation.  And how to hold it when you really, REALLY have to go.  Like, really bad.  Don’t lie, you know what I’m talking about.

14) Teach them manners.

Please. Thank you. Excuse me.  If these words were uttered just a few more times in our society, it might be a better place.  My mom also forced me to write Thank You notes to people constantly, and it’s something that I harp on now in my work and personal life.

15) Travel with them.

Take your kids to crazy restaurants.  Take them to a folklore festival.  You don’t have to jet off to Abu Dhabi, just get them out and about to see people and places that are different from the people and places they see every day.  It will crack their minds open just a bit so when they’re out there in the big, bad world by themselves it won’t seem like such a scary, unfamiliar place.


Parenting can make you feel like one constant screw up, so these are the things I cling to when it feels like I’m probably scarring Cora for life.  Who knows, she may still end up needing therapy at some point in her adult life, but at least we won’t find out for another 16 years or so.






Staying fit when you’re feeling frantic.

by Aquila on March 28, 2014

My kids are my reason. Not my excuse. #fitmom

This week we traveled from Xalapa to Guadalajara so Orlando could have surgery.  Everything went well, thank God, but we’ve been so crazy busy since then. Orlando, Cora, Frenchie, and myself have been staying in a hotel room along with ALL of our luggage juggling rehab, hospital visits, and a toddler who doesn’t exactly grasp the concept of “Mommy’s busy taking care of Daddy because he just had surgery on his knee.”  I bet you can guess what fell through the cracks.  My workout plan.

With no DVD player in the hotel to do T25, I’ve been justifying my frantic running around as a workout every day.  That is, until today.  I finally sucked it up, found a workout on Pinterest, and put in the work.  I have to say, I actually missed it.  With time to think but not do cardio this week, I was able to ponder the excuses we make to not workout.  We don’t have time, we don’t feel good, we ate really well today, we need to spend time with our kids.  It’s so easy, and I totally did it for a full two years after having Cora.  Especially justifying that I couldn’t workout because I was breastfeeding, or tired from chasing her, or she needed me to just play with her instead of stick her in a gym daycare.

But here’s the thing.  I find now that I’ve started working out again, that I actually have more energy to play with her.  I don’t resent spending time with her or feel like I never have any time to myself.  Working out has become that time, and I don’t mind glancing in the mirror anymore to boot.  That might be the most important part.  When I think about my body, I often see insecurities that I can hear my mother mentioning about her own body.  My butt is WAY too big.  My hips are enormous.  I have flabby arms.  On and on it goes.

Here’s the crazy part.  My mom has a body most women would kill for! She’s 6’3″, curves where they should be, and she glows with the radiance of a woman who is confident in her own skin.  I want Cora to see that in me, too.  And I DON’T want her to look in the mirror and think there is a SINGLE THING wrong with her body.  So for her, for myself, for my mom, I’m going to keep plugging away at this working out stuff.  Because even when life gets crazy, they are my reason.  Not my excuse.





Liebster Award Nomination!

by Aquila on March 21, 2014

Blogging can often feel like shouting in a crowded room, so it’s nice sometimes to slow down and connect with other writers.  That’s the spirit behind the Liebster Award, or at least it appears to be.  I’m having a hard time tracking down the origins of this award, but a new blogger friend named Carmen over at ShuGar Love nominated me and I won’t lie, it gave me the warm and fuzzies! Thanks, Carmen!

What does the award mean?



To be nominated is sort of like a high five from the blogging community.  There’s no cash prize, no golden trophy, it’s just about sharing the love and connecting with other bloggers.

What’s next?

Once you get nominated, there are few rules to follow, which include:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you. (Thanks to Carmen at Shugar Love for nominating me!)
  2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  3. Nominate 11 other blogs with less than 500 followers.
  4. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Tag your nominees and post a comment on their blog to let them know you nominated them.

I have been asked to answer the following questions:

1. Who makes you laugh out loud?

My daughter and my husband.  Especially when they’re not trying to be funny.  Also, if I see anyone tripping, falling, mildly hurting themselves I find it IMPOSSIBLE not to laugh, at least a little bit.

2. What has blogging taught you about “you?”

That I have more talents than I often give myself credit for, and that my writing is totally worth it if it helps someone else.

3. What is one of your favorite fashion trends?

Ooh, this is a tough one.  I would have to say lower heels.  For this tall girl, it’s been impossible for years to find moderate heels that are still on trend, and now I see them everywhere!

4. How do you enjoy spending your free time?

Reading.  I would pick reading over just about any other activity if I had my choice.

5. What is your food indulgence?

I’ve been on a health kick lately, but Fridays are my cheat days.  Last week I bought 90% cacao dark chocolate and it was bitter, but heavenly.

6. What blog(s) do you admire and why?

I’ve followed Adored Austin for a few years now and love her writing style and her ability to not take herself too seriously.  I also love Mommy Shorts, The Bloggess, and Man Repeller for their witty writing and stylish lives.  I always prefer great content over blogs that just shove giveaways or product reviews down your throat.

7. What has been your greatest accomplishment to date?

Giving birth to my daughter in a birth center with a midwife and zero pain meds.  If you had asked me two seconds after giving birth if I wanted to do it med-free again I would have said, “ABSOLUTELY NOT.”   But it’s amazing how much you forget the pain and just remember the positives.  It was a beautiful experience and I’m so glad she came into the world the way we wanted, not how some doctor dictated.

8. Who has been your biggest supporter?

My husband.  Hands down.  I’ve never once told him something I wanted to do and had him shoot it down.  He is always supportive, and always believes in me, sometimes even more than I do.

9. What was your favorite movie in the past year?

We just saw Labor Day with Kate Winslet last week and I loved it.  We just watched it because it was the only movie that worked out during our baby-free time, but it ended up being such a pleasant surprise.  I love movies that make you feel a wide range of emotions.

10. What is your favorite social media platform and why?

Hmmm, I think I’ll say Pinterest because there’s less room for humans to screw it up.  Does that sound harsh?  I just can’t stand seeing other people’s drama, spam, viruses, hoaxes, etc. on Facebook and sometimes even Twitter.  And misspelled words.  Oy.  Google+ is still so new to me I feel like I’m constantly screwing it up.  So, Pinterest.  That’s my happy place on social media right now.

11. Why do you blog?

Blogging started out as a way for me to occupy my time and energies in a new state where I didn’t know many people.  Since then, it’s become more of a personal journal.  I’ve always loved writing, and when I’m in a groove punching out a blog post it’s a wonderful feeling.  Sharing it with others and seeing how they can relate is a huge bonus, as well.

I nominate the following fabulous bloggers:

The Gray Matters

Que Means What

Trophy Boutique

Our Kenilworth Home

What Jana Writes

The sTORIbook

Coker’s Champagne Taste

Little Tin Soldier

Design Improvised

A Study in Contrasts

Ladies, your questions are:

1.  What’s your favorite post and why?

2.  Who inspires you to write?

3.  What’s your favorite board game?

4.  What’s your favorite book?

5.  If you could choose one person to have dinner with, living or not, who would it be?

6.  Is there anything you would NEVER blog about?

7.  How do you find the time to write?

8.  What’s your biggest tip for a new blogger?

9.  If you could work with any brand, business, etc., who would you pick?

10.  Do you think you’ll still be blogging at 90 years old?

11.  Finally, a Haute in Texas tradition, do you prefer pancakes or waffles?


Woo! I think you’re all wonderful, and I’m looking forward to reading your answers.  This is sort of like a chain letter, but I’m not going to curse you with 1000 years of bad luck if you don’t pass it on.  Thanks again to Carmen for my nomination!





You have the key to my heart.

March 18, 2014

The other day on a walk with Cora, I stumbled upon an area of Xalapa I had never been to before.  We were on our way to the park, and these odd looking tree sculptures were along the bridge near the lake.  Upon closer inspection, I realized they were stuffed full with locks, each with […]

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Paty’s Perfect Stuffed Mushrooms

March 12, 2014

I’ve been fortunate enough in Mexico to have several girls step up and be my guides, my friends, my translators in this new culture.  One of those friends is Paty, who is literally Mexico’s version of Hostess with the Mostess.  She owns a catering business, she plans a party like no other, and she’s an […]

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5 things the United States could learn from Mexico

February 24, 2014

Remember a couple weeks ago when I vented to you all about an awful experience with my Mexican neighbor?  I felt kinda bad about unleashing my neighborly angst, and I worried that I may have left a bad impression of Mexico for my fellow Yankees.  Thus, I wanted to share 5 things I have come […]

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The Power of Fit: Who I Am When I Workout

February 21, 2014

Two weeks ago began the start of a new chapter in my life.  I’m writing it down because I believe in order to make something happen, you have to “verbalize” it.  It sounds so very New Age, but there is something that happens when you put a vision out into the universe.  It’s bound to […]

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That baby will come back.

February 12, 2014

I wrote a couple weeks ago that I was going through a trial of some sort, but I wasn’t ready to talk about it.  That trial was a second pregnancy, which unfortunately was not meant to be in the end.  The doctors all say that it didn’t look good from the beginning, and that it […]

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Love, Actually.

February 1, 2014

I wish this blog post could come with a photo gallery.  I wish I could show you the look on my mother’s face when my sister stepped out in a wedding gown for the first time.  I wish the photographs could convey better than any written word how lovely Kelsey looked, how happy, and what […]

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January 13, 2014

To my little one on her 2nd birthday, Ah my sweet Corabelle, do you know how much I love you?  Do you know how often I think about you during the day, or lay awake at night wondering if I’m doing it all right?  Can you grasp how many times you’ve given me a hug, […]

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