Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I have this new weird parenting strategy. I've just developed it as our seven year old daughter has started to get older. Let me tell you about her first, she is a gem. She's kind and her heart spills over with hospitality and warmth. She is funny and she's darn cute (missing her two front teeth right now makes her even more "cheek-pinchable"). She's pretty smart and sometimes she talks back to her mama. She likes to push limits at home, but outside of our house she's super-obedient-girl.

I learned this theory/strategy from a fellow parent so I won't claim it as my own, but I love it! And I'm here writing today to see if any of you want to join me in what I'm calling, Pull A Red Card, for simplicity we will name it PARC. I'm imposing PARC on my seven year old daughter, because, really, she needs it.

In her classroom her teacher has the good 'ol, tried and true, discipline system of Pulling Cards. (I realize right now I will tread into teacher politics and I may never secure a good teaching job after this, I'm going to be ok with this for right now). It's a system that works. I'm not really "out to get" the system. What I'm trying to do is get my child to PARC. Seriously. So, this is what the parenting strategy looks like:

Me to my Daughter: Girl, did you pull a card today?
A: No mom.
M: What? You should pull a card tomorrow!
A: Mom (blushing and looking slightly astonished)...NO, I don't need to!
M: Oh but honey, you should! It'll be crazy and off the wall and so out of your norm! Do it!
A: Mom, no, I'm working on getting stars for all the days I stay on a green card and then I get the treasure box.
M: Oh honey, I can give you cute puppy pencils and erasers that don't erase here at home. At school you should do something wild - let's brainstorm!
A: Brainstorm?
M: Yeah, let's think of ideas -- You could burp in class when it's quiet reading.
A: MOooooom...
M: Or what about blurting out an answer without raising your hand! Or even better, writing your name backwards at the top of your paper! Fall out of your seat on purpose to make everyone laugh! Ohhhh, or when the teacher blows her whistle, don't line up, just keep playing on the playground!
A: Mom, nooooo, Dylan* did that today and got in trouble!
M: Perfect! Then you should try that one and pull a red card!
A: No mom, I don't want to pull a red card!
M: But it will be fun and I will still love you! Let's brainstorm more ideas....

You get the picture. Right?
Then the very next day she comes home with a 14/14 on her spelling test and I'm perplexed, she barely even did she get a perfect score? Oh, well she missed two words but got two extra credit points and so now she has a perfect score. She's proud. And I'm perplexed. This situation takes me right back to my senior year - Calculus - up to this point I had a perfect 4.0, but AP Calculus was stumping me. So I think I had a B+. Not bad, but not the A I needed to be valedictorian. Not the A I wanted so that I could be proud of myself. Not the A that would help me see perfection. So....I went to my teacher and BEGGED for an extra credit project that I could do before the semester grades came out. And she gave it to me, and I did it, and I got the A. A=proud. A=valedictorian. A=perfect! A=college.

Except "A" does not equal college. I would have gotten accepted and scholarshiped had I had a 4.0 or a 3.99. Right? But it did make me feel like I was perfect. And that is dangerous.

So here's what I think - all parents, teachers, grandparents should also jump on board with PARC! Let's teach our kids that failing is OK. That when you don't hit the mark you want, you PARC and then you get back on the horse and try again. Let's teach our little ones that perfection is a lie and that you can never achieve it. That if they PARC a couple times a year, a month, a day, that is all the more room they have to get better. Let's help them see that if you get B's, or the occasional C, you will still get in to college! That to be humble and not good at N.O.R.M.A.L. Let's hold the standard at a place that's reasonable. Because some of them will over achieve, whether it's in their genes, or their mind or their gosh darn hearts, they will. But then let them know that whether they do or don't you won't be surprised when they one day PARC.

Alright, my spiel is over.
Now go encourage your kids to chew gum in class and talk loud in the library,
Ms. Simplicity

*Dylan is a changed protect his parents from getting mobbed when PARC goes wild on the internets

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

That Time I Was a Guest Blogger

You guys... maybe you saw it on Facebook, or maybe you didn't, but either way - it's true.

I was ACTUALLY a Guest Writer (<--- sounds professional, I know) on a blog!

My post is: HERE

The amazing creator of this blog is a friend from college. Cara, is a real-live speaker, blogger, mom. And she is doing this awesome series called - "...nothing, in fact, is small." - les mis -- You know, the famous opera.

All of this WAY awesome/professional stuff is a little foreign to me, but she posted my writing!!

You gotta check it out.

And while you are there, just follow her blog, she posts tons of great readings on books, life, being a mom, guest writings every Tuesday and more!!

She also has a FB page - Be. Mama. Be. Go 'like' it, it does not disappoint.

Thanks friends!!
Ms. Simplicity

Sunday, September 28, 2014


I'm not really sure if I'm a great blogger or not... mostly because I'm not very consistent. But guess what? Today I was looking through some blogs that I wrote but didn't post and I found this one. And I love it. When I read it, I think, "Maybe, when I grow up, I can be a good blogger." So, anyway, I'm going to post it. I'm not sure exactly when I wrote this because we have had a lot of change in the past few months, but who cares?!? I think I'm kind of on the "other side" of this blog and that feels good - like the 6 of us took this change like a champ and we are, for sure, gonna make it. So, enjoy! I did.



verb \ˈchānj\
: to become different
: to make (someone or something) different
: to become something else

It's funny how things change. Sometimes change is fast. And sometimes it's slow. Often change is something unplanned and sometimes you plan to change forever. Sometimes change makes you different and sometimes it feels like everything is the same, even though you know the change happened. It can be hard, it can be easy. Change.

Lots of things are happening in our life right now and lots of things are going to change. In fact, the changes are already occurring. Which is kind of weird, really, if you think about it. One day you just get some new piece of information and then everything starts to change. Some of it is in slow, small steps, and some of it is in giant leaps.

Our family is like a turtle and a kangaroo all at once. We're like a turtaroo. And honestly, I identify better with the Kangaroo. Let's just jump, big ol' feet first, into the change and GO WITH IT... the baby steps drive me insane, l i t e r a l l y. And yet, for the greater good, we take the steps, slow and steady and pray with each one that when the giant leap comes.. all of us jump.

That's the hardest thing for me, with change. You can't really guarantee how everyone is going to respond. (Read: I'm completely out of control) I can hope! I can pray! I can respond how I want others to respond, but really, they get to decide what they will do with this thing called change. Ugh. That's hard. If you are a mom, you get this, right? You want to pick what's best for the family, what's going to be awesome for the team, you want to pick THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE, for each little precious child. But change kinda comes like a train - you throw everyone on and hope they fall in love with wherever you're going. And honestly, that feels like a crap shoot to me! Ugh. Again.

So there's my real heart ... all written up there. It's messy right now. I'm unsure of the changes. I waver, I go back and forth (I warned you it was literally driving me insane)...and yet I know we will find peace. Just like when we moved to Spokane - that move was a bit more kangaroo-ish and these next steps are a bit more it's different but I'm waiting and I'm hopeful that the peace will come.


That's it. And peace did come, it's here, and I'll relish it in until we feel the winds of change again.
Ms. Simplicity

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Insight into a Mom's Mind

I haven't blogged in awhile - and "why" is for another blog...
I have a hilarious story to share today that I want to remember forever!

Here's the deal - I'm gonna be bold and say, that if you are a mom, you've probably felt the same way as I am about to describe. I'm not saying I think it's right or wrong...just normal, I guess. Hilariously normal.

Last Thursday we had to take Ben to work, the van needed a checkup, and so we all got up extra early to get the van dropped off and Ben to work by 6:45am. I also was helping at a fundraiser for our MOPS group and so after an extra long morning, I came home, hurried to get Titus lunch and really wanted to get him down for a nap. And then my cell phone started to ring. It was the kid' school so of course I answered it; in the back of my mind feeling a bit of curiosity. The school nurse was on the other end of the line. She quickly began to explain that Nathan wasn't feeling well. That his teacher had sent him to her because he had been to the bathroom several times. The nurse told me that after further inquiry he said he had been to the bathroom 13 times that morning. She was very nice but slightly 'irritated', perhaps because sending a kid to school with diarrhea is not really awesome. She said that I should come to the school and get him.

Right now, since we moved but the kids are still going to their old school, it's a bit of a trek to the old school. 15 miles or so. So, I packed up Titus with his "lovey-caterpillar" and ""bina" (yes, he stills uses a binky and yes that is for another blog, or not)...anyway, we got in the car and started the drive.

I immediately began thinking...ok Nathan seemed fine this morning so did I miss something? I mean maybe I missed a fever, we were in the car very early and maybe he just didn't have time to explain he wasn't feeling well. Maybe it was the McDonald's that we ate in the rush to get everyone something to eat before getting Ben to school. McDonald's is so unhealthy. Why didn't I think of packing breakfast and bringing something healthy from home? Weird... no one else is sick and we all ate the same breakfast. Or maybe everyone is going to get sick and Nate is starting the chain. Could Sausage Egg McMuffins not be fully cooked? Why did I make him finish that last bite? He probably knew it wasn't cooked right. Why didn't I notice that he wasn't feeling well? It probably wasn't the McDonald's, it is probably that we aren't eating very well at home. We should eat more whole foods. I mean when was the last time we ate vegetables? Oh man, last night we had pizza, maybe it was the pizza that made his stomach upset. What if he is gluten intolerant? He had a sandwich after school yesterday, maybe he can't tolerate wheat. How come I didn't notice this before? Why didn't I think of getting the kids salads last night? Oh no, he also drank pop last night, I wonder if he really just can't handle the caffeine in Barq's Root Beer. Can caffeine mess up your digestive system? YES! AND I let him drink a sip of my coffee this morning. It tasted so gross to me (note to self: just get OJ with McD's bfast) and he wanted to see what it tasted like. I shouldn't have let him take that drink. Maybe it was bad, or maybe even a little sip could have upset his stomach. How could I have missed this? Could he tell I was stressed this morning and he didn't want to stress me more by telling me he was sick? He was in the front seat though and we were talking and laughing, did I miss feeling the fever when I kissed his forehead as he got out of the van to get on the bus? What are we going to do? When can I go to the store to get more fruits and vegetables?

I arrived at the school. Titus was asleep in the car so I left him there and ran in. I told the secretary that I was there to pick up Nathan. She went back to the nurse who told her that she had sent him back to Mrs. D's class, could she page him to come out? So the secretary called him out of Mrs. M's class because that's what class I had said. Uh oh....fuzzy details for the nurse and secretary started to become clearer and clearer... the nurse came out with her jaw on. the. floor. I walked over to the window. The nurse said, "I can't believe this...I called the wrong mom." I started to laugh right as Nathan (and Caleb, so sweet) walks up and pats my arm, "Hi mom, why are you here?" I joked with the nurse that she owed me some gas money ;) and then sighed with relief and went back out to my car.

I just sat there for a minute wondering if what just happened was real. I just worked myself up into a fit about how unhealthy we are and what a bad mom I was for missing all the signs of sickness. And then it was all....just false. Just silly worrying. I wasted an entire car ride worrying. 20 minutes of working myself up about something that turned out to be 100% untrue. Nathan was fine, McDonald's breakfast was fine. Pizza last night for dad's football fundraiser - fine. Pop and coffee - fine. Nathan was f-i-n-e. Why did I waste my time with worry. Even if he HAD been sick, would my worry have helped? No. Absolutely no. Would whole foods and more vegetables and a packed breakfast had helped if he HAD been sick - maybe, a little, but really, nominal.

It surely was a wake up call for me. Worrying does not help a situation. It is simply A WASTE of MY TIME and my BRAIN SPACE. I beat myself up over the smallest details and I don't think anyone else on the planet would actually talk to me the way I talk to myself. Sad. Hysterical and sad. And I think we all do it. So normal. For me, it's gonna stop. It has to stop. I don't want my kids to do this to themselves and so I want to be an example of NOT doing it. Not worrying. Not working myself up over small, uncontrollable things. Rather, making my mind think about truth. Excellence. Pure thoughts. Thoughts that when they spill out they bring joy to me and to others around me.

It's probably impossible to do that all the time. But I'm up for a challenge like that. Something that is impossible to do on my own.

Wake up Crystal. And go get some McDonald's.

Until next time ~

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

~ Real life mixed with faith ~
How does one write a Christmas letter, without sounding like life is about one step from perfection? It’s difficult these days to be real and yet to still hold on inside to a sense of belief that things are undone. Like the caterpillar who is yet to be the butterfly. 

So, I sit here looking out my window’s that haven’t been cleaned in weeks and I remind myself that all the prints are from kids running to wave good-bye to their daddy each morning as he pulls out the drive, this is his favorite part of the day. Life is good.

But it’s also messy.

So, I write not wanting to sound cliché but wanting to be sure the message is clear; we believe in a God who makes messy messes into beautiful beauty. So here’s our letter for 2013:

Ben loves his job at Rogers. Although he still does not have a continuing contract which keeps us (read: ME) in a spot of anxiety. He was asked this year to be the Defensive Coordinator of the football team and he poured his heart into the team. It is a JOY to watch someone do something that they absolutely LOVE. And it was heartbreaking to watch the Rogers Pirates lose every game. Yet, this messy-mess of losses did result in a beautiful bond between the players, “a brotherhood” they called it, and the coaches clearly adored each athlete. A beautiful mess.

Caleb, our nine-year-old firecracker. He lives up to his name, read Numbers 13 or Joshua 14 if you are curious about the Caleb of the bible. Ours too, is strong and determined. He is a boy of justice and this comes with a small price – big debates. He will fight it out, head to head, with anyone who will go at it with him and he. Does. Not. Back. Down. Bless him. He wanted to play football this fall and we found that his forehead like flint is good for more than just debate – he is not one to be reckoned with. He likes to collect “things” from bugs and rocks to little toys called “trash packs.” A beautiful mess.

Nathan, our nine-year-old sports fanatic. It’s amazing to watch the “sports” part of boy get “flipped on” like a switch. He’s suddenly all about Seahawks, football, sports, competition, winning, sportsmanship, etc. It has been fun to watch and challenging, at times, to parent. He cried when the Seahawks lost to the Colts. He’s learning to have sportsmanship when playing football at recess. He’s surprisingly good at balancing fun and brains, but sometimes not so good at balancing self control with impatience. He likes to throw anything in to the air and (hopefully) catch it before it hits a sibling or something made of glass. Also, Nate got baptized at church this fall, a very big honor for his dad to “dunk” him! A beautiful mess.

Alena, our-six-year-old princess. She loves to dance. She took a dance class this year, but also begs her dad weekly to play music from his computer so she can dance around the front room. Her heart is of gold. She likes to “take care of others” which usually ends up with annoyed brothers and Alena in tears, asking…begging for a little sister. She loves her family though and has a hard time being away from those she loves. School, all day every day this year, hasn’t been a piece of cake, it’s just too much time away. This has been tough for her and I! A beautiful mess.

Titus, our two-year-old tank. Titus wants to, and in most cases can, keep up with the big kids. He has been going to school this fall and has loved it! He likes playing with friends and “big-boy” Legos and trucks. He loves wearing a “good-guy” cape and also likes hats. But he is two. Which means sometimes big-boy-Lego creations get destroyed… And two means tantrums, which he is really good at (maybe better than any of the other kids…combined…or maybe I’m just a tired mama :)) Titus encapsulates a beautiful mess. 

I have had a great year too! Keeping up with the kids keeps me on my toes but this year I have also really enjoyed co-coordinating a local MOPS group! It's been a good way for me to get out into the community and meet people while also being encouraged, in Jesus, by other women. I also still have a love/hate relationship with our life in the country. Although I love the space and all the fun it brings (gardening, privacy and true peace) it has also challenged me with the not-so-fun things it brings (mice, loneliness, and hard work!). A beautiful mess.

We hope you can see that we believe that this little family is being changed daily by grace and love. Each of us has a beautiful story that unfolds minute by minute. Each mess is an opportunity for our Savior to make something beautiful. We pray He is working in each of you to do the same.

Merry Christmas,
The Cochran Clan
Ben, Crystal, Caleb, Nathan, Alena and Titus

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Country Thankfulness

When we first talked about moving to the country Ben said, "Let's just try it. I think you'll like it. It will be good for you. Country livin' is good livin'." I had a pretty bad attitude about even thinking about it. I tried find something to like about it; I thought and pondered for days and finally came up with the fact that I would like the space for kids to run around. But that was about all I could come up with because I'm a fairly social person. What I mean by that is that I thrive by being with people. Which means that I become a complete idiot when I'm by myself for long periods of time. I NEED neighbors, if nothing else, just to have someone to spy on someone to borrow an egg from. Ya know?

But I think God likes playing jokes on me, it always goes something like this:
Step 1) I say I will never do something.
Step 2) Ben chuckles.
Step 3) God gets the circumstances all lined up.
Step 4) BAM- I am doing the VERY thing I said that I would never do.
Step 5) Everyone's laughing except me.

So when we decided we would go to the country I chose to embrace it by buying Wrangler's. Just Kidding. I bucked like a bronco and set my forehead like flint against this crazy idea and set out to prove how wrong he/He was! Not my best idea. I don't know how God changes hearts. I don't know how He sets wrong things right. I don't know how He works all things out for our good. But He does.  And over time I have begun to fall in love with where I live! We've been here, in the country, for about 18 months now and it has become a place where I love spending my days and I long to return to every evening.

Once, when I was throwing a large fit about livin' excluded from the whole world, a wise friend told me, "Well, you can embrace the beauty of where you are and be thankful for it. Or you can stay miserable." I looked out my window in that moment and saw one small bird in our walnut tree. I started there. One miniscule act of thankfulness. And He began to turn my world around. So, in honor of a humorous God, a patient husband, and a country-girl's heart change, here is my list of the top 10 things I love about where I'm livin'....

1. Gardens and their fruit
Summer Harvest
Fall Harvest

2. His Creations
Annoying when they eat my flowers, but really, beautiful!

3. Chickens and Eggs

4. Space

 5. Animals

Love that the kids have a dog!

6. Cowboys
Be still my wildly beating heart... <3

7. Fires
I made this ALL BY MYSELF, I'm getting better ;)

8.  Peace

9.  Country schools, buses and the kids that ride them!

 10. Silence
Silence, I didn't think I would enjoy it, but I do!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!
~ Ms. Simplicity  

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I'll just start out by saying I'm competitive. It's in my blood: I'm 1/4 Italian...(is that enough proof?)... also my dad rode motorcycles and broke both wrists (one, then the other a week later). So it's not really my fault. I have lots and lots of stories about my own competitive nature to share another time....the problem is that Ben is competitive too. His is sports induced. Let's just say that at our first pre-marriage counseling session the pastor told us that competitiveness would ruin our marriage if we weren't very, very careful. So it's not like it was something that we "hid" very well. We've managed for 11.5 years with only some damage.

Anyway, now our kids play sports. That's probably all I have to say and you know where this post is going. It's just that I must admit something...  I think I'm "that" parent. I kinda have a loud, squeaky voice and I don't want to be the coach, but I still have some input to give. Which I give only to my kids, not to others. Well, except, occasionally the refs. OH, the refs. Really, just make sure you know the game before you take the job. That is all.

So poor Ben, while he keeps his closet competition all stuffed into his brain, I'm the one who lets it all out through my loud, squeaky air hole. And 'Closet Boy' keeps asking me if I think that a) the kids can hear me? and b) is what I am saying really helping? I'm not sure I ever have a good answer and it usually just makes me want to yell a little louder. I'm convinced that one day, Alena will jog off the field and tell me, "Mom, I heard you yell, 'GO TOWARDS the ball,' and so I did it, and that's why I scored that goal today! Thanks mom!"

Or perhaps there will be a day that Caleb will be like, "Mom! I'm so proud you yelled at that ref and all my friends heard! Thanks, you really got him on that one and did you see him change the call, right on the spot, because of you? Awesome, thanks mom!"

Or maybe, just maybe, Nathan will one day be like, "Mom, I missed your loud squeaky voice at the game today...and so did all the other parents. They were all asking me where you were. Thanks mom for being so loud."

I was really hoping these things would happen...

But then....

Last week after an indoor soccer game I was doing a little after-game instruction coaching. I was blabbing along, the child politely nodding her sweet/sweaty head at me and trying to visualize what I was talking about, and I turned around to see if she was really 'getting it' and I saw..... her eyes. Oh, her ever-telling, honest, big brown eyes. Her eyes could not lie, they were not understanding the "coaching" at all, in fact, they were.....sad. And my heart broke. Right there in the van. And I realized all she really needed was a biggest fan. Someone who yells, all loud and squeaky, about how hard she worked and how fast she was and how she'll get that goal she's been practicing for soon! She wanted to hear that I love coming to her games and watching her... and perhaps that I was proud she was actually PLAYING soccer at the age of six, something I for sure didn't do and still made the Varsity team in high school (no looking back at old SPHS records ok, you can make the team and not make a goal).

I realized I want to be my kids' BIGGEST, LOUDEST cheerleader. I was getting confused with all that competitive juice flowing through my veins. I'll leave the coaching to practice time with the real coach. And also to my husband (aka 'Closet Boy'), who coaches as a profession. He clearly does a much better job at keeping his own emotion in check. And while he still wants our kids to get better and go for the win, he certainly does not want to crush their little spirits! And neither do I. There's a line on the "parenting field" that I want to learn how to "play fair" - To teach and encourage my kids, not exasperate or spoil. 

So...I was better this week. I still have lots to work on, but this week I sat with the other moms, tried not to pound on the glass at the indoor field, and I only joked about chanting, "Fight, fight, fight" - like at the hockey games - when the one girl elbowed my daughter. After the game sweet girl and I talked about what she wanted to-- which happened to be nothing related to soccer and everything related to the "awesome" snack she got. I still had a lot of fun at the game and my little soccer star was much more relaxed <SURPRISE> . I have two more games to practice my new behavior and then we are on to basketball and wrestling... which I'm sure will be a totally new learning curve!

Still learning how to play this life game of parenting! ~ Ms. Simplicity