First Day of School 2016

IMG_1181School decisions are so very personal and can stir up a lot of emotions among groups of people as each person tries to justify or defend his or her choice. We try to stay out of it and trust that each family is doing the best they can to make the best decision for their family. We know the pressure and we can only hope we have made the best choice we can.

That said, the very first day of 4th grade and 1st grade at a new school went very, very well. There is a feeling you get as parent when you know your kids are where they need to be. I am so thankful for that feeling we have right now and pray that it continues. I feel like our children are in an environment much like preschool; it feels like a close-knit, family-like environment where kids are loved and cherished. Yet, it also has the challenges and enrichment needed for their ages and stages. The smiles on everyone’s faces are something we will treasure for a long time.

Here are some photos and some recaps about each of the children:




Ellie—she was very excited about the behavior points system they use, which includes parties and movies as larger rewards. She said all of the kids were very nice and she never felt like an outsider. She likes her teacher, Mrs Pierce. She loved that they prayed a lot and she said that it feels like a much nicer group of teachers and friends than she was used to.
Jack—he was full of elaborate stories and wanted to share ten “highlights” at dinner. His joy about his day was evident. He seemed more confident and sure of himself than I had anticipated. He hugged me at the end of the day and said, “Thank you for taking me to school at Covenant Day, mom!”


James—poor James is dealing with an awful cold, but he still had wonderful things to say about his day. I can tell he has a very thoughtful and kind teacher (Mrs. Kleven) that he will connect well with. He spoke of a few new friends and some games they did in the class. His teacher sent home pictures of the day and he has already been invited to a playdate. He’s off to a great start.


Thomas—of course, everything was “awesome” according to Thomas. He, like Ellie, was very into the behavior points system. We heard countless stories about new friends and some of the “get to know you” games they played. He was sure to tell me they read stories and did syllable games, too. In true Thomas fashion, anytime someone else shared a story, he had a connection to their story. He had no “low” moment, he said.

And, weekly chapel uniforms:



With the Olympics starting in Rio this weekend, we wanted to have a Barry version in honor of the boys’ 7th birthday. It may have been the best Barry birthday party to date.

10 boys attended and decorated flags and jerseys from their countries. Then, they did a parade of athletes led by Wes and the “torch.” The events included Discus (frisbee), Three-legged race (most entertaining to watch), Golf, Archery (medals were swept by the Barry boys), Shot put (water balloons), Goal kicks (soccer), and running race (participants were most intense during this event).




August 3, 2016

Dear Thomas,

Happy, Happy Birthday! We don’t have to remind you about your birthday as you’ve been talking about it for a month. You are an enthusiastic guy…friends, gifts, games, food…you’re all-in. A favorite expression of yours is “Watch this,” which is usually followed by bike tricks, incredible sports shots, or wacky jumps off the diving board. You also have a way of describing things with such animation and enthusiasm that even your simple bus ride and popsicles at sports camp made everyone else feel like they missed out on a trip to Disney World.

Because of all this energy, we have given you the word “self-control” this year. You have to remember to reign yourself in. A few side punches, frustrated kicks, and emotional outbursts can cause chaos due to your exuberance. We have to be careful not to crush your joy, but also to make sure you don’t burn everyone out along the way. Your brothers appreciate the fun and friends you bring into their lives, but they also get frustrated when you don’t think about their feelings or desires.

You seem to thrive in things that involve other people. Sports are a huge thing. You love to throw balls with Papa and Dad. You are very much looking forward to flag football this fall. Also, you frequently ask to have friends over and we are so grateful that you have helped to make friends with the many boys on our street.

You are, and want to be, everyone’s friend. And as you venture into Covenant Day, this will be a great place for you to make new friends. Being everyone’s friend, however, requires that you see what they need and not just what you want. By noticing the scared child in the corner or the nervous one on the playground, you will find great opportunities for your smile and laughter to invite them into the group.

You admire your father; if he is working in the garage you are right beside him. If he takes his shirt off, your shirt goes off. If he is working out, you are working out right alongside him. However, when someone else places you in the spotlight a bashful side of you emerges. It has surprised us when you have been called upon to pray or speak at F3 dads or other occasions, you get silent.

You are an amazing reader. It makes us smile to see you get lost in a book, just like Ellie. In fact, she frequently looks for books that you might enjoy that she is reading or has read in the past. You took to reading so quickly we are missing out on time to read with you. But, we enjoy the few times we get to read an A to Z Mystery or Hardy Boys book with you.

First grade will be a great adventure for you this fall. You are definitely ready and will need a challenge. Your brothers will probably miss not having you in class and we wonder if you’ll even notice they are gone.

Leaning into your outgoing personality, having a strong biblical foundation, and with a supportive family surrounding you, you will begin to grow beyond being the fun-guy and into becoming a faithful man.

We love you T-Dog,

Mom and Dad


Dear James,

You, our sweet son, are 7 years-old today! You are a great blessing in our lives and we would never, ever trade you for anything in the world. Our love for you is so very great. This matters, because you require reassurance of our love. You routinely ask us, “Do you love me?,” “Do you like me,” and “How do you know you do?” While our words cannot fully explain the depth of our love, we know God gave you to us and He made you uniquely you. There are many reasons we adore you, but those two reasons alone are enough for us to love you fully and completely. You appreciate receiving big hugs and you give even bigger hugs & kisses. We hope those will satisfy when words or circumstances fail to express our love for you.

We are very proud of your progress in swimming and biking, especially because we know it requires you to overcome some very deep fears. When you approach something new, you like to observe and take in all the details before jumping into something, whether it is the deep-end of a pool, the ocean, a game or a sport. We pray regularly for you to have a greater sense of courage. We also hope that you will grow to trust in and believe in yourself so you can lead others.

You are becoming a strong leader in our home. We can count on you to lead us in prayer as a family or with others. We also see you take care of Brody and Brady and play with Everett in the pool. You stand taller than Jack and Thomas and this may be symbolic of your budding role in the family.

Another thing that is very apparent at this stage of your life is your ability to want to know the answers to life and say whatever is on your mind. It has taken us—mom especially—time to realize this gift. It is not that you are questioning our authority, but rather you have a deep desire to understand. You share your opinions and you don’t mean for your comments to be offensive or hurtful. We are working with you to express your keen observations in a gentler way. You also have a loud voice, so, truthfully, we are helping you to express yourself in a gentler AND quieter way. We know deep down you have a tender soul that loves people and God well.

Your word for this year has been “attentiveness.” You are not naturally inclined to notice details or think through things very carefully, so we are working with you to become more aware. You can be very defensive when we call you out. For example, if we remind you to put your shoes away, you say, “You never told me that.” Though you may forget to put your name on your homework and forget to clean up after yourself, you have a very sweet way of being attuned to others’ emotions and needs. For instance, you show tenderness toward Ellie and you care for your sister when others frustrate her. Those kinds of things we cannot really teach you, so we are thankful for your kind heart.

As promised, we finally signed you up for basketball league last winter. You LOVED it. You are also very good at it. You take it very seriously, are quite competitive, and we frequently find you practicing your shot outside and inside the house. You are also perfecting your golf game and have a lot of potential. We see how smart you are as this passion keeps you well connected with all of your grandparents who are known to sneak in a few rounds with you when you’re together.

Piano was another new thing for you this year. You have learned quickly. You don’t seem to love it, but you stick with it. Time will tell if this is something you will learn to love.

You continue to amaze us with your memory of the Bible and your ability to understand biblical principles. You tell us you might be a minister one day and it is not hard to believe. In fact Dad has a started an entire sermon series based upon your inquisitive nature called, “WHY.” You have also shown amazing improvement in your reading as compared to this time last year. It brings us much joy to see you grab a chapter book and begin to tackle it.

As you begin first grade this fall, we know you are going to thrive. You love classroom environments and we expect you will really enjoy having a class separate from your brothers where you can set yourself apart.

We look back on your past year with fondness for all you have done and for the little man you’re becoming.

We love you forever, we really do!

~Mom and Dad


Dear Jack,

Happy 7th Birthday! You have had a tremendous year in terms of major developments. In the last several months you have learned to ride your bike, swim (you went from not putting your face in the water to jumping off the diving board in 12ft water in less than a month), read, and eat more meat and eggs (well, that may not be THAT exciting). You have also conquered the climbing wall at Inner Peaks, torpedoed down ski slopes, scampered up the monkey tree with Brady and Ayden, and built elaborate Lego cities.

Most of these achievements are great outlets for releasing your energy, so it has been helpful to you and to us that you are independent and active. You seem to thrive in accomplishing things, just like your parents.

You have also shown us a growing thoughtfulness. You frequently say things like, “Thanks for taking us here” and you are quick to offer, “I’m sorry, Mom.” Though, like your brothers, you are quick to irritate one another and retaliate when you’re angry. You have also shown care for the younger boys in the neighborhood by watching out for Brody, Brady and Everett.

You are also navigating how to balance your own desire for independence and control with the fact that mom and dad are in charge. You have started to call us “bossy.” This is tricky to navigate as you want to be the boss as well.

We see in you a child who is rule-oriented and analytical. You have a knack for hearing Bible stories and saying, “Jesus lied” or “That’s sinning.” We enjoy watching you develop your sense of what is right and wrong and we hope you will grow to appreciate the gray area that exists.

Your word for the this year has been “patience.” This is mostly geared toward waiting, but we are also seeing how we are training you to be patient (tolerant) toward others. You are making good progress and showing awareness in this area of growth.

Earlier this spring, you accepted Jesus into your heart. You were very intentional about it and we were proud of how you showed patience and authenticity by not just going through the motions, but really exploring for yourself what you understand and believe. We have seen you blossom since, including being more comfortable with praying.

Your favorite subject in school is history. You gravitate toward non-fiction books at the library, especially those focused on wars, battles, or building and architecture. You will soon be able to read these books on your own and you will be very excited when that time comes.

This fall you will start first grade. This will be your first year in full time school. We know you will do very well and we are eager for you to have your first classroom experience without your brothers, to make your own friends, and to learn many new things.

We close with a story from Dad: Just two days ago I got to run 4 miles while you biked in front of me. Just 5 months ago I was holding your seat around a track as you nervously learned to peddle. But on this day, I watched you careen down the hills, disappear around corners, and navigate your way through the neighborhood. While I tried my best to keep up with you, I realized that as the gaps emerged between us—as they will continue to do so as you age— it ultimately is your Heavenly Father that will be steering and leading you home safely. I am already learning to let go, but I am so thankful we are never alone.

We are so proud of you and we love you beyond belief,

Mom and Dad



Spring 2016


I have no idea why we don’t have a picture of James here. He will likely grow up to have some “middle child syndrome” from often feeling overlooked. I believe he was enjoying his pizza and didn’t want to stop for a photo.

Baseball was a true highlight of this spring. All three boys wanted to play again. This is a sport that neither Wes nor I get very excited about. The games are slow and long and the boys don’t come home exhausted like they do from other sports. But, like last year, by the end of the season, they excel and enjoy it thoroughly. Baseball gets a lot more serious when they age up next year, so the verdict is still out on their future, but there was a lot to celebrate this year. I was so pleased by how quickly they improved and how they assumed leadership roles on the team. They would make sure their teammates had their gear and were in the right batting order. They are also “smart” players. They have a great awareness of who is on base and where the ball needs to get to for an out. Other players seemed to catch on after witnessing the Barry Boys’ fielding skills. There were also some great double and triple plays involving our own boys that make for some awesome moments of pride as a parent. They certainly get a lot of practice at home.

Their wonderful Coach, Jay, was such a caring and encouraging leader. He gave each player an award for the season. Here is what he recognized in each of our boys:

Thomas: “The Glove.” There weren’t many balls he didn’t catch and he excelled at and loved playing first base. His ability to catch well resulted in a lot of outs for his team. Incidentally, he decided very early on in the season to use his hard-earned money to buy a new glove. He thinks coach was impressed by his actual glove and not simply his catching skills.

James: “All Around.” James is a great ball player. He’s a very strong batter and a reliable thrower and catcher. There wasn’t a position he struggled with nor one that he seemed to love more than others. The sport fits his temperament well.

Jack: “The Vacuum.” As we have seen in other sports, Jack has a defensive mind. He loves to play pitcher, which at their age is not a “pitching” position, but is often the receiver of many balls after they are hit. He rarely misses and he quickly sucks that ball in and goes for the out, either by throwing to a base or chasing the player down. He didn’t initially seem that interested in baseball and he struggled to bat. By the end of the season, he had really developed into a strong player and I have no doubt he enjoyed it.

I would also like to highlight Ellie’s favorite part of spring: ART CLASS. The program she is in is phenomenal. The projects are so detailed and elaborate. And, most of all, she comes home each week with the biggest smile on her face. I haven’t seen this kind of passion in her when it comes to sports, but she shines in the art studio.

What a delightful spring it has been!


First Family Ski Day


Wes and I have long desired to get the boys on skis. We were slated to go last month, but with thunderstorms in the forecast we postponed. So, a mid-week trip yesterday was on tap. It far surpassed our expectations.

We arrived to snow and wind. While this would normally be a welcome sight to avid skiers, it actually made us nervous that the kids would start complaining with the cold and low visibility. Remarkably, they NEVER once complained about the weather, or about anything else for that matter.

After checking in and getting our rentals, the boys immediately went with an instructor for a 45-minute lesson. I was very impressed by the methodology the instructor used. Then, it was time for us to take over. The boys insisted we immediately leave the lesson area and try the bunny slope.

So, for the next hour, that’s what we did. It was basically a three-minute ride on the magic carpet up to the top of a small hill. It was perfect for what they needed. At first Wes and I tried to figure out which boy we would help and who would be left to fend for themselves. I had visions of chaos, screaming and crying ensuing shortly. But, that never occurred. We simply worked it out. Quickly, Jack, who is rather impatient, figured out that he was better off getting up and down by himself so he could go at his own pace. After a few rounds he had lapped the other two boys. James and Thomas always had a good attitude, but they struggled at times to figure things out.

Jack was very surprising to us in terms of his enjoyment and excitement. He took to it so quickly, which matters to him as he is often not the first of the boys to grasp something new. He often squatted low and leaned forward to increase his speed. He even started cheering himself on and raising his hands high over his head when he got to the bottom without falling. He asked later in the day to ride the chairlift to try a blue. Both Wes and I did that with him a couple of times with the assistance of the CoPilot. Jack reported at the end of the day that he didn’t think it was going to be fun, but it was. Then, he proceeded to thank us for the trip five times on the drive home.

James did fine. He kept trying and I am confident he will improve quickly when given more chances. Because he is a coachable kid, he would listen to our advice, but not always be able to execute it very well. When we told him to lean a little to turn, he would lean WAY over and soon topple over. At one point, Wes decided to GoPro James. Well, James headed straight for Wes and couldn’t turn out of the way, despite his best efforts and Wes’ animated coaching. The next thing I know, James has crashed into Wes and they are both sprawled out on the slope. It was hilarious to me, though not for others. James didn’t complain that he was tired, but he seemed to show it late in the day and just kept falling.

Thomas said he had a fun time and was agreeable, but I think it had to be a frustrating day for him. He couldn’t seem to get his sense of balance or ski position. He often ended up sitting down when he couldn’t turn or stop and he frequently ended up skiing backwards. His experience was what I expected the day to be like for everyone. I’m happy he is eager to try it again.

Ellie was a trooper. Though our attention was on the boys, she would make some short runs on her own, help the boys where she could, and she even found another girl to ski with.

Wes declared this one of his favorite family outings we have ever done. I have to agree. I look forward to another ski adventure.

And now she is 9…

IMG_1103Dear Ellie,

Today you are nine. We recently realized we are about halfway through your time living in our house before you go to college. These years with you have been some of the best years of our lives. 
You have had some incredible experiences this year: getting to go to Belize, skiing your first black diamond(s), starting piano, & playing basketball.

This year you have shown a lot of growth in your character. You have persevered through school as you adapt to a new environment. You have shown a lot of independence in many areas. You take initiative in your schoolwork and projects and have found a new passion in computers and coding. We see in you an increased sense of confidence. You’re more willing to speak to adults and to present yourself in front of groups than you used to be, whether playing piano in public, conversing with parents of your friends and teammates, or leading prayers.

We admire how you have handled the many changes going on as you grow up. Some of them are fun and easy things, like developing your own playful personality and sense of humor. Others are harmless and subtle, like wanting more privacy or being aware of your appearance in certain settings. Some of your growing pains have been more challenging, like changing moods and emotions that you are learning to process and manage. You’re learning how easy it is to get angry and how hard it is manage anger. We wish we could tell you it gets easier, but even as adults emotions can be difficult to reign in. Additionally, you are more assertive, expressive, questioning, and challenging when you respond to us and navigate rules and freedoms. We know it is often hard and scary, but we also see how you understand our hearts and intentions to seek and follow God’s leading as we journey forward together.

You have spent a lot more time with your brothers than ever before. You thrive when they let you lead, by helping them with school, devising elaborate pretend play, or taking on group projects. They are also very challenging for you as they try to assert their independence, hurt your feelings, and simply think more about themselves than others (and then you have to multiply all of this times three!). Keep hanging in there. As much as you don’t want to admit it sometimes, we can see how much you adore your brothers.

Our reflections would not be complete without mentioning your faith. You continue to increase your understanding of God and the Bible, you are memorizing many verses, and you’re making connections between passages and different things you’ve studied and experienced in life. When the days get hard, never forget to turn to God. He is the best helper and comforter you’ll find and He sees and understands everything you go through.

You are a one-of-a-kind girl with whom we are so pleased. We love you so very much & we are thankful we get to be your parents. We hope we can make the best of the next nine years. Enjoy your last year in the single digits!


Mom and Dad

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A snapshot in time…

The children each completed a brief handout to summarize their thoughts and preferences as 2015 comes to a close.


2015 worksheets