YAKIMA, Wash. -- Home-schooled brothers Sean and Travis Mefford, 12 and 11, respectively, are into a lot of the same stuff as other kids their age — computer games, karate, airplanes — but they’re also into something a little more unusual for preteens: poetry.
The Mefford brothers and their mother, Liesl Mefford, self-published a book of poetry this fall. “One Drip at a Time” retails for $11.99 and is available through Amazon as well as at local store Inklings Bookshop and at the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center. The book deals primarily with everyday life, taking a pause to appreciate the subtle beauty to be found in things like bunk beds and missing socks.
These are a few of their favorite things:
SEAN WALKER MEFFORD
Sean started playing guitar about four years ago, but he’s been an avid music fan for much longer. Among his favorites are contemporary gospel and Christian hip-hop performer Toby Mac, formerly a member of the pioneering contemporary Christian group DC Talk; Christian hip-hop act Group 1 Crew; and Christian bluegrass outfit Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.
Sean’s connection to music is so strong he sometimes can’t keep from humming, even without realizing it. That tendency goes back to his pre- home-school days in kindergarten.
“I would hum in class and all my classmates would be like, ‘Sean, you’re humming again,’” he said. “I blend different songs and make it into one song. I can literally just hum for hours and just be satisfied.”
Just because he doesn’t go to school outside the home doesn’t mean Sean lacks for social interaction. He’s got a tight-knit group of about 10 friends from the local home-school community. They’ve been going to each other’s birthday parties and enjoying each other’s company since the Meffords moved to the Yakima Valley from Tacoma seven years ago. There are also his friends from the Yakima Covenant Church youth group.
“I’ve had lots of fun with the youth group,” Sean said.
3. Civil Air Patrol
Sean and Travis’ uncle is a pilot, and he told the boys about the Yakima chapter of the Civil Air Patrol. The group, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, has programs for cadets as young as 12.
“I tried it and I got into it,” Sean said.
4. Reading and writing
This shouldn’t be surprising given that he’s already co-authored a book of poetry, but Sean is an avid reader. Right now he’s making his way through Michael Crichton’s pop-classic “Jurassic Park.”
“I love the movies,” he said. “I watch all of them.”
He didn’t know the franchise started as a single novel until he found a copy at a garage sale. But he’s always liked reading. He even stayed up till 1 a.m. one night, just to read more. (It didn’t feel great the next morning, so now he makes sure he puts his books down before 11 p.m.)
As for the writing, that was spurred by his family’s appreciation for children’s author and illustrator James Stevenson, whose books of poetry served as a template for their own.
5. Snow skiing
This is a new love for Sean, something he just started last winter, but it’s already his favorite sport.
“I like speed ... I don’t ski like a professional; I ski like a crazy person. But that’s only because I like speed.”
TRAVIS IAN MEFFORD
Travis is more of an introvert than Sean. He’s content at home working with his computer. He’ll code for hours a day and plans to pursue a career in technology.
He also has a tablet loaded with 40 games and he loves playing “Minecraft” with his father, John Mefford.
One of the reasons Travis doesn’t mind staying close to home is that he enjoys spending time with Liesl and John.
“Mom and dad are the best parents ever, because they give me food, they give me money, they keep me alive,” he said.
They also cook with him, play card games and “Minecraft” and go to movies together.
Like the rest of his family, Travis puts a high priority on his Christian faith. He relies on God when he’s challenged or frustrated by his schoolwork. It’s a practice that helps calms him down.
Travis, who has read Lego and “Minecraft” versions of the Bible as well as the standard Bible, also appreciates God’s emphasis on love and uses it to remind himself of the importance of loving others.
John Mefford was born in Japan, and that cultural heritage has extended to his sons. Travis, in particular, is a big-time sushi nut.
“It’s, like, wrapped in seaweed, has rice and then, like, fish or, like, fish eggs and it has a special sauce on top,” Travis said. “And it’s delicious.”
He also loves the Japanese pastry mochi and bubble tea.
5. Arts, crafts, building things
Travis loves to create, whether it’s with a hammer and nails or with duct tape and glue sticks. It’s a tendency that dates back to when he was just a little kid.
“I would run to a table and make little thank you cards every time we went to someone’s house,” he said.
He keeps most of his supplies under his bed.
“I have this huge craft supplies pile that has, like, duct tape, glue sticks, logs — I’ve got a lot of crazy stuff under there,” he said.