"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Friday, June 29, 2012

comings and goings

I remember summer days filled with activity for little children.  What were we going to do today that would be memorable and exciting?

Summers are changing and this summer seems to have been filled more with excited goodbyes and anticipated returns.

It's made the summer fly in some ways as we skitter to pack and shuffle folks off.
It's made the summer drag in some ways as I miss their daily presence and await their stories of adventure.

All the time I think on that future point where they'll all be headed out on a more permanent basis.

Then I try really hard to remember something I heard once about smart parents doing everything they can to prepare their children to survive expertly as independents from the home.

And so, they've come and gone pretty constantly around here in what I consider a transition to a more lasting flight from my nest. And I do get a little thrill to see them thrive in the experience.

Just days after school finals, Celia caught a flight to Provo, Utah for a week on BYU campus for Especially For Youth.

One piece of advice I gave her before boarding was to shut off her phone and just be in the moment ... at least after she'd assured me she'd gotten where she needed to be safely :)

Once Celia hit campus this is all I heard from her before she went silent for a week:

And that was it.  Off the grid until the following Sunday morning when she flew home just in time for Newel to snag her at the airport and meet us at church.  

Between meetings, I hugged her hard and she exclaimed she had so many stories to tell but first she needed me to fill out her Youth Conference forms before she headed to her sunday school class.  

Pregnant hormonal mom teared up over her shoulder.  Couldn't help it.  Her confidence was brimming and she was already on to the next thing.  And then I waited all afternoon to lay on the bed and hang on every word.

A day later, laundry was washed and repacked and ward youth conference took her off again. This time, she left the phone behind and I had to wait a week for any news.

It was worth the wait. Then of course, we squeezed in that family time for ourselves before events facing us this week. Newel was off to Germany for business on Saturday and scrambling to help everyone prep for Monday's flood of camps.

6:00 Monday morning, Christian left for the week long scout canoe trip across Wyoming into Utah.

That boy leaves me laughing.  I've never seen anyone get "excitement" sickness before every anticipated event.

Every christmas morning, every campout, every trip to six flags / water park / go cart racing ... you name it.  Just minutes before leaving, he caves into stomach cramps and hot flashes of anticipation. It's just .. that .. exciting.

I should know by now to budget in an extra twenty minutes just for the crash and burn!

Monday was no different.  He got up. He showered. He loaded his stuff in the car. He assured me he was good. And then he lay over his fried eggs and toast, gray as a ghost and hypervenalating.

I loaded him in the car anyway and as we drove, he calmed, felt better, laughed at himself, and told me he'd best not grow up to be a rock star or FBI agent whilst giving me a hilarious rendition of stalling a sting operation so he could take a moment to vomit on the floor. Accounting ... he said ... he'd better stick with accounting.

Love that boy.

Love his humor.

Love that once we pulled into the parking lot, his friends flooded him like a champion and he still turned to hug me right in front of them and whisper in my ear not to have a baby while he was gone because that was one excitement he didn't want to miss.

Tuesday 6:00 am.  Celia off on the Girl's Camp 4th year backpack trip. Again, rearin' to go.

But maybe the most excited of the bunch was Annie and her first year to Girl's Camp.

"Did I ever look that small, Mom?" Celia asked me. Yeah, she did. I think they all do. It's experiences like these that change them into confident young women.

Just like that, she was off with friends never looking back. But that t-shirt she spent the weekend making says everything there is to say about her.  I stood aside watching her go and could see her inner beauty shinning forth.

It's been a quiet-er week with just the three littlest who are most content to build a lego city on the living room floor and balk at my efforts to revisit those former days of mom-produced fun-filled activity.

And just because I'm sappy right now, (and feeling like lately I've been introverted into my own pregnant unpleasantries putting heavier burdens on big kids who were probably just thrilled to be shed of me for the week) ... I couldn't send those big ones away without a note neatly tucked into each pack telling them how much they mean to me as I watch them grow and become who they are meant to be.

I hope they realize that even as I let go little by little and let them learn to fly.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

birthday party-ing

There comes a point in every little life where the meaning behind a birthday clicks.  There's cake choice opinion and present anticipation and general thrill in the air.

This was her year.

Maybe because she'd watched siblings before her enjoy their occasion.

Maybe because older kids couldn't help talk up her special day.

Maybe because everyone was just so darn excited for her excitement.

And maybe because some had worked hard to scrimp, save, and purchase just the perfect gifts.

Whatever the reason, she was down right contagious.

Looking back, I'd realized that Newel had been out of town for every birthday since Eliza's actual birth day.  Once again this year, he'd be in Germany. To top it off, the three big kids would be gone to various camps.  No one wanted to miss this and so Friday, we pretended it was the big day and pulled together a back yard family party of sheer delight to a girl celebrating three.

Which couldn't have been a more enjoyable evening.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

eliza age 3

I know I've enjoyed every single day with this girl. Her story is here and here. Our lives would not be the same without her in our family. 

She's about to become a big sister and that's a giant step for a gal who has always been thought of and treated as the "baby".

But I watch those bigger sisters envelop her in play all day long and whisk her away to bedtime each and every night, and I know she'll be amazing.

Because she is amazing.

And smart.
And loving.
And happy.
And grateful.

All at only three years old.

Happy Birthday, Eliza. My heart skips a beat to hold you and call you my own. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

gardening competition

Once Mother's Day clears, and our cold mornings back off, I itch to get my hands in the dirt. I'm not great at it by a long shot.  It's just inbred from years of growing up with the smell of fresh turned earth in my lungs.

This year, I'm even less great and my agility is shot. But I've got a ton of super competitive kids who are both.

(Yes, I'm aware that those are not the best shoes for tiller lessons but he'd already done his fair share in plowing the entire area and muddied up his regulars. It was time to stand back and teach some others a thing or two.)

Hence ... the Gardening Competition.

Rules:  Whatever they wanted to plan, plant and care for in their own square space.  No motherly dictatorship.

So, we have spaces full of flowers with a few vegetables mixed in.  We have spaces full of vegetables only.  And for the boys, who teamed up to build a more "manly" garden plot ... salsa garden only with the hottest variation of chili peppers imaginable, green onions and Roma tomatoes.

There'll be prizes in the end for the best categories ranging from weed free to vegi production and floral arrangement.  But, I think the thrill lies in the fact that Mom didn't care what we planted.  A free for all at the gardening center coupled with personal responsibility, was magic enough.

Two weeks of hundred degree heat without a drop of rain in sight has been an uphill battle but I stepped out there this morning and all is alive and well and going strong.

Some mighty fine gardeners and the game is on.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

winter park, just what the dr. ordered

Actually not really.  

He ordered me not to travel or do too much.  But, we're at the end and once I hit that end, my brain goes crazy and I don't listen to anybody.

So, we went anyway.

And ate meals I didn't cook, played board games, soaked tired bodies at the pool, laughed at experiences we'll retell again and again, and killed an entire week by basking in our family dynamic just as it is right now.

The perfect prescription for baby waiting.  Here are some favorites.

Tandem bike and a gorgeous bike ride.  I was going to stay behind but the peer pressure was too great.

Celia pulled Eliza in the trailer and Newel promised to peddle me with that enormous belly up the hill. He didn't even break a sweat. I'm certain we were a sight to behold but at least the kids thought we were cool.

I told Newel rather than carrying me on his back to heaven, we'll just take a tandem bike and I'll let him do all the peddling :)

Watching kids and their rock skipping skills on the banks of the river.

I always love that where ever Newel and I plant ourselves, the little ones continue to self entertain as the big ones plop at our feet for conversation — like they might miss something great.

Evening smores by the fire pit.


A train ran by our condo.

I told the kids a story about visiting my great grandmother's house one summer and the train that ran right by. My mother had said that if we put pennies on the track, the train would de-rail.

My brothers and I ran out and did just what she'd said not to. Then we lay wide awake listening for our calamity.

Of course, my kids did the same.

Newel asked Grant if he'd learned anything by the experience.  

Grant said a little too thoughtfully, "Yes .... a penny won't de-rail a train .... but a big boulder might!" and picked up the nearest huge rock he could find.

I don't think that's what Newel was looking for.

And we really kept a sharp eye on Grant after that.

There were some really fun and tasty restaurants for a sleepy mountain town.

One of us kept spilling.

Evenings in the park accompanied by a little road rash at the adjoining bike park.

Had to ride the alpine slide but after pulling up next to a van full of male mountain bikers unexpectedly baring it all (and I do mean all) whilst changing clothes right in the parking lot ... well ... these faces were all laughed out and paled in comparison.

We were crying with hilarity at Newel's choice to park us in "Nude Lot B".

Though the slide was pretty entertaining, too.

Gelato on the square, pretty walks, date night with big kids and a movie rental holding down the fort. It was perfect to get away.

But, probably the greatest need of all ...

My mother had sent me a CD compilation of old home videos.  Clips of her as the mother of nine, pieces of my siblings and I performing plays and singing songs, and snippets of video I'd sent her of me and my first two small children years ago.

I took it up with me hoping for a chance to view it. That first night away I put it in the player with pool-tired, freshly pj'ed children at my feet.

They laughed at my childhood antics.  They marveled at my past youthful appearance.  They commented on my soft spoken voice in my early days of motherhood. They laughed at change from then to now and giggled at ways their Dad was still the same.

I went to bed feeling a renewal.

Like I'd reconnected with the mother I'd set out to be.

Like there was no other "stuff" in this world more important than just "being" with these guys in our moments together.

And I really needed a dose of that right now.