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

-- Robert Frost

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

stuff that's been happening

We fluctuate between this:

And this:

We couldn't contain ourselves and had to go to the zoo to soak it in.

Newel and Grant took a date to go watch a friend race his car around the track. They put Grant in the passenger seat for a ride along. I think it was the best minute of his little life so far.

I've been doing a lot of this lately. Just cuddling up a girl who's arms and legs seem to get longer and longer by the day.

Christian's arms and legs are longer and longer too.

I went on a business retreat with Newel. Charlotte tried to sneak her stuff in the other side of my suitcase. I think there's a blanket, some paper and some markers. All the essentials.

This woke me up from a much needed nap one day. I think there was some enthusiasm over some pink crystals found in the yard.

Charlotte earned a trip to our new candy shop on Main Street. She was so excited to find pale blue crystal suckers. She called them "Frozen Wands" and insisted we get two ... One for her and one for Eliza. I just loved her enthusiasm to share with a sister.

Waiting for Eliza to get home from school must have worn her completely out that afternoon.

I still love swinging into the high school parking lot and catching kids after school engrossed in their own little world.

More home schooling with Grant who some days thinks he should just hang in his pj's.

Sometimes while we are working, Charlotte does little activities like sorting and categorizing collections of seashells.

A rare date out with almost all of my girls.

A day off from school and I just loved picking up these two. Their faces were so radiant and content when on their way to my car.

Every day, we wait and wait. The enthusiasm is always the same. Life's just a little too quiet without them around and Charlotte's sentiments are contagious:

Friday, March 18, 2016

of janie things

Our Janie is her greatest competitor.

That girl works so hard. Some mornings I can count on waking up to find her asleep fully clothed and surrounded by homework and projects on her bed or the floor.

She brings home projects and leaves them on the counter for our enjoyment. I asked Newel what I should do with one of these works of art. "Send it to the Smithsonian."he said. I laughed but he's right.

We attended her honor society awards during the school day recently.

She's got a great group of friends who keep her on her toes with their competition as well.

They also like to perform and compete together in choir and theater as well.

This week we went to hear her sing in a choir performance. I sure loved hearing those kids sing.

We couldn't be prouder of that girl and her great group of friends. I just know they'll go far.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

a nineteenth birthday far away

Celia's birthday is our first of the year. It came and went just a little surreal.

And filled me with gratitude for roommates who would make her day feel special and send me posts along the way.

She wasn't here at home to be celebrated but the day wasn't lost on us. I remembered pregnancy exhaustion and trying my best to induce labor by walking the school track just steps from where she now lives.

I was a baby having a baby.

I couldn't help but think about her every minute of the day, a big girl living out her life in the same place I brought that very little girl home to our first apartment.

We sent a birthday in a box and a few small gifts. It didn't seem enough.

We hung our traditional banner and called her via FaceTime to sing and eat a piece of cake virtually.

Later in the quiet, Newel called me from whatever city he was in at the time. Teary, I asked him if the future held lonely birthdays where I'd eat cake solo and reminisce the past.

"No," he said, "Because I'll eat cake with you and remember every great moment."

And my heart ached for a wonderful day gone by when two became three ... one day to be nine. A life full together and memories held close when those deeply loved seem very far away.

Monday, March 14, 2016

pictures not taken but never forgotten

I sat beside Christian through our main meeting at church on Sunday. I couldn't help but smile at the way his knees scrunch against the bench in front of us. He shifted position and crossed one gigantic foot over knee and I nearly laughed out loud wondering how I ever did kiss the bottoms of those feet.

Last week the missionaries came for dinner. Newel was traveling and Christian and a friend hosted our elders at my kitchen table. I might as well have been invisible as I served dinner and those four young men chatted up a storm about everything under the sun mission related. My heart burst into a thousand tingly pieces as I saw Christian and his friend soak it all in. Their bodies were here but their hearts and minds were longing to run forward.

Christian completed the crash avoidance class imposed by the court for his speeding ticket. True to teenage style, he waited until the very last day to turn in the receipt to the court recorder. Following school that day, he swooped in to grab his paperwork and gathered up Grant who had spent a long day at the books with me. Happily together with skateboards in hand, they blitzed out to make the paperwork drop at the courthouse and then hit the park before dark. It's hard to get mad around here sometimes.

One night I decided to tell a story rather than read one to Eliza and Charlotte at bedtime. I wish I could hold forever those little upturned faces and wide eyes. I'm not sure if I'm delighted or disturbed that they are so enthralled with witches but making them jump in gleeful fear as the witch tries to eat the hero, is always the best.

I hope I never forget how Eliza lets Charlotte place her head in her lap and strokes her hair when she is sad.

Those two stood on the fireplace hearth last night, directing our music for family home evening as if we were the tabernacle choir. They were filled with so much animation. Every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of Eliza with her glasses on the tip of her nose and I see Celia at that same age. It's getting harder to see and that frustrates me sometimes.

I miss Celia. Every time I talk to her on the phone, I miss her again.

I do not like shopping. But shopping with Annie is the best. Janie, Annie and I had a shopping day for a few new things. I loved watching Annie take Janie in hand to assist her in purchasing personal items. They were so cute together. Annie makes us all feel like a million bucks when we try on something new. She takes an experience I dread and turns it into an event to be remembered.

Grant and I are reading Where the Red Fern Grows together. He hangs on every word. Then asks for a dog at the end of each chapter. I hope I never forget long winter evenings curled up reading novels that make our imaginations fly.

I've been worrying my heart out for Janie over some things. But last night, she came in for a hug that clung long and hard. I don't ever want to forget that hug. Some hugs just say everything will be okay. That girl has the strength of a hundred.

Thank heavens for an unseasonably warm February moving into March. Newel has been traveling most of the time since the new year began and without him, life is a little quieter. I've appreciated his calls, morning and night, to check in and chat. Some nights after the kids are in bed, we just hang on the phone until one of us starts to fall asleep.

Of little hands that write so carefully, boys who just keep growing, daddy-daughter dance date smiles, and lots of love sent to one far away ... I'm holding close a picture of winter melting into spring.