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

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, May 25, 2017

janie at 15

Janie turned 15.

I know this move has not been especially easy for her. She had a great group of friends before and leaving that life behind was tough.

But I want to give a snapshot of her at 15 to remember.

She has taken a deep breath and moved into this new world we pushed upon her like a champ.

Janie has built new friendships and embraced her interests and hobbies. She's decided that sitting still and moping wastes time. That girl is out on her bike taking in beauty and enjoying the present continually. She's so much fun to be around. We sit and we talk and I cling on her every word about her day ... even though I think she thinks I'm only halfway listening.

I love the way she has to have a hug at night. I love her determination to make the best of everything all of the time. I love her organization and her drive that moves her through everything she tackles. I love her grit as she plugs away at hard things.

I love the way she stoops to help little girls and instruct them. I love that she's got a clear view of right and wrong and love and forgiveness all wrapped up into one.

I love that most of the time I don't have to worry about her. I love that she talks to me about anything I am worried about. I love that she helps me set aside my worries with clarity in who she is.

I often wish that time could stand still and yet with Janie, I love that as time moves forward, we are becoming greater and greater friends.

Maybe because in her, I've seen the making of me. She is my heart.

Happy Birthday, Janie. I love you and all that you are.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

april 2017

In reverse form, March came in like a lion but left like a lamb.

We lucked out with some very pretty days pushing everything to green just a little earlier than usual, or so I'm told. I'll take it. 

I spent about a thousand hours in a physical therapy office and it was a real blessing to have nice days to be outside and moving.

I got hooked on boosting our eating habits around here after listening to a really good podcast about creating a dietary lifestyle change within a family to eat good and feel good.

We agreed to filter in more meatless meals, involve kids in the prep and cooking, focus on portion control and eat less processed ingredients.

And I've changed some impulse buying habits by having a grocery delivery. 

Delivery can be more expensive but I'm actually finding I save. Even with a carefully orchestrated list in my hand at the store, I grab good, healthy-but-not-always-necessary, items in the moment. Delivery is saving time and money.

Organization is key so I mapped it all out. No cutting carbs entirely. Just using whole grains instead of white, minimally processed, homemade, sugar free, and outweighed by tons of fruit and veg.

Such a better ... less deprived ... plan is so much easier to stick with and healthy up an entire family.

We also needed an attitude revamp.

I sat with the kids and asked them what would be worth working for. It both warmed and hurt my heart that the greatest reward would be more of my time.

These guys are plugging away at earning those things.

Charlotte wrapped up the best year in preschool with the best teacher ever. We see her all over town when we aren't in school and these two are just thick as thieves.

The last day of school was a field trip to participate in an Early Childhood Development Parade in the center of our town.

I think the highlight was the police car.

And getting to cram into the back seat with friends.

Oh boy, have we ever loved that teacher.

With Charlotte no longer in preschool twice a week, every day has been the two of us.

I had a stark realization that my time with just my baby is coming to a close.

With summer inching closer, everyone will be home (which I do long for). But before we know it, we'll be into August and she'll be off to kindergarten. All those daily one on one library story times and lunch hikes and play dates to the pool or the river will come to an end.

Trying not to think about that either.

Or maybe I'm thinking about it a lot so that every moment of these last weeks of school count with me and her alone.

Time needs to slow a little.

Newel has taken on a tradition of making Saturday morning breakfast for us. 

It's my favorite morning of the week.

Celia came down for General Conference and some friends came up from Denver.

I just breathed in having all those kids on the floor listening to those most important words.

I tried not to think about the one who would be missing in the next couple of years out there serving a mission. That conference just puts wind in my sails.

We said goodbye to our friends later that afternoon as they headed back down to Denver.

I lost the pictures I had of them in a computer glitch, darn it, but we sure love and loved having them.

A few minutes later, we bid the same goodbye to Celia as she left to drive pack to Provo. This time, I had Eliza clinging to my leg in tears. I teared up a bit myself as she drove out of sight with all those voices shouting "Goodbye" to her tail lights.

Annie had a birthday. Seventeen. There will be more on that later.

Our SPRING BREAK road trip was in there somewhere, too.

Janie, too. Fifteen. More later there, as well.

I had a birthday.

Newel had a client engagement in Turkey and I pushed and pushed until he gave in and let me come along.

I enjoyed my birthday there and there's a whole lot to say about that coming soon. 

I felt pretty lucky to have kids who could hold down the fort for me to soak in a foreign culture and it's people. My favorite thing and a pretty great gift.

Before we knew it, April was gone.

Friday, May 19, 2017

spring break road trip

Oh man, are we in the midst of all kinds of big decisions around here.

With two high school kids just fourteen months apart, we have college decisions on top of college decisions and I mean literally.

Christian has a couple of university acceptances to choose from and Annie will be spending next year neck deep in the stress of choosing her path. We decided to take a small part of our Spring break to road trip and explore some of our college options.

Those who would rather not be cooped up in a car for any length of time, enjoyed downtime at home with Newel while others piled in to trek along with me.

My group were happy travelers excited to kill the miles listening to some pretty fun podcasts. 

We headed toward Utah on a stunning day. We've been here a million times but after having spent the summer in Europe, we couldn't get over how similar these mountain landscapes were to the ones we'd seen over there.

Just beautiful.

We arrived in Provo in the afternoon and met up with Celia at her apartment.

She moved here after Christmas following some struggles in her previous location. She's been really happy here and made some awesome friends.

We went up to walk around the Brigham Young University campus. Christian will be attending the summer semester here before leaving on a mission (still working on those papers).

I've always loved the student art works. As a student here myself, I used to sit in quiet corners of the buildings where art was displayed and marvel at the creative ideas of others.

We headed to the art museum first.

We stepped inside and this beautiful "yarn" creation was cascading from the ceiling. Wow, was it ever amazing. No camera can do it justice. We just kind of spun around underneath wishing we could go up there and touch it.

You can't see it very well, but I love what it says on the wall there at the bottom 

"Silence in the museum will nurture a more reflective mind, a capacity for deeper inquiry, a stronger commitment to excellence and intelligence."

I wish I could implement that in our home ;)

Charlotte was mesmerized by this blanket stack. She laughed about putting her blanket that she sleeps with every night, right on top.

The little girls enjoyed the interactive displays for African American art.

Christian found his favorite artwork.

There was an entire gallery dedicated to Christian art. This carved "Last Supper" was so detailed and neat. I wish I had one of those.

I think this was my favorite for it's texture.

There was a photo gallery celebrating "School Playgrounds". We loved looking at all of the playground settings around the world in so many different cultures.

Varying cultural experiences are kind of my favorite.

Then, Annie and Celia pointed out that you could see a playground bully in each and every photo.

We had to go around and play "where's waldo the playgorund bully". It was a pretty funny coincidence that "playground bully" would be culturally universal to all playgrounds. ;)


Here against the door:

And here:

And here:

And here:

And an escalating screaming match here:

And here:

And here:

Pretty funny.

Little girls loved this one too. Just because it featured candy.

We cruised on over to the library which has also grown and changed since my days there.

Except for those steps which I'm pretty sure my own feet influenced the creation of those intentions as I dragged up and down them to study.

When I was a homesick freshman, one day I discovered that that giant library held a pretty extensive children's literature section.

That homesick girl all those years ago, two thousand miles away from all that she had known, plopped right down here. I remember pulling a stack of familiar bedtime stories read by parents I loved.

Instantly, I was home and feeling comforted.

I told Celia when she left our home, that if she ever felt lonely, she'd be okay right here.

I don't know if she every felt the same ... it's pretty easy to talk anytime we want now ... but she did say it is a place she has come to love to sit and study herself.

And how could she not when the new changes made to that library, include an entry with this view?

We walked across campus at the end of the day with the bell tower chimes ringing. Christian is pretty excited to be here in the next few weeks.

This picture is just some kind of war with all of those burs laying on the ground from the trees. Maybe a favorite moment of mine with all that crying and laughing at the same time.

Christian avoids my pictures these days but these girls don't mind being cheesy for me.

Just one more look at that gorgeous mountain against that blue, blue sky.

My time here was some of the happiest and challenging of my life.

We put our name on the list at a restaurant where I used to work as a student and the wait was kind of long so we had some time to wander across the street to the grounds of this gorgeous new temple.

"As we touch the temple, the temple will touch us" is one of my favorite quotes so these little girls ran up to actually touch those special doors.

Then that fading light turned to gold and so did my heart just soaking in these kids in such a sacred place.

After a good night's sleep (and it's funny how a hotel with a pool and a breakfast at Denny's can be the highlight of some people's trip ;) we said goodbye to Celia.

We took a swing around UVU (of which I have no pictures, darn it) to look at that campus.

Newel spent a year there and he's pretty much filled us in so we just wanted to have quick look in the event one of us would like to make that our university of choice.

Then we continued our drive north to Rexburg, Idaho to see the BYU-I campus.

I just love that there are schools to benefit so many different personalities and learning styles and choices. As a mom, this has been a pretty challenging time, guiding my people in the directions they want to go and pulling back to let them make choices that they are happy with.

We had never seen this school so we spent the day walking around and taking it all in.

Annie and Christian got wind of a school dance that would be taking place in this gymnasium later on that night. 

They packed off from our hotel room and found this space jammed with kids who just wrapped them up and showed them a good time. They were glowing with stories the next morning.

Another art gallery to wander through.

We picked our favorite sculpture, again for it's beautiful delicacy and texture.

Annie wanted to check out the nursing department since that is where her interests lie.

They have some really neat amenities in that department and she was getting pretty excited about the future and all it's possibilities.

I found where I would spend my days if I were going back to school ;)

We also stumbled upon a recital in the concert hall of the arts building being held by elementary and middle school kids who take music classes at the university. Those kids were amazing. Serious concert musicians, I tell you.

We slipped into the back unnoticed. 

I teared up just listening to them, which kind of makes my kids laugh but I can't help it when I see total dedication. Gets me every time.

Really, really fun to see kids we know on bulletin boards in the business building as well.

We met up with an old friend for dinner and grilled him about his time at this university since we know so little.

He was so informative and helpful and it was great to see him love everything that he is doing. I sent a text to his mom right away that she should be really proud because he's one fine guy.

I tried really hard not to dwell on the fact that this time next year, our home will be such a quiet place with three children out in the world by focusing more on what a lucky world to have them.

And then we turned our noses toward home full of excitement and decision for the future.