January 5, 2016

A Moment ...

I blinked and the Christmas holiday and Winter Break were gone. My never ending and seemingly never met goal is to create lasting and special memories and traditions that my kids will love and draw upon during their lives. It’s ambitious and I feel like a failure much of the time, but I can say we spent nice time together over the break and everyone was happy on Christmas morning. I was tired. Tired, but happy also.

I did manage to capture one sweet moment between Owlie and his Daddy during the break. The big kids were at church activities and Ollie was rushing around the house in a crazed frenzy as he is known to do in the near-bedtime-hours.

I suggested to the Hubby that he grab The Friend magazine (a children’s magazine our church puts out) and sit down with Ollie to read for a little bit. Out of all our kids, Ollie is by far the most fascinated with Jesus, his birth and celebrating them at Christmastime.

As they read story after story, Ollie sat quietly for a long time. That is a BIG DEAL for him. The two of them basked in the glow of the tree, snuggled up together and I grabbed my camera so I could always remember their heads poking up above the couch like so.

Ollie loved a story about “Finding Jesus” where a parent would hide a Baby Jesus figure from the family nativity set and the children would take turns finding it. We got our Baby Jesus and he hid it first while the Hubby and I closed our eyes. Then we hid it and he found it. He could have played hide and seek with Baby Jesus all night long. The idea, of course, was that we all need to take time to look for Jesus at Christmastime.

I love this moment. I’m glad I was there. And I’m glad Ollie loves the Baby Jesus and his Daddy so much.

A Scare ...

This boy though. The one we call RedDog. Do you see it? RedDog is sweet, spiritual, sensitive, mischievous, smart and funny. He is a crucial part of our family, balancing out quite a few strong, stubborn personalities with his calm nature. And last week he gave us a scare.

I got a call from the school nurse telling me Soren had passed out in the cafeteria during lunch. I rushed to the school, where he was in the nurse’s office with low blood pressure. He and I spent the rest of the afternoon at the doctor having multiple tests run.

I can’t begin to tell you all the thoughts that went through my head while I was driving to get him. Mostly a lot of praying and asking God to please not let anything be wrong with my boy. There were also some tears as I imagined him in pain or being scared in any way. Oh, how these Momma emotions get me!

He had blood drawn for the first time. I could tell he was nervous, so I stood right next to him and talked to him while it was happening. He did great.

He also had an EKG done. We took this picture to send to Ollie so he could see that Soren is being turned into a robot. I loved that he thought of his little brother when all I could do is think of him.

All of his tests turned out completely normal. His blood pressure, which was read several times during the visit, was also normal. We don’t know why he fainted. But I am so glad he is okay.

I love Soren. He is so special to me. Even though this was a tough day, I’m glad we got to spend it together.

December 9, 2015

I Swear I Don’t Make This Stuff Up …


This post is going to be all about my last born child. He is cracking us up on a daily basis. It is important that we record his antics for his future children.

I took this picture last week while he was doing his most loathed chore: putting the silverware away. He’s so good at it, though, and I hate doing it even more than him, so it will be his job until I say otherwise. His hair is its own entity. We call it “The Wave” and he loves it. He won’t leave for school unless I’ve sprayed and gelled it up. It makes him extra spunky and cute.

Four Owlie stories need recording currently. Please bear with me.

1. Ollie lost a beloved Winter hat at school yesterday. When I asked him about it this morning, he told me he left it in the bathroom. I questioned the validity of that statement, wondering why on earth he’d have his hat in the bathroom. He very sternly reminded me, “Because that is the first place we go when we get off the bus, Mom! To wash our hands – you know – so we don’t spread germs!” Then he put his hands on his hips and gave me this look of sympathy/exasperation and muttered under his breath, “I think you need to go back to Kindergarten.” I laughed hard.

2. Ollie got some new shoes and sweatpants recently. The shoes are black canvas high tops. They’re hip. The sweats have a modern cut to them – tapered at the ankle (skinny sweats?) but baggier at the top. He wore the shoes and sweats to school before Thanksgiving with a shirt that said “EPIC” on it. His teacher texted me later that day and told me to ask Ollie if he’d learned a new dance at school. So I did. He then proceeded to bust out a perfect MC Hammer dance. It seems his teacher and teaching assistant are children of the 90’s, like me, and the minute they saw his pants and high tops they couldn’t help but think “Stop! Hammertime.” Ollie is a good sport who just happens to love to dance. Cracked me up!

3. I got another text from Ollie’s teacher this week. She wanted to know if I’d sent Ollie to school with money to give his friends. I quickly replied with a big HECK, NO!!! But then I remembered he’d earned $2 from doing some yard work for my mom over the weekend, so I mentioned this to the teacher. She then asked, “Are you sure he didn’t earn $40, because that’s what he’s trying to give his friend, Angelica.” Holy Cow! My six year old is trying to win girls over with cold hard cash! The money came home in an envelope and Ollie is forbidden from taking money to school from now on.

4. Ollie has had a pretty bad sinus infection for the last almost month. Lots of coughing, antibiotics and nose blowing going on around these parts. His teacher called me last week and I was immediately nervous when I saw her name on the caller ID. Turns out she was calling to see if she could text me a video of Ollie she’d taken at school that day. But first she had to give me the background behind the video. Apparently Ollie had been telling her ALL about his mucus for two weeks straight. He’d interrupt her lessons to go spit in the sink, after which she’d shout across the room: “RINSE IT! WASH UP!”. He affectionately referred to it as his “mucus situation”. Cue the video, which was taken after a round of Z-Pack antibiotics finally started drying him up. She caught him with his finger so far up his nose he was practically touching his brain! When she asked him what was going on, she got him on video telling her “My boogers have turned to rocks! They are hard and stuck up in there. So I have to work to get them out.”

I swear, I don’t make any of this stuff up. He is a keeper, that little Owl of mine!


December 3, 2015

The Test . . .


The Hubby and I made a conscious decision at the beginning of this school year that it was time. We were ready for Chris, who is a Senior, to really take charge of his life, his decisions and the consequences of his choices. We felt like we’d done 98% of the teaching we were meant to do, and now it was time to stand aside and let him put the teachings, advice, morals and principles we’d given him to the test.

Disclaimer: As a Type A, control freak, perfectionist type, this was not an easy thing for me to do. I wanted to hold his hand forever and tell my little white haired baby boy it would all be okay. Then I wanted to climb into his bed and snuggle him to sleep. Which would totally creep him out.

We assured him he could do it. And we let him know we’d be right here to advise if he needed us for anything. Then we held our breath and let him go to it.

At the beginning of the school year, the principal asked Chris and three of his close friends to lead the Raider Riot. It is the student cheering section at all sporting events and it is CRAZY. Chris and Co. are in charge of  maintaining enthusiasm and school spirit during games (despite losing). The leaders are extremely good at their jobs – dressing in crazy costumes, yelling their hearts out, tweeting an texting details for all games like what to wear and where to be. Chris takes the position seriously. The level at which The Riot excels is a huge matter of pride for the Senior class.

Two incidents have occurred while Chris has been a Riot leader so far this year that have tested him in big ways. We have watched as he navigated through them, making difficult but mature decisions. We have advised a little. We have mostly stood by in awe A LOT.

Early in the year a large, very expensive flag embroidered with the school name and emblem was stolen by a student from an opposing school while at an away game. Chris was responsible for the flag at the time it was taken. After looking frantically for the flag, he let athletic directors from both schools know it was missing, informed police who were at the game, and let his “inner circle” know what had happened so they could put the word out.

The unintelligent teenager who stole the flag posted a picture of it in his possession on social media. Within minutes of the tweet, Chris knew where the flag was. Despite wanting to go get the flag himself, Chris turned what evidence he had over to adults and let them handle the situation. And we breathed a sigh of relief.

Three weeks ago, his school played cross town rivals and won in a huge upset in the last seconds of the game. But it was what happened during the game that was a bigger deal to us. Two students from our school, in a show of very poor judgment, decided to bring a marijuana bong into the Raider Riot, pass it  around to multiple students and smoke it during the game. One of Chris’ cohorts reported it to the principal who was in attendance at the game.

The principle pulled all four of the Riot leaders aside and confronted them about the alleged drug use. She asked them point blank, “Is this true?”. They replied that it was. She then asked them, “Will you tell me who it is?”. Stop and think about what this question means to a teenager. She was basically asking them to snitch, tell on, rat out, and give up fellow students. They knew it would not go over well with the student population. They knew they were risking social ostracism. They knew what they had to do.  And they gave her the names. The students were removed by authorities immediately in accordance with the School District’s zero tolerance drug policy.

Within an hour of arriving home, Chris found that Twitter was alight with messages of hatred, anger and vitriol towards him and the other Riot leaders. Horrible things were said about my son, his friends, their religions, their character. It was bad. I have since decided that Twitter is a place where people hide behind anonymity and say the stupidest things they would never utter in real life. But I digress. Instead of engaging in the lunacy, Chris made a simple blanket statement. He told the Twitterverse (or whatever it’s called) that the Riot leaders had to make a decision that night. And they decided that marijuana smoking at football games is not who they are. It’s not who County Raiders are. It’s not how they want to be seen by other schools. To those who thought it wasn’t his business, he reminded that the Raider Riot is HIS BUSINESS. And if anyone was struggling with the decision made by the Riot Leaders, he offered that they come find him personally, listen rationally to what actually occurred and then make a decision about the situation. He told them to leave the other three Riot Leaders out of it. He would bear the responsibility for the choice.

To be clear, the Riot leaders made the RIGHT choice. And they were being persecuted for turning in students who made the choice to smoke illegal drugs at a school sponsored event where uniformed police officers and multiple school administrators were present. Um, yeah.

The frenzy died down after about a week, but multiple students we pulled into the office of the administration and warned to back off the social media bashing. A week after this happened The Hubby and I approached the principal after a volleyball game to say hello. Her words were all I needed to hear. “What a remarkable young man you son is,” she said. “We need more kids like Chris who are willing to make the hard choices when it counts the most. I am lucky to have him at my school.”

And so, the picture with this post is symbolic. The Hubby and I are actually standing next to Chris in the photo. You can see our shoulders touching his. We are here for him. But he is standing alone at the same time. He is making choices that count. And he is standing tall.

I truly couldn’t be more proud to call him my son.

November 12, 2015

Life In The Trenches …


I have come to this place where I write my heart and preserve my family’s memories only forty-four times this year. I mourn the loss of my writing days. I read things I’ve written in the past and wonder, “Who is that person? How did she express herself so freely? What happened to her?”

That person is still me, but now I am “in the trenches”. It’s a phrase my mother-in-law uses often to describe this period of my life. It fits. I am doing daily battle with laundry, homework, teenage emotions, activities, church callings, adult stress and middle age. It’s rough and wonderful and hard and rewarding. I find myself being needed and used up on a daily basis to the point that at the end of the day there is just nothing left to give to this space of mine for writing. I drag my worn out body up to bed each night and practically fall asleep reading my scriptures and a little Sherlock Holmes.

In the midst of trench life, this beautiful daughter of mine turned sixteen. If I could go back, I’d tell sixteen year old me to be best friends with sixteen year old Hannah. She’s got grace and humor and creativity and flair. She makes me laugh so hard! She’s such a bright corner of my world.

She’s going through some difficult things with friends at school right now. It has been hard to be an observer, but I’m grateful she talks to me and is making choices that will keep her safe, healthy and happy. I keep reminding her high school is such a brief period of time even though it seems like it’s the whole world right now.

In the next few weeks I plan (tentatively) to write about some of our trench experiences. The things that have been happening are helping to shape us, refine us and cement who we are and who we want to be. Our kids are learning and we are learning from them. The battle is real.

Reporting from the trenches,


October 1, 2015

Dear Son …


Dear Son,

Yesterday, just minutes after you finished your race, Conrad’s mom approached me.  “Are you Chris’ mom?” she said.  I answered yes.

Then out of nowhere, she hugged me!

I’m sure the look of bewilderment on my face caused her to explain further. She told me that two weeks ago, at that impossibly hilly, impossibly hot Oatlands race, her son had collapsed. And you, my son, were there to help him. She said you didn’t leave his side. You rode in the medical vehicle with him. You stayed with him as the medics helped him.

She was so grateful. She said your presence was such a comfort to Conrad and to her.  Then she congratulated me on doing such a good job raising such a compassionate, kind son. She may have even said something about you being “at the next level” when it comes to teenagers.

I have to admit, as a mother, hearing something like this is akin to getting a huge bonus at an incredibly tough job. But I need you to know that I immediately checked myself and told her that everything she told me is just who you are. It has nothing to do with me.

You are a really wonderful person. I am in awe of all that you do and who you have become.

Best of all, you didn’t come home from the race and tell us that you were so helpful to Conrad. You just did it and moved on without thought of reward or praise.

So, son, even though yesterday was your best showing at a race all season long and I was screaming your name as you crossed the line, the thing that made me proudest is learning that you helped another human being in a time of need. That is winning.

I love you. Keep on running!


September 15, 2015

Wrapping Up Summer . . .


The first week of school was the last week our neighborhood pool stayed open. Temperatures were in the mid-nineties so we avoided homework a few days and went to the pool.

It’s been a great pool Summer for Owlie. He started the Summer out in water wings and ended it jumping in all by himself, swimming around like a little fish.


We noticed early on that he was using one hand to plug his nose whenever he was in the water, not matter what we told him or tried to teach him. He just wasn’t confident about blowing bubbles out of his nose yet.

I had a pair of snorkling goggles his size at home, so we let him wear them and it immediately solved the problem since his nose was covered. He then had two arms free to actually swim!


I usually get in my suit and sit on the side of the pool unless it’s really hot. I can keep an eye on my little guy who plays in the shallow end mostly doing this:


Sorry if that picture blinded you. Our kids are a little on the pale side. This is Owlie’s tan after the entire Summer. He wore a surf shirt every time we were at the pool until the day I took this picture!

So long, Summer. The leaves are falling in our back yard and the temperatures have finally dipped down into the seventies. I need S’mores and a cardigan and I couldn’t be happier about it!