April 28, 2015

The Why …

pink dogwood

Last weekend we had a Family History Date Night at church. The Hubby and I were in charge of a little booth about hosting a family reunion with a family history focus – something we’ll be doing later this Summer. I brought several of our ancestral photographs from the gallery wall in our upstairs hallway, a few biographies of ancestors, and one of my blog books to display on the table.

As people came by our booth, they looked at our information and pictures, thumbed through the books and asked questions. The biggest draw to the table, however, was my blog book. Inevitably the questions about my blog, blogging and how I got it printed into a book would arise. And they all made me feel tremendous guilt.

Finally our Bishop’s wife asked me, “Do you still write on your blog?” When I told her no, that I’d decided to take a little break, she replied, “What a shame. I can’t think of a better way to record a family’s story. Your kids are going to fight over these books some day.”


For the longest time, writing on this blog was a pressure for me. It was about writing to this imaginary collective mass of readers (small mass, mind you) who I tried to visualize and meet the needs of. It was draining. I felt like I was constantly battling myself to come up with interesting things to write about that would please other people. In doing so, I ended up disappointing myself most of the time, feeling like I was no good at it, and that I couldn’t live up to the self inflicted hype.

Today I am back writing on this blog for one express purpose: to record the beauty and mess of the daily workings of my family that equals our history. I hope you don’t feel let down in any way to know that this blog just isn’t about you – who ever you are. It’s about me. It’s about us. The Travis and Samantha Lee Family.

I wouldn’t be back here writing if I didn’t believe this is where God wants me to be. As I have increased my understanding of those who came before me recently, I have realized if I don’t keep writing here, there will be no record of us for our future generations to have. I want to be a help to them in the same way that my ancestors have been to me – helping me through my trials by inspiring me with their actions in hard times. I want them to know things about us, like that we had a tradition of eating pizza every Friday or going to the beach in Delaware for Memorial Day. I want my children to remember little things that I have forgotten from my own childhood.

So this little blog is going to stay true to its rediscovered purpose. And I am shedding myself of the pressure to please others. My family has got to come first.

And that is why I am back to blogging.

[branches cut from the dogwood tree in my back yard]

April 27, 2015

Harry Potter With Malfoy Hair . . .


This is the tale of a boy with a scar, an owl, a wand and Draco Malfoy’s hair.

Last month Owlie’s school had a special day to dress up as a favorite book character. My little buddy and I had just finished reading the first Harry Potter book together – me reading aloud, him listening intently to every word and asking questions at least every minute or so.

It was no surprise to me that he wanted to go to school as Harry Potter and as luck would have it, another boy in our family had already been obsessed, so I had all the elements of the costume on hand.

Black robes? Check. Gryffindor tie? Check. Round spectacles? Check. Wand? Check. Owl? Check. (sorry Hedwig, we only had a brown owl) Scar? Check. The only problem? My guy has hair the color of Draco Malfoy, archnemesis to our raven haired hero.

Ollie said he’d be fine going as Malfoy. That set off a fifteen minute long speech by me about how it would not be fine to be the biggest jerk at Hogwarts – cue me listing off all the things that make Draco Malfoy so bad. I think he got the picture. We tousled his hair and sent him off as a blond Harry.

Get ready. Here’s the best part of the story.

When we got to school the kids were all dressed up. There was a ninja turtle. There was a Frozen princess. There was an Olivia the pig. But one boy’s mom had forgotten it was book character day and this little fellow burst out into tears upon entering the classroom and seeing that he was the only kid not dressed up.

Ollie was washing his hands and watched the whole scene play out. Without any prompting from me, he hopped down from the hand wash stool, walked up to his classmate and said, “Don’t worry. Here, you can have this (hands boy wand and owl) and be dressed up as Harry Potter’s friend.” The boy immediately stopped crying and they went over to the carpet to sit down next to each other for circle time.

I left the room with a full heart and thought to myself that Draco Malfoy would never have done that. It was a Harry Potter move for sure.

April 26, 2015

My Light …


Today sweet RedDog leaned over to me during church and whispered in my ear. He had just heard an apostle of the Lord say, “We must always keep our light visible for others to see. We must pray that our light will shine on those who need it in their lives.”

What did my boy whisper to me?

“Mom, you need to start writing on your blog again. It’s kind of your light.”


Here I am. My light feels a little dim if I’m being honest. I am currently in a whirlwind of stress, obligations, activities and life right now. I feel a bit tossed about, disoriented and disappointing.

But I still have a light. I’m humming “This Little Light of Mine” as I write. So for today I’m going to pretend my light is like one of those hand crank flashlights. Writing on this blog is one crank. The more I write, the more cranks I get, the brighter this light of mine is going to get.

The dark is no fun for me. The light . . . the light is where it’s at.

(photo via Luke Anderson)

March 17, 2015

When You Have A Collector . . .


My RedDog is a collector. I use that term in place of  hoarder because it makes me feel better. He loves to hold on to things, some meaningful, others complete junk. Periodically he and I will go through his room and root out the trash, separating it from the things that have meaning. It think it’s important to help a kid who likes to collect stuff realize what is worth holding on to because the reality is that you just can’t keep everything.

One thing that RedDog collects that I can appreciate is rocks. For the longest time his collection sat in a box in his closet gathering dust, only to be opened when a new special rock was added to the numbers.  Then when he was a Cub Scout he had the opportunity to really organize the collection, including finding a way to display it.

He thought an egg carton would be a great display case. I vetoed that idea since I don’t consider styrofoam to be aesthetically pleasing. I knew my mom had an old printing tray in her basement that she wasn’t using, so we leaned it up on his bookshelf and each slot got a rock.

 printers tray

We put the most special rocks – some geodes, crystals, a gigantic fake diamond and fool’s gold – front and center and added shells from our trips to the beach as a final touch.


RedDog loves his rock collection. I love that it is on display. I don’t love helping him dust it, but that’s okay because I want him to know that his collection is important to me. I want him to feel that I love what he loves.

map wall

Except for the twenty-nine silly band bracelets I threw away last week. Seriously. J-U-N-K.

March 10, 2015

A Farewell To Winter . . .


Here is my small Owlie on the precipice of the biggest hill in our neighborhood, ready to take the plunge. Last week we had a wonderful snowstorm that cancelled school for two days. On the second day (our twelfth day of cancelled school since Christmas) I was desperately in need of a break from my children, so I sent all four of them, including two reluctant teenagers, off to the big hill to sled.

I’m so happy I did! Chris took his camera with him, intending to only photograph the others, but the kid in him won out and he took multiple trips down the hill and Hannah caught him in the act. All of these pictures are precious to me.


RedDog has a fierce sledding face!


And then there is Hannah. Out of twelve pictures, she had this same face going down the hill every single time. She cracks me up!


If you want an idea of what the pecking order is like in our home, I give you exhibit A. Poor Ollie. He has no idea that a giant snowball is about to land on his head. And Chris and Hannah sat up on the hill watching the whole thing play out while taking pictures of it. I have succeeded as a mother.


The baby recovered and made the best of the sunny afternoon. It was actually a big deal. He made it up that hill, walking in the snow, over thirty times. Slept like a rock that night, too!


Probably my favorite pictures from the day involve my bookends. I am aware that they don’t have that much time left together. They have a mutual admiration and love for each other that is really sweet. Brothers forever.



After almost two hours of sledding the kids came home exhausted, sunburned (bad mom) and happy while I was able to workout, take a shower and get some laundry done by myself. We are all officially filled to the brim with snow love and snow days and can say a hearty farewell to Winter while hoping beyond hope that Spring is quickly coming.

(Photo credits to Chris & Hannah || Budding Photographers)

March 3, 2015

At Five Point Five . . .


I am about to admit something really difficult.

He’s a boy, not a baby.

But I’m not going to tell him that because I need him to stay little forever.  At five and a half, here are some things I’ve been wanting to remember about my Owlie right now:

  • He has a fantastic imagination! Sometimes he’ll come and ask me what he can do that is fun. I usually tell him I don’t know, but I think he can come up with something. Next, I’ll find him in his room or the basement imagining up some sort of fun in outer space or with puppies.
  • He is known to dislike just about anything that is dinnerish (mixed foods, casseroles, etc) or green vegetables. Whenever he’s told he has to eat them, he blurts out, “I can’t. I’m fasting”.
  • He thinks giving people zerberts is hilarious. He has also been known to spank the Elders (missionaries) in the bum, despite us telling him not to repeatedly.
  • He sleeps with at least three stuffed puppies each night.
  • He just finished listening to me read him the first Harry Potter book, so I let him watch the movie with me. Now he is afraid to be alone. I don’t mind it, except when I’m trying to use the bathroom.
  • He can do the following jobs perfectly: make his bed, separate his laundry, put his laundry away, put the silverware away, empty the shoe basket, clean up toys, dust. He cannot, however, do any of them without WHINING.
  • He loves Legos. He really, really loves Legos.

He’s still my best bud. We are together an awful lot. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when he’s gone to Kindergarten next year. I love him so much!