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!

September 1, 2015

On His Way …


Yesterday the smallest Lee went to Kindergarten!

He woke up really early, proclaiming that he was no longer nervous, just really excited. All morning long he kept asking me if it was time for school yet. I assured him the time would come and he should get his chores done, get dressed, play for a while and have lunch before school.

He obliged me with the traditional picture in front of our red door. This look on his face is all sorts of killing me. It is sweetness to the max.


We spent time on our driveway trying to shrink the amount of time before the bus came. He ran around like a crazy pants kid who was really stoked about something. He looked very dapper in a button down shirt and shorts, hair slicked back just so.


We walked together to the bus stop. Actually, he walked faster in front of me, but I didn’t mind because I wanted to capture how independent he seemed and how big his back pack was on his little buddy body.

walking away

We got to the stop about eight minutes early. On a good day with no complications. Not on the first day, though. It ended up being a fifteen minute wait, during which my little Owlie turned to me and said, “It’s okay, Mom. You can go home now and I’ll just get on the bus by myself.”

Slay me now! There is no way I’m letting him be big and not need me like that! We waited together. I kissed him about fifty times. We hugged a bunch and then I could hear the bus coming. He practically jumped for joy.

Per my begging, he turned for a quick smile before finding a seat on the bus and leaving my heart feeling strangely empty and yet full at the same time.


And then, he was on his way.

bye ollie

August 20, 2015

Now That Summer Is All But Over . . .

ollie slide

I feel like this picture represents me facing Back-to-School. Eyes closed, nose plugged, just waiting for it to engulf us.

This Summer has been a study in contrasts. We’ve been very busy with camps and reunions. There have also been slow weeks where the atrocious B word (that’s BORED, if you didn’t know) has escaped out of a few mouths.

The beginning of Summer was glorious, cool and green. Our yard looked like a million bucks. Now the grass in back is brown and crunchy and we are shouting for joy because we finally had some rain today.

We have laughed and experienced true joy with family and friends. We have made glorious memories. We have also learned sad things that have made us weep and worry, pray and prepare. It is hard for me to imagine feeling such feelings at each end of the spectrum almost simultaneously.

Our kids are about to enter a year of first and lasts. We have a first time driver in Hannah. We have a first time bus rider in Owlie. Chris is in his last year of high school. I have to watch myself or I could view this whole year with Chris as just a long list of lasts.

In July at the Hubby’s family reunion, Owlie was in water wings, plugging his nose each time he entered the pool. Now, a mere month later, he is swimming in the pool like a fish with goggles, in the deep end, no nose pluggged. It finally clicked for him and I am so happy he figured it out.

I know going back to school will me much the same for me. I’ll figure it out. It will click for all of us. We will find our rhythm and swim like we’ve always known how to handle the water.

August 11, 2015

One Year …

chris tie


That’s me swallowing. Trying to push down the giant lump in my throat because I have one year left with this boy. One more year to love on him physically, teach and advise him while in his company, laugh at his goofy antics, tell him to clean up his pigsty of a room, tickle his feet to wake him up in the morning, make all his favorite foods, create lasting memories and hope that I’ve done my part as his momma to prepare him for life on his own.

And that’s why I say gulp.

Sometimes we’ll all be driving in the car together, kids probably fighting, and I try to imagine what it is going to be like in a year when there is one less person in the car. I can’t. It is too strange to even think of.

I know cutting the apron strings and letting children go out on their own is part of this job I signed up for as a parent. But knowing it and actually doing it are two different things.

We are already inundated with Senior stuff and the school year hasn’t even begun. Yearbook pictures, college applications, scholarship applications. I’m trying to stay ahead of it all so I don’t get swallowed. I’m trying to not fear the year and let it control me, but instead control it and have plenty of space in between activities and demands to create memorable moments with my first born child.

I love Chris so much. We really have settled into a place removed from hard core instructional parenting to watching him take applying the lessons we’ve taught him over the years. I see us as advisors – consultants of a sort. There is a beautiful give and take that is occurring. It is not without glitches and setbacks, but I can see him becoming the man he’s meant to be.

All this to say my mind is full of love and thoughts of stopping time and making time count and all sorts of other sentimental freak out stuff. Good times, for sure.