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

-- Robert Frost

Monday, March 16, 2015

follow your dreams

A long time ago, Newel and I walked our Alma mater campus with a tiny little four-year-old hand in hand between us and a toddler on one hip.

We pointed out places we'd been, memories each location held. Then took a stroll through the university book store, let that four-year-old select her favorite candy from the massive counter collection, and took her outside to sit and bask in the sunshine on the emerald green quad. 

And then I said it.

"If you work really hard, one day you can go to college too and every day can be like this day."

I was a really young mom with very little experience. What can I say.

Poor child never took another easy breath beyond that moment and my guilt grew.

Until recently when I saw her, all grown up and oh so ready, achieve what she'd put her every effort into. 

Tell us how you really feel, Celia.

Oh my goodness ... she's really going to go!

And she's planning to do it the soonest she can ... like summer term. I nearly hyperventilate with each Sunday that passes by marking another week down.

I watched all of her friends, with their acceptance letters to individual colleges, every one headed into a different direction, girls I've come to love.

I had a hard time keeping it together.

I've nurtured and taught and done all a mom can and it's time to let go and let her do it.

And then I caught this man who is such a "planner" sitting with her in his own thrill and excitement ... assisting in setting up housing, paying tuition, talking classes, creating budgeting plans, looking at job openings, and spread sheeting all she'd need to care for her own needs in the great big world. Heads together, they planned and planned all through the afternoon hours.

I had to hide to recompose.

I've loved every stage. Newborns. Toddlers (even stubborn ones;). Creativity of elementary kids. Social outreach of pre-teens. Even the foibles of teenagers make me laugh ... in secret.

Each child has been so very different with a myriad of talents, abilities and interests. No two are alike.

But for each and every child, watching as their dreams come to fruition when they have given 100% ... whatever those dreams may be and wherever those dreams may take them ...

Nothing beats watching them BECOME.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

dating years

I've had many an interesting conversation of varied thought on the subject of dating.

It would appear to be a pretty opinionated topic.

In our family, dating begins at 16. And man alive, if a girl doesn't wait and wait to be asked out on a date! Yet, regardless how much pep talk a mom can cheer, she'll still let her self esteem crumble if the requests don't come pouring in.

Now ....

I'm about as traditional as the next gal. I teach my boys to get doors for ladies, pull out chairs, walk dates to the door, pay for dates and ask women to marry them. I teach my girls that every invitation deserves their full enthusiasm, lady-like behavior and appropriate appreciation.

But ...

I do not see why a girl can't reciprocate, show that she's thoughtful, date just for fun, break the ice, and once in awhile do the asking and foot the bill.

It beats sitting around licking a cake batter spoon on a Friday night.

I know this doesn't help current social trends. Women can be considered too forward. The male role can feel devalued. Feels like social medias are stunting the art of conversation. And boys worry about sending their attentions toward sometimes over-eager girls.

Regardless, I know how much Newel appreciated when I took (and sometimes still take) the reigns and planned a little fun. I've tried to teach my girls that every once in awhile a guy likes it when a girl leaves brownies on the hood of his car just because.

And right or wrong, I've also encouraged that rather than feeling lonely on a weekend, planning a group date is way more exciting. Once a girl is recognized as fun rather than frightening, those calls do come in and sometimes the young men really appreciate the asking. 

(And in a not too distant future, I hope they realize a successful marriage is more about giving than taking.)

Sure enough, the give and take has made life exciting around here for quite some time.

What feels like a bit ago now, Celia transformed our living room into a catered dinner party for Sadie Hawkins. Annie served as the best waitress ever.

That flapper dress with all that fringe was a real treasure to sew. ;)

There was the Chopped group date.

Where date "teams" chose a meal course and a crazy ingredient. The race was on to the grocery store and back again to produce an entire meal by a certain time.

Here's a super blurry pic of the dates donning their team t-shirts and heading out the door to shop. I couldn't have been more surprised at how pristine they left my kitchen after the date was over! Such great kids.

Then before we knew it, Christian was 16 and dreaming up double date fun. Along with all that I was trying to teach a daughter, I found there were equally important lessons to teach a son.

Like how important it is to have fun with a lot of different girls with different personalities. And how being a perfect gentleman teaches a young woman how she deserves to be treated. And what a change he can make in how a girl views herself by his interaction with her on those dates.  And that believe it or not, his experience with her can be a memory she shares with her own daughters of a distant future when they experience their own insecurities.

And now, I just love that he and Celia get into planning these creative dates together. 

This was the first of many.

A scavenger hunt at the mall for things like old receipts, a hanger, a french fry from the food court, a tag, a window display photo bomb, the smell of perfume from the counter on your date ....

I heard it ended with hilarious stories to retell and laugh about. 

The date concluded with take out Chinese food picnic style in Newel's office reception and a game of adult Headbandz.

It as so cute, I wanted to go ;)

This time they headed out with Ziploc baggies of change to race against the clock purchasing bowling shirts at Salvation Army. That basket held a white table cloth, candles, champagne glasses and plastic "silverware" from the dollar store to dress up a table at Chick-fil-A followed by bowling.

On this date, they dressed up a table at Qdoba and wore sombreros and mustaches through dinner, then went to an indoor trampoline place for some fun.

Thanks for the borrowed pictures posted on facebook from one of their dates! This was taken after they determined eating was impossible with the fake mustaches.

I never knew I'd love this phase so much. Not all the time, mind you ;) But, watching the dating game is certainly a favorite. And seeing these kids learn and grow, priceless.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

eighteen years

There's all sorts of stuff a college bound girl needs and the birthday wish list seems endless just by looking at those needs.

But Newel suggested for her birthday, we simply give her a letter from each of us.

I got halfway through mine. Writing memory after memory of a girl I hoped I'd not missed a moment with.

And then my emotions got the best of me and took over my weekend.

I watched her with a group of girls whom I consider my friends. Each and every one of them headed in a differing direction. 

It occurred to me that an era was closing as another one opens. A time of decision. A time where decisions lead to a future. A time where only Heavenly guidance for every decision will lead down a path made custom for her. A time when an earthly parental hand will seem far away but a celestial one need not be so distant.

And the essent-iality (I know that's not a word) of teaching children to reach.

And how in the world we got from here.

To here.

So darn quickly.

And how ready she is to meet that great big world.

Happy Birthday my girl. I've already written it all in a horribly tear stained letter and there just isn't enough mascara on earth so I say simply ...

You have been my world. And when you go, you take the first piece of my heart with you.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

factual friday -- happenings

Fact is ....

We spend every single day waiting for the mail delivery and the college acceptance letters that may come our way.

It makes me hyperventilate. Because every second my kitchen is filled with chaos, is a second closer to a time when it's not.

Eliza came home from school a bit ago, proudly announcing that a boy in the kindergarten class had asked her to marry him. I told her he would need to ask her dad and did she think he was brave enough to do that.

"Well ... he IS brave ... " she said in her little sing song voice, " ... and he does flush the toilet every time he uses our kindie class bathroom .... "

What more could a girl ask for, I say.

Newel says that's better than two thirds of our family.

That girl has a heart of gold. This particular day she came skipping out of the school excitedly. She climbed in the car and proclaimed that she had been saving her "good behavior pennies" to purchase one of the larger items in the classroom "good behavior store" just so she could get Charlotte these stickers .... because she knows how much Charlotte loves stickers more than life itself.

Man O man, I thought my heart would burst with love for that girl who won't let me brush her incredibly curly mass of tangled hair.

So much of a tangled mass, we had to go for big girl haircuts because though, I can cut hair, I'm not proficient with spiral curls.

Charlotte took her bang trim very seriously, too.

Those two are peas in a pod. This is my view most mornings after they emerge all frowzy haired and cuddly to begin their morning by sitting on the heater vent in the living room.

The entire family agreed to try the whole30 plan with me. That's no preservatives, dairy, soy, gluten, sugar, corn, blah, blah, blah and so on and so forth ... just to see if it would cure all ills.

We've since made it a lifestyle. It really works. We've improved winter aches, teenage acne, stomach upset, mood swings.

Yep, it was pretty time consuming at first but now that we are through mid February, we have a routine down and plenty of simple favorite meals that make it easy.

And the kids love the lunches.

This is what happens if I don't pay attention to what is going on behind me while I'm making said lunches.

Newel and I swapped office spaces. I started remodeling my space with this mural of photography.

Now when kids are arguing in the kitchen down below, I can come sit here in the quiet and remember how much they really do love each other ... and how much I do love them.  ;)

Christian is in the full swing of driving. Only ... I had to borrow his car one day and I found love notes from girls at school in the cup holders. Hmmm.....

Grant was pleased as punch to go on a field trip to a place that let's you do a grown-up job for a day. 

They have to do a job interview and resume to get the position they really want. He was trying so hard for the bank president position. That smile says it all.

We celebrated the 100th day of school in style.

Eliza made that cape she's wearing complete with 100 Elsa and Anna stickers from "Frozen". Wish I had a better picture of that thing. She was sure in love with it.

Another high school play is in the works so it was time to take cast member head shots for the playbills. 

It's my favorite.

I love taking those teenage insecurities and turning them around when they see how amazing they look through the lens of my camera.

Having been a theater kid myself ... I just love these kids. Here are just a few: 

The elementary school PTA held a daddy/daughter sweetheart sock hop. This girl brought that flier right home and had Newel put it on his calendar.

Then waited every day for it to happen.

So of course we had to whip up a poodle skirt to wear for the 50's theme.

She nearly bubbled over with excitement for her "date" that night.

I couldn't help myself. I had to sneak over to the school after they left and hide around the corners for some pictures.

They were in the zone for the hula hoop competition.

That dancin' daddy is a heart melter. Oh, how much do I love him!

And then they spotted my hiding place.

We had our Young Women's New Beginnings program at church.

To welcome these beautiful girls who will be joining us this year.

But I tell ya ... when I see all of these incredible ladies in force like this, I feel so lucky to be among them. They are a spectacular strength and oh, how I love every one of them.

Valentine's day approached and I passed the mailbox making assistance to other ample hands.

Let's just say there was some genuine excitement that day.

There were other secret valentine wishes headed out my door that morning, too. Including a brownie making session that began at midnight the night before to celebrate the day with a middle school lunch table of friends.

My Valentine whisked me off for a weekend downtown while Celia held down the fort for our get away.

We sat by the pool soaking in unseasonably warm February weather, ate at favorite restaurants, and explored walking distance sights.

Denver is such a beautiful city.

Renewed my love for art museums which I came away feeling like I should do more often. Just look at the light in this gallery!

My cute date who didn't want to be my photography subject.

We refrained from touching the exhibits made out of ribbon and tape ... which was really, really hard to resist.

I could have pulled up a chair and stared at the Monet's all day. I just love those tiny pastel brush strokes that all add up to a serene picture.

We vowed to get our kids more involved in the art world.

February is almost gone. And though that feels like a random jumble of what we've been up to, we've done our best soak it all in. The good the bad and everything in between. Time just seems to fly.

Those are our facts.

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