Sunday, November 1, 2015

Then there were none...

In our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is no paid clergy.  The whole worldwide organization is run by us.  Common, regular, imperfect, amazing us.  Leadership positions are extended via a Spiritually-inspired invitation--or call--to serve in a certain position for an indeterminate amount of time.  Being released from a calling can be due to personal circumstances, moving, or just because the Lord knows what's best and sometimes what's best is to do something else.

I've had lots of callings since my teenage years; some I've loved and some...well, some I've loved less.

In my current ward (geographical chunking of Church members into congregations), I've had many callings.  Just a few short months ago, actually I had four.  At once.  I know, but that's what God needed me to do & I could handle it.

One, Interpreter, was rather a moot point, because the Deaf girl I interpreted for for two years moved.  I'd just never technically been released.

Another, Cub Committee Chair, was one I had for a few years.  It took me a while to figure out what my responsibilities were, but had it figured out by the time I was released & Aimee was called.  Naturally!

My third calling was to be the Assistant Activity Day Leader.  I really enjoyed this one.  Twice a month, Aimee (she was the leader) and I would get together with the 8-11 yo girls to play, craft, serve, learn and teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A little over a year ago I was called to be in the Primary presidency as the 2nd Counselor.  This was a little overwhelming, but fun.  Spending two hours every Sunday hanging out with great ladies, getting to know the children in our ward, and teaching and learning about Jesus via His scriptures was amazing!  I joked that between Cubs, Activity Days and Primary, if you were a child in our ward there was no avoiding me.  Mwahahaha!

Last December the presidency was reorganized, and I changed to the 1st Counselor.  The secretary stayed the same, but the other two ladies were new.

Then a new Activity Day leader was called, as I was a little bogged down & needed to share the blessings.  Shortly afterward the Cub calling was re-filled & I had just one (plus my phantom nonexistant calling).

And today I was released from Primary altogether.

To be frank, I'm not ready.  I'm not done.  I love my calling and am sad to see it go.  But I also understand that callings come and callings go.  I've learned what I need to learn; I've taught what I need to teach.  Others need to be in that position to learn and grow and bless others in ways that I can't.  I'll miss the kids, and I'm going to have a reeeallly hard time sitting still in my own grown-up classes now.

I'm curious where the Lord will put me next.  Where He needs me, where my talents can help others, and what I need to learn there.  But in the meantime, I'll have a little more time to focus on my family. And I'll enjoy it.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


The start of every school year makes me notice the ways that my children have changed.  Over the summer they get lots of water and sunshine, and--much like the weeds in my garden--grow by leaps and bounds.  This fall, however, there were more changes than usual.

For the last three years, the older three kids have gone to a local school that consists of grades 1-8.  Abby has thrived there.  It's been a really good environment for her; she made good friends, developed good talents and started to learn who she really is.  It's been fine for Alex.  He was a good example for his friends, and was loved in return.  He was given a random nickname that stuck: Bean.  Why 'Bean' I'll never know, but it is what it is.  In fact, Alex's 5th grade teacher dubbed Lee "Little Bean," and one day when I dropped off his cello, that same teacher called out, "Thanks Mrs. Bean!"  Lee, however, was starting to fall through the cracks. His class had a few personalities that needed attention...a lot of attention.  And for my center-stage class clown, that was hard.  His 2nd & 3rd grade teachers had their hands so full dealing with the other kids that they didn't have time to develop a relationship with Lee.  In first grade he had a phenomenal teacher that was able see great things in him.  But for the last two years he's started slipping through the cracks.  Cora had such a great experience in kindergarten, that I decided to move Lee to her school instead of visa versa.

So the changes:

Abby is now in high school.  After a 2nd season of summer swim team, she decided that she's a swimmer & joined the high school swim team of her own volition.  This in and of itself is HUGE!!!  She's making friends, cutting her swim times and actually comes home chatty!  I love it!  (Plus she's amazing herself because for the first time, she's getting muscle definition.  Too funny!)

Alex is attending the middle school that we're in the boundary for.  He's on the school football team, making friends and comes home happy, talkative and sassy.  :-)

And Lee.  Lee!  After the first week of school he was recognized as being the first to achieve the highest behavior ranking.  In the whole school!!!  He was praised for being respectful, courteous and an all-around good student.  And what's even better, 2 weeks later he earned that same ranking AGAIN!!!  (They start at green at the beginning of the week & have until the end of the week to 'clip up' to red.)  He still struggles with homework (it's death on a stick for him), but he's finally in a situation where he can be the leader that he was in kindergarten for fabulous Mrs. Slick.

Hubby is also experiencing his own school-related changes.  He found, applied & was accepted to an online LPN-RN program that he started a couple of weeks ago.  It's hard & he's trying to find a balance between work & school, but it'll be SO worth it!

These changes are ones that do my mother heart good.  But there's one change that simply amuses me.  Yep--she's only got him by about 1/4".

(Pics coming soon--there are no photos on the new laptop that we finally purchased for Hubby for school.)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Girl Clothes: History, Happiness & Heartache

It is both liberating and heartbreaking to go through the boxes and bins of kid clothes in my basement.

Hubby has taught all the children the fine art of graham cracker dipping.
Clothes that Abby wore, then passed to my brother's girls and back to Cora, then on to a my sister's daughter, then back, then to a cousin on the other side of the family.  These clothes have gotten some miles on them!

Abby's first Easter.

Some are so worn that the only place for them is the trash.

This set from my mom is stained almost beyond recognition, and Cora's growing out of Abby's green.
Others still look nearly new.

Oh, I miss those curls!  (The dress, matching bloomers and sandals are waiting to be consigned next spring.)
Too many lost part of the set in all the moving around.

I loved this set.  Abby wore it in kindergarten.  Alas, the skirt is no longer.

There are a few that started with Abby or Cora.  There are quite a few that joined the mix along the way.  (Some of my favorites are matchy dresses or nightgowns that the aforementioned brother's in-laws bought for his girls.  Super cute!)

I took a photo last weekend of Cora and her bestie cousin wearing these nightgowns.

Some go way way back when we had the time, resources and few enough cousins to do an annual grandkid photo shoot with the babies.  (There are 17 of them now.)

Who needs a teething ring when you've got toes?
Plenty have come along because Grandma loves to shop! 
Oh, my, lashes!

So instead of simply unloading a bajillion boxes onto my sister-in-law who's not done having babies, I decided to seriously edit the wardrobe.  Some to her, some to consign, and a large amount to donate.

This set matched perfectly Abby's first lemon.

But who gave my sweet girls permission to grow so big?  Abby's starting high school in a couple weeks, and Cora--my sweet Baby Botox--will be in first grade!

Two happy girls.
It was harder to go through the clothes than I thought, because it brought back so many memories.

Oh, this was a long time ago.  A long, long time ago.

I can still remember my little girls running around in those pants or that top or feeling beautiful in such a dress.

Alas, the satin ribbon on this gorgeous number was ripped almost off.

The outfit with the pale pink ruffly-butt pants that Abby wore as a teeny baby, or the one she was wearing when she took her first steps.
The top was so stained I decided to try a new tie-dye technique to make it wearable.
I failed miserably & it no longer goes with the pants, but you can't see the stains!
And the ones they fit in for such a fleetingly short time.

Cora was Lee's "Piggy Dir-loh." (Pretty Girl)
The dress that came from an older cousin that became so loved that sometimes I had to hide it so Abby'd wear something else;

She wore that pink dress well into preschool and long as she could!

Or the one that we bought when my baby brother got married;

I do not know what is up with that face, but she still makes it.
The outfits we put on Cora and were instantly reminded of what Abby looked like as a baby;

Big sister, Little sister.  I may have kept that outfit.

And the favorites:  the sparkles in that stripy shirt or the softness of that otherwise rather ugly dress.
Life is Good.  It really, really is.

And the nicknames:  the Cinderella shirt, the potholder outfit, the fish pants, Cora's "Beauta' Coat;" 
BTW--"Beauta" is short for "beautiful."  It's reversible, but was never worn as such.

The sparkly shoes.  There have been a lot of sparkles over the last 14 years, and I'm so glad we're not done yet.

This is the first pair.  Bless you, Target.  Bless you.
When Cora grows out of something, she gets excited because she can pass it along to her bestie MomIReallyWishSheCouldBeMySister cousin.
I've loved both of these skirts.  20 points if you noticed it's the same outfit Ab was wearing above.

She remembered specific items of clothing that were so loved they didn't make it to the 'pass along' or 'consign' piles; they were so 'velveteen' that they just had to go away.  There were a few that she was convinced would still fit...until she actually tried them on.  Others she just squealed and hugged as long & tight as I let her. 
Such pretty girls.

I don't regret paring down the amount of stuff in my basement.  I've been yearning for it for a long, long time.  It will be so nice to have more room to move, to breathe, to play.

Camping + Dirt = Happiness, right?  And oh, those crocs.  Did she even wear anything else?

And the future is full of so much fun with my older kids! 
I can tell who's Abby & who's Cora, but can you?

But the more I think about it, the higher likelihood that I'll cry.
Such a cute suit!  This one is in the box for my niece to use.

Because sometimes I just wish I could go back for a short time to see them, to hear them, to hold them, to kiss them.
I can almost smell her warm skin.

 I guess I'll have to be content to hug them for as long & tight as they let me.

PS--with very few exceptions, I've handled each & every item of clothes & shoes pictured in the last week.  It was tactile walk down memory lane.  *sigh*

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I might be crazy.

I've come to the realization that I might be crazy.  At the very least, my brain works in a manner that is unlike most.  Especially when it is under duress.  And by 'duress' I mean 'illness.'

As proof, I offer Exhibit #1: this post.  Who on earth waxes Suessical when their child has hand, foot & mouth disease?  Oh.  I guess I do.

Exhibit #2:  A mere 4 days before Thanksgiving last week, our family was hit by a lovely tummy bug.  And by 'lovely' I mean 'vile.'  Fortunately, not everyone got it in full effect, but we did accidentally pass it on.  (It was 72 hrs since our last "episode" and we'd wiped everything down with Lysol wipes.  I'm a little ticked about that.)  Anyway, in the middle of the night as I was praying to Ralph, the Porcelain God, I got to thinking about all the body fluids that I'd been in contact with in a 12-hour time frame: blood, snot, stomach bile, etc.  I'll spare you the grody details, but trust me--it was a pretty thorough list.  So I invented a game!  It's called Body Fluid Bingo.  I invited my facebook friends to name a body fluid that it's normal to be in contact with.  Spinal fluid & amniotic fluid don't count; they're special circumstance fluids.  Sadly, nobody wanted to play.  They all just offered condolences.  Which was nice, but I wanted to play!  My friend Aimee, however posted a Wikipedia screen shot of body fluids, highlighting her guesses.  She definitely won!  And I began to see that I might not be normal.

But last night clinched it.

Exhibit #3.  I have a cold.  I have a Devil Cold.  A HowLongIsThisGoingToLast MySinusAreGoingToExplode Devil Cold.  Cora caught it from extended family when they were seemingly over it.  She had it before Thanksgiving, and she was out of school for 7 days.  SEVEN!!!!  Craziness.  She's still coughing, and now, so are the rest of us.  yay.  So last night...well, this morning I was up with sinus/cough/Eustachian fun and I came up with a song.  And because it's Christmas time, it's a Christmas song!  (Well, a holiday song, as it encompasses Thanksgiving, Christmas and likely New Year's.)

So here goes.  (I have Bob & Doug McKenzie's synthesizer playing in my brain.  Can you hear it, too?)

On the 1st day of the holidays, my family shared with me...a cough that hangs on eternally.
(You get the idea here, so I'll just list the rest because listing's what I do best!)
2 Random Fevers,
3 Barfy Bellies,
4 Tissue Boxes,
Fiiive Lysol Wiiiiipes (canisters)
6 Cruddy Coughs
7 Noses Blowing
8 Inhalers Puffing
9 Brains a'Fogging
10 Heads a'Throbbing
11 Eyes a'Gooping
12 Teas a'Steeping

And now I'm going to take my essential oils, Chinese acupressure, neti pot, tissues, and rice bag to the funny farm.  Maybe there I'll get a little rest.  In the meantime, enjoy my little song (I hope it gets stuck in your head), beef up on your vitamin C, and may your Christmas be germ-free.

PS--I came across this funny lady when I was googling the acupressure points for tonsils because mine were/are swollen.  I've started it & it seems to be doing what it's supposed to! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Tale of Two Funerals

In my life, I've been to three funerals that I can remember: one of the leaders of the singles branch(smallish congregation) when I was 19 or 20; my infant nephew; an older man in our ward (larger congregation) on the west side.  I knew them in varying levels, from barely to a little.

[Right about now I'm sounding like a huge jerk because I'm classifying my nephew with a couple of old men that I barely knew.  But he was born with multiple birth defects and lived all of his 3 1/2 months in the hospital.  I never held him, played with him, babysat him, had a conversation with him, laughed with him, or fed him something that my sister would not approve--like candy.  He is important to me and I love him in an auntie way, but I never KNEW him.  I look forward to getting to know him after this life, though.]

Last week, however, I attended two funerals for people who I knew.  I'd laughed with them, sat with them, shopped with them, visited them, shared food & stories & children & conversation &...  Well, I had a relationship with them.  And then I said goodbye.

One was for my dear friend Kirsten.  I met her when I was managing apartments.  She, with her husband and two young sons, moved into a townhouse several steps from my back gate.  Abby was in Sunbeams (the class for 3yo kiddos at church) with Kirsten's son Henry.  And they were going to get married.  They'd even decided the name of one of their children, though for the life of me I can't remember what it is now.  Then Abby decided she was going to marry Gavin.  Then Henry.  Then someone else.  Then Henry.  It always came back to Henry.  One of Riah's favorite memories of that family is asking Henry if he was going to marry Abigail.  He thought for a moment, then said, "No, I'm going to marry Alex."  (I recounted the story to Henry (who's nearly 13 now) and thoroughly amused AND embarrassed him.)

Kirsten had a boisterous laugh, a booming voice, a great sense of humor and welcoming arms.  She was usually smiling and was always, always ready to serve.  She was able to see a need and fill it before you really knew what you needed.  She was creative and talented, loved children, loved teens, loved adults and loved old people.  She just loved people!  She had a way of creating lasting relationships.  So many people have stories of how they had met her, then by the time they parted that day, felt that they'd known each other forever.  Kirsten is just that way.

I remember that she would sit on her front porch watching the kids playing in the courtyard at the apartments.  I'd open my door and let my own run around with hers and whoever else's were there.  I'll always remember the way she sat on her front porch watching the children, chatting with the neighbor mom.  Growing a relationship.

We went on field trips,

I was either sick or had a NEW baby, so the girls brought Ab & Alex for me.  They had a great time, as always.

camping trips,

The first one!!!  The beached beluga is me, with less than two months until we met Cora.

and had numerous ladies' nights at varying places, including her house.  Her home wasn't always perfectly clean, but it was always open and welcome.  We laughed together with the other ladies that formed a unique, sacred sisterhood.  We hoped and prayed together when she and her husband went through 2 or 3 rounds of IVF, attempting to grow their family.  We cried when none of them took.

I was pregnant in this one, too.  We went to Marrakesh and had a great time.  At one point Wendy, Kirsten and I were laughing uncontrollably in the corner, which is hard to do when hugely prego.  At least we were on comfy cushions.

I had fish tacos for the first time when she made them for dinner.  She'd invited us over for dinner, but we decided to just eat at the tables in the courtyard.  They were amazing and I think of her every time I make them for my own family.

She loved tie dye and all things bright.  I've never really been a wearer of tie dye.  But she taught many of us to do it.  One summer late afternoon, we gathered in my back patio so we could all make 4th of July tie dye.  I thought Emily was crazy for bringing a tie for her boys to dye because Father's Day was just around the corner, and was amused at all the everythings that people tie dyed.  And even though I don't love to wear it, I sure love to make it.  The next Christmas, I even tie dyed sheet sets for my nieces.  Megan's was green & bronze camo, and Sarah's was fuschia & bubble gum fireworks.  They STILL use those sheets!  One day, though, Kirsten was standing on her porch wearing a blue t-shirt that had a pattern that reminded me of the light reflections on the bottom of a pool.  THAT was a tie dyed shirt I would wear!  She taught me how, giving selflessly.


One of our sister-friends, Lydia, makes beautiful, unique blankets when babies are born.  She looked for months for the right fabric for Lee's.  So when Lydia had a baby, we made a blanket for her!  But not just one blanket.  We spent hours at Kirsten's house cutting old jeans into squares so they could be made into a queen-sized blanket for Lydia, plus three small ones for baby and her two big sisters.  When Lydia opened the gifts, she cried.  And when Kirsten died, she got the blanket out of the basement, wrapped herself in Kirsten's love, and cried again.

When we went camping, Kirsten had the most amazing camping gear, all organized and stuffed into her minivan.  Need an obscure tool that you'd use once a year?  Kirsten had it in her camping stuff.  She taught us to make cool treats to roast over the fire, brought a ball to make ice cream in, always had games, and no matter what the craft was, had enough for everyone.

Kirsten also had a secret.  She struggled valiantly with mental illness.  I think maybe it was depression.  I'm not sure because she never told me.  And judging by the shock and heartbreak that reverberated through the community, she never told a lot of people.  And in the end, it was that mental illness that ended her life too, too early.

Kirsten's favorite place was the beach.

Her funeral was bright.  Everyone was encouraged to wear bright colors or tie dye and to bring a flower from their garden or the side of the road.  I, of course, didn't own any tie dye shirts, so channeled my inner Kirsten and made some.  Three, actually, and they all turned out beautiful in their own way.  When I wear them I think of her.  And the garden of flowers on the stand grew and grew into a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person.

The girls gathered on a beach near Kirsten's home before her service.  It was a time of love, mourning and sisterhood.

One of the speakers told us that we could choose a flower to take home.  I spent the next half hour deciding which I would take to remind me of my friend.  In the end, I chose a bright pink daisy with white tips that look like they'd been dyed.  But there were still plenty left over after most of the attendees left the chapel, and Henry milled around these with a cousin.  He chose two or three at a time and gave them to those of his mother's friends who lingered in the chapel.  He gave me a partially bloomed blue hydrangea and a white something that smelled amazing.  His mama would be proud.

The same speaker talked about the seeds that Kirsten planted everywhere she went, and encouraged us to cultivate and grow the seeds that Kirsten has planted in us.  That idea has given me something to chew on for a while.

Part of Kirsten's memorial service was a slide show set to music, full of photos of Kirsten: a baby, growing up, and her adventures as an adult.  Our group of girlfriends: Aubrey, Emily F, Emily P, Lydia, Katie, Erika, Cheryl, Sundy, Megan and me (Wendy moved to Puerto Rico & couldn't come), held each other and sobbed as pictures of hikes, camping trips, ladies' nights and outings sliced new hurts into our already torn hearts.  I will forever live with the regret of not going to the ladies' weekend last April, and for missing the last two camping trips. 

Kirsten's funeral was sad.


About 15 years ago, before Riah & I were engaged, he took me with his two sisters to Calgary so that I could meet his Gramma.  We had a lovely time sightseeing, dancing and getting to know his mom's side of the family a little bit.  15 years ago it was easier to get to know them, as there were much, much fewer of them!  As we were walking through a park in the Eau Clare area, she put her arm in mine and said, "I hope you marry my Riah.  You're a firecracker!"  I laughed and gave her arm a squeeze.  Little did I know just how much of a firecracker she was herself!

Here she's 95 1/2, and there was no keeping her out of the thick of things!
Fast forward a couple of years to our marriage.  We honeymooned in Bannf, then had an open house at Gramma's house.  And it isn't a big house.  Grandpa built it 72 years ago using castoff lumber from building sites.  The top floor has a kitchen, den, living room, bathroom and two small bedrooms.  The basement is partially finished, but isn't exactly spacious.  Yet Gramma opened her home to have an party for her grandson.  My parents still talk about the accepting welcome they felt from Gramma that one short weekend that my whole family came to visit.

The center of my Canadian world.  (And one of my Kirsten shirts. Did you notice the other?)

But that's the way Gramma was.  She left a legacy of acceptance, love of people, teaching, patience, wit, humor, love of the Savior Jesus Christ, and love of family.  Last summer we went to Canada (I'm so very glad that we did!!!) and a photo was taken of her, her five children, their spouses (one of which is an ex, but still is counted as family), 19 grandchildren, a bazillion grandchildren and a few others that were grafted lovingly into the family tree as the years went by.  When I met Gramma so long ago, I found it odd that a girl named Alice was there, though her boyfriend (Riah's cousin) was on a two-year mission.  Looking back it makes perfect sense.

Due to distance, I didn't spend a lot of time with Gramma.  But I can feel her love when I visit her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  The atmosphere at family get-togethers is certainly one that she created.  When I visit I feel loved, I feel included, I feel accepted.  She created that, and it has been passed down through the generations.  I truly love my husband's cousins, aunts and uncles and their spouses.  Their hugs and well-wishes are sincere, and I sincerely want to be a part of that.

Attendees were invited to take a flower from the casket spray and either keep it or place it onto Gramma's casket.  I'm sure that she loved watching her great-grandchildren place flowers, then remove first one, then another, until they had a bouquet.
Gramma left this earth the morning after Kirsten did.  Her funeral was tear-filled, of course, but it was a celebration of her life and legacy.  Those there were happy to be together to celebrate her "graduation," as she called it.  We will miss her, but we will all cherish her loving memories.

She would have been 97 this winter.


I've had a hard couple of weeks. 

Someone mentioned offhand, "It will be interesting to compare the two funerals."  And in retrospect, it was.  But it wasn't anything surprising.  Kirsten's was sad, Gramma's was a bittersweet celebration.  What I've found myself focusing on, however, is the effects of these two influential women on me. 

I've decided that the Kirsten Seed that I will nurture in me is the ability to Carpe Diem.  Often I err on the side of wisdom and prudence and financial conservativism.  They're all good, but because of erring so often, I missed out on the last three events that I could have attended that would have created memories and grown the bonds of love and sisterhood that exist among my dear sweet girlfriends.

And I've decided that I will be more like Gramma in the way that I interact with the people that are most important to me.  I'll give them my time, attention and love, making it clear to them that they are more valuable to me than things.

Both Kirsten and Gramma are in a better place.  They are with people who have gone before who love them.  Thanks to Jesus Christ, we'll all be resurrected with perfect bodies.  Gramma's pretty excited about that, too, and her daughter Clare told me that just a few weeks before she died, she mentioned that as long as she's getting strong legs, strong arms and her hair, she's going to ask for a little more height.  Such a funny lady!

Both Kirsten and Gramma have been powerhouses of good.  They have each left their own kind of legacy, and I am blessed to be loved by each of them.

The sunset coming into Calgary the night before Gramma's funeral.
Kirsten's tribute in the local newspaper
Gramma's obituary

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Then there was one.

Today is a momentous day for me.

Today is the first day of school.

Abby is now an 8th grader.  This year she's top dog.  Next is high school, which I'm so excited for because it's the beginning of the end before so many beginnings!  Yesterday she was a busy girl.  While I was out with the younger 4 following a crazy schedule (soccer practice, cub scout pack meeting, and steep hill grass sledding experiments (doesn't work w/o moisture, btw)), she got bored.  So she found a couple of online tutorials & made a pair of capris and cutoffs (seen above); cleaned up & took down the makeshift table the guinea pig was on; cleaned out the guinea pig supply cabinet &; made it a kid-blanket storage (GENIUS!!); and moved Wes's toddler bed from my room into hers.  Whew!  Maybe I should ground her from pleasure reading more often!

Alex is starting 6th grade, and man he's nervous!  The kids' school is grades 1-8, so he'll be on the same campus, see the same teachers and hang around with most of the same kids.  But still, this is something new.  7 periods, lots of books, more homework, more responsibility, and a completely new routine in uncharted territory.  He'll do fine, but he's nervous.  To add to it all, I went to sign him up for the area's rec league soccer & there aren't enough boys to make even a single team in his whole age group.  Crazy.  BUT!  If you buy eight completos, iss only eight dollars!  [Sorry--one of those tangential quotes that happen around here.  Other common ones infiltrate scripture study, such as whenever we read the word "Behold" it's followed by "Tai Lung!" (Kung Fu Panda) or "destruction" followed by "o henhouse" in a Scottish brogue (The Adventures of Mr. Toad).  It's a weird little thing we do.  For the original, you'll have to check out Kid History.  Come to think of it, do it anyway.  Totally worth it.]  BUT!  The middle schools around here just opened boys soccer up to 6th graders, so he's going to try out for the school team for the middle school that we feed into.  He's nervous about that, too.  Even more so because the scheduling makes it so that if he makes the team, he'll miss the first 8 weeks of Social Studies.  Thankfully he's smart, a hard worker, driven & disciplined enough to do the independent study on his own.

Lee is in 3rd grade.  I'm not exactly sure how that happened.  Looking back on when his older siblings were in 3rd grade they seemed so much bigger!  But he's ready.  This summer he picked back up the 4th Harry Potter book he was reading a while ago & finished it.  Of course, that's the only movie that we don't own, so we have to get it from the library so he can watch it.  It's killing him to wait, but at least the next book came in!  (Can't find ours.)  He didn't need me to go with him into the classroom this morning, so today was the first First Day I've simply dropped them off & left.  *sigh*

Cora is a kindergartener, and the only word I can use to describe her is excited.  Excited for work!  Excited to learn!  Excited for friends!  Excited for a teacher!  Excited for recess!  Excited, excited, excited!!!  Last week she had a practice week where she & the other kinders went for a half day just to get the feel of things before the 'bigs' flooded the school.  Her teacher (who's fabulous) was impressed with how easily she made herself at home, felt comfortable in her new surroundings & started making friends on the playground.  She'll do so great!

But as momentous as the first day of school always is, all this is not the reason that today is momentous for me.  Today is new and a little scary for me because of this guy.

This is supposed to be his sad face because he's all alone.
You see, I don't know what to do with just one kiddo at home.  Sure, I've done it before, but that was before Alex was born.  And before that, Abby was a toddler.  And she was a baby.  And she didn't move much.  But now.  Now I've got three whole years of this crazy monkey who likes to climb on stuff, explore, experiment, get the guinea pig & carry her downstairs (ack!), open the door to let himself outside (double ack!!), and be generally independent.  (Just now he opened the fridge, grabbed the NEW carton of almond milk, took off the lid, pulled out the seal & carried the milk across the house to me.  "Mom, I waht mi-yilt."  This.) 

His "mad pace."
And in the meantime I have more responsibilities.  12 years ago I needed to cook, clean & take care of a baby & 2 adults.  Now I've got a myriad of other adventures I've embarked on, including figuring out how to earn an income from home, keep up on the laundry, volunteer in the schools, weed the flower beds and generally be the SuperMom that I already am.  With a "helper."

With a helper who no longer has someone to play with. 

I really don't know how I'm going to do this.

But this I know.  I know that I'll cherish these last three years of my sweet boy at home.  I'll hug him, squeeze him, read to him, make cookies with him, teach him his letters & numbers, store the sound of his laughter in my heart and do my best to keep him small.  It won't be easy, but it'll be worth every precious moment with him.