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.

Friday, August 15, 2014


In life, we are presented with choices: forks in the road.  Sometimes that fork looks more like a dead end; sometimes it's clear choice--left or right; sometimes that fork looks like it slipped into the garbage disposal and we wonder what the heck piece-of-junk options we have from which to choose.

At our current juncture in Life, Riah & I are at a fork.  However, our fork is more like a trailhead with multiple signs, and lots of trails...some clearly marked, some barely visible through the underbrush.  The variables boil down to schooling, income and residence.  Psshht!  Trifles.  How to get from Point A to Point B.  The B resources would easily allow us to start on that path, but we don't have the B resources while sitting at A.  Ugh.

The other night we were up late--really late--discussing options, punching numbers and talking of the grown-up stuff that I didn't know was part of the bargain way back in high school when I longed to be a grown-up.  (It's a bit overrated at times.)  I had interviewed for a job that sounded like it would be a great a few years.  But the main problem is that the hours would have me leaving before the kids were up for school, then off work after my new kindergartener is out.  (Due to schooling eccentricities, the older 3 are at one 1-8 school we love, but Cora would be on her own at a different elementary school--no kindergarten.)  I'm just not ready to miss out on my last few years of Wes, as well as the contact with Cora before & after her fun entry into the world of the Big Kids.  Going back to work full time would break my heart and create some serious logistic issues.

So that night I sobbed cried to my Heavenly Father, "Where's the solution?  I just don't see it."

The next morning I woke up Wes by sitting on the side of the bed.  (He had climbed into ours overnight, which is par for the course.  He's a major snugglebug.)  His first words were, "Oh, there you are."  (With the exact tone and voice of the Lost Boy in Hook.)  My sweet boy who's getting so big so fast crawled into my lap, snuggled himself into my arms and said contentedly, "I'm home."

I'm home.  Probably the most perfect way to summarize the feeling of a child wrapped in his mother's arms.

I cried.

"Yes, baby.  Yes you are."

I still cry.

Riah, who was right there to witness this little miracle, said quietly, "You can't work full time."

And so for now my main job will continue to be at Home with my sweet boy wrapped in my arms.  Right where I belong.

PS--this morning Riah started down one of those overgrown paths that we hadn't really seen at first glance.  The next couple of weeks will be a little crazy as he walks two paths at the same time (I'll be stocking up on 5-Hour Energy bottles), but it's what we need right now.  The Lord does provide in His way and in His time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The non-swimmers

Lest you think that swim season only included the older three...

We routinely had a bag at practices containing his trucks to share, water, and breakfast.
And yes, Wes really is that big nowadays.
Finding things to do during one of the meets...
The girl's just cute!

Love that the toys are so close to the pool at another of the meets.
Super love how my new camera caught the light.
Extra super love that this photo has nearly everyone, including Riah, who had to leave the meet early for work.

A time to brag

I am not one to brag.  I will share in things that are exciting to me; I will shout from the rooftops things that are worth celebrating, but I am really not one to brag.


Do you see these three children?

These three lovely children that were happy on their last day of school?  Yes.  Well, these three lovely happy children were NOT happy when their father and I announced that they would be joining a swim team this summer.  Their responses went something like this:

"But I'm not very good at swimming."
"I don't even know how to do all the different kinds of things that they do."
"I've never done that before."
"I don't know anyone on the team."
"I'm really not comfortable with this."
And my favorite..."Why are you forcing us to do something that we don't want to do?"

Our answers were varied, but boiled down to, "You'll get better; it's an important life skill; you'll learn to like it."

And so it started, much to their chagrin.

After the first week, I heard exactly zero complaints.  They made friends, and guess what?  They got better and they learned to like it!!!

I can't even begin to explain how proud I am of these three swimmers.  (See that?  They have a new label now.  One that they can wear proudly.)  Well, actually I can begin.  And I will.

Abby was a decent backyard-pool swimmer, but strokes & stuff?  What on earth is that?  By the end of the 8-week season (which was really shorter than that because the last meet was cancelled for weather, the one before was called right before the IM for lightning & the one before THAT was called because all of a sudden the wind was blowing things away.  Like trees.) she was shaving time off of her freestyle & breaststroke, and had just added backstroke.  What gets me is that Riah noticed that her dolphin kick is better than his is now.  And during butterfly drills sometimes she actually gets her arms & shoulders all the way out of the water!  Not too shabby, Abby!

Her first event, ever!

Of all three, I think that Alex worked the hardest.  They all worked hard, but this kid leaves it all out on the field--er, pool?  Whatever.  Sadly, it just wasn't producing the desired outcome.

Definite 'A' for effort.

His first meets involved a very splashy freestyle & a breaststroke that I just don't understand.  He was almost going backward.  I don't get it.  But in a moment of calm I asked him just the right questions: "Are you satisfied with what you're doing now?"  "Would you like to improve?"  "Do you want to find some youtube videos that might help?"  After 2 instructional videos, 1 Olympic video & a little coaching from zero-experience me, he went to bed.  His next meet he cut his breaststroke by 52 seconds.  Then another 6 seconds 2 days later!  Every meet after that was faster & faster.  AND after some coaching from Dad (who has LOADS of experience), his freestyle form is more smooth & efficient than many of his teammates.

I'm so glad that the braces didn't take away ALL of that crooked smile I love.

And then there's Lee.  Lee is one of the 30 (!!!) new swimmers who Coach is fairly certain that "If I had dropped them in the deep end on the first day of practice, you'd never see your child again."  Lee started in the younger group, who was learning the strokes in the kiddie pool.  His first meet he went the length of the pool using a combination of freestyle, doggie paddle and holding onto the side of the pool for dear life.  He was disqualified, but he did it!  He went all 40 meters!  The next day at practice he announced that he was ready to move to the middle class in the deeper pool.  I didn't think he could hack it, but left it to the kid & the coach--guess what?  He stayed.

Note the gasping for air & the assistant coach walking with him the whole way.

Two meets later he went the 25m distance without touching the side, but always needing to be in either lane 1 or 8 so he could reach the wall if needed.  The next time he was in lane 5!  Like the middle of the pool!  Another mom who we also know from soccer was nearly in tears as she watched him swim.  And 2 days later (meets were T/Th evenings) he placed 1st in his heat.  !!!  (Though he didn't place.)

This tan line has now moved south.  Way, way south.

Also at that meet, Lee was awarded the Sportsmanship Award.  Every meet has one award for each team.  He had no idea what he did to win it, so I asked Coach.  He told me that he & the other coaches have noticed that he listens, doesn't goof off, obeys, stays on task, is respectful, keeps his hands to himself, follows instructions, doesn't complain & is just a good kid overall.  (At this point I have to confess that I actually thought that maybe Coach was a little mixed up with the names & really meant Alex.  That might make me a bad mom.)  He's so proud of that medal!  And I'm so proud of him for doing the things out of our home that I'm wrangling teaching him here at home.  A couple of weeks later, Abby was also awarded the Sportsmanship Award.  I've chatted with the coach a couple of times & he's commented that he's really impressed with my 3 swimmers & that I have a really nice family. 

Uh-oh...this looks like it's turning to bragging about ME! 

And to top it all off, tonight at the end-of-season team potluck, Lee was awarded the Boys 8 & under Most Improved Award for the improvements he's made with no complaining or wanting to sit out.  That kid is so proud of his award & I'm so proud of him.  I'm proud of them all.  They've all done so well.  And my favorite part?

"Mom, I'm really glad that you & Dad put us on swim team.  I really like it."
"Mom, now that I'm on swim team I can go in the deep end with Alex & Ty.  I always had to stay in the shallow end before.  When we get to our cousins' house, the first thing I'm going to do is go off the diving board."
And this.  That beautiful happy face really says it all.

Hanging out with new friends makes any sport better.