Tuesday, February 12, 2019


My oldest son turned 15 yesterday. Fifteen year olds are young men. They are a few short years from adulthood. Their voices are changing, and they are growing like weeds, and they eat like a pig at a trough. I look at him, and it's hard to find the baby I knew all those years ago. The one whose first word was pop because we blew lots of bubbles in our front yard and kitchen. The one obsessed with chicka chicka boom boom. The one who rubbed his ear or my ear when he needed reassurance. The one I hibernated with for late winter/spring 2004/05 as we got to know each other while sitting on the couch, snuggling, cooing, and singing. He's in there. Right? That baby boy is in there behind the sarcasm and leanness and bright mind and hilarity.

You see, when Isaac was a baby, he was all mine. I mean, obviously Jim is his dad, but that boy was mine. I hogged him. I wanted to do all of the baths and all of the bedtimes and all of it. I couldn't believe this little human grew from Jim and I and then became his own little person to live and breathe and cry and coo in our tiny, little apartment. The miracle of it still blows me away. I remember sitting in our little hallway when he was just a tiny fellow and hormones were way out of order and postpartum depression was sneaking in. I sat on the floor and held him while I bawled to my mom on the other end of the phone line. "I can never be enough for him. He's so perfect and I could never live up to all he needs. He deserves someone so much better than me." On and on I lamented at all of my shortcomings and my abject inability to be a mother to a child so amazing.

Yet somehow, out of all the mamas and all of the babies, God picked us for each other. That's another miracle that still blows me away. The world continued on around us, but it was mostly white noise to me as I did the work of becoming someone I never knew I needed to be: a mom to a boy named Isaac. And he was mine. And it wasn't perfect, which I can admit even though the span of 15 years makes those exhausted, disoriented newborn feelings fade. But it was just how it was supposed to be.

He's not mine anymore. Not in the way he was then. And it's necessary and right, but it still makes me long for those sweet hibernation days. On his birthday, I allow myself to cry about where we've been and how quickly we zoomed away from it and how much I miss it even though I love here, too. It's a paradox I'll never understand. A heart-hurting, tear-inducing yearning for a time that has passed combined with an excitement and curiosity and joy about what is to come. The two pulls are almost equal, but on February 11, plus June 12, June 26, and August 22, the yearning wins.

He's not mine anymore. That's the hard pill for me to swallow. But the good news is that the world is getting more and more of a young man that I love and adore and pray for. A young man who is funny and well-spoken and caring and bright and dedicated.  His life won't always be easy. His decisions won't always make sense to me. He'll stumble and fall and I'll want to jump in and save him like I did when he was mine. But I can't. And that's necessary and right, too.

To my new fifteen-year-old, Isaac, words can't express what you mean to me or how my life has changed because of your place in it. Thank you for being our guinea pig. I'm sorry we have no idea what we're doing as we fly by the seat of our pants. In spite of our many shortcomings, I pray that you always feel our love and support as you navigate this world and its immense beauty and its intense pain. (In many ways, I was right when I cried in my hallway about my inadequacies. None of us are ready for this!) I pray that you always feel God's presence guiding you and that you always listen to the quiet, insistent tug of God on your heart. It's a reminder that you are wonderfully and fearfully made. That you are not alone. That God has plans for your life. That you were created by a God and surrounded by people who love you and support you and want the best for you. Love you million times two, buddy.

Now, a bajillion pictures. Time, you are a thief. Boy, I love you.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

All the snow! All the fun!

We have had an unexpectedly snowy and cold January this year, and no one at our house is complaining! We love snow and all of the activities that come with it. Skiing, sledding, stomping trails in the yard, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. We also love soup, reading under blankets, game nights, and movie nights. Hello, winter, we love you. Keep snowing on us, pretty please!

The last two days have been nearly blissful. The snow and the possibility of all the fun that it brings has kept the kids on task to finish their schoolwork so they can bundle up in their warm woolens and hit the yard. Between building jumps, sledding, and using sleds as skis or snowboards in the backyard and having snack in the deep snow, making forts in the ditch, and stomping a "homeschool room" in the front yard, Audrey, Elliot, and Asher played outside for almost 2.5 hours yesterday. Oh, and they eat snow in both front and back yard. They even make snow restaurants to sell snow food. Do not ask me. They are strange, creative birds, and I love them.
Elliot and Asher make a jump on the sledding hill while Audrey finishes up school

Asher skis down the hill while the big siblings get ready to follow soon

snack in the snow

Oh, if only I knew what plans they were hatching while deep in discussion

Jim and I would have paid cold, hard cash to be a snowflake in the yard listening in on what these three goofballs were talking about. We knew that our presence would silence their plans, chats, and shenanigans pretty quickly, so we just watched from afar and marveled at how much we love these kiddos and how sweet they (almost always) are to each other.

Not to be outdone, Isaac went and ran almost five miles on his own on the snowy roads. He's so excited for track season to start up in about a month.

Once the wind picked up, all gloves, mittens, and boots were filled with snow, and a few socks were frozen, they begrudgingly trudged into the house, already making plans to reconvene in the front yard "schoolroom" the next day.

That brings us to today. We woke up this morning to gray skies and damp air, so we dared to wish that the snow would come again. With all of the blowing, it's hard to say how much snow we actually got, but it's probably between 3-6 inches of fresh snow in just a few hours. Then the snow stopped, and the skies did their miraculous blue bird sky thing, and the kids hustled through school, and I threw a pan of blondies in the oven after Audrey whipped up the batter, and they are back at it. (And Isaac is back at it, too. Jim took him to the high school so he could run with a friend from the team.)
I shall never, ever, ever, ever tire of this view

Operation Finish School: Two kids writing papers, one kid doing Latin, and one kid doing a puzzle

blondies will be a wonderful post-snowy day snack (this is before they were cooked)
Somehow, they are playing capture the flag without a flag. They are also playing t-ball without ball, bat, tee, bases, etc. They just opened the garage so they can play football with an actual football. I just squeal at their cuteness. 

Audrey and Asher finish getting all of their warm woolens on. . .

while Elliot starts stomping the paths

So much fun running around in the deep, deep snow

fort building in the ditch

playing homeschool

Elliot taking the hand-off from Asher

And because it's the internet, and sometimes we have to say obvious things like this, my kids argue sometimes. Life isn't perfect. Sometimes exactly 0% of us want to stay on task because one would rather play with a string and one wants everyone to do puzzles with him and one doesn't understand the assignment and one already understands the whole chapter so why bother.

Then days like today come along, and all of those ugh days don't seem so unbearable because these days remind us of the beauty and goodness that come along with a slew of kids on a snowy day in a beautiful town in the foothills.

Do you love, hate, like, or feel indifferent about snow? How is the weather where you live?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Post Christmas AZ fun

I know it's the middle of January, so everyone has forgotten resolutions from 15 days ago. Therefore, Christmas feels like a distant memory, but I'll be stepping in my time machine to revisit our trip to see family in AZ and our Christmas. In other words, boat load of pictures and stories that serve as a reminder to our family of our trip and might not matter much to you.

On December 30, we boarded a plane to spend five days in Scottsdale, AZ. (Thank you to Southwest Airlines for having a wonderful rewards program. Jim may have to travel a lot for work, but it saved us about 30 hours of travel since we were able to use his miles for all of our tickets.) We got so much family bang for our non-existent buck on this trip, since we were able to visit with my mom and stepdad, my grandparents, Jim's mom, and Jim's uncle and aunt, who all live within five minutes of each other in Scottsdale. Adding to the fun, Jim's sister and her family, including four cousins, visited from Michigan for part of the time. We had family everywhere, and the biggest challenge was figuring out how to spend time with all of them!
 We ran into this handsome fellow at the Denver airport, so the kids cozied up. Isn't that cute?!

Upon arriving at the Phoenix airport, my mom picked us up from the airport, and Jim went to rent us a car. We brought our bags into our hotel, which was across the street from their apartment, then went to their place to have lunch and wait for Jim. Once Jim got there, we went over to his mom's house to say hi to her and his aunt and uncle. We finished the day by watching the Vikings lose and knock themselves out of the playoffs. Uff da! What a disaster of a game!

The next day dawned, and it was New Year's Eve. Isaac and I got a workout in at the gym in my mom and Keith's sweet apartment complex. Our kids received shopping sprees with mom and Keith and some cash from my grandparents for Christmas, so they hit the stores for clothes and toys and running gear and came back happy grandkids.

After that, we did some cooking prep for our New Year's Eve celebration in the common room at the apartment. Asher was determined to stay up until midnight. We weren't so sure about that since staying up until midnight is tough for all of the grown-ups involved, plus we didn't want January 1 to be an absolute disaster for a certain five-year-old (named Asher).

My grandparents came over to hang with my mom, Keith, and our family of six. We played pool, played cards and board games, and ate yummy food while enjoying each other's company.

siblings and pool. . . fun times
puzzles with the two puzzle guys

tasty dinner of hearty appetizers 
A rousing game of Tik Talk

Asher teaches his great-grandparents how to play Spot It

Schooling the boys in pool. . . that may be the trash talker in me talking because I may have lost. :)

snuggled up to watch the ball drop
 We decided that it would work for Asher (and a few exhausted grown-ups) to celebrate NYE at 10 pm, which is midnight in New York. Asher was fully convinced that he had stayed up until midnight, and we all counted down and hugged and kissed and celebrated.
look at these brothers!
 Here we come, 2019!

On the next day (at this point, we had no idea what day it was), we went to see Mary Poppins Returns with a group ranging in age from 5-78. Everyone liked the delightful movie, even the teen and 10 year old boys who would prefer all Marvel movies all the time.

That night we went to the clubhouse where Grandma van, Jim's mom, lives. There were cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles and games and fun! Our niece and two of our kids performed some Christmas songs on the piano, so it felt fun and festive.

Asher's getting smooshed by the girls

a heated game of battleship was interrupted by dinner, but they just moved the game to finish later

same game. different venue.

Grandma van with all 8 grandkids. Precious.
 The next day something happened, but, again, all of the days were a lovely haze of vacation goodness. My best guess is that we walked some dogs and hung out. That night Grandma van took us to the Phoenix zoo to see zoo lights. We got there right when it opened, which we learned was key since the parking lot was packed when we left about an hour later. When we got there, we could walk right up to the gate and walk the loop to enjoy the lights and sights.
 The funniest part of the night was that Isaac, Elliot, and their cousin were being stinkers when I was taking their picture. They were making faces that I joked looked like they were constipated. Farther along the loop, I asked them to pose for a picture, but requested that this time it didn't look like they were trying to poop. I kid you not. At the exact moment I said, "poop," a bird pooped on my hat, splashing my shoulder, phone, and shoes. The timing was impeccable.
cousins. just missing 2 who went to visit a college that day

#selfiewall at the zoo

The next day, my mom and Keith hung out with our kids while Jim and I hiked Piestewa Peak. It was a gorgeous day to get out and move. We were supposed to continue our date with lunch after our hike, but we were still full from our breakfast 5 hours earlier, so we skipped the lunch portion of our date.

On Friday, we went to my grandparent's house for breakfast, then made a batch of lefse. We always have to talk about the queen of lefse, Grandma B, every time we make lefse, and this time was no different. We tried a new recipe, and it worked perfectly. My grandma asked if people had lefse jobs they were best at, thinking she could start a conversation about who would do which jobs. Without missing a beat, Asher said, "I'm best at eating it." We all excelled at that job!
Audrey is really getting the hang of rolling

One of our flippers

Another flipper

Some of the lefse crew

happy lefse eaters
 One of the kids' favorite things about visiting AZ is running in between Jim's mom's house and my grandparents' house. Here they are dashing between the houses. It's the most action the retirement community sees!

It was finally warm enough for a pool day on our last day there
After lefse, the cousins came over and it was time to play in the pool until we headed to the airport.

cousins swim

more swimming

Mom, Keith, and our kids

plus me

my grandparents and our kids

plus Jim and me

time to hug goodbye after a great visit

And, we head back to the airport for our return trip home
 What a fun and family-filled visit. We are thankful for our family near and far and for the chance to spend special time with them.